Outdoor Movie Pajama Party
Readers share planning tips and photos from recent parties.
Birthday parties for children should be fun and stress-free. For that reason, many parents turn to local businesses to host these parties. From crafting and bowling to laser tag and gymnastics, there are a variety of birthday party options in our area. Yet, some parents crave a "unique experience" to mark their child's special day.
Lindsey Foundos is undeniably a "hostess with the mostess" who enjoys entertaining at home. She started brainstorming ideas when the oldest of her three daughters, Mackenzie, said she wanted a Camp Rock theme for her birthday party when she turned 6.
Camp Rock is a popular film on Disney Channel and the sequel came out on DVD earlier this month. Lindsey came up with the idea that Mackenzie could watch the movie with her friends in their pajamas, pretending to have a sleepover (since most of the girls are too young to actually spend the night at a friend's house).
For most busy moms, a themed-birthday party starts and ends with special plates. Lindsey starts at Michaels to get ideas for invitations and decorations. She created an invitation that showed a film strip and popcorn to set the stage for the party.
"I really wanted to create the best experience from start to finish," said Lindsey.
She added that Mackenzie, in particular, really appreciates her efforts and enjoys party planning as much as she does. Lindsey joked that people who attend her parties are either impressed or think she needs "professional help."
Although everything looks extravagant, Lindsey tries hard to make her parties "cost friendly and as easy as possible." She said that keeping the costs down pleases her husband, Michael. The biggest expense for Mackenzie's party was around $100 to rent the projector from an audio visual company Lindsey found on the Internet. For everything else, she bargain-shopped and asked everyone she knew for help.
The "screen" for the outdoor movie was a wide, white rollup shade that Lindsey found in her grandma's attic that she hung on her neighbors' fence. She purchased several yards of red velvet at Jo-Ann Fabrics to put over the shade to create the appearance of drapes.
Lindsey wanted a marquee out front to announce the movie and Mackenzie's birthday. She asked a friend who is a graphic designer to create a 6-foot-wide PDF that looked like a marquee and had it printed and laminated at HighStarr Copy Services for less than $15. To construct the marquee, she purchased PVC pipe at Home Depot and used Christmas lights. Lindsey didn't stop there — she bought red felt at Jo-Ann Fabrics and covered the walkway to her home. After all, what kind of big screening party doesn't have a red carpet to lead guests to the theater?
For food, Lindsey kept it simple and served pizza, popcorn, movie snacks and birthday cake. She ordered the cake from Shoppers and told them exactly what she wanted. The cake was only $11. Lindsey borrowed a 5-foot-tall popcorn machine to put at the concession stand and hired two tweens from the neighborhood to "work" it and help the party guests, who were ages 4 to 8. She said that having the older girls to assist with the little ones is a huge help because it provides "extra hands" so that everyone can enjoy themselves.
All in all, Lindsey spent around $350 and entertained 15 party guests and a few parents. Comparatively, Bow-Tie Cinemas offers movie parties in their theaters for $20 to $25 per child (depending on the movie) and a minimum of 10 children. Those party guests get one hour in a party room and spend the rest of the time in the theater.
Lindsey's guests arrived at 7 p.m. and were kept on a pretty tight schedule. They ate pizza and took turns whacking the piñata that looked like an old-fashioned movie camera. The tween helpers hid glow sticks, which the party guests had to find in the backyard to turn in and receive "tickets." The tickets could then be used by the guests at the concession stand to "purchase" candy and snacks of their choice to eat during the movie.
Since the screen was outdoors, the movie started when it got dark. To allow the party guests some wiggle time, Lindsey scheduled an "intermission" halfway through the movie to serve birthday cake. She laughed and said that she didn't care if the kids finished watching the movie or not, although she said it seemed to hold their interest.
Lindsey also had personalized thank-you notes, which included a photo of the marquee out front to serve as a memento for guests. She's definitely carried through the party theme from start to finish.
When asked what she liked best about her Camp Rock outdoor movie pajama party, Mackenzie smiled big and said: "I liked opening presents."