Last weekend we hosted Jason’s Pokemon Birthday Party. Prior to planning this party, I knew very little about Pokemon, but I think my research paid off and I pulled together the theme pretty well. Based solely on the fact that my daughter is now requesting a Pokemon party for her next birthday, I’m concluding that the party was a success by the kids’ measures as well. But that might have been the pinata envy talking.
Food & Drinks
We had a small group this year so I intentionally kept the menu simple. I saw lots of ideas for gumballs and other round candies used in Pokemon-themed foods, but since we also had a pinata (and cupcakes), I decided to opt for less sugary snacks.
I served the following:
- Pokeball snack plate with white cheddar cheese and strawberries
- Sea salt popcorn with chocolate Smarties sparingly mixed in
- Adorable Pikachu and Pokeball cupcakes by Sugar Biscuit Cakery
- Lemonade and water
While researching the party, I discovered “badges,” and these seemed like a perfect way to connect otherwise unrelated party games to the Pokemon theme (for example, a pinata becomes a way to earn a “Boulder Badge.”). You could easily make your own badges (or have your child make them) out of paper or clay. However, I found these on Etsy and decided they were too perfect to pass up.
If you end up incorporating badges into your games, I highly recommend committing the meaning of each badge to memory. I was a little fuzzy on which was which and it turned out the kids were too. I had planned on matching the badge’s meaning to the game (for example, guessing the correct number of Pokeballs in a container earns the Marsh/Psychic-type badge), but I ended up just letting the child choose the badge she/he wanted because no one seemed certain about what each represented.
These first two games required a bit of prep work, but they were super inexpensive and very fun. Both used the same materials – about 140 ping pong balls, red spray paint, painters tape and black washi tape (or a Sharpie marker). I purchased the ping pong balls here for less than $10 and, after taping the bottom halves, my husband spray painted them in a bright red color. Next, I wrapped thin washi tape (purchased at Michael’s) around the balls. I ran out of tape about 3/4th of the way through and used a Sharpie marker for the remaining balls. No one (except maybe me) seemed to mind.
Pokemon Psychic Challenge
For this challenge, I placed 70 of the balls in a large glass vase and, as each guest arrived, I asked them to write down their name and the number of Pokeballs in the container. The guesses were all over the map, ranging from 18 to 102. My daughter came the closest with a guess of 60. Psychic badge earned – or wait, that was the Earth badge. Or maybe not.
Gotta Catch ’em All Pokeball Hunt
Once the guessing game was complete, my husband placed all 140 of the ping-pong-turned-pokeballs in our front yard and, soon after, we handed out bags and let the children run around our yard and ‘catch’ as many Pokeballs as they could. In the end, they had to count the balls they found to see who won – I think this may have been more of a challenge than the game itself! Wow, this party had too much math!
Squirtle Water Balloon Blast
If you don’t know what a Squirtle is, you can read more about this character here.
This game was a last-minute addition, and it turned out to be my favorite. I painted 3 Pokeballs (using watercolors on thick paint paper) and made 60 water balloons. Actually, I made about 30 and then my daughter was so jealous that she offered to take over for me and I was able to drink coffee while leisurely tying each balloon, which she hasn’t mastered yet. I was pretty impressed with her perseverance on this one.
For the game, each child was supposed to throw the balloons and hit the Pokeballs in order, from closest to farthest. My husband was in charge of setting up the game, and he placed the targets so far apart that I don’t think anyone successfully hit all three targets in the first round. It was still quite a bit of fun to try and, in the end, the bestowing of the Water Badge was a highly subjective call on my part.
This was the first time we’ve had a pinata at one of our parties, and it was a highly anticipated event. Seriously, once the pinata arrived, I think we talked about it at least once a day.
We purchased the pinata here and it was very well made. Perhaps a bit too well made as each child probably had about 4 or 5 goes at it before it finally cracked under the swings of our neighborhood baseball champ.
Pokemon Character Portrait Studio
I was hoping this activity would be the highlight of the party. I hired a caricaturist (Amy Gorman), and I recreated simplified versions of my son’s favorite Pokemon cards (see templates below). My plan was to have each child choose one of the large-scale (8 1/2 x 11) cards and have the caricature artist draw the child’s likeness as the portrait for that character (as illustrated above). Because what child hasn’t wanted to be a Charizard Mega EX? I’m pretty sure that’s a real character. Maybe not.
My plans were foiled when our local Fed-Ex/Kinkos store failed to open during their stated business hours on the day of the party. Collectively, my husband and my dad spent 2 1/2 hours outside of the Fed-Ex location in order to pick up the my portrait templates, but no one ever arrived to open the store. I was very disappointed, but in the end we just had standard caricature portraits made and I think we made the best of it. The portraits were very awesome despite not matching the theme as well as I had hoped.
Update: Here is an editable Photoshop (PSD) file containing printable 8 1/2 x 11 templates for 5 different Pokemon characters. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can print the following jpeg images:
Many thanks to all of the awesome shops, artists and suppliers I worked with:
For details on the trading card invitations, check out this post.