Josiah wanted a ninja birthday party for his 8th. I began to google and I could find very little. What?! I mean, I know I am a creative mama, but am I the only one who has tried to pull this off? I don’t think so. If you, cyberspace friend, have done a ninja birthday party (that does NOT involve turtles) than by all means, speak up! But in my web wanderings, I found enough ideas to make a party. So I am doing the world a service to put this blog post out there, to help other mama’s out.
1. First, start with an eager birthday boy who already has a ninja costume. It also helps to have ninja gear for the whole family. We had a Master Ninja (Papa), Mama Ninja, Girlie Ninja and Baby Ninja (who sorta looked like Stevie Nicks.
2. The location. I called a local dojo to see what their prices were like. It was $200 for 2 hours and some instruction and plates and cups. If you want to do this, than you might not need this whole post, but I chose to save money and do it all myself. So I convinced Grandma she wanted to host :) It was perfect.
3. Color scheme. I went with black, red and gold. It helped a lot that Josiah’s birthday was ON the Lunar New Year this year so party stores were stocked with Chinese New Year decorations (in the tiniest corner in the back, but it was there). I invested in a good luck banner, and some little favors: spiral notebooks, tic-tac drums (think Karate Kid drums), and little ninja figures. I also got red and black balloons and streamers. I got two bamboo placemats to go on top of a black tablecloth. I also think it would be cute to have a bamboo floral arrangement, or chop some down for a centerpiece but I didn’t get to that one.
I had a desperate five year old daughter who wanted to help with the decorations. So I had her little artistic fingers make some “sneaky eyes” for the balloons in stealthy ninja style.
My mom had these images cut out and I didn’t think I would end up using them, but since I didn’t have a big Happy Birthday Banner, they made the front door and table look cool. My mom and her historical correctness.
4. The cake. Now, this was so fun. There actually is a tutorial out there for ninja cupcakes. Zakka Life has a printable template to make little ninjas that pop out of cupcakes. Since I do not have a massive Kitchenaid mixer, and we’re not a big cake family, cupcakes are perfect. I had gold wrappers and made chocolate (straight from the box) cake; I do make butter cream icing from scratch though. I sprinkled the tops with red sugar and Eden and I inserted little ninjas into each one. I’m sure I loved them the most, but Josiah thought they were funny.
5. More food ideas. Again, super fun, I loved this part! I did find another idea out there to make Ninja-bread men! And lo and behold, my neighbor had the ninja cookie cutters! I recommend getting these if you have a boy, mandatory if you have more than one boy. They are so cool. I made sugar cookies and decorated them. I made the egg white icing that was part of the cookie recipe and I added TONS of cocoa powder to get it dark (black icing creeps me out). I added about two drops of blue and green and got a dark greyish color. I add peppermint flavor to the icing too, makes the sugar cookie a bit refreshing. I did get a tube of red to give each Ninjie a sash and mask. So worth it. I got some Japanese rice crackers and some sesame candy. Other than that, I stuck to my typical party food for kids: juice boxes, popcorn, grapes, peanuts. Almost everything was consumed. I stuck some chopsticks in the bowls for fun.
6. The personal touch that’s all me. I am a painter, and an art teacher, so when I look at decorations, craft blogs, design blogs and books it goes through the filter of “can I make that?”. And I wanted so badly to make a big dragon for the WOW factor at Josiah’s party. I am kicking myself that I didn’t use it as a ninja portrait backdrop. Ugh. Not enough hours in the day for all the ideas rattling around. So, I hunted down some clip art and found a beautiful serpentine dragon. I brought home from my school the roll of newsprint and asked my mom how long her dining room curtains were. So one afternoon I sketched out a 65 inch dragon and painted it with watercolor on the newsprint. Big calligraphy brush and all. Everybody’s mom has a super-power right? My mom could sew, and I can make stuff with paint and paper. My pride and joy, the dragon: simple, yet perfect. It is after all, a two hour party for 6 to 9 year old boys.
7. Games. This is where the Master Ninja (that is, Joel) came in. I researched, got props, mapped out where things should go. I decided NOT to buy ninja swords for all 12 kids. It was an awesome day outside, so that made things nice. I had every intention of making origami ninja stars for a ninja star throwing game. I was awful at it. So I grabbed a piece of black mat board and cut out about 15 ninja stars. Sturdy enough to be thrown in a game, not that painful if it gets thrown at you. I bought three buckets and they were supposed to try and get them in. I thought we could assign point value and make a cool backdrop for it too (another circular dragon perhaps?) it didn’t happen. But maybe your party will :) Here’s the birthday boy cheating!
We also did a chopstick relay where they split up into two teams and had to carry marshmallows from one bowl to another. I was stunned by how many of them did not want to even try to learn how to use chopsticks! I gave them my speech in my antagonistic teacher voice, it still didn’t work. But the ones that stuck with it (about half the crowd) had fun trying to beat the Master Ninja and shoveling mini marshies in their mouths after.
Hide and Go Sneak was the most popular. Having somebody’s dad dressed as a ninja trying to catch you can be fun and terrifying at the same time, but it worked for us. I also think a simple obstacle course would be ideal.
There was also a lot of keep the balloon in the air. Put chopsticks into play and it can be a challenge!! Everyone had both eyeballs when we were done.
8. Party favors. I got gold take out boxes from the dollar store and filled them with a ninja figure, a tic- tac drum, and a couple chocolate balls. They were cute.
So here’s my effort for my Josiah who turned eight. I hope this is helpful to someone. I believe that parties are magical and perfect to the kids memory no matter how much effort you put in. Some things I do for myself, but I wanted him to get what he wanted which involved simple things. Go all out if you must, but for me simplicity equals fun. Cuz that’s what childhood is about. Happy Birthday little ninjas.