Yesterday was Ben’s 9th Birthday Party, a Percy Jackson and the Olympian’s Party. Unless you are currently in elementary or junior high school you may have never heard of Percy Jackson… it is a wonderful series of books about a young unlikely hero and Greek Mythology come to life in the modern age. My husband Drew has read all 5 books aloud to Ben, who listened with rapt attention and loved them.
When his birthday rolled around he asked for a Percy Jackson party. Well you can’t just run down to the local party store and buy Percy Jackson party supplies… they don’t exist, you have to “Make it Do” the party instead. I have to admit to being stumped for a while. But after going through all the adventures in the books, I came up with a few ideas.
I love to have a craft, 2-3 games or activities and food.
The invitations for the party were a simple scroll printed from my computer onto parchment paper and rolled from both sides, then tied with a small gold ribbon- easy and very inexpensive.
We started Ben’s party by giving the boys foam swords to play with while we waited for all the guests to arrive. I intended to make swords using pool noodles and PVC pipe, but after going to three stores I gave up on the pool noodles, everything was sold out. But I found a good deal on the swords. And I’ll tell you what, 8 and 9 year old boys know what to do when given a sword. My advice is to keep out of their way!
Once every one had arrived, I started the craft. I usually do the craft first to give time for the paint or glue to dry before the kids take it home. The kids made Greek Hoplite shields out of black foam board and gold paint. The board was nice and stiff and could take a hit from the swords. I was able to get all the boards using a 40% off coupon. I used a large bowl from my kitchen to trace a large circle on the back of the board. Then I cut it out with a sharp Exacto knife. Cardboard spray painted black would work wonderfully and be less expensive. You could also use poster board, but it would not feel as much like a real shield.
Once the boys were done painting and the paint was dry, my mom hot glued two strips cut from poster board to the back, so the shield could be slipped over the arm and held.
The next activity was a treasure hunt with clues. There’s a clue from Poseidon in the sharks mouth above.
Here’s an example of one of the clues:There’s much to fear in Hades’ home for in his kingdom The dead do roam Descend, descend to darkest black If you survive A clue bring back.
OK so I’m not a poet, but the kids loved the clues. This one took them to took them to my basement, where I had decorated with all my best and spookiest Halloween decorations… skeletons, ghosts and chains. The kids had to toss a Drachma (fake gold Greek coin) from a small distance into a cauldron before they could descend into Hades (their payment to cross the River Styx.)
The favorite clue was hidden in balloons attached to our dart board. I had also covered the dart board in a picture of Medusa. With careful supervision the boys threw darts at the balloons (one at a time of course) and then at Medusa when all the balloons were gone. Those boys loved the darts, they kept wanting more turns and loved when they could hit her in the eye or one of the snakes.
The final clue took them to a sword that could kill the Minotaur (the pinata.) I could not find a Minotaur pinata or anything else remotely Greek Mythology monsterish, so I bought a sweet long lashed cow pinata, ripped it’s poor eyes off and put red angry eyes on and horns made by rolling up black foamies and gluing them on with hot glue. He looked sufficiently mean to barely pass as the Minotaur after that.
The boys all became heroes after “killing” the Minotaur and they received their gold laurel wreath crowns. Then it was on to cake and ice cream.
Since in the books, Percy’s mom makes him blue food on special occasions, we had blue cake with blue frosting (from a Betty Crocker White Cake mix with blue food coloring added) and blue sprinkles. I added a figurine of Poseidon on top. The cake could not have been easier… I could have made it fancier with piping and sea shells and such, but time permitted. Thank heavens for Poseidon! We also had blue ice cream and blue Koolaid.
After Ben opened gifts, I made sure to get a photo of each boy in their party gear to send with a thank you note. Ben get’s to write the notes today… otherwise I’ll forget!
We all had a great time, even me. I loved using things I had for decorations and activities (I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt in my own home) and getting creative. I love to throw parties… and hope my kids will want them for at least a few more years to come. After that I am starting a party planning business just so I can keep throwing them… well not really…
After multiple requests I am reluctantly posting all my clues to the scavenger hunt. I wrote them in a hurry the night before the party and they they are not really in any kind of true rhyming format… but luckily the kids didn’t notice or care. So here they are:
Percy Jackson Scavenger Hunt:
The first clue was in a shark’s mouth on the table where the boys made their shields.
Look above, beyond the wall
In the sky Zeus rules all
Climb to his realm and do not fall
If you’re lucky you’ll feel no jolt
From Zeus’ mighty Lightning Bolt
This clue took the boys to our wooden play center, which has a climbing wall. The roof of the play center was hung with about 20 or so lightening bolts, made from poster board and construction paper hung at different lengths with blue curled ribbon. One of the lightening bolts had the next clue taped on the back.
There’s much to fear in Hades’ home
for in his Kingdom
The dead do roam
Descend, descend to darkest black
And if you survive
A clue bring back
This clue took the kids to the stairwell of the basement. Before descending into the darkened basement, I placed a wide piece of blue bulletin board paper in front of the stairs (the River Styx.) I placed a plastic cauldron right at the top of the stairs. I had a pile of plastic gold coins for the boys. They needed to flip a coin into the cauldron as a payment Charon to cross the River Styx. Once all the boys landed a coin the cauldron, they crossed the “River” and went down the stairs. The darkened basement was decorated with skeletons, skulls, chains, etc. from my Halloween décor. The next clue was hidden in the mouth of a skull.
Ares is the god of war
He loves to fight
And not much more
He’s hidden a clue in orbs of gold
To find them out, you must be bold
So take his weapons
And throw them well
Within the orbs a clue may tell
This clue took the boys back outside where I had set up our dartboard with gold balloons taped all over it. I would definitely use small sized water balloons next time, as the large ones were too easy. A clue was rolled up inside one of the balloons and when a dart hit the balloon the clue burst out. Under the balloons was a picture of Medusa, printed from the Internet. After the clue was found the boys all took turns trying to hit her with the darts. They loved this station. Here’s the clue:
The Goddess Athena
will Always help the wise
You must seek her weapon
that is small and black in size
When you meet the minotaur
the weapon you will need
to find the treasure, you’ve come far
strike him dead and you’ll succeed
I hid this last clue with a large owl decoration I have. I asked the boys which animal represented Athena and to my surprise a few of them knew. Then they went searching for the owl. Next to the owl was a heavy plastic sword that the boys were going to use on the piñata and their sacks to fill the treasure. The boys then headed over the Minotaur piñata. Once they piñata was broken the boys all received their gold laurel wreaths because they were now heroes, having completed all their tasks.