Transform Your Summer With The Transformers!
Words: mater mea
Visuals: Nneka Salmon
It certainly did take its sweet time, but it seems like summer is finally here! And with the warmer weather and longer, sunnier days, we’re excited that we can finally take our family fun outdoors instead of being cooped up inside. For kids, playing with your favorite toys gets a whole new look when you take them from your bedroom into a fun backyard party with family and friends!
Rafayonda Kalungi and his mom, home decor designer Nasozi Kakembo, love Transformers and play with the robot action figures together, and with their extended family and friends. So it makes sense that the figurines would make an appearance at their summer kickoff backyard barbecue! mater mea partnered with the family and Target to show how the best parties always involve some immersive play!
Laughter erupts as Rafayonda Kalungi steps out into a sunny backyard on a perfect summer day, surrounded by his friends and family. Wearing a full-body Optimus Prime costume, his favorite character from the fighting robot series Transformers, he pulls his mask over his face and adjusts his sword as his friends run around him.
“He just loves being in character,” Nasozi Kakembo explains with a laugh. “I thought he’d really get a kick out of it. And he’ll probably will wear it, like, all the time. I’m pretty sure that will make an appearance until he outgrows it.”
Nasozi and her group of friends love hanging out together with their children whenever they can find a free afternoon. Hosting a Transformer-themed backyard barbecue was a way to create an event both the kids and the parents could enjoy. Nasozi shares with mater mea just how she did it.
Sure, goodie bags stuffed with candy are nice, but how about giving your smaller guests something that will last a little bit longer? Nasozi bought cool Transformers’ shirts from Target for every party attendee, and the boys couldn’t wait to put them on. (“I might have to wear this!” she said, holding up a Transformers' tank top.)
Knowing that everyone loves a good Instagram moment, Nasozi created a photo backdrop from a Transformers’ beach blanket. In between sparring with their shields and swords, the boys (and some adults!) took turns posing in front of the blanket as their parents and other guests snapped photos.
“I was trying to think of physical activities that they can be engaged in [and] other games and activities that he normally enjoys,” Nasozi explains. “And that’s usually sword fighting or some demonstration of boyish power or strength. I bought the sword and some shields because I could just picture them going back and forth, and sparring.” The boys didn’t disappoint, immediately grabbing the shields and trying them out against Rafayonda’s new sword and fancy fencing footwork.
Rafayonda and his friends could’ve sparred all day, but another game that’s perfect for acts of boyish strength is Capture the Flag. Split the group up into teams based on the shirt they’re wearing. Have them create a cool Transformer-themed flag and give each team five minutes to hide their flag, one at a time.
Once the flags are hidden, divide your home or yard into territories for each team and set them off in search of the other’s flag. If an opposing teammate is found and tagged on enemy territory, they’re out of the game. The winners are the team that captures their opponent’s flag!
For a grownup-friendly kid’s party, Nasozi and her friends stuck with a simple, backyard barbecue menu that everyone can enjoy: mixed green salad with blueberries, barbecue chicken hot off the grill, popcorn, grilled veggie skewers, tortilla chips, and dried nuts and fruit. Transformers action figures dotted the table covered with a Transformers bed sheet turned tablecloth, but if you really want to bring the theme into the meal, try our recipe for More Than Meets The Eye Burgers. Much like the Transformers, these cheese burgers are hiding something unexpected when you really get into them!
More Than Meets The Eyes Burgers
2 pounds of ground meat of your choosing
1.5 cups of your favorite shredded or crumbled cheese (e.g. cheddar, feta, or blue cheese)
Condiments (e.g. lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc.)
Fire up the grill to get it nice and ready for grilling. Put the meat into a bowl and season to your liking. Form eight ½-inch thick patties of equal size and shape. Once the patties are formed, take a scoop of cheese and place it in the center of four patties. Place the remaining hamburger patties on top and form one solid patty.
Coat the grill with a nonstick cooking spray and place the hamburgers on it. (Nasozi's friend Giorgio manned the grill wearing one of her awesome wax print aprons.) Cook the patties to your desired taste (around four minutes for medium) and set aside. Place hamburger buns flat side down on the grill for about 30 seconds to get them nice and warm. Have your guests make and customize their own burgers so you can be free to have fun yourself!