Monday, November 12, 2012

Go Shorty, It's Your Birthday: Captain Kane's Superhero 4th Birthday Party

Picking a theme for this year's birthday party was a hard choice for me. I started asking last summer to have a superhero party, but would intermittently insist (usually right after mom bought something even vaguely superheroey), that I was going to have another pirate party. But once I started helping mom plan and make decorations for the party, I was committed to having a crimefighting bash. While mom likes having themed parties, she has a hard time getting into overly commercial themes and, fortunately, I'm not wed to any particular superhero (although Batman and Superman are probably my faves). So mom was pretty psyched when she found a Lichtenstein, pop-art inspired superhero invitation and party pack from Wants and Wishes (fortuitous that the Lichtenstein exhibit just opened at the National Gallery)

With that ordered, we dove right on in with prep and were full speed ahead until about a week and half before the party when mom realized that the "small construction project" going on at the house wouldn't be finished in time. After a brief panic, mom miraculously discovered that one of my favorite bands who plays lots of superhero-based music, Recess Monkey, were playing the same weekend at Jammin' Java (we went to last year's show there) and they hadn't yet booked a party for that show. PHEW.

There were some fun things we had planned that we weren't able to do at the new venue (we planned to construct a telephone booth entryway for all the superheroes to "change," superhero/villain bowling, and a game of "it's a bird, it's a plane"), but, for the most part, all the decorations translated well. And, most importantly, all of the items I made personally worked out just fine. Although mom was not happy that she missed out on making kryptonite kocktails and had to cancel her order of Superman icecream (which you can only get from Northern Michigan, where she spent her summers).

I was a little overwhelmed by all the people and noise and spent a fair bit of the party chilling in the back with a milkshake (thanks, Nona and Grammie B for hanging with me!). But, by the end, I was into it. And when it came time to hand out the goody bags (that I spent so much time making with mom), I was psyched (I even gave some to the band on my own volition). It turned out to be a great venue (that worked really well with mom on short notice) and a SUPER party.

Here are all the party details and fabulous pictures courtesy of Darcy from No Monsters in My Bed and Because It Is a Holiday (we are all grateful that mom was not tasked with the pics this time. she is many things, but a photographer she is not. particularly in a dark bar. thanks, Darcy!)

Mom found a good-sized lot of vintage comic books on Etsy and bought them up to use for the invitation and decorations. She lined the back of each invitation with a bright comic book cover and then lined each envelope with a comic strip page. I helped her make word bubble address labels (I really love to help out "doing graphic design") and added some sticker superhero shapes and word bubbles to close the envelope on a back. And, of course, we used "POW" stamps from (will mom ever be able to buy normal postage stamps again? we think not). 

Mom made the Happy Birthday banner from the printable party pack and made some vertical decorations from the various superhero shapes and word bubbles. It was seriously amazing that the color scheme of the venue completely matched up -- dark green walls, yellow, red and blue modern artwork. Mom couldn't have planned it any better if she had tried (well, that's probably not entirely true, but it was still pretty money).

Mom set the three dining tables with black tablecloths and custom-made (a big thanks to our buddy's grandmom for the sewing help!!!) pop-art'ish black and white runners. She also threw a few black/white and green/white polka dot IKEA pillows on the chairs, which she helped pop up the darkness a bit. We sprinkled "confetti" of superhero designs from the party pack and vintage comic books on the tables. I was worried about losing the comic book confetti, so I tried to gather them all up (above). 

Mom purchased printable superhero masks from Bessie Pooh's Etsy shop and cut and assembled all of those little suckers herself. She was quite glad when they were a big hit at the party! I'm really good with a pair of scissors, but these were a little too detailed for me to cut. 

The meant-to-be-centerpiece for our planned party at home was my name made out of comic book letters topping a cityscape mom made out of boxes and colored paper. I'm very into spelling my name right now, so this is on my dresser in my room and I like to rework the letters (apparently so does my cousin, Jack). Incidentally, mom had planned on making tons of these buildings to use in our "it's a bird, it's a plane" game at home, in which we were going to try and shoot rubber superheroes over  buildings without toppling them. But very late at night after many hours of making just five of them for the centerpiece, mom was thanking the party gods that we had to change venues.

A big bonus to having it at a venue other than home was having it catered by Jammin' Java! There were sandwiches, salads, and soft pretzels for the adults. And chicken nuggets, applesauce and juice for the kiddos. Open bar for the adults, obviously. Although that included milkshakes and smoothies, so I made out pretty well, too. 

Now, given the cake pop disaster of 2011, one would think mom would have wised up this year. But, instead, she thought, "we'll just make these fake cake pops ourselves." Wrong. SO wrong. After five hours of making them with Grammie B (thanks Grammie B!), it became clear that they looked and tasted like nothing we'd ever serve. Even to kids. Even to our dog. They were too, too sweet and, well, looked a lot like poop on a stick. Colored poop. But still poop. It probably didn't help that mom put a "POP" circle on each striped straw that held them (your mind just couldn't help but go there). So, dad was sent out at 11:30 p.m. the night before to get a cake to serve as the main dessert course. But that was also kind of a disaster (although clearly not his fault). Mom made an early a.m. trip the morning of the party to try and find a plain cake for these cute cake toppers she made, but this was all she could find. Hey, at least the colors were right. And, you know, having now done this several times, it would appear that supermarket cake is freakin' delicious and we should just stick with that.

We danced, flew upside down, sang, struck superhero poses and just generally partied through the whole set. I got a special shout-out from the band, which elicited a nice big smile. It was my party, but Cam really got into it. Darcy tried to get a nice family shot, but no big surprise that I wouldn't cooperate. It was my party after all. 

I actually think my favorite part of the party was when it was time to hand out the goody bags. I worked especially hard at making several of the things inside. Cam and I both colored the tags for cool superhero sound effect pins mom bought on Etsy. And I personally made 7 batches of the BEST slime (see our post with the recipe here) so that each of my buddies got to take home some super slime with a "slime scraping" spoon mom stamped with superhero sound effects (they were actually meant to be used with the jello we planned to serve at home, but having stamped all of them, mom was intent on finding another use!). We also included the flying superheroes we had planned on using with the game at our house. I colored each thank you tag and filled all of the goody bags at home. I was so proud of them, I told mom I wanted to give one to each member of the band and, as I did, I thanked them for coming to my party. 

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