The Amazing Race Birthday Party

Birthday parties are challenging for teen boys.  The past couple of years my son Jacob has not wanted a theme or decorations, so we have just had a few friends over for movies and board games.  But this year, for his 15th birthday, we decided to do something unique.  The idea was sparked by a conversation we had about the youth group I attended as a teen and some of the fun events we got to do.  My favorite was called “The Torture Rally,” a 24 hour car rally around our city with clues to solve and challenges, definitely one of the highlights of my teen years.  I described it to Jacob as a sort of youth group Amazing Race, and the idea for pulling of a birthday party like this was birthed.  We kept the party small and just had one team…so they were essentially competing against themselves, but they had so much fun and it was well worth all the hours of prep that I put in to plan all the clues and challenges.

Here is a list of what we did for Jacob’s AMAZING RACE PARTY!

  1.  PULL 50 MARBLES OUT OF A TUB OF ICE WATER USING ONLY YOUR TOES

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2. MEMORIZE THIS POEM.  FIND THE MAN IN RED ACROSS THE PARK AND RECITE IT PERFECTLY.  IF YOU MESS UP, GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN

Spaghetti, spaghetti, all over the place, Up to my elbows – up to my face, Over the carpet and under the chairs, Into the hammock and wound round the stairs, Filling the bathtub and covering the desk, Making the sofa a mad mushy mess.  The party is ruined, I’m terribly worried, The guests have all left (unless they’re all buried).  I told them, “Bring presents.”  I said, “Throw confetti.”  I guess they heard wrong ’cause they all threw spaghetti! – Shel Silverstein 

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3.  (set up in someones front yard) MEMORIZE THE ORDER Of THESE TRIBAL PRINTED CARDS.  NOW RECREATE THIS EXACTLY IN THE BACKYARD.  YOU MAY RETURN AS MANY TIMES AS NECESSARY BUT CANNOT BRING CARDS WITH YOU.

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4.  (part 1) WEAR CRAZY PARTY HATS AND MARDI GRAS NECKLACES IN PUBLIC (WALK ACROSS THE BRIDGE) (part 2) CHALLENGE…WITH STRING TIED TO YOUR WRISTS AND CONNECTED TO A PARTNER, FIND YOUR WAY APART (it’s actually quite simple but seems very complicated)

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5.  MAKE MARSHMALLOW SHOOTERS.  NOW SHOOT MALLOWS INTO A BUCKET THAT IS HELD ON YOUR TEAMMATES HEAD (MAKE 5 MALLOWS EACH)

IMG_7421IMG_7425            6.  PLAY A GIANT GAME OF MEMORY: BOARD GAME STYLE (game made out of heavy paper plates, printed boardgame photos, and weighed down with flat marbles)

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7.  FIND THE PIECES OF THE WOODEN PUZZLE HIDDEN IN THE PLAY STRUCTURE.  NOW PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER. (much more challenging than it looks)

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8.  GO TO BARNES AND NOBLE AND ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS…

  1. HOW MANY BOOKS ARE THERE IN THE BIBLE?
  2. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF A BOOK WRITTEN BY OUR PRESIDENT?
  3. HOW MANY BOOKS ARE IN “THE DIARY OF A WHIMPY KID” SERIES?
  4. NAME 3 “NON-BOOK” ITEMS YOU CAN PURCHASE HERE
  5. FIND AND NAME 2 BOOKS BY THE CHILDREN’S AUTHOR ERIC CARLE 

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9.  GO TO THE MALL.  FIND THE PHOTO BOOTH.  TAKE A PHOTO WITH YOUR WHOLE TEAM IN THE BOOTH AT THE SAME TIME.

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10.  USING SIDEWALK CHALK, DRAW AN ACCURATE DIAGRAM OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM, PLACING EACH PLANET IN ORDER STARTING WITH THE SUN

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11.  DIVE INTO THE POOL AND RETRIEVE THE GOLF BALLS AT THE BOTTOM.  EACH HAS A LETTER WRITTEN ON IT.  UNSCRAMBLE THE LETTERS TO DECODE THE MESSAGE

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FINISH THE NIGHT WITH PIZZA AND CUPCAKES AND OF COURSE AN EPISODE OF THE AMAZING RACE!!!IMG_8150IMG_8223

The Amazing Race Birthday Party lasted for about 5 hours total (the race itself was 4 of those hours which included a “pit stop” for snacks about half way through).  Be sure to come prepared with bottles of water to keep everyone hydrated, especially during the summer.  For more Amazing Race Birthday Party footage check out this fun video of the highlights from Jacob’s party!

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Moana Birthday Party

We celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday the first week of June with a Moana Themed Birthday Party.   My girl fell in love with Moana after watching the movie in the theater and she’s been belting out “How Far I’ll Go” at the top of her lungs ever since.  Her Grandma and Papa surprised her with the soundtrack for her birthday, which made the party even more special to have her favorite Moana songs playing in the background while she swam and played with all of her sweet friends.

I had so much fun planning this party and I’m happy to say that everything turned out just as I imagined it would.  I started making decorations several weeks in advance because May and June are always crazy busy with all of the end of school activities, dance recitals, and two kids with birthdays just a couple of weeks apart.

I used my Cricut Expression 2 to make the black and white tribal sewn paper garlands and the HAPPY BIRTHDAY KARIS pennant banner.  I also used it to cut some of the pieces for the Kakamora faces.  These were all made out of card stock that I purchased from Joann Fabrics.  I also found the tribal print material at Joann’s that I used to cover the contents of our two bookshelves.

The Dollar Tree is a great place for inexpensive tropical decorations this time of year and it did not disappoint.  This is where I purchased the tissue paper for the giant tropical flowers, the leis, the grass skirts that I used to surround the table, the plastic beach backdrop, plates and napkins, and the Moana and Maui “magic towels” that we gave to the children as party favors.

My favorite part of the whole party, was the Moana Boat and Sail Photo Backdrop (tutorial link below).  All the kids were greeted by my daughter and given a lei to wear and the first thing they saw when they walked in was a huge beach scene with a cardboard Moana boat and sail to play in.  I even made an oar out of a dowel, cardboard, and twine.  We got some super cute pictures of the kids in Moana’s boat.

If you are planning a Moana party of your own, here are three fun tutorial for you as well as a ton of pictures from my daughter’s party.  Enjoy!

Moana Marshmallow Pops Tutorial

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Moana Boat and Sail Photo Backdrop Tutorial

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Heart of Te Fiti Cupcake Tutorial 

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Portal Cookie Pops & Birthday Party

My son, Micah, is a huge fan of the video games Portal and Portal 2.  So for his 11th birthday, he decided to have a Portal themed party.  I wanted to send a special treat for Micah to bring to school on his big day, so I went to work making these super tasty Portal Cookie Pops.  He was so thrilled to bring them to share with all of his friends!  You can watch my tutorial above if you want to make some of your own Portal Cookie Pops!

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portal cookie pop topper template pdf

The party itself didn’t require a whole lot of preparation because Micah wanted to have it at a local “fun center” so that he and his buddies could play laser tag and ride go carts.  I did want to add a couple of fun elements though, so I created these labels to make “Propulsion Gel” and “Repulsion Gel” to give to each of the kids.

According to theportalwiki.com , “Propulsion Gel is a bright orange substance that greatly reduces the friction of objects moving across the surface to which it is applied. Propulsion Gel also increases velocity, as objects covered in Propulsion Gel also have their friction reduced, causing them to slide around and be moved more easily.  Repulsion Gel is a light blue substance that repels objects, and any player or object that hits a surface coated with Replusion Gel will bounce off.”

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We used orange slime that we found in the dollar section at Target for the Propulsion Gel and blue Gatorades for the Repulsion Gel.  It’s close to Easter, so we could only find orange slime in “carrot” containers.  We transferred the slime into 4 0z extra small ziplock square containers with lids.  These were the perfect size!  I bought a 12 pack of 12 oz Gatorades, which were just the right amount for Micah’s party.

Here are the printable templates I created for the Propulsion Gel and Repulsion Gel.

propulsion gel template pdf

repulsion gel template pdf

 

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In Portal, there is also a specific cake that is talked about throughout the game.  We definitely had to make a Real Portal Cake for Micah’s 11th birthday!  Click here for my recent blogpost on How to Make a Real Portal Cake.

I would definitely have to say that Micah’s Portal Birthday Party was a huge success!

How to make a Real Portal Cake 

How to Make a Real Portal Cake

Portal and Portal 2 are popular video games.  Truthfully, I’ve never played either of them, but according to my son they are the “best video games ever!”  Here’s a bit about the games according to my son Micah…”In Portal, you are a test subject in a huge underground facility called Aperture Science that is supposedly under Michigan.  You go through the tests (which are puzzles), solving them, and they get harder and harder along the way.  At a certain point in the game, you acquire a tool which makes portals that objects and you yourself can pass through.  This tool is official called the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, but is more commonly referred to as the Portal Gun.”

Micah’s 11 birthday was March 3rd and he wanted a Portal Themed Birthday Party!  Micah chose to have his party at a Fun Center in our city so that we could play laser tag and ride go carts, so the cake became the main thing that represented the Portal Theme.

In Portal there is a gigantic robot named GLaDOS at the center of the facility.  GLaDOS runs everything and she promises you cake at the end of the test, but it turns out that she’s lying.  She actually puts you on a platform headed towards a fire pit.  In the game, there is a message written on a wall in a secret room, written by a scientist that says, “the cake is a lie!”   Here are a couple of images from the actual game.

This was a super fun cake to create!  You can watch my tutorial to learn how to make one of your own.  This cake is definitely NOT a lie!

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Star Wars Party

Star Wars… one of the most popular ongoing themes for birthday parties!  When my son Micah turned 8, he wanted a Star Wars party.  March is a tricky month.  You never know if it will be rain or shine.  Fortunately, it was a beautiful sunny day, which made this epic Stormtrooper battle possible.  When each child arrived, they were given a homemade light saber made from a pool noodle cut in half, decorated with silver and black duct tape.  Their mission…go out to the backyard and defeat the Stormtroopers (which in reality were white balloons hanging from string with storm trouper faces drawn on them with sharpie).  The boys (and little sister) were way into this battle and it was so fun to watch them running around our yard swatting at all of the bad guys!

I made a hanging centerpiece out of a large white kitchen trash bag by filling it with air, tying it off and drawing a Stormtrooper face on it.  This year I went simple on the cupcakes by purchasing some Yoda and Darth Vader toppers at Michael’s.

We ended the party with a viewing of the very first Star Wars movie, which my son had never seen.  The boys each got to take a light saber noodle home with them and the left over sabers stayed at our house.  Funny thing is, I expected my kids to get tired of them after a week or so, but these noodle sabers were used for many months post party.  One of my boys’ favorite outdoor activities became light saber battles while jumping on the trampoline…perfect as party favors or just to use in everyday play!

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