When I asked Justin if he just wanted to have a few guys over to play video games for his birthday (on the theory that 11-year-olds are too cool to have birthday parties), he looked at me like I was crazy. “Can’t I have a theme?” he pleaded. As someone who built a 10-foot pirate ship in her living room for her last birthday (see Murder Among the Mateys), I could hardly say no. So we decided on a Mario theme.
I didn’t really want to let the boys play video games for two solid hours, so I came up with a few Mario-themed party games we could do first. We started with block hopping: I split them into teams of three and gave each team four floor tiles that kind of looked like the blocks from the games. Each team member lined up standing on a tile and passed the extra tile to the guy in front; then they all stepped forward caterpillar-like and repeated the process until they made it to the finish line. We were hoping to do this outside, but the weather didn’t cooperate, so we had to snake a line through the living room, down the hall and into Justin’s room. It was still pretty fun.
We also did the Yoshi egg race (your basic relay race with plastic eggs on wooden spoons), and I was kind of surprised at how many times they dropped the eggs when all they had to do was walk slow. It seems boys are all about speed.
The biggest hit was the scavenger hunt. The premise here was that Bowser had stolen all of Mario’s gold coins. Each clue was a word search grid: the boys were supposed to cross off all the letters that are found in a certain word (say S-T-A-R), then unscramble the letters that were left to figure out where the next clue was. They all got a bit stumped with F-O-F-C-E-I (office), but eventually they got it. The last clue led them to a question mark block filled with chocolate gold coins, all of which quickly got devoured.
After snacks and cake, I set them loose playing video games. In addition to all the Mario games we have for the Wii, we borrowed my brother’s original Nintendo system so the kids could play the original Super Mario Bros from 30 years ago. Way cool.
A successful party!