Money Supermarket set bloggers all over the internet a challenge, to host a “Big Night In” and as simple as it sounded it did have me scratching my head for a while. I mean if you are going to have a Big Night In it needs to be a BIG night in, right?
So as a starting point I began to think about a theme for our night. I thought about trying to recreate the things that make a good night out with the kids and translate them to the house but that seemed a bit obvious and also If we were going to do bowling and movies etc we may as well go out and do them properly, we needed to do something we could only do at home. So then I thought about general “boy” themes and for a while I did consider doing a cowboy theme night, a pirate theme and even a summer festival theme but I struggled to come up with ideas to make them REALLY work so they were no goes also. Finally I decided that if I needed inspiration for what my children would enjoy for a BIG night in there was one thing for it; I decided to ask Elliott what he liked to do at home and then try to make it bigger.
Elliott said “playing with my toys” – ok fair enough he’s 4 I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting! So I started to think about the boys toys and struck upon the theme, BATMAN NIGHT!
Elliott and Sam both love a bit of Batman, Elliott has Imaginext Batman and Sammy has Little People Batman, They love to play Batman games alone and also together and of course they LOVE to dress up!
With the theme settled upon I invited a friend of ours from Iconic Legion, Del. The boys really like Del and he is great with them and I thought having a surprise guest will make the night seem even more special – luckily for me he was up to it ….. I think the promise of a roast dinner helped tip the scales!
So we needed food, activities and most importantly FAMILY FUN but also not so much work to set it all up that it would suck out all of the enjoyment out of the evening for the adults. After a bit more head scratching I had a plan in mind and after picking Elliott up from pre-school it was a quick trip to Tesco to pick up the things we would need that we didn’t already have in the house
I decided to theme the kids food but as Del and I both suffer with food allergies and Steve will have done a long hard day in the office I committed to cooking a roast for the grown ups – everyone loves a good roast. Being mindful to keep things simple I cheated and bought pre chopped veggies that I could just throw in the steamer and roasted baby new potatoes as there wouldn’t need pealing and chopping. But that’s not the fun bit the fun bit was the boys dinner.
I knew I wanted something Bat shaped and came up with Batman Pastry Pizza, I bought a puff pastry sheet, cut it into bat shapes with a cookie cutter I already had and then coated each bat with a homemade sauce made from, tomatoes, garlic and onions roasted in olive oil and fresh basil which was then blended together with some boiled spinach. On top of the sauce then went a bit of classic mozzarella and into the oven they went for around 15 minutes.
To go along side the pastry pizza I made some Riddler tortilla chips another easy make, I cut tortillas into the shapes of question marks coated them in olive oil and popped them into the oven to bake till crisp – some of them came out a little too “crisp” but the dustbin seemed to enjoy them. I made 2 batches in the end, one plain and another with a sprinkle of smoked Paprika on top.
Next were the drinks. My boys are both little and I don’t really like them having too many fizzy drinks so as it was a treat night I mixed some blackcurrant squash with lemonade and told them it was Poison Ivy Punch – They were happy with that! Originally I cut out a bunch of Ivy leaves out of green crepe paper but they looked a bit naff when Del pointed out that we had a whole bunch of the real thing growing in the garden, doh!
When Del arrived at the house we were still waiting for Steve to arrive home from work so we moved the boys Batman toys out into the garden and spent an hour just playing with them. Sam wanted to use Elliotts Batman a lot and I have to say Elliott was very good about sharing, I think the surprise arrival of Del had made him so happy that he would have been content to share anything with Sammy at that point!
We relaxed and Sammy changed into his Robin costume, which was when I realised Elliotts Batman costume was in the washing pile buried somewhere – not my brightest moment but don’t worry I do redeem myself later – We needed some bad guys for some of our activities later on in the evening and so we selected some of the kids larger stuffed toys and decorated them with baddy masks, Elliott also decided he wanted to have a go at being a baddy too!
Steve arrived home and it was time for food! Dinner time with Elliott is always a battle ground and after presenting him with his meal it is usually followed by “I don’t like…..” but on our BIG night in he declared his dinner as being the best dinner “ever”!!!! It was demolished by both of the kids and I even managed to pull off the roast without wrecking it (yay me!)
Desert was a little less inspired and I went with Mr Freeze Ice Cream – Ok yeah I know ice cream is ice cream but I jazzed it up with wafers and sprinkles and Mr Freeze frozen chocolate sauce, which is the type that hardens on contact with the ice cream.
Dinner demolished and it was on to GAMES!
First up was the Riddlers Laser Challenge. All superheroes need to be able to deal with a laser maze in order to gain access to evil villan HQ and Batman and Robin are no exception. The laser maze was an easy set up. I cut a roll of crepe paper into strips and taped the strips together we then used the frame of our garden gazebo to set up a criss cross laser maze. Bad guys were put in strategic places and the challenge was to get to through the laser maze without breaking any of the lasers and avoid the bad guys – if not you risk being caught by the Riddler himself!!!!!! – or if you are a grown up then it would be Del in his 1960s Riddler costume! Oh and guess what, I remembered about Elliotts Batman onsie and as the night was drawing in and the temperature had begun to chill he was able to happily substitute it for his normal Batman attire.
The boys loved this challenge but for Sammy It was a lot easier as he was able to just crawl under all of the lasers and make his way through but he enjoyed it none the less! When it came to my go I took a more challenging route which led to a lot of giggles but some very unflattering photos!! Hehe
Unfortunately due to the joys of traveling though central London Steve had arrived home a lot later than usual and so we had fading light to contend with. As such we decided that we would have to bring our final game forward and this was going to be a REALLY messy one Jokers Custard Pie Fight!
Custard Pies were prepared and laid all over the garden (and a bath was prepped for afterwards) there were rules however for Elliott to follow, no throwing pies at any animals that were stupid enough to venture into the garden, no throwing pies near my new camera and no throwing pies at Sammy. I have to say he observed ALL the rules and OMG what fun we all had!!!!!!
In hindsight I would probably wait until Sam was a bit older to play this again and I would make sure I didn’t accidently inhale shaving foam when Del smashed me in the face with a pie (it burned my throat for a good few hours and nearly made me throw up) but it was soooooooooooooo worth it!
Kids dipped in to a premature bath, PJs on and we were onto our next game!
Mr Freeze Ice Block Knock. This again was simple yet effective. Mr Freeze wants to be top bad guy so we set up all of Elliotts I figures that we could find, apparently only 4, and set them up at one end of the coffee table. The game was to then take it in turns to slide ice cubes down the table and try to knock over the figures.
It turns out Elliott has a better aim than Steve! There was a certain amount of cheating involved in this game so a winner was not declared but it worked really well and, as a bonus, my coffee table got a wash too!
Evening had long turned into night and If we wanted to have any chance of getting the children to bed and then up again for Elliott to attend pre-school our further game of Bad Guy lasso and trying to recreate 60’s style wall “climbing” tv scenes (you know the ones where they climbed walls that were drawn on the floor and then flipped the image) had to be abandoned. They weren’t forgotten however as the first thing Elliott wanted to do when he woke was set up the teddy bad guys to lasso with a dressing gown belt!
So what was our verdict on our BIG night in? Well Money Supermarket gave us a £50 budget for our night and I would say that it came well within that and that included the roast dinner and £5 for a Batman t-shirt for Steve to wear, which unfortunately was too small. The best thing was that we could easily have expanded it to entertain more people with it costing very little, if anything at all. We had a GREAT time and I think we proved to ourselves that with a bit of imagination and not a huge amount of work you can have a good a time in the house as you can out of it. We will be doing this again but I think next time we will actually start in the afternoon rather than the evening, invite more friends and really stretch out the fun!