Nerf War Birthday Parties

This year our boys both opted for a Nerf War themed birthday party. With birthdays two days apart, we are always in the back-to-back birthday camp. This year was no different, although picking the same theme made turning the party so much easier (and cheaper)! If you know me, you know that an over-the-top party is my thing. It’s hard to explain the rush I get from seeing all the planning and work turn into the party of my kids’ dreams. Y’all, I know I’m a bit crazy, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s who I am… so now I just embrace the crazy! Watch out!! 😉

Thought I’d share how we structured the party and how we pulled it together! Below is a step-by-step run down of all the activities, what we used, where to purchase it and how much it cost. I’ve even included a link to download the PDF of the printables I created. If you are in the market to create a Nerf War party of your own, I hope you find some inspiration here! 🙂

When the kids arrived, we gave them a drawstring backpack that was full of all the supplies they’d need for the party (and also served as the party favors!). Kids could either be on the orange team or blue team, and we handed out bags accordingly.

Supply Bags:
Bags – nylon drawstring backpacks (10 bags for $14 on Amazon – you will need two different colors)
Small Nerf gun (around $6 each on Amazon and at Walmart)
Nerf bullets – 2 packs of 10 bullets (box of 1200 for $34 on Amazon)
Wrist belt bullet holder (15 for $10 on Amazon)
Safety goggles (12 for $13 on Amazon)
Small bottle of water
Orange and blue bandanas ($1 each at Hobby Lobby)

The party had three main activities:
1) Boot Camp (an obstacle course)
2) Target Practice
3) Nerf War (a capture the flag game)

The objective was to earn points during Boot Camp and Target Practice to redeem for supplies that would help give them an advantage during the capture the flag game. They could upgrade their gun, earn extra bullets and “buy” immunity flags. Points were represented by painted Nerf bullets (wooden tongue depressors painted blue with an orange tip (10 points) and white with an orange tip (50 points)). First up was Boot Camp!

Boot Camp Course:
Low crawl course – small stakes (12 12-inch stakes for $3 at Lowe’s) connected by staples with orange nylon mason line string ($6 for a 250-ft roll at Lowe’s)
Shoot at a target – simple body shape cutout of a foam board, spray painted black with an orange and blue bullseye constructed from poster board
Run around orange cones (4 for $3 at Target)
“Tire runs” – made out of pool noodles ($1 each at Dollar Tree), bent into circles and secured with blue duct tape
Balance beam – scrap 2″x4″s screwed together

We had each team go through the obstacle course as a group and timed how long it took for the entire team to make it through. Our fastest team was 2:37, and slowest was 3:03. Members of the winning team each got 20 points.

Next, they made their way to Target Practice. Kids got 10 tries (bullets) at each station, and we had five stations set up.

Target Practice:
Bulleyes – made with blue paper plates and orange card stock – kids had to hit a plate – 10 or 20 points
Cans lined up on a ladder – kids had to shoot down the can – 20 points
Water bottles topped with ping pong balls – I filled the bottles half full of water so they would stay put – kids had to knock the ping pong balls off the bottles – 10, 20 and 50 points (pack of 6 ping pong balls purchased for $1 at Dollar Tree)
Army men lined up on a piece of wood – kids laid on their bellies (on a blanket) and tried to shoot the Army men down – 20 points (pack of Army men purchased for $1 at Dollar Tree)
Cup shot – kids tried to shoot their bullet into a paper cup for 10, 20 or 50 points (I hot glued the cups to the board; the board was purchased for $6 at Home Depot, cups were $1 at Dollar Tree)

Kids were able to redeem their points (Nerf bullet painted sticks) for upgrades. They did this throughout the Target Practice time. The upgraded guns (100 points) we provided were purchased for around $10 on Amazon, plus we used some of our personal arsenal of Nerf Guns. We had around 10 upgrade guns available, and around 15 kids at each party, so not everyone could get a better gun. We made it first come, first served! The Immunity Flags (50 points) were white bandanas ($1 each at Hobby Lobby) that I cut into four squares. The extra bullets packs (20 points) were in groups of 10, and part of the 1200 I bought for the supply bags.

We took a break for pizza after Target Practice, and while they were gathered we went over the rules for the Nerf War.

Capture the Flag Rules:
1) No shooting above the shoulders.
2) Object of the game: steal the other team’s flag from their base and return it to yours. Don’t let your team’s flag get stolen!
3) If the other team has your flag, shoot the person with the flag. They have to give it to you to return to your base (the other team can’t steal it back before you get there).
4) If you get hit with a bullet, you have to sit on the ground until another teammate touches you OR you can redeem a white immunity bandana. If everyone on your team is down, you automatically lose.
5) First team to get the opponents flag to their base wins.

In our backyard (aka the battle field), we setup 2 bases on opposite sides of the yard, and created a few barricades in between. For both we used Black Dot Silt Fence from Lowe’s ($14 for a 50’x3′ roll). We took our kids’ best Nerf guns and placed them in the middle of the battlefield, along with extra bullets and immunity flags. These were up for grabs for whoever got to them first! Our team flags were bandanas tied to 4-foot tree limbs.

To start our battle, we had each team get behind their bases. We counted down, and let them go at it! The games with the 9-year-olds involved more strategy and lasted longer; the games with the 7-year-olds went a bit faster. We let the kids play three games, and we awarded the best of the three games as the winners! We had a medal ceremony for the winning team members, where we passed out plastic award metals (48 medals for $14 on Amazon – I’ll be saving my leftovers for another party!) We finished the party with cupcakes, cold drinks and presents!

For decor, I mainly used balloons, the orange and blue bandanas, and some blue and white striped fabric. I topped all the tables with orange plastic tablecloths ($1 each at Hobby Lobby). I also designed printable signs and labels that were placed throughout the party, and we created painted wood signs to mark all the stations.

Party Decor:
Balloon arches – this was my first ever attempt at a balloon arch, and I’m hooked because they were so easy! I blew up orange, blue and white balloons (using a hand pump I already had), and tied 6-inch pieces of twine around tied ends. I then stuck command strips to the wall, and strung a longer piece of twine from one side to the other. Next I tied the balloons to the twine, alternating colors and sizes, pushing the balloons together until the right look took shape. Where there were gaps, I filled in with small balloons or added larger ones underneath the existing balloons to push them up and cover any twine that was showing.
Rag tie banner – I used 2 orange and 2 blue bandanas, and cut each of them into 1-inch strips. I then tied each strip to twine, and shifted it along the twine to be even. I alternated orange and blue.
Fabric runners – I purchased 3 yards of fabric (around $5/yard on sale at Hobby Lobby), I was able to make 3 runners, each about 14 inches wide. I used pinking sheers to cut the runners, and did not hem them (FYI – I create these runners for nearly all my parties – it’s a relatively inexpensive way to tie together a theme!)
Paper signs and labels – I created flyers to help explain the party rules and placed them in acrylic stands I already had. I also designed water bottle covers, points labels and cupcake toppers (2 slightly different versions for a each party). I printed all but the cupcake toppers on regular paper – the cupcake toppers had to be printed on card stock for my circle punch to work properly. Below is a link to the PDF file for all of the printables!
Wooden signs – We used scrap deck boards (but any similar scrap wood pieces could work), and my husband cut them into roughly 30-inch pieces and screwed wooden stakes to them. If you don’t have a saw, both Home Depot and Lowe’s will cut wood for you in the store. We purchased a 12 pack of wooden stakes for $8 at Lowe’s. I then used acrylic paint to paint the words – for some signs I used a stencil, and some I free-handed.

For food, I did my best to deliver orange and blue food that was NOT loaded with artificial food coloring. I believe the only food coloring we had was in the blue Doritos (these were a request from the birthday boys), and the little bit of sprinkles I topped the cupcakes with. With my aversion to artificial food coloring, I do my best to avoid colored icing. However, I achieved the pops of color I wanted for the theme with the cupcake liners (always use foil because they keep their color after baking!) and the cupcake toppers (printouts that I cut with my circle paper punch and hot glued to toothpicks). For snacks I had clementines (orange!), trail mix (from Aldi, packaged in blue!) and the previously mentioned blue Doritos. I also created an orange punch (a mix of mango-tangerine and mango-passion 100% fruit juices and ginger ale). I threw in some sliced oranges for flare. We used blue paper plates, napkins, cups, and straws – all purchased at Dollar Tree for $1/pack.

To accompany the pizza (and to serve as munchies for both kids and adults), I made a pasta and veggie salad, pimento cheese, a cheese and meat charcuterie board, french onion dip with chips, and ham and cream cheese roll-ups. In addition to the orange punch, we served Capri Suns (blue!) and tangerine La Croix (orange!).

While this party was a lot of work, it was super gratifying to see the excitement on our boys’ and their friends’ faces! Having a handy husband who happily constructed our obstacle course and battlefield was clutch! For the supply bags, obstacle course, target practice and battlefield, I estimate it was around $380. I was able to reuse all but the supply bags for my other son’s birthday party the next day, so this improved my per-party budget – win!!

If a Nerf War party is in your future, I hope that my post can help give you some helpful tips and ideas to pull off a birthday your kids won’t soon forget! Now, on to my next party! 🙂


The 10th Anniversary of My 21st Birthday

I’ve got an anniversary coming up – a big one!  Oh, where I was then, and where I am now – what a difference!  Like, not even in the same universe different!  I was having a grand ole time down in Gainesville, doing what most 21-year-olds do in a college town.  Little did I know where 10 years would take me – it’s greater than I could have ever imagined.

I consider myself a happy person.  The little things make me smile.  I love the life I have now – even though it’s not glamorous, even though I don’t get out much, and even though I have more responsibility than I ever could have fathomed.  And I have my 21-year-old self to thank for that.  If I hadn’t done all that I did at 21 – sometimes stupid, sometimes reckless and always fun – I would not be able to find the contentment I have today with my simple little life.  Yes, I had enough fun back then to last a lifetime!  I love that me and the hubs stay home most of the time.  I love that we live in a quiet neighborhood in the suburbs.  I love that I work a 9 to 5.  I love spending my weekends with my boys.  I look forward to their extracurriculars taking over my life one day soon! (Ok, I’m sure I’ll regret saying that in a couple of years!) I love all these normal, ordinary things, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Sure, I made some stupid decisions – but luckily I’m still around to talk about them!  But stupid decisions helped me to mature into the person I am today. (We’ll see how I feel about the risk/reward ratio on stupid decisions when my kids grow up!)

I’ve tried to think of any advice I would give my 21-year-old self, and there’s really just one thing – don’t get your belly button pierced.  Don’t do it.  Seriously.  You don’t want to know what that thing will look like after two kids. [Sigh]

So happy anniversary to me! It’s good to be (almost) 31!

21st birthday