Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Game On: Carson's Video Game Party

Wii celebrated Carson's 11th birthday Saturday with a video game party. Carson made two requests for the party: (1) He wanted friends from school and church to bring their handheld video game systems to play; and (2) He wanted his guests to stay for a long time. So we cleared our calendar for Saturday afternoon and invited guests to stay and play from 1 to 5.

I think this was the most challenging party theme one of the children has ever suggested for me because I have never been a video game person. Even as a child, if my dad passed out quarters when my sister and brother begged to play Pac-Man, I pocketed the change instead of spending it in the arcade. I sought inspiration for this party from one of my favorite event planners, Donna at Party Wishes, and combed the Internet looking for ideas. In the end I managed to bring the theme together with some fun touches I will share with you.

I decided to make party invitations that looked like handheld games. First, I edited a video game graphic and printed it on card stock. Then Carson and I looked through clip-art images to find an appropriate picture for the game, settling on a vibrant motorcycle scene. I glued the motorcycle scene to the invitation and topped it with a square of vellum printed with party details.

Winning Favors

I hope personalized T-shirts from Vistaprint will help guests remember the day. Christian and Gavin sport their tees in the photo above. Along with an arcade-style logo, our ash gray tees were printed with two lines of text: "Game On" and "Carson's Birthday Party = 04-17-10." I bought my tees for several dollars less apiece than the prices listed just days later on Vistaprint, so check for specials when ordering. I was really pleased with the quality of these t-shirts and have already seen several boys wearing theirs this week.

Colorful water bottles found at Michaels for $1 each were handy during the party and made great party favors. Colorful tags did double duty -- coordinating the bottles with our party theme and giving us a label to sign so we could tell the cups apart.

I didn't get a great picture of the cake, but here you see Carson blowing out the candles on his video game cake. To make this handheld game, I baked two sheet cakes and cut the center out of one. Placed on top of the solid cake, the rectangular opening gave me space to create a video game scene. I topped the opening with a clear sheet of plastic cut from a folder before decorating the top of the cake. This idea could also be used for making a TV or computer screen cake.

Since Carson is a "gamer," I thought trick candles would make blowing out his candles a fun challenge. He must be a birthday expert, though, because he got them all in his first breath.

Black tablecloths covered our tables, and rolls of wrapping paper from Target made colorful runners. A few felt party hats from Hobby Lobby added dots of color, as well.

Apothecary jars filled with Skittles and gumballs offered sweet treats by the handful for party guests.

While hotdogs and bags of chips kept hunger at bay.

Mommy Cheat Codes

Now that I have shared my creative ideas, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't pass on the knowledge of boys I gleaned from this party. From Game On to Game Over, Carson's video game party was certainly an adventure. Here is what I have learned:

1. Four hours is too long a party for a dozen pre-teen boys. After they have exhausted the usual two-hour party actitivities, they will look for new (and more dangerous ways) to make the party more exciting.

2. Even if you are certain that your younger son and his two best friends know they are not allowed to venture into the woods behind your house without permission or parental supervision because you have told them a million times, remind them again.

3. If your younger son and his two best friends do go into the woods and wander far from your property, anticipate that your indoor party will now need bug spray because the rest of the party guests will charge into the woods to find them.

4. When all the boys come back from their forest adventure, have towels and clean clothes ready because nearly all of them will have jumped in a creek with all of their clothes on.

5. Check your medicine cabinet before the party to make sure you have ample first-aid supplies. In cases where little boys get injured attempting feats you warned them not to do, Hello Kitty band-aids will work just fine.

6. Remind the boys not to slam doors because someone could get hurt.

7. When someone's finger gets slammed in a door and looks like it is broken, calmly apply an ice pack without nearly crying yourself.

8. Put protective gear on your daughters during the party, because although you think your dainty girls will be safe, the testosterone will be too much. Unaided, they will trip on the driveway and will run to you with elbows and lips bleeding.

9. If you buy trick candles for the cake, do not tell the boys for fear they will try to relight them and run outside with them to find things to burn.

10. And, most importantly, when you are a Girl and a Mommy and a Protective Parent who feels like crying because the peaceful video game party she planned had more twists and turns, bumps and bruises, and scratches and scrapes than she ever experienced in one day, don't be surprised if after the party ends and everyone survived, parents go out of their way to tell you ...

"Thank you for inviting my son to the party!
He said it was the

Game Over.

I think we won.


Joanne Kennedy said...

This sounds like it was a great party for the kids. I have found that the parties where I feel like I'm going to lose my mind or that I feel everything that could go wrong did are the ones the kids find the most fun.

Kids (mainly boys) love adventure and anything that we may think is dangerous becomes a challange to them. If they get hurt, well that's just a prop for when they tell the story of how much fun they had.

Take a deep breath. It's over...until next year! :)


Auntie Cake said...

Oh Sweet Melissa!
As a mom of a very adventurous boy whose friends all seem to live at our house, your party list and ideas totally made me smile. Quite a difference from the girls, isn't it?

I was always amazed at my sons birthday parties. I hadn't ever seen so much movement in my life! And how do boys think of things like they do? I think their mind stays one step behind their feet because if they really thought through some of their plans, they might realize that could totally not happen.

And you totally made me giggle, every spring, all my kids seem to accidentally fall into our creek with all their clothes on as soon as the ice has melted. It has become a tradition here that the kids come up to the house with muddy and freezing feet and legs and give me their story on how four of the "accidentally" all fell into the creek at the same time. I just smile at them as I hand them towels, and they just smile right back up at me. After worrying the first two years about hypothermia, I now realize it's their "welcome spring" ritual.
Someday I will miss it!
PS- and I am quite sure you had the coolest party that these boys had ever been too!

Granna said...

Your are the best mom!

Judy said...

I'll say it again, you need to run an "event planner day" at your house for all of us lacking in your party planning skills!

Love (again) how you pulled this party together. And I can so relate to the finger in the door problem...we kept the twins last weekend and Jackson's finger got a little boo-boo from David's truck door, but all was well, just hated to see him cry. I'm too old for all that drama!

Hope to see you soon.


Rach said...

Oh my goodness, what a day! Very fun though and so creative for boys. I tend to think in "girly" terms so it's always fun to see what you come up with for your boys! Bravo!!

Sonja said...

I visited 2 blogs this morning that made me cry, they were so sad and beautiful. So it was a welcome relief to come here and laugh out loud!! Once again, your party has amazed me, and your suggestions at the end are PRICELESS!!

Great job Melissa.


LeeAnne said...

I love the list of "cheat codes." Thanks for the laughter, and the reminder that the best-laid plans often go awry ... but that these moments usually create the best memories! :)

Heidi said...

Melissa - this looks like such a fun idea -

I am afraid I may have to steal it. Sans the 5 hour part. haha!

Sean's B-day is coming up and I am at a loss for what to do. We are trying to keep it sinple since we will be going to Disney. Great ideas, thanks!

Julie said...

I love your blog! And as the mother of 3 boys I can feel your pain. But I'm sure they loved the party. Boy just don't do things the way us girls do!

Betsy and the Boys said...

You are cracking me up with the cheat codes !! Obviously I sympathize. I'm not sure how a little girl is ever going to survive in this house! ( I'll have to keep this party in mind, my boys are big gamers too, much to my dislike.... )

Mrs. Cozy Home said...

HAAA!!! I love it!! You survived and they had a blast -- well done you!!!

Kristen said...

Oh no! I am SO sorry for laughing but this just cracked me up! I'm so glad you survived and that the boys had fun. Sounds like a great party - twists, turns, first aid kits and all!

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