Hallie had her last themed birthday party this year. It was tricky to come up with a theme that was appropriate for the teenagers that were going to be attending. But Hallie seemed to have a clear vision from the start – she wanted a glow-in-the-dark party. Which took me longer to figure out than I thought it would – which meant she had a party two weeks after her birthday.
Originally I was thinking glow in the dark games in the backyard with glowsticks. Somehow that morphed to using a gymnasium and black lights and it was awesome.
Here’s a couple things I learned while planning this. I looked at renting backlights and they were a little pricey. I then started looking at buying them but a quick search on Amazon will tell you that the options are endless from all sorts of vendors and the prices range from cheap to expensive. I bought a set that had great reviews – only to realize, they weren’t really black lights, they were purple lights and they are not the same thing. I returned three spot lights and bought 4 bar black lights. They were more than enough for the space we were in and they made things glow great.
Here’s a little tip: When you go out shopping for things for the party – take a small black light so you can see if they glow. Some things seem bright and fluorescent and yet it didn’t glow. For those of you not in scorpion country, you may not have a black light readily available – I noticed several things at Party City noted that they would glow under blacklight.
I found bright fluorescent fabric at Joanns and my black light proved it would glow. It was by far the brightest decoration under the blacklight and Hallie made the fabric banner. We also used those strips of fabric and tied them around the girl’s head or waist to help them glow in the dark. (We also suggested all the girls wear fluorescent or white clothing to make sure they would glow.)
We started by painting UV friendly finger nail polish on all the girls and they each made a sign with their name using highlighters. I found that yellow and orange highlighters glow really well and I bought a huge box to make posters. When making the posters, the girls realized that highlighters used on their bodies would also glow. They used up a large box of 24 highlighters by drawing all over their bodies. I looked at buying UV face paint and I’m so glad I didn’t waste the money. Buy highlighters!!
Coming up with games in the dark took some thought. Here are three games that were a hit.
Cupside Down: A game where one team tries to turn all the cups upside down and the other team tries to turn them right side up. At the end of the time, whoever has the most their way wins. If you want to play with more than 2 teams, you can buy each team a different color cup, and the team with the most of their colored cups turned right side up when the time runs out wins. We played with four teams and four different color cups. After playing some rounds as individually teams we started pairing two colors together to form a single team. We set the clock for one minute and the girls ran around frantically flipping cups. These cups are UV friendly and were perfect for this game.
Hungry Hippo: I’ve seen these life-size versions of hungry hippo floating around the web and recreated it in a black light setting which was hilarious. It was hard to get any decent pictures but we used four long boards (skateboards), a couple of buckets and a whole lot of tennis balls (which are great in the black light). The girls took turns laying on the skateboards and their partner pushed them in and out of the center of gym grabbing tennis balls with their bucket. We had those girls screaming and laughing the whole time.
Ball Toss: Because the tennis balls were so fun in the black light so centered another game around them. We had multiple baskets worth different amounts of points and the girls tossed balls to try and gain the most points as a team.
The girls had the best time and Hallie was so grateful for such a fun party – a party which she played a major role in the preparation. I created a glow in the dark party bucket for the garage and I’ve got a feeling we’ll be pulling it out a few more times.
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Hallie’s 12th birthday celebration seemed to never end – which she was totally okay with. She didn’t have school on her birthday, so we kidnapped her from school a few days prior to give her the birthday lunch treatment – and she chose Panda express of course!
Hallie’s actual birthday was a Saturday and I’m not sure we’ve had a more busy weekend day the whole year. Tennis practice, two soccer games, neighborhood Halloween party and tickets to the ASU game. And yet all Hallie wanted to do on her birthday was go to the temple for the first time, so we made that the priority. Steve and I went with her to the Mesa temple and had a beautiful afternoon. She was so excited and had prepared so well to be there – it was rewarding and special to experience that with her.
Her other request was a birthday smoothie from Dutch Brothers. They know how to make a girl feel special (or embarrassed) with their loud singing and birthday antics, decorated cup and sprinkles. Dutch brothers is a birthday favorite in our house.
The next morning she woke up to a decorated door as she graduated out of her church primary class and joined the young women’s youth group. You can tell from her face she’s really sad to leave the primary behind! 😉
We had already given Hallie her birthday gift – a trip to Utah – so it seemed anticlimactic to not have any gifts. Luckily she had a gift from grandparents and I surprised her with a water bottle she’s had her eye on.
And her annual growth chart photos – she’s just growing up!
You’d think this would be the end of the celebration…but no. She had a friend party two weeks after her birthday (soon to come) – it’s always a party when you’re 12!
Sometimes I feel like a rock star and I can take on the world. And other times, the list of to-dos is too daunting to wrap my head around. Lately, it’s been the latter. The list of to-dos is mostly trivial (with a few doctor appointments thrown in there) but none the less they occupy space in my mind which translates to taking up space in my day. We’ve had a busy few weeks and as much as I wanted to come up with new themed birthday for Cannon for his first friend party, I just didn’t have it in me. I kept putting it off and then his birthday was just days away.
I was talking with Hallie trying to figure out what type of party it should be and it hit me – re-do Hunter’s 4-year-old pirate party. My heart kept telling me he needed a party personalized to him – but my head told me there were not enough hours in the day to reinvent the wheel. Two days later we threw his first friend party and he had no clue that the pirate flag had already been used before!
We started with a special treasure hunt – I’d hid clues all around the front yard and back yard. We used a treasure map to update our route as we raced to find treasure: Pirate gear – bandanas, earnings and eye patches. Once they were dressed appropriately, they walked the plank and caught cannonballs (cheese balls) in large buckets. I made swords out of balloons (thank you youtube) and we had sword fighting lessons. The party was just as successful this year as it was 5 years ago and Cannon was a very happy boy.
As a sidenote: There are benefits to having older siblings, even if you do get their leftover birthday parties. Hunter didn’t have anyone dress up as a pirate for his party but Cannon sure did. A couple years ago, we were a family of pirates for Halloween – so just before the party, I dug through the costume box and found my costume. Hunter saw what I was doing and asked if he could dress up. Before long, Hallie, Bennett and Steve also joined in the fun. I asked Cannon if he wanted to dress up but he was happy in his red striped shirt. Having all these helpers for birthday parties sure is nice!
Last weekend we were celebrating Cannon, this weekend we were celebrating Hallie. And then we have a long break before we sing the Happy Birthday song again.
For many, a 12th birthday might look like all the others, but Hallie has really been looking forward to this day. In our church, 12 years is a right of passage – it’s the age that you graduate from the primary (little kids) and you join the young women (12-18 years old). She gets to attend a weekly youth group. Girls camp in the summer. She can now go to the temple. All things that she has been looking forward to with great anticipation. And she has finally arrived.
She came into this world crying incessantly – looking at her today you wouldn’t know she was the hardest baby. But she was and when she complains that her brothers are crying we kindly remind her that none of the kids combined have cried as much as she did in the first year of life.
I’m so glad we didn’t give her back all those years ago! She is the glue to her siblings and we remind them how lucky they are to have a sister that loves and cares for them as much as she does. She shares more than she needs to. She nurtures more than I would. She volunteers for jobs I don’t even care for. She is not only delightful, but she’s respectful. Yes, she gets angry and frustrated but she has a long fuse and a little bomb and 5 minutes later we’ve got her laughing.
She is growing up quickly and I’m enjoying every stage with her. Steve made her pinky promise that she won’t get sassy as she grows into a teenager – here’s hoping she makes good on her promise.
Cannon had a birthday party Friday night with his friends, where we sang happy birthday and in his mind, he turned four years old.
This morning, Cannon woke up to the kitchen decorated and his birthday bucket on the table. He was so excited to be 5. In fact he was adamant that he was 5 years old. I see his logic. On Friday, he had birthday and turned 4. Today he had another birthday and turned 5. No amount of talking could convince him otherwise until we told him his friends were only four, so he wouldn’t be in the same class with them if he was 5. He was then okay with staying four for another year. Thank heavens.
He came into this world with a head full of dark hair and since day one it’s had mind of his own. That cute cowlick in the front of this picture has turned into a nightmare and I’m convinced he’s going to deal with this cowlick his whole life!
Cannon is a ray of sunshine. He smiles when he talks and he loves to retell stories over and over and over again. (And his retelling of the story is always 10 times better than the story ever was originally!) He loves his older sister and they share a special bond. He waits to eat breakfast with her most mornings. He loves to be tucked in and asks for three songs. Then tells you what three songs they should be. And then asks what we’re having for breakfast in the morning. He’s predictable! He is a pleasant toddler and for that I am grateful!