Theme: “Can you make it past twelve?” A sleepover party.
Invitations: Since it was October, I used an orange cardstock, but you could use any other color. I inset a square of a black and white circular illusion pattern, then on top of that a white square with “Can you make it past twelve?” written on it. I did the same on the inside, except the white square had the party details on it.
Food: Pizza, Chips, Gatorade, Cake and Ice Cream, and Breakfast cereal. (There’s no need to get fancy with food, when kids are thrilled with these!) TIP: I use drink bottles with lids and some way to mark them so kids keep track of their drinks instead of wasting them.
Favors: Items found in the scavenger hunt, equally distributed between bags. Pop Rocks, Test tube candy, pens, and a framed party photo. TIP: Get cheap wallet-size frames at the dollar store – some even come multiples to a pack. Take a picture of each guest with the birthday boy, using a digital camera. While the kids eat cake, upload and print the photos and put them in the frames to go in the goodie bags.
Events: Eyeball Glow T-shirt craft, Bottle marker craft, Glow scavenger hunt/secret code, silly string fight.
Eyeball Glow T-shirt craft: I bought a black t-shirt for each attendee, and painted a large solid circle with glow-in-the-dark t-shirt paint in advance. (So they wouldn’t have to wait all night for a drying shirt.) When the kids arrived, I handed them a tub of permanent markers and instructed them to design an Eyeball on their shirt. I had a paper with several examples nearby in case of creative block. They then changed into these shirts for the rest of the party.
Bottle marker craft: Using pony beads and pre-cut plastic lanyard string, each boy designed a distinctive bead marker to tie onto their Gatorade bottle. Be sure to have primary colors. I also had glow-in-the-dark pony beads.
Glow scavenger hunt/secret code scramble: I bought glow-in-the-dark plastic bugs, eyeball shaped bubble tape, and other such small toys at the dollar store. Then I found a symbol code in my son’s book of secret codes. I wrote a message in code, and then transferred one symbol onto each item. (Some items had “dummy symbols”.) I took a careful count of the items, so we’d know when we’d found them all. (I had my younger son hide them, so he wouldn’t feel left out of the hunt, or be competing with the older boys.) You could hide them indoors or out, depending on the weather or your situation. The boys had to find the right number of items, decode the symbols, and then unscramble the message. (The message was “time for cake!” So, then we had the cake and ice cream, opened presents, and had freeplay until midnight.)
Silly string fight: This was the “make it past twelve” part. At midnight exactly, I let the boys run out into the yard and spray each other with cans of silly string. With one can each, this lasts only a couple of minutes, but is quite noisy. (Again, dollar store came in handy for these.) This was followed by bedtime. I thought that might be a problem, but it turned out most of the boys were tired by then anyway. I usually have a 15 minute “whispers-allowed” period, and I don’t think I even had to tell them when the time was up.
The rule for the morning is “quietly play gameboys if you’re up before 8am”. Nobody was up before 9am. I fed them regular breakfast cereal and bananas and juice, and then let them have more freeplay time. Pickup time was 11am.
Another note: My son received numerous Blockbuster gift cards for his birthday. I guess this is the “safe gift” for teenage boys. I was at first disappointed, because we rent movies from on-demand. Then we were reminded that Blockbuster rents and sells game system games. (They also sell popcorn, candy, and a few other items.). My son really enjoyed combining several cards to have enough to buy a new game and a couple boxes of candy. So this is not only the safe gift if you don’t know what to buy, but also age-appropriate, and “cool”. (Also, I don’t think you have to have a Blockbuster card to buy, not rent.)