Mr. C turned eight, and though he considered having a party that had to do with knights, he finally settled on an army party. I was happy to give him an army party, but it didn’t seem like that much fun to plan until I got onto Pinterest and realized it could be a lot of fun!
We welcomed our guests with a recruiting sign from Uncle Sam (idea from here).
When the kids arrived, they could take a helmet and dog tag to get into character.
I made a few decorations using the military toys we had around the house and also ideas I had found on Pinterest, like here, here, and here.
My favorite decoration was my son’s idea. After he saw how I had soldiers climbing up ropes, and how I had little groups of soldiers set up around the house, he wanted to combine the two and have a group of soldiers secretly climbing down a rope to attack one of the groups.
After the guests arrived, they took turns playing with Mr. C’s new remote control tanks he had gotten for his birthday. I had originally planned for the kids to have tank races. Since one of our tanks is really slow, I thought they could take turns going through a little course, and we’d time them. I didn’t count on the fact that I wouldn’t be completely ready for my guests when they arrived and wouldn’t have time to use the timer. Nor did I consider that I would need to, of course, interact with the parents of my partygoers! Needless to say, the kids had a great time just driving the tanks around.
Notice the boys didn’t have their dog tags or helmets on yet–I guess they didn’t notice them when they arrived, so I sent Mr. C on a mission to distribute them.
After enough boys had arrived, I started them on an activity I found here, which was so creative and so much fun! I started by reading them a letter from a close adviser of the President which said that the members of an elite team of soldiers needed to go on a mission to find the President’s missing treasure. First, they needed to go through some training, so we went outside (thankfully it wasn’t too muddy from the 6am rain) and did push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, simple math problems for mental training, and tug of war.
After training, the elite team had ten missions to complete, and after each mission, they had an outcome that happened while they were completing the mission. For example, their first mission was to run once around the yard the regular way and once around the yard backwards. When they finished their mission, the outcome (which one of them drew from a stack of outcomes on strips of paper) was that two of them had been shot in the leg by snipers and had lost the use of their leg until completion of the next mission. From then on until the next mission, the two kids whose names were chosen from other strips of paper had to hop around on one leg.
If I did this game again, though, I wouldn’t bother to choose names–some of the boys wanted to do the outcomes every time, and some didn’t want to do them at all. It was better to let any volunteer do it. Other examples of outcomes: they couldn’t talk because they had been scared silent by another army coming, so they had to put tape on their mouths; they couldn’t use an arm because it had been shot, so they had to put it in their shirt; they had been blinded from shrapnel, so they had to wear a blindfold and be led by other soldiers; they were exhausted from a mission, so other soldiers had to carry them.
Here is another mission, to make their way through the laser maze (yarn strung from trees to fences and back again and again) without getting burned by the lasers.
Another mission: to shoot a target.
Another: to line up from shortest to tallest in a perfectly straight line. This was actually hard for them because the ones who maybe would have led had been temporarily silenced (with tape), so those boys had to direct with motions. It took them a while of standing around before they finally made some progress on this one!
Next: they had to army crawl under the laser course. Some rolled because they had lost the use of a limb or two.
Another mission: they had to draw either a tank or an army plane with sidewalk chalk.
The third to last mission was a bit of a disaster. I told them to run in and out of the cones, wait at the end for all to run through, then run back, all without falling down. Unfortunately, most of them didn’t wait at one end for all to make it through, so they were all running into each other, and we had a very tearful Little E after that one.
The second to last mission, and the one that was right before all the kids came inside, was to take off their shoes, all the while balancing on one or the other foot. Of course, this one was strategically placed because I didn’t want a bunch of mud in the house!
The last mission was to find the treasure in one of the top drawers in the kitchen. Those elite soldiers didn’t listen too well, because they were up on the counters looking in my top cabinets. I wasn’t too far behind them, so I was able to direct them to the drawers, where they soon found bags of chocolate coins for each of them.
After that was cake and snacks! I decided to make camo cupcakes and a camo tank cake, using these instructions for the camo batter here (but I tried to use her idea for camo frosting and failed) and this inspiration for the tank from this pin. It wasn’t hard to do–it’s like making marbled cake, I think. It just takes a little longer than regular cupcakes. I thought they turned out looking nice. I used Joy of Cooking’s white cake recipe, which has turned out a bit dry for me twice now, so I don’t plan to use it again, and I used a chocolate cake recipe for the brown batter that I found on Allrecipes.com, and it turned out great (as it has before).
I have small Pyrex glass containers, and I used an 8×6 for the base of the tank and a 7×5 for the top. The wheels were Oreos, the tread was made of mini Twixes cut in half, and the gun was a cookie stick. I used a big frosting tip so I could frost faster, so my tanks were a big fuzzy looking, but Mr. C didn’t mind.
I did not plan to make two tank cakes and so many cupcakes, but with the complication of the different colors in the batter, I wanted to make sure I had enough. I had enough, all right! Oh well, at least with two tanks, I could have them battling each other on the table.
Some of the websites I already mentioned gave me the ideas for the names for the food, but this website also had some good ones. One of the kids at the party said the blueberries were bombs–good idea! Another website I saw later called the mini carrots torpedoes. I especially liked the idea for the juice box walkie talkies. I wrapped mine in foil (a little easier than paper) with the walkie talkie piece of paper taped on the front. After my husband’s concern that foil would get in the straw, I peeled back enough foil so the straw hole was visible. I was afraid the paper would fall off with the condensation, but it did fine!
The tanks were made with mini Milky Ways, Rolos, and Tootsie Rolls stuck together with chocolate frosting. My kids actually made them.
When it was time for the kids to go, Mr. C handed out their “survival rations,” which were army binoculars, army tattoos, and a styrofoam army glider all bought from Hobby Lobby, and a mini candy bar. The girls got a small stuffed animal with an army bandanna on their heads made from a treat bag, along with the glider and tattoos.
My favorite decoration was the box that held the goodie bags. I found the tutorial for it here. We had a box that had held our mandarin oranges, and I was about to throw it away when I saw the tutorial. For art during homeschool one day, Little E painted the whole box with some leftover paint we had. Then I made the stencil from the tutorial, and Mr. C used it to paint the Army sign. It was simple and didn’t take long, but it was fun that we made it ourselves, and we get to keep it to store Mr. C’s new army toys!
All in all, we had a very…