Posts Tagged With: children’s parties

The Great Doctor Who Party: 2016 edition (part two)

We’ll start with this.

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Well, he’s nine years old, right?

This is a simple sponge cake covered in icing. A notable exception is the head, which is made from Rice Krispie bars – we couldn’t have supported a sponge head with that neck (we couldn’t anyway, but we’ll get to that). Here’s the exoskeleton shot.

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Things went a little awry with this one. Emily had prepared (and iced) the head the night before, much the same as the one you can see in the top photo, simply to give her less to do on the day. Which was fine until we got to the next morning and discovered that the grey icing had turned dark green overnight, leaving the poor old dog looking rather like a disembodied zombie. Emily hastily constructed another layer – “but I’m not happy with it,” she said.

“No one will notice,” I replied. “And if it makes you feel any better, the original K-9 had several different models, and they were all slightly different.”

The other problem we had was the fact that the new, heavier head – consisting as it does of two layers – was now too heavy for the neck to support it, so Emily hastily constructed a glowing sculpture out of Lite Brix. You may accordingly insert your own head canon explanation of exactly what he’s choosing to rest his chin upon.

While all this was happening, Edward was watching Wallace and Gromit, having developed something of a fascination for it in recent weeks. It’s curious, of course, that the co-writer for most of the stories is none other than Bob Baker, something that would eventually become significant during their last animated film, A Matter of Loaf and Death, which opens with the murder of a local man who goes by the name of Baker Bob.

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They really should have had him baking a K-9 cake. Or at least a TARDIS. That would have worked.

Anyway, let’s get a look at the buffet.

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If you want to know what all these are, you’ll find them on the entry for the 2012 edition. We didn’t change very much – even the labels are the same – and the only addition was ‘Party Rings of Akhaten’ – it’s an episode that’s unfairly maligned, and it’s such an obvious joke. (Party rings, by the way, hold the record in our house for being the only snack food to vanish from the table faster than the barbecue Pringles.)

In the meantime, here are some close-ups. You will note that the Angel has its face covered, as a concession to Daniel, who finds them terrifying and who had to leave the room during the Lego Dimensions playthrough. (Needless to say I have yet to stick him in front of ‘Blink’.)

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We mentioned party bags in the previous installment – while the kids were eating, Emily went to fill them. We’d got lucky: the books turned up in a charity shop a matter of days before the event. Oh, and the paper bag’s full of jelly babies. Obviously.

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So it all went swimmingly, but I have a feeling that this won’t be the last Doctor Who themed party we’re asked to do. It won’t be for a year or two, but Daniel is likely to be next. I’m already half-planning the games, and Emily has probably had vague thoughts about the cake. Maybe we can persuade him to have a Weeping Angel.

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The Great Doctor Who Party: 2016 edition (part one)

“Der-DER-DER-DER-DER-DER…”

That noise? That’s Edward, singing the theme from The X-Files. He picked it up from Thomas, who picked it up from YouTube, from a bloody Minecraft video. There is an Illuminati symbol on the screen somewhere (don’t ask me how they did this; god knows everything in Minecraft is essentially cubic), accompanied by the theme from The X-Files. Since viewing this Thomas has become convinced that the adventures of Mulder and Scully are in fact a documented history of the Illuminati, which (as any fan will tell you) is only half true.  He began to ask about it with the sort of regularity that young children usually save for requesting mileage counts on six-hour car journeys. I almost throttled him several times. I thought the pictures of Glastonbury Grove would be enough, but it was like feeding a heroin addict. He absolutely refused to accept that the secrecy behind the Illuminati is precisely what makes them tick. “I can’t tell you what happens,” I said to Thomas, “or who’s involved, or what they do, because they’ve made it their life’s work to make sure we don’t find out.”

Oh, there are conspiracy theories, if you know where to look, but I left them untouched. Or at least I did, until the day (back in March) that he told us he wanted an Illuminati-themed birthday party. My heart dropped fifteen fathoms and I had to send out the deep sea recovery team. I mean, I’m always up for a challenge, but what the hell do you do for something like this? Still: nothing ventured, nothing gained: if nothing else it would be an adventure. We began the first stages of research: sourced logos, symbols, looked for triangular-themed foods and crafts. My friends on Facebook were disturbingly helpful. I even did this, at Thomas’s suggestion.

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Five weeks before the event his enthusiasm waned overnight. “I don’t want an Illuminati-themed birthday party any more,” he declared one Saturday over lunch. “I want a Doctor Who party instead.”

Well. This is good. This is, for want of better terminology than the sort I despise, entirely my comfort zone. Because we did it, several years back, and I blogged it in a series of posts that made various Pinterest boards and which are, even now, the most popular result in the stats, by a significant margin. More popular than that Scrabble ranking post I did the other week. More popular, even, than ‘Why the Weeping Angels are rubbish‘. I mean, I don’t know why this is, particularly. We did a good job, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who did it better. Maybe it was the food, which I’ll talk about in part two, because I don’t want this to veer into TL:DR territory.

Enough rambling – let’s get on. We used the same invitations we used last time, suitably adapted, with new Doctors and a bleached background. I’d have pasted it here, but Fireworks is being weird this morning and the version I’m uploading is illegible. I really should use a better picture of the Cybermen if Daniel wants this theme in a couple of years ago. Those metal robot things are just pretenders to the throne.

Our birthday parties have become distressingly formulaic over recent years. The Troughton era practically invented the base-under-siege thing, or at least held a monopoly on it – we tend to go for the noisy game / less noisy game / craft activity / codebreaking game / noisy game approach, as this is the best way to keep them engaged and pique their interest without tiring them out. The net result of this is that all our parties are essentially the same, with as many concessions to the theme as we can include, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At least it’s a bit more imaginative than the bouncy-castle-in-the-sports-centre thing that everyone else in the entire country seems to do these days.

Those games, then. We started with Grandmother’s Footsteps, which I turned into Weeping Angel Footsteps. I don’t think I even need to explain that. There are two default poses: Face-in-Hands Angel and Scary Angel. I am still getting over some of their scary angels. For a bunch of children who haven’t watched ‘Blink’, they’re pretty terrifying.

Next was Pin The Arm On The Cyberman. Earlier in the week I’d printed this – A4 sheets pasted onto a roll of craft paper:

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You will note that everyone is lacking in at least one appendage: Missy is missing a head, the Mire has lost its gun-toting left arm, the Angel has had its wings clipped and the Dalek is going to be in a right mess if it needs to unblock a sink. But that’s OK, because here come a bunch of primary school children, armed with the Blu-Tack. By the end of the game, it looked like this:

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I should have spun them round a bit first after I made them close their eyes. They were all just a bit too good – particularly Josh, who managed to get the Dalek plunger precisely in place with no effort at all. I do find it amusing that the Minotaur now has one of the Zygon’s legs, which – owing to the fact that it’s visible up to the hip – makes the interstellar monster look rather like it’s ballet dancing. (Missy, meanwhile, looks as if she’s in the last chapter of The Twits.)

Next was the Corners game, for which we were confined to the lounge, as the rain had made the garden inaccessible. I’d cut posters out of Thomas’s old Doctor Who Adventures magazines (with his permission – “It’s fine, because they’re all pretty old”) and stuck them on doors and walls around the room –

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– and the kids had to dance around the lounge (to ELO, which was the only appropriately jolly music I could lie my hands on with a Whovian connection), preferably without smashing anything, choosing a corner to run to when I paused the CD player. Meanwhile, Emily had printed these:

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You get a sweet if I pick your corner, and if I pick the Doctor everyone gets a sweet. As with pass-the-parcel, it is all hopelessly engineered. It’s the only way to avoid the tantrums.

Everyone was ready for a rest after that, and I needed to prepare the last game now that I knew we would be doing it inside. Emily usually arranges the craft activity, and on this occasion she did a make-your-own-party-bag thing. We’d done it with great success at the CBeebies party we held years back, but on this occasion –

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And no, they’re not bigger on the inside. This is a plain blue (TARDIS blue?) bag – you can get them off Ebay. Emily cut out lighter blue squares to simulate the panelling, and I found these:

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At full size it fits – just about – in a Word document, if you whack down the margins, which makes for easier printing.

While the kids were cutting and sticking, I was running around pinning up our last game. We usually do a Code-break of some sort – find the letter to match the symbol to unscramble the message – but on this occasion I’d managed to get hold of a 2016 Doctor Who calendar for a knock-down price (given that it’s now the middle of May, and who on earth is going to want to buy a 2016 calendar when half the months are already gone? Oh, that’s right.).

Normally for these games we just randomly paste pictures all over the place, but “on this occasion,” I told them, “I want you to do this in a specific order.” I’d cut out the dates from a spare page of the calendar and written a letter on each, like so –

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So you write down that letter, and the number in the corner of the box is the Doctor you have to find next. Starting with the War Doctor (who is unnumbered), the sequence had them darting around the house trying to find each Doctor in succession, in an entirely random order. The tricky part was finding a thirteen letter word or phrase that was semi-interesting without being inaccessible for a bunch of children who (by and large) were unfamiliar with the show pre-2005, if they were familiar with it at all, but in the end I settled for –

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(The ‘Y’, of course, is on Capaldi, the last Doctor in the sequence; I drew his directly onto the sheet.)

I’m sure you can make some sort of connection between Baker and Pertwee and Pertwee and Tennant and Tennant and McCoy and so on, but I wasn’t thinking about that. Although I’d like to see the fan fiction. Besides, going with a Weeping Angel quote fits thematically, “Because,” as Emily said, “it’s like the Doctor’s message. You know, it’s scrambled through time.”

That was when we got into a discussion about the ‘Blink’ message. IIRC it appeared on the series 3 box set, possibly even as an actual Easter Egg, but we agreed that it might have been more fun if the BBC had brokered a deal with various other distribution companies and inserted it in seventeen completely random and seemingly unrelated DVDs, just for the fun of it. “Because basically,” she said, “when it’s a Doctor Who DVD, you sort of expect it. I’d love to have seen other people react to something entirely random, with no context and no idea where it came from.”

“Thing is,” I said, “to work effectively as a marketing campaign it’d have to be completely removed in terms of association or subject matter. I mean DVDs that wouldn’t be owned by anyone who’d have watched the show. What sort of DVD would never in a million years be bought by a Doctor Who fan?”

She thought for a moment and said “Doctor Who: The Movie?”

Next time: Cake. Because cake.

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The Great Doctor Who Party (i)

I will post food pictures tomorrow; I’m still optimising them. Suffice to say it was a success: thirteen children running riot round an Oxfordshire bungalow. One of the visiting sprogs has a two-tier volume setting: window-shattering and avalanche-inducing. My ears bled, but it was fun. I am paying the price for the late nights – plus my body appeared to have been holding out against the sickness bug doing the rounds in our family until the last child had gone home, at which point I was ready to collapse.

Anyway, despite things going swimmingly we were rather disappointed that the puzzle sheets I spent ages preparing went somewhat under the radar:

(The 910-year-old thing is a source of contention, of course, given that the Doctor says his current age is 1103 – more of that below – but it was a catchy title.)

I’d sourced a mixture of online materials and scanned magazine pieces (even going so far as to rewrite half the word search when Gareth pointed out that the author had misspelled Gallifrey), but no one did them – they were having too much fun with the Slitheen! Likewise the colouring pages – there were 72 of them, and by the end of the party there were 71, Daniel having decided to turn a Cyberman bright orange and pink, which improved it immeasurably. Considerably more successful were the laminated cards I prepped, having figured out that while a considerable number of generally culture-aware children were coming to our house to attend a Doctor Who party, their own knowledge of the show – based on what I hear in the playground – is somewhat limited. (Joshua knows all about it, of course, but he’s the son of two self-confessed geeks. He never really stood a chance.)

So I typed up a series of flash cards (all right, they’re not exactly flash cards, given that you have to stop and read them, but you get the point) and sat in front of a laminator the other evening, and this was the result.

The finished item.

(I would never be so bold as to presume you would, but if anyone wants the source material for this lot, get in touch with me and we can talk about it.)

I make no apology for the occasional factual error or inconsistency or ambiguity (the Doctor’s age, for example, which is such a source of debate that it’s not worth arguing about – you might as well pluck a figure out of the air, or at least make an educated guess) – I did the thing in a hurry. Gareth was invaluable in clearing up some of it but any mistakes in there are mine. Besides, the intended audience was seven. They’re not going to question, or at least if they do and you turn out to be wrong they won’t leave three paragraphs of inflammatory abuse on your blog.

Then we stuck them in here.

The party bag designs were Emily’s idea. I knew all those old issues of Doctor Who Adventures would come in useful…

(Update 29 June: the second (and final) part is now available – foody goodness awaits!)

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The often-lethal Mercurian boomerang spoon

In other news: Joshua wants a Doctor Who-themed birthday party.

I am excited. It’s not until June, but any excuse to start planning, right? There will be pin-the-tail-on-the-werewolf. There will be a puppet show, almost certainly with Ice Warriors. There will be costumes. I will probably go as a Slitheen. I already have the build.

Emily and I have been racking our brains to find appropriate foods. Thus far, and with more than a little help from Gareth, this is what we’ve come up with.

Savouries

  • Monster Munch
  • Salami (see here)
  • Fish Fingers & Custard
  • Dalek Bread
  • Oodles (plate of noodles, with a glowing sphere attached)
  • Celery
  • Smith’s Crisps

Sweet stuff

  • Wafers of Mars
  • Jelly Babies
  • Eccles-ton Cakes
  • Black Forest of the Dead Gateau
  • Cakes with ball bearings on
  • Rutan (i.e. lime) Jelly
  • Weeping Angel Cake

For the adults (because we will need it in the evening)

  • Tennant’s lager
  • Bottle of wine, with the top half made to look like Dalek Sec

I fear a little refining may be in order, but what the hell, we’ve got three months. In the meantime I draw inspiration from last year, when (on a sunny afternoon when the warm weather went to our heads a bit) we combined the remnant’s of Daniel’s Makka Pakka cake with what was left of the TARDIS cake that one of Emily’s old friends – who was visiting – had made the day before. The results were intriguing:

You see what I mean. It’s like something out of MechWarrior, as imagined by a five-year-old. Tasted nice, though.

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