Batman Birthday Party: or, in which this fool goes bat crap crazy

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Before he discovered Star Wars, Big Bro was enamored with Batman.  He still is, trying to cram his face into the Bat helmet I made for him 2 years ago that he’s outgrown.  You know how kids be doin’ sometimes.  I mean I had to put an extender strap on the dang thing but no no Mom, it still fits!!  So of course when his 5th birthday rolled around, he wanted a Batman theme.

Decorations — Using Old Comic Books for Maximum Effect

For me the decorations started with the idea of using comic books as my palette.  At the time I just figured they were cheap — since then I have at east come to appreciate some of the artwork.  I knew one of my co-workers was a big comic book fan, so I asked him if there was a store that sold used or otherwise cheap comic books.  He very generously allowed me to have a bunch of his that he needed to get rid of.  I love a win-win situation.  After I verified with him “Ok you know I’m going to tear these up, right?” I got to work on this treasure trove of friction’ free artwork.  First I went through all the books and pulled out all the usable pages, because some just weren’t appropriate for 5 year olds (you  know, the violence and the objectification of women and other small details.  I could expand on this but my time is limited . . .).  I started sorting them based on the color palette of each page and what would work together.  I used them 4 ways:

  • Birthday Banner Background  — I pasted pages down on a piece of brown “painter paper” (paper in a roll about 12 inches wide used to protect the edges of molding when you are painting.  Whatever that is called, I used it), then I used a stencil to paint Happy Birthday on the pages.  If I could do this over I would try to get the letters to stand out more because you had to be right on top of the banner, ultimately, to be able to read it.  What the hell I made it, so up it went

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  • Cityscape sign — I created another sign that was a cityscape, and then cut out Big Bro’s name in the comic book paper to make a sign that said Big Bro is 5.  I guess I really didn’t need another sign but I was inspired so up it went too

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  • Tablecloth — I decided to cover the tables the kids would eat at with the remaining comic book pages as a table cloth.  I basically just taped them down and then covered it with clear contact paper.  If you can imagine 5 year olds needing a conversation starter, a philosophical discussion ensued about who was a bad guy — it would have made Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis in Unbroken proud.  I really liked the way this turned out

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  • Coloring book cover — In a last ditch effort to flesh out the goody bag in an inexpensive way, I recreated the old DIY coloring book trick, and used the comic book pages as the cover with a Batman emblem on the front.  To be honest, I wasn’t totally happy with the way these turned out but they were pretty low on the totem pole so I just closed my eyes.
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(I know, it’s Superman but this is the only one I had left to take a picture of)

I of course included the obligatory black and yellow streamers.  I still have some of those comic book pages left over in my scrapbook paper box.  Some pictures are so cool I will probably never use them for a project.  When we put the house up for sale due to the actual bat in the house incident (an early party crasher?), I used some of the pictures to fill the collage frame in the boys room and cover up the family pictures.

Invitations — This was a lot of fun.  I saw online an invite made to look like a comic book cover, so I thought why not me?  I found some cityscape clip art in MS Word, and then pasted a picture of Big Bro is his Batman Halloween costume, with some comic book type captions in there.  I almost always do my invites postcard style, so I pasted the invite onto yellow card stock. Done.

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Games

Clothespin Batman Zipline Game

I started by thinking, “what would Batman do?”  Somehow I couldn’t get the idea of  a zipline out of my head.  Clearly a real zipline was totally unsafe and out of the question (but how cool would that be??), but I got the idea of creating zip lines out of fishing wire so the kids could race a clothespin Batman to the top of a building.  I now, it sounds crazy and like where the hell do you come up with that idea, but I was SO inspired.

First I bought wooden clothespins.  In retrospect plastic may have worked better for slide-ability but next zip line I guess.  I painted them black and then cut out two halves of a Bat cape in black felt and glued them to the back of the clothespins so the hinge would still work.  Batmen done.  I then covered 4 diaper boxes in black trash bags, and then glued squares of yellow paper on the boxes so they looked like buildings.  On the day of the party, I drove stakes through the boxes to anchor them to the ground, and then attached fishing wire from the stake to the storage shed for each building.  Now at first the zipline worked, the Batmen were zooming down to Gotham no problem.  Then for some reason Batman got a little pouty like the spoiled rich boy he used to be (no offense Bruce Wayne) and had to be coaxed down the line.  In retrospect a little candle wax or WD-40 or graphite wouldn’t have been amiss, but I’m no engineer, I just come up with these half-baked ideas that sort of work.  Or I probably could have weighted the clothespins with a nickel or button or something.  It was a good concept, however.  And hey I thought of it therefore it is cool.

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Batman Beanbag Toss

The obligatory Beanbag Toss, now in its 3rd incarnation.  I painted the front of the still-kickin’ Mickey Mouse no wait Candy Corn Toss with a city scape with the hole cutouts being where the the bat signal should be.  It’s a little hard to explain so here’s a picture:

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Felt Batman Capes

I used craft felt to make (virtually) no-sew capes.  I bought enough felt to make 10 18×24 capes.  I cut a pattern based off of some Google research and the actual cape was basically done once I cut them all out.  I cut some yellow felt ovals (and some strong and powerful hot pink ovals for the girls), and then 10 Batman emblems.  I layered them and sewed them down, but it didn’t take a lot of time.  The Bat emblems I sewed down in kind of a asterisk shape, not around the edges to save time.  If I had it to do over I made would have used micro fleece or something not as scratchy as felt, but since it was August I thought that might be a bit cruel to the kids.  The picture’s not great but you get the idea.  Maybe.

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Goody Bags

Returning to my go to goody bag, the large brown lunch bag (which curiously enough I don’t think I have ever used for lunch), I painted the front to resemble Batman’s torso, and added some cardstock cutouts for the belt and Bat symbol.  I then filled the bag with the coloring book mentioned above, a Batwatch made out of some black ribbon I had leftover from a pillow purchase that was just waiting to be used.  I added some sticky back velcro to the end of a section of ribbon, which I measured way too big for Big Bro’s wrist, and added a Bat symbol cutout laminated with clear contact paper.  It sounds better than it turned out, I only wish I had cut the ribbon a little shorter to fit in the wrist better.   The cape also qualified as a goody bag item.

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Cake — I went to the store intending this time to just get a Batman cake.  Which they did not design.  I decided to decorate a plain store-bought cake, using the old crushed up Oreo trick I used for Big Bro’s Cars cake, figuring I could handle a simple bat outline.  Theoretically, this should have worked and ultimately did but not without raising my blood pressure.    For starters, the poor kid at the store had no idea what I was talking about.  I asked for a plain cake iced yellow.  He asked if I wanted any decoration on it and I made the mistake of saying nothing on top but you can make the rest look pretty.  He took that to mean girly pretty and I said no this is for a boy, so boy-pretty.  I walked away worried.  The actual cake decorator called me the next day and I explained what I wanted to do and the theme I was going for and between the two of us I got a yellow cake with a gray trim, with Happy Birthday written at the top.  Perfect.   I threw some Oreos in my mouth for quality audit purposes, and then threw some more in the food processor and crushed them up fine.  I took a Batman outline in waxed paper and etched the outline into the top of the cake, then scooped away the frosting to leave a 1/4 to 1/2 inch depression in the frosting.  I filled a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off with the Oreo crumbs, and then very carefully tried to fill in the silhouette.  I intended to practically draw the Oreos on there. but that so did not happen.  I ended up taking a toothpick to push and smooth the crumbs inside the outline, and this was quite tricky on all the right angles and corners. Plus I almost spilled some crumbs which would ruin the outline. It turned out very very well, but I will never do that again without more frosting to pipe around the edges of the Oreo crumbs.  Something I didn’t think of before.

 

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At the end of the day Big Bro was most pleased with his party.  The zipline idea, even though it didn’t work as planned, was a great moment, the outer limits on my imagination.  Even sitting there at my desk I said to myself “Fool you are bat crap crazy for thinking this s*#t up.”

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathyann
    Nov 08, 2014 @ 17:52:08

    OMG!!!!

    You went all out. I love the cake.

    Yikes!

    Like

    Reply

  2. jamie lynn
    May 07, 2015 @ 10:59:29

    I loved your ideas I used several and want to thank you for ur inspired ideas

    Like

    Reply

    • Melody
      May 07, 2015 @ 11:58:04

      Jamie you just made my day! I’m glad you liked my ideas — I hope I can keep churning out projects people are interested in. Have a great day!

      Like

      Reply

  3. Trackback: A Minimalist Harry Potter Birthday; or a fool’s Felix Felicis | The Craftin' Fool

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