May 14, 2013
So you've decided to throw an Octonauts party
Our little girl just turned three, and we had some family and friends over to celebrate. Since we had a lot of fun with Darren's Train Party last year, we decided to focus on a theme for Ally's party this year as well. She chose "The Octonauts," one of her favorite TV shows. She also picked "Cars 2," "Toy Story 2," "St. Patrick's Day," and "Alarm Clock", depending on when we asked her, so for the sake of sanity, Amy and I settled on The Octonauts, and promptly stopped asking her.
The Fishing Game
Somewhere Amy had heard of a fun-sounding game where each boy and girl gets a turn fishing for prizes. They put a fishing pole over a barrier, and a grown-up on the other side attaches a prize or a dummy prize. If they reel in a dummy prize, they try again.
To make it, we set up a shower curtain rod in a doorway, with a blue tablecloth over it that Amy had decorated with fish and seaweed. It was already more fun than real fishing.
I made a working fishing pole with a reel, based off the one Amy found on this site, with a few changes. I used two wooden dowels (one thick, one thin), for simplicity. And I used some old Construx toy parts for the reel, as they fit the job well. The fishing line is just kite string, with a chip clip at the end. Perfect for catching the elusive Ruffles Fish.
For prizes, Amy found sea-themed masks that the kids could decorate. For dummy prizes, we used a diaper, a shoelace, a plastic egg, and Uncle Brian.
The kids had a lot of fun, and got a good laugh at the dummy prizes.
As I'm sure you already know, each Octonauts episode at some point features the Octoalert, an alarm that springs the Octonauts into action, triggered by a big button. We thought it would be a great feature for the party.
I bought a cheap touchlight off Amazon (I had used the same model previously in my Prizewheel costume), and a waveshield (a circuitboard which can play music files) for my Arduino (a programmable circuit board). I took apart the touchlight, and wired the switch and the lights to the Arduino. I played the theme song the whole time to make it more dramatic.
I found a soundfile of the Octonauts theme (which starts with the Octoalert noise), and programmed the Arduino to turn on the light and play the song when the button is pressed. When the song is over, the light turns off. The song is a bit too long, but my attempts to trim it sounded pretty bad, so I left it as-is.
For the button image, I printed the octopus logo from octoalert.com, and cut out an outline stencil. I used a small amount of spray adhesive (I love this stuff, even though it tastes terrible) on the back to stick it to the button, along with the eyes and mouth. Then I used orange spray paint to fill in the stencil.
I made the box out of ½-inch MDF, cut with a jigsaw, and joined it with wood glue. I used some a2+b2=c2 to made sure to allow enough room to house my speaker (an old battery-powered speaker I've had forever).
I mounted the light to the box by drilling holes in the back of the touchlight case, and running bolts from the inside of the light, into the MDF box. I also drilled a hole for the wires that would be connect the touchlight to the Arduino.
I painted the box using some blue spraypaint I had. I also happened to have some silver left over from Darren's robot costume, so I put a light layer of that on top, to make the blue look metallic. I considered doing a flame job, too, but didn't want to push my luck.
I photoshopped-up some decals to surround the button, to match what it looks like in the show and added an "Octoalert" label using this Octonauts-style font.
Here's a video of the result, though the octopus logo gets a bit washed out in this video. It looks nicer in person. Also, here it's shown plugged in. During the party, it was powered by a 9-volt battery.
Amy did a fantastic job with the decorations. We had blue streamers to be water-esque, some green streamers for seaweed, and beach toys as snack dishes.
She made flag-style streamers using fabric she had left over from Ally's halloween birdie costume, and added little "fun-fact" cards from the show's website that we printed out and attached with spray adhesive
The gift boxes were modeled after a medical bag that one of the characters carries on the show. We bought plain white boxes and bandage images printed out on label paper.
I used a bit of Photoshop wizardry to make a welcome sign for the front door, featuring the birthday girl.
For each party, we have a tradition of putting up photos from every previous birthday. This time we had the younger Allys piloting submarines from the show that we had found on the show's website.
My favorite decorations were the felt hats that Amy made using her sewing machine. The kids looked like they belonged in the show. The logos were from the internet, printed, and attached with spray adhesive.
Here's our Hummus-topus, made from two red peppers, an olive, and some cream cheese.
We also made blue jello, with Swedish fish suspended inside, for a mini-fish-bowl you can eat.
For drinks, I mostly drank Octo-beer. It's the same as normal beer, but I drank eight of them.
And of course, our fantastic cake, using the tried-and-true "Put a toy on it" method of making it look really good. The seaweed is made from green fruit rollups, and the fish are gummy fish candies. The icing is white icing with blue coloring added. The sand (my favorite part) is made from golden oreos ground up in the food processor, with a few "regular" oreos mixed in to darken it a bit. The candles are candles.
The party was a great success, though I think we've just raised the bar for our next party this summer. Let the planning begin!Posted by Kevin at May 14, 2013 12:40 PM