As Jack gets older, the types of parties the kids have start to change. They no longer feel the need to invite EVERY SINGLE kid to the party. By 11, you know your friends and who you want to hang out with.
This year I asked Jack if he’d like to do a smaller party with just his good buddies. Perhaps something longer, a bigger treat but for less people.
I suggested we take his buddies to his favorite water park for the weekend. The hotel room fits 4, so he could invite 3 other kids.
To my surprise, the response to this amazing suggestion was a shrug.
Jack isn’t much of a complainer so if he doesn’t like something, trying to figure out what is wrong is like trying to solve a 1000 piece puzzle. It takes days to sort it out and sometimes it’s just too complicated and time consuming to sift through.
Adam finally cornered him on the way to school one morning and found the true source of his discontent. He said, “I don’t want to exclude anyone.”
It was so sweet, I melted right there and then. Whatever he asked for next he could have had.
He asked to invite his entire class to his house for a Spy Themed party.
The next day, I was a flurry of google searches, pinterest boards and online shopping at Amazon and Oriental Trading.
It was quite possibly the most labor intensive party I ever threw for Jack. But it was so much fun I didn’t mind a minute of it. Basically, I created an 11 year old escape room.
The kids entered the party and were immediately asked what the password was. I stole this concept from the Safehouse Restaurant. Since there wasn’t an actual password, they were given tasks to prove they were spy worthy.
These two guests had to recite a tongue twister and pretend their pants were on fire.
I had a bunch of different tasks. Some kids were asked to prove they were masters of disguise, to pick a task from a bucket – they became ballerinas, frogs and old ladies. Some had to pretend their pants were on fire and one girl pretended she could not stop dancing even though she wanted to.
It came in handy when the next crew had to pretend they were a spy rock band and she started dancing and yelled, “I can’t stop dancing!”
Other kids were given pool noodles and battled me.
I even had a set of kids showing their dexterity by hopping on one foot while clapping, ending an a 70s style disco move.
Finally it was time to start the mission.
To receive their mission, the kids had to pass a laser field.
Jack’s siblings went first to show the other kids how to avoid the lasers.
The mission envelope had the mission inside, “Find the Alien”. It also had the first clue, a trivia question about their school.
Once they answered all the questions correctly, they used the numbers in the lines above to get to the next clue, “Golden Eggs.”
The golden eggs all had messages in them, either they had the message, “try again” or they showed a picture of a blue lock with a door. Kids had to figure out where the lock was, then how to open it.
The lock showed 4 spaces, each with a sour patch kid in it in a different color. Then below, a bunch more sour patch kids. The amount of sour patch kids equaled the number to unlock the door. Inside the door there was a decoder ring. Which led them to the next clue.
Decode the clue, which said, “Jack’s bookshelf”.
Jack’s bookshelf looked like this. When you pulled a clue out, it read:
So far your spy skills are tried and true.
How much more of this will we have to do?
This is a very good question
Perhaps I can offer a suggestion.
It’s back to the kitchen for you,
The Polybius Grid is your next clue.
The Polybuis Clue decoded said, “Thomas the Trains”.
These were racked downstairs.
When you turned them over you either got “try again” or a picture of a fingerprint. The kids had to find fingerprints somewhere…
The fingerprints decoded said, “Popsicle sticks”.
The Popsicle challenge unscrambled looked like this.
The four fruits were scattered in picture frames throughout the house with numbers on them.
The numbers gave you the code to the lock box.
Once you found them you could open the box to find this…
I bought plain jigsaw puzzles from Oriental Trading and wrote on them in different color permanent ink. The puzzle said..
Take one black piece of paper from the pocket of the lock box. Decode.
I loved this clue. The box was black and the clue was black so it was hidden in plain sight. Right under the jigsaw puzzle.
The Spy Lab was a re-purposed box that you may remember from Hannukah.
I added a black light inside and used black light ink to paint Morse Code on the side.
While this half of Jack’s team were busy decoding, the other half were outside of the lab, guarding their partners. (They used these very serious looking blow up swords.)
When the kids decoded the black light clue, it said, “pop bombs”.
When they went to pop the bombs (which were actually black balloons), they either got the message, “try again” or “wooden box”.
The wooden box was really hard to open. So I gave them 3 clues. to help figure it out.
Inside the box it said, “Check under the stairs”.
Under the stairs there is a little door and inside, another clue.
Framed pictures of Jack with empty lines underneath. When you found the framed pictures of Jack around the house they had letters on them. The letters spelled, “Ask a sibling”.
Jack’s siblings were all wearing these stickers.
Inside their pockets were mazes with letters in them.
The correct path spelled out, “Check the Laundry Room.”
Inside the laundry room…
After the mission the kids wrecked the house, drank all the sugary drinks and ate through the entire snack bin while simultaneously playing a weird boys vs girls territory game.
Pizza arrived shortly afterwards.
Then we sang to Jack’s cake. Adam tried his best to keep the cake small this year. But there is still half the cake in our fridge. (Too bad none of it is the yummy chocolate bomb on top.)When all the kids left, Jack examined his new spoils. Lots of gifts cards that he can use to buy more stuff that I’ll have to find a place for in the stuffed house!
He managed to put together a lego set and play a couple of games on his new Foosball set before bed.
Also, we set the party up again so Jack’s siblings could do the mission themselves.
I had a ton of help. After I created this mission, I had Adam go through it one night when the kids were in bed to make comments and improvements. Then, the night before the party I asked my father and aunt to do it again to see if there were any more snags. Once the three adults understood the mission they were stationed in different areas to help the kids along.
Even Aaron helped re-rack the trains.
I could not have done this party without them. My Dad and Aunt were in town at my request. I took full advantage. In addition to all the help they gave for the party, the week before I left them with the kids and tagged along on Adam’s business trip. But that blog will have to come later. As always, the kids come first!