A Good Knight Party

(Yes the pun in the title is totally intended.  This is another guest post by Kendra’s certifiably insane sister, Trina.  If you don’t believe she’s all that crazy, read on…)
In recent years, our two older boys have often opted to forgo a big friend party in favor of a bigger outing with only 2-3 close friends. I would still make a fun, themed birthday cake, and we’d have a family party with a treasure hunt to find the presents, but all-in-all, these “outing birthdays” were often easier on me than the big friend parties. So I was surprised (and a little worried) when my 8-turning-9-year-old son announced he wanted a knight party. I didn’t have a ton of advanced notice for this one, but with a couple of last-minute late nights, here’s what we ended up with.
Invitations were simply printed papers with a scroll image background that said something to the effect of “Sir _______, You are called to come to the aid of Sir Marcus in his quest to find the 9th Treasure. If you are brave enough, come to Castle Harding where you will be trained and fed in preparation for your grand quest.” We printed them out, rolled them into scrolls, tied them with ribbon and handed them out.
For Decorations, we put a long piece of plywood at the front door and attached paper chains to it and the door frame to make a drawbridge. Inside, I draped a chair with sparkly material to be a throne and set it in front of the entertainment center which I’d draped with a gold valance my sister was giving away. I made Marcus’s birthday sign to look like a medieval banner, and it simply said “Sir Marcus” and had two number 9’s on it (yes, I did take some flack from my boys for the “99” but to appease my sense of symmetry, it just had to happen).
Crafts and Costumes:  As the boys arrived at the party, they were sent to the playroom to make their shields. We’d cut out the cardboard shields ahead of time and I had google-searched charger images and printed out some that I liked. The boys chose their picture then colored, cut and glued to make what they wanted. When the shields were done, they came upstairs to receive their tunic (simply long rectangles of fabric with a hole cut out for their heads), and their helmets. I followed the pattern found here for the helmets, but instead of using corrugated cardboard, I used silver poster board that I picked up at Michael’s. Each piece made two helmets. I ended up not making the top of the helmet, which made it a MUCH easier project and it worked really well. I just taped the back of the helmet together to fit each boy.  
Jousting and the Quest
Once they were all ready, it was out back for a “jousting tournament.” For this they had to ride a stick horse while holding their shields and a long pool noodle. Each jouster had a paper cup taped to his shoulder and the knight who knocked their opponent’s cup off first won the round. This actually worked really well, and surprisingly, my 5-year-old came out as champion. An alternative to pool noodles would be newspaper lances (sheets of newspaper rolled at an angle), and you could be pretty confident that no one would loose an eye.
After they had proven their bravery in the jousting tournament, they were ready to select their swords. I  stuck the foam swords in a sandbox and each boy tossed a ring, and the sword they ringed was theirs (this made for less disagreement about who got what colors—I did make sure the one pink sword I had to get went to my 2-year-old). Check eBay for better prices on swords than what I had to pay at Michael’s. Oh, and though they cost more, the foam swords ended up being much more fun than inflatable swords (that I did buy on eBay but because of a shipping error on the seller’s part they arrived about 2 hours AFTER the party ended. Lovely.).
Each sword had a piece of a message taped to it and the boys put it together to learn what their first task in the quest was. First, they had to attack the evil wizard in his invisible city by launching wads of newspaper with a catapult system (I actually got this idea from watching Curious George on PBS—the catapult, not the evil wizard). We had a good-sized PVC pipe on the ground and two short planks of wood, each with a bowl attached at one end. They’d put the paper ball in the bowl and then step on the other end of the wood to launch it. This actually took much longer than I’d anticipated, but they thought it was great and kept trying to make “scientific” adjustments to improve their aim.
Once all the balls were in the target area (a hula-hoop on the lawn), they found another message that told them (in cool language that I can’t recall right now) to find the 4 balls that were different from the others to get their next clue. I’d taped 4 balls with different color tape, and in each of these was a piece of yet another message that told them they now had to slay the dragon—a dragon pinata I got at a local party store. Inside the pinata, along with candy for the knights, was the final clue which told them where to find the royal treasure that the evil wizard had stolen. 

In the hiding place, they found all the gifts my sons’ friends had brought as well as a treasure chest with  a glass goblet (decorated with sticky gems), a crown, and a final note announcing that now that the treasure was recovered, Sir Marcus could take his rightful place as King Marcus and everyone was invited to a royal feast to celebrate. At the dining room table, each place was set with silver paper plates and a decorated glass goblet that they got to take home (thank you, Dollar Store). The goblets were a big hit. One mom told me that her son insists on using his goblet most every day and then carefully hand-washes it so the sticky gems don’t come off. This idea came from the Family Fun website, and they have several other fun Knight party ideas as well

Food:  I had thought of doing a medieval feast (think chicken drumsticks, dark bread), but my son said that his friends had specifically requested pizza. I had to laugh that they would be so bold, but it did make it much easier on me. I did find one school website that had food suggestions for a medieval feast, if you’re interested. 
The party actually took place a couple of days before my son’s birthday so I made cupcakes for the party (each with a knight figurine from the “Toob” toys I found at Michael’s), so that we could save the big cake to eat on his actual birthday.
The cake was a double recipe, baked in two 8×8 pans, cupcakes, and two bean cans (that I’d washed out well) for the tower in the center. I cut a 4 x 4 square out of the center of one of the square cakes and stacked it on top of the other. Then I cut the 4 x 4 square into 4 squares for the corner towers. I did have to put a dowel down through the round cakes to keep the center tower from falling over. Naturally, I was doing this late at night the night before the party, and, horror of horrors, my Kitchen-Aid went out just as I was making my first batch of frosting. It took all of this frosting to just do a crumb-layer on the cake, so in the morning I called my sister, ran and borrowed her mixer to finish making frosting. I used sugar cubes to make the battlements, and then went as quick as I could piping on the stones. My niece was helping me out for the day and she came behind me and flattened the frosting with her finger so it looked more like stones. The moat, flags and windows were all made of fruit roll-ups (my niece did the windows for me), and I had my birthday boy make the cone for the top tower out of paper. I had way bigger plans for this cake that included grass, a much better moat, vines growing up the side of the castle, and even a dragon that I planned to make out of rice crispy treats and cover with fondant (see, insanity does run in our family). Sigh. The boys still thought it was a pretty cool cake, though.

I was pretty exhausted by the end of the party, but I was on a little adrenaline high because it really went very well and all the boys had a great time. The only drawback? I’ve had to listen to my 5-year-old pepper me with constantly changing ideas for his birthday party (in AUGUST). Apparently he’s already extended invitations to half his kindergarten class.
*I have to send out a huge “thank you” to my niece, Kalen (a college student here), who stayed up with me late on Friday getting ready, and then helped with the whole party on Saturday. She really was a life-saver.
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  1. How cool is that?! You really took the theme and decorated perfectly for it! With out oldest, we also let him pick a few close friends and do something, instead of a huge blow out party at the house. BUT, maybe he’ll be like yours and surprise us one year!

  2. That looks like such a fun party! I really LOVE the cake!

  3. Chris @ Celebrations At Home says

    All your details are amazing, Kendra!

  4. What a cool party! And for not having much advanced notice, you really pulled it off! I bet those boys had a wonderful time!!!


  5. DV- Rebecca L. says

    That is awewsome- the cake is to Die for!!

  6. What a fun party!! I bet those boys loved it.

  7. Donna @ Party Wishes says

    What a great party! Love the costumes and cake…great job!

  8. Very cool! You’re a fun mom! Come check out some of my ideas over at http://www.oneshetwoshe.com!


  9. Rachel@oneprettything.com says

    This is one of my favorite parties ever! I just sent the link to my husband and he’s so jealous! I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say, “WOW!” so many times in a row before. Amazing party! I’ll be linking.

  10. Not just a Mommy! says

    Talk about insanity! I heart the stones on the cake, the painstaking work made it amazing! Makes me want to try my hand at baking real cakes again…until I remember I can only do cupcakes 😉

  11. Ambercritt says

    I love this and am planning on doing this for my sons birthday in afew weeks. I do have a few questions though, how did you make handles for the backs of the sheilds i was thinking duct tape but not sure if that would survuve the abuse. Also, i was hoping to get few more details on the cake, i am going to attempt the castle but not sure what you used for the drawbridge and how you got the windows to look so good, ive worked with fruit roll up on cakes before and not been that pleased with it. Thanks for the great ideas, we are so excited about it

    • Thanks for your comment! My sister was the mastermind behind the Knight birthday party, so I had to turn to her to answer your questions. Here is what she had to say:

      “The handles for the sword were just a strip of cardboard (the same cardboard as the shields, bent a little and attached with duct tape. It certainly won’t last forever, but they did all survived the party in pretty good shape. As for the cake, I’m not sure what to tell you about the fruit roll ups, except that they did work for me this time (I’ve had some experiences where the roll-ups I planned to use had images and words printed all over them–ugh). I did have a light-colored base-coat on the cake and that probably helped the fruit roll up colors show up well. Another option I’ve used on cakes is the Airhead candy rolled thinner and cut into the shape you want. Though I don’t know if I’ve ever seen yellow Airheads. . . The drawbridge was a Stretch Island fruit leather (I buy them at Costco and it was a last minute substitution after my graham cracker idea didn’t work) that I rounded on the top. The “chains” are just skinny strips of fruit leather that I twisted. Skinny licorice ropes would work well for that too (probably better).

      I hope that helps. Good luck on the party. I hope it’s fabulous fun for everyone!”

      • Ambercritt says

        Thank you for answering my questions it was very helpful. The party was a huge success, i had 12 boys ages5-9 to show up and because its january we had to do it indoors at my house. Yes my friends all told me i was insane but i was so excited i didnt care. I have a pretty big house so i divided them into3 teams to search for the treasure. My dad made all the boys swords out of pvc pipe and connectors and my dear husband painted them silver they were perfect. The favorite game was sword training i clipped clothes pins to the sides of their shields and they had to use the swords to knock them of in a dual. Jousting was so fun my 3 boys will be doing that for a while. My castle cake turned out fabulous and the airheads worked better than the fruit roll up especially after i heated it in the microwave a few seconds it made it very pliable and it hardened back up when cool. I could not have pulled this off without this blog so thanks a million!

        • Yea!! So glad to hear your party was such a success! It sounds like a blast! If you post any pictures, let us know!

  12. I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am that you are posting this! I am doing a brave knight party for my little girl (tom boy) and all of these are perfect ideas! Thank you.!

  13. Hi Kendra, I’m wondering if I can get your frosting recipe? The buttercream frosting I always use for my kids’ birthday cakes is pretty light and once I pipe on those stones, I think they’d fall right off. Also did you just use a big circle tip to do that and then your niece flattened them?

    Thanks so much!

  14. We have a photo booth hire in Milton Keynes and these always go down well with parents and kids!

  15. Looks great! I might consider this for my boys party. I don’t think he would like a themed birthday around a specific BMW service in Aylesbury!


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