We had an awesome little shindig for Little Man’s 5th birthday (how the heck is he 5 now??) and I’d love to tell you all about it.
This year we had a little more trouble figuring out what kind of theme to go with. So I perused Pinterest (like always) and saw some ideas for spy parties and knew that as soon as I suggested it to Little Man, there would be no changing our minds!
And while there were plenty of ideas for decorations and food and activities on Pinterest, I was feeling like I needed something a little more cohesive. Since Little Man is the oldest of most of his friends, I was concerned about making it accessible and fun for 4-year-olds. Last year we planned fun games for the kids, but they weren’t that interested in them. So this year I knew the party needed a bit more structure to work.
The initial planning of this party was the most difficult. I ran through several revisions in my head before deciding on the final structure. I knew I wanted them to have an actual “assignment” but also that it couldn’t be anything too difficult. So we decided to have a Secret Agent Academy portion at the beginning, where they would learn all the skills they’d need for their assignment. And then I needed to recruit some “actors.” Luckily Little Man has some ready and willing relatives who stepped in and stepped up! Thanks, guys!
Additionally, we ended up having to postpone his party at the last minute, due to sickness and also one of his friends had a funeral to attend in Iowa. Because of that, one of his friends’ older siblings had to tag along, which ended up being great. It was nice to have some more kids who could read well!
The first thing that happened when each child arrived was they each learned the art of disguising their identity. We had fedoras, mustaches, and sunglasses for each of them.
They had their pictures taken, and were given passports. They also picked 2 names out of some jars to create their secret agent name. Little Man was Agent Hidden Shadow.
The passports also came with these stickers, which came in handy for later!
They also each got a badge. Our spy agency was called the Secret Agent Spy Service, or S.A.S.S. for short.
Then it was on to learning different ways to secretly communicate. We learned how to create and decode a scytale cipher and how to use “invisible ink” (white crayon on white paper, then painted over with watercolors to reveal.)
They also got to learn how to navigate a laser maze! Although, honestly, they would have all set off the alarms. Haha.
After the spy academy activities were over, I was given an urgent message I read to them.
The message said that gold had been stolen from the U. S. Treasury, by the Viciously Vile Villains. Their assignment was to track down the agents of the V.V.V. and recover the gold before it could be used to fund their crimes.
They also got a dossier on each of the villains with descriptions, the cities they were based out of, and helpful (and just plain silly) facts about each of them to help figure out where to go and who to find.
First there was Professor Pandemonium and Lady Lawless:
They work as a team. He’s the brains of the operation, and she speaks for him. They’re based out of Barcelona.
Then there was Sir Scoundrel:
He disguises himself as a tourist and is based out of Hong Kong. He also enjoys baking.
Next we have Miss Behaving:
She drinks 12 cups of coffee a day and wears colorful scarves. Based out of Paris.
And lastly, the mastermind behind it all, Doctor Devious, whose lair is under a castle in Munich.
First stop was to the treasury, to examine the scene of the crime. Hubs was the pilot, and created a rope system with carabiners so all the kids could clip themselves into the “plane” as they traveled to each place.
At the U. S. treasury, they found an empty safe and a half-eaten donut. In their dossier, they found that Professor Pandemonium has a penchant for sweets and also has stolen many Picasso paintings. So we headed to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona to check things out.
I decided that instead of having a separate time for snacks, I would have a country-appropriate snack at each location for the kids to eat on the plane as they traveled to each destination. At the treasury, they got donuts.
I made these signs for each location out of cardboard and then we taped them at each place. This was the other reason it was nice to have so many people helping so the next area could be set up while we were at the previous place so the kids didn’t see it ahead of time.
When they reached each international destination, they got the corresponding sticker for their passport.
Inside the museum, they found Professor Pandemonium and Lady Lawless, who informed them that they were too late, the gold was no longer in Barcelona. They then had to figure out where to go next. In addition to the Picasso paintings (printed out and taped to the wall-haha) they also found a blank easel with watercolor paint on it. They used their skills from their Spy Academy training to uncover the secret writing and found a message that said “Let’s Play. -S.S.”
They figured out it was written by Sir Scoundrel, and they should look for him at the popular tourist destination Kowloon Park in Hong Kong.
For Barcelona, I made coca, which is a Spanish flatbread popular in the region.
At Kowloon Park, they found Sir Scoundrel, who told them they were too late again. The gold was no longer in Hong Kong. They also found some fortune cookies nearby. When they opened and ate these, the found one letter in each cookie. Arranged properly, they spelled “Paris.”
I realize that fortune cookies are not authentic to Hong Kong and are an American invention, but this way I could combine the clue and the snack together.
In Paris, the looked at a popular café, the Café de Flore, to find Miss Behaving.
They also found a plate of baguette slices and cheese, which was frankly way too exciting and it took them forever to look for the clue. Haha.
When they questioned Miss Behaving, she disavowed all knowledge and involvement with moving the gold, but eventually told them that there was no gold to be found in Paris.
After eating tons of bread & cheese, they finally looked for the clue and found a tube along with a long, thin piece of paper.
They wrapped it around the tube as they learned to do in Spy Academy with the scytale cipher.
It read “Meet me in Munich. -D.D.”
They flew to Munich, to the Neuschwanstein castle, and went down the stairs to the find Dr. Devious’ lair beneath the castle.
At the bottom of the stairs was a laser maze, and they could see the gold on the other side. It was also very dark and spooky in the basement, so some of the kids didn’t want to go down right away.
Once they navigated the laser maze, they recovered the gold. But where was Dr. Devious? He’s very dangerous, they were told, so they were kind of nervous. Just then, the toilet in the adjoining bathroom flushed and Dr. Devious came out, caught off guard. Then the kids tied him up with some rope, after which, of course, he said, “I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”
They also found pretzels here. I was going to make my own, but ran out of time so they were just from Auntie Anne’s. Haha.
I took these pictures after we turned the lights on, just so you could see the laser maze. I was just planning to tape the yarn to the wall, but Hubs was concerned it would get ripped down, so he rigged this up. None of those boards are actually attached to the wall, just one was clamped to the edge of the wall where it opens up into another room. I can’t tell you how he accomplished it. Haha. On the other side, it was attached to a low Ikea bookshelf we moved parallel with the wall.
Then it was time for cake. I made a chocolate cake, covered in ganache and topped with cake pop “bombs” for candles.
Oh, it was also filled with cream cheese frosting.
The last surprise of the day was a large gift that Hubs and I worked on for weeks. Honestly, if it weren’t for trying to do this, the party wouldn’t have been very difficult– it’s a fair amount of planning, but so much of it can be done ahead of time that the day of is pretty easy.
Little Man saw us working on this, but had no idea what it was. We didn’t assemble all the pieces until the night before, so it was a big surprise.
Play kitchen! We made it out of an old entertainment center. Post about that coming sometime later. He loves the thing, and so does Miss Bean. So while it was a pain in the butt to make for us, I love the way it turned out and it’s getting a ton of use. :)