In the past 3 months, we’ve conquered Christmas, survived the return to school, managed the mysteries of the NG-tube and, most recently, started to tackle the tricky business of food re-introductions, Now it was time for my biggest challenge yet: M’s birthday party.
As G turned 11 back in December when M and I were in GOSH and we didn’t get to mark it in any great way, I wanted to make sure she could celebrate her day with her friends albeit belatedly. By the time Christmas had passed, the new year was in and we got round to making plans, half-term was fast approaching with M’s birthday hot on its heels. I tentatively suggested we threw a joint party, not at all sure what response I might get and was delighted when they leapt at the chance. Next came the trickier job of agreeing what to do and even though many ideas were bandied around, we struggled to come to a compromise that suited them both. With M keen to do LaserQuest or rock-climbing and G hankering after bowling, a final decision seemed impossible to reach until, in a rare moment of like-mindedness, they put their heads together and came up with the idea of a Cluedo-themed birthday party.
The first step was to set the scene for the murder of Mr Black by choosing enough character names, crime scenes and potential murder weapons to accommodate 16 children. We started with the original lists of the game itself and added to them, ending up with 10 weapons, 10 rooms and 16 characters, which G and M allocated to each of their friends in turn. I designed and then created the invitations to be handed out at school, inviting the children to join in the birthday celebrations for Captain M Emerald and Countess G Pearl.
Naturally, the finer details of exactly how the party would be run were left to me, but I loved the idea of a murder-mystery style party based on this classic board-game and have spent much of the last 4 weeks planning, preparing and perfecting each element of the day. The children had lots of ideas about what they wanted to do and we ended up with a series of games, activities and refreshments that would prove to keep the most picky of 11 year-old girls and most active of 9 year-old boys happy for 2 hours. Each game was attributed to one of our 16 characters, so the guests had the opportunity to test their skills with a Nerf gun at Colonel Mustard’s Shooting range or joined in the pottery painting classes run by Mrs Peacock and Lady Lilac. We wanted the children to still experience the original aim of the game and work out the who, where and how of the murder, so every activity they did gave them the opportunity to reveal more cards to eliminate suspects from their lists. This could be as simple as decorating a cupcake for Reverend Green’s church fundraiser to see 2 cards, or as revolting as delving deep into Mrs White’s giant trifle to pull out another one. Everybody had a chance to try their luck at each of the games and they all had a whale of a time.
As M is still very limited with the foods he is currently able to eat, I decided to avoid a traditional party tea and instead served a dessert buffet, which included pineapple and Foxes glacier mints, both of which are safe for him. He was also involved heavily in the decision-making about which cakes, biscuits and sweets would be on offer to his friends, which meant he was aware of what his friends would be eating and was happy to sit with them and chat as they all helped themselves to the selection of treats. The final party game was “Pass the revolver”, which saw the children completing forfeits to see the final 2 Cluedo cards before they had to reach their conclusions and share the results of their investigations. Nobody successfully worked out all 3 murder cards, though there was a small cohort who managed to work out 2 of the 3 elements correctly. We finished with the traditional rousing renditions of “Happy Birthday” and then sent our guests on their way. Both G and M loved every moment of their Cluedo birthday party and the text messages I’ve since received have assured me that their friends had a great time too. In the words of one of M’s friends, it was “the best birthday party EVER!“