Sunday, March 1, 2015

the most epic of parties

diana looks forward to her birthday with a mixture of excitement and apprehension, much of it focusing on the party. we've held shindigs ranging from intimate family affairs to full-blown destination celebrations - all involving daddy's awesome cakes, and as she's grown older, she has expressed a desire for increasing ownership of the event planning.

just after christmas, as per usual, her attention shifted from winter celebrations to upcoming holidays, the highlight of which is her birthday. what theme to choose? she's attended harry potter parties, hosted tea parties, did the doctor who thing already. what could adequately reflect her current passions?
animal jam!

the moment the words left my mouth and entered her ears, she was full-speed ahead on considering the possibilities. it was the perfect choice, after all.  for a couple of weeks, we mostly discussed ideas as they popped up in our heads, but about a month prior to the Big Day, we set forward in earnest, making actual Lists, ordering Supplies, sending Invitations, making Stuff.

animal jam is a virtual world. this party would bring it into the real world in a really marvelous way.

  • she selected a bunch of actual animal jam music shorts. did you know you can purchase them? we hum them absentmindedly throughout the day at our house.

food was served in sarepia forest

you can just see a few of the journey book items the guests had to search for near the waterfall in crystal sands
snowball the bunny fit right into the theme

  • she located and downloaded the proper font, tiki island, to use on her laptop and create all sorts of signs. diana is a-may-zing with what she can do using screenshots and microsoft paint.

  • she designed a personal invitation based on jam-a-gram templates.
  • she created individual journey books. guests were invited to participate in a scavenger hunt of sorts to find the animals hidden in each country/continent of jamaa.

these guides were labeled and out for everyone to see

  • she conducted a web search and selected a site,, at which she set up a name generator using the actual name options available to players on animal jam. she invited her party guests to experience the fun of choosing a party name for themselves. i think she used one of her own avatar names, leaping happyotter. (i am countess cleverclaw, in case you were interested.)

lots of cutting and stitching and stuffing happening for many days. we watched a lot of agatha christie poirot episodes to help pass the time.
i love how her party-attendance-thank-you-gifts are just so . . . epic. (last year, she knitted scarves for the girls who came to her doctor who party.) the idea emerged as she was considering how to set up one of the games. she worked long and hard on these plushies, from working and reworking the patterns to improving her stitch work each time she sewed on a new eye to stuffing each one just so.

  • the fruit slinger game, by the way, was probably the highlight of her party. she made little bean bags shaped like each fruit in the game, with embellishments and different fillings (rice, unpopped popcorn) to reflect different weights. we saved cardboard boxes and worked in some of our wooden blocks to set up excellent forts.

the fruit slinger game was played in pairs. the goal was to knock down all the phantoms on the fort in front of you down to the floor, taking turns with the fruit bean bags. i think the yellow horned melon was most effective, as it was heaviest.
ander was very helpful in making sure people followed directions

  • the other games were pretty nifty, too. in each case, diana wrote up instructions and edited images she found on animal jam to make each element as realistic as possible.

pairs is a memory match mini game

mira says is like the simon electronic game

  • for spider zapper, diana printed the spider images from the game, we laminated them, then spread them out on the coffee table so the guests could try to catch them with sticky hands. the sticky hands themselves turned out to be even more fun near the end of the party when things got just a little bit crazy.

  • there was the amazing shell game, too, with cups and a marble, and a pet stop where the guests could adorn and decorate the plushie pets that diana invited everyone to bring along to the party.

steve bravely held it up on the end of a broomstick, while i blindfolded each person and spun them around before letting them whack at the monster.

  • we held a trading party of all the pinata spoils - little felt stickers, tiny spools of decorated ribbon, chocolate hearts and fun-size candy bars.

most of the stickers ended up on diana's back during the trading party, in honor of her birthday and all.

  • because she had time left before the party started, diana thought of making a howl board so her guests could shout out birthday messages to her.

  • for refreshments, we had pizza and fruit ropes and juices and popcorn and - of course - the epic cake, courtesy of daddy.

it's a phantom. a plushie phantom. with lightning bolts. as you do.
yes, that was black frosting, folks. basic yellow cake and chocolate cake and white frosting tinted black so i could send all of these girls home to their families hopped up on sugar and with black teeth and tongues. while i took multiple pictures, i shall not be posting them. i think it's sufficient to know that i have them.

hours - days - weeks - of project-based homeschooling time and effort went into planning and making and worrying and researching and doing and discussing and experimenting and redoing and abandoning and decision-making and evaluating and anticipating. it all culminated into an epic two-hour party for eleven young ladies and ander, the young gentleman host. we consider it a success because diana really enjoyed herself for all of that, during the after-party with a smaller group openings presents and playing board games, and even during the after-after-party-sleepover with two friends, when they got into the computers to play on animal jam itself. also minecraft. because minecraft.

she did enough.  she is well satisfied. as am i.

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