A Star Wars Party In Less Than 12 Hours

My younger boy turned 8 and we celebrated his birthday over the weekend. What was initially planned to be a simple gathering eventually became a Star Wars Themed party. The party decoration was put together in less than 12 hours!

I broke my own record!

The birthday boy who initially agreed to a simple celebration secretly read my whatsapp messages and found out that I was planning to get a Star Wars toy for him.

At 9.30pm the night before the party, he told me that a Star Wars party would be great. I told him it was too late because all shops were closed and shooed him to bed.

Yet, like all parents who couldn’t bear to disappoint their kids, I thought I should at least try. I listed out the things I needed to have. It was almost 11 pm and the party was next day lunch.

Skipping the customized invites minused off one huge item from my list. We wouldn’t need any fanciful party food with creative labels because the Dad already had his menu all planned out. In fact, his pot roast was already cooking in the oven!

I found out that I ran out of colourful cardstock paper and had to use normal A4 printer paper for whatever decoration I needed to print. Thankfully it was Star Wars and anything black and white seemed appropriate.

I printed out some black and white Storm Troopers to hang around the house and some alphabets to decorate the walls. The boys had recently made a wooden plane and I thought it would serve as some sort of a Star Wars flying craft. No?

After an hour or 2 of working at it, I could finally see the Star Wars Theme slowly coming together. It was almost 2 am.

The next morning, the birthday boy came storming into our room. He was so excited and thrilled to see the decoration that had been put up overnight. It was like waking up from a dream. The expression on his face was simply priceless!

We had a couple of hours more before the party started and I decided to work on a table centre piece.

I dug out some of the kids’ Star Wars soft toys, some Legos (mostly with missing body parts!) and an old light saber. Stuck a few more alphabets to the wall and brought out the Oreo cheesecake that the birthday boy had requested. While I was busy, the birthday boy had cut and glued some cardboard pieces and chopsticks together. He had built an Imperial AT-AT Walker which looked perfect on his birthday cake!

It was a simple set up where the Dad and the brother handled the food while I did the dressing up of the house. The birthday boy clearly had fun and couldn’t stop thanking us for the surprise.

I realised that if given more time, I would have the tendency of going overboard with the details. From designing the invites, decorating the place, brainstorming ideas for games to food list and cake design. It can get overwhelming when you do not know when to stop.

So I’ve learned that whether you start planning early or late does very little in reducing the amount of stress of planning for a birthday party if you do not have a clear scope.

The key to a relatively stress free birthday party is to keep it simple and don’t be greedy! It might just turn out to be a good way for the family to get creative and have fun together!

 
 

3

I Have A Teenager In The House

My elder boy turned 13 this week and he is now officially a teenager! Gawk!

At 52 kg and 170 cm, he looks like a grown man with a baby face (well, maybe not so baby anymore!) People think he is sporty but we often tease that he is actually a nerd in disguise. We tell him that we should probably thank us for his sporty look. Since young, we made him go outdoor and he now enjoys swimming, biking, hiking and skiing. Recently he was identified to be ‘Track and Field worthy’ in his school and was made captain for the sports he does. Our jaws dropped when he told us that.

‘Sorry Son, our reaction wasn’t sarcasm, your Dad and I were just too proud of you.’

He loves Maths and Science and given a choice he would stay home to read his books and play his games. He reads ‘History of Pi’ and ‘A Brief History of Time’ but he doesn’t bring these books to school because it’s not very cool. He still struggles with Chinese but is fascinated with Conlang and is considering picking up Sindarin this school holiday. For a long time JRR Tolkien was unmatched until recently, he discovered more books by Orson Scott Card.

He is big on computer games but he would emphasize, only the types that require ‘brain’. He is allowed to play his games during the time when I cook dinner, which is EVERYDAY. The rule is simple, finish your work and you get to play. We have this arrangement for a long time now and it applies even during exam periods. There are times when it gets out of hand, when he rushes through his work or produces shabby work and we would ban him from his computer.

Recently, it’s been working well and he has managed to secure this privilege even now in Secondary school because he was able to bring home his As and A*s for his PSLE. He learned to manage his time and that includes doing his Maths homework way ahead so that he can free up more time! Gosh. And now he thinks aiming for 75 is good enough since getting 90 will only earn you the same grade. The Law of Diminishing Returns, he got it figured out while playing Vainglory and I was like, seriously?!

Apart from computer games and YouTube videos, he fiddles with some programming on his own. He doesn’t attend any tuition, so other than schoolwork and CCA, he is pretty much left to do his own things.

His younger brother has a Math test coming up and the school requires him to answer 60 Multiplication questions in 5 minutes. Frankly I was too lazy to write out every 60 questions to test him and his elder brother swiftly suggested a computer program to take over the job. He created a simple Scratch program that randomly generates 60 Multiplication questions that expires in 5 minutes.

It was a very basic program and I thought it could be refined to make it more interactive and interesting so that his brother will have more ‘fun’ doing it but he thought it was too much work!

‘Son, you are given a good brain and it is good that you put it into good use. Remember that the best way to pursue happiness is to help others. Take pride in your appearance and that applies to the work you do.’

He has outgrown themed birthday parties and I was glad we did an epic one for him 4 years back and this Minecraft Birthday cake was probably the last theme birthday cake I baked for him. Last year, he was a great help when we prepared for his brother’s Harry Potter birthday party.

So this year, I got him to plan for his own birthday party. His idea was simple, a pool party with some pizzas thrown in, best if we allowed them to end it with gaming session, having a cake wasn’t even in his list!

We realised that he had his friends grouped according to the types of games they played, the Clash Royale and the Vainglory clan. He almost wanted different parties for the different groups because he was worried that it would be awkward for them to mix. He can be thoughtful to a fault.

One of his friend gifted him a Google Play prepaid card and he explained that this friend was trying to turn him to the ‘dark side’. I was horrified! What ‘dark side’?! Apparently, he is known for paying ZERO dollars to play games. He only download free games and he doesn’t spend money on aesthetic upgrades. He doesn’t pay much attention to looking good but spend his time thinking and researching on good strategies and brushing up skills.

‘Dear Son, I know, peer pressure is a scary thing and I am glad that you are handling it well. Work towards being a good leader and others will follow you.’

So we did go according to his plan, we had some of his friends over, they were shooed off to the pool to get their outdoor time before given access to free Wi-Fi for the rest of the party. It was a simple party, the kind a teenager would like, hanging out with friends and doing their favourite thing!

And I almost took his ‘NO CAKE’ suggestion seriously. Thankfully my common sense got the better of me. I baked him his favourite cheesecake at the very last minute, the serious looking kind with no fanciful frosting! It was a perfect choice because one can NEVER go wrong with an Orea Cheesecake, especially with a bunch of teenage boys!

 

 

5

A Harry Potter Birthday Party

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My younger boy turned 7 over the weekend and we threw a Harry Potter birthday party for him. We had about 20 kids over and they had a blast but I suffered a headache and a hoarse voice after the party.

It took us a couple of weeks to prepare for the party but I realised that having enough energy to see through the party on that day itself is just as important. My boys rated the party a perfect 10 but I would have rated a much lower score mainly because we didn’t get to play all the games we wanted to.

We did quite a bit of craft for the party ourselves and I was happy to find reason to indulge in my crafty instinct. The birthday boy was happy to dab his hands here and there but left me to finish most of the jobs. His elder brother was however a great help. He came up with some really cool stuff for the party.

1. The Invitation

We sent out the invitation 2 weeks prior to the party. It includes a letter of invitation to Hogwarts and a train ticket for Platform 9 3/4. You can easily find a copy of the train ticket and the letter on the internet. Harry Potter birthday party ideas were all over the place!

I used Microsoft Word to type out the letter and the fonts used were Lucida Blackletter (for header), Apple Chancery (for body) and& Xingkai SC Light (for McGonagall’s signature)

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The letters and envelopes were printed out on normal A4 size paper but we brushed coffee over them to get the aged look. My elder boy had wanted to make his own Hogwarts mould using hot glue and real wax but I thought it was too complicated. We ended up using some cheap clay from Popular bookstore.

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We rolled small balls of clay and pressed 10 cent coins on them. After the clay has hardened and dried, we painted them with red poster paint. Overall, I think we achieved the “seal” look.

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The envelope was a little tricky to make. I downloaded a jpeg copy of the envelope from here and used GIMP (I was too cheapo to pay for Photoshop) to add in the individual guest names. You will need to rotate the text and align it to the envelope. I downloaded this Harry Potter font and used it for the text.

2. The Food

The party was in the afternoon so we ordered some mini savories. We had a snack station where we dressed up some candy and bottled drinks with Harry Potty Labels. All labels were downloaded from the same website.

Drinks label
Candy labels
Potion labels

The kids were thrilled to be eating cockroach clusters and drinking FireWhisky, Elf Made Wine and ButterBeer which were essentially chocolate clusters, promegranate, green tea and oolong tea.

3. The Cake

I had wanted to bake the cake if not for a failed bake a few days prior to the party. My brain was fried, I forgot the sugar! The boys ended up eating the cake with honey and they actually finished it! I decided that it would be safer to order our favourite chocolate cake instead.

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The decoration was simple. I had Quidditch hoops made from green pipe cleaners and straws. For the golden snitch, I cut out 2 wings and attached them to a Ferrero Roche.

4. The Props

The birthday boy made himself a wizards cloak from a black trash bag. He had probably spent enough time playing with trash and knew exactly where to cut holes so that his hands and head could stick out.

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You can print out Harry Potter glasses from here. Halloween was round the corner and we found wizard hats at Daiso for 2 bucks! The wizard broom was kindly donated by the Bangladesh worker who worked at East Coast Park.

On the night before the party, we unwrapped this magnetic chalk board that had been sitting in the study for months. It came in a cardboard packaging that looked just like the photo frame we needed for the party!

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I really wanted the owl balloons and had bought a bundle of helium balloons in the morning. My very talented sister managed to draw them in a jiffy by following pictures from here

We had everything placed at the entrance of the party site and I thought it was a welcoming sight.

5. The Games

My elder boy was assigned the game master and was responsible for planning the games. He was in charge of gathering the kids during the party but was obviously having too much fun playing and didn’t get the games started till late. Out of 3 games that he had prepared, the kids only played 1.

They played a game of dodge ball using squishy balls as Bludgers as seen in a Quidditch match. The kids were divided into 2 teams using the sorting hat. Whoever gets hit by the balls will be out of the game and whoever catches the ball will get to bring its members back into the game. The team with all its members kicked out loses the game.

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He followed this table Quidditch game idea and made 3 hoops. We found these ready made hoops from the Gardening section in Daiso! All he did was hot glue the hoops to the metal stand. We collected some sand from the beach and put them into our Ginger Ale glass bottles to keep the hoops upright.

We also made these lockets for a treasure hunt game. They were supposed to be the Hocruxes! The boys came up with the design and they learned to tie sliding knots so that these would fit every kid. Whoever finds these Hocruxes during the treasure hunt game will get to keep them.

For the pinata, we had a dementor which was made of paper marche and trash bag. Unfortunately the trash bag wasn’t hardy enough and the dementor fell off the tree after the 3rd hit. Thankfully there were some quick thinking kids who managed to put the pinata back onto the tree again. This time, it lasted another 5 hits or so. The kids refused to give up and insisted that they should continue to hit the pinata. The poor dementor was mutilated and the kids finally decided that it was time to pick up all that candy on the ground!

We learned that kids don’t need games with rules to have fun and if you really need to get them to play the games you have planned, invest in a handheld loud speaker!

6. The Party Favors and Souvenirs

We pre-packed some of the candy into these Wizard’s broom party bags to be given out to the younger kids who were too slow in picking up sweets from the pinata. But they were so cute that even the bigger kids asked for them.

The idea was from Martha Stewart and I really like how they turned out.

The hottest item among the kids have to be these! My elder boy made 20 of these wands using disposable chopsticks!

He used hot glue for the design and hand painted each wand with double coat of acrylic paint. Every wand comes with a description tag and he compiled a list of spells with their respective usage and printed them into 3 books.

He called them the Standard Book of Spells (Pocket Edition) Grade 2, 3 and 4. The plan was for each kid to know a fraction of the spells leaving him and his brother the master of all spells! (the last I heard, he kept more spells to himself!) They know exactly which wand belongs to which wizard, Gawk!

The boys spent many days working on these wands and even more days pretending to be Lord Voldemort and Dumbledore casting spells at each other! We had wanted to blind fold the kids to let them choose their wands (because the wand chooses the wizard!) but they were so intrigued by these wands and the description that came with them that we decided to let them choose their favourite wand instead.

These wands were made of disposable chopsticks and were all 8 inches long. The boys used longer chopsticks for their own wands and decorated them with special gold and silver trimmings. They made the better looking wands for themselves! Ha!

You can find the wand tutorial here

As you can imagine, it was hell lots of work preparing a themed birthday party. The good thing was it was the end of school year and the boys were freed up from homework and CCAs. We spent many afternoons working on the party, talking about Harry Potter and discussing details in the book. It was a great project to work on and they are now the Harry Potter birthday party planner experts!

 

Like I said during the last themed birthday party I organized, this will absolutely be the last themed birthday party for us! But then I suspect like most things painful but fun, the memory is short. Oh well, till the next one comes around!

 
 

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