Monday, December 9, 2019

Behind The Balls: Our Labyrinth Christmas Party Progress Update, Part 2!

Our most studious stalkers already know this - or anyone who happens to be Facebook friends with one of our guests - but the big Labyrinth Christmas party all went down Saturday night.

And it was GLORIOUS.

You'll have to be patient with me, though, because as much work as the party was - and WOW was it a lot of work - it's another long haul to document it all to show you guys!

So while I gather and edit and fuss with getting all the glamour shots just right, here comes the second half of our build photos. This way you'll know how we did everything you're about to see in the Big Reveal posts later!

Starting with the surprise crowd favorite of the night, our Bog of Eternal Stench Bathroom.

That's more carved pink foam to make the door plaque. John used the Dremel with a pumpkin carving bit to carve the words, but a soldering iron can also work! (Just watch out for the fumes, they're toxic.)

The foam is so light we were able to stick it to the door with poster tack.

John went Hog(gle) wild with the Bog, so our guests got to experience a full canopy of mossy branches overhead, stones underfoot, and a sound track of non-stop farting and Ludo complaining about the smell. Even the most stoic personality was reduced to helpless giggles after just 10 seconds in there.

I realize this looks terrifying, but that's only because it is.
 (Here's the shower curtain we used. It's the perfect boggy backdrop - there's even a rope bridge!) 

 John built a contraption in the bathtub - essentially a giant T bar of plywood - that holds all the dead branches overhead. Our tree in the backyard is an endless supply of dead branches, so this was a cheap project.

BEHOLD OUR PROFESSIONAL SETUP. Ha! The painter's pole in the corner is holding up a green flickering spotlight, which looks suuuuper cool through the canopy.

John collected the Spanish moss himself from a nearby parking lot, grabbing whole bags of it to disinfect and dry in the front yard. (Gotta keep those neighbors guessing!)

He also bought this rocky contact paper to cover the entire floor:

I was HIGHLY skeptical of this flooring - I wanted to cut dollar store doormats into stepping stones - but in the end, it totally worked. I just hope it peels off our ceramic tile OK.  o.0

We have lots more fun details in this room, but you'll see the rest in the final reveal!


At last year's party I was disappointed we didn't have a proper photo opp anywhere, so this year we overcompensated and ended up with a total of four. Ha! Whoops?

The first photo opp is right beside the front door, so I was able to catch people as they came in to get their photos. This one is inspired by the bubble ballroom:

We used dollar store plastic tablecloths to make the backdrop, then decorated the tree with strips of iridescent fabric & bubbles inspired by Sarah's gown. We brought out our pool noodle column from the bedroom, since that kind of works for the ballroom feel.

Thought you guys might find this interesting:

I took this snapshot to draw in the shapes for our branches - the orange lines are for the candles. John used this as a guide to make these:

Those are heavy gauge wire bent into shape and covered with tin foil. They're hanging from Command Hooks on the ceiling, which held fine since they're so light.

Next John covered the tin foil in large strips of paper mache. Since he used an off-white butcher paper for the paper mache, he didn't even have to paint them; just left the branches a creamy white.
This is still a WIP shot, but close to the finish line. We used these battery-operated taper candles, and held them in place with more pink insulation foam cut into disks and hot-glued to the branches. Then we covered the discs with shreddy tulle and fabric, swagged some beads and ribbons around (which took FOREVER, because I am terrible at making things look random), and done!

We brought in extra lighting for this area to make sure people could get some decent photos, and then fully encouraged cheesy prom picture poses. :D

Here's the tree topper in progress:
That's made from poster board, cut with our Cricut. We cut two, glued them together for extra strength, and then glued it to a leafy sprig so it would float over the tree.

Our Labyrinth illusion wall is the next big photo opp, of course, and then Junk Lady in the Goblin Room. In case you missed those, the wall post is here, and here's my first Party update.

The fourth photo opp was a SUPER last minute build that John started just 3 days before the party.

 John was still making new things at 2AM the day OF the party, so this was accurate.

I was impressed several folks were able to guess what he was building just from that photo! Pretty sure you can all guess it from these, though:

 You can see this thing is built VERY sturdy, plus John opened the arms up a bit so up to two people can sit in it for photos.

After sanding down the pink foam on the arms to form the spiral (told you we used that stuff for everything!) John painted and aged the top rail:

Everything else will be hidden by fabric, which is attached at the top of each of the black posts.

 Since this was extra last minute and we hate spending money, we decided we would only use whatever fabric we could find at our local thrift store.

We couldn't find anything the exact right color (the movie fabric is a brownish purple with gold stamps), but these curtains were the perfect Christmassy alternative:


We even found a matching fur throw for the seat! Both the throw and the drapes cost about $15, and there was just enough to cover the front and part of the sides. Then we used a few scraps of furniture foam underneath to pad the seat.

 Suki finally found a seat worthy of her.

Here's a reminder of what the real throne looks like:

John went through a few trials and errors to get the twisted metal rings right. He glued together two pieces of EVA foam, cut them into strips, twisted them like this:

... then had me apply a heavy coat of Mod Podge to seal/smooth the rough edges.

After that he spray-painted them gold:

Once they were dry he twisted them around the chair rail and stapled them into place.

Not bad for a three day build!

One of my favorite moments at the party was leading Jareth to his throne and watching him get settled. You guys. OMIGOSH. We got so many pictures, I can't wait to show you.

And if you're wondering where we FIT that massive throne:

 This was still in process, so it's not fully lit or set up, but we arranged the entire deck around it!

Even better? Jareth (aka our friend Dana) wants the throne to keep! So it's going to live at his house, and later we can swap the fabric for something more screen-accurate.

 Somehow in this final burst of productivity we even found time to finish the knocker:

 We sprayed him a shiny rose gold for a base, then I aged him down with black & brown craft paint:

 And finally I added a copper teal patina with watered down paint.

We hung him on the front door to greet our guests.

I've purposefully not shown much for our puzzle room this year:

Anything I showed at all would be spoilers for the guests, so I avoided taking pictures as we made things. The room wasn't as elaborate as last year's Harry Potter escape room - a casualty of our late start - but it was still fun to put together, and to gather up all the 80s toys to use and decorate with.

Guests had to correctly ID 12 different 1980s toys to get started, and now that it's over I can tell you no one remembers Hugga Bunch dolls except me. (I only remember because the Hugga Bunch movie is seared into my brain. It's on Youtube, too, so I know what I'm watching with my next free hour.)

We made two games in addition to the puzzle room. Let's see if you can guess this first one:

That's a 2 dollar thrifted doll, and the white stuffed body worked to my advantage!

So what sort of game would include baby Toby?


I painted the target on more pink foam, then glued lights and jingle bells around the outside edge. John suspended it from a branch 20 feet up in our extremely tall tree. To play, guests had to hold Toby with both hands, chuck him straight up, hit the target, AND catch Toby again on the way down.

And of course we played Dance Magic Dance during the game.

Stay tuned for hilarious video of that.

The second game is vastly more inappropriate (you have been warned!) and involves a life-sized cut-out of Jareth:

It's called Jareth's Ball Game, and Eva is just as shocked - SHOCKED I SAY -  as you are.

Yes, I'll have video of that, too, because it's hysterical.

(We are VERY lucky to have a friend with access to a large format printer, because otherwise this would have cost a fortune to print!)

And finally, let's talk costumes.

He really did wear it all day.

John as Sir Didymus is everything you never knew you wanted in your life, so I look forward to showing you the full "lewk." (We had several colorful discussions on what he should wear below the waist, but ultimately he vetoed the furry bloomers.)

As for me, I took forever to come up with an idea, so it was a mild scramble at the end:

 Most folks assumed I was going as Sarah from that shirt, but nope!

I actually decided on a mashup of Jareth's final look with his owl form. This is my cape in progress, and it's literally held together with staples and hot glue.

 I used craft foam to alter the paper masquerade mask, added a few feathers, and painted it with cheap craft paint. It was then that I discovered the mask looks absolutely terrifying on my face, so instead of wearing it I clipped it up on my head like a fascinator.

The feather collar/capelet I'm wearing is a little pricey ($22 on Amazon) but it's my favorite new accessory. SO PRETTY. I added flexible wire inside the inner hem line so it holds its shape, and stays put without the ribbon tie. Easily the best part of my costume, but you'll have to wait to see the rest!

Phew! THAT'S A LOT. I'm exhausted just typing it all out, can't believe John and I (well, mostly John) did it all in about 3 weeks. I'm running on fumes and sheer fangirling excitement over here, because I know you guys are going to FREAK over my next post: our guests' costumes!

Even with over 30 guests, I think we only had two duplicate characters in the mix! Our friends knocked it out of the park, gang, and I was screaming every time the door opened. So much creativity, and every level from pro cosplayer down to simple closet 'bounds, but all BRILLIANTLY done. I cannot wait to show you.

And then, of course, I'll show you all the finished sets and decorations!

I hope you're enjoying this journey with me, and that our ridiculousness is giving you some smiles during a hectic month. I'm looking forward to finishing all my photo and video edits and collapsing for a few days - thought to be honest, I'm still buzzing with so much inspiration, I already want to start making Cool Stuff again.

Stay tuned!


If you're gift shopping online this month, be sure to bookmark the Epbot Amazon store front! I have a bunch of themed lists there of my favorite things, which might help inspire you for those hard-to-buy for types.

 Anything you buy through the Epbot storefront gives a little back to me and John, whether it's on my lists or not, so thanks for helping support Epbot while you shop!


  1. Ahahahahaha! Drying Toby!!

    Yessss! I was hoping there was going to be someone with Jareth's final costume. I love that cape-y cloak thing!

    The Amazon link you've got for the bog-y shower curtain didn't show the shower curtain :(

    1. Oh no! The link is still working for me - which curtain does it show you? If any?

    2. I get some kind of weird Christmas patterned wall hanging. Apparently there were too many key words?

    3. K, I plugged in a new link, let me know if that works!

    4. You all must be in Canada like me! If you click the link, it takes you to instead of .com. You can simply replace the .ca with .com and it will show you the correct curtain.

    5. Huh! You're right! *facepalm* I had no idea that Amazon tries to be "helpful" like that. Thanks!

      Jen, the new link still apparently doesn't work for us Canadians up here but Saralukies' fix did the trick! Nice shower curtain! :D

  2. I've never seen Labyrinth, so much of the designs go over my head, but I am LOVING the excitement and creativity and sheer geeky love that comes pouring out of your posts! You are WAY too cool for me!

  3. I am so excited to see the rest of this. Your parties make me so jealous, they always look so fab, and seeing all of your Labyrinth builds has made me squee every time you posted one.

  4. When you said you found a matching fur throw for the chair, I thought you meant Suki for a second there!

    1. Ha! She's more of an accent color than matching, though. ;)

  5. I think i am more excited for the full party reveal than i am for christmas (i totally am its no contest :) ) I am loving all the details and humor you put into everything.

  6. I just want you to know, that that more than an upgrade. You slayed that creation. Wow. Like could sell those. <3

    1. !! I really struggled with that mask, so thank you!

  7. Totally feel John on the working-to-the-end thing. My husband's aunts were painting the porch support columns of my in-laws' pool house the morning of my husband's and my wedding. Did I mention the reception was over there that afternoon? Yup. Time enough for the paint to dry, thankfully.

  8. I'm a little disappointed that you're not keeping the throne for Suki....
    Can't wait for the next post, though!! Good stuff!

    1. Maybe I should get John to build her a cat-sized one? (Omigosh, I was joking but now I LOVE THAT IDEA. Oh, Joo-oooohn!)

  9. You two continue to astound me with what you can put together! WOW. I can't wait to see more pics. I'm still plotting a move to Florida so I can come to one of these parties. :)

  10. has stuff like red and white stripe baby pjs, but they probably wouldn't fit your doll very well. I'm sure yours turned out better.

  11. You make a throne perfect for Suki and GIVE IT AWAY???????? That puts you on the naughty list.

  12. AAGGHHH!!! I had a Hugga Bunch doll and I remember the movie!! The beautiful woman rapidly growing old and turning to dust because she couldn't reach her magic apple haunted me as a child!

    1. Right?? I think I blocked that part out of my memory because it was so traumatizing; I watched the movie last night and was horrified all over again. 0.o

    2. I had a Hugga Bunch doll too and was excited to check out the movie since I didn't remember it at all - obviously I have blocked it out. Who green-lighted that?! We (children of the 80s) are obviously made of tough stuff.

  13. I am geeking out over your party posts - everything is amazing! You are both so creative and clever.

  14. Reading this post made me imagine a TV show where you guys travel from city to city, helping nerdy folks put together amazing geeky parties. I am always so amazed not only by what you guys put together, but how you do it. It's always so ingeniously simple, often with thrifted or dollar store items, and the finished product looks so amazing. I am absolutely in love with that ballroom area (And the bog area, and the faux Labyrinth entrance... I guess I basically love everything you guys put together!)

    1. I would definitely watch that show!!!

    2. Ooooh that would be a dream! We'd remodel an old RV to live in while we traveled, bring the cats, and wear top hats at all times. :D

    3. YES!! I was just talking to my daughter about how if I ever win the powerball (which I don't play, so....yeah) I am going to hire you to come up and help us throw a crazy geeky party. We are trying to decide between Dr. Who, Narnia, or Wrinkle in Time, but honestly I want a Dr. Suess party.

  15. I REMEMBER THE HUGGA BUNCH. In fact, I had one of the dolls. She had pink hair... (Wanders off to the Google) And her name was apparently Huggins, the LEADER who doled out the Hug Assignments, and her vaguely creepy little baby-thing Hug-A-Bye.

    And I am 100% in awe of your party prep and designs and work and achingly jealous. :) I'm so glad you all had so much fun!

    1. ETA - A local independent theater here showed Labyrinth on Saturday night. I doubt they realized the collision of coincidence (I myself forgot) but, as it was my birthday which means I get to dictate things, I dragged my boyfriend with me to see it and it is always glorious seeing Bowie and the puppets and the Dress and everything on a proper big screen.

    2. I got to see it for the first time on a big screen last summer! I went by myself so I didn't have to listen to any whining. It was glorious!!

  16. the owl/jareth mashup is amazing! I can't wait for more pics!
    May I request you put a link to your amazon storefront on your "contact" or some other page? I was looking for it the other day to make sure my amazon purchase kicked back to you, and I couldn't find it!

    1. Ah, I'll ask John to do that today! We'll add a link in the blog sidebar. Thanks for asking!

  17. Your costume is awesome - I love the mask as a fascinator!

  18. It wasn't terrifying.


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