Parker’s birthday is later this month, but we had his party a few weeks early to take advantage of the late-summer warm weather given that he had his heart set on a sleepover party at our cabin.
We invited four of his buddies for a “spy training” party, and it was a blast!
I was so grateful for all the wonderful, detailed ideas I found on a blog called Birthday Blueprint. You’ll see that I followed many of them very, very closely!
First, the invitations:
I cut regular file folders into mini-folders, with the invitations tucked inside:
I also made each boy a spy/adventure bag, using a free pattern for a nature explorer bag at Chez Beeper Bebe. I simplified the pattern a bit by making fewer pockets and flaps, and skipping the bias binding around the top. Instead of that, I just made the linings about an inch taller, and then folded them over the top of the exterior and topstitched. Not the most refined finish, but these were for 8-year-old boys. I also added another D-ring to make the bags actually close. I used leftover fabric from my living room slipcovers for the bag exteriors, and random leftover fabric for the interiors. So each bag cost less than $2 for the straps and D-rings.
In each bag was tucked a pencil,notebook, ID badge, fingerprint card and one item related to the “secret mission” game we played later. I have plenty of reporter’s notebooks given my day job, so I just glued black cardstock to the fronts and added the “top secret” stickers.
Here’s our screened-in porch set up for the party (I bought this pack of balloons at Target thinking it would be all primary/rainbow colors. It turned out to be an odd assortment of white, black,orange, yellow and teal. Oh well).
When the boys arrived, we did their fingerprints and picked their code names. To figure out the names, I asked each of them to call out two adjectives and two nouns. I wrote them down on slips of paper and had them pick one of each for their names. We ended up with: Blue Missile, Red Gun, Massive Ejector Seats, Weak Bullet and …
(For the party, I wrote their names on their badges. I then took headshots of each kid, and used those to make photo ID badges that we will mail to them with their thank-you notes)
We also did “laser training” _ they had to get through this maze of yarn without touching it. I hung some tiny jingle-bells on the yarn as “alarms,” though I think the boys had removed them by the time I took this picture.
The boys then headed out onto the pond for a rousing game of “Push off the Raft” aka “Spy Agility Training” with my husband, while I set up the secret mission/clue hunt.
The clue hunt worked very well. I gave them an envelope with the first clue, and they had to figure out who had the cipher to solve it. Each kid got to feel special when it was his turn to use his special cipher, but they all worked together to solve the clues.
You’ll see my first clue is very similar to the Birthday Blueprint clue, though I constructed it a bit differently. I typed up the message, making sure the letters for the coded message were in the right order within the words, and then used my Silhouette machine to cut out the cipher _ a piece of cardstock with boxes cut out, so when it was laid over the note, the message appeared. (“The next clue is in the shed.”)
Clue #3 spelled out “Dock, Dock, Goose” to send them down to the dock. This was a simple graph/substitution code.
From there, the went to the bunkhouse, using a piece of red plastic to read the clue “I found your bunkhouse headquarters. Look out below!” (Clue was hidden under a bed). For this clue, I downloaded the red sqiggle design from the Martha Stewart website.
Finally, the last clue involved a cipher device called a Scytale (directions can be found on the NSA’s kid’s page, under “games and activities” and “make it at home,” but basically you wrap a thin strip of paper around a paper towel tube or similar item, write your message and then un-wind it. One of the kids had a paper towel tube in his bag, and had to figure out that he should wrap the paper around it to reveal the message: “ALL HANDS ON DECK”)
This led them back to the porch/deck, where the cake was waiting. We had planned to make a bomb-shaped cake, with a sparkler/candle that had to be “de-fused” but my husband saw this idea in a magazine and Parker loved it. This actually the leftovers… it was arranged nicely on a big platter with candles. It had nothing to do with the theme, but no one cared!