You know the mom that calls to invite you to the party happening in 2 days because she forgot to send out invitations? That’s me. This year I decided I was going to plan ahead, and have invitations printed a couple of months in advance. Then I set a google reminder to mail them a few weeks ahead. It worked!
It might have been more frugal to make the invitations by hand, but for $.09 each and a lot less time I had them printed as photographs and then mailed out in photo envelopes. (I designed them in powerpoint, my go to graphic arts program. I can picture all real graphic artists cringing.) The only catch….the invitations came with the wrong date and time, and I didn’t notice it. My son came home from school telling me that kids thought the party was a week early, so I went to the photo site and looked up the picture I uploaded. It was correct. I was so confused.
After I heard from a few other families who had the wrong date, I started calling everyone to confirm the date—2 days ahead, just like usual. One of them texted me a photo of the invitation I mailed out—wrong date and time. Forehead smack. I’m still not sure how it happened.
They were all very nice about it, but 3 of the boys could no longer come :(. I still feel badly about that.
My mom is protective of my health and stress levels, so she came over to help out. We made 4 target practice games for the first half of the party. All of these ideas came from Frugal Fun 4 Boys. I LOVE her site. The one above is made from a tri-fold board (like what you’d get for the science fair.) I used a package of Dollar Tree Star Cut Outs for all the games. The inner circles are cut down from the cardboard that was cut out of the window. They are taped to Ikea Smoothie Straws (they are fatter straws) which just happened to slide over the leftover balloon sticks. You can get more details instructions here.
I used 2 packages of Dollar Tree River Rocks to weight down the bottles. Then my mom wrapped them in orange paper and taped them with Black Duct Tape. We stuck on more of the Dollar Tree Stars to give them point values. The goal was to shoot off the ping pong balls off the top. This game was easier than it looks and the boys really liked it. Also, the package of stars is so big that we used one package for all the games and still have more.
The PVC pipe is our ballet barre, which we just happened to have already for the girls. I just taped jute twine to the top of the cup and stuck more stars on them with point values. The fun is when the cups start swinging and to try to hit them anyway.
The 4th game is made out of file folders. We stuck them down to a foam core board ($.88 a Wal-mart) so it could be put away and used again easily. Our only regret is not making the cuts in the base deeper so they would stand up on their own.
Decorations were super simple. I just used the leftover balloon sticks from our Lego Party and made colorful balloon bouquets. Then let the cupcakes, gift packages, and targets be the rest of the decorations.
Target cupcakes. It wouldn’t be hard to do better. Darren suggested red and white might have looked more authentic. (I was using up leftover frosting from the fridge.)
Before the guests arrived, we filled each gift bag with 30 extra darts (from ebay, similar here.) I took the time to write each boys initial on the tip of their bullet so we could make sense of things when the bullets started to fly. I’m glad I did! Each boy also got a gun and took it home as a party favor. We let them have the fun of opening the package and then put their names on their guns too.
I invited all the boys to come and sit at the table and get instruction on how to aim their gun. We talked about front sights and how to line it up, then did a demo and had them try it out. (Not all nerf guns have front sights, I’m so glad these did.) Then, I divided the them into partners and sent each group to a station.
They took turns doing target practice and spotting each other to help add up points. (The points meant nothing, but it was fun to keep track.)
We spent about 30 minutes with target practice, then went to cake and ice cream and gifts.
Then we moved the party outside. At this point I was done in. One of the guests came an hour before the rest–the correct time, (because of the invitaiton snafu) and I thought no one else was going to come. Then when the rest of the guests came an hour later (to our relief), there was a bit of chaos since I didn’t have a quiet sit down gathering activity, (like the coloring pages at the lego party.)
So, Darren took over the out door portion of the party and I rested. We cut plastic table cloths into strips and tied them around on of each boy’s arms to create teams. There was an orange team and a blue team and each had a matching bandana for their flag($1.29 at Hobby Lobby.) They took their ammo and their guns out back to the school yard/city park that backs up to our back yard.
We modified the rules to capture the flag to incorporate the Nerf guns. Here were our rules.
- No head shots
- If you get shot below the neck you have to go back to your base and sing Happy Birthday to Dub at the top of your lungs before re-entering the game.
- If you get tagged with hands, you go to the opposing team’s jail and wait for someone to rescue you (your own team member to tag you back in.)
- You can’t shoot from jail.
- The goal is to find and capture the other team’s flag and take it back to your base.
A boy we had never met was playing all alone at the school while his mother, one of the kindergarten teachers, worked inside. I grabbed one of the extra nerf guns and they invited him to play in their game. They played the game for an hour mixing up teams each time they started a new round. When the boys finally came inside, they were THIRSTY. If I had thought ahead about that, I would have had some sport drink ready to go.
P.S. Those little nerf guns go up and down in price all the time. They were $5.50 each when I ordered mine and at the time of the article are $2 more. You can watch the prices at camelcamelcamel and have them email you when the price reaches your target.
This is day 29 of our series 31 Days of Kids and Money