Mario Birthday Playdate

Naptime Gnome Post #27

The magic of the Mushroom Kingdom comes to LIFE! A special Mario party for a very special boyScreen shot 2014-03-24 at 10.50.06 AM We love to make the kids’ lives magical, and though we really don’t need a special occasion to go all out, it seems wrong to let a birthday go by without a little magic. Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 2.37.38 AMIt all started over a year ago when Little Bear was asked what he wanted for his birthday. “Mario Party,” was his response. What he really wanted was a game called “Mario Party,” in which the characters complete various carnival-like tasks on the Wii. Not wanting to add to the tech-e-ness of our already exceedingly savvy preschooler, we asked him if he would rather have “A” Mario party and invite all his friends to come play pretend with him, and possibly we could rent the game from Redbox at some later date. That turned out to be one of our best moves yet, the game was not what he had in mind, but the party, that was another story entirely.


Mario Kart Race in the cul-de-sac… the kids had to race the daddies (instead of the “baddies”), several of whom were good humored enough to allow us to bind them together for a crazy multi-legged race.

He LOVED it, even though it involved having about 50 people over (mostly in our tiny backyard). He’s not a crowd person, but we live on the “kid street” — which we absolutely LOVE, even though it means that whenever there’s a gathering… and this seems to include anything from after school snacks to major festivities… you can’t limit the numbers to just a few kids, pretty soon, so-and-so’s brothers show up, and they bring a few friends, then their siblings are involved, and there’s this strange chain reaction which results in a dozen-or-so kids traipsing through the house. Which is actually great practice for my little social caterpillar. Soooo, we invited all the families on the street, plus a few of our closest friends, and ended up with a small herd of tiny Marios, Luigis and Princesses playing Mario themed party games, eating Mario themed treats (that they didn’t even realize were gluten and casein free), and generally having a pretty awesome time. We were careful to keep everything extremely organized and guided the kids through various strategically planned experiences, all while trying to limit traffic through the house to bathroom visits. Little Bear had so much fun that he and many of the kids that attended continued to talk about it throughout the year.

Fast forward 11 months:
Mom: What would you like to do for your 5th birthday?

Bear: I would like to have a Mario party.

Mom: You already had a Mario party.

Bear: That was Mario Party 4, THIS will be Mario Party 5!

Mom: How about a …….. party?  Or a …….. party? We could go…. or do…..? …etc.

Bear: How about a Mario Party.

Mom: Okie dokie. Who would you like to invite?

Bear: Well, we have to invite my best friend, he LOVES Mario.

Mom: Of course, who else?

Bear: … and his brother… he won’t come without his brother… and HE loves Mario TOO!

Mom: Check! And Check! Who else?

Bear: Well, definitely my best friend… and his brother…. and….

Mom: Yes???

Bear: Hmmm… Well my best friend….

OK, you see where this is going. We spent a WEEK trying to figure out who else he wanted there and then we all agreed that it would be just fine with just the four kids. WE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE RIGHT! It was AMAZING!

Now you would think a party for just four children would be pretty simple, but I still wanted it to be just as great a memory for him as if we had a huge party, so I got the Naptime Gnome involved and this is what she came up with! I apologize in advance for the crumby photo quality. We dropped the camera and something squirrelly happened to all the photos that were taken during the party. This is the best I could do with a little photo-shopping and a few “retakes” to get things to look a bit better. But for now I throw it to the Naptime Gnome:

We started off with an invitation that looked a bit like this (I’m apologize for no printable. The artwork is not original, I poached the mushroom and item box from Google images and just mashed them into this concept to print). The mushroom pops out of the “item box” which is just folded paper taped in the back, and the info connects the mushroom and the box. Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 10.33.01 AMOver the course of about 24 hours we transformed our backyard into the Mushroom Kingdom, complete with cutouts of Goomba, Toad and Yoshi made on the scroll saw. DSCN4873We absconded with a bunch of boxes from Costco (there’s usually a huge bin of free boxes near the bathrooms at ours – just ask in your local Costco or Sam’s), I painted them with some leftover red paint I had from another project, then marked them to look like bricks with a thick Sharpie.DSCN9668 I grabbed the paper flowers we use for our annual Mad Hatter Tea Party (which is yet to happen this year… we’re thinking Easter… stay tuned!) and put them in the shrubs I’d trimmed to resemble the bushes in Mario Land.DSCN9672 We finished the whole thing off with a King Boo pinata and a few other fun details, themed food and my hubby played a little Mario music he’d found on YouTube on the speakers. DSCN9344The scene was set! DSCN9349Once our guest family arrived we led all the kiddos outside to receive their mission orders that looked something like this:Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.04.32 AM

Inside each of their item boxes… DSCN9325they found a handmade Mario hat…


This is a simple off-center beret design. I just traced a few cake pans and added the applique and brim. I saw something similar on a blog a few years ago (which I wanted to credit) and made them for Halloween (and a few birthdays since ;), but the blog has since been taken down… which is a bummer, because she had some cute ideas!

with matching tee-shirt and mustache,


This sticky backed black felt was a dollar at Michael’s. We used double sided tape on art foam and punched holes in some to put on straws for the last party, but this was super slick!

and a similar Luigi getup, they also found a few fun little items we threw together. They selected their favorite character, suited up, and so their adventure began!


Bear was at first dismayed when he opened is box and found a Mario hat perched on top, but calmed when we dug out the Luigi set from the bottom! Little Bug couldn’t get her hands on the Mario gear fast enough! She demanded she be suited up too, even though she started the day in her own red shirt and overalls!!! She even ran around chanting “mooo-stas, moo-stas peeees!!!” Once we figured out what she wanted, even though she was perfectly clear (we were a bit slow), she calmed right down and stood perfectly still and serious for pictures. SOO fun to watch all of their reactions!

First they had to find 100 coins (we tossed yellow paper plates all over the place, and stuck a few here and there for them to find). They’re techniques were a bit surprising: our Little Bug was a PRO, she diligently went from plate to plate stacking them orderly as she went, it was hilarious – the boys on the other hand, stopped to explore ALL the details of the environment.  They were THOROUGHLY tickled they’d been somehow magically transported to a real-live Mushroom Kingdom. Their fascination and excitement was well worth the work!DSCN9374 Once they had collectively gathered 100 coins, we counted them together and each received an item box reward for their troubles.

The tiny item boxes (printable here, and here) not only contained a “REAL” 1-up mushroom (those give you an extra life, for those of us who are not as well versed in Mario vernacular),


They’re just big marshmallows dipped in handmade candy/taffy. The eyes are drawn on with food coloring markers (if you don’t have any yet, I highly recommend a set, you can transform just about any lunch into a huge crowd pleaser… never underestimate the power of a smiling sandwich!).

but a clue as to their next mission. Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.19.39 AMWhile they were reading their notes, I nonchalantly slid my phone, with a recording playing of me pretending to be Toad, into a box that already contained a “kidnapped” Toad (and Yoshi). Then prompted the kids to “listen!” As they searched the yard for the illusive Toad. This too is familiar to them, as Bowser (the baddest of the bad guys) and his minions make off with toad and stuff him into bricks and item boxes in the levels of Mario Bros. Wii, for Mario and Luigi to rescue.


You can borrow our recording from YouTube!

Once they located Toad, they were able to read the next message.Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.24.08 AM

Then they took turns “feeding Yoshi.” DSCN9384When they reached the bottom of the basket of pretend food from Little Bug’s kitchen, they found another note thanking them and instructing them to follow the arrows to a “warp” pipe to another level. Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.24.15 AMThey followed the red arrows which where replicas of those in the games (made of art foam), to the warp pipe..

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.39.56 AM

To make your own warp pipe, simply spray paint a 5 gallon bucket green. I made a lid for ours out of rings of MDF stacked and glued together with a few solid circles of the same peripheral diameter on top. They were sanded, painted and a circle of foam was glued to the top to make Little Bears nightstand. It’s too heavy for the kiddos to open and play with, but makes great kiddle furniture.

We opened the pipe and tossed them each a few stuffed characters from the games which they tried to throw into the bucket while standing on the lid. We warned them that once they warped they would have to look out for Bowser’s Minions and be sure to stomp on them! Once one went in, my hubby began tossing “baddies” off the balcony (balloons, drawn on to look like “Boos,” “Bullet Bobs,” “Bob-ombs,” and “Goombas.” It was a riot! DSCN9397But we should have blown the balloons up a touch more, a few where QUITE tenacious! Periodically a few “Yoshi Eggs” were worked into the mix. DSCN9409These were a HUGE hit as they contained a tiny plush Yoshi key-chain I CRAMMED into each balloon before blowing it up.DSCN9402 After the last minion went *POP!* another note glided down that instructed them to visit the King Boo they had already been ogling! Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.24.25 AMWe weren’t sure about letting them wield a bat, so we let them try and grab him and squish him.  He too was pretty tough, so we let him go all the way to the ground periodically so they could try to step on him. Not sure what’s better, but I figured it’d be harder to step on each other than accidentally whack an over-excited pal with a bat… next time I’ll use less paper mache!DSCN9423

So what was in the Pinata you ask? Well, I was going to forgo candy all together, but my little guy LOVES ring pops, so I tossed a few of those inside along with a plush Bowser and another note (of course).Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.24.39 AM

They breaked for food then jumped back in to battle Bowser! DSCN9366

They used “fire-balls,” made from the centers I cut out of their Mario hats stuffed with rice, to knock down the bricks where Bowser held Princess captive. DSCN9433Then as they read the notes from Princess I placed the cake “she” made them in the “castle.”

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.54.05 AM

The verbiage on this one is drawn from one of the original games (Hubby’s awesome idea).

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 12.54.20 AM

I found this on Google images last year. It’s originally from Mario 64. I was able to find it here.

I thought about doing cake pops, but we did these earlier in the week for their preschool class. DSCN9253So we thought we’d do a smaller full-sized cake instead.


Both the cake pops and cake are gluten and casein free. I’ll try to post the recipe soon.

It was a bit of a hit! 😉  All the kids loved it, even our little tiny Bug! Most importantly, Little Bear was in heaven. That night, when his proud momma kissed his radiant little face good-night he whispered, “Thank you, Princess Peach.” Guess who else is in heaven!


-The Naptime Gnome <;’)

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