You know a party was a success because when it's over, everyone absolutely crashes. This was one of the funnest (is that a word?) parties we've had for one of our boys. I think it's because it wasn't at a jumpy place (you know those places, been there done that) or bowling.. or lazer tag... or any other money pit party place you can think of.
We actually haven't had a big party for either boy in a couple years. I think we were just burned out on parties. They are a lot of work! And when the kids get older, your options start to run out, except for those money pit places. Not that there's anything wrong with those, because the kids love them, but when every kid has their party at the same place, it just starts to get old - I think for everyone. When I thought about having the party at one of those places this year, I just got really depressed and I felt like we needed to get a bit more creative.
I knew we couldn't have it at our house because our house is so small, and all 3rd grade boys want to do is RUN WILD. They need SPACE.
It dawned on one of us, what about a gym? One of Cooper's good friends - his father is the Pastor of a local church and we had attended a party in their gym a few years ago that was super fun for the kids. We aren't members of the church, but we thought we'd ask if we could rent it anyways, just on the off chance they'd say yes. Well, they so generously let us! I can't express how PERFECT it was for a bunch of boys at this age. (oh, and I can't forget one GIRL, the pastor's daughter. ; )
We had full access to all of their sports equipment like basketballs, footballs, kickballs, other GIANT BALLS, these things called "turtles" that you can roll around on (where have I been, i've never seen these amazing things!) and other fun things to roll around on. It was absolute insanity and chaos... and absolutey perfect. As you can see, everyone had a lot of fun. Even one of the Moms got in on a basketball game! She caught some serious air!
Here's one of the turtle roller thingies...
A huge game of dodge ball was played (for prizes of course).. mind you, these were WAY bigger balls than the ones WE played dodge ball with back when I was a kiddo...
We were able to pull them away from playing for a little pizza and cupcakes. The cupcakes came out SO cute! I won't take credit for them though. My Mother-in-Law works with a lady that makes cakes and I requested Mario Mushroom cupcakes and she did an amazing job! I really love how clever she was with the eyes and the white chocolate chips.
The backdrop was something I came up with last week (always last minute). It was actually more of an afterthought. I had ordered these vinyl wall graphics with the intention of setting up a backdrop on the gym wall that the kids could visually "interact" with, thinking it would make for great pictures! And to justify the expense, we would use them on the boys' room wall after the party (they are reusable). Then I thought my more homemade idea could be a secondary backdrop somewhere else. Well, I'm glad we followed through it because apparently my order for the vinyl graphics never went through!
In the end, I loved our handmade backdrop even more and we saved the 70 bucks on the other. The large Mario (7 ft. tall!) and mushroom cost only the $18 we spent on origami paper. We had leftover bulletin board paper from these gifts I wrapped two Christmases ago.
To find your original bitmap artwork to work from, just search your character on Google, print it out, and then draw grid lines on top to make it easier for you to follow (it will look like a cross-stitch pattern.) Here are some details about how we made them in case you want to make some pixel backdrops for your next party:
I will say, that since we did these semi-last-minute, there might be better ways to assemble these. You could always go outside and spray-mount the squares to your base paper. But I'm personally not a fan of the fumes, and I think they'd almost look too "perfect" if that makes sense. I like that some of the pieces are kind of loose - it makes for a more dimensional look. I like that you can see the integrity of the paper in that way. If you used spray mount, it would almost be seamless.
I'm glad that we went with the 6x6 precut paper. I had originally considered 8x8 squares and WOW that would've been BIG. Even with the 6x6 paper it was 7 feet tall. I knew I wanted it big and that seemed to be a perfect size.
We put together the mushroom THE DAY of the party because I realized my wall graphics weren't coming! Ethan suggested we do it half size and I'm so glad we did because it looks better scale-wise. I did have to cut down the origami paper to 3x3 inch squares, but if you give me a craft knife, a straight edge and a self-healing mat, I'm a cutting-machine. We got them done just in time. We hung them on the walls with that yellow wall puddy so that it wouldn't damage the walls.
Miraculously, we got both Mario and the mushroom home in one piece, so they'll be hung in the boys' room!
I bought the 36" ballons from Shop Sweet Lulu (love that site!). Unfortunately, one of the red and white dotted balloons busted (sad face). I think it was over inflated at Party City. I bought the dots to signify the dotted mushrooms. I also bought red and white polka dot plates and green and white polka dot napkins (again to signify the red and green Mario mushrooms). I bought these red and white polka dot gable boxes for favors.
And I feel I must point out that, yes, all four of these cute kiddos are 3rd graders, despite the height differences! ; )
We've actually been pixel craft obsessed around here the past few months and the boys did another unrelated pixel craft project that I need to share with you! Soon! I also have a home decor DIY involving pixels that I need to put together as well.
I think if we rent this gym again for Campbell's party in May, I'd love to do some characters down the entire wall so that the boys (and girls!) could interact with them, like they're right inside a video game! It would be a lot of work, but OH, the photos we'd get.
Pixels are awesome.