Last year, K had a Thomas the Tank Engine themed birthday party. To be honest, I think he would have been more than happy to have the exact same party again this year, but there was no way I was going to remake that cake! While he still loves Thomas, he also loves Shinkansens (bullet trains) - as a result this year, K had a Shinkansen party! We threw the party this past Sunday, even though his birthday was a few weeks ago. I really wanted to post this last night, but was exhausted and couldn't be bothered writing it all out.
I started with the invitations to four little boys about a month ago. I tried to make the invitations look like a Shinkansen ticket, but I think only one of the moms picked up on that. At the very least, she was the only one to mention it. Of the four little guys, three of them are three, like K, and one of them will be three in a few months. One of the three year olds couldn't come, but we still ended up with five kiddies as one of the boys has a four-year old sister.
Now that the little boys are a bit older, I thought a game could be fun. We started the party with a Shinkansen race! We had decided a few months back that we would rent the little gym outside the condo so that the pinata would be a bit easier to deal with. This meant we had ample space to have the Shinkansen race. My plan was to make 5 "Shinkansens" out of boxes and have each kid sit in a box. I had Y make signs for each station from Shin Osaka to Tokyo (Kyoto, Nagoya, Shin Yokohama, and Shinagawa), as well as tickets for the boys, and the dads would push the boys to each station, where a mom would be waiting with a stamp to mark on the ticket that the boy got to her station. Once the dads took the boys to each station, they had to race back to the starting line - the first one would get a prize. Because one of the boys couldn't come, we had the older sister play as well. The dad pushed her and a good friend of ours pushed the little brother.
That was the game plan, but first I had to make the Shinkansens. Holy moly, did this take ages to do. I wasn't anticipating it taking so long, but nothing is ever easy, right? I started out with five big cardboard boxes and covered each one in a huge sheet of white paper.
I was most concerned with how the outside looked. I left the inside as is and the bottom with just the paper folded under and tape holding it together. Whatevs. Although I wasn't too worried about them looking great, this still took quite a while to deal with.
Once that all of the boxes were covered, I drew on the windows and lines to make them look like a Nozomi Shinkansen (the one that takes you from Tokyo west, past Shin Osaka and on to Fukuoka, I think).
Once the lines were drawn on, I colored them in with marker. Both these steps took a long time to do as well. I wanted them to all look uniform, so it was a lot of measuring and then a long time coloring - I went through a few permanent markers getting this done.
Once I had them ready, they were stacked up like the above photo in a room that (for whatever reason) K almost never enters. We had the door open one day, however; he came in the room, saw the Shinkansens and gasped. It was about the cutest reaction I could have hoped for. He knew that they were Nozomis and asked to play with them. It was really difficult keeping him away, but I just kept saying they were for the party and let him get excited for the big day.
While I think I could have been done with the Shinkansens at that point, but pushing these across the floor with just paper and tape on the bottom sounded like a bit of a bad idea. I really didn't want them to get destroyed so quickly, particularly given the amount of time it took to make them.
So I covered the bottom of each one in a huge sheet of felt. I just hot glued it on and then let it dry.
When the kids arrived at the gym, the Shinkansens were waiting in the corner for them. Once everyone arrived, we started the game. It was adorable!! Unfortunately, since I was stamping the cards and Y was pushing K, we don't have any photos of this bit. Trust me when I say the dads were in it to win it and the kids were giggling the whole time. Seriously, I could not have asked for it to have gone better.
Y ended up winning the race, but just by a second or so. He forfeitted his prize (a 6-pack of beer) to the runner up - the dad of the little girl. That dad was very gracious and shared his beer with everyone, and each of the kids were able to take their Shinkansens home - Lord knows I don't need five more Shinkansens sitting around this place!
The race was a lovely way to start out the party and get everyone in a Shinkansen frame of mind. Just after it, we moved on to the pinata - but more about that tomorrow (hopefully)!