WOW! Its been a while. A LOT HAS CHANGED, more blog posts to come on that soon! But for now I wanted to talk about the epic Nerf Party I had for the boys. It was fun without being crazy complicated (in my opinion).
As the years have gone by, I have always LOVED throwing my boy’s birthday parties jointly. Their birthdays are just 7 days apart, and they for the most part like the same things. This year, the nerf idea surfaced and they both were super excited about it. So naturally, I ran with it.
For me, throwing a “cute” party or well designed party is what excites me. So I thought of how I could keep this fun, uncomplicated, while seeming well planned out (when in reality it wasn’t a hassle at all). Here is how I did it.
My BIGGEST TIP for throwing any party is to TO THINGS IN STAGES! Make a plan, well beforehand and follow it! Don’t, I repeat DON’T try to do all of the cooking, prep, setup, on the day of the party. Just don’t.
When I plan parties I typically:
- Pick a date (ideally 4 weeks in advance for myself and guests)
- Pick a theme (think of the colors you will be using for invites, decorations, etc)
- Create or buy invitations and mail them out with the 4 week advance notice for guests
- Once invites have gone out, plan what you want to do, how you want to decorate, think of food you want to serve, where things are going to go and be setup, plan party favors you may or may not have.
- As it nears the 2 week mark, start shopping. If you are closer to stores than I am, you have the luxury of pushing this out, but it stresses me out to not have all of the things I need in advance, in case some stores don’t have what I’m envisioning then I have a time cushion to look around.
- One week out- do a little something EACH DAY. Small tasks done over the week really help ease the burden of throwing a party, versus a ton of work in one day. So look at what you planned in step 4. What did you buy, what are you making, what are you cooking or picking up, what are you setting up? Then look at your schedule- what can you accomplish EACH day. Leaving very little to do on the day of the party, and allowing yourself time to shower and get ready!
- Day before party- Set out as much of the things you can BEFORE the party. This would be tables, chairs, anything that isn’t perishable or won’t get messed up. Do the bulk of the sweaty work before the morning/day of. Prep any food you can and have it either done, or almost finished so the day of you don’t need to be doing any heavy cooking. I picked up my pizzas the day before. I set out all of my tables, did the streamer wall and got all my supplies (table cloths, napkins etc) in boxes set out where I would be setting them up
- Party day- I like just putting finishing touches on things the day of, because when I did NOT do this, it makes things so crazy! I just laid out table cloths, set out center pieces, and hung up balloons. (if my party wasn’t outdoors and wouldn’t get blown away I could have done the balloons the day before as well).
Now that I had my Nerf theme, I picked the colors I wanted to use throughout the party. This will be used in balloon, table cloths, napkins, flatware, and any other decorating elements. I used nerf colors since that was the theme of the party- blue and orange. So when picking out all those things I wanted to use a mix of both blue and orange.
Second, I made the invitations to coordinate with the Nerf theme. I saw a design of a digital invitation on Etsy that was nerf themed, and I went on Canva to create a similar invitation. Here is a link to that file that is blank that you can personalize and add your own info to. Nerf Party Invitation
I printed them at Walgreens, on photo paper, because they are so cheap and I never have to waste my ink at home– because lets face it, the ink is always low. PLUS, there are usually coupons all the time for photo prints. I printed the invitations for under $5!
Third, I planned out what I wanted to do at the party and how I wanted to set things up. I’m old school, I like to write down on paper, and see what I wanted to do as the list grew and evolved I’m able to cross out, scratch off or erase what I don’t want. I wrote down what games I wanted to do, what I needed to actually MAKE for the party (both food and decorations). Pinterest was my best friend for ideas on this. So I typed Nerf Birthday Party into Pinterest and got some inspiration. This is my board if you want to take a look at what I had pinned Nerf Party Pinterest Board
At our home, we have this great existing pole barn structure that we have used for a couple of years now to set tables out and use for our parties and I LOVE it. I have lots of ideas of stream lights, old chandeliers and more down the road I’ll add. So I knew thats WHERE I would be setting up my tables, food, etc. This year, I wanted to play around with streamers (also from the dollar store) and make sort of a backdrop wall where I knew I would be putting the food table, and setting the cakes out when it was time to sing happy birthday and it would make for a nice picture backdrop.
This, surprisingly was something my oldest helped me the WHOLE time with! I got a ladder, picked where I wanted this to go, took packing tape and stretching it the length of where I wanted it with the sticky side FACING out, then took two more pieces of tape and secured each end of the tape (sticky side down) to the wall. So I was left with two taped down ends and a long stretch of sticky side out tape for my streamers. I took my streamers in coordinating blue and orange and stuck it to the tape that was sticky and just dropped it to the ground, my oldest was there, and he cut the streamer, and handed me the other color, and we kept going. THEN we took another LONG piece of tape and taped over all of the streamers we had just stuck down. So this created a sandwich, the streamers were first attached to the sticky side, then taped over and secured. We then came to each piece and gently turned them to give them that spiral look, then we taped the bottom of all of the streamers so that they weren’t flapping around. We did this on all the streamers and left it overnight. You could also just tape them straight too. The next morning we came and attached balloons to the top of the streamers to cover up the tape. (Did you notice there is one balloon missing in the picture, it was super small so we had swapped it and apparently I took this before I had fixed it!)
I saw cute centerpiece ideas on Pinterest for this theme and just mimicked them.
The places I knew I would be stopping for Decorations were: Dollar Tree, Target, Joann’s, Hobby Lobby and potentially Party City depending who did or didn’t have what I wanted. I found metal buckets (I looked at all the places) at Joann’s, I got those, and found some 50% off wooden numbers at Hobby Lobby that I hot glued to wooden dowels, spray painted with the blue spray paint I was already going to be using to the shooting can game, stuck that into some floral foam I placed inside the buckets, topped with dollar tree orange crinkle paper, and used some wire to stick into extra nerf bullets and stick that into the foam too. Voila!
The other thing I saw that was cute, were pool noodles (also bought at Dollar Tree) that looked like nerf bullets! I got some to use scattered across the tables, but ended up having to tape them down since it was kind of windy the day of the party. I took the pool noodle, cut each one into 4 pieces, and then attached with double sided tape some orange construction paper to look like bullets. Another idea, if you see orange duct tape, you could skip the construction paper step and use that, and can cover the hole on the noodle. I didn’t see that or think of that until after. But this was still super cute and easy! Now we will have a bunch of random pool noodle pieces to play with this summer too, maybe I could even use them for fourth of July!
I saw that a cute idea with cans- that were spray painted that kids could shoot with their nerf guns. I got some blue rustoleum spray paint from Lowe’s (because its multi finish, you can spray over just about anything) that was paint and primer, and I just used old cans we had here. The orange was a little too sheer, and it bugged me to see the logos, so I took the leftover blue and made them cammo. Now no one knows except you!
First activity, check!
I saw several (no real ingenuity here) ideas for barricade type areas where kids and adults can literally shoot it out. With my husband being a farmer, we have an abundance of pallets we could use. So we (he) took about 7 of them and set them up in different formations and threw some camo I got from Amazon (in coordinating blue, I might add) over them as he staked them into our grass. He drew a line in the grass with some left over orange spray paint from the cans so there were divided sides and teams- ALL his ideas.
Second activity, check! The other thing I saw and loved was this idea of making cups with prizes inside. You hot glue plastic party cups to a foam board, I got mine at Dollar Tree, and you put tissue paper over it and attach with a rubber band or more hot glue. They stand behind and shoot the board, and if it didn’t puncture the cup enough, they went up and just punched the cup and grabbed their prize! I grabbed little things from the dollar section at Target, and used 15 cups.
Third activity, check!
For all of the activities planned, we had an grab bag/ammo station set up and all the games right by each other. The kids grabbed camo bags filled with nerf bullets, nerf glasses, and a nerf gun off of the ammo table. The kids each got one of these and it REPLACED doing a traditional favor bag.
I ordered the Disruptor gun from Target, I was checking prices on Amazon, Kohls, Target etc. and this one was 39% off so it was a pretty good deal since we only have to buy a handful of them for the bigger kids. For the littler kids I got this one from Amazon, and like I said, these would be their favors along with the bag, bullets, glasses.
I ordered a 300 pack of bullets on Amazon for the cake decorations, and for the kids to go wild with. You know how nerf bullets go, they’re kind of like laundry socks and go missing.
They each grabbed a bunch of water balloons to take home as well. I got this printable from the East Coast Mommy Blog and she had a great post about their nerf party. I ordered coordinating blue water balloons off of Amazon because I like to stick to the theme colors AND because I live so far from stores, ordering and planning in advance saves me SO much time and money. I may take the drive to target and not be able to find only blue water balloons! I printed them on card stock I had at home and attached them to the balloons.
Now that we have talked invitations, colors, activities, favors, lets talk FOOD!
I really enjoy throwing parties, and preparing fun food menus, but lets face it. There are only 24 hours in each day. So, I would rather the party be really cute than have fancy food at the end of the day. Since we now live on the farm, in a small town where I cant just run to a regular store to grab food my options are way more limited than they used to be. My boys both really love pizza, and I feel like most people do! So I wanted to have pizza, but again, with a small pizza chain here as my only option and not wanting to spend a fortune on a couple pizzas (they have the pizza market cornered here and can basically charge what they want) I decided to do take and bake pizzas from Papa Murphy’s. There is one 20 minutes from me, and I picked those up the day before. I ordered some and used a coupon and ended up sending $30 for 4 pizzas! This fed 30 adults and 8 children! I took my pizza cutter and made the slices even smaller, and more snack size since my party wasn’t at a real meal time.
I threw together a quick strawberry salad with candied pecans, crumbled feta, and creamy balsamic dressing from Sprouts, and had popcorn in cute little blue boxes and chips. I put some gatorades (blue and white, I try to stay away from dyes for my kiddos as much as I can) and waters in an ice bucket and thats it!
I REALLY got into baking a few years back when my oldest was about 1, not sure HOW I did this.. but I did. I normally made some really cute, elaborate and fancy decorated sugar cookies but this year I didn’t! I wanted to keep it simple, and low key, while still being festive but didn’t want to completely lose my mind in the process. I will be posting some blogs that detail baking further, it is on my to-do list. Anyway, because I have been baking on and off for 7 years (and started a small business doing it), I feel comfortable tackling some things when I know some people would completely balk at the thought. Like I said, I did NOT want to spend a ton of time making absolutely adorable decorated sugar cookies, only to be devoured in 5 minutes. SO this year, I did NOT do cookies, but did simple cakes decorated with nerf bullets instead!
I could have made these way more elaborate, busted out some fondant, watched some crazy youtube tutorials.. but I DIDN’T! I will create a blog post about how to make these cakes. It was really simple, and since I was basically covering ninety percent of the cake with nerf bullets it was actually pretty forgiving and simple. I used doctored box cake mixes as well. So stay tuned for a post about my FAVORITE buttercream frosting recipe and how to assemble a simple cake like this. Having some basic baking skills can carry you a long way, and if you never try, you will never get better. Plus, I know I saved at least $100 versus going to a bakery and asking for them to create two nerf cakes.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and got some fun ideas to use for your own parties whether it is nerf themed or not. Be sure to subscribe to see my new blog posts, and feel free to share this blog on any of your social media platforms with your friends.