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Monday, November 24, 2014

6th Birthday - Plants vs. Zombies party

There are definite lines that emerge at Kindergarten in terms of what interests kids. You start to see who are the thinkers versus the doers, the followers versus leaders, etc. You also see who has the same philosophies that you do at home. We are pretty up to date on kid-oriented movies, watch a good variety of cartoons, and, though rare, do allow Hank to play video games. We likely would let him play more, but for some reason when we allow him to play the games, his mood goes in the toilet. So we take them away -- for months. And then they are reintroduced and the cycle starts all over again. If you spoke to him, you would think he plays games non-stop, but really he just binges for a couple of days, and then eagerly looks for opportunities to watch Minecraft walk-throughs on TV, look over a stranger's shoulder at a restaurant as they are playing a game, etc. -- anxiously awaiting the time we give in and allow him to play once again.



At school, Hank is part of the group that orients themselves around video games, collectibles, and cartoons. Their interests shift from Pokemon to Bakugan to Bey Blades to Minecraft, and we some how keep up with each new thing. In between, the previous interests are deemed "stupid," but eventually each one comes back around and is the best thing ever again. This is the group that can play a seemingly endless game involving some kind of battle and a ship that takes about an hour and a half to finally explode. The boys make pew pew pew noises. They get rowdy, but you can usually regain control by redirecting towards a quiet activity like drawing -- which inevitably turns to drawing more bad guys and explosions.


For some reason in his after school class last year, there were a greater number of these boys. They are still at the school, but in 1st grade now, so Hank only connects with them later in the day. He has only found one pew pew pew friend in his current class - and they are inseparable. The other little boy apparently won't start playing until Hank arrives at school, and then they immediately start talking over each other, ready to share some new concept they have thought of to create out of LEGOs and then blow up. My heart aches for the boys who watch these interactions, but don't seem to know how to be a part of them, and wonders at the kids who seem to have no clue about any of these games/activities. I think the grown up kids in the house have a strong influence over what interests the kids, and this is evidenced by the ease of talking to one of the moms of a pew pew pew kid versus attempting to find common ground with the ones who allow their kids to watch little or no TV, or limit to watching younger shows.


For his 6th birthday party, Hank chose Plants vs. Zombies. It is a phone/tablet based game that has a guy who fights zombies with a collection of fighting plants. The most famous is the pea shooter, and there is also a cute sunflower. The zombies are goofy rather than scary. It was fun to look for other PvZ parties, and add our own spin to things. This was Hank's first small scale party. He was allowed to invite 6 friends. He only ended up inviting 5, and unfortunately only 3 were able to come. It was nice to have a smaller group to entertain, but I don't think I saved too much time on the preparations, and still fussed more than I should have on details, lol.


When the boys arrived at the party, they could sit down and color in PvZ drawings. I had also considered having them make paracord bracelets, but think 6/7 year olds are a little young for this. I made the bracelets myself for them to take.


The food table's highlight was zombie themed cake balls that I had made at a local bakery. The picture I gave them looked a little more like the zombies from the game, but they were so super tasty, it was hard to complain. My mom and I made almond butter and jelly sandwiches rimmed with golden raisins to look like the sunflowers from the game.


The rest of the food was standard party fare -- fruit, veggies, chips, etc., but elements such as sweet mini peppers, snap peas, and veggie chips were purposefully chosen reflective of plants from the game.


We also had Zombie Juice -- which was the same recipe as Swamp Juice from Hank's 4th birthday party. A few PvZ figures were included on the table for decor as well as some solar powered sunflowers from the dollar store. This was a drop-off party, but for my parents, BT, me, and one couple who did stay, we had tacos, reflective of the game's main human character (Crazy Dave) and his love of tacos.


For favors, I found the cute polka dot boxes at a party store. They were filled with a zombie toy also from the dollar store, a packet of pea seeds, some cherry flavored fruit snacks, and two gummy zombies.


There was a very popular candy station with chocolate zombie eyeballs, candy corn corn kernels, cherry gummy cherry bombs, and chocolate candy coated peas.


The "new" element we don't usually include with our parties was games. We had four games set up in the driveway. I only found one PvZ game idea online that we wanted to use, and the other games I hurt my brain over trying to develop. There's a zombie joke there, but can't think of it.


Anyway -- The first game was a bowling game using food cans wrapped in printouts from etsy. We had the astroturf left over from the Zim house, and the play lawnmower has been used by both of the kids (in the game, a lawnmower is your last defense against the zombies). I found 3 green balls, aka peas, at the dollar store. I was worried this would be too easy, but it turned out that the kids usually did need to use all three balls to knock all the cans over. The astroturf made it so the cans could fall versus just sliding as they would have on the concrete. This became Threepeater Bowling (a Threepeater is a three-headed pea shooter you obtain as you advance in the game).


The next game ended up being the favorite. I printed pictures of zombies from the different versions of the PvZ game on transparency slides. I have had these transparencies since college, and the box was just kind of staring at me when I was trying to think of what to do for the games until I finally landed on this idea. The slides were taped to the wall, and the kids threw water balloons at them. This game was called Cherry Bomb Toss.


Each kid was supposed to get 5 balloons to throw at the pictures, but this just ended up being a melee of kids tossing the balloons as quickly as they could. Overall the games were supposed to take some time, assuming everybody waited and took their turns individually, but it was pretty much just 10 minutes of mayhem and then questions about what they were supposed to do next.


An easy game to add in was Squash the Zombie. I drew a chalk line on the ground, and taught the kids how to do a broad jump. Of course, wild pew pew pew boys could only do the jump correctly one time, and then one of them rolls after his jump and claims he got to 10 feet, and they all follow suit.


The most difficult game to finalize but ended up being the most fun we called Peashooter Race. I had randomly bought some ping pong balls at the dollar store. I figured they would also be part of some type of peashooter activity. We looked up ping pong ball games, and saw one that you would blow the ball around on a table with a straw. We ended up setting up cups for the balls to be blown into, and added zombies at the top of the cups. I figured this would be really difficult for the kids, and they would be blowing the ball off of the table, etc. It turned out that this set up, using a 6 foot table, is good for the kids to master blowing the ball the entire length of the table straight into the cup! We were so amazed -- all of them were eventually able to do it, so this game was even more successful than I thought it would be.


Finally, for decor, there were a few red balloons with the flying zombie from the game tied on. He weighted the balloons down too much, so I bought additional balloons to hold them up inside. Outside we had a few zombie-themed signs from Halloween,


orange cones, and caution tape to block off the party area.

Mom made my shirt using a drawing of zombies I made before I even heard of the game Plants versus Zombies!
Overall it was a great party. I know I need to tone things down even more, and just stick with pizza and a movie or something, but I really do enjoy putting parties like this together. I was just glad that by the day of the party Plants vs. Zombies hadn't been deemed stupid by the pew pew pew boys.

1 comment:

curtis03 Lewis said...

Very nice story!! I think you did really good work for your son. This party seems to be very thrilled. The creativity in party food is standing out. You had a perfect party venue. I really like these kinds of venues for events.