This year we had a loosely themed party around gaming (choices of different games and consoles, along with tabletop RPG-ing). Above is the Creeper Cake (from Minecraft in case you're not up on such things), and below is the party gathered around the table doing a little adventuring, Dungeons and Dragons style.
I was more nervous about this one than I have been since they were kindergartners and we were throwing our first big Harry Potter bash. DMing for a group of 11 & 12 year olds, most of whom had never played D&D before, was no small feat! But with the DH's help keeping order, and my lovely sister Elizabeth holding down the kitchen side of things, we made it all work (+500xp for each of us!). The boys had an "AWESOME" time. E was so thrilled and hyped up on sugar he was gushing like a drunken prospector who'd just found gold, and L was so happy he took the sensory stuff in stride beautifully (12 year old boys are at least 1 year louder than 11 year old boys!).
So all the work (I'd be loathe to add up the hours and hours...) was well worth it. I can't go to school with them and point out which kids look friendly, and which aren't. I can't stand behind them when they're talking to a peer, and act as interpreter for tone of voice and facial expressions. I can't keep them from social blunders, like you would keep a toddler from a hot stove. I can't wipe away all the stress and hurt of day after day of facing a world that feels so alien and hostile to them. But what I can do is plan a Kick Ass Birthday Party once a year that kids are practically lining up to come to, that shows my sons and their skills and interests in the best possible light, and that greases those social wheels. L has been struggling so hard with the friend thing lately, or rather the absence of, but The Kick Ass Party has given him conversation fodder and confidence. He has been able to reconnect with a couple of kids who were open to friendship before, but L couldn't see it, he needed something concrete like them coming to his party for him to feel comfortable approaching them, and being approached. Yesterday at school he was invited to be part of a group of boys (the ones he had invited to his party) for a project, instead of the teacher having to place him in a group, and he was willing to join (he often isn't). Yay!
Blow by blow report from our Nov/Dec 2011 Orlando extended family vacation of a lifetime. Set to private to protect our superhero alter ego anonymity, leave a comment here or email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to take a gander. Disney haters need not apply.