Birthday Parties

Oscar-Themed Birthday Fun

Oscar-Themed Birthday Fun

It’s that time of year again!  Time to honor the best and brightest, the most talented, the one who’s given their all and made the most impact on us.  I’m talking about my brother’s birthday!  Last year, we decided to tie the Oscars into his celebration since they happened around the same time.  B and I had such fun planning!

We went to our favorite restaurant for dinner, John’s Family Restaurant in Rippon, West Virginia.  Yes, it’s out of state, but the drive is not that long and it’s very beautiful.  We used to live in West Virginia and go back to John’s a few times a year.  Great comfort food, ranging from burgers up to prime rib and crab cakes, and the owner will come to your table and sing Happy Birthday to you!  She has the voice of an angel and no matter how many times she’s sung that song, you feel her undivided attention and God’s love flow out of her in those words.  I’m getting all verclempt just thinking about it.  *sniff, sniff*

After dinner, we drove back to our house for dessert and presents.  Bonus of having dinner out of state is that the ride back home giving your body time to make room for dessert! (I wish I had thought to take more pictures, but I get caught up in the moment sometimes.)  We decorated with yellow and black balloons and created 3 award categories to present to my brother before cake and present time: Best Son, Best Brother and Best Uncle.  I created envelopes with black construction paper and staples.  On the front of each envelope, I listed the award category and the five nominees on card stock with a fancy font and glued that to the front of the envelopes.  Inside each envelope was the the name of the winner (my brother Neale, of course), also on card stock in a fancy font.  All of this was made up for fun and not to be serious.

Nominees for Best Son:
1. Pinnocchio
2. Son of Sam
3. George & Fred Weasley
4. Jep Robertson
5. Neale

Nominees for Best Uncle:
1. Uncle Si
2. Uncle Ben
3. Uncle Buck
4. Uncle Sam
5. Uncle Neale

Nominees for Best Brother:
1. Wally Cleaver
2. Loki
3. Greg Brady
4. Jase Robertson
5. Neale

My dad presented Best Son, B did Best Uncle and I did Best Brother.  The hubs was our “trophy girl”.  ;o)  I found a downloadable silhouette of the Oscar on Twig & Thistle, cut out 3, laminated them with my $19.99 laminator from Costco and stuck them in Dollar Tree paper cups.  The hubs wrote the award category on the front because he has the best printing in the family.

It wasn’t a big party and it didn’t take us long to do, but we all had so much fun!  B and I giggling while making the statuettes over how surprised Neale would be.  The 3 of us laughing while coming up with other nominees.  My dad taking 5 minutes to present his award because he couldn’t stop laughing.  All 3 of Neale’s acceptance speeches.  I’m so glad we did this for him.  He truly is the best brother, brother-in-law, son and uncle.  He is always there for us when we need him and we have a great time together.

Awesome Transformer Birthday Party under $80!

I soooo did not want to do a birthday party this year!  I just didn’t want to take the time to research, plan, search for deals and put it together in addition to my jobs – COO of Casa de You, Me & B; Director of Education at You, Me & B Academy; and Editor & Writer of You, Me & B Blog.  I just wanted the three of us to do something special together or to take B and a friend or two to do something fun.  *sigh*  But B really wanted a party  and, since he was turning 12, this would be the last birthday party.  So I caved and agreed to do it and accepted his desired theme – Transformers.  I went online that night, looked up ideas and saved some links in my favorites (without reading them) for later.   Then I proceeded to procrastinate for a month.

Two and a half weeks before the party, I finally realized that invitations needed to go out, so B and I spent the morning creating them.  Actually, he spent the morning creating them and I was his lighting and prop gal.  He selected a picture of ours and pulled it up on the computer screen.  I stacked a small suitcase in front of the monitor, covered it with black material and B arranged 3 of his Transformers on it.  Smokesceen is in pieces in the background on the left (destroyed by Bumblebee) and Deep Desert Brawl has a gun to Bumblebee’s head in the forefront on the right.

B spent a lot of time with the camera, focusing in on one part and fuzzing out the rest, then trying a different part, then another and another and another.  Then he decided he didn’t have the lighting he wanted, so I stood over him with a desk lamp pointed at the computer screen, and he moved my arms around until the lighting reflected off the computer screen to get the effect he wanted.  What looks like fire in the middle of the screen is from the lamp I’m holding.  Finally he had The Shot.  We uploaded it to the computer, added wording and ordered copies from Staples.


I’m so proud of him; he did an excellent job on the invitation!  Staples had a minimum order requirement of 25 invitations even though I only needed a dozen.  They were printed out on 4″ x 8″ cards and came with envelopes for $14.99.  They were ready for pick up at our local Staples in a few hours.  Some we delivered in person; some we had to mail.  Then, I still procrastinated until one week before the party.  But once I got started, I was on a roll and the kids had a blast.  The hubs and I did, too, to tell you the truth.  I received ideas from and Pinterest.  Here’s what we did.

Once everyone arrived, we went into the kitchen where I had covered two tables with plastic, yellow tablecloths and put bowls of regular sized marshmallows and thin pretzel sticks.  We told the kids to build themselves a robot out of the pretzels and marshmallows.  Some kids were finished before others and asked if they could eat their creations, but we made them all wait until everyone had a robot completed.  We all admired the robots and then threw the kids a loop: using only the pieces already in your robot, transform it into a vehicle.  Some complained they didn’t have enough pieces to make a vehicle, but we asked them to at least try, use their imagination, a vehicle doesn’t have to have 4 wheels, etc. before they they reached for more parts.  They got creative!  🙂

Since they were all so keen on eating their creations (but we hadn’t washed hands before everyone dug into the bowls of pretzels and treats) we had everyone wash hands and eat the snacks I’d set out: veggies and dip; crackers & hummus; cheese sticks; pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  While they munched, I filled cups with water and passed them out.  Each cup had the child’s 1st name written on it with a Sharpie, as well as their Transformer name.  They loved to hear all the names I got from this Transformer Name Generator.

20141019_165438   20141019_171441

After they’d all had something to eat and drink, the hubs took the kids into the front room to play a Transformer Memory Game.  I got the idea from Tip Junkie, but did not use their free printable (I don’t have enough ink in my printer!).  Instead, we took pictures of 6 of B’s transformers – one in robot form and one in vehicle form – and uploaded them to Costco’s Photo Center.  The twelve pictures costs me $1.65 and were ready in a couple of hours.  I glued the pictures to blue construction paper and laminated them with a laminator and sleeves I already owned.  Punched holes in the bottom and top of the laminating sheets and connected with red yarn so that each card could be turned independently.  I hung the game on the coat closet doors.  Although only a few of our guests had ever seen a Transformer movie, I told them they would still be successful at the game by matching colors of the Transformers in the pictures.  The hubs played the memory game with the kids while I ran out back and hid several items in our backyard and my neighbors backyard.  I came back inside just as the memory game ended.  All the kids were up at the board asking the hubs if they could take one of the pictures home with them. 🙂

I told the kids that in the 1st Transformer movie Sam Witwicky’s dad told Sam if he got A’s and earned $2,000 he’d buy him a car.  I was going to ask each child a question and they had to get it right in order to get their A.  For the younger children, I asked them how old they were, what their last name was, their favorite movie, favorite animal, etc.  For the older kids I asked them what the capital of the US is, what country is our neighbor to the north, to the south, etc..  The homeschool mom in me had to inject learning into the party but still ensure they would get their question correct.  😉

After they’d all answered a question correctly, (we cheered & hi-fived everyone when they did), I told them how to earn their $2,000.  Items were hidden all over our yard and the neighbor’s yard (the fence is open between us so the kids can run back and forth easily).  Some of the items had price tags on them and some didn’t.  Each child needed to find and bring to us $2,000 worth of items to buy their car – no more, no less.  If they found a disguise item that did not have a price tag, they would have to put it on and perform for the hubs and me and we’d give them “money” based on their performance.  We had white ping pong balls (representing the ice that Megatron had been trapped under in the Arctic) with $1,000 written on them; we had glow sticks (Sam’s great-grandfather Captain Witwicky needed light down in the ice cavern where he found Megatron) with $500 price tags on them and Captain Witwicky mustaches with no price tags.  We made sure everyone knew that this was not a race to be first nor to collect as many items as possible.  They needed to use their Math skills just to get $2,000 and then help the others.  I loved the accents they came up with when they talked to us with mustaches on!

So, they’d earned their A and $2,000 and it was time to get their cars.  I told them the car picks the driver, the driver does not pick the car.  We went into the alley behind our house and lined the kids up at the base of the neighbor’s driveway (because it is on an incline).  The plan was to roll the cars, one at a time, down the driveway and whomever the car went to, the car chose that child.  Unfortunately, I was using B’s Hot Wheels and the small tires didn’t go but a few inches on the blacktop.  So, we just had each child reach into the bag of cars and select one.


I hadn’t used a sifter in a really long time and I shook too much sugar on the cake! Don’t worry, when I cut the slices for the kids, I knocked it off before they ate. The top middle section actually has an upside down triangle of card stock inside of it that I was supposed to remove after shaking on the sugar. However, it was so covered, I forgot it was there until I started cutting that part of the cake. It was removed and no one ate any.

We went back inside for cake & singing, next, because the scavenger hunt was the last planned activity and they could burn off sugar marching through the neighborhood.  I made B’s favorite cake (which was my fav as a child) Triple Chocolate Cake.  No icing needed!  The hubs cut our an Autobot symbol stencil for me and I used that to shake powdered sugar on the cake (I used too much, but shook it off before putting slices on their plates).  The kids were impressed.  We sang, ate cake.  Remember the invitation B created?  The Decepticons were holding the Autobots hostage and we had to find them before it was too late!  There were 8 clues that sent the kids up and down the alley.  I sent the kids outside to receive their 1st scavenger hunt clue.  Here are all the clues:


I found these Decepticon & Autobot symbols online and glued them to each clue envelope.

  1. If you’re looking for your Autobot brothers,
    It’s not hard to see;
    You’ll find your 1st clue
    Where you watch a movie.
    (They successfully went to the living room DVD player and found the next clue.)
  2. If you want a clue to help save Ironhide,
    Look where B puts his drink when he goes for a ride.
    (They successfully went to the garage and found a clue in the water bottle holder on B’s bike.)
  3. Someone on this street
    Makes lemonade popsicle treats.
    So don’t sit a spell.
    Go ring her doorbell!
    (After some debate over who’s mom made the best Summer popsicles, they decided on the correct mom, rang her doorbell and she handed them the next clue.)
  4. He dribbles the ball.
    He shoots; he scores!
    He finds another clue
    At one of these outdoors.
    (There are 2 permanent basketball hoops in the alley out back, one at each end, plus a couple of the kids have the Fisher Price ones in their garages.  They had to search them all to find the right one and they did.)
  5. When you take out the trash
    You have to choose-
    Will it get thrown away
    Or can it be reused?
    (They realized it was a recycle bin and since most of the kids lived on the alley, they all wanted to check their own recycle bins first.  B thought it made sense to check his first, so that’s what they did and they found the next clue.)
  6. The enemy is scared.
    Your search has been bold.
    Now look in the box
    Where milk stays cold.
    (Everyone yelled, “THE REFRIGERATOR!”  and started to head for the house.  But B stopped them and said we had a fridge in the garage and that’s where we keep the extra milk.  They found the next clue.)
  7. The Decepticons are getting close to defeat.
    Your next clue lies where The Smiths wipe their feet.
    (They all yelled, “DOORMAT!” and headed to the Smith’s house.)
  8. You’ve found the last clue
    But you’re running out of time!
    Put this puzzle together
    To get your last rhyme.
    (Then they dumped several cut up pieces of paper out of the envelope and they all worked together to fit the pieces of the last clue together.)
  9. There’s a honeysuckle bush
    That smells so sweet.
    It’s real close by
    But you must cross a street.
    Will you pick the right one?
    Which way will you go?
    Will you save them in time?
    Or will they fall to your foe?
    (Their first guess where the honeysuckle bush was located was correct!  They found a clear Ziplock bag full of Autobots behind some thorns at the base of a honeysuckle bush.)

There were 20 minutes left before the parents would pick up their kids and we went to the alley out back to play.  Everyone who lives on the alley shared their bike, scooters, swords and Nerf guns with those who didn’t and there was a mighty battle of Decepticons vs. Autobots.

When it was time for a child to leave, I gave him or her their personal Allspark full of Energon to keep them going.  I decorated plain cupcake boxes to look like the Allspark and each one contained 2 Honeycrisp apples and a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin.



This morning, B decided to do another Transformer picture to include in the Thank You notes.  We had 10 guests, including 3 sets of siblings, so we ordered 7 pictures.

Thank you note 2 copy

Cost of party breakdown, with tax:

Invitations $15.89
Pictures for Memory Game $1.65
Thank You Notes $0.96
Decorations, plates, napkins, cups, tablecloths, ping pong balls, glow sticks and mustaches from Dollar Tree $13.78
Cupcake boxes from ($11 of that was shipping) $19.98
Broccoli, hummus, pretzel sticks, marshmallows, organic Honeycrisp apples $27.34
Cake & muffin ingredients, carrots, dip, crackers, cheese sticks I already had $0.00
Total $79.60

Star Wars Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party

Throwback Thursday! Have a child who LOVES Star Wars? Here are all the details from the Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party I threw B for his 6th birthday. Still don’t know who had more fun – the kids at the party or me planning it!

You, Me & B

This sleepover birthday party was as much fun to plan as it was to attend!

After sharing how I did B’s LEGO Building Party for his 9th birthday, I realized I should also share what I did for his 6th birthday – a Star Wars Jedi Training Academy.  And it was a sleepover.  Once again, thank goodness for the Birthday Party Ideas website!  I was actually worried the boys would not enjoy being at B’s party as much I enjoyed planning it. I mean I had so much fun planning and thinking and buying; it was amazing. I did not think I was that kind of party planner. I always thought this kind of attention to detail was the talent of a girlie-girl. You know?  Like only a more feminine woman than me could plan a party.  But I did it.  And each boy said several times that…

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Kids Halloween Party

B has always wanted to throw a costumed Halloween party so we finally did it this year.  I don’t know who had more fun – me planning, buying and creating for the party or the kids at the party.  :o)  When we got down to the wire, the hubs and I were pretty frantic right before the party started.  Thank goodness my BFF showed up to finish the cupcakes for me and one of the moms stayed during the party to take pictures.  I ran up for a shower 10 minutes before the party started!

The first thing I did was create a Halloween Party Ideas board on Pinterest.  I definitely did not use all the ideas that I pinned but if I did not have them all in a central location, I’d never remember them.  Although we purchased so many party items from our local Dollar Tree, the gas used during the repeated trips up there probably negated the fact that everything was $1.  LOL

I downloaded and printed the skull and candy corn invitations from Do It Yourself Invitations.  I would have preferred an invitation that was spookier or at least was mostly black and orange, but B liked this one the best, so we went with it.  I printed them on card stock, put them in manila envelopes that B decorated with spiders, ghosts, etc. and we hand-delivered them.  In addition to day, time and RSVP info, I put this on the cards:

We’re having a party! We hope you can come.
Get dressed in your costume. We’ll have lots of fun!

The party was in between lunch and dinner, so I only provided a few snacks and cupcakes.  B wrapped mason jars with white crepe paper and added google eyes for mummy glasses, writing each guest’s name on the back.  I cut up carrots, red pepper and broccoli and served it with my go-to dip: bottled ranch dressing, a minced clove or 2 of garlic and dried dill weed.  Make it at least a couple of hours before serving to get the flavors to meld.  I also made Money Saving Mom’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins (a fav in our house) and witch’s brooms made out of pretzel sticks and cheese sticks I cut into fringe.

I made Joy the Baker’s Brownie Bottom Ice Cream Cupcakes with cookies n cream ice cream and topped them with a dollop of buttercream icing instead of whipped cream.  I needed something more solid to hold the cupcake topper, The Partiologist’s Stained Glass Pumpkins.  While I showered, my BFF made the pumpkins.

For the goodie bags, I was proactive and went to Walmart last month to take advantage of the back to school sales. I bought each child a box of colored pencils, a box of crayons and split 2 boxes of 20 pencils each among the 8 guests – all that cost $1 per child.  I know all the children had just bought supplies for school, but all those supplies were taken to school; these goodie bag items were for use at home.  I had originally planned to use a pack of goodie bags I bought at a yard sale for $0.50, but I could not fit the Honeycrisp Apples in them, so I got cute jack-o-lantern bags from Walmart for $0.97 each.  B filled the goodie bags and made tags for them with each guest’s name.

Now onto the activities.  We checked Halloween CDs out of the library and had music playing when the guests arrived.  B held a Monster Mash dance party in the front room until everyone had arrived.  Then I had all the kids sit down for the mummy game.  I bought a bag each of Halloween erasers, vampire teeth, glow-in-the-dark snakes and bugs at the Dollar Tree and wrapped them up inside 3 or 4 rolls of white crepe paper.  I worked on that for 2 hours, while watching TV, the night before the party.  Sometimes there was only 1 foot of crepe paper between doodads and sometimes there was 5 feet between them.  Each child took a turn unrolling the crepe paper until they got a doodad, ripped off the crepe paper they’d unwound and wrapped it around themselves.  Then they passed the ball to the next child.  You can see B, above, with paper wrapped around his head and in his mouth are a pair of vampire teeth.  He had gotten sweaty in his Angry Birds costume while dancing, so I made him take it off to cool down.  Each child collected 4 or 5 doodads and then we put them in their goodie bags for safe keeping (that’s why B labeled each bag with a name).

By the time the mummy game was over, Miss Lyn and Francesca, our face painter and balloon artists, had arrived and set up.  The kids were not interested in face paintings to begin with but they were enamored with the wonderful balloon creations the ladies made!  Snakes, horses, light sabers, a green pig to go with B’s Angry Birds costume, an octopus and many more.  Anything the kids asked for, they could make.  Below you can see B’s face painting – very sinister looking and exactly what B asked her to do – and holding his Angry Bird pig while in costume.

Once everyone received a balloon creation, I herded the kids outside to decorate pumpkins while they took turns getting face paintings.  I bought 3 packages of 6 jars of paint, some brushes and 2 packages of glitter glue pens at the Dollar Tree and small pumpkins from a local farm.  The kids had a great time painting Count Pumpcula, Darth Vader, a Mincecraft Creeper, a fiery graveyard of zombies and more on their gourds.

Some of the kids finished their pumpkin painting early and we had a pumpkin roll game.  Two opponents had to roll their pumpkin across the yard using a broom.  It proved pretty difficult for all the kids except one – he dominated this game.  It didn’t matter which pumpkin nor which broom he used, he just flew down the yard!

Once the pumpkin and face paintings were all done, I handed out cupcakes and we all went outside to eat them.  Then we all went back inside to wash up.  B had requested that his guests bring their scooters and helmets to the party, so after washing up, we all went into the alley out back and scooted some of that sugar off.  I had let all the parents know that we would be in the alley at the end of the party so they should come around back to pick up their kids.

Everyone had a great time and I’m so glad we did this!

DIY Star Wars Death Star Birthday Cake

Last month, I blogged about the Star Wars Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party I threw for my son 3 years ago.  Here is the tutorial on how I made the Death Star Cake.

I used the Wilton Ball Cake Pan. Made half Chocolate Fudge Cake and half White Cake for the Light and Dark Sides of The Force.

The chocolate side was heavier than the white side so I put that on the bottom. Shaved a little off so it would not roll. Thin layer of icing so top layer would stick.

Placed the white cake half on top and the ball is complete.

I used the bottom of a paper cut to outline the circle where the laser comes out of the Death Star.

This little serated knife from our pumpkin decorating kit cut out the laser hole at an angle.

Here is the cone-shaped hole cut out.

I used my large pastry bag and icing tip to cover the cake.

Squeezed the icing on and then used a spatula to smooth it out.

Here it is all smooth.

I used dental floss to put a line around the middle and then filled that line in with black gel. Used the same gel for circles in the hole. I didn’t like the black circles and suggest making them with gray, instead.

I used gray icing to decorate rest of the Death Star and used green toothpicks to simulate the laser coming out.


Star Wars Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party

This sleepover birthday party was as much fun to plan as it was to attend!

After sharing how I did B’s LEGO Building Party for his 9th birthday, I realized I should also share what I did for his 6th birthday – a Star Wars Jedi Training Academy.  And it was a sleepover.  Once again, thank goodness for the Birthday Party Ideas website!  I was actually worried the boys would not enjoy being at B’s party as much I enjoyed planning it. I mean I had so much fun planning and thinking and buying; it was amazing. I did not think I was that kind of party planner. I always thought this kind of attention to detail was the talent of a girlie-girl. You know?  Like only a more feminine woman than me could plan a party.  But I did it.  And each boy said several times that this was the best sleepover and the best birthday party they’d ever been invited to.  Now I know that meant until the next one they were invited to, but I took the praise anyway.  ;o)

First of all, I cannot take credit for the invitation.  I sent a computer geek friend of ours some pictures of B and the wording I wanted on the invitation and he created this masterpiece.  So, I cannot help you with the DIY on this.  But let’s face it – in today’s word, we all know at least one computer geek and if you cook for them they will make you an invitation.  :o)

So, this is what the front of the invitation looked liked…


And here’s the inside of the invitation.  The wording says:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… 

A boy of destiny was born. The Jedi Council named him B and knew that he was The Chosen One. In the 6 years that followed this youngling’s birth, he has been trained in the ways of The Force. Now Padawan B’s time has come to complete his training and become a Jedi Master. The Council has decided you are worthy to train alongside him. If you are ready to face your final tests as a Jedi, have your mothership (or fathership) deliver you to: 

Dock #{our house #} of landing bay {name of our street} on the {name of our city} moon of planet {our last name}.  The Jedi Training Center will begin boarding at 4:30pm on Saturday, October 4, 2008.  Your intense training will include an overnight stay. Should you accept this challenge, please ensure that you pack the proper overnight provisions and schedule a transport to collect you at 9:30am Sunday. If your home planet is unable to survive without your protection that long, your transport should collect you at 7:30pm Saturday.  To prevent the location of the Jedi Training Center getting into the hands of The Dark Side, please leave your Jedi uniform at home. Travel in civilian clothing that is weather appropriate for venturing outside.  “Look forward to seeing you, we do. May The Force be with you.”  Master Yoda

Added this bit in the invitation – “If your home planet is unable to survive without your protection that long, your transport should collect you at 7:30pm Saturday.” in case there were any boys that did not feel comfortable spending the night.  However, they all spent the night. 

 We had another dad help us out with the party and he spent the night, as well.  We were so glad he was there to help, too!  I made Jedi uniforms for us adult party attendants and all the kid out of brown and black felt.  Here is me in mine.  As each child arrived, I stowed their overnight gear and had them put on their uniform.  The Star Wars soundtrack was playing in the background.  A friend of mine had given me some big Star Wars cups that were leftover from her son’s last party and each child got to pick out which cup he wanted. They drank from the cups while they were here and then took them home with them.

  They just played inside and jumped around in excitement until everyone arrived. Then we played “Who am I?”  I taped a picture of a Star Wars character on each child’s back and they took turns asking questions of their fellow padawans and using their Jedi powers of concentration to figure out who was on their own back. They gave each other some great hints and were so happy for each other when they guessed correctly. In the middle of the game, we heard Darth Vader’s breathing coming from upstairs. I looked up the stairwell and Darth Vader was coming down the steps. I screamed, which scared the kids. They followed my gaze, saw Darth Vader and ran away in all different directions screaming at the tops of thier lungs! It was HYSTERICAL!! As soon as the hubs got to the botom of the stairs he had to take the mask off; he was laughing so hard at our reactions and he was sweating like crazy under it.  I bought a Darth Vader mask and cape at Party City since the whole costume was too expensive, and the hubs just wore black pants and shirt with them.  After the “Who am I?” game was over, we headed outside for the obstacle course. 

I got a Yoda backpack off of eBay and each child wore the backpack for their turn through the obstacle course, just like Luke Skywalker did in The Empire Strikes Back. So, each child had to do: 

1. 10 jumping jacks 2. Spin around 5 times 3. A forward roll (on a blanket) 4. Run and jump over the Degobah Swamp (green towels) 5. Keep a balloon in the air for 10 seconds using a lightsaber 6. Pop 5 balloons with their butt. In 4 of them was a blank piece of paper and the 5th balloon had a picture of Boba Fett. They had to pop the balloons by sitting on them in order to “capture” Boba Fett before he flew away with frozen Han Solo 7. Hit a mylar balloon of Darth Vader with a water gun 5 times. The balloon was 10′ off the ground, blowing in the breeze and was tied to a Geoffrey Giraffe balloon (B got his free one in TRU the day before) so you had to be careful not to hit Darth’s hostage, Geoffrey, with the water.

The kids were great with being patient during everyone else’s turn. They cheered each other on and jumped in to help when asked, like when one boy was too light to pop balloons with his butt or by stomping on them with his foot and when another boy did not want to pop the balloons himself b/c he was scared of the noise. Then the kids just battled with the lightsabers while I got dinner on the table. The foods I served for dinner and breakfast were: Chewbacca Chips with Kenobi Queso; Vader Veggies and Degobah Dip; Baked Mustafar (baked ziti that looked like the lava planet in Episode III); Galactic Garlic Bread, Wookie Water; Tattoine Trail Mix (popcorn, pretzels, raisins and M&Ms); Palpatine Pancakes; Bespin Bacon; Skwalker Sausage and Jedi Juice (OJ). 

Click on this tutorial blog post to see how I made the cake.

 After dinner and the Death Star Cake I made, the kids got into their PJs and we watched The Empire Strikes Back. Then they all laid down in the living room to go to “sleep”.  Most of the kids were asleep by 11pm.  B, of course, was up at 5:30am and the rest were up by 6:30am. Another Star Wars movie was put on to distract the kids while I got breakfast ready. They so wanted to go back outside to play but we would not let them out until 9am out of respect for the neighbors. 

When their parents arrived, they got their goody bags on the way out the door.  A couple of weeks before the party, a friend called and alerted me to a ton of Star Wars things at the Target Dollar Spot, so I got some goody bag things there to add to the items I had bought off of eBay. Each child got to keep their uniform and there was a graduation certificate in their bags signed my the hubs and me.

I don’t know who had more fun, the kids or us adults. When I was putting the goody bags together a few days before the party, the hubs “chastized” me for going all out. He said we would never be able to top this party and what the heck was I going to do next year? At the time I told him I didn’t think I could do this kind of party again. B could just invite one friend to do something special the next year. But after that party I was hooked and I knew I could and would do another themed party again.  

 I’m sorry I don’t have the amount of money I spent on this party like I did with the LEGO one.  It could have gotten really expensive if I bought all new stuff from the store instead of making things and searching for bargains and buying gently used items.  Whatever your budget, you can put together a great children’s party they can enjoy and you can be proud of.

DIY LEGO Birthday Cake

So B had a LEGO Building Party on the 15th and I had to make LEGO brick cakes!  I was going to make 1 rectangular brick from a 9″x13″ cake pan, but B had other plans.  He informed me that the rectangular brick was not the “original” LEGO brick; the square one with 4 nodules on top was.  He also informed me he wanted a half and half cake, like Wegmans does in their full sheet cakes (one half is vanilla and 1 half is chocolate).  I decided to make 1 cake of each flavor.  So here’s what I did.

With each box of cake mix, I made an 8″x8″ cake and 6 cupcakes.  I only needed 4 cupcakes for the top of each cake, but I felt better having extras in case I messed something up.  If I am decorating cakes, I never ice them the same day they are baked.  I let them set up for at least 24 hours and they are easier to work with, in my opinion.  Here are all my pieces, cooled.

I sliced off the rounded top of each cake.  Turning them upside down would not have worked; I wanted both top and bottom to be flat.


I cut the top of four cupcakes off.  Leaving them in the wrapper made a perfect guide line for me.
I laid the cupcakes, upside down on the cake to test out where they would go and make sure they fit.
Then I iced the base….
…and each cupcake.  I tried holding the cupcakes from the bottom and icing them, but I could not hold them steady enough and I got more icing on my fingers than on the cupcakes.  So, I cleaned the bottom of an icing can, put a dollop of icing on it to use as “glue” to hold the cupcake in place and iced them that way.  So much better!
When i had completely iced a cupcake, I used a thin, metal spatula to slide the cupcake off the bottom of the icing can and onto the cake.
I could have left the cakes like this, but that’ not me.  Every nodule (they are actually called “pips”, according to LEGO) on every LEGO brick has the word “LEGO” in it.  So I used a toothpick while the icing was still soft and wrote LEGO on top of all 8 pips.
There you go!

How I Threw a LEGO Building Birthday Party for 8 Boys for Less Than $85

See what great, inexpensive finds helped me throw a great party on the cheap!

B turned 9 this month and requested a LEGO building party.  Thank goodness for Birthday Party Ideas‘ website!  I read the descriptions of several different LEGO parties and started writing down the ideas that I liked and thought I could handle.  Then I sat up late for a couple nights in a row to narrow down exactly what I was going to do and how.  First of all, we needed LEGOS for the party.  B has a good quantity of LEGOS, but not much of a variety.  Most of his sets were Star Wars themed, so his storage tub is full of gray, black, brown and white LEGOS.  I wanted the bright, vibrant, rainbow colors of LEGOS involved in the party.  Plus, I wanted the guests to be able to take some LEGOS home as their “goody bag” item and I was not going to give away B’s.


So, I headed out to shop the thrift and consignment shops.  Now, I knew my chances of finding actual LEGO bricks at a 2nd hand store were slim to none.  However, I had gotten a great idea from the BPI website of making the invitations out of bricks and I wanted to use the larger MEGA-BLOKS for those.  I walk into the 1st store on my list, looked to my right, and right under the window was a tub of MEGA-BLOKS for $6.50!    I picked that baby up immediately b/c I did not want another shopper to grab it while I browsed the rest of the shop.  There wasn’t anything else there for the party, but B bought himself an aircraft carrier that was 1′ x 2′ for $3!  (I made sure he brought his money with him on this trip so I did not have to listen to any whining about him wanting me to buy him something.)  When we got home, I filled B’s bathtub will water and some bleach and soaked the MEGA-BLOKS, the tub and it’s lid for several hours.  Drained the water, rinsed the blocks, washed the tub, refilled the tub with clean water, let the blocks soak in that for a few hours, drained and set on towels to dry.

The next night I worked on the writing I wanted to put on the invitations.  I decided I wanted the invites to look like a wall – 4 rows of bricks, 8 sets of nodules across.  I built an invitation, covered both sides with scotch tape b/c I did not know how many tries it would take to get the words to fit and used a Sharpie to write the words.  They all fit!  I actually wrote on both sides of the bricks, so that would make it more of a challenge for the guests.  ;o)  I dug through the tub and pulled out blocks to put the rest of the invitations together and wrote directly on them all. 

The other side of the invitation had the RSVP information, our street address and advised guests with allergies that we have cats.  Each invitation was then taken apart and the pieces put in a manila envelope.  I found a LEGO font online, downloaded it to the computer and printed out a “label” (just a sheet of printer paper I taped to the front of each envelope) that read:


We then hand delivered each invitation.

B is a member of the Geoffrey Birthday Club at Toys R Us and every year he receives a birthday card and $3 coupon to spend in the store.  This year, I also received a coupon in the mail – $5 off $25 – I assume to encourage me to buy the birthday boy’s present at their store.  The 3 of us headed up to TRU with our coupons and B’s wallet on October 1st.  I was disappointed that they did not have any of the LEGO tubs that contain random bricks for use at the party.

However, I was psyched to find these LEGO Fun Favor Packs on the Clearance rack!  The original price was not listed, but they were marked down to $12.98 and there were signs up stating that additional markdowns on all clearance items would be taken at the register.  I picked up 2, because I needed 8 car kits for the party, and there were only 4 car kits and 4 plane kits in each box.  At the register they rang up as $8.50 each and I used my $5 off coupon!  (Ben’s purchase with his own money was added to my purchase to reach the $25 minimum required to use the coupon.)

I ended up ordering the below random bricks set from  It had 650 bricks (81 bricks per child), cost $28.79 and shipping was free.

I divided the 650 bricks (I counted all of them and there were actually only 647 bricks in this box.  However, since every other set we have ever received from LEGO came with extra pieces, I decided not to make a stink about it) into 8 ziptop sandwich baggies to keep them separated. Those baggies came back to haunt me at the party…

I made 2 LEGO brick cakes.  I was going to make one 9″ x 13″ cake in the shape of a rectangular brink.  However, B informed me that the rectangle was not the classic, original brick.  The square one with 4 nodules on top was and, therefore, I needed to make that kind of brick.  So I made 2, square LEGO brick cakes – one vanilla and one chocolate.  I even took a toothpick and wrote the word “LEGO” on the top of each nodule, just like the real bricks.  :o)  These cakes were definitely not my best work, but the kids thought they were awesome and that’s all that mattered to me! 

We bought 2 Costco pizzas and baked them for dinner – one cheese and one pepperoni and served water to drink.  To try and keep with the LEGO color scheme, I bought a blue, vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloth (which ended up not covering the whole table, but no big whoop), green napkins, red cups and used our own orange plates.  Now, onto the party, itself…

We moved the furniture around in the living room to make more floor space for the boys to play.  We put B’s tub of LEGOS and the MEGA-BLOKS tub on the floor and let the boys build and play until all the guests arrived.  Ben had also set out LEGO creations he’d put together earlier on surfaces throughout the 1st floor.  The random play took up the 1st half hour of the party.  I don’t know who was having more fun – the boys or the hubs!  One of the boys looked around and said to me in awe, “None of our parents are here.”  I replied, “I know!  It’s a big-boy-drop-off party!  Whoop!  Whoop!”  Which started a round of “Whoop-Whoops” from everyone.  LOL! 

Then I called the boys to the kitchen table.  I got 8 sets of disposable chopsticks from Wegmans (free) and used their paper wrappers along with rubber bands I already had to make “kid-friendly” chopsticks.  One of our cereal bowls and a set of chopsticks was placed at each seat and the boys sat down.  The baggies of LEGOS were in the bowl at the center of the table and I passed them out.  Now began the building challenges.

Challenge #1 – Using your chopsticks, how many bricks can you pick up out of your bag and put into your bowl in 1 minute?  After this one was over, I had all the boys poor their bags of LEGOS into their bowls and I removed the bags from the tables.

Challenge #2 – Who can build the tallest and most sturdy tower using all of your bricks?  (Untimed)  This one took the longest amount of time, but setting a timer would mean not all the boys would get to use all their blocks.  I took a picture of each boy with his tower and am going to print the pictures out to make the Thank You cards.

Challenge #3 – Build a person in 1 minute.  Now, when the timer went off, I got a lot of “not fairs” and “I didn’t get to finish” complaints about the short amount of time, including from the hubs.  However, 2 boys were able to finish a complete person before time was up and 1 boy made 2 people!  Those who did not finish were creating big people and only got legs done.

Challenge #4 – Build something, anything, that flies in 6 minutes.   They built planes, helicopters, blimps, UFOs and one boy built a fishing pier with a fishing pole hanging off the end.

Challenge #5 – By this time, it was time to put the pizza in the oven, so we gave them LEGO car kit bags from the Favor Packs.  I told them they were each to build a car and then they would race them.  They could build it exactly as the kit comes, they could “supe” up the kits with their bowl of LEGOS or they could make a car completely from scratch.  After the cars were made we went back to the living room where B’s architect desk is.  It’s slanted, so each boy took a turn rolling his car down the desk to see how sturdy it was.  Only 2 out of the 8 cars survived the fall without losing any parts.  Some boys made adjustments to their cars.

Challenge #6 – Who’s car could go the farthest?  I knelt at the entrance to the kitchen from the living room with one of our kitchen mats in my hand held up like a ramp.  Each child placed his car at the top of the “ramp”, let go and watched how far it went.  All cars stayed on the floor until all had been released and the “winner” was announced.  The boys went back to make building adjustments to their cars and wanted to race again.

By now, pizza was ready and we served it up.  I put the loose LEGOS back into the ziptop baggies with the cars they had made as well as the bag and instruction sheet for the cars.  The bags and instructions had admission coupons to LEGOLAND and a LEGO Club membership.  I put each boy’s name on their bag and set them aside.  As they were about to take their 1st bite of pizza, one of the boys said, “Wait! We need to pray first!” and a few others said, “Yeah, yeah!”  What a pleasant surprise!  I asked who wanted to say grace and half the hands went up.  Then one of the boys said, “No, the birthday boy should say the prayer,” and so he did.  :o)  One of the boys was picked up early, while they were eating pizza.  The rest finished eating and then we brought out and served the cakes.

With 30 minutes left before their parents came, we gave the boys the option of racing their cars again or going outside to play and they chose outside.  Thank goodness!  It was loud inside our tiny house!  ;o)  I grabbed a grocery bag and put their ziptop baggies in it as well as the plane building kits to take home with them.  We walked over to a common ground area diagonally across the street from us and let them run around.  They played tag and hide-and-seek and we flagged down the parents as the arrived.

As I’m handing out ziptop baggies and plane kits to the parents at pick-up, I got really embarrassed!  Good thing it was dark out by this time so no one saw me blush.  I hadn’t even thought to get nice, actual goody bags; I’m handing them a sandwich baggie!  Oh, well.  Whether the bag was clear and ziptop or colored and designed, it’s probably going to end up in the trash and I’m sure no one cared about it but me.

After everyone was gone, we went back inside and the hubs and I ate while B opened up his gifts.  “Always open the card first, right Mom?” B said with a wink.  The party was a great time!  There were a couple of extra things I wish I had done, like hang the MEGA-BLOKS from the ceiling for decoration and decorate the front door to look like a giant LEGO brick.  But you know what?  The parents and the kids might have looked at those when they first arrive and thought, “How cool!” but never thought about them again.  They had a great time doing at the party and none of them could believe they actually got to take their baggie of LEGO bricks home.  LOL!  That’s all they needed.

So, here’s the cost breakdown of the entire party:

19″x14″x14″ tub of MEGA-BLOKS     $  6.50
Blue tablecloth     $  4.99
Green napkins     $  2.49
LEGO Bricks & More Set #6177     $28.79
Two LEGO Fun Favor Packs     $12.00
Two boxes of Pillsbury cake mix – one vanilla & one chocolate     $  1.76
Two cans of Duncan Hines Butter Cream Frosting     $  3.58
Red, plastic, 16-oz cups     $  1.99
Two Costco pizzas – one pepperoni & one cheese     $16.98
Prints from Costco for Thank You cards     $  0.96
Sales tax     $  4.00
Party Total     $84.04
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