Category Archives: Birthdays

The Epic Superhero Birthday

When you have a kid who goes to her sister’s t-ball games dressed like this:

It seems pretty obvious that she’s destined to have a Superhero Birthday Party – doesn’t it? I mean, if a kid is willing to remain in costume, despite the heat, she is committed to the cause. She is a true crime fighter. Most of her now four years have been spent in costume….it began with Pirates though she flirted a little bit with Tinkerbelle. Then it moved to Spiderman, sometimes she’d mix in a dragon costume, she danced with Wolverine….but she discovered her one true love in Batman. And so it remained for almost one-third of her life. Which is a big commitment before you turn four-years-old.

But look, someone has to keep the Joker at bay, right?

So when it came time to plan her birthday party, I knew that not only did we have to have a Superhero themed birthday party but it was time for her to meet Batman. That part was a secret though – and trust me – I worried how that surprise could go over to a room full of 3 and 4-year-olds.

I am a traditional birthday party thrower. I like to have them in my house, with party decorations, balloons, games, cake and goodie bags. I loved all of my birthday parties as a kid, I loved the home-made everything that came with them and it’s a family tradition that I haven’t tried to do differently with my own kids. But the trouble is – when you have the party in your house – you can’t really actually enjoy the party because you are so busy running the party. So this year – I also did things a little differently and I worked with Laura Betz from Thumbs Up Party Planning. I’ve interviewed Laura before on my blog, I’ve gone to a party Laura threw for a friend’s daughter at Glen Eco Park (that one was a Fairy themed one and it was fantastic), but I hadn’t yet used her myself. The time was right.

Adorable goodie bags

Laura’s company offers a wide variety of party themes (for boys and girls…any popular kid theme you can think of, she’s got nailed down to a perfect science) and she offers an exhaustive list of services to help make your party amazing. She can handle your party from the invites to the goodie bags and every detail in between.  Because I am a true-lover of Etsy and delight in the pins on Pinterest, I wanted to do the invites and decor myself but really wanted Laura and her team to show up and run the games so I could just sit back and watch and soak it all in. From the beginning, Laura put me at ease – told me when she’d arrive on the day of the party, confirmed the number of kids showing up and she even did the unthinkable….she found Batman himself to come to the party.

Because it was a girls superhero party, I knew I needed to find some pretty great decor and naturally I turned to Etsy for fabulous goodie bags and cupcake toppers.

The big day was Saturday December 1 and Laura and one of her employees arrived before show-time to set up. They

The delightful Laura, founder of Thumbs Up Party Planning, getting ready before show time

immediately set up an area of the room for all the superhero capes for the kids to pick out and dressed up the room with inflatable superheros. Laura is so welcoming and natural with the kids, she gathered them around and encouraged them to pick out their own superhero gear and choose what sort of design they wanted for face painting. Little did they all know Bruce Wayne was about to make an entrance.

Now, about that. Look, I didn’t put any thought into Batman’s arrival beyond worrying if he was going to terrify the toddlers – so imagine my delight (and the delight of every other mom in the room) when Batman was incredibly handsome to boot.

Oh – HELLO BATMAN. WELCOME!!!!!!

 

Right? Wowzers.

Batman’s surprise entrance to our little superhero party definitely surprised and delighted all the mothers children and my beloved birthday girl was just in awe of her favorite hero. Oddly, her 7-year-old sister was terrified of Batman and took a bit to warm up to him. Go figure. Batman then led the children in some hilarious superhero training, bringing them around small obstacle courses that Laura helped set up and encouraging them always to fight the bad guys and get good grades in school and listen to their mothers.

Excellent…..he’s handsome and dishes out strong valued advice….can he stay?

After learning about the qualities of a superhero and participating in the hilarious superhero training, Batman guided them through a rousing game of Villain Identification and of course ended with Muscle Mania, where they all took turns stuffing their costumes with balls to see how many muscles they could get. It was so funny to watch and the kids loved it. By then, anyone who initially was a little scared of Bruce Wayne had completely forgotten about it. Laura works with Heroes for Hire which was the company who delighted us with Batman….and also offers an array of characters to come in costume. They really were a fantastic company.

In the end, all the kids really were dazzled by the crime fighter and enjoyed playing all the games he and  Laura coordinated for the party. What I didn’t anticipate going into it was just how much having the real Batman would inspire so many of the kids in the room, especially the girls, many of whom aren’t necessarily drawn to superheroes. So many friends emailed later to let me know how much their girls were excited by superheroes and commented that now they know that superheroes are real, they better keep their eye out for more bad guys.
Laura helped me pull-off one of my favorite kids birthday parties yet and I got to sit back and just enjoy watching all the events unfold and really feel like I was part of the party instead of running around like a crazy person keeping everything moving and stressing about the next game. It made such a difference and is something I plan to do again in the future.
Bottom line – if you’re on the hunt for a character appearance (might I recommend a handsome Batman?), check out Heroes for Hire, or if you’re like moi and you love having parties at your house but actually want to have the chance to enjoy the party, I cannot recommend Thumbs Up Party Planning enough – not to mention how much I value supporting local mom-owned businesses! Thank you to Laura for such an amazing day! Be sure to “Like” moi on Facebook to keep up with the fun and the drooling over the super hot Batman.
Disclosure: Laura gifted her time to me. My opinions here are all my own.

The Amazing Race Birthday

So in mid-November, my older sister had a….ahem…milestone birthday. My younger sister, Emily, and I kicked around some ideas one evening on how to celebrate Jen’s birthday. What could we do to honor – oh – you know – decades of her fabulous life…but that wouldn’t break the bank…would involve all ages of everyone in our family…..and also wouldn’t cost us any money?

Our team badge courtesy of Emily

Oh…and that she would enjoy and want to do to celebrate her birthday?

Well..involving all ages rules out lots of things….namely drinking heavily.

So what to do? Oh what to do?

Jen loves games….brilliantly noted Emily…but we weren’t going to organize a family board game night. That didn’t seem overly exciting.

In a stroke of sheer genius, which I RARELY give to others on my blog, Emily mentioned how much Jen loves The Amazing Race. She does have an unfulfilled goal of becoming a reality TV star…..

And bam came the  idea…let’s create a scavenger hunt around Jen’s life themed around The Amazing Race…break our family up into teams and run them around the National Mall on a Saturday in November. Brains and physical prowess would matter just like in the show. Surely Michelle Obama would be so proud of us for incorporating physical activity.

WE were so pleased with ourselves.  I mean – is it not a great idea?

But then we had to execute it. We had to think through how long everyone would tolerate a game, how difficult (or not) to make the questions and how many different museums we could reasonably send everyone too. And could we get away with sending them to see a dinosaur in the Museum of Natural History to mock Jen’s age….you know….send them looking for a relic?

Are you laughing? Cause we thought that was a hilarious idea.

#SorryJen

Sample of our clues and team badges

So one day we sat down and brainstormed the questions and how to break it up – how to create puzzles around the theme of Jen’s life but tip them off just enough on which Museum to head too….and how to break up handing out the clues.  We came up with four questions and Emily and her husband, Austin, split up and went to every other location to hand out the next clue. We broke our family up into four teams and arranged for everyone to meet at the carousel on the National Mall at 3:30pm. We made dinner reservations for 6pm and our hope was to finish with some ice skating at the sculpture garden before dinner.

That didn’t quite happen but it was a great idea, wasn’t it?

By now you know I love a good theme and well, it surely won’t surprise you that is a shared trait in my family- so Emily in all her Etsy genius – went online and found Amazing Race packets and customized our team tags and each clue to match the game. Do you love her careful attention to detail our what? On a sunny, beautiful Saturday in November, she gathered us all around her, broke us up into our

You can see the competition was fierce.

teams, handed out our team tags, explained the rules…meanwhile we all sharpened our elbows and hurled insults at opposing team members, and off we went with our first clue….literally RUNNING down the national mall…headed to the Museum of American History.

Considering I helped think of the game questions….you would think I would have been smart enough to show up in workout gear and sneakers? But no, I stupidly opted for fashion.

#Mistake

Running to the History Museum from the carousel when you have opposing teams to beat and you’re in boots and pushing a stroller is actually a workout. And let me tell you, it’s also super fun to race your family.

Unfortunately we all came to a screeching halt with the line to get into the museum..something we didn’t account for when creating the game and frankly – something that worked to the advantage of the slower other teams. Much like a bad cab driver in a developing country sabotages faster teams in the actual Amazing Race.

#LineSabotage

Then we all split up inside the museum in our effort to throw the other teams off and to actually find the right exhibit. This slowed down me, Mr. WM and the youngest WM’ette considerably. I noticed my Aunt and Uncle were proving to be fierce competitors at this moment as they clearly tried to dodge us, decoy and in the end, knew how best to get to the Julia Child cooking exhibit.

Then it was off to the second destination….the Air & Space Museum….we on the purple team deliberately chose to hug the sidewalk and not cut diagonally across the mall until the bitter end..in an effort to encourage our opposing teams to slow down and think we, too, were slowing down….so we could only speed up at the last few minutes. It was insanely fun watching the other teams move quickly and listen to them laughing and trying to cut each other off, I’ll be honest. Mr. WM made a fake move in to trip my Uncle inside the Air & Space Museum.

#DogEatDogWorld

WE are intense.

Oh and have I mentioned, strollers and purses REALLY slow you down.

Once we completed our second clue (which was Astronaut ice cream in the Air & Space Museum), we had to figure out the third destination, which was the Gallery of Art but due to the construction on the mall, we couldn’t go straight across – so naturally we went to the right because the other team went to the left. We later learned that the other team, which included my eldest, my mother, the guest of honor and my Aunt, encouraged the oldest WM’ette to break traffic laws and hug the side of the road – instead of adding more time to find a sidewalk – just to beat us.

#WeAreCompetitive

IT was so fun.

Finding Austin inside the Gallery of Art was like the Thomas Crown Affair – as he quietly sat inside the Impressionist Gallery and we all darted like fools through the west wing trying to find him – he silently just handed over the next clue- and we half expected the gates to come dropping down on the room and a painting to disappear off the walls.

#ActiveImaginations

In case you were wondering, the kids were IN LOVE with the game and absolutely loved racing around as much as we did.

The fourth and final clue brought us to the Sculpture Garden around 5:15ish. So even with all the running and let me tell you – we RAN until the bitter end (you would have thought someone was going to win money) and we LAUGHED until the bitter end – it still took us almost two hours start to finish.

I am sharing this day with you because it was one of total fun shared by our entire family, it was something everyone of all ages participated in and honestly – it should totally be repeated. And it was basically free. I kept thinking that it would be a great older kids birthday party – like 9 or 10 or 11 year olds – if you kept them in the same museum and had them move around to different parts. We managed to build in education along with true competition and fun – I definitely plan to repeat it for my girls when they get a little older – but they loved it just the way we did it a few weeks ago.

Some of the road warriors at the end of Jen’s Amazing Race

In the end, we didn’t pull off the ice skating but we did have some delicious birthday cupcakes in the sculpture garden while we watched others ice skate.

For other fun ideas, including a coming post on a superhero birthday party for 4-year-olds, be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma Facebook page. And if you are on the hunt for holiday gifts, don’t forget about my fabulous holiday gift guide.