15.10.17

Ocean's Eleven Style Heist Birthday Party: Ideas, Printables, Games and More!

by Ed


Imagine your kid asks for one, seemingly simple and inexpensive, gift for their birthday and you can't find it anywhere. You search online and dive down link trails and find it unavailable. You browse Pinterest Boards that seem to hold promise, but nope - not there either. How far would you go to deliver this gift?


That was the scenario we faced when our son (a big fan of Heist movies like Ocean's 11, The Italian Job, etc) asked to have a Heist-themed party for his 11th birthday (see the connection forming here?). He knows we have a little cred around kids birthdays - these Spy and Minecraft parties, for example.  We had hosted a 'Mystery' party for our daughter's most recent birthday so we knew that there existed lots of pay-for options out there to buy and run ourselves. How hard could this be?


Turns out - pretty hard.  


The 'Heist' parties out there are all 'solve the crime and discover who committed the Heist' type affairs. We could not find a single "You are the thief committing the Heist" ones (possibly due to some moral issues around that theme). So we made one.


There is a reason Heist party kits are tough to come by. Like every real Heist movie, they are pretty complicated and rely on having some people on the inside and someone playing the unsuspecting 'Mark'.  


Our daughter got into character for this and we took a 'surveillance-style' photo of her looking nefarious.

Definition: Mark (slang) - an easily deceived person who is the target of a crime or caper



CAVEAT!  We ran this with a group of seven 10/11 year-old boys. It worked, but it was also high strung chaos and was far from the sauve Brad-Pitt-George-Clooney style Heists in the movies. It would not work with any age range younger than this. But as a side note, a Heist Party could totally work for Adults and Teenagers. I found that as we planned the steps - there were lots of parts where I thought, "This is cool - I would love to try this". 


CAVEAT #2! In the name of good fun, party guests will try to lie, steal, safe-crack, forge signatures and all-in-all engage in various things the legal world terms "Felonies". If this spins your personal moral compass or otherwise concerns you that your guests (kids) may develop a blurry sense of right and wrong as a result - this party may not be for you.


So, enough preamble.


Here's our plans, printables and ideas for an Ocean's Eleven Style Heist Birthday Party!







Props:
  • A key locked briefcase (try thrift stores, flea markets, etc). Something like this could work, and you could turn the padlock challenge into a key one.
  • A padlock with a combination  (or key if your briefcase is a combo model) that you can change easily.
  • T-shirts with iron-ons
  • Chocolate Coins for Loot
  • Printed business contract.




Cast:
  • Birthday kid and his/her friends - assign roles based on profiles in ‘Bio Card’ doc.
  • 2-3 grown-ups/old siblings or other people to act as: Billionaire being robbed, his/her security guard and one other person to act as the party ‘runner’.


Basics:
  1. Start with a story. It helps our imaginations to play along and our consciences to be given a reason why the person needs to be robbed.
  2. Decide on what is going to be 'stolen': If you have lots of guests, come up with two things that need to be 'heisted' to make sure everyone has a role.
  3. Work backwards from the final prize. Like every good author - right? I flow-charted the steps from the final payoff adding in keys, combination locks, some hacking and forgery.  It helps you as the organizer to know what needs to happen because you'll need to convey it to a room full of guests. 
  4. Have a couple people who are not 'in on it'.  This sounds like a drag, as most murder mystery parties allow for everyone to play along. But it can actually add to the fun - imagine knowing a roomful of people were going to try and rob you - could you keep the upper hand and catch them red-handed? It also helps to have an adult as a 'showrunner' to remind each guest when their turn to do something sneaky is at hand. 

Like all kids birthday parties - there will be parts where it jumps the rails and crazy happens. Go with the flow.  


Ours, for example, could easily have lasted 2 hours if everyone took time and played their parts cool (or if I amped up the challenge level of any of the security features).  However, the kids at my son's birthday tore through the whole thing in around 30 minutes. They loved every minute of it, didn't get frustrated with any one challenge and really felt like they had committed a caper when it was all done.  Keep this in mind and adjust the challenges for whatever age group you're entertaining.



Here's how the above steps played out at our Heist:

1.   The Story

Our son (the birthday kid) was once partners with our daughter (the swindling billionaire and 'mark' in our heist) in building a donut franchise fortune. But our daughter double crossed him! He was tricked into signing away his half of the money and the business to her and now he has recruited a group of talented individuals (the party guests) to get it all back. 





2.  What they had to Heist:

We had seven guests, so we worked up a couple challenges.

First off, the money to be stolen was a bunch of chocolate covered Gold Coins that kids could keep in their loot bags.

The second was a 'legal contract' that would restore our son to his rightful ownership of the donut franchise. Both of these were key-locked in a briefcase that was combination-padlocked inside a 'vault' (our shed). I began the party with me acting as a guide and giving an overview to the guests, a la a scene like this:



    I did mine with a little Powerpoint presentation and a fake blueprint created for the party using Google Drawings. I think it was as good as Clooney's, only slightly less handsome. Obviously, do this in a separate room from the security guard and billionaire.     


    If by some bizarre twist of fate your yard and home are identical to ours, you're welcome to use our fake blueprint. Otherwise, we suggest Google Drawing - make the page colour 'blue' and use white text boxes for your buildings. 


3.  How it would all go down.

Here is a bullet point run through of the various guests and the challenges they had to do in order to get to the final prize, listed in chronological order. It definitely does might sound complicated, but most things rely on the step before it being completed, so no one can jump ahead without a team member completing something.
  • See printable character cards for more details, and I'll recap it all at the end too. While any one of these things is happening, the rest of the guests should be eating snacks, having a fun time and maybe playing some sort of other game to create the illusion that the party is, you know, an actual party and no caper is ever being committed. 
Click to print!


  • Greaseman and Muscle navigate a laser course (ribbon taped to the walls of a dark hallway) to retrieve a password protected laptop. We love laser courses and used one before in our Spy party. Keep it setup so all the kids can try doing it after the party is done. As always, this scene from Ocean's 12 was inspiring.  
  • Ours looked more like this:
This was at the bottom of our basement stairs - I thought the lasers (ribbons) were pretty impenetrable, but some beta-testing with our son revealed that they were almost too easy. 
We added a few more lasers for the party - and there was a computer at the bottom to recover instead of the briefcase.

  • You could use a tablet or phone with whatever code you wanted to set in it. We had Robin act as a security guard and patrol the whole house - if she found a detached laser ribbon she sounded an alarm and made the two crooks return to the rest of the party. The password locked digital device is given to the Hacker.


  • Meanwhile, the Confidence Man must get a sample of the signature of the swindling billionaire (our daughter). 
    • They are encouraged to pretend to make a delivery and get a signature for it or be a fawning fan and ask for an autograph. 
    • When the signature is acquired, it is passed along to the Forger for future use.
    The boys loved their custom t-shirts - their "treat bag" gift.  
    Here they are locked and loaded - ready to shoot password clues out of the trees in the backyard with waterguns!  (Hyper-excited dog on leash to avoid trips to the ER...)

    • The Hacker must unlock the laptop/tablet/phone and read a hint/clue to yet another combination that the final prize is locked inside.  
      • You could give the hacker the unlock code in a few ways - we did an activity involving a water gun scavenger hunt. But hiding sample unlock codes around the house could work too. 
      • When the Hacker figures out the unlock code - have a file open on the laptop/tablet screen showing the next password hint. We used, "I use the birthday month and day of my former donut empire partner to lock my vault".  Use your inner cryptic riddle lover to come up with something more challenging if needed.  
      • The Hacker must memorize the hint. You can also have the Muscle and Greaseman return the laptop/tablet to its storage spot in the laser-course protected secure location.

      • Before the team Maestro and Muscle use the hint to try and open the vault, the Pickpocket has to get them a key (for the final briefcase inside the vault). 
        • The security guard walks around with it on a lanyard around their neck or in their pocket. 
        • The pickpocket is supposed to pretend to be a party magician or something like that and do really bad slight of hand while sneaking out the key. 
        • This way, the party can be dragged out by the security guard who can be more vigilant if the key is being taken too soon, or easily conned if things are dragging on. 

      • Finally, armed with a key and a password hint, The Maestro, and Muscle proceed to the Vault. 
        • This can be a shed, garage or whatever you can put an adjustable padlock on and set a combo for. They use the hint to open the padlock combo and grab the briefcase (or whatever you can find as a final lockbox). 
        • They bring the loot to be divided up and the legal contract to the Forger.

      • The last step has the party-goers secretly divide up the chocolate-gold into loot bags and the Forger copy the Billionaire's signature onto the contract. 
        • The billionaire can then be presented the contract and they can have an evil scream of defeat as they realize the loss of money/business empire/whatever else you want to add as a payoff.

      Whew! Still with me? Good. I got lost myself there for a bit.


      • Computer is recovered from a 'laser'-protected secure location → 
      • the Mark is tricked into giving a sample of their signature → 
      • A key is pickpocketed from the Mark or a security guard →  
      • Computer is unlocked to reveal a hint for a vault combination →  
      • The hint opens the vault to allow access to a briefcase or lockbox → 
      • the key opens the briefcase or lockbox → 
      • the loot is distributed and finally →  
      • the signature is forged onto a legal contract 




    Finally the non-guest roles. Hopefully you'll have access to budding actors who want to be a part of the Heist too:

    • Security Guard - carries the key, patrols the laser course, tries to catch people in the act.
    • Billionaire - the 'mark' . They are theoretically hosting the party and can create the passwords ahead of time if they want to feel like the are more involved.
    • The Showrunner - Gives guests their loot bags and t-shirts. Introduces the caper and runs everyone through their roles and keeps people on track with hints if the party bogs down in confusion.


    Safe Cake: 

    In addition to being "the Mark" Our daughter made this cool cake for after the meal.

    It is 4 square layer cakes with the middles cut out of the two of them. They are stacked, with the 'cut' cakes in the middle, filled with a gold candy of your choice. She then iced and decorated it to look like a safe (cleverly making a keypad out of a white chocolate bar and black icing for writing). When you cut into it, all the loot comes pouring out!

    The boys were AMAZED with this Safe Cake!
    (A denser cake - like brownies - would make this "safe" cake stay together better.)



    T-shirts:

    It costs us about $6 a shirt to make these for each party-goer.  It's become a tradition for us - and as our son's friend group grows and grows we are sometimes regretting it.  That is until we remember that year round he gets to see his friend's wearing these cool momentos from his special party.  Birthday feelings all year!


    We're pretty sure copyright would be violated if we gave all of you printables to make t-shirts with an Ocean's 11 logo on the back. Rather than anger George Clooney, we could, maybe, just maybe, encourage you to do a search, grab an image and add the text caption "<Your Kid's Name>'s Eleven" under it.


    For the t-shirt front, we found an image of a tuxedo t-shirt collar and lapels image and ironed it on. You'll also need to search this out.  If you're not feeling it, Amazon has loads of pre-made tuxedo t-shirts, so there's that too.


    So, this isn't a printable. We're not sharing the printable because we like to not be sued and stuff. But let's call it inspiration for you to create your own t-shirts. The kids do look super-cute running around in tuxedo t-shirts, so - worth it.

    We've shared so many great birthday party ideas over the years - Minecraft! Secret Agent! - and some tips for low stress one's too - you can find them all here!

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