Hosting an arts & crafts and game show birthday party

As a big thank you to the special people in my life, I hosted an arts and crafts party for my birthday with question prompts, a special game show, and deep conversations (of course!)


Pre-party prep

This party was heavily inspired by Jessica’s birthday party that she hosted in 2019. I had a phone call with Jess to brainstorm ideas and she graciously shared the question prompts she used. I modeled my question prompts after hers, albeit with some Bill-flavoured twists. 😉

Rachel kindly offered to host the party at her place, as her house had multiple rooms we could use for “act breaks” between each activity in the party.1 I elaborate on this idea of having multiple “acts” of a party for heightened emotional salience in my podcast with Nick.

For materials, I purchased art supplies including over a hundred pencil crayons and markers (got a great deal on back-to-school sales 😄), tape, cardstock, and art paper.

Group meditation

To kick off the party, Lisa hosted a 15-minute guided meditation to get us grounded, and walked us through a beautiful forest and into a refreshing river in our minds.

Afterwards, Steven presented the cake:

Conversation activity

I had everyone partner up into teams of two, with someone they hadn’t met before. Each person got a “Get to know your buddy” card (on the left) and each team got a “So you think you know Bill” game show scorecard (on the right).

Hawk-eyed readers will notice that the prompts start shallow before getting deeper. We talk about this technique in my podcast with Ashley.

I provided the following (optional) question ideas to help my friends get to know each other a bit better:

  • What’s your Bill-friendship origin story?
  • What’s something you need help with?
  • What’s something you’d like to offer?
  • How would you describe your perfect day?
  • What’s your superpower? Your Kryptonite?
  • When do you feel most connected to your authentic self?
  • What thoughts/feelings/questions make you feel the most alive?

I gave everyone an hour to chat and get to know their teammate, and come up with drawings of their teammate in 🌿✨ plant form ✨🪴

Next, I asked every team to fill out their scorecard for the game show!

Game show

The game show was titled “So you think you know Bill”, and I asked each team to come up with answers to each of the following questions:

  • How many toenails does Bill have?
  • Which cities has Bill lived in? (3+ months)
  • How many alcoholic drinks can Bill handle?
  • What should you NOT ask Bill to do?
  • What makes Bill really happy?
  • What’s your favourite memory with Bill?
  • Draw Bill as his most authentic self, in 🌳🌟 plant form 🌟🌿

…but with a twist! The winner of the game show is not who gets the most correct answers; rather, the winner is who helps the most people get the correct answers!

I gave each team half an hour to come up with answers (and help other people), then had each team give a quick presentation of their answers at the awards ceremony.

I divided a bouquet and awarded a flower to each winner:

  • Steven for providing the birthday cake
  • Michelle for helping with the party decorations
  • Brandi for taking the photos
  • Lisa for hosting the guided meditation
  • Rachel for hosting at her house
  • Michelle for helping the most people during the game show
  • Aline for the best plant drawing of Bill
  • Sandra for telling the funniest memory of Bill

Post-party reflections

I delighted in the opportunity to collaborate with so many friends (as you can tell from the above credits)—this party felt like the culmination of the ideas I developed in my essay friendships form via shared context, not shared activities, building context by asking so many people to help co-create my birthday experience. 🥳🎂

I had always resisted hosting a birthday party for myself because it always seemed unnecessarily decadent for my personality, but Jess seriously raised the ceiling for me an inspiration of how an authentic birthday could be possible—not solely as a self-congratulatory milestone, but as a celebration of the wonderful people that support me, and as an occasion to cherish my friends and their philia. 🥰

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  1. The idea of “acts” is as follows: if you host a 3-hour dinner party in your dining room, that’s 1 experience. But if you host a party with 3 “acts”:

    • 1 hour with drinks in the living room
    • 1 hour with food in the kitchen
    • 1 hour chatting on the patio

    …this is 3 experiences, in the same amount of time! That’s because each change in environment creates a change in the emotional tone and vibe of the party—it’s like you’re attending 3 different parties in one night!