Birthday Party Mania

As I uploaded photos from my camera onto my computer (how very last decade of me!), I was reminded that I never posted any photos from Max's birthday party at the end of March. So here we go, a photo-dense birthday party extravaganza!  

One of my favorite wild things in his natural habitat
Heading back to the end of March, when Max turned 5 and requested a Pokemon themed birthday party.  Pokemon are yuuuuge around here with all three kids.  If you had told me in the mid 90s--when Pokemon was new and I watched the occasional episode with my little brother and baby sister--that I'd be hosting a Pokemon party for my own children, I don't think I would have believed that the show would have such staying power. But it has, and here we are.  
The appropriate Pokemon colors.  The angle of this photo makes me think that Ben took it.

Back in the innocent, long-haired days before our bout with headlice...

Here we have Poke ball cupcakes and cupcakes with Pikachu (made out of Bunny Peeps). 

I have a few rules to birthday party survival.  
1.  Keep the party short.
2. Keep the guest list very short.
3.  Keep the schedule of events simple and the games easy.

The games at Max's party were not entirely thematic.  Donut bite had no relation to Pokemon whatsoever, but it was very amusing to watch.  The only real rule for donut bite is to try to eat a donut with no hands when it's tied to a string.  

We also played "Ring, ring, who has the ring?" except I think we used a little plastic Pokemon character in lieu of a ring. And for the final game, there was "Pin the flame on the Charmander" featuring my fabulous "skills of an artist".  Hey, at least I impress my children and my spouse with my occasional renderings of licensed characters.  

Then it was time for the piƱata.  We got one at Winco that was meant to be a baseball and then just painted the Pokeball design over it. Since the big pine tree was newly felled, it remained to be seen how it would be suspended, since the boughs of the tree were the old go-to for such things. But when your husband is a carpenter, he can rig something up right quick with an old basketball hoop pole, even if it does resemble a gallows.  

Pinata down!  I repeat, pinata down!
 The stroke of genius on the pinata was that we filled it with some candy but also with a lot of wee tiny plastic Pokemon figurines and let the guests sort them and take them home.  I don't know if they are still playing with them but our kids are still playing with theirs on a daily basis.  We found them on Amazon, source of so many neat things.

Then it was time for cupcakes...
Whew, my hair was long, and I was still wearing non-maternity shirts.  That's no longer the case!

Ruby decorated for Max's party by drawing Pokemon and posting them tastefully  around the entrance.

It was a fun affair; our party-planning attention turned next to Ruby's birthday.  She requested a Zelda themed party.  We have a Nintendo 64 and Allen and I have both played (and beaten, hurrah) "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time."  The kids watched us play it at times and have seen some of the hilariously bad 80s cartoons of "The Legend of Zelda" (you can find them on YouTube).  I think at first Ruby's idea was to have a video game princess party (Peach, Daisy, and Zelda) but we steered it more towards just one of the video game franchises, as Ben really wants to have a Bowser party in the fall for his birthday and I'm sure Princess Peach will make an appearance then.  Dear me, we're nerds.
Anyway, Allen and I noodled for quite a long time on how exactly to have a party which fit the theme.  There were a lot of neat ideas for food and decor on Pinterest, but nothing really in terms of party games. It took a long time to get our ideas fleshed out, and it was a mad dash in the days (and hours) leading up to the party to get it all worked out.  But I think it came off really splendidly.  As one of Ruby's guests said to his mom when he was being picked up to go home, "Mom, this was the awesomest day ever!"  :)

We decided to utilize the notion of Link's School for Heroes as the motif of the party (with Allen playing Link!)  The idea was that all the party guests were young Hylians about to be trained in the ways of a hero, and that there were various challenges to complete as part of their training.
As guests arrived we provided them with a shield to decorate (made of foamcore poster board and tape for the handle) and gave the boys Link hats.  They are really simple to make, by the way: I bought two long-sleeve green men's shirts from Salvation Army (on half-off day, natch), cut the sleeves off, turned them inside out, and sewed them to a point at the wrist so it formed a triangle.  I also bought cheapo fake leather belts from Salvation Army, poked holes in them at the right spots so they would fit the kids, and let those serve as belts to hold the slingshots they would later use.

We used the Triforce from the Zelda games as a unifying theme for all of the "training activities" (i.e. party games.)  The Triforce consists of three parts: courage, wisdom, and power, which must be united in order to...I don't know, either bring peace and harmony or chaos and destruction, depending on whose hands it falls into.  At the successful completion of each game, the kids would find a piece of the Triforce.  When all three were gathered, a final test would present itself...and then brownies and lemonade.  The theme had to end somewhere!

The first test was an obstacle course to obtain the Triforce of Courage. Allen had been able to obtain some huge styrofoam blocks and scaffolding planks and frames from work and elsewhere, and he spent the morning transforming the yard into a truly epic obstacle course, complete with 10 dangling blue rupees for the kids to nab.
I couldn't really capture the scope of the whole course from any one angle.  This is the back half of it.

Link gives the new recruits some pointers
 The kids had to work as a team to collect all 10 rupees, take them to the treasure chest, and then return to their starting positions without touching the ground, which was hot lava.

Yes, I made Link hats. 

This gives you an idea of the scale of the course...
After completing this challenge and obtaining the Triforce of Courage from a treasure chest, the kids followed me to a field nearby for the challenge of Wisdom.  Alishia (my sister in law) came along and helped and took photos.  For this challenge, everyone took turns wearing a blindfold and being verbally guided by the other kids towards the treasure chest.  They also had to be ready to put their shields up to defend themselves from the evil Bubbles (there's a bad guy called a Bubble in the game but for our version it was merely the dollar store kind being huffed and puffed out by yours truly).  It was quite entertaining to watch, seeing as none of the kids were too sure about their left and right but were very ready to bark out "GO LEFT!" or "GO RIGHT!" to their blindfolded colleague.

Ta-da! Triforce of Wisdom acquired!

Heading back for the final challenge!

The last Triforce was obtained through combat.  While the kids and I were at the park, Allen and his brother Andy had hung up various bad guys and enemies on the obstacle course.  The kids, armed with slingshots and bouncy balls as ammunition, had to kill all the Skulltulas (paper plate spider things) and Keese (black Solo cup bat things), and at the end of the course to overcome the Deku Scrub (Andy).

The Deku Scrub, overpowered, hands over the chest with the last piece of Triforce.

Checking out what's inside...

Triforce complete!
 Now that the Triforce was completed, I played Zelda's Lullaby on my handy-dandy ocarina.  Yes, Allen had an ocarina, and we looked up how to play Zelda's Lullaby on it.  Nerds.  In the video game, playing that song often unlocks or reveals hidden things, and it had the same function here.  A tiny treasure chest was revealed which held a Boss Key (the key that unlocks the door to the boss or main nemesis of a level).  What better Boss to fight than the ultimate villain, Ganondorf?

Mom's skills of an artist on display once again!
For this last part, each of the kids got to shoot three arrows at Ganondorf (all guided by Allen, of course, since it was a compound bow and far too difficult for any of them to manage alone.)

Driving it in by hand, just for good measure.
With Ganondorf ably defeated, it was time for brownies and lemonade.  Keeping it simple.

Action shot of Ruby blowing out the candle!

Being a hero is thirsty work!
So there you have it. It was really fun.  Allen pretty much ran the show and Andy and Alishia were excellent backup to keep things going smoothly.  Now we have a few months of party-planning respite before tackling Ben's 4th birthday in the fall.


  1. This is so completely impressive and amazing.
    Also, I'm pretty sure "Dear me, we're nerds." is the translation of the Latin on our family crest.

  2. Sweet parties, yo. You guys' craftsmanship, showmanship, and attention to detail is impressive. Skills of an artist indeed!

    Honestly, it's only recently that I've realized how big Pokemon is. Contrary to my previous perceptions, it's neither niche-market RPG franchise nor childishly simple entertainment. Nintendo hit a real vein with that one, and for almost twenty years now, it's been going far stronger than I realized. What's the secret of its popularity? If only I could tap into that magic.


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