Airplane Party 6 yr - Suitcase Favors
Holly in Albany, CA, USA
For my son's 6th birthday party he chose an airplane theme. (We've been working our way through vehicle categories trains, trucks, rockets)
NVITATIONS: We borrowed a fabulous idea from this site and made them up to look like airline boarding passes. My husband designed a blue-and-green logo for CamdenAir and on the second page we put additional flight information/restrictions (e.g. cake and snack service) and a note to contact a ticket agent to confirm or cancel the addressee's reservation to order additional tickets or arrange for an "unaccompanied minor." We used a dot-matrix looking font and various code numbers incorporating our son's birthdate etc. and they turned out great. We got tons of compliments on the invitations.
DECORATIONS: Airplanes turns out to be a relatively difficult party theme for which to find pre-printed party goods (paper plates etc.); all that is available is military jet oriented and we didn't want that. So we went with solid-colored party ware in light blue and white (sky and clouds). I found some sky-and-clouds patterned paperboard "strips" meant as borders for school bulletin boards and some sky-and-clouds letter paper and we put airplane shaped stickers on those and used them on the walls as decoration. (The letter paper was also used later for the thank-you notes.) I also bought some inflatable airplanes and miscellaneous other themed items from www.airshow.com and aviationmuseumstore.com; we strung the inflatables up on fishing line so they looked like they were flying around our living room and dining room and we scattered white helium balloons as 'clouds'.
COSTUMES: My son wore a t-shirt with an airplane on it (in the blue white and yellow party colors) and a pilot's cap I bought with some of the party supplies.
ACTIVITIES/GAMES: As guests arrived I handed them each their "suitcase" (Birthday Express empty favor box shaped like a briefcase) with a luggage tag attached (decorate-your-own tag from Oriental Trading) explained that they needed to keep their suitcases with them (no unattended luggage!) to put various things in and invited them to personalize their tag and/or suitcase with the markers and stickers we had out on the dining room table. We also put out foam airplane craft kits (on sale at Michael's) and an assortment of patterned scrapbooking paper for making paper airplanes. We had also created an "airport" on the top of our train table by using colored tape on a black surface to lay out runways and a helicopter pad and put out every toy aircraft we own (including a few that had just been given to my son as birthday gifts from the family) for free play. A few age-appropriate books about airplanes and airports completed the free-play options.
A short while after everyone had arrived I gathered everyone around the train table for a find-the-planes-in-the-clouds activity (another great idea from this site). I removed the upper surface (our table has a double-layer system with a top surface that just lifts off and a deep "well" underneath but you could easily use a wading pool or any other big tub) to reveal the entire table filled with styrofoam packing peanuts. I told them they were all going to be air traffic controllers and they had to find the airplanes lost in the clouds and guide them out. We talked a little bit about what real air traffic controllers are and what they do I assured them that there were more than enough planes to go around (bag of 144 little plastic planes for $5 or so from airshow.com) so they shouldn't tussle over them and then the kids were allowed to dive in. Whatever planes they found they could put into their suitcases to keep. My husband was afraid this was going to be a huge mess but it wasn't -- the kids were really good about keeping the foam peanuts mostly in the table. I'd put some blue decorating foil strips in as well to represent blue sky and that probably helped reduce floating foam. The kids had a lot of fun with this!
Once everyone had found at least a few planes we closed that up and warned everyone that they needed to make a paper airplane if they hadn't already done so. They had a little time while we cleaned up the styrofoam and put the top back on the table and a few parents helped the kids choose paper and fold the planes. Then it was time for the paper airplane contest. We had constructed a movable "runway" by covering a piece of cardboard with black paper and tape. We set it out on the lawn in the back yard (since we happened to have nice weather that day) and had the kids take turns attempting to land their paper airplanes on the runway. The kids who got the closest got little wooden planes as prizes. (We have some very funny photos of the kids concentrating very hard on their throws!)
Then we brought out the pinata - an airplane shaped one. I always do pull-string pinatas rather than the traditional whack-with-a-bat type; it's better for young kids and since my son's birthday is in the winter we have to be able to do it indoors. I gathered the kids in a circle to take turns choosing a ribbon and pulling it; with these older kids I made them close their eyes while they chose a ribbon so that they couldn't spend a long time examining the ribbons to try to figure out which one was the "magic" one. The treats inside the pinata were airplanes constructed out of a roll of SweeTarts a stick of chewing gum a pair of LifeSavers and a rubber band; instructions from www.familyfun.com.
SNACKS: The party was midafternoon so we just had "snack service" rather than a full meal. A big bowl of pretzels (thought about doing individual packets like you'd get on a real flight but couldn't stand the extra expense and packaging waste); veggies with dip; crackers and slices of meat and cheese cut into airplane shapes using cookie cutters. Juice boxes for the kids and some sodas for the adults.
CAKE: After the pinata we served the cake. I made a huge 3D passenger jet shaped cake for this party based on a pattern available at www.shindigz.com. Blue with yellow green and white decorations. I used white chiclets type gum for windows gumdrops and jujubes for lights and icing for stripes and the "CamdenAir" name plus a big 6 on the tail. Because the plane cake has no visible landing gear I decided to make it look as if it were flying so I printed out an "aerial view" of our town from Google Earth on several ledger-size sheets of paper; we pasted them together on a piece of cardboard and covered the whole thing with plastic wrap and that was the cake board. (Some of the parents had a good time checking out local landmarks and their own houses on the cake board later!)
FAVORS: After everyone was pretty much finished with cake my son opened his gifts. I had put the party favors into plain treat bags that would fit inside the guests' "suitcases" and he handed each person their bag as he opened that person's gift. In the bags were an assortment of foam gliders airport and airplane stickers and pencils with jets printed on them. Each guest also had the luggage tag the little planes from the styrofoam-clouds activity the paper airplanes and craft foam airplanes they made and the candy planes from the pinata. The kids played with their favors some of the gifts and the other toys for a while until it was time to go. They all had a great time and hopefully learned a little bit about aerodynamics! Many thanks to BirthdayPartyIdeas.com for the wonderful resources for putting together a creative party."