Like I said in Part One, my “Dream Team” and I were really into this theme and had a blast coming up with ideas for it. For this second part, I’m excited to share details about the decorations and food for Mason’s Sixth Adventure. Just as a good invitation sets the tone for the party, the decorations and food are what bring the theme to life, creating an enjoyable ambiance. If you missed the first part of this blog series, click here: AWESOME BIRTHDAY PARTIES – Indiana Jones Theme Part One.
As soon as we started planning for this party, we knew that there were some iconic elements from the Indiana Jones movies that we HAD to incorporate to truly carry out the theme with authenticity: Indy’s fedora, a boulder, and snakes! But why stop there, right? There are four movies after all! So, we got busy hunting for elements to really pull off this theme! With just a few weeks to organize and plan everything (mind you, the invites weren’t even done or out), I knew I had to start ordering some of the novelty items, figuring out the goodie bags, and shopping for decorations. My brother-in-law, Mark, ordered replicas of the golden fertility idol and the headpiece from the staff of Ra. Jeff started planning the look of the cupcakes….all I told him was “hats, whips and idols.” He’s so awesome that I just let him run with the idea and do what he does (stay tuned for pictures of the cake in Part Three). And my sisters and I started brainstorming ideas for games, activities and food.
THE BOULDER: We knew we’d have to make our own boulder decoration….so I started researching papier–mâché recipes and Mark devised a plan to create the boulder using a large exercise ball. My brilliant nephew, Tyan, suggested that the boulder also serve as the piñata. AWESOME! Dual-purpose, I love it! The weekend before the party, Mark came over to help make the boulder. I decided not to use a traditional papier–mâché flour or glue paste recipe because I didn’t want the boulder to be too sturdy, since it was also going to be the piñata. So, I opted for liquid starch right out of the bottle and a couple of rolls of cheap brown postal paper from Dollar Tree. Mark covered the exercise ball with a lawn trash bag and we tore and crumpled sheets of the postal paper.
Then we dipped the paper into liquid starch and smoothed it out over the ball, layering the crumpled, torn pieces until the ball was completely covered. After several layers on one side of the ball, we left the starched paper to dry overnight.
My husband, Aaron, finished the second side the next day, factoring in a wire hanger for the rope and some strips of duct tape to support the seams and help the boulder hold it’s shape once the exercise ball was deflated and removed.
Once it was dry, I used black, white and a little bit of brown acrylic to paint it to look like the gray boulder from Raiders of the Lost Ark. The painting was really simple, I even gave Mason and Isaac paint brushes and their own plates of paint and let them help. The crumpled paper gave it the look of a rock’s texture….so all we had to do was slap the paint on.
DECORATIONS: I figured out most of the decorations just days before the party….with exception to a few things. A couple of weeks before, I had ordered brown felt hats from Rhode Island Novelty (it takes about a week for order processing/shipping). These would be given away to the kids along with their goodie bags. I wanted to display the hats as a decoration, so my mom-in-law suggested that we pin the hats to twine strung between two sconces. I printed out circle stickers to read “Happy 6th B-Day Mason!” and stuck each letter to the hats.
I also ordered seven dozen plastic snakes to sprinkle around, as well as to fill the “tunnel” for one of the activities. Some of the items, I bought at Party City (table cloths and plates), Dollar Tree (skeleton/skull decorations and ivy garlands), and Home Depot (sheets of burlap). Everything else was: borrowed (palm frond Tikkis that my sister, Mary, and her family hand-painted for their backyard; the golden idol and headpiece from Mark); found online (graphics to print out and stick around the house); literally…found (a dead scorpion Aaron came across during his morning run); I already had (skeletons/skulls from my Halloween decorations bin; Mason’s toy knight shield, helmet and swords; brown wicker chests that the kids use to hold their costumes; bamboo trays and assorted “ethnic” bowls and dishes from our kitchen; some statues that look like antiques/artifacts); we made (whip – Aaron spray painted a jump rope brown and I tea-stained & hand-stenciled goodie bags – these will be discussed in Part Three, but I set them out as decor). I stacked a bunch of boxes from my office and covered them with burlap, and then arranged the scene with the “artifacts”. For more pictures from the party, check out my sister’s blog at Lot116 Photography.
Jeff’s daughter, Makala and my niece, Maylie, came over the night before and I put them in charge of putting up all the printed decorations. They did an amazing job….I love what they did with crumpled brown postal paper….banners, so clever!
GETTING INTO CHARACTER: A themed party is a great excuse to get dressed up! Most people who know the movies get a kick out of recognizing and identifying characters and elements from the stories. Mason was Indy, of course! He wore tan pants, a white button up shirt, a brown felt fedora and brown boots. I wore the headpiece from the staff of Ra as a necklace, and with an army green shirt, boots, scarf and hair pulled back into a braid, I became Marion Ravenwood.
Isaac, Mason’s little brother, wanted to be Indy’s sidekick – Short Round. So he wore a blue baseball hat….simple enough! PJ, my niece, wore a Chinese silk dress….so she was Willie.
And Maylie, my niece, had me write “Love You” on her eyelids with black eyeliner, just like the smitten female student in Dr. Jones’ archaeology class at the University.
To further set the tone, we blasted the legendary Indiana Jones theme music and soundtrack on the outside speakers to greet guests as they entered through “the jungle”…and had all four movies playing on the televisions inside. The kids were quite captivated with the movies (I don’t think many of them had actually seen the films….they were familiar with Indiana Jones through the Lego video games).
FOOD: My original idea for the food was to have a diverse mix of finger foods/snacks representing some of the locations Indiana Jones has traveled to in each of the movies (China, India, Egypt, Italy, etc.)….or to have some things named after the odd offerings from the dinner at the Maharajah’s Palace. But since everything was so last minute (and it was a busy work week/weekend for me already), I wasn’t able to really feature a dish representing every region. So my family pitched in to come up with some tasty snacks. All the food shopping was done the day before…and my sister, Mary, and mom-in-law, Sue, prepared most of the food. To continue the theme, Mark helped me come up with clever names for the food indicators. And I printed out a fun menu from the “Lost Journal of Indiana Jones” that showed the actual Pankot Palace dinner, monkey brains and all! Here’s what we ended up with for some of the food:
I think it all turned out really cool, and we pulled off the look/feel of an Indiana Jones theme! I didn’t spend a ton of money on decorations because I had most of it at home (or we made it ourselves)….and there’s a bonus….because I’ll be able to re-use a lot of these items for Isaac’s Pirate party in October!
To be continued…. PART THREE: Games/Activities, Birthday Cake and Goodie Bags!