Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Clue Themed Birthday Party

I'm back with another birthday party post.  This time, my oldest daughter turned 13 and wanted a Clue themed birthday party.  She loves to read, solve mysteries and play games so this party was a perfect fit for her.

Unlike my younger daughter's birthday party at the park (which you can read about HERE), this one took lots of planning and preparation.  I'll break it down for you in case you want to have a Clue themed party of your own.  This would be fun for teens, adults and even Halloween.

1.  The guest list

My daughter invited 7 girls (and all 7 were able to come).  Luckily my dining room table seats 8 so that part worked out perfectly.  If you are having a dinner party, make sure you have room for all the guests.

2.  Assign names and occupations for each guest 

The original Clue game only has six players so we had to get creative with some of our guests.  I let my daughter pick the names and she choose Miss Fuchsia and Miss Tangerine.  We have a newer version of Clue and then I picked up the original version from a yard sale.  I used pieces from both to decorate the table.  I modified two of the original characters to make our new characters.  As for the game pieces, the yellows were different shades so I used one for Col. Mustard and one for Miss Tangerine.  For the pink, I used a Sharpie to color the white piece pink for Miss Fuchsia. 

I let my daughter decide who should be which character and which occupation they should have.  She had fun with this and tried to come up with jobs that would suit each of her friends.  For example Miss Scarlet is an Italian chef.  The girl who played Miss Scarlet really is Italian and loves to cook. 

Here are the list of characters and their occupations we used for our game of Clue:

Miss Peacock, news reporter 
Miss Green, business woman, owner of pickle canning company 
Dr. Plum, surgeon 
Miss Tangerine, artist 
Miss Scarlet, chef at an Italian restaurant 
Colonel Mustard, head of the PA National Guard 
Miss White, chemist 
Miss Fuchsia, actress

I also asked one of my friends, who just so happened to be Miss Green's mother, to play the part of Ms. Boddy.  

3.  Invitations

Once we knew who we were inviting and the character they would play, it was time to make up the invitations.  Each invitation was personalized for each guest so they would know who they were playing.  We also asked the guests to come dressed in character, and they did not disappoint.  Wish I  would have thought to take a picture of everyone. 

The envelopes were made from a piece of brown card stock with "Top Secret" printed on it and folded/taped to form an envelope.  My daughter was able to pass these out in school, but if you have to mail them I'd recommend buying some clasp envelopes like THESE  that I found on amazon.

4.  Clues

In between sending out the invitations and the night of the party, I had to actually plan the 'murder' of Ms. Boddy.  Who done it with which weapon and where?  To make it fun for all, I wanted to incriminate each of the guests.  I wrote out two sets of 'clues'.  The first set was more of an introduction so everyone would know who was playing each character and their relationship to Ms. Boddy.  The second set would tell more information about each character and reveal a potential motive.

Here is the first set of clues.  Each guest would read their clue aloud at the beginning of the dinner party.

Miss Peacock, news reporter
I met Ms. Boddy while working at the White House.   Ms. Boddy was a consultant for the Chief of Staff.  I would frequently ask her for insider information so I could be the first to report a story.  She was very loyal and would not give me any secret information, making my job more difficult.  I didn’t like her very much.

Miss Green, Businesswoman and owner of Green’s Pickle Canning Company
Ms. Boddy is my landlord.  I live in the apartment complex she owns across the street from my Pickle Canning Company.  She also owns the building my canning company is in.  I’ve had trouble paying my rent in the past and Ms. Boddy has always helped me out, but sometimes I feel like I’m taking advantage of her.

Dr. Plum, surgeon
I met Ms. Boddy several years ago when she came into the ER after a near fatal accident.   My expertise with the scalpel was needed to repair her arteries.  She was very pleased with my work. 

Miss Tangerine, artist
Ms. Boddy commissioned me to paint several family portraits for her.  She loves supporting the local arts and sought me out after my work was featured in a local art show.  I’ve always had a passion for painting and especially love copying other’s work.

Miss Scarlet, Chef at an Italian Restaurant
I know Ms. Boddy because she is my neighbor.  Shortly after she moved in, I stopped by with some homemade Italian food.  My whole family is Italian and we all love Italian food.  I can’t imagine anyone not loving it.  I grew up cooking and so having my own restaurant is a dream come true. 
I don’t let anything stand in the way of my dreams.

Colonel Mustard, Head of the PA National Guard
Ms. Boddy and I both happened to see the circus at the same time.  I think she had her nephew with her.  Anyway, I come from a whole line of colonels, captains and sergeants in the army.  It was only natural that I’d join the Army too, although things didn’t start out that way.

Miss White, chemist
Ms. Boddy was a substitute teacher for my high school chemistry class.  I loved doing experiments, but it’s hard to fund your own research.  After college, I moved back to my hometown and met Ms. Boddy at the bank one day.  She was kind enough to help fund my latest scientific research.

Miss Fuchsia, Actress
Like Miss Green, I too live in one of Ms. Boddy’s apartments.  There are so many people in those apartments, that I’m always being asked for my autograph or getting my picture taken.  I’ve only starred in commercials so far.  Can you imagine how much more popular I’ll be once I star in a movie.  Ms. Boddy has connections to a famous Hollywood movie star.  I’m hoping she’ll introduce us.  I’d do anything to be in a movie with him.

Below are the rest of the clues in the order they were given.  There were 10, and if I would have thought about it, I should have made it be 13 since my daughter was turning 13.  I passed out these clues throughout the evening, giving different guests a chance to read them aloud. 

Miss Peacock was interviewing Ms. Boddy about the recent scandal at the White House.  During the interview it became clear that Ms. Boddy had found out about  Miss Peacock’s dubious methods of obtaining information and that she couldn’t be trusted.  If this information was made public, Miss Peacock’s career would be ruined.

Miss Green’s pickle canning company was losing customers.  Ms. Boddy gave Miss Green a substantial loan to help with a new marketing campaign.  This new campaign was a flop and Miss Green was past due in paying Ms. Boddy back the loan.

Dr. Plum was Ms. Boddy’s surgeon.  Years ago Dr. Plum secretly performed facial surgery on Ms. Boddy to disguise her identity.  If anyone found out that Dr. Plum performed such a surgery, she might not get promoted to Chief Surgeon.

Miss Tangerine is a painter who is very good at painting replicas of famous paintings.  Ms. Boddy had Miss Tangerine paint her a replica of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ to hang in her bedroom.  Miss Tangerine painted several replicas and secretly sold them as the real deal.  Only Ms. Boddy knows the artist behind her painting and could have Miss Tangerine arrested for art fraud.

Miss Scarlet’s Italian restaurant is doing so well, she decided to open a second restaurant in (our town).  The building that would be perfect for her new restaurant is owned by Ms. Boddy.  Ms. Boddy, who hates Italian food, does not want to sell her building even though it is currently unoccupied.

Colonel Mustard only recently became head of the PA National Guard.  She worked her way up after starting as a cook for the Army.  Prior to that she worked in the circus.  She performed the knife throwing act and was very good.

Miss White has been working with Ms. Boddy to discover an anti aging serum.  Ms. Boddy provided the laboratory and supplies while Miss White did all the work.  Last year Miss White came close to finding a cure for age spots and Ms. Boddy tried to take the credit.  According to Miss White’s most recent lab report, she has found a cure for wrinkles.

Miss Fuchsia thinks she’s a better actress than she really is.  She’s stared in a few commercials and is hoping to finally get her big break and be in the movies.  Ms. Boddy, has a famous nephew who is an actor and she has refused to introduce Miss Fuchsia to him.

Miss Green would love to get out from under all the debt she owes Ms. Boddy.  Ms. Boddy has taken a special liking to Miss Green and since she never had any children, feels a special mother-daughter bond with Miss Green.  Ms. Boddy has included Miss Green in her will.

Miss Scarlet has offered Ms. Boddy twice what the building is worth and still Ms. Boddy refuses to sell.  Miss Scarlet won chopping competitions when she was in middle school.  Miss Scarlet has been known to have a temper, especially when it comes to her cooking.  One time, the police had to come to her restaurant after someone asked if they sold anything other than Italian food because they didn’t like Italian food.  She was trying to force them to eat spaghetti to prove how good it was.   She is very determined and doesn’t let anything stand in her way.

As you can see, each guest has a reason to 'murder' Ms. Boddy.  However, only two guests have more than one clue about them, Miss Green and Miss Scarlet.  This was to make it easier for the girls to narrow down who the murderer was. 

I also printed out my own Clue sheets with the suspects, weapons and rooms.

5.  Buying supplies

I already mentioned that we had a newer Clue game and that I bought the older original version.  I used the pieces as table decor. 

Other supplies I bought included a magnifying glass and notebook for each girl.  The girls used the notebooks to write down the clues as they were being read. 

I also had accessories for each girl in case she didn't come dressed in character.  This included things I had on hand or borrowed such as a purple scrub shirt, red apron, fuchsia scarf and a white lab coat.

6.  Setting the table

Because this was a dinner party, I used my ceramic plates and glasses.  No paper products here, we were being fancy.

I already mentioned using the pieces from Clue games as table decor.  Here you can see I used the Clue board in the center of the table.  I even had the character pieces set up in the dining room in the same order the guests were sitting.

Each place setting included a colored napkin ring based on the character's name, as well as an envelope with that character's introduction clue in it.

The Clue sheet, notebook, pencil and magnifying glass were also at each place setting.

Right before the guest arrived, I set the 'appetizers' out.  This was just some simple finger food like veggies and dip, popcorn, crackers and fruit.  

7.  Decorating the room/house

I labeled some of the rooms in the house such as FOYER, STUDY, DINING ROOM, KITCHEN.  In the picture below, there is a yellow piece of paper that says STUDY.  In the study, I laid out the accessories for each character.

My daughter and I dressed the part as well.  She played Miss Peacock and I was Mrs. Black, Ms. Boddy's butler.

I had my daughter make up this sign for the front of the house so guests would know they were at the right place. 

8.  Welcoming guests

My friend who played Ms. Boddy arrived early and ready to play the part.  She had brought her ipad with a recording of a scream on it and at the appropriate time she would play it.  All she had to do was be introduced and wait to be 'murdered'.  Until then, she stayed out of sight in the living room. 

As the guests rang the doorbell, I welcomed them in making sure to call them by their character names and not their real names.  They all thought this was great and couldn't wait to play the game.  I informed the girls that Ms. Boddy likes her guests appropriately dressed so if they felt they were under dressed or needed some extra accessories they should check out the Study.

From the Study, they were to find their place at the dining room table.  Once all the guests had arrived, they were instructed to read what's in their envelope.  This was basically a getting to know you activity.  Each guest read about how they knew Ms. Boddy including some information that could incriminate them in the future 'murder'.

9.  Dinner

While the girls read their introductory clues, talked and ate, I was busy in the kitchen preparing the main course (hamburgers).  I also cut up some apple slices to serve, being sure to use the biggest knife we had and make the cutting really loud.  Sometimes, I would have the knife in hand and go into the dining room to ask the girls if they needed anymore apple slices.  I was really showing off that knife so they'd remember it because later on it would go missing and be used as the murder weapon.

After the girls had read all of their clues, and taken notes about each one (I didn't tell them to do this, they did it all on their own determined to figure out the who the murderer was), I began passing out the rest of the clues, one at a time while they continued to eat.  During this time I continued to make a big deal about the knife and then hid it in a drawer.  I also went around to make sure no other lights were on in the house except for a light in the dining room and kitchen.  

10.  The murder

Once everyone was done eating their hamburgers, it was time for the murder.  By this time it was dark outside.  I introduced Ms. Boddy saying that she had some important business to attend to and would be back to join them for dessert.  I stayed in the dining room talking with the guests to make sure I would be seen and not accused of being the 'murderer'.  

Meanwhile, Ms. Boddy simultaneously turned off the only two lights that were on in the house (the kitchen and dining room lights).  Then she got herself nice and cozy on the couch with a red shirt draped over her chest and down the arm of the couch to simulate blood and played the scream from her iPad.  With all the lights off in the house, and it being dark outside, you really couldn't see anything.  I think we might have freaked a couple of girls out.  I pretended to fumble around for the light switch, which gave Ms. Boddy time to get into place.  Once I put the lights back on, I told the girls we must see if Ms. Boddy is OK.  We walked into the living room where I declared, "She's dead!"  and "Look at all that blood!"  Then I turned to the girls, who were all huddled behind me and said in a very serious voice, "One of YOU must be the murderer!"

I ushered the girls back to the dining room and said no one can leave until we figure out who the murderer is.  Coincidentally at that time we heard sirens from outside and one of the girls asked if I called the police.  I said, "Of course I did.  Someone just murdered Ms. Boddy."  Some of the girls were still freaked out and asked if anything else was going to happen because they could hear footsteps upstairs.  I had to assure them that no one else is in the house and we are only here to find out who killed Ms. Boddy and that the lights will not go out again.  I could totally see how this could be made into a scary Halloween murder mystery.

I continued to hand out the rest of the clues while the girls took notes and chatted about who they thought the murderer was and why.  I asked if they wanted more apple slices and then had to tell them I couldn't cut them up because the knife was missing.  So the girls knew where the murder happened (the living room) and I pretty much told them that the knife was the murder weapon, so they just needed to figure out who did it.  I told them that I know who did it and why and if they wanted to ask me questions they could.  I made a point of saying that the murderer must have been to this house before because they knew how to go from the dining room to the living room in the dark.  According to the introductory clues, only Miss Scarlet had been to Ms. Boddy's house.  

11.  Ending the game

I passed out some root beer floats and told the girls to finalize their answers on their Clue sheets.  We went around the room with everyone saying who they thought did it, where and with what.  Then I opened up the Confidential Clue envelope to reveal the cards inside:  Miss Scarlet, the knife and the living room.  Even with all my clues and hints along the way, only 5 out of 8 girls guessed correctly.  

12.  Dessert and gifts

With the game over, I got out the cake and we sang happy birthday and passed out the presents.  The girls continued to talk about the game and if we had more time would have liked to play the Clue board game.  

It was a very fun evening.  So glad I could do this for my daughter.  It will certainly be a birthday party to remember.  And I couldn't have done it without the help of my accomplice (Ms. Boddy) or my husband who took the rest of the kids out to dinner and a movie so we could have the house to ourselves.

Feel free to use my ideas and plan your own Clue themed murder mystery dinner party.  If you do, be sure to comment below and tell me all about it.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Painting little pumpkins

The other day I drove by a local Amish farm and out by the road they had a little stand where they were selling pumpkins.  It was one of those unmanned stands that works by the honor system.  You buy what you want and leave the money in the box, in this case it was a baby wipes container.  I wouldn't have even stopped if it hadn't been for the enormous pumpkin they had sitting there.  My oldest has been wanting a large pumpkin and I thought this just might be it.  So I parked the car and had him hop out to see how much it was. 

$7.00 for an 85 pound pumpkin!  We just had to get it.  And by we, I mean my son picked it up and carried it to the car, then from the car to the front porch.  I haven't even tried to lift that thing.

That was the biggest pumpkin they had.  I think all the rest were around $1.00 or less, including those five small ones in the front of the picture below for just .05¢ each.

I ended up getting 21 pumpkins for only $13.  Several of the pumpkins are going to my daughter's school for a pumpkin project they are doing in her first grade classroom.  The rest are decorating my mantel.  We still have to go pumpkin picking and get some good carving pumpkins.

If you want to check out how I made those wooden pumpkin blocks, check out THIS POST from last year. 

We aren't going to carve these really little ones, but I still want them to look festive so we tried a few painting techniques.  Spray painting them was the easiest and fastest drying method.

Here's my little guy all ready to paint.  

My 7 year old painted and then used the glitter pens to add some detail.

We used metallic paint and a brush or sponge to paint it on.  Even I did one with a gold stem and metallic copper pumpkin.

Then I spray painted one gold and one black and let my older daughter embellish them with the glitter pens.

She made a black spider web on the gold pumpkin,

and a silver spider on the black pumpkin.

Here they are displayed on the mantel:

If you have little pumpkins in need of a makeover, check out these ideas I found on Pinterest.  

Unicorn Pumpkins  
My youngest daughter who just had to have a unicorn pinata for her birthday would love this.

Emoji Pumpkins (this would be fun for teens)

Super Hero pumpkins
My three year old who loves Batman, would love these.

And for the sports fans, this baseball pumpkin is cute.

For a little creepiness you could try an eyeball pumpkin.

These donut pumpkins look fun.

The M&M's looks cute too.

Bold colors with gold glittery stems makes a nice statement.

For something a bit more sophisticated you could try white pumpkins with gold lettering.
I love the decoupage and glitter look.

And if you're really crafty, why not try painting a scene.

Black pumpkins with white words and this cute little spider looks classy too.

And if you still need more ideas, check out 30 days of pumpkin painting: 

 Happy pumpkin painting!

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

How to Host an Awesome Birthday Party at the Park

I'm back with the final post about my younger daughter's 7th birthday.  Then I've got to move onto my older daughter's birthday party, and then my youngest son's birthday.  Three birthdays in three weeks has been keeping me busy, and I've loved every minute of it.  

I've already mentioned that my daughter didn't really pick a theme, she just made it know that she wanted a unicorn pinata.  Since we were having her party at the playground again (check out last year's party at the same playground HERE for more ideas) I made things colorful and fun.  The only unicorn thing for the party was the pinata.  She had her rainbow unicorn parfait and gift in a DIY unicorn gift bag the day before on her actual birthday.

Once again we invited her entire class, which made the choice to have it at the playground instead of our house a no brainer.  

As for the invitations, I used Pinterest for ideas liked this one HERE and HERE.
I designed it at using their templates and had them printed off for just few bucks, much cheaper than buying them off Etsy. 

When it came to decorating for the party, I started in the parking lot.
I saw THIS idea on Pinterest and thought it would be a fun way to lead guests from the parking lot to the playground.  

Rather than buy helium balloons or a tank to fill them up, I found some balloon stick holders at Walmart.  You can get similar ones at amazon HERE.  
Bonus:  they are reusable so I'll be using them again and again.

(Side note:  I didn't realize the balloons would become more than just a party decoration.  By the end, the kids had taken the sticks out of the ground and were playing 'swords' with them.  Most balloons popped before the party ended but it was still a lot of fun to have them around and I'd certainly decorate with them again.)

To add a few more activities to the usual playground equipment, I brought a few of our toys from home:  a play tunnel, some balls to bounce on, scooters and sidewalk chalk. 

We also had some activities on the picnic tables under the pavilion.  
We had a make your own bubble wand station.  I filled up two gallon buckets with homemade bubble solution for the kids to use.  Pipe cleaners decorated with beads could be made into bubble wands.

The most popular activity was face painting.  My older daughter (who loves to paint) volunteered to do some face painting.  Every kid got their face painted at least once.  Some wanted simple flowers painted on their cheek, others wanted a more elaborate design such as painting their entire face to look like a green sea monster.

Even my little guy got a batman sign painted on his face.  Here he is hanging out at the food table.  Speaking of food, I made sure to have lots of finger food or food in grab and go packages.  We had cups to put the popcorn in, and instead of a cake we had cupcakes.

And of course my daughter got her beloved and well requested unicorn pinata.  It was easy to hang from the basketball net.

Once the kids had beaten all the candy out of it, they had full ripping the pinata to shreds limb by limb.

Should I be concerned at the amount of joy they took in pulling this thing apart?

Hosting a party at the playground is easy.  The playground provides most of the activity for the kids and clean up is a breeze.  Just make sure you bring a few extra toys and games for the kids to play with, as well as plenty of grab and go food.  You don't need to do a whole lot as the kids will just eat and play.  About halfway through I corralled the kids over to do the pinata and after that we sang happy birthday and had cupcakes.  Then the kids went back to playing.  This is one of the easiest parties to host and since I have three birthdays in three weeks, I like it when I can do something easy.  

If you are looking for more ideas and tips about hosting a park party, check out THIS ARTICLE  from Daily MOMtivity.  I used her ideas about the individual packages of food and the mini sized waters.

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