My youngest son was adamant about what he wanted for his birthday: A “Plants vs Zombies” party at home with his friends.
I prefer at-home birthday parties rather than party packages at other locations, although I did make other suggestions that might be a little less labor-intensive. But I didn’t try to convince him too strongly because I have some event-planner tendencies that enjoy coming out every once in awhile.
The original plan was for A to invite a couple of friends and they could play the “Plants vs Zombies” (NOT Plants AND Zombies, he kept reminding me whenever I said the name) video game and eat pizza and cupcakes.
Somehow it evolved into inviting his whole class and his older brothers also each got to invite a friend. So rather than five boys, it became 16. It was all good though because I thought we might get lucky with the weather since one year we threw a last-minute “Star Wars” birthday party at the park because the weather was still nice. I figured we could send the kids outside to run around if it got too rowdy inside. But that was not to be. Instead, May 6 in Phoenix broke a 71-year heat record, as the temperature reached 106 degrees.
But all worked out and the two-and-a-half hours of second-grade energy translated into a fun afternoon and our newly minted 8-year-old had a great time. (In honor of today being Teacher Appreciation Day, I want to shout out to those awesome teachers out there who have a whole room full of second-graders on a daily basis – WE APPRECIATE YOU. THANK YOU. HOW DO YOU DO THAT EVERY DAY?!)
Once I told A that Party City didn’t have any party supplies with that theme, he got busy printing out coloring pages and coloring the characters. (This was about two weeks before the party and he wanted to hang them up then, but I persuaded him to wait.) Other decorations included a tablecloth that looked like grass, red balloons with zombie faces drawn on and plastic sunflowers in pots (one of the characters of the game).
Each kid got several minutes of playing the Plants vs Zombies video game and unintended activities included a game of indoor basketball in the living room (a small hoop is currently hanging on the inside of our front door, courtesy of a friend) and playing with the zombie balloons. A planned activity was decorating a flower pot with markers and stickers (the Sunflower character). Most of the boys weren’t too interested in that, but the girls in the class decorated them beautifully. There were also some coloring pages of the video game characters. Because of the heat factor, we skipped the outdoor zombie tag idea.
The sunflower also became the party favor (I stuck green candy in the pot with the “leaves,” aka tissue paper.)
For another activity, Z and I made cupcakes the night before and the kids got to decorate them with dirt (ground-up sandwich cookies) and worms (Sunkist gummies cut up to resemble a worm because I couldn’t find any kosher gummy worms). The cake mix and frosting were SO good. The mixes were from the Miss Jones Baking Company (got them at Sprouts) and we made both chocolate and vanilla. Check out the ingredients of the chocolate frosting: Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Organic Powdered Sugar, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Cocoa Powder, Organic Tapioca, Sea Salt. None of that yucky stuff found in most frostings.
All in all, it seems like it was a success. A was thrilled, saying afterward that the party made him feel so happy inside. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Late that night after everyone left and the kids were asleep I looked up from my pillow and saw this:
On his actual birthday, the boys had a special program at the synagogue followed by dinner. The dessert was a delicious marble cake from New York Bagels & Bialys. If anyone in the Greater Phoenix area needs a kosher birthday cake, I highly recommend ordering one there!
We were so fortunate that both my dad and Ron’s mom could both join us for our weekend celebration!