Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kate's Minecraft Party

This little girl and her Minecraft party. . . !

Let's just say that it was quite the learning experience for me.

I broke all kinds of rules, though. 

Like this poster - with all its no-such-thing-as smiley Good Sport Monsters.

Totally wrong.

Also this lunch setup with no themed tableware and not a single Minecraft decoration.

I tried, though.
I bought vials

to make drinking potions (for whose magical ingredients the girls' contributed ideas and coloring services).

And -only because my kids insist these are a party staple just so they have an excuse to bake - cookies. I was personally very unhappy making square pigs. They are the roundest animals on the planet and making them square felt like a travesty. 

Then there was the issue of cake. Which Kate does not eat. And our favorite gelato shop CLOSED DOWN last winter, so we could no longer have our go-to stand-in blood orange/raspberry sorbet/chocolate gelato pie. 

So we had Birthday Brownie instead. Which, while I would ordinarily never dream of desecrating with frosting, I frosted. The children said it looked like Minecraft terrain this way. And since we were already breaking all the Good Chocolate Confectionery rules anyway, we put square mushrooms on it, which were mini Starbursts dotted with white frosting. Yes, more frosting; at this point, why exercise restraint?

Please note the total absence of any indication of any theme - let alone Minecraft - in the picture below.

Also note the ROUND balloons with ROUND spots. The children asked me if I'd deliberately bought them as an act of rebellion. I confessed Yes. They giggled and said Mom Is So Silly. 

Okay, now that we're done sharing how I utterly failed at the whole Matchy-Matchy Themed Party Atmosphere, let's move on to the activities.

Incidentally, please don't feel bad or slighted or whatever if you happen to love the themed decoration/food/cutlery/drinkbottlelabel approach to parties. I think it makes for fantastic photoshoots, personally. Especially if it isn't raining cats and dogs like it often threatens to do whenever I plan parties. 

My children, however, have told me in no uncertain terms that the most important thing at their parties is the activities. They don't care if the food matches the napkins. In fact, they don't even care what the food is, as long as it's not squid. And often, they want to rush through the tragically non-coordinated lunch portion of the party just so they can get to The Actual Fun Part. 

So. . . Main Event coming up. Be warned: here follows the kind of happy insanity that can only result from collaboration with children. 

First, the filler- and ice-breaker activities. 

which my children adore coloring, no matter how old they get.

Instead of the usual printer-paper substrate which we then laminate post-coloring, these we printed on cardstock. We set up the Activity Center in the garage and let the guests color whenever there was a lull in the proceedings.

One of my kids suggested this next game with the Perler bead square heads they'd been making. Originally we'd considered Minecraft bingo, but immediately decided it would be a ridiculous amount of work to make different bingo cards, so we turned it into an indoor scavenger hunt instead, which doubled as an Inclement Weather Contingency Activity. Jenna hid the square heads around our basement living room and the kids were given photo cards and pens to check each off as they found them.

Anyone who turned in a completed card got gold nuggets. It was wonderful watching the older kids help the younger kids find all the square heads.

Then we made mosaic diamond pickaxes, which were foamboard bases

onto which the kids stuck these foam tiles

(it was an exercise in patience, and a good opportunity for visiting)

to make this.

The kids thought it was very cool that they had their own pickaxe to wield. A diamond one, the children informed me, trumped all the other kinds of pickaxes. 

This next activity is my favorite, because it's so crazy.

Minecraft, I've learned, is about being resourceful. You collect things and build and create while surviving against monsters and general evil. One of the ways to amass resources is by mining and trading (hence the pickaxe).

Here are homemade ores. These have emeralds in them, which are a currency for exchange.

We set up these ores in the sandbox and had the kids go collect them

in buckets (to contain the mess, because I don't enjoy cleaning up),

and smelt to obtain the emerald, which is a fancy way of saying, "crumble the thingy with your fingers to get out the green gem." The kids loved it so much that they went back to the sandbox after the party was over to mine the surplus ores to get more emeralds.

Armed with three emeralds apiece, they went out to trade them for other things

with Villagers,

who were Emily

and her older cousins

who'd graciously offered to role-play for us.

Each Villager traded something different for an emerald: a sword key-chain;

which was a kid-painted "blind" box

containing one of these store-bought figurines;

and a packet of edible jewels

which are easier to make than they look!

Another way to obtain things, according to the children, is by Crafting. Which is a dreadfully misleading term for the non-Minecraft-initiated who are more familiar with the more traditional scissors-glue-sticky-tape manifestations. Minecraft-style Crafting apparently involves a recipe and instant gratification, performed on a magical platform known as The Crafting Table (which, humorously enough, you also have to Craft into existence. Long story.).

We Crafted golden apples. The children claimed these have rejuvenating properties. Like caffeine, I guess. 

We made these stickers of non-amazing red apples and gold nuggets

and the kids stuck them in this special configuration on a 3x3 representation of the top of a Crafting Table, which goldenifies the object in the center. 

Then they presented their Crafting Tabletops to Grandma, who did her King-Midas-thing

and swopped them for golden apples. 

To contain and organize all that loot, any self-respecting Minecraft devotee must have a Chest. 

Which is a cardboard cube that opens for storage,

which we mass-produced because cardboard in small amounts is just no good.

These we hid in the yard - according to my expert consultants, in Minecraft, you obtain Chests by Just Finding Them In Random Places. 

And that was a wrap.

It was a perfect day with perfect weather with the only hitch being way too much food so that the kids were too full to eat the birthday brownie after the song was sung and the candles blown out. The grownups, however, sat down after all the guests had gone home, and ate it with copious amounts of ice cream (I scraped off all my frosting) and continued celebrating Kate. 

Happy birthday, little one!

(And I still haven't played a single minute of real Minecraft.)


  1. I think you did well with a very difficult topic.

  2. Happy belated birthday indeed! Loved your last line, the finale, as it were!

  3. OK I must know! How did you make the emeralds and the material to mine them from?!?!?

  4. Courtney just looked at this me... she was impressed! She knew what it was all about for sure. Her comment was: "I want a birthday party like that!" Success... way to go, non-Minecrafting mom!!

  5. I haven't played either, but this party looks like so much fun! I will have to keep some of these ideas in mind next time a friend's minecraft obsessed kid has a birthday and they are at a loss for ideas.

  6. Oh my gosh, your party activities are always so amazing! I'll just sit here being jaaaalous. ;D

  7. As an occasionnal Minecraft player (I am not a kid, I promise! :), I can tell you that you did a great job, especially for a non-player! Both thumbs up!

  8. I have never played Minecraft either, but this party is awesome and exactly my style! I adore your cardboard chests.

  9. I do play minecraft with my kid, and I looked it! Maybe next year he'll be keen to do it :)

  10. Fabulous ideas! I loved it!

  11. This is so cool. As always, you did an amazing job.

  12. I knew if anyone could pull off an interesting mine craft party, it would be you! I was laughing every time I read about the kids schooling you on the ways of minecraft... I could totally hear my own kids, or_have_ heard my kids, say the exact same things to me. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Too late for your party, but have you seen this? Insane!! (In the best way, of course)


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