Thursday, September 13, 2012

Archery Party: Scenes From The Shooting Range


Welcome to the shooting range!

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Way back at the start of summer, Emily and Jenna bought bow-and-arrows sets from a local craft fair. They loved them so much that it sparked the idea for Emily's archery party. 

Emily made her own invitations. It's not a rule that we handmake our invitations, but it gives her something to do in the weeks before the actual day.  I cut the bits out and she assembled everything. She drew up her guest list - it was more than 20 at one point and we whittled it down to 15. She was also given the job of keeping track of who responded with a yes or no so I could make sufficient archery sets for each kid to have one.

Incidentally, Gavin didn't make the shortlist. Poor Gavin. We had to exclude all the boys, to be fair to all the girls who needed to be there.

We called Grandpa Desmond in Singapore and told him the party theme (he was very excited) and enlisted his help in the planning. I always wish this particular pair of grandparents didn't have to miss all the kids' birthdays so whenever there is an opportunity to get them involved, even from thousands of miles away, I jump at it. Grandpa's job was to design the quiver; provide, via skype, distance-learning archery coaching to Emily, Jenna and Kate and plan the games (we reminded him that these were inexperienced kids, not his actual students, so he had to make them really EASY).

The day itself was sunny and blustery. Many of the games Grandpa designed couldn't be carried out because of the wind (bah) but otherwise, it was perfect.

The kids started with a pizza lunch. Emily loves having lunch with her friends, so her parties always begin this way. This was followed by pie. Not cake. Ever since we discovered this particular creamery that makes astounding gelato, we've always opted for ice cream pie for our celebrations. This one was a chocolate gelato and fresh raspberry sorbet with fudge and an oreo crust. To die for.

At this point, I feel obliged to warn new readers that this party is devoid of color-coordinated decorations, drinking water bottles with personalized labels and anything printed with a Silhouette machine. Sorry. Our parties are not like that. In fact, half our napkins were unmatching - in both size and color - leftovers from previous parties, and the other half were plain white ones we grabbed from our own kitchen table. The cups did not match the plates and the cake wasn't even a cake, let alone home-made. Emily summed up the feel of her parties best: "They're like huge playdates once a year!" Ah, yes. Slightly manic but loads of fun. 

Next, we opened gifts. We learned a couple of years ago that the food, the cake (pie) and the presents were the most important things at birthday parties and now always do them first, before the crafts and games and whatnot. This gives us enough time to satisfyingly ooh and aah over the gifts and let the givers enjoy Emily's appreciation of them. 

Then it was time for the crafts. We set out foam stickers, duck tape and permanent markers. 

And we brought out the bows. The looks on the faces of the kids when they realized they were getting their own bows? Priceless. 

And so the decorating began. The kids colored, taped, stuck, and chatted. They shared scissors and took turns with the duck tape. It was wonderful to see them interacting with each other and the adults as they crafted. It reminded me  of ladies at a knitting circle (not that I've ever knitted or been in a Circle, knitting or otherwise :)).

When the bows were done, the kids picked their arrows.

Bundles of threes- each bundle containing identical arrows but distinct from the other bundles. When there are almost 50 arrows flying through the shooting range, you need a quick way to identify your own. To be extra safe, we had the kids autograph their arrow shafts with permanent marker.

Finally, they picked their quivers, personalized the name tags and learned how to buckle them on their backs. Some of the kids had already shoved their arrows down the backs of their Tshirts before realizing they didn't need to. Emily and I secretly giggled at them.

Then, (literally) armed with their goodies, 

they ran off to practise and hold competitions among themselves.

We'd hung target hoops all over the yard for the kids to shoot their arrows through. 

Almost all the kids were first-timers so Emily, Jenna and I gave lessons as best we could. Yes, even Jenna. Jenna is an awesome archer.

By the end of the party, most of the kids were pretty good shots- and very proud of themselves.

Towards the end of the party, we bashed the pinata. Emily and I had talked about a hollow, paper-covered target that the guests could shoot at and puncture to release candy but I wasn't convinced it would last long enough for everyone to have a turn. So we went with the traditional cardboard sort.

Hardier, perfect at releasing candy in small batches, but heartbreaking to watch being beaten up. It was, afterall, cardboard. And I have a soft spot for cardboard. Sniff.

When everything was over, we handed out target cookie medals.

Quite a few of the kids left with just the ribbons left around their necks. Burp.

These were the uh... goodie bags. They're supermarket paper bags and they're empty. The guests filled them with their own bow, arrows and quiver to take home. Bit more fun than plastic trinkets, we thought!

And look -we did have boys join in the fun in the end - we made enough archery sets for the boy cousins, who visited after the party.

In the days following, Kate kept on practising.

She's gotten quite good, flouncy girly skirt and all :)

This is, hands down, my favorite birthday party and my absolute favorite theme so far. Not just because it was ungirly, but because 8-year-olds are so much fun and effortless to manage! It was actually relaxing! I love seeing the same bunch of kids (like Emily's preschool friends) a year older and more mature each time we meet. It was especially lovely to visit with them now that they're older and familiar enough with me to just chat as I'm slicing pie or tearing pieces of duck tape. It was also a treat to get to know more of Emily's new friends as she navigates each subsequent grade at school. I love all these kids. It feels like being a teacher again. I can't wait till they're teenagers!  

Many readers have asked about the various aspects of this party and requested tutorials. Of course I'm doing tutorials. Everyone should have their own archery party, duh! So in the next few posts, I'll deconstruct everything and then link back to them in this master post so you can find them all from here in the future. 

Tomorrow: The Bows!

44 comments:

  1. While I am glad to see you didn't have matching labels, plates, napkins, etc...you still rock the party better than anyone. That is fantastic and I can see that my kids (boy and girl) would love a party like that. Not sure I have the chops for all that, though! Great job!

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  2. What a great idea, I really love the theme (as would my 8-year-old daughter :))

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  3. Hi LiEr,

    I really loved reading about this party. Looking forward to reading the tutorials too!

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  4. I just love the hand-made work you did for the party! Goodness, you must have been busy, but it looks fabulous!!! My favorite is the quiver...how cleaver to get it to sling like that. My sibling and I were way into archery in high school. She was way better than I and won competitions and the like. I just lost arrows, and gave up when she turned the poundage on the compound bow up so high, I couldn't pull the darn thing back any more. Thank so much for sharing, and Happy Birthday to Emily!

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  5. i love when your kids have birthdays because i LOVE seeing their parties!!!! this was one fabulous party! :)

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  6. O.M.G.

    I bet her friends REALLY look forward to her birthday party each year.

    Well done, L! Well done, Emily!

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    1. And yet a part of me misses the fried-bee-hoon-and-fish-balls-in-sambal catered things that were all the rage (are they still?) for kids' parties in Singapore. I think it was the food. I miss the darned food.

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  7. This is so fantastic I can't stand it. Who cares about stupid matching napkins when there are targets to shoot!?!

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    1. And guess what, Jess- the boys all picked the blaze orange quivers! Hurrah for the boys!

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    2. They have very good taste! (Either that, or they didn't realize that bow hunters in Minnesota aren't required to wear blaze orange.)

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  8. You are so creative!!!! I love the idea!

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  9. Hi LiEr,

    The party looks amazing! For those of us near the Twin Cities, can you tell us what the name of the gelato place is?

    Thanks!

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    1. Happy to! It's Ring Mountain Creamery in Eagan. My absolute favorite flavor is their Blood Orange Sorbet but they're not making it any more because the base is too expensive. BAH. We've shamelessly begged them to make it and charge us extra but it might not be happening anytime soon. Pity, because it was beyond divine.

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  10. This party looks amazingly fun! I always enjoy reading about your favor and treat ideas.

    I shared your review of The Works museum with my parents. They checked it out with my 7 year old daughter when she stayed with them over the summer. Everyone had a great time! I heard my dad, a retired physics teacher, was in his element. Once a physics teacher, always a physics teacher...

    Can you share the name of the creamery you mentioned? I'm sure we'd love to check it out when we next visit them.

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  11. This party looks amazingly fun! I always enjoy reading about your favor and treat ideas.

    I was also going to ask for the creamery name!

    I shared your review of The Works museum with my parents and they brought my 7 year old daughter when she stayed with them over the summer. They all had a great time and I heard that my dad, a retired physics teacher, was in his element! Thank you!

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  12. You are fantastic (and a fantastic mother too)!!!

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  13. That looks like the funnest party EVER!! And the no-matchy-ness is perfect!

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  14. SUPER COOL! My son would like this too.

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  15. Awesome! Will definitely keep this one in mind for my boys! Can't wait for the tutes. Very clever idea! Kerry

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  16. You just cracked me up with your comment about not having anything cut from a Silhouette! I have one, but to waste all that time cutting out stuff with it for a party, for it to be thrown away is just silly to me! I am so glad I am not the only one. I did get pink plates for our recent party, but our napkins were paper towels. HEEHEE>

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  17. You just blew my mind. I especially love the part about having the food, cake and presents first. I'm not one to delay gratification, especially on my birthday, so I appreciated this sentiment. I don't understand why people don't like their birthday... they probably never had a party like this!

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    1. I also think doing the cake and presents first is genius and appreciate the lack of super matchy-matchy party accessories. It sure looks like it was a ton of fun!

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  18. Wow, that looks like so much fun! Definitely a party they will remember and talk about fondly when they are older :)

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  19. This is SO perfectly timed - I have a little one who wants to be Merida for Halloween (awesome handmade wig in progress). I suspect it is because of the bow and arrow (she has not even seen the movie, lol), and I am wondering just how I can make one. I will wait patiently...sort of fidgeting, probably...or maybe I will just stalk mercilessly until the next post; oh wait, I already stalk-ok, just another day on the web :-)

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  20. Very excited to try this next year! "Everyone should have their own archery party, duh!" Thanks for thinking of us :o) My girls went to a party where they were given mini marshmallow guns made of PVC. It was Awesome!

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  21. Very excited to try this next year! "Everyone should have their own archery party, duh!" Thanks for thinking of us :o) My girls went to a party where they were given mini marshmallow guns made of PVC. It was Awesome!

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  22. Oh, it seems like yesterday that you were making Hello Kitties for her party, while I was churning out Lowly Worms for my son's 5th birthday! But I love the archery party, too!

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  23. Love it! I can't wait until my son is old enough to handle a bow. If only 2-year-olds were a little more coordinated...

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  24. My son is turning 10 in October and is having an archery party. He actually takes classes through a local park district and they are doing the party there. I bought these big movie candy size boxes of the old traditional 'bullseye' caramel creme candies. I love the bows you made though! Would they hold up to 10 year old boy abuse? ;)

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  25. My son is turning 10 in October and is having an archery party. He actually takes classes through a local park district and the offered it as a sports party. I bought movie size boxes of the old traditional bullseye caramel creme candies for goody bags, but I love the bows you made and had them decorate. I wonder if they would hold up to 10 year old boy abuse... ;)

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    1. Excellent, Traci! And while I can't vouch for precision shooting from these bows the way a real bow with real equipment might promise, these bows shoot pretty well. As for 10-year-old boy abuse, I think they're sufficiently sturdy. My 10- and 12-year old nephews took a couple home, so we'll see how those last!

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    2. So how did you make the bows? :)

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  26. Oh my gosh, I really want to come to one of your birthday parties!!! I can't wait for the tutorials. I'm thinking Christmas presents for my 5.

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  27. AMAZING, I love everything, it sure was so much fun!!

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  28. You are amazing!
    I feel I soooooo let my kids down.
    Now I'm thinking I have to remember this tute for future grandchildren.
    That may be awhile. But! Oldest dd is getting married in less than 2 months. Yikes!!!!

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  29. this party is amazing. I loved the theme, so unisex.

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  30. This is such a cool party!!! Love the quivers! :)

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  31. This is AWESOME!! I've never seen anything like it. LOVE,LOVE.

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  32. Hi there. Just wanted to say thanks so much for this. My son turned four yesterday and when he decided he wanted a bow and arrow birthday party, I did a search on the internet and came across your blog. I based his party off your ideas. I tweaked a few things...but it turned out awesome...so thank you!!

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  33. Where did you get the quivers or did you make them?

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  34. Anonymous:
    http://www.ikatbag.com/2012/09/archery-party-quivers.html

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  35. thanks for sharing, just got some great ideas. sad to see people haven't honored your request to NOT pin your children on pinterest. ugh.

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