We are STOKED about the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. So stoked in fact, that we decided to make it the theme of our son’s 11th birthday party! Using PVC pipe, black fabric, and UV LED strips, we transformed our backyard into an epic glow-in-the-dark arena for him and his friends.
The main thing I wanted to accomplish here is to give the kids some places to hide and/or pop out of during “battle,” as well as to set up some perimeters in hopes that we wouldn’t lose too many Nerf darts into the bushes. So the way your yard is set up will determine the shape of your arena and how much PVC, fabric, and lights you’ll need. We ended up making 60 feet of wall standing 5 feet high! That includes 2 long 10 foot walls …1 on each side, and a zig-zag wall up the middle, attaching the fabric by poking small holes then looping zip ties through these holes and around the pipe. (Tip: make multiple large slits in the fabric. If it is windy outside, this will help the air travel through the walls rather than blowing them over.) Drawing a rough sketch of the walls helped keep my sanity while counting how many PVC pipe connectors of each type I would need.
I zip-tied two UV LED strips along the top of both sides of the center (zig-zag) wall and surrounded the entire area with miscellaneously placed cardboard boxes, painted with UV paint to make if feel extra “galactic.”
- Nerf Guns – There’s a good chance that most kids have some sort of Nerf gun already. But we didn’t want to assume so we bought a bunch of these Nerf guns from Amazon at about $6 each and had them set up on the table for the children who needed them to grab as they arrived. The other thing is that we wanted to keep it an even playing field and didn’t want any of those battery operated automatic guns because that just takes the fun out of it. So we were sure to mention that on the invitation.
- UV Lights – The UV LED strips were fantastic, but try to include as many additional UV lights as possible. The more things glow, the better.
- Glow-in-the-dark Nerf Darts – these are optional, but really add a cool element to the party. They look almost like lasers as they shoot out (very GotG-esque). You can buy these in bulk on Amazon as well. Just be sure to “charge” them before the party by placing them under a UV light for about an hour (a regular light will work too, but the UV will make it last longer).
- Various light-up and glow accessories – Think glows sticks and LED jewelry.
Since the main focus of this party was the arena, we didn’t do a whole lot of themed food like we normally would, so we just had chicken strips and french fries catered from Raising Cane’s (my son’s favorite). But I did spend the morning helping my wife make this awesome cake inspired by Star Lord’s Awesome Mix cassette tape, but instead of “Volume 1” ours read “Awesome Mix Vol. 11” in honor of the birthday boy. With the cake, we served a “galactic punch.” [In a large punch bowl, pour in grape soda and lemonade. Add in spherical scoops of rainbow sherbet (they’ll look like planets against the night sky) and sprinkle with small dehydrated marshmallows (stars).]
If you know us at all, you know this family likes to dress for an occasion. My wife and I dressed in outfits inspired by Starlord and Gamora and we dressed the kids as Rocket and Baby Groot. Unfortunately, my friend who was planning to be Drax wasn’t able to make it, but another friend managed to pull off an amazing last minute Nebula.
And so… 20 yards of PVC walls and 20 kids later, the party ended an absolute success. Needless to say it was a long day for Erika and I but the smile on my son’s face by the end of this party was well worth it.
Edit: Thanks so much for checking out my first blog post! I hope to have many more to come. If you feel inspired to make a “backyard battle arena” of your own, we’d love to see it! Be sure to use #castlecravings when posting your pics to Instagram or Twitter!