Sunday, September 7, 2014


After 26 friend birthday parties, I think that I have finally figured out the secrets to hosting a great birthday party. Here are my top 5 for anyone that is interested.

1) If you find an idea online that you are going to use, save all of the printables right then. Don't wait for the day before the birthday party to find out that that particular website is down on their end.

2) Do parties in the afternoon. This gives you the whole morning to put on the finishing touches.

3) Do a walk through of what they are going to do to make sure that you haven't forgotten any small details.

4) During the walk through, take as many pre pictures as you can in case you are not able to do it during the action.

5) Finally, blog it as soon as you can so that you don't forget anything.

This was probably the best party ever. Easiest? No. But after I figured out plan B for the website that was down, it was smooth sailing. I think we even had luck on our side!

Dawson loves reality TV (like his momma), so he decided that he wanted an Amazing Race birthday party.

We did simple crate paper around the front door.

With a welcome to The Amazing Race sign.

We decided not to do one where they were all over town... but to do one at home so they could enjoy the fun or seeing what the other teammates were doing. I put each of the clues in the small manilla envelopes. On the backs, I wrote the clue numbers.

Then, I put all of those clues in a larger manilla envelope telling me which challenge they just did to get the next clue in case some of the teams got really far ahead.

I then put all of the envelopes in a tote by the mat. There were a couple of clues that were handed out by other judges and these were not in the tote. It was really organized and worked out well. 

I also had a couple of the best helpers. Involve your other children by having them be helpers! It makes a big difference since you are only one person.

Cute Kate

Faith and Hadley holding down a couple of the challenges

I also wanted to make it pretty fair, so I had Dawson draw out his partner. Then I had Dawson's partner pick the next team. I think that it worked out well. Of course, there had to be reasons why they were partners, so I let them pick out their description as well which got a lot of laughs.

I had them take off their shoes and head outside where I started the race off by telling them the different clues that they would encounter. The grand prize was 100 grand (candy bar that is.) "The world is waiting. Travel safe. Good luck. Go!" And off they were to their first clue.

Anthony & Dawson - former Survivor castaways

Teagan and Connor - cowboys and friends from Oklahoma

And were soon joined by Kade as they were in last place at this point

Daniel and Evan - professional wrestlers from Las Vegas

First clue - Your shoes have been scattered throughout the front yard. You and your teammate will need to find your shoes, put them on, and race back to the mat for the first clue. But here's the catch: You cannot touch your own shoes (with your hands!), your partner must help you put them on, and tie them, and you must do the same for your teammate.

Once they got to the mat, they received the next clue. Somewhere in this yard, there are baggies with pennies inside them. Take only one baggie and find the penny with the year the birthday boy was born! Bring that penny to the mat!

This challenge has a bit of luck to it. Sheree, my coworker and friend, said that it took her over a month to find the right year's pennies. I was lucky to find more than I needed in about 20 minutes. Whew!!!

After bringing the penny to the mat, they encountered their first road block. Who is the better builder?

After deciding who would be the person, the clue read, Using the materials in this box, build a marshmallow launcher, just like the example found on the table. Bring it to the judge when you are done for inspection, then you'll receive your next clue.

We had a box of all of the different parts. Each one completing the challenge had to blow a marshmallow out of their gun before they could continue. This one had a judge, so they received the next clue from her. This clue read, BOTH PLAYERS: Make your way to the dining room. Each teammate must write nice things on each poster, even your OWN! Each message must be AT LEAST 50 letters long. When both players have finished and the judge has checked, you will receive your next clue.

I will tell you that the boys really didn't get this clue. If I do this one again, I will also make a checklist for the judge with their name at the top. Then they will have to show each boy's poster to the judge and the judge will check it off...

The next clue was a road block - who is the better eater? It had to be the other partner as well!
You must eat this baby food in less than 3 minutes without any water. Ready, go! After you are finished, bring your empty container to the mat to receive your next clue.

Okay. Dawson had a come apart at this point because I told him it was squash. It was really baby peaches, but Dawson couldn't stomach it.

Thank goodness Kade had come to the rescue, because he ate the peaches for 2 separate teams. It was really quite hilarious that the boys just couldn't really do it...

Next clue - BOTH PLAYERS: Look at the poem located in the front yard. Memorize the poem. (You may not write any of the poem down.) Once you have memorized the poem, repeat it at the mat. If you mess up, you will have to go back to the poem and start over.

Hug O'War
by Shel Silverstein

I will not play at tug o'war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war.
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggle and rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.

LAST CLUE! Make your way back to the dining room. Each teammate must transfer 10 m&ms into a bowl. Bring all 20 m&ms to the judge to find out if you are the winner! No hands! Only straws!!!

I wish that I was able to get pictures of this, but I think that it went really smoothly and the boys had fun. First to the mat?

Professional wrestlers from Las Vegas - Evan and Daniel!!!

2nd place - The cowboys and friends from Oklahoma! Teagan, Kade, and Connor

Rounding out the top three teams were the former Survivor Castaways!!! Anthony and Dawson

After everyone finished, we headed back inside to get water and to open presents. Dawson was really, really spoiled by all of his friends!

By the third present, all of the boys were gathered up close because they were so excited. I just wanted to capture the moment instead of pulling anyone away from the action.

While we were waiting for the pizza to arrive, Dawson presented the winner with 100 grand candy bars. The funniest thing was when I told him he just couldn't hand them out, he said, "Oh! Do you want me to give a speech?" Such a Dawson thing. He then did an impromptu speech about how the winners played valiantly and were good competitors, etc. It was so funny; I wished that I could have recorded it too!!!

We finished off by having a marshmallow war in the front yard, yummy pizza, and of course birthday cake!

Brandon started the cake on Friday night, but the cake that was supposed to be cake, turned out to be a 'pumpkin dessert' with a yellow cake mix. Maybe you know the one? It turned out more like  custard...

So Friday night, I located a better recipe and he did two more cakes Saturday morning. This recipe turned out really good and moist. And here is what the final cake looked like!

The cake master and Dawson with his marshmallow gun

Singing happy birthday

And blowing out the candles

Happy birthday to our boy! We love you Dawson, Big D, Bugs!!! You are so funny and we couldn't imagine our lives without you!

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