Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party, Part 3 – The Battle

Well, we’ve finally come to the end of this series featuring my 6-year old son’s “army” or “war” party, and I have to thank you all for sticking with me as I have revisited and celebrated this super-fun and special day in my family’s life…

you are literally the best. (said in my best Chris Traeger voice).

So as I told you before, I had the party part of this party down – the menu, the decorations, the vibe – they all came together quite nicely (and thankfully, with little expense). And I knew we were going to have a “war”…

in fact, if you’ll remember, that was how I sold this party to my son in the first place. And I had made  a big, big deal about it. We talked about it nearly every day.

But secretly…I was stumped.

How in the world were we going to actually have this so-called war? With a group of Preschoolers, Kindergarteners and an 8-year old, no less…

So I did what any self-respecting female would do.

I dumped this part of the party on my unsuspecting husband, nonchalantly mentioning that I needed help with this one teensy little bit of the planning.

He accepted the challenge…

but then stalled for weeks.

Secretly, he was stumped, too.

And then, in a stroke of last-minute genius, he called me up with a full list of party game ideas for me to choose from (including the paper airplane activity we also did), and the minute he mentioned the following idea, I knew he had struck gold:

Operation: Rescue Abigail

(Abigail is Gideon’s eldest cousin and beloved friend)

Two teams: bad guys and good guys.

Adults on each team to help the kids.

One prisoner in distress.

Bad guy weapons: big marshmallows dipped in all-purpose flour.

Mission: rescue Abigail (or other prisoner) from the bad guys. If you get hit with a marshmallow (which leaves a huge flour mark on your clothes), you  have to run to the field hospital and get bandaged. Then you can return to the battle.

Could we all just give a round of applause to Mr. Gore for coming up with this awesome game? We played 2 or 3 rounds of it, and it was too. much. fun. Kids this age (at least in my house) love nothing more than tying people up and saving them, playing “doctor”, pretending to be good guys defeating bad guys…my husband somehow incorporated all of Gideon’s favorite pastimes into one awesome party game that made his little 6-year old heart soar. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

For older kids, a capture-the-flag type game would have been ideal, but this game perfectly suited our younger crowd. If you are planning a “war” or “army” party of your own, and have any more questions about the details of this game, please do so in the comments section. I will make sure to get back with you as soon as I get the chance.

Now how about some pictures?…

Gid was in character long before the party began…

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Ready for battle, Katerbelle? Yes, SIR!

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Mr. Gore led the kids in a few pre-battle drills to start off, lining them up…

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and leading them in a rousing rendition of “I’m in the Lord’s Army”. This was a CHRISTIAN war party, mind you…

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Attention!

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jumping jacks…

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Let’s do this thing.

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Our pretty nurses had the hospital ready to go, eager to come to the aid of the wounded once the game commenced…

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First prisoner: Abigail. And the fact that we played several variations of this game with different prisoners was because this fun-loving girl wasn’t content to just be a prisoner. She wanted in on the battle action, too! Her Daddy – the baddest of the bad guys – led her to a tree in the nearby woods to tie her up.

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I now present to you…

Operation: Rescue Abigail, starring Mr. Gore – the goodest of the good guys – and his army of tiny soldiers!!!

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they’ve been spotted and attacked! Run to the hospital! Quick!

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our nurses sprang into action, doing their best to get the soldiers back to the front as soon as possible, giving each soldier a bandage and a candy pill…

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but, with a little teamwork and perseverance, they did it! Good prevailed, and Abigail was rescued.

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and the “good guys” felt like macho superstars.

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Next battle…

Operation: Rescue the Birthday Boy. Mr. Gore was probably very glad to add a quick-as-lighting 8-year old to his team. He rallied his troops, gave them a few tips, and the 2nd battle began…

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(sidenote: can anyone spot my Daddy in the next picture? This is why people use camouflage. It actually works!)

 

 

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and lickety-split, Gideon was saved.

Then, in the scariest and most melodramatic battle of the night (our soldiers and nurses were taking dramatic liberties with the game by this time), our two hospital nurses were taken prisoner by the scariest bad guy in the woods…

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Things got ugly for our soldiers during this battle…

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but our field nurses were so brave and helpful in the face of duty…

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reviving our soldiers on the spot so they could return to battle and save the hospital nurses!

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which they did, right as dusk set in. The hospital nurses were a bit shaken up, but a quick stay at the hospital fixed them right up…

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and I am happy to report that, by the end of all of our battles, every soldier was still accounted for, though they all looked a little more ragged than they had before…

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Our rescue operations…and thus, the biggest part of my son’s party…had been a huge success.

~

A few more notes on our war party:

1. It dawned upon me and Amy both (sometimes we share a brain!) that an activity like this doesn’t have to be saved for a birthday party. This was just a super fun night for all the kids and families involved, and it would have been even easier to throw together if we hadn’t been trying to do birthday cake and presents and spend as much time as possible with the birthday boy. You could do this with so many different themes: spy games, princes and princesses, cowboys and outlaws…the possibilities are extensive. Then, on birthday party days, you could just kick back with your family, have a cake and a few gifts and call it a night. I’ll be mulling this over…

2. I also wanted to tell you that, by the end of the battles, all the kids were congregated at the hospital, playing their little hearts out. It looked like an ant hill. Which means that I will probably be setting up the hospital sometime soon for a fun play day. I’ll share more on that in the future!

3. Thank you again for indulging me for this week-long series and for all the sweet words you’ve shared. I love your comments and encouragement so much and thank God for you, always.

And good news – I have some VERY unbirthday blog posts coming up next week – stay tuned!

~

To read about all the ideas and products that went into this party, click here.

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party, Part 2 – The Party!

So enough with all my blither-blather and product-sharing (if you don’t know what I’m talking about and want to know more about this party, click here)…

let’s get to the PARTY!!

~

For starters, my Daddy loaded a bunch of the kids up at the house and brought them down to the party in his electric Gator. They were so excited…

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even though my Daddy looked like a scary freak. When he told me he was going to wear this camo facemask to the party, I was like ‘Cool! Gid will love it!”…but then when I saw him I was like “Dude. You have NO idea how scary you look…” Still yet…Gid DID love it, and it didn’t seem to traumatize any of the other children.

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Booya. See the girl on the left there? A REAL nurse from the 1940’s come to our party. Or at least that’s what the kids thought…

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And so this is the part of the blog where I need to stop for a minute to give HUGE props to Mackenzie, a beautiful, precious, sweet, kind, secretly hilarious (she’s so quiet but has the funniest dry wit in the world) young lady in our church. How many 16-year old’s would give up their Friday night to administer bandages and candy pills to a group of hyped-up little kids, faithfully wearing the nurse’s dress that you pulled out of your dress-up stash in the attic? Thankfully, I know at least one…

(and I thank God for her!)

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Speaking of dress-up clothes, Amy made the coolest shirts for her girls (and one for the birthday boy!), using bleach. I wish I could instruct you further, but…that’s all I know. And it’s too late to call her. Amy, if you’re reading this, could you leave a comment at the bottom of this post and tell us how you made these awesome black party shirts?…

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Once they arrived at the party site, we let the kids make and decorate paper airplanes. The plan was to then have a contest to see whose could fly the best, but it was wayyyyyy to windy…

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this was still good busywork, though, and kept them happily occupied while we finished setting everything up.

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My niece, Kate Belle just hanging out and…being Kate Belle. We love us some Kate Belle.

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As the kids finished up their airplanes, Amy started working on their camo face paint…

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I think this was probably Gid’s favorite part about the party. He is constantly donning costumes and playing different characters and to actually look like a soldier…

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well, he probably didn’t realize it until it actually took place, but this must have been like a dream come true for him.

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Which is what birthdays are all about, right?

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The girls were a little…creative…with their facepaint. Anna is the prettiest soldier-kitten I’ve ever seen…

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And please excuse me for a bit while I drown in some Rebekah Sunday cuteness.

My eldest daughter was born to be a nurse – she has been ministering to our family since before her 1st birthday (I’m not exaggerating), and when we decided to do the Red Cross field hospital, it was unanimous that she would help Mackenzie tend to our wounded soldiers. She ate it up! And I ate HER up! Please join me in a moment of appreciative silence as we observe the following series of pictures…

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Sigh. I love her.

And time for another shout-out, this time to my amazing Grandmother, Janice. It was so special to have her visiting us during Gideon’s birthday, and it was an honor to have her working in our chow line during his party. By the way, she is an actual nurse – the best in the world – and was actually around during actual WWII. Let me know if you would like her autograph.

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It is important to note that between the face painting and chow time, we had our first battle. I decided to share all of those pictures tomorrow in their own post, but you’ll notice that everyone is bandaged up and battle-worn now. And hungry!!!

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My soldier-boy. SIX years old. (but I’m still baby-talking to him with my mind right now…goochie goo).

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I interrupt the flow of this post to show you my wide-awake, always-happy, precious little nephew, Abel. If you want to pinch those little baby cheeks, you’re going to have to get in line…

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And here he is, fast asleep. “Fatigued”. Amy…after you share your shirt tutorial, could you also tell us where you found that onesie? And then tell us the truth…how does it really feel to be a Supermom/aunt/sister-in-law?

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Before we wrapped up, Amy took a couple of pictures of our dirty, tired, sticky, battle-weary family…

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And here’s one of me and my gal…

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As dusk approached, Gideon hauled his presents back up to the house for the last part of his party…

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He opened his gifts at the same table I used to open mine at…

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and I brought him his old-school-looking soldier cake (my eldest brother assured me this was an essential part of growing up for a little boy)…

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just like my Mama has always done for me.

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Happy Birthday, little soldier! I’ll always keep the home fires (or at least the birthday candles) burning for you…

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~

And finally…the 3rd and final installment…”The Battle”…coming up tomorrow!

(Read Part Three here)

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party – The Components

I thought I would start this “war” party series (read the “prequel” here!) by sharing all of the decorations, ideas and products in one place so you can have easy access to links and inspiration, should you ever choose to host your own WWII party.

You know…cause lots of people have WWII parties.

(awkward silence).

Anyhow, let’s get started!

About an hour and a half before the party, Amy and I (but mostly Amy) painted this huge sign on the back porch at my parent’s house. We used brown craft paper, poster paint, and foam paint brushes. By the way, she free-handed this, my insanely talented sister-in-law.

Once it was dry, my Mom and I drove down to the party site by the creek to hang it up. There was only one problem: Oklahoma wind. Sweeeeeeepin’ down the plain. We couldn’t even hang this sign where we wanted to (it was so windy, we couldn’t even get it in the air, let alone fasten it!) and had to rearrange the entire pavilion area to accommodate it. Even then, it still tore (razzle frazzle…), but Amy saved the day with lots of tape and thumbtacks. She’s a genius, and my party sidekick for life.

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

Other than the torn poster, the “Mess Hall” was decorated with vintage-inspired patriotic elements, authentic WWII helmets and ammo boxes, our typical galvanized tubs and cake stands, old metal pans and colanders, and vintage recruiting posters. I will share links to many of the products we used at the end of this post.

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

We tried to keep things simple and to at least pay homage to the authentic. You could really go nuts and buy lots of disposable camo and/or army stuff for a party like this – but a roll of white paper towels, and some disposable baking pans from Wal-Mart absolutely did the trick. Our biggest conundrum, however, was HOW to hide Crock-pots. At our remote-ish location, Crock-pots were the only way to keep the food warm, but we just couldn’t bear the thought of them being on the serving table. Amy came up with the winning solution by wrapping diaper boxes in craft paper and cutting holes in the top – this is the stuff that just cracks me up about our parties…my Grandmother, visiting for the week, thought we were absolutely nuts! But I’m sure that Mess Halls in the ’40’s served ALL of their food out of paper-wrapped diaper boxes. Right? Right?…

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

Forks were kept handy in washed tin cans that had their labels removed…we were going to use these for drinking vessels, but my Mom kept cutting her fingers on them, so we scrapped that idea.

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

The menu was simple and easy and, again, at least payed homage to the authentic. We had to find a way to tip our caps to what a soldier might eat during WWII while still actually feeding our guests, many of whom were under the age of 6. We settled on little smokies, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, and a variety of cookies. And two days before the party, I discovered that there is such a thing as gummi army men – I had to throw them on the menu at the last minute (p.s. I love you Amazon Prime!). They looked like funny green beans in the colander I served them in, so I took one out to take a picture, just for you! (I just thought you should know that I’m thinking of you guys, even when I’m partying and windblown and frazzled).

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

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Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

Here are a few pictures of the other side of the “Mess Hall”. Gideon received this medic bag for Christmas, and it is such a nice bag for an extremely reasonable price. He stores all of his Nerf ammo in it on a normal day, but on WWII party day, it served as decor!

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

And these are some of the vintage recruiting posters I printed off from an image search online. I printed them on white cardstock and taped them to a red photo matte from Hobby Lobby. So cheap and easy, and now I’m not stuck with 5 red picture frames that I don’t need. Or 5 huge war posters, for that matter!

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And…my personal favorite part of the entire party…the part that I dreamed of at night and squealed about when it became a reality…was the Red Cross station, where wounded soldiers (during our “war” game – I’ll share more on that later this week) came to get bandaged before returning to the front lines…

Everything you need to know about throwing a vintage "army" or "war" party for a little boy - products, ideas, menu, playlist - its all here!

My husband and I (yes, he is a very selfless and amazing man) made the Red Cross backdrop the night before the party with a large canvas drop cloth, 2 yards of red felt fabric, and fabric adhesive. He used his math skills to perfectly measure and cut out the cross for me – I seriously could not have made this without him!

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And an old white rolling cart from our pantry held all of our medical supplies, including a first aid kit full of gauze bandages and bandaids, and 3 jars that (eventually) held candy “pills”. This station was a huge, huge hit. The kids loved it! (Which you’ll see in the days to come – I have lots of pictures to share).

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~

And here are some links to products that we used (all of which I highly endorse) for the party. Click on the pictures to be directed to these products at Amazon:

1. As our little guests first began to arrive, to fill in the time as we waited for everyone to get there, Amy painted faces for me with camo “make-up”. After doing a lot of research, this product seemed like the best choice, and I am SO glad we went with it. It went on so easily, dried fast (but not hard and crackly), stayed put, and was pretty easy to remove with wet wipes.

2. The gummy army men were too fun! Even the adults loved them and were happy to take some home. They are green apple flavored and very yummy. To purchase 5 lbs. of these at a local candy store, it would have cost me $45. When I bought them at Amazon, they cost less than $10.

3. The Red Cross medicine box I used for the “hospital” is one that we already owned and store all of our kids doctor toys and costumes in. I love it, and think it looks so cute in our nursery. I originally saw this at Land of Nod for $40, but did a little digging and found it at Amazon for about $25. Score!

4. We also used this metal First Aid kit for our field hospital, made by the same company as the Red Cross box – at home, it actually holds all of our medicine, kept pretty safe by the latches (the other box does not securely latch – that’s why we use it for toys!).

5. And the green striped paper straws were a must-have for our camo-faced soldiers to sip their lemonade with – these were nice and sturdy, and didn’t dissolve in liquid like some do.

6. And here’s a link to that pretty awesome medic bag I showed you above (or you can purchase it here at our favorite boy’s adventure store). It’s crazy how thick and sturdy it is, and it only costs about $12:

And here are just a couple of gift ideas…

1. Can you believe that there is a sticker book ALL about World War II? I was shocked. My son LOVED it, but be prepared…it led to a lot of questions. But those led to some pretty great discussions about war and sin and “bad guys”…

2. Gideon received this Ammo box full of army men for his birthday and has played with it nonstop. This is an awesome toy for a little boy!

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3. Just stop it with the cuteness already! I can’t handle anymore. Army men bookends. I don’t know what else to say.

If you have any questions about anything else you saw in the pictures, feel free to ask. I don’t get to respond to all my blog comments, but I do try to answer product questions, because I love to help you guys find what you are looking for!

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One last thing! I’m still trying to figure out how to share a playlist on here, but until then, here is just a typed-out list of the “vintage” soldier songs we had playing in the Mess Hall. These will also come in handy on the 4th of July and in our future homeschool classes:

  • “Over There” by Arthur Fields
  • “When Johnny Come Marching Home” by The Folksingers
  • “What Can You Do With a General?” by Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin
  • “Marines’ Hymn” by Johnny Desmond
  • “Yankee Doodle Dandy” by Gene Autry
  • “(There’s Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” by Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra
  • “Keep the Homefires Burning” by Buddy Clark
  • “You’re a Grand Old Flag” by James Cagney, Walter Huston, Rosemary DeCamp and Jeanne Cagney
  • “G.I. Jive” by Johnny Mercer
  • “The Battle Cry of Freedom” by Tom Glazer
  • “The Old Man/Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army” by Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, and Danny Kaye
  • “I’ll Be Seeing You” by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra
  • “Song of Freedom” by Bing Crosby
  • “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by The Andrews Sisters
  • “Comin’ In on a Wing and a Prayer” by The Song Spinners
  • “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” by Johnny Desmond

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Phew! I know that was a LOT to share, but I’ll be so happy if it helps any of you along in the planning stages of your future parties. Thanks for sticking with me! Stay tuned for more “war” party pictures!

(See Part Two here).