Quick tip: If you ever show up at a five-year-old’s Star Wars-themed birthday party wielding a lightsaber in full Jedi regalia, prepare for the attack of the preschoolers.
When my cousin Melanie reached out to friends and family for help and ideas regarding her son Matthew’s Star Wars soiree, I happily offered to lend a geeky hand. I’d show up in costume, bring my DJ gear, and spin a Star Wars soundtrack for the kiddos rivaling any entertainment you’d find in well-worn space cantina.
Walking away, not only do I carry a cranium of festive ideas and inspiration, I now posses mad saber skills when facing a fleet of pint-size partiers.
Agreeing to DJ Matthew’s bash, I knew a proper costume would be essential. Sure, I could just pop in wearing a Chewbacca tee, jeans, and my Star Wars Adidas sneaks. But I thought taking it to the next nerdy level could help give Matthew a little something to remember.
So, my pal hooked me up in screen-worthy style. Slipping on the prequel-style Jedi garb felt akin to donning an Elvis jumpsuit or superhero attire. Instantly, I segued into character, practically feeling the Force flow throughout. The tunic, belt, boots and robe had me rocking like a Rebel. Sith, be afraid. Be very afraid.
Don’t have access to hardcore cosplay attire? Of course, copious Star Wars costume options and themed clothing can be found in stores and online. No need to drop exorbitant credits on high-end costuming. Keep fun and whimsy at the forefront by simply sliding into the Yoda fleece robe available at ThinkGeek.com. The green hood gives you the Jedi Master’s pointy ears without the obscuring the face. The Boba Fett jumpsuit for men found on Amazon.com transforms the average Joe into a Mandalorian master of ceremonies sans the bulky armor.
Be the hostess they’re looking for without hiding beauty behind a stormtrooper helmet. HerUniverse.com offers plenty, such as a black skirt lined with images of lightsabers or 1950s-style pin-up dresses showcasing the vast expanse of either Hoth or Cloud City. ThinkGeek.com hawks some desert chic with a hooded tank dress created by Mighty Fine, inspired by the threads Rey wears on Jakku in The Force Awakens.
Nothing helps sets the literal tone of a party like music, and chances are the Rebo Band are booked. At Matthew’s event, I brought the sounds myself, including several hours of Star Wars tuneage, most of it uptempo, epic, or both.
When crafting the playlist, I instantly gravitated toward no brainers like the “Main Title,” “The Imperial March,” and both cantina cuts (“Cantina Band” and “Cantina Band #2”). “Jabba’s Baroque Recital” from Return of the Jedi works wonders during cocktail hour. As the energy level rises, “Jedi Rocks” and the reggae-soaked “Jabba Flow” from The Force Awakens serve as party pleasers.
“Weird Al”’s parodies (“Yoda,” “The Saga Begins”) add levity, and Meco’s Star Wars disco tracks often cause hips to shake involuntarily. Make sure and include the extended mix from “The Best of Meco.” Clocking in at nearly 16 minutes, it occupies substantial party time.
Pad your song selection by digging a little deeper for hidden gems. Look hard enough and you can find versions of “Lapti Nek” and “Ewok Celebration” (a.k.a. “Yub Nub”). The original Star Tours soundtrack song, featuring the voice of Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens as RX-24, brings playful nostalgia.
Jedi trials and party games
As each of the young guests entered the room, their eyes fixed upon a plastic tub full of homemade lightsabers. Melanie fashioned them herself, cutting swimming pool noodles into segments. She then made the handles for each by simply wrapping silver duct tape around a bottom section and adding strips of black duct tape for accents.
Having borrowed the only Force FX saber in our household — one of my sons has a Vader version — I broke Jedi protocol by brandishing a red blade. Particulars didn’t deter the younglings, who ferociously slashed at me with their noodle sabers.
I dodged. I parried. I spun like a ballerina. But the hits kept on coming.
Thankfully, Melanie’s husband, Musashi, provided some distraction in the form of a saber-tutoring session. A Jedi robe draping his body, Musashi gathered the kids outdoors and taught the basics, from right and left slashes to calculated blocks.
Next came the Jedi Trials themselves, a homegrown obstacle course challenging the kids to perform an array of actions. Weaving around cones, hopping through suspended hula hoops and firing a squirt gun blaster at a small Death Star hanging from a tree limb made up just a few.
Back inside, I quickly organized an impromptu lightsaber limbo competition. With my red saber aglow and pointing it straight in front of me, I had the young guests attempting to shimmy beneath it as I lowered it periodically. Put “Jabba Flow” on repeat, and you have your own intergalactic substitute for “Limbo Rock.”
When it comes to Star Wars-themed recipes for parties, of course, StarWars.com’s Jenn Fujikawa has more than enough ideas to help feed an entire fleet. Her Boonta Eve Punch, Ewok Donuts, and numerous others serve as fun and festive party fuel.
For Matthew’s event, Melanie took a more simple approach, even utilizing some preexisting goodies and christening them with new names. A bowl of dark colored doughnut holes became Death Star Donuts. Those bear-shaped Teddy Grahams crackers doubled as Ewok Treats. Who would’ve ever thought a load of cheese puffs could be dubbed Thermal Detonators?
My favorite, by far, had to be the Lightsaber Pretzels. She just grabbed a bag of pretzels sticks, and doused 3/4 of each stick with either blue or green icing. Boom! Near instant and edible.
Sure, brainstorming a Star Wars party could fill more volumes than a Jedi Temple could hold. Yet while serving as a Jedi DJ for a kid’s birthday, I witnessed how a little imagination and research can easily take a celebration to another galaxy. Yep, we all have the power of the festive Force.
Jon Waterhouse is an award-winning journalist, radio show host, and performer whose byline has appeared in a variety of print and online publications including Esquire, BlackBook, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and on MTV.com. He helms the geek travel blog NerdsOnHoliday.com.