We have been planning this birthday party for awhile.
I am crazy like that, where I get an idea in my head and have to figure it all out before it drives me crazy. I don't really remember how I got the idea for a Nerf Wars themed birthday party, but as soon as the idea came I began researching (Pinterest) how others had done their party and slowly a plan began to take shape.
I ordered the birthday invitations from an Etsy.com store called Bonkers4Bottlecaps. It is awesome. Basically it's a printable layout that you can customize with Photoshop to put in your child's name and birthday info. There are also ones that you can order and have the shop edit for you if you don't have Photoshop. You get an email when the file is created and can customize it immediately. Ours cost $3 for the file and then I had them printed on 4x6 photo paper (so two fit per page) at a local Rite Aid photo center. Very cheap to do, but they look awesome!
Then the birthday party came.
Everyone got a bandana, sunglasses and a pack of 10 darts. At first, we thought about doing colored bandanas for "teams" but we ended up deciding to go with random colors in case any one was upset about not being on a team with another friend. (Ordered a 12 pack of bandanas from Amazon)
Originally we thought the sunglasses would just look cool, like super cool Army guys or something, but the boys ended up really needing eye protection (what with all the random darts flying every where) so I am glad they all wore them! (Sunglasses are from Party City - $1 a pair)
When all the parents called to RSVP, I suggested that they leave their darts from home at home because they would probably get lost. I bulk bought darts on ebay.com and got them incredibly cheap - 200 darts for $16. If you are looking at hosting a Nerf party, I would definitely look into sellers on ebay. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get them, since most sellers are overseas.
After making sure that none of the boys coming had skin allergies, we ordered camouflage face paint. At the party, the boys grabbed their gear bags and we quickly put on camo paint so they could load their guns and listen to the "safety briefing". I opted to buy a more expensive face paint stick (Camo Face Paint stick from Amazon) rather than the traditional costume paint because it was so easy to apply. All we did was draw a line under each of the boys' eyes and smug it a little with a cotton ball.
During the "safety briefing", we went over the rules of Nerf Wars.
No shooting above the shoulders or pointing a gun at someone's face.
No shooting an unarmed or unloaded person (if you ran out of darts you had to put your hands up).
Make sure to listen and respect every one.
We had different target practice games planned as team events. Since we had twelve boys and five adults, we split them in four groups of three for the team shooting relay, the balloon and Army guy shooting match.
The house was decked out for Nerf War battle. I knew my boys would be pumped shooting darts in the house and I didn't want anything to get broken or damaged. I took down all the picture frames and family mementos and replaced them with targets, plastic toys and balloons. I didn't want to spend a ton on decorations or things that would get shot and possibly broken, so these are the decorations I came up with.
1) We set up Army guys on every ledge we could think of. These were super hard targets and only one boy was able to hit them. I liked how they took up decoration space and made for a fun challenge to hit. We already had a collection of plastic Army guys, so this didn't cost us any money. I have seen them on sale at Dollar Tree and other grocery stores for $1-3.
2) I got yellow and orange paper plates on clearance at a local grocery store and they worked perfectly for targets to tape on the walls. We ended up having enough left over to use as plates for the party too. Although it took a little time to draw the circles on the plates, it was worth the $2 for paper plates rather than buying pre-made paper targets.
3) This picture isn't great, but I saved up plastic milk and juice jugs and spray painted them desert camo colored and painted targets on them. We had between 8-10 on ledges around the house and they were also a fun challenge, but a little easier to hit. They make a nice "thunk" sound when you hit them. Since I already had the spray paint left over from Gabe's pine wood derby car, this cost us $0! If you don't have paint, don't worry! You can always draw or print out targets and tape them on to empty containers.
4) Balloons. In typical fashion, I put balloons everywhere. What is a birthday without big colorful balloons every where anyway? We didn't splurge on helium balloons that much this year and instead opted to get the regular latex balloons and taped them to the walls and doorways. The boys thought it was AWESOME to shoot the balloons off the walls and see if they could knock them down. When they were all knocked down, we did a "skeet" challenge where an adult threw the balloon in the air and the boys took turns trying to shoot it in the air. I stuck with the yellow, orange, blue color scheme and got three packs of 15 balloons. Each pack cost me about $1.50 at Target.
There are so many different target shooting challenges you can do and the boys really loved having the teams and having to shoot as fast as they could! Even though not all the boys knew each other, some were school friends and some from Cub Scouts, all the boys on each team banded together.
After the games, it was time to eat.
I really wanted to stick with healthy options but also wanted them to have fun (allergy-free) choices. We had pepperoni pizzas, oranges, carrots, bananas, crackers, cheese balls, string cheese sticks and squeezable applesauce. I got Gatorade (gasp!) in blue, yellow and orange. All the boys got to fill their own plates and I was pleasantly surprised when I saw bananas, oranges and apple sauces going on plates. After eating their fill, we moved on to sing Happy Birthday and gorge ourselves on the Nerf dart cupcakes and ice cream.
First can I just say - I MADE THESE! I USED FONDANT AND MADE THESE FROM SCRATCH!
Sorry about that.
This was the first time I made and used fondant and can I also say, What the heck? It is so easy to make fondant and so easy to use (link below), I am completely disappointed I haven't tried to do it before. The night before I rolled out the fondant darts and dipped them in chocolate and put them in the freezer to stay hard. Right before eating, I got them out of the freezer and put them on top of the cupcakes. All the boys were surprised that they weren't real darts and that they could eat them! Although they aren't as super cool as some of the other cakes and cupcakes I have seen at other Nerf parties, I am pretty happy that I went out of my decorating comfort zone and made these.
In the end, we put together teams and had an all out Nerf War, taking no prisoners and shooting and ambushing every one in sight. When the doorbell rang and parents came to pick up the boys, every one seemed disappointed to leave (a sign of a good party) and the parents looked at me like I was a little crazy (running around shooting darts at the other adults).
It was a great birthday party. A great turn out. And honestly, a great relief! Last year, Gabe's Lego birthday party didn't go so well (out of 7 RSVP's, one boy came) and we were all holding our breath that this year would be different. And it was.
Too much fun.
Try it out!
Here are some more links to other parties I found while researching (Pinterest):
|Inspiration for my cupcakes|
|Thought about doing this if the weather was nice.|
|Used these in the living room as targets|
|From Oriental Trading Company|
|An awesome idea for an inside nerf war|