For Luke's 8th birthday, we decided on a LEGO Ninjago birthday party. There are no pre-made items that you can buy, so we had to make things up as we went. This was also the first year we were inviting children outside of the family, so it was a much larger undertaking than usual. Still, things went extremely well, and everyone seemed to have a blast! Advanced apologies, this is really long. If you want to know how I did something or where I got the ideas and items used, please see my LEGO Ninjago birthday party resource guide.
It started with the invitations. I actually made these myself; hand cut and hand drawn (well, traced). I think they turned out great, if I do say so myself! Yes, I know they all have the same eyebrows and they shouldn't. It was easier to mass produce the eye cutouts by making them all the same.
Upon arrival at the party, Ninja Luke welcomed you. This poster for the front door was my mom's idea. I just used a picture from last Halloween and slapped some text on it in Picasa, then had it printed on 11x17 card stock at Office Depot.
I actually had several other posters printed there as well for decorations. There should have been more decoration in this room (and there were balloons that are not pictured), but I just ran out of time. Still, everyone loved the posters! There were a couple more as well, a Sensei Wu in the foyer and one of the group on the door to the basement.
To keep the kids entertained as everyone arrived (and I was still getting the food ready to set out; I was running about 30 minutes behind, as usual), I had them play bingo. I made my own bingo cards using Picasa with various Ninjago images downloaded from the web. I made 10 different configurations of the same 25 images. My dad called out each image by showing a larger version of the picture, that way everyone could play regardless of age or familiarity with the characters. My rule for all of the games was that they needed to be fun for the bigger kids, but the smallest kids (including two 2 year olds) needed to be able to play them as well.
By then, everyone had arrived, and it was time to eat. Here are our chopsticks, spoons and forks, and our spiffy Chinese dragon plates. (Yes, ninja are Japanese. Work with me.)
Dragon scales and fire sauce (blue corn chips and salsa).
Wasabi peas, LEGO brick cheese crackers, snake fangs (Bugles), and chocolate sushi (sliced Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls).
Candy sushi! Maki (left) were gummy worms wrapped in rice krispy treats, then wrapped in a sheet of fruit roll up and sliced. Nigiri (right) were blocks of rice krispy treats topped with Swedish fish and wrapped in a piece of fruit by the foot cut in half lengthwise. They were absolutely adorable!
Pizza Egg Rolls (Totino's Pizza Rolls).
Fruit Swords (grapes, cantaloupe, and strawberries, with bamboo swords for spearing) with Marshmallow Cream Cheese Dip, and Mount Fuji Apples (yes, they really were Fuji apples) with caramel dip. LEGO pips (plain M&Ms, which were *the* most popular item) and popcorn (Luke's one special food request for his party, also a huge hit). You can also sort-of see our food identification card holders made of Tinkertoys.
And last but not least, the cake. Made by my mom, as usual, though the icing was being a complete pain to work with, so it didn't get nearly as decorated as we would have liked. Not sure what happened, since she's never had that kind of trouble in the 25+ years she's been doing cakes! I know she wasn't happy with it, but it turned out really cute, and everyone loved it. Those are real LEGOs decorating the sides, and real chopsticks on top. But it's not time for cake just yet!
With everyone fueled up, it was time for games, I mean, Spinjitsu Training. Everyone was given a card. They put their names on them, then earned stickers when they completed each training activity.
We started with Zane's Shurikin Training. (Just realized I spelled "shurikin" wrong on the cards; great.) I made a Garmadon poster (see resource page for basic directions) and hung it on the inside of our sliding glass doors. Originally, I wanted to use suction cup ninja stars like these, but they were expensive and hard to find, and it might be difficult for the youngest kids since it mattered how you threw them. When I found full balls made out of suction cups at Party City, we did those instead. They work better when wet, so we just dipped them in a water bowl and shook them off before throwing, so everyone didn't get soaked. They worked quite well! (These pictures were actually taken the next day.) I would say that about 80% of the balls stuck the first time they were thrown. Don't throw too hard, and sometimes underhand works better than overhand.
Next up was Jay's Takkyu Toss. I couldn't think of a good game to represent the use of nunchucks (without hurting anyone), but Jay tends to be the troublemaker/slacker of the group, so I thought about maybe a food fight type game. I wanted to use fortune cookies, but they are fairly expensive (unless you want to buy 200 of them, which is much cheaper per piece but still pricey). What else? How about ping pong balls! The Japanese word for ping pong is "takkyu", thus the name. The kids tried to toss the ping pong balls into Chinese take out containers that we hung on the door between the den and the hall.
We needed some time to get the sword slice game set up, so we did Sensei Says next. Dad was the Sensei, and he led the ninja hopefuls in a spirited game of obedience training (Simon Says). You weren't "out" if you messed up; it was purely participation based, but there was much fun and laughing involved. I was afraid the kids would think it was lame, but they had a blast!
DH had gotten the Wii sword slice game set up while we were downstairs. (Special thank you to Samantha for letting us borrow the blue chairs; they were perfect for this!) This game was mostly Luke's idea. I needed a sword game (preferably something besides the kids hitting each other), and he suggested Fruit Ninja on the phones. I didn't want to give the kids our phones, but it did remind me that there is a similar game on the Wii (Wii Sports Resort - Speed Slice), so that's what we did.
Sometime during the sword slicing, I realized that I didn't have any candles for the cake. Bad mom! So Dad ran to the store for some, which really messed up the next part of the plan. My fault! The last game of the day was Cole's Ninja Obstacle Course. They started in the basement. We laid out some cushioned mats for the first crawling leg (so the hard tile floors wouldn't hurt their knees). Then they had to crab crawl to the bottom of the basement stairs. They went quickly but carefully up the stairs, then crashed through a "LEGO brick wall" in the foyer (empty Amazon boxes with construction paper; I'd have drawn circles on them for the pips if I'd had time), ran out the front door and across the front sidewalk to the driveway.
Now, what should have happened is that Dad would have been at the end of the obstacle course. He would have given each child a red headband to symbolize the completion of their training.
When everyone finished the course, they would have taken their final test to see if they had reached their Full Potential and become a Master of Spinjitsu. The test was going to be breaking a (balsa wood) board. But I got so distracted by the missing candles that I let Dad go get some, which meant he wasn't there for the end of the course, and I completely forgot about the headbands and the balsa wood until after everyone was gone. I was so upset! At least Luke and my nieces got to take their final tests. I've never seen such huge grins on their faces. It was excellent!
Anyway, after the completion of the obstacle course, it was time for cake. Dad was back with the candles, which just happened to look like LEGOs. I couldn't believe that the emergency candles turned out to be so perfect.
All of the kids played for the next 10-20 minutes as everyone started to leave. I passed out the goody boxes (inflatable snake sword, ninja rubber duck, Chinese yo-yo, dragon gum) as the kids left. I sure hope everyone else had as much fun with theirs as my nieces did. Everything, including the boxes, came from Oriental Trading Company. They should have also had a fortune cookie (I didn't mind buying a few) and an origami ninja star, but I completely forgot to get/make them in time for the party.
After dinner, we opened gifts. We will get the thank you notes written and mailed in the next couple of weeks.
And that's it. There was much laughing and running and playing, there was cake and singing of happy birthday, and most of all, we were surrounded by family and friends. We had 23 people total, including 9 kids and DH's aunt all the way from California. Sounds like a great birthday to me!
Happy 8th birthday to my "little" boy! Can't believe you're so grown up already. Here's to many more excellent years.
Currently feeling: like things went extremely well!