Mitchell’s birthday is coming up. He’s never had a big party, so this year we decided we will splurge on one, especially since he genuinely has so many friends. I asked Mitchell “What kind of cake would you like this year?” to which he promptly replied without any hesitation “MARIO!”.
Well that’s easy I thought. In hindsight, the cake is the easy part of a Mario party. When you are restricted by your venue (an indoor playground in our case), it actually isn’t as easy as one might think. If we were back in Oz, our back yard would be adorned with large Mario cardboard cutouts, fire flowers and yoshi eggs, primary coloured balloons and streamers, etc. Here, all we had to work with was the top of the food table. Everything else has to stay as is.
After looking at a variety of Mario ideas online, I decided to do some papercraft. Not all the papercraft is as easy as it looks online, but with time and patience, I created a powerup mushroom and a yoshi egg. Knowing Mitchell’s love of Mario Kart, I found a template for making a cube and attempted to copy the basic shades of the bonus cubes from the game in hues of blue and green (I know it has red and yellow as well, but given the translucent look in the video game I stuck to the blues and greens). Mitchell knew exactly what they were once I folded them together. Knowing that we wanted to place chocolate coins, I attempted to find a template for a Mario question mark box. When that failed, I used my own cube template to create a crude question mark box which I printed on yellow card.
I also played around with some paper mache in an attempt to make a “chomper” (I don’t know what it is actually called – black ball thing with teeth, normally on a chain). I paper mache’d over a round balloon, let it dry and painted it black. Once the black pain was dry I painted white eyes and a large white mouth. When the white was dry, I cut out the mouth, large enough an adult could put their hand in the mouth easily, cutting the edges into large white cerated teeth. Mitchell thought it was great once he saw the finished object. (Personally I didn’t think it looked all that good, but his opinion was all that mattered) The chomper will hold a large bowl of Maltesers for those brave enough to stick their hand in his mouth.
I cut a few corners in planning the food. I was going to bake star cookies and question mark club sandwiches. Mario is Italian though, and loves pizza. So instead we placed a catering order with the local Pizza Hut to have some pizzas delivered (and save heaps of prep time). I’ve made the Hong Kong favorite of sausages on a stick, with a Mario twist – instead of being topped with plain marshmellows, the marshmellows have red buttercream icing swirls with white dots, a-la powerup mushrooms. I always over-cater, and since Mitchell’s party is an afternoon party, we’re trying to keep it simple.
Next step were the show bags, party bags, party favors – call them what you will. In planning these I wanted to try and include a few Mario themed pieces, use as little candy as possible and reflect the fun nature of Mitchell’s personality, all for under US$5 per bag. I dragged my husband out to Sham Shui Po on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. There is a section of a street there (Fuk Wing Street) that has shop upon shop specialising in toys and party favors… in bulk. Buy 10, get a discount on the price. Buy more and they discount further. Looking through the shops I was amazed at the variety. The downside was most of what we saw was more appropriate for 6 year olds that 3 or 4 year olds. However there were many stores with a wide and varied selection of merchandise and we found several potential items to go in the party favor bags, including the bags themselves. Titus reeled me in when I started looking at making the party bags completely Mario themed and said they needed to be more diversified. So we settled on a mini Mario Kart toy, Mario pencil, light up gummy gel ring, Mickey/Disney Princess stamper and one of these guys:
Angry birds. The geek in us laughed. Mitchell literally squealed in delight when he saw them. He loves the Angry Birds game.
We needed something to put the goodies in. Previously the plastic goody bags have cost me a bit, and they don’t normally fit everything neatly. In Sham Shui Po we found Mario food bags (I am guessing they are called that because you could put your lunch in them) – made of the nylon material the supermarket environmental bags are made of, complete with a zipper along the top. I figured they would cost a fortune and be out of our budget, but when I was told one would cost HK$12, I thought they might be viable. Then my husband came along, told the lady in Cantonese we needed 36 and all of a sudden they were only HK$7/bag – that’s US$1/bag. I don’t think that is too much to pay for a bag which can be used again and again. Who’d’ve thought a party bag could be environmentally practical. Even better we could choose from the variety of patterns the store had. For the girls we chose Dora, for the boys, Mario.
All up, a few chocolate coins for those with a sweet tooth, and each Mario party favor bag cost me around US$4.20 for EVERYTHING. I was delighted with the fact I came in under budget AND got to include not only Mario stuff, but also something geeky.
Onward ho to the PARTY!