I always have fun planning my kids birthday parties, but I'm glad we only do them every 4 years. That was the tradition in my family and I like it. At 16 there's dating/driving. 12 is priesthood and becoming a young woman. 8 is the big one with baptism. And so we start at 4. (Hopefully my kids aren't still hanging around at 20!)
So this is Ben's year for the big 8-year party. We chose the theme of Avatar: the Last Airbender. Our whole family enjoys watching the cartoon on Netflix. There wasn't a whole lot on the internet for party ideas, but we came up with enough to make for a cool birthday party.
His invitations said: "Are you Game for a Good Time? Then leap, jump or run on over to Ben's 8th Birthday Party!!" I used a tea bag to age the torn edges of paper and then rolled them into a scroll. We drove around to deliver some and the rest he took to school. We invited 11 boys and had 8 of them come to the party. We did it from 4-7 on his birthday (a friday).
My mom was so kind to help me out and made Ben's birthday cake. He requested a carrot cake and she made 3 layers for us. I frosted them. Remind me to use a recipe next time. It was not so great. Way too much powdered sugar, not enough butter. So, it was like the cornstarch water stuff. Runny, but thick at the same time. I tried to make waves but they wouldn't hold up. The Avatar has to master his bending skills: air, water, earth and fire. So the cake was made up of each element. Water = frosting. Earth = chocolate rocks. Fire = sparkler candles. And the Avatar was an air-bender, so he is in the middle. I can't take credit for the idea, I found it on the here http://lechateaudesfleurs.blogspot.com/2010/07/avatar-last-air-bender-party.html and hers looked so much nicer.
I made cake-balls for Ben to take to school for his class. He was so excited about this birthday. He'd been talking about it, to anyone who would listen, for about a month! I took the kids with me on some last minute errands: picking up balloons, candy for the party and ice cream.
At home, Joshua played with the balloons. He was pulling them behind him, but kind of scared to have such a big thing following him, that he started running and getting more scared. I thought it was funny. (Now if he had cried it wouldn't have been so funny!)
We got everything ready and the streamers up just before Ben got home. He was happy to see it decorated and then counted the minutes til his party.
We shaved his head and used washable markers to make an Avatar arrow on his head.
We had it set up so that the boys would do an activity for each of the 4 elements. Some turned out well, the others could have used some tweaking. We started with a fire obstacle course. They were supposed to maneuver around the fires and hold a flame on their hand. We ditched the flame holding. It was too hard with the breeze. I had made tissue paper flames for our water activity. But they kept blowing off the boys hands. When it wasn't their turn, the boys were off playing elsewhere. But they seemed to enjoy it saying of the 4 it was their favorite. Next we did a rock hunt. I had made treasure stones and hidden them around the yard. I had issues with the treasure stones. First, they are made with used coffee grounds. I put off finding some until a few days before the party. I didn't have enough to make a double batch, so I added cocoa powder. It made them very chocolate looking, like cookies more than rocks. But then they blended into the yard really well. The boys found them and broke them open and inside each rock was an Avatar ring.
We were airbenders next. I had two strings stretched between the club house and the garage. On each string was a straw. The boys had to blow up a balloon and, without tying it, we taped them to the straw and raced them to the other side. The boys learned that the bigger balloons didn't go as quick as the smaller ones. And that if it was too small it also went slow. We taught them how to screech their balloons, too.
Then we headed out front with some squirt guns and my tissue paper flames. As water-benders they were supposed to use the water in their guns to "put out" the flames. AKA spray the tissue paper until it fell over! That one was a flop - pun intended. The boys didn't want to take turns (guess I should have bought them all their own guns, but knew it wasn't really "get-wet" weather). And some of the boys couldn't pull the trigger hard enough to get the stream of water to the flame. I had wanted to use real flames on little candles, but the breeze was just enough to keep the fires out.
We then opened presents. Ben was thoroughly spoiled. He received one gift from a friend that was above and beyond what I felt was normal. So much of a gift that I wondered if we were supposed to give it back. But, we didn't and Ben was able to buy a new bike! So, yeah, happy birthday Ben!
Then we ate pizza, yum! I just bought a bunch of frozen pizzas. It's yummy and what I could afford. The boys ate their fill and we went straight to the cake and ice cream because some of the boys had to leave early.
Then it was out to the yard for a game of soccer with Ben's new soccer ball. I had to referee! I thought they'd just be able to go out and kick the ball. But, our world is so competitive that all these boys knew was rules and "he's cheating!" Can't you just kick the ball and if it goes in the goal it's a point? No, the boys were worried about "hands" and fouls and practically fighting to tears. I think overall they had a good time, though.
Ben's been waiting for this birthday for another reason. He got to have his first sleepover. I think I'm okay with one at a time. But, not sure how I feel about him sleeping somewhere else. We let him have 2 friends spend the night. They watched "Tron" and ate more pizza and ice cream. Then it was "boys go to sleep" for a few hours and threats at 5 am when they woke up again. But, all in all it was fun. I was completely ready for them to go home the next day and get back to regular life. And I don't have to do another birthday party for 2 years when Joshua turns 4!