Five. He's turning five already. I remember five months old, five teeth, giving a high five. But this...I can't take this. Too fast, too soon. Ah, but I digress...
To commemorate this amazing milestone, Little Boy asked for a Star Wars themed party this year. Specifically, an emphasis on Darth Vader in particular. I admit, at first I was skeptical. He hadn't had that much exposure to the franchise, so I assumed the theme would change and change again for the course of the months. But it did not. Rather, it grew stronger like...wait for it...The Force. September rolls around and I'm in full on Star Wars Party prep mode.
I'll be totally honest with you. I know nothing of Star Wars, let alone the intricate plot lines, familial dealings, or frankly what a "death star" even is. I know Yoda is a tiny adorable green guy who speaks funny who looks like my grandma, there's a princess who's kind of bitchy with a spectacularly bad hair style, and it involves Harrison Ford. So for this party I had to do a bit of research. That was in part a bad idea, because there's a shitload of Star Wars stuff out there and I got super overwhelmed. After an initial panic, I got down to business, focused on the theme and colors, and went from there. The result? Well...you tell me...
First off the color and overall theme I wanted to go for obviously Darth Vader as the dominate theme and bolster with a more modern Star Wars take. I wanted space elements, the future, and bright colors. I anchored myself largely on the main key notes in the franchise: light sabers (ya, worked that theme to death, man), Darth Vader himself (both in colors as well as physical appearance), and mixed it all in with kid-friendly foods requested by the birthday boy.
I kept the colors mainly black which was personally very awesome for me (I love black) and accented with bright red (Vader's saber color) and mixed in some shimmering silvers, golds, bright neon greens (the "good" sabers) and cool "universe blues" (think midnight blue, laser light blue). I made the birthday sign myself, using simply black and bright red cardstock paper I cut myself and glittery silver sticker letters. Both can be found at Michael's craft stores. I hung the banner using silver floral twine -- I wanted to do an effect like the letters were suspending in space (ha -- there's that theme!) but didn't have time to really work the wire out to achieve the proper affect. Next time.
Tables were rented and of course black chairs to match the theme. Black disposable table cloths from the party store makes for kid-friendly spills and super easy clean up. Instead of using the plates, napkins and cups all with the image of Vader or Star Wars, I chose to do black plastic plates and keep the napkins and cups with the Vader theme. I think this works much better because it doesn't overly crowd the tables with the theme; it looks much sleeker and I think gives a nicer effect. Each table had a collection of balloons -- again, red, black and contrasted with silver stars. Added nice height and decoration.
I think the best part of the tables though were the silver star confetti! This was totally a last minute decision I'm glad I made. They added a perfect color contrast to all the black on the tables without being overpowering. They were festive, brought in that outer space element again, and added a feeling of celebration that really, really worked.
On the food table I had the food and drinks. I kept the desserts inside this time because we had an unseasonably hot day today and didn't want the cake or ice cream to melt! Among the food included:
Vegetables with "Thomas" (aka hummus) as requested by the birthday boy
Sandwiches from local Jimmy John's
Guacamole with Chips
Rice Crispy Treats
Teddy Graham Crackers
and two kinds of punch
Of course everything couldn't be called by their boring earth names; I crafted some very simple food cards using silver glitter cardstock with gold letter stickers. The food table also had a fabulous sign made quite easily using this subtly sparkly black scrapbook paper that had the perfect effect of outer space combined with neon "space" type font sticker letters. All I found at Michael's in the scrapbook section.
Given the space theme I wanted to go very sleek, modern and simple. It was kind of refreshing to be totally honest not to worry about lace or glitter or perfectly punched holes for pretty ribbons. Everything was about straightforward, clear communications and bright colors to contrast with the black. It was a lot of fun working with that palate actually. I tried to look to bright colors both in the décor and the food wherever I could, also doing a cheeky take on the Star Wars theme.
For drinks I wanted to use the beverage dispensers. I kept it really simple. I wish I could have used a more modern vessel like maybe a modern wine decanter for a better look, but I figured this was easier for kids. If you're doing this for adults then I'd say definitely go for the modern wine decanters!
We decided on Yoda Soda and Vaderade for the drinks. The Yoda Soda was green Hawaiian Punch I combined with some Mountain Dew. I did a 75-25 ratio punch - soda because I didn't want the kids to be too coked out on the sugar and caffeine. The punch gave a fantastic neon green base color and the Mountain Dew gave a delightful fizz for taste.
I also used these straws I bought from Ikea months ago -- they were the perfect shade of neon red, purple, green, and black that matched the palate perfectly. I think I spent less than $5 on a huge back of straws. I placed them in a simple glass container along with the themed Vader cups.
The Vaderade was a Cool Aid I made using the premix powder form (the just-add-water). Very simple, and it created the perfect shade of Darth Vader red. I didn't want to do Hawaiian Punch again, so I went this route. You could use most any red colored drink for this. I did really love how the hue came out however. It popped as did the Yoda Soda against the black and dark blues of the table.
The light saber theme was recurring throughout the party. I thought it was pretty smart to include them on the table quite easily in the form of freeze pops. Naturally the shape of light sabers, they have fantastic bright colors and gave a great focal point to the table. Needless to say, the kids loved them as well. I saw other parties that did light sabers in the form of dipped pretzels; great idea but this is far less work and on our hot day they were a huge hit to help keep the kids running around hydrated too!
I was stressing out about what kind of serving platters or vessels to use for this. I didn't want to necessarily invest $500 in modern platters, so instead I used more affordable glass flower vases. They ended up working perfectly. The round bowl-shaped ones reminded me of the helmets they wore when driving the space flying thingies (I told you, I'm really bad with the movies) and the other simple, slightly tapered vases looked like modular-type. I don't know, they really fit in I think in their simplicity of shape and color.
To play on the theme, we did Rolos titled Hans Rolos, cocoa-crispy treats I formed into balls (not that creative, but it worked) to be Death Stars, and teddy grahams for Ewok Cookies. The pretzels -- you can correctly assume the saber shape once again. I thought it'd be gratuitous to write another card for them.
The littler kids I found liked the ewok cookies. The Death Stars worked but in retrospect I wish I used some colored sprinkles or maybe even pieces of broken up pretzels mixed in to somehow make it more special. I recommend that if you try this for your party. The Hans Rolos were of course a hit with the kids.
Yes....this totally happened...
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
I used store-bought cinnamon rolls (the ones in the canister) and to make them smaller, I unrolled them, cut them in half, then rolled each half so instead of 6 larger cinnamon rolls I had 12 per container. This made the bite-sized portions way easier for everyone to eat. You can also just buy some cinnamon rolls from the bakery; I know Whole Foods sells a container with even smaller bite-sized versions that would also work.
The randomly requested Vegetables with Hummus:
Finally, I'd like to present on the food table, the Piece de Resistance:
Ya, that just happened too.
Make your own guacamole or use store-bought and shape the guac freehand into a yoda head. It was not that hard at all. I swear you can do it. Then for the eyeballs I did two dollops of sour cream that I smoothed out with the back of a spoon into eye-shapes. Two slices of olives completed the eyes. For the mouth I simply took a black olive and sliced thin slices I then placed in pieces for the mouth. Because we were doing Darth Vader, I used red tortilla chips. The whole dish sat on a simple black plastic platter I bought from the party store.
For desserts the birthday boy wanted cake as well as cupcakes. And he wanted me to make both. Thankfully he likes my red velvet cake (coincidentally the only cake recipe I can do well) so we did a traditional red velvet inside. He wanted chocolate frosting and black fondant with stars.
After my first birthday cake making experience back for Little Girl's Sleeping Beauty themed party which was a DISASTER of epic proportions, I swore I'd never make another birthday cake again. But how could I say no? Thankfully he didn't want anything terribly complicated or tall or intricate, so I felt confident I could pull it off.
I did my red velvet cake recipe (post coming soon!) and a simple chocolate buttercream frosting. I used store-bought Wilton brand fondant for the outside in black (SO EASY) and then cut out stars using cookie cutters with white fondant. I printed out a star wars font and created the letters freehand using the font to help me. And I totally cheated and used a plastic Vader figurine to finish off the décor, and I'm totally fine with that.
The cupcakes were chocolate with ice cream in place of frosting and sprinkles (post coming soon!).
The activities included a bounce house and Darth Vader piñata which was unceremoniously broken on the second hit by the birthday boy, who was first in line to try his hand at it. My planned activity that was supposed to take at least 15 minutes was over in less than 30 seconds. At least it was him who broke it though!
And finally, no Darth Vader party is complete without a special appearance by Vader himself:
Oh this poor guy didn't stand a chance. The kids' party gifts were light sabers (in addition to whatever they accumulated via piñata). They chose Sith or Jedi sabers (and I had some purple/pink ones as well) and they just completely accosted poor Vader.
He taught them some lessons and games, including how to use the Force...
How to run away from a shitload of kids armed with batons...
And various other games. The kids had a blast, and Darth Vader was an amazingly resilient good sport about the whole thing.
Thankfully we had a nice flat backyard and beautiful day to partake in all the space mayhem. Seriously though, I have no idea how Darth Vader survived.
The birthday boy and other kids were exhausted. I think I was partially forgiven by the parents for cracking their kids out on sugar and candy throughout the party, given how much energy they got out between the bounce house and running around playing with Darth Vader. I know the birthday boy himself really had a blast.
|learning some jedi fighting skillz|
|a lesson in using the Force|
The party was so much fun. I ended up loving the theme. I highly recommend a Star Wars themed party if you're wondering what to do. You can completely tailor it to a certain character, or even add more girly or boy elements depending on the celebrant. This would be fun to do as an adult party too one of these years! And I probably would still rent the bounce house even for adults as well.
Everyone was exhausted at the end. A sign that the party was a success. I think this picture says it all:
So in the immortal words of I Forget Who Actually Said It, "May the Force...be with you!"