Let me recap.
- 12 ten year old boys.
- 1 massive bonfire.
- 18 different sugary treats on offer.
- 1 hour of daylight.
- 2 1/2 hours of pitch darkness.
No, really, what was I thinking?!
When they arrived the boys were set the task of gathering wood. This is the first thing you do in the Minecraft game when you’re a newbie, so I thought it a fitting way to start them off on a task that would wear them out a bit and amuse them while their buddies all arrived. I had also devised a treasure hunt for the party that meant they had to perform four tasks to receive four clues to the whereabouts of five swords that would reveal some important treasure at the end of the party.
Spoiler alert: the ‘treasure’ was the arrival of the pizza man. There was one letter revealed on each sword – p. i. z. z. a. If only pizza wasn’t such an obvious word to “unscramble”, but what can you do?
The four sword-hunting tasks
In any case, there were four tasks to receive four clues:
1. Gather enough wood to fill a huge basket.
2. Exterminate a spiders’ nest.
3. Mine for 12 gems.
4. Defeat the enderdragon.
Task 1 | Gather wood
Gathering wood was a great first task, the trouble was – WHY were they gathering wood? Initially I thought they should build a shelter, but then I hit on the brilliant idea of getting them to gather wood to light up the firepit and… there’s really no excuse for brilliance, is there?
They received their first clue when the basket was sufficiently filled with sticks. I sent them back at least three times, specifying that there was still room in the basket. In the end they took it very seriously and stacked that basket completely full and were very proud of themselves when I finally rewarded them with the clue.
It’s my opinion that kids have more fun when you’re super tough on them. Mind you, later I thought that the obvious solution to the clue thing would have been to attach it to a stick that they had to find. Der.
Task 2 | Exterminate a spiders’ nest
I made the spiders’ nest using a pinboard (any board will do), black balloons and some gaffer tape. Inside one of the balloons was their next clue, inside other balloons were sweets or the occasional explosion of confetti. I think they were more keen to get a confetti balloon than a clue balloon, which was the reason why I added the confetti. When I set the game up I was certain that some smarty-pants would pop the clue balloon on the very first pop and I needed to have some incentive to keep the game going. As it happened, the clue balloon lasted until the third last pop. Miracle!
A little down time…
After the spiders’ nest game, we gathered them around the bonfire with some marshmallows and sticks.
At this stage they were so thrilled to all be together around a campfire I reckon I could have started them all in a round of Kumbyah and they would have been thrilled. We toasted marshmallows, watched the flames, laughed at a couple of fart jokes, gathered more and more wood and watched a glorious sunset. It was all a bit fabulous, really.
Then it got dark.
Then it got dark.
Let me just say that I’m not completely mental, sending 12 little boys out to run in the darkness untethered. I made the boys torches. Sweet little $4 (including batteries, Bunnings) Eveready torches made to look like Minecraft torches. See, look at them.
The boys all screamed, “oh, these are fantastic, look a Minecraft torch, how cool” before ripping off the paper and throwing it in the fire. This seemed to spark a bonfire within each of them because after that, there was no stopping them. They threw in any piece of paper or cardboard they could find in our house. The bonfire grew as high as the boys. They pranced and danced around the fire, flames in their eyes and danger in their hearts, chanting ‘creeper, creeper, creeper’ (that may or may not have been my idea). The fire grew higher still, offering up smoke and flame to the red-eyed, black-toothed Gods of the Night.
Before the fire could offer up a small boy as well, I did the only thing a parent can do in a crisis situation.
I turned on the television.
Happy birthday carved out of the big screen Minecraft world was Bart’s handiwork – such a cute touch. In any case, the boys were glued to the screen, watching each other playing 5 minutes each. I was stunned to see how quickly they went from leaping pandemonium to complete zombies, controlled and silent. Hmmmm…. there’s something in that. Ha!
Task 3 | Mine for gems
I eventually dragged them all away from the screen (most of them anyway) to take their turn mining for gems in a big sandbucket. I was a bit sneaky because I put most of the gems right at the bottom and heaped the sand on top. It was really hard to dig down and find them. The boys eventually got bored before they found all the gems, wandering back to the television or the fire. I realised then that there are two types of boy in the world: fire boys and zombie boys.
Generally I like the fire boys best, but at the Minecraft party, I was definitely into the zombies.
Task 4 | Defeat the enderdragon
Both types of boys like hitting things. If mistake #1 was lighting up a bonfire at a boy party and mistake #256 was serving green cordial, then mistake #487 was giving the boys a metal rod and instructing them to hit something that was swinging.
“Get back, boys, get back!!” I hollered incessantly. “Get back, stand back, look out, get back.” The noise was unbelievable, with 16 kids (12 boys, 4 girls) screeching with excitement as the enderdragon’s nose was whipped clean off by a mighty blow.
No one listened to me. “Get back, get back! Look out! Get back!”
The shrieks swelled as the nose was whipped clean off and the “guts” fell out of the enderdragon – the poor old fairy lights I’d so carefully taped inside, dangling outside and flashing on and off, on and off as the blows just kept on coming kept coming.
“C’mon, look out, stand back, boy! Back!” I have never yelled so loudly in my life. I was just so scared that one of them was going to take a blow to the head by a metal rod. Just what you need at a party, right?
In desperation I turned to Bart and said something along the lines of, “these little fuckers”. It might have been “I can’t believe these fuckers” or “crazy fuckers” or… in any case, they heard fuckers alright. Never heard a single “stand back”, “look out” or “watch out”, but I drop the f-bomb and they all have bionic hearing.
All’s well that ends well – the boys crashed through the enderdragon and out poured the gold (Crunchies) with the final clue taped around one bar. They yippppeeeed and hooted and promptly raced the enderdragon carcass around the side on the house to hurl him onto the fire.
The hunt for the swords
Then it was time to light the torches and head out on the hunt for the swords. A clue was read by the boy who found it and off they scurried to find the sword before returning to read their next clue. To add to the drama, I wrapped each sword up tightly in purple cellophane so the boys couldn’t get them open no matter how hard they tried. Being left to painstakingly open each sword myself was a special touch.
I made the clues really cryptic to keep them occupied for as long as possible. You can imagine how much they loved heading out on the trail in the dark with their torches, solving the clue.
“You’ll find what you seek under water” – under the tap out the back.
“Three guardians protect two swords” – the three huge gum trees in our front yard.
“The news is good that you will find another sword” – in the mail box.
“Up high but nowhere to climb you will find your next clue” – at the top of the cliff in our backyard (just keeping things as dangerous as possible, you understand).
The boys were all suitably impressed with the pizza prize which arrived right on time just as they put the sword clues together. Thank you, pizza man!
At last, it ends… sort of.
After pizza it was cake cutting time, home time and wine time. But oh, what’s this you say? Not one, not two, but THREE boys are staying overnight? And your daughters are also having a friend to stay, bringing the total number of sugar-riding, party-hysterical overnighting kids to EIGHT? Oh joy! Whose marvellous idea was this?
No really, who knew that after all you’ve been through this evening, at 1 o’clock in the morning you will still be asking yourself, “what was I thinking!?!?!”