Friday, May 25, 2012

The Force made me do it: A Jedi party

Last weekend was the first of our two kids' birthdays, which both fall at the end of May.
My Star Wars loving son turned 7. His party on Saturday was therefore Star Wars-themed, but also Lego-influenced, because when given the choice, he prefers Lego Star Wars stuff to just regular Star Wars stuff. It's a big deal.

So what I do, during party season, is get a little theme-crazed and go overboard with ideas. I'm good at brainstorming, less good at time-budgeting, so that's a problem. But, ya know, I can sleep when I'm dead.

The Force first led me to these (the Force is all into etsy these days). Raddest invites ever. You send ewehoo your child's photo, and he becomes the star in a little print-it-yourself 8 pg comic book ending at the invite.

The party was costume-optional, and somehow we had no costumes ourselves. So I then followed/improvised a tutorial for a hooded poncho and made Jedi robes for my people.

Seriously, it was so easy I'm not even going to describe it. If you want to know, find a tutorial on Pinterest (which are mainly for little kids' beach ponchos) to get the general concept. Then do the same on a giant brown towel. The towels cost $7 each and it took three to make both robes (I cut the two hoods from the third towel). The kids are excited to use them after swimming or the beach too. But for now, here is some dramatic Jedi fighting in a dark kitchen so the lightsabers looked cooler.

I also made this bunting from a Star Wars sheet that had a run in with a jar of Mod Podge. Had to repurpose what was salvageable from that baby.

And big sister made this, the morning of the party, in honor of her brother. She even added R2's rusty spot. Such a thoughtful girl.

Back to the party.
First, 10 wild little people were funneled to a table covered in Legos. This portion was called "Buying me more time to get things ready".

Then we ate dinner, all items chosen by my little Jedi: Doritos Tacos from Taco Bell, I mean, from Tatooine, taquitos, Bantha Fodder beans and rice, Chewbacca chips and salsa, Ewok snacks (pretzels and grapes), you get the idea. The beverage was Jedi Juice, which looked awesome in my dispenser but I forgot to take a photo of it: strawberry lemonade, cranberry juice, and sparkling water.

Remember these rocks we painted last summer?? They were good weights.

Next we had our Tie-Fighter/X-wing bean bag toss. Each line of kids was either a team of Tie-fighters or X-wings. You drop the bag, your ship is toast. Last man standing wins for the team. That way I didn't have to buy prizes. What they won was PRIDE for being on the winning side! Sounds lame but it actually worked.

Then, my favorite part: Jedi training school, led by my little Jedi, in preparation for the big pool-noodle lightsaber battle. (Yep, I'm a risk taker in the name of fun.) This was ALL his idea, start to finish. I helped him write the curriculum. I was pretty shocked at his comfort level speaking to the group, as well as his ability to communicate his ideas. He had a lot of very specific ideas. I added some rules.

(Directions on the pool noodle sabers: Cut a pool noodle to about 36". Wrap about 10 inches with silver duct tape. Add strips of black electrical tape for detail. Don't forget a small square of red tape or else your Jedi may freak out that there is no way to turn the fake lightsaber on.)  He wanted a purple saber, just like Mace Windu. It's a big deal, I told you.

He also wanted his "class" to have demos on all the moves. He called up different volunteers each time to help him demonstrate. Jedis are good jumpers.

On the count of three, after all the kids were moved to the battlefield (cul-de-sac), the battle commenced. Which meant that 10 kids flew at each other swinging. It was pure, wild, hysterical chaos for a solid fifteen minutes. And thank you JESUS there was not a single tear or injury! I took some video of the battle and it was super funny. We had some "safe" territory so they could rest and catch their breath every few minutes. But it wasn't long before each was back in the action. Naturally, every picture is BLURRY.

Then came my second favorite part. The Jedi Award ceremony, where I gave them all new Jedi names and placed a medal of honor around each of their necks. They LOVED it, and giggled at everyone's altered name.

(These were made from wooden ornaments from the craft store, which I painted metallic gold and used sparkly and metallic paper on one side for the name labels. Artsy husband made me a template for the Jedi insignia I traced onto the other side and filled in with a Sharpie Paint pen.)

We sang happy birthday, and my little Jedi blew his candle out on the big pile of churros. Yep, again his choice for dessert. And just as it was getting dark, we started the movie Return of the Jedi on the big screen on our garage. The kids and grown-ups plopped into beach chairs, hauled out the blankets and grabbed a box of popcorn. All the little Jedis in the front row watched this classic with rapture. Well, after they danced behind the screen for a while when it was being set up.

It was an awesome night. I loved all the details, and so did my son. Of course he has no idea that I spent every free moment for two weeks working on it. But it doesn't matter. I saw him wear a perma-smile for about four hours, and I'm pretty sure he felt loved. Did I need to do all that for him to smile and feel loved on his birthday? Of course not. But I like to. It's my thing. It's the family culture I was raised in, and it's one time of year I can take the opportunity to bless my kid in a creative way.

Well, I guess he wasn't smiling whenever he was making cool and serious and silly Jedi faces.

Nothing went wrong, no one cried, no one got injured, and I didn't forget anything too significant. Except to slice and bring out the watermelon. But I didn't hear anyone say, "HEY! Why isn't there watermelon at this party!?"

We handed out my all time favorite party favor at the end: mix tapes (except there's no such thing as tapes anymore; I just want to call them that still. I don't care what size and shape the format is, they will always be mix tapes to me.) The compilation was half John Williams soundtrack music from Star Wars and half ultra annoying kid techno such as the Gummy Bear song and the Hamster Dance. Are these even really songs? I should have enclosed an apology.

Check out the labels I made. This is the easiest thing ever and once you make CDs for a party, you'll never hand out another sack of lame favors again. Promise. The labels are just an Avery label product you can get at any office supply store. You go onto their website, open the template, drop a photo and some text onto the template and save and print the file. I don't worry about listing out the song names. A cute label is enough. The actual songs can just be a big surprise to your recipients.  So awesome, right? And from the feedback we've had over the years when we've handed out CDs, the kids LOVE to have a customized CD of their friend's favorite music. It's a gift that really lasts.

It was a lot of planning, and it was an exhausting, late night. But memories were certainly made.

All in all, I'd say the Force was with us.  



  1. Oh my goodness that was so much fun!

    Thank you SO much for saying that you didn't need to do all of that stuff, but it's your thing! It's my thing too and some people just do not get that!

    Fun stuff! I plan to copy a few of these ideas for our month away birthday party!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend.

  2. how much fun is this. although I find myself trying to understand a foreign language with the star wars. and boys in general. I guess I'm not a boy mom! and I love that you love doing all that. what sweet memories :)

  3. You are truly super mom! As a mom to a star wars/lego loving boy....amazing party!

  4. That is party awesomeness, I know a nine year old who would love that! I'm sure your son felt so loved that day, looks like a fun party!

  5. Wow girl! All your hard work and non stop prep paid off big time! Such wonderful memories that will be talked about in your family for years and years to come! Your boy will be telling his kids about it for sure:) Great Job Momma!!

  6. I'm a crazy party mom too so I know how great this party is! You didn't miss a detail! I'm sure your boy LOVED it and will remember it for a long, long time to come! I know any of my boys would've loved it!