On Saturday, we celebrated Jack’s 8th birthday – Skylanders style! We had nine games and several themed treats. If I had more time, I would’ve loved to have done more with this theme… but for a busy mom on a budget, I think I did pretty well. The kids certainly enjoyed it!
I decided on one game for each element: water, fire, earth, air, magic, tech, life and undead. These games used similar items and I was able to complete all of these games for a reasonable price. I spent about $25 on these games (not including prizes) and could’ve easily spent less. To save money, I purchased all the balloons in a large package and used many items I already had – such as a stroller box, ribbon, glue, chalk, water bottles, etc. However, I have listed the price per game as if I’d had to acquire those items and I wasn’t buying them together.
My intention was to create a booklet necklace for each child that could be stamped at the conclusion of each game. Turns out, I’m nowhere near that organized and the booklets were never made. Since our crowd was age 8 and younger, I don’t know if the booklets would’ve worked out very well anyway.
Water Element: Slam Bam’s Ice Prison Smash
ITEMS USED: Balloons, Treasure
TOTAL COST: $6
This, I think, was the best game of all. Everyone loved it! Each of the frozen balls on the table contained an equal amount of shiny plastic treasures. The children had to retrieve their treasure, which they were allowed to take home, by smashing their ice block to bits!
Because of the age of our crowd, I made several modifications to the original idea by Amy Bowerman (at PluckingDaisies.com). She made a single large ice block and created elaborate, gorgeous winged sapphires for this game.
With children ranging in age from 3 to 8, I was afraid that there would be squabbling or even injury as the children fought for the opportunity to surround and attack the single ice block. Instead, I stuffed an equal amount of treasure into 13 balloons, which I then filled with water. I propped those balloons up in my freezer until they were completely solid. To ensure solidification, I prepared the frozen water balloons two days in advance. Just before we played, I removed the balloons from the balls. So easy!
When I make these again (it’s inevitable – it was so much fun!), I will prepare them in the morning so that I can rotate the balloons more frequently throughout the day. Hopefully this will help the treasures spread throughout the ice instead of clumping together in a large chunk like they did when I froze them overnight.
Since I was short on time, I also kept our treasures much simpler. I purchased a bag of table scatter gems from Wal-Mart.
Fire Element: Hot Dog’s Hidden Treasures
ITEMS USED: Leftover Treasure
TOTAL COST: $0
They’re all searching for treasures in the grass!
If I was hosting this party at my own home or if I’d had more time, this game would’ve been Hot Dog’s Hidden Treasures. I would’ve buried the treasures in terra cotta pots or even in plastic pails. However, I didn’t have enough time and I’d already overshot my budget a bit. Regardless, the children enjoyed this game – especially since they were allowed to keep the treasures they found!
Using the same gems that I used for the Water Element game above, my sister-in-law scattered the treasures in the grass for the children to find. Just like that – so easy! Since we used the leftover treasure from the water element game, there was no extra cost, either!
Since we had a wide variety of ages and abilities, we designated special rules to ensure that the youngest child could still have fun. Three-year-old Joe lacked the attention span or ability to scour the grass like the older kids, so his treasures were hidden in obvious places. To keep the other children from taking his treasures, we used a specific color for Joe’s gems and told the other children that they could not collect treasures of that color.
This was one of Joe’s treasures. The older children were searching through the grass.
Earth Element: Dinorang Toss
ITEMS USED: Chalk, wooden stick
TOTAL COST: $1
I couldn’t find many ideas for an Earth element game, so I used Dinorang Toss from this Instructables guide. We drew a chalk target on the patio and let the children take aim with a boomerang-shaped wooden stick.
For some reason, I didn’t get a single picture of this activity. Not sure why! The children loved this simple game because it was the first one where prizes were awarded!
Air Element: Boom Jet’s Bombs
ITEMS USED: Balloons
TOTAL COST: $1
She loved this game!
This was a basic Skylanders-stylized game of “keep the balloon in the air.” The person who kept their balloon from touching the ground the longest was awarded first place. We had second place, third place, etc. Everyone lined up in order of their success and was given a prize – but the winners selected their prizes first.
If I hadn’t already chosen a piñata style game for another activity, I probably would have used the Warnado’s Dizzy Spin Attack game recommended on Instructables.
Magic Element: Ninjini’s Magic Potion
ITEMS USED: Water bottles, individual drink mix packets
TOTAL COST: $9
The kids loved this – finally, something they could eat!
The children loved making “magic potions” out of water bottles and individual drink mix packets. Since we used Costco water bottles that we already had, we purchased a variety of drink mix packets for the kids to choose from. They loved being able to choose – and they especially loved being able to drink their potion after all the running around they’d just done!
I printed out special labels for the water bottles, too.
Tech Element: Trigger Happy’s Shooting Game
ITEMS USED: Box, Nerf gun, Spray Paint (optional)
TOTAL COST: $10
This was the birthday boy’s favorite game.
For this game, I mutilated the box from my stroller and spray painted it gold. I also purchased a new Nerf gun that could shoot discs into the target. Since my children and I have a standing agreement that their birthday party is their birthday present from me, Jack was thrilled that we purchased a new toy for this game.
Ideally, I’d wanted to purchase a ball-shooting gun like the one used by Amy Bowerman at Plucking Daisies. I scoured the Dollar Store and other stores but couldn’t find one anywhere! So I settled on the Nerf gun. I didn’t even buy it until about midnight the night before the party, so I didn’t have the chance to paint it gold, either. I was bummed – but the kids didn’t seem to care!
It’s important to point out that this game could easily have been put together for free. If my sons had actually been able to find the guns they already own, we could’ve used those. The box was something I already had and I could’ve opted not to paint it. If your budget is more restrictive than mine, don’t despair – there are plenty of ways to save on these games!
Life Element: Stomp Smash’s Sheep Smash
ITEMS USED: Balloons, ribbon
… and the chase is on!
This was another favorite game that was surprisingly simple to create.
To prepare, I cut ribbons into 18-24 inch strips. I tied a knot in one end (to stop the ribbon from fraying and falling apart) and then tied this end around a balloon. In the other end, I tied a knot to create a small loop. By pulling the ribbon through the loop, I created a loop that could be stretched over a foot and tightened around an ankle. It was easy to attach and remove – which was a good thing, because the balloons were popped quickly and everyone wanted their balloons swapped out quickly!
Obviously, the last person with a not-popped balloon was declared the winner. This was hard to determine, though, because we had so many extras that children were changing their balloons out constantly until we ran out.
I was concerned at first about potential injuries, so I encouraged the older children to play together and the younger children to play together. Of course, there were some trips and falls – and some tears when balloons were popped – but everyone seemed to enjoy it overall.
Undead Element: Hex’s Head Hunt
ITEMS USED: Balloons, paper strips, glue
I had originally intended to make small piñatas for each child, so I began wrapping balloons in pmâché. I finished three of them before I realized that making 15 would take far too much time. I abandoned the piñata idea and instead used these balloons for Hex’s head hunt!
We simply drew some faces on the balloons and hid them around the house. Each child was allowed to find only one, since there weren’t enough to go around. The three winners were awarded prizes.
Again, I somehow missed a picture of this activity as well.
BONUS GAME: Chompie Smash!
ITEMS USED: Balloons, candies
After my failed attempt at making those 15 piñatas, I decided that inflated balloons was the easiest way to go. Each green balloon was filled with an equal assortment of candies before it was inflated. The children then popped their Chompies to gather their treasures!
The boomerang from Dinorang Toss was the favored method of Chompie destruction.
The prizes we awarded varied by the game.
For games with many winners, like Boom Jet’s Bombs, we passed out Skylanders Swap Force trading cards and allowed the children who had won to select their cards first. I would not recommend this method to parties with very young children. While the older kids enjoyed their cards, the younger kids abandoned them and they were eventually destroyed.
For other games, we distributed Skylanders Swap Force rings or even Skylanders Swap Force dog tags. The dog tags and rings were the best prizes we used, although they were more expensive. Although I’ve provided links to Amazon for your convenience, I did find better prices for the dog tags at our local Fred Meyer.
The treasure we used for the water element and fire element games were also awarded to the children as prizes.