Basketball Party -10yr- Indoor Court at the Park
Elizabeth in Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Our son's birthday is in winter, during the rainy season, so we rented an indoor basketball court at the local parks and recreation department for 45 dollars an hour. If the weather had permitted, we could have had it outside but this was really nice because it was a full size court with two hoops.
INVITATION: I made the invitations on the computer to look like an oversize ticket to a basketball game, complete with bar code, perforated ticket stubs and a clip art picture of a basketball. I used a ticket to an NBA game as a reference. To make one like ours, separate the ticket into three sections, marked by dashed lines. The left and right sections should be the same width, about and inch and a half or so, with the middle section being about four times as wide as each side section, about 5 and a half inches wide. In the middle portion, in large bold text it read in black ink and all caps, Pablo LastName's 10th Birthday Party." Below this was the party date to the left side of a large picture of a basketball. Below the date it read "Tip-Off @ 4:30 pm" followed by "Post-Game Pizza until 8:00 pm." In a smaller text at the bottom it read "Drop-off & pick-up @ Pablo's house" and our address. Then "Transportation provided to/from THPRD Indoor Basketball Courts." That way the parents knew where we'd be going.
We left a map on our front door for latecomers but everyone was on time so we didn't need it. On the right side of the ticket it read in orange ink and in all caps "Wear your favorite basketball jersey or t-shirt!" Then in black it read "If you don't have a jersey let us know. We have a few extras." Under that back in orange ink I wrote "Court Shoes Required" in all caps. On the left side stub was a long bar code printed vertically with numbers beneath it that were our son's birth date his name in all caps and the date of the party. It also read "No refunds or exchanges." On the bottom of both perforated sides of the ticket in black ink was "RSVP and our phone number." Once I printed the tickets on white computer paper I cut them out and stuck them to orange construction paper.
DECORATIONS: We made signs using big black markers and orange red green and yellow construction paper then hung the signs on the walls in the party area of our house. Some of the signs read "Swoosh! 3 Points!" "Happy 10th Birthday Pablo" "He shoots He scores!" "Pablo for MVP" "Whoop! There it is!" "Double Digits" an acrostic using the letters ESPN "Everyone Sportin' Pablo's Number" with the number 10 on it. We used the number ten a lot since he was turning 10. One sign parodied the 2009-2010 NBA advertising slogan and read "Pablo's Birthday Party Where FUN happens." Amongst the posters I stuck extra cake plates which looked like big orange basketballs. I also hung up pictures and posters of NBA players. If you don't have any you can find them online and print them. Or you could use trading cards. Other than that just typical party decorations like streamers and lots of orange balloons. On the kitchen table we used paper plates that looked like basketballs and orange napkins. I used a basketball court game we had on hand as a centerpiece. I put the party favors which had the kids' names on them on top of the plates which acted as place cards.
COSTUMES: When kids arrived they all ran up to the playroom to goof around until everyone had arrived then came downstairs to get their uniforms on. We had divided the kids into two teams before the party started and had one group in colored NBA jerseys and the other in white NBA jerseys. Each group picked a team name. We had 10 kids total. Note: Later on before we ate my husband took back the jerseys that kids had borrowed from us so none of them got stained with tomato sauce or chocolate.
SNACKS: Before loading everyone into the cars I passed out giant soft pretzels like you can buy at sporting events. I found them in the freezer section of a grocery store but I had to try a few stores first. It was a good snack choice since cleaning kosher salt out of my minivan was a lot easier than wiping up nacho cheese snow cone drips or cotton candy's sticky mess. On the way to the courts we played music in the car from the movie "Space Jam."
ACTIVITIES/GAMES: Once we got to the courts each kid got their own basketball and they shot hoops for a while. Having so many balls was another benefit to renting the indoor court. Then we played basketball games like H-O-R-S-E Around the World and Knock-out (which the kids play at recess). I am still trying to understand the rules of Knock-out myself but the kids had it under control. Briefly you play with two basketballs. All the kids line up single file. The first kid shoots with the first ball. Then the second kid shoots with the second ball. If the second kid scores before the first kid the first kid is knocked out of the game. If not then once the first kid scores he passes his ball to kid three who is at the front of the line and that kid tries to knock out kid number two while kid number one runs to the end of the line for another turn. The game ends when everyone has been knocked out except for the winner. There are some fine print rules but these are the basics. Decide in advance if you allow kids to hit each others' balls in mid-air preventing baskets. You can also do a three-point or free-throw contest. The kids really wanted to lower the hoops to 6 feet and have a slam dunk contest but that was against the park and rec department's rules for safety reasons. Aw
The last game we played is called Hot Lava Monster where kids have to dribble balls across the court without getting their ball stolen by the hot lava monster who must keep his feet touching the center court line. If you lose your ball then you join the hot lava monster until only one kid is left the winner. To make it easier the hot lava monster merely has to touch the kid dribbling instead of stealing his ball. We played these games for about 45 minutes then played an actual 5 on 5 basketball game with my husband as the referee. Make sure you bring a whistle. He cheated a bit to make it more fun for the kids who weren't as good as the others. For example he kept calling my son's team for smiling fouls so the one girl at the party who wasn't a basketball player could shoot free throws over and over. "Hey you smiled. That's a foul!" Everyone was a good sport about this. The boys and even the sole girl loved playing ball. I thought for sure the non-athletic kids would be bored or feel lost but they all had a fantastic time. Some other activities you can use are making pennants designing your own mascot NBA trivia games and basketball word puzzles or bingo. While we were still at the indoor court I made sure to get a few team photos for the scrapbook which was good since all my action shots were blurry. Afterwards we piled back into the cars and drove home for dinner and presents. We served pizza and hot-dogs sodas and rootbeer floats.
CAKE: There's a great cupcake design in the Martha Stewart cupcake cookbook which uses orange sprinkles and black licorice or gel to make mini basketballs. Nick Jr. also has good cake instructions. But since my son hates cake we had birthday brownies instead which he wanted without frosting so I stuck a couple of basketball picks in amongst the candles.
FAVORS: Each kid received a big bottle of gatorade which they could drink at the party or take home. Attached to the gatorade bottles with orange curling ribbon were a package of basketball trading cards and a note I made that said "Thanks for coming to my party. Hope you had a ball!" We also presented some prizes to the kids which included stickers from our local NBA team a few extra autographed NBA posters my son got at basketball camp and those inflatable cheer sticks people bang together behind the hoop when an NBA player is shooting a free throw. We've got friends with season tickets to our local NBA teams' home games and they often give us their extra cheer sticks which I'd been saving up. Everyone at the party got a prize.
After dinner cake and presents the kids disappeared upstairs to trade cards hang out and play basketball video games. We also had the movie "Space Jam" cued up to the part where the Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan play the big game but I honestly can't remember if we ended up showing it. The party lasted almost 4 hours and was the best party ever but don't they say that every year? Hope your basketball party is a slam dunk!"
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