Planning a birthday party for your son who is turning 10 can be a little tricky. They are still young enough that they would like to celebrate with their friends, but have outgrown overly-themed soirees complete with patterned paper goods and entertainment. And there is also a good possibility, that your son has declared that he would like this celebration to be a sleep-over party. So what's a Mom to do- when facing down a gaggle of 10-year olds who need to be entertained in a cool and understated way?
Enter: The Do It Yourself Magic Trick Birthday Party!
Most boys this age enjoy learning simple magic tricks and card tricks, and some have already developed their own repetoire of magician-like talents that they will enjoy showing off to their friends. So a sleepover party with a great anchor-activity such as learning new magic tricks is a sure-fire hit!
Your son is not looking for a cutesy birthday party invite to hang on the kitchen calendar anymore… so make it easy on yourself and just send an e-vite (minus any goofy cartoon characters) or simply send the invitees an email. Make sure you are clear about the drop off time and pick up time the next morning, whether or not you'll be serving dinner, and remind them to pack along a sleeping bag, pjs, and a pillow. You also might want to share with them that you'll be learning some magic tricks at the party, and guests should feel free to bring along any tricks (along with props) that they already know- if they would like to perform them in front of their friends.
The size of the guest list is up to you of course, but a smaller party is more fun for all of the kids and much easier on you as the host to manage! We invited 8 friends.
The Kick-Off Event
The drop off time for our party was 6pm, and you need to allow time (preferably a half-hour or so) for later arrivals to join the festivities. So it is helpful to have a planned activity during this time (otherwise the kids might decide to play tag in the family room or hide and go seek throughout the house!). We immediately directed our party guests into the basement for some foosball and ping pong fun!
A Fun (but Frugal) Birthday Buffet
At 6:30 we invited everyone into the kitchen for dinner, where we changed up the usual birthday party fare of pizza to a pasta and a salad bar. It is actually really simple to cook up 2 large pots of pasta (2 boxes each of linguine and penne), toss the cooked pasta with a bit of butter to prevent it from sticking when it is served in the chafing dishes, and offer two types of sauce- plain sauce and sauce with meatballs. We served a tall stack of toasted garlic bread, a large salad with several toppings and three different kinds of dressings. The kids loved it (one guest specifically thanked me for not serving pizza!) and of course, being 10-year old boys- they devoured everything rather quickly!
We served dessert right after the meal (knowing that we would be making popcorn later on to eat while watching the movie). This is another place to not get too cutesy… ask your child to pick their absolute favorite flavor of cake (Spencer chose red velvet) and adorn the top with candles (you can skip the birthday message too). Of course we sang… and the kids added in their own silly sayings during “Happy Birthday”!
The Main Event
At 7:15, the kids were excited to move onto the main event…. learning new magic tricks! We drew names to divide the kids up into pairs, and then each party goer selected a brown bag that contained instructions to a magic trick as well as all of the props needed to perform that trick. Each pair was assigned a separate area of the house to go to, to open up their bags, read the instructions and figure out how to perform his own trick. Steve and I cycled through all of the groups to make sure that the kids understood how to do the magic trick and help them spruce up their performance. We partnered them up so that they would have someone to practice with, and because many of the tricks required an assistant to pick a card or write down a number, etc.
Before the party Steve and I spent several hours searching for simple magic trick online. Here are the ones we used:
After everyone learned their tricks (about 30-40 minutes later) we all gathered back down in the basement where we had set up chairs for the “audience” to sit in, and watched the magicians perform their dazzling tricks. Now, of course not every trick worked the first time (and a few didn't even work on the second attempt!) but everyone was able to laugh at themselves and have a great time. We reminded the kids not to spoil the magic by blurting out how a trick was done if they happened to figure it out… and for the most part they did a great job with that.
After everyone had a chance to perform their new trick, we allowed anyone who had brought along a trick to the party to perform for the group too… and we had some pretty great performances! Boys at this age really do love magic!
The Evening Movie
At around 8:30pm, we called for “last acts” and wrapped up the magic show for the evening. We then asked the kids to change into their jammies and lay out their sleeping bags on the family room floor to get ready for the movie. One of our traditions is to give our kids movies as birthday presents, so Spencer had recently received 4 new films (fortunately for him, his birthday falls right when all of the holiday movies are released onto DVD), so he selected “Tin Tin” to watch with his friends.
Steve popped up big bags of popcorn and kettle corn for the kids to eat, which they devoured an at unreal rate while enjoying the movie! 10 year old boys can REALLY eat!
The movie finished at 10:30pm and after asking the kids to use the bathroom and brush their teeth, I told them it would be “lights out” at 11pm. Of course, Steve and I hung out near the family room during this entire time, squashing any attempts at large-scale pillow fights and asking the kids to stop all of their chatting and go to sleep. I know that at some sleepovers the kids are allowed to stay up as long as they'd like… but most of these kids had soccer or baseball games the next day and I had promised their parents that I would try to get them to sleep by 11! It didn't get quiet until around 11:30pm, and Steve stayed nearby until well after midnight until he was convinced that everyone had finally fallen asleep.
Breakfast and Morning Activities
Of course a late night never means that party guests will actually sleep in! So by 6am, they were all up…. so we started our second movie “Hugo” which most of them watched. A few kids headed back downstairs for some more foosball and ping pong, which was fine with us! At 8:00am we served a huge breakfast of homemade waffles, bacon, sausage, OJ, and cereal. Again- they devoured every bite rather quickly! After breakfast, we helped the kids to roll up their sleeping bags, gather all of their belongings, and get everything packed up and placed near the front door so it would be easy to find when parents came for pick up. Then all of the boys headed outside to play basketball, and the house was for the first time in 15 hours…. quiet!
The Favor Bag
As much as our kids are growing up, they are never too old for a favor bag. But my recommendation is to keep it simple and useful. Our favor bag for this party contained a deck of cards and an instruction for performing The Amazing Aces card trick. And a bag of 2 homemade giant chocolate chip cookies that has become one of my kids' favorite dessert treats.
So what do you think of this 10-year old birthday party idea? Have I inspired you to host a great magic party for your child? I would love to hear about it, so please leave a comment below!
If you liked this party idea, you might also enjoy these other at-home birthday parties we've thrown for our kids: