Sunday, September 29, 2013

Spy Birthday Party

Today we had a little birthday party for Olivia.  I learned from my mistakes last year and only invited 3 of her friends plus a friend for Alex.  We had a "spy" theme and it was a lot of fun.

The first thing we did when the kids arrived was make up secret identities.  I'd asked for photos of the kids ahead of time and printed some ID's for them, then we wrote a few last minute details on them and laminated them while the kids had treats.

Since the party was from 3:30-5, I decided we'd better have refreshments first so we wouldn't ruin any dinner appetites.  I had a package of cookie dough in the fridge, so I baked those and served a warm cookie and scoop of ice cream.  We didn't have cake because it seems kids just have a few bites of frosting and waste the rest.  The cookies were just right.

After treats it was time for Spy Training!  I showed everyone a little treasure chest with treats and said we would get them when we passed our spy training.  The first activity was probably everyone's favorite part of the whole party - Laser Beams!  I put red streamers in the hallway and placed a wagon full of "jewels" (my sparkliest jewelry) at the other end.  Then told the kids bad guys had stolen the crown jewels and it was our mission to recover them.  Everyone wanted to take multiple turns, and then they wanted to do it some more after the party.  The hardest part was that it blocked off our main hallway for a couple of hours, even though it was the last thing we put up and the first thing we put away.

The second part of spy training turned out to be the most dangerous.  The idea was to have them hop from paper plate to paper plate, avoiding the booby-trapped ones.  In retrospect, I shouldn't have set them up on our tile kitchen floor - too slippery!  I ended up holding a few hands to make sure everyone could get across safely.

Part three was balancing on a 2x4 "balance beam" and pretending we were crossing from one rooftop to another.

Then finally, we had target practice with nerf guns and a target drawn on a white board.  This was a big hit too, and while they were shooting I went inside to prep the next part of the activities.  I hid the treasure chest in a pre-designated location and kicked off a treasure hunt.

When the kids came in to get their treasure and spy ID's, they found a room full of black balloons and a note that said they had to disarm the bombs to find the first clue that would lead them to our treasure.  There were also various code-cracking tools available.

The first clue was a punch code.  The clue was hidden in a balloon and they had to use the punch card laid over the clue to reveal the location of the next clue.  Making the punch card was the hardest part of the whole party because we don't have a box cutter or straight edge razor.

The second clue was out under the windshield of the car, and the clue was printed in a very tiny, size 2 font.  They had to use a magnifying glass to read it.

The next clue was hidden in Liv's dollhouse and used a mason cipher.  I had prepped Liv on solving it ahead of time because I didn't think they'd be able to get it on their own.  The key was with the other code-cracking tools.

That clue led to a reverse handwriting clue which they brought back to decode at a mirror.

The last clue was the hardest.  It was written on a long thin strip of paper that I'd encoded by wrapping around a stick and then writing on.  They didn't figure out how to use the stick, and then Olivia was able to unscramble the letters in her head to figure it out without the stick, so that was it for that clue.

After they found the treasure I divvy'd up the treats into their goodie bags, and then had the kids do an art project.  I found a template online for spy disguises, and gave them paper plates to turn into masks.  I also had glue, scissors, markers and googly eyes for them to use.  While they worked on their projects, Olivia opened her presents, and then they went to do the laser course for the last couple of minutes before parents came for pick up.  The timing worked out just right.  It was the perfect amount of time for the size of the group and the number of activities.

Since we didn't have very many guests I was able to have a little extra fun with the goodie bags.  The kids got flashlights, glasses/moustaches, mini magnifying glasses, spy notebooks and pencils, their spy ID cards and some treats, including pop rocks.  As a kid I would have loved that goodie bag!

The whole thing took me about 8 hours of prep, 2 hours of shopping, 2 hours of party-time.... and I don't know how much for clean-up, since I was too tired to do that yet.  ;)  The goodie bags were under $30, and the only other expenses were some black balloons, red streamers and a thing of ice cream.  I'm sure the whole party came to less than $50.

Almost none of the ideas for this party were my own.  Thanks to all the great people on Pinterest for sharing so many fun spy party ideas and resources.  Here are links to the ones I used:

Original spy party ideas on Chicken Babies
Template for spy ID cards on Chicken Babies
Majority of the code ideas for the treasure hunt on Stitch/craft
The whole training course and a few code ideas at Lisa Brown
Loved these decorations at What are we doing today, Mom? (even though I didn't decorate)
Here's where I downloaded a free printable for the invitation and some labels. Mediafire - May have pop-ups.
Free download for disguise printable