Last week I attended my eight year old nephew, Matt's, birthday party.
It was a challenge to figure out a party theme that would be "cool" enough for a group of eight year-olds. My sister, Joan suggested that since Matt loves the Batman cartoon and the Batman movies it would make a perfect theme.
The invitations were pictures from the cartoon show of the Bat Signal shining on clouds in the night sky above Gotham city. Inside the location, date and time was written.
Joan and her husband Mike transformed the inside of their garage into the Bat Cave. The walls had been covered with crumpled paper sprayed gray and black to look like a cavern. Mike had made a computer console out of Christmas lights, cardboard and an old desk. He even set up a computer inside the fake console with a Batman learning game the boys could play. A personalised banner hung above the entrance to the garage saying 'welcome to the bat cave – Happy Birthday Matt'. The table was covered with a Batman themed table cloth with matching paper plates, cups and napkins. In the corner was a jukebox Mike had disguised as another computer console. It had every Batman theme song from the television show and the soundtracks from the films.
Each child was given a choice of a Batman character to be. Of course, since it was Matt's, birthday boy, he was Batman. There were plenty to choose from, but you know eight year-old boys. Two of them insisted on being the Joker so we had two. Joan had hired costumes of all sizes and duplicates of each character so the two boys both choosing to be the Joker wasn't a problem. The parents were also invited to participate. Joan looked stunning dressed as Cat Woman from the 60's television series. I even dressed up as Batgirl.
A make-up artist made the illusion complete. Each boy looked like he stepped off the set of a Batman film. I had a lot of fun taking photos of the collection of heroes and villains.
Next, each boy was given a list of items to find and bring back to Cat Woman. Whoever had the most on the list would be the first to take a swing at the Bat mobile piñata. Boys were running and scrambling all over looking for the items on their list. Joan's best friend Sally was dressed as Vicki Vale and videotaped the entire show.
Billy, one of the Jokers, won the game by finding everything on the list faster than anyone else. Billy was blindfolded and the piñata strung up over a rafter. He swung hard, but missed. The Bat mobile piñata was intact after the boys' first and second rounds so Matt was elected the official piñata opener. He was allowed to swing at it without a blindfold and hit it until it burst and contents fell out of the bottom. All kinds of toys and treats fell to the floor -- Communicator watches, miniature ray guns, plastic grappling hooks, suction cup dart guns, electronic noisemakers and small packets of sweets kept the Batman cast happy until lunch time.
Joan did a good job of making the food looked like it was grown directly in the Bat cave.
The French fries had been sprinkled with blue salt that she had coloured with food colouring and hot dogs that were tinted by cooking them in purple coloured water. There were also fun twisty straws to drink their blue raspberry squash through.
The boys went crazy when Joan carried out a giant Batcave birthday cake. It was a chocolate cake with purple icing. Inside the cave was the Batmobile, the Jokermobile, Penguins umbrella and Riddler's question mark. Joan had found them all at the party shop. The boys ate the cake with Matt's favourite ice cream: Blue bubble gum.
After lunch the boys played with their Batman toys and were pretty tired by the time their parents came to pick them up. Matt went to bed that night in his Batman costume with a big smile on his face. A few weeks later, Joan sent a copy of the video to each child with a Batman logo pasted on the outside.