Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Caleb's Spy-Themed Tenth Birthday Party

Ready to channel your inner spy?

Our youngest son is what you call all boy. If there's an element of danger, he's all over it. 
If it's loud, he's there.  
Messy, muddy, exploding, smelly, terrifying... Yup, he wouldn't miss it for the world. 
Secret codes, scavenger hunts and spies - it doesn't get much better than that for a ten year old boy.

I first thought of having a Spy Party for Caleb because of all the games involved, and it was really was one of the most fun parties I've ever put together. browsed online for a few weeks leading up to the big day, and there were so many great ideas.

Of course, why stop at spy when there's army and wizards and ninja and....? ? ?

And perhaps the most fun thing for me was creating the Super Spy Playlist for the games, ha ha!

Let's start with the cake. This was a true labor of love, and I think it turned out great.
At first I had no idea what to make- I was all over the place, thinking camo, bombs, etc, and at one point I think I actually entertained the idea of making a tank. Whoa. I ended up mixing a few ideas together and couldn't have been more pleased with the end result.
Caleb was SO happy when he saw it, and that made all my nervous energy totally worth it. =)
This thing was kind of a beast!

 The edge of the compass wasn't cooperating, so I just covered it up with Whoppers.


The compass (which started out accidentally with clock hands...whoops!) was made from leftover batter I'd absentmindedly placed in the dome cake pan simply because I didn't want to toss it. It ended up being the perfect size! I froze the bigger round cake I made...maybe for Valentine's Day?

I was so pleased with the candy edging on the compass, I did that around the whole cake. It was a nice finishing touch. And yummy!

I used the paper towel method for the camouflage frosting- you kind of plop down the frosting in a camo pattern and then lay a paper towel right on top of it, flat, and carefully push down to smooth it out. I can't imagine trying to get this result using a knife or spatula!

 I originally planned to make a dome cake for the bomb, but somewhere along the way, I thought I'd try to make a giant Rice Krispie treat one. It worked fabulously! I think my biggest mistake in the past has been letting the rice krispie stuff sit too long in whatever mold I was using; this time I plopped it out on a plate after a few minutes. I also needed a hole for the licorice "wick" so I stabbed a candy cane in the side a few inches deep.  Then I placed it in the fridge to set. Perfecto!

When the bomb was set, I gave it the first crumb coating. My plan was to then coat it in some melted candy bark dyed black, but...that didn't work. The instant I added the black gel coloring, the bark started to get clumpy and impossible to work with- like when water gets in your melted chocolate. Ugh. I should have realized, but I didn't, until it was too late. I left the charcoal-gray bark in the bowl and promptly forgot about it when I began to whip up some frosting. Plan B.

I used the paper towel method again for the bomb with some regular frosting I dyed black. 
And that ruined candy bark? 
It made the most perfect looking debris to surround the cake!
Caleb was thrilled with my mistake. :)

What a pain in the neck chipping it out of the bowl, though - it had gotten so hard as it dried!

 I found these hunting/camo pennants & accessories at WalMart for cheap - they weren't even specialty items, just in the regular party supplies aisle.
 I cut the pennants to stagger them up on the frame- I liked it much better that way

I made these labels for the "Truth Serum"
Just use an interesting font - I love how they turned out
The snacks were so easy but so much fun!
Mini bombs from donuts, licorice, and ring pops
 We also served chips and salsa and some other easy things like that.

The activities for this spy party were my absolute favorites! So Much Fun!!!
We had spy music playing on a playlist as friends arrived, which definitely added to the excitement.
As soon as they came inside, we told them they needed to be fingerprinted and given their code name.
We all loved this!
The basic idea is this: you write down some colors and some spy-sounding nouns, and each kid chooses a slip from each bowl or box, put the words together and that's your new code name.
They wrote their names on a badge (blank index card) next to their fingerprint.
Our favorites were Blue Missile, White Sniper, and Silver Serpent.
Obviously spies need their potassium. ha ha
Next, we put them to work finding clues for a scavenger hunt. What adventure-seeking kid doesn't love a scavenger hunt?
The spies had to decode secret messages

 Some messages were really really tiny, and others were embossed so they could rub a pencil over it to read it...

Next, they had 60 seconds to piece together the cut-up spy quotes in order to receive the next clue for the scavenger hunt.
I used Alex Rider and Harry Potter (okay, so not really a spy, but I figured everyone was familiar with him)
**I am SO glad I didn't cut up each word individually, as that would have been a little too challenging for this age group**
Once they got it right, we gave them the paper bag with the next clue.

The last set of clues was hidden inside...balloons. We hid them all over the house and they were to find as many as they could in a minute or two. This added element of competition really kept them engaged, too.
The boys were instructed to bring the balloon straight to the garage as soon as it was found, and there...drum roll please...Bill taped it against a big box so each boy could throw a dart to pop it. I think the whole neighborhood heard the squealing and oh yeah-ing! Needless to say, huge hit with 10-year-old boys!
Then they would burst through the door in search of the tool to decipher the message, and run off screaming through the house in search of the next clue- we were tickled to see them having so much fun with it.
Ugh, look at the boxes! So Many BOXES! Moving is hard work.
The last clue lured them down to "The Dungeon"
We outlined a body in chalk (thanks Dad!) and instructed them to look for the murder scene, and as soon as they turned the corner, they got attacked with silly string. Fun Fun Fun!

 We opened presents after the scavenger hunt and let the boys play downstairs while we got the cake and ice cream ready to go.
I can't believe my baby boy has hit double digits!
 This party was pretty fast-paced and this is the only picture I have of the birthday boy with his cake. Sorry about the flame reflections, buddy, ha

After that was done, we cranked up the SPY playlist we'd made- Mission Impossible theme, Inspector Gadget, etc. Then it was time to separate the boys from the men.  =)
Because eye black just gives you that certain edge ;)

What Spy Party would be complete without a little Laser Crawl?
Not this one!

Even Ryder wanted to participate, ha!
 (please note that this was about a month after we'd moved in and hadn't redone those gross floors yet...there's an update of what it looks like now HERE if you'd like to see it.)

Combat Catch
Perhaps known to civilians as blind marshmallow toss.  =)

I think this one was my favorite.
The boys used nerf guns and had fifteen seconds to knock down as many soldiers as they could from the starting line. There was a second advanced stating line...clear across the room. So much fun!
I have to say that while this party was lots of fun, it was extremely inexpensive, which is a huge win when you've got three other kiddos to plan parties for each year. This was just lots of good ol' creativity.

I loved how the inside of the cake turned out as well. 
I just used some gel colors to create different colored batter, then swirled it around gently. I think the key is to not overdo it with the swirling. :)

The birthday boy has thanked us for his "awesome party" approximately 344 times now...just melts this Mama's heart!! 
We love you so much, Caleb Andrew!! What a joy and privilege to be you parents. 

Here are some of my other favorite parties:

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