I wanted this party to be really memorable for them this time around for two reasons. One - We didn't have a party last year for either of them because of the Covid pandemic. Two - they are both at ages where they will actually remember everything from their party! My oldest turned 8 and my middle turned 5. Definitely birthdays they will remember! This brings me back to talk about the theme. I am not a fan of character things. Call me a mean mom, but I don't buy them character clothes to wear (not even pjs!). I just hate the super cheese factor that character themes come with. You hit up the local party store and it's the same design of the characters plastered all over everything from plates and table cloths to balloons and favors. Just not exactly my cup of tea. I wanted to give them the Mario theme they wanted, but I also wanted it to be tasteful. My husband and I both have really large families -- a majority of the guests were going to be adults. I felt I needed to focus on it being kid and adult friendly. I found tons of ideas on Pinterest so I pinned things I really liked and inspired me, then planned out what items I would design, hand craft and purchase if need be. Scroll down to see how it turned out :)
BALLOON ARCH + MUSHROOMS
My main focus with the decorations was centered on the dessert table and the seating tables. I decided to go with an all white balloon arch and I incorporated the Mario "Cloud" into it. On either side of the arch I made my own mushrooms in two different sizes. The mushroom bases were pieces of cardboard I taped into a tube shape then covered in white card stock. Then I added a red mylar balloon on top with hot glue and white 2" circles for the tops.
BRICK BLOCKS, QUESTION BLOCKS + HAPPY BIRTHDAY BANNER
I knew I wanted an assortment of differently sized boxes for all of my Brick Blocks and Question Blocks. I planned to use them in different decorating places so I needed different sizes based on where I was using them. The largest ones were 12x12in. I used yellow construction paper (12x18in from Michaels.com) to cover the sides and tops. Then white card stock for the circles and question marks. I secured the white pieces to the yellow paper with foam dot stickers so it gave that 3D effect. The dimension turned out really awesome in person! I flanked both sides of the balloon arch with 2 Brick Blocks topped with 1 Question Block. I used a 12x12in Question Block as my cake stand too!
Next, I used 6x6in boxes that I decorated as Question Blocks (same way I made the 12x12in ones) for under my Piranha Plants. I also made extra Brick Blocks and Question Blocks in the same 6x6in size to create assorted stacks of [2 Brick and 1 Question Block] for around my food tables. The floating Happy Birthday banner was also made with 6x6in boxes. I used yellow or brown construction paper to cover each box, then used my Cricut to cut out the letters and dots. I used the same foam dot stickers to stick them onto the cubes. It was a tedious task for sure but well worth it! When it came time to hang it, I used Alien Tape to secure each box together in a row, then Alien Tape again (only one side of the sticky side) to attach a long wooden dowel onto the back for stability. I used 1 piece of tape on each block to really secure the dowel to each one individually, even though I had taped all the boxes together to create one piece. Once the dowel was secure, I used fishing line to hang it from a backdrop stand that I positioned behind the balloon arch. Hanging it was a little more challenging than I originally expected because I wanted both Happy and Birthday as separate rows. I first had to make sure Happy was level. Then, hang and level Birthday slightly longer but most importantly, even, under Happy. Dimension was really, really important to me when I planned out my vision for the dessert table. If you need help finding where to get cube boxes, I ordered all my boxes here.
CHAIN CHOMP & BOMB BOMBS
I made my own Chain Chomps using black paper lanterns, red tissue paper, and black and white card stock. It was a little tricky to make the mouth part because you're gluing onto a sphere, so be sure your mouth shape that you cut out is a little bit 'cone' shaped. Trust me, it will save you a ton of frustration! I spent probably an hour making just two Chain Chomps. If I was going to make more of them, it would have gone a lot quicker since I got the cone shape figured out.
The pack of paper lanterns I ordered had multiple sizes so I was able to make a few Bomb Bombs out of the smallest size in the package. I used yellow craft foam to make the feet, white pipe cleaners and gold pom poms for the fuses, and card stock for the blue tops and white eyes.
So many of the Piranha Plants I found on Pinterest were made out of styrofoam balls. I really didn't like the look of how those turned out. Cutting and painting styrofoam...ehhhh no thanks. I was already planning to use mini styrofoam balls for my Goomba bodies, so I definitely wanted to find something else for my Piranha Plants if I could.
I ended up finding ones that looked like they were made out of paper and I liked the look of those ones much better. I used red paper fans and card stock for the main plant part. The trick to keep it as an 'open mouth' was to tape a scrap piece of paper onto the back of the paper fan so that it stays open at the angle that you want. Typically, the paper fans have adhesive on one side that you use to adhere the two sides of the fan together so that it stays closed as a complete circle but if you did that, it wouldn't have that open mouth look. So just keep in mind you need to glue a small strip if paper to each side of the fan edges on the back side so that it stays only partially closed to be an 'open mouth.' It's not as complicated as I'm making it sound! Next I used white card stock for the lips. I just cut two thin rectangles and then rounded one end of each and glued them to the front of the fan edges. For the white dots, I used a 1" circle hole punch and then glued the dots in place. My bases were empty oatmeal canisters. I spray painted the outside of them green, including the lids. Then, I made a small hole in the lid that was big enough for my wooden dowel stems. I put some rocks in the bottom of the oatmeal canisters to weigh them down so they wouldn't blow over outside. I painted my wooden dowel green. When it was dry, I glued it to the back of my Piranha Plant and stuck it into the hole of the oatmeal canister lid. I added a piece of green construction paper to the rim to make the 'tube,' and inserted some paper leaves I cut out. Finally they were complete!
Out of all the crafts I planned, the Goombas were easier to make than I expected! I ordered 5" heart shaped latex balloons for the bodies, brown craft foam for the feet and 48mm styrofoam spheres from my local Dollar Tree for the middles. I used a bread knife to cut about ¼ of the sphere off so that it had a flat edge on one side. To walk you through it, first I cut out the Goomba faces, but I used my Cricut to save time. I wanted to use the Goombas all over to decorate so I ended up making 25 of them. Once I had all of my faces ready I prepped all the feet and styrofoam balls. If you blow up the balloons too early, they will just loose air. I made sure everything was ready to glue onto the balloons and then waited until the night before the party to inflate the balloons and piece the bodies together. Once the balloon was inflated, I glued the face onto the front. Then, I hot glued the foam feet onto the flat part of the styrofoam ball. Lastly, I hot glued the balloon to the rounded top of the styrofoam ball. They were probably the easiest to make once that faces were cut out! Personally, I liked the faces on the larger side with the eyebrows extending past the balloon but feel free to make them however big you want.
I saw a lot of people like to use their Goombas to play Stomp the Goombas. While that game sounds like a ton of fun for the kids, we have several dogs on the property that I was worried about getting to the latex before it got cleaned up. I would have omitted the styrofoam balls for the Goombas used in the game if we went that route, but due to the clean up aspect we skipped this.
On the dessert table I thought it would be cool to have little baggies of Gold Coins. I made the treat bag toppers and printed them on light weight card stock. I added "With Love From Jax and Max" on the back to add a little extra love. If you want to purchase my design, you can order and personalize your own treat bag toppers here. I used these extra large chocolate coins and put them in 5" cellophane favor bags I picked up from the party store but Walmart, Target and your local craft store carry them too. I chose to cut a few inches off the top of the bags so they were just slightly bigger than my coins once I folded the tops in.
The actual party favors were just for the kiddos. I ordered the Mario and Luigi paper bags from Party City and then I made my own Star favor tags with each child's name on it (will post editable Star Tag soon!).
What's a birthday party without cake?! Since this was an outdoor party I wanted to have a cake centerpiece but just serve cupcakes as the dessert. I went with a simple 2 layer cake decorated as a Super Mario Game Level. I handmade the cake topper and I added extra tall gold candles for the boys to each blow out later. For the cupcakes I wanted to incorporate different elements of Mario that my boys really like so we ended up with Bowser Shells, Star Power Ups and brought in the Cloud again. I used a local bakery, CakeMeLife, and she took my vision and made it come to life. We were SUPER happy!
One of the boys' requests was Mario sugar cookies and it just so happened that I knew someone local to make them! I love supporting local small business ♥
My sister made the Bomb Bomb truffles and then I further decorated the dessert table with super cute candy tins and red swirly lollipops.
I probably spent the most time trying to plan out table decor. I knew I was going to do the catering buffet style, and people probably wouldn't be spending a ton of time seated, but I felt leaving the tables blank just wasn't an option. I opted for simple red plastic table cloths as the base and then I curated my own little personal table settings. I designed a custom coloring page style placemat with puzzles, tic tac toe and the boys' names. I topped it with a red polka dot dessert plate (Walmart), inspired by the 'Big Mushroom Power Up,' and then added silverware wrapped in a Star Power Up paper napkin ring. (I will be adding a link to purchase your own napkin rings soon too!) The four 8ft tables for adults were set up in two L shapes to kind of enclose the mini kids table that I put in the center of the two L shapes. The adult tables had crayon boxes scattered about, while the kids table settings each had their own crayon box and felt mustache to wear. I added chocolate gold coins, Goombas and 4in Question Block balloon centerpieces to all the tables. I made the 4in Question blocks the same way I made the 6in and 12in boxes except I kept the tops open so I could insert yellow tissue paper and yellow balloon weights. It was decorative without being tacky!
I think my favorite part was the fact that the kids table was mini sized in height and had little kid chairs! I wanted it smack in the middle so all the adults around them could watch them and enjoy seeing them have fun. At one end of the kids table was the dessert table and at the opposite end was the band tent and food tables. Behind the food tables I made character posters that I think really pulled it all together.
I know I said I don't buy any clothes with characters... but these were my one exception. I mean they had to be dressed for the party and in 80 degree heat I wasn't going to let them dress up in full a full Mario Costume and Hat 😂 So I whipped up a really simple
Just like you can't have a kids party without cake, you can't skip the party games either! First they played the Pokey Cup Game. I made Yoshi party blowers using red party blowers I found at my local party store (they had a different character on them but I just slid off the character part so I was left with the plain red blower part) and I designed my own Yoshi heads to slip onto them. I also designed the 'Pokey' bodies, hole punched them out and glue dotted them onto clear plastic cups that had lids. The kids all had a blast blowing over the 'Pokey' towers. Click here for a link to my Pokey Cup Game printables that include the Yoshi heads and Pokey bodies!
Next we played Pin the Mustache on Mario. This seemed to be the favorite for our group of kids. Before the party I prepped all the mustaches with double sided tape and each child's name. I had my poster printed as a board print at my local Walgreens and it really was as simple as that! You can order my version Pin the Mustache on Mario here.
Lastly we had a piñata. I had ordered a custom made Yoshi Piñata from this Etsy shop - but I didn't get any pictures because it was too dark by the time I remembered we HAD a piñata (smh). The piñata was stuffed with chocolate gold coins, Mario PEZ, temporary Mario tattoos and my boys' favorite candies they each got to pick out.
I had all intentions of doing Mario bingo also, but time just flies with three kids and I didn't get the game designed in time. If it had been an all kids party I would have focused more on the party games and also done the 'Toad House' inspired game where you flip over cards to find Power Up matches. Oh well, maybe next time!
Characters and all, this party was a BLAST! There was something for everyone and it was really great to be with the people we love again! I had so much fun planning this party and seeing it all come together made everything worth it. My boys were over the moon in excitement!