We'll start with the big event, Pax's fourth birthday party! It was a grillion pounds of fun!! The theme was a safari. If you know my little Jack Hanna in the making, you know this was the most logical choice.
*Pictures are at the bottom of this blog post*
I DIY'd the hey doodle out of this shindig. Like most folks, we have a budget. So to get the most bang for my buck, I looked at ways to make this a groovy day using as much mommy power as possible. It worked!!!
The decorations were not only simple, but fun. I started by picking the color scheme. We went with yellows, greens, oranges, and tans. Threw in a few animal prints and it was like we were in the Kalahari.
One of my favorite decor things from this soiree was the banner! It's wonderfully no-sew! I found some fabrics to match the theme, then printed a template I googled onto card stock, and used that to cut the fabric into triangles. Next, I strung twine across the space and used tacky glue to wrap the top of the triangles over the twine in succession till fait accompli! It worked like a charm and cost doodily squat!
Looking around my house and garage, I was pleasantly surprised at what could be used to give off a safari feel - old wooden boxes, burlap sacks, wood ladder, wicker baskets, globe, metal planes, maps, etc. Once you start getting creative, it's amazing what will get the juices bubbling! I found some unused pickets and white acrylic paint, so I made little signs and hung them various places. Then I literally stumbled on the veritable mountain of plastic animals we have accumulated over past four years, so I put them to good use. They lined the tables and made appearances everywhere. I also put a couple of buckets of them out so the kidlets could play with them.
I've been lucky enough to gather some fabulous oil cloth table cloths. I of course used those, but I placed some burlap runners over top to add texture and give a sense of the natural. Party City sells bags of animal print balloons, so I picked those up and purchased a small helium tank at Wally World. They also sell little face painting kits, so instead of splurging on a face painter, all the parents painted their kids cheeks. It was hilarious!! We went with simple square, green plates & cups and animal print napkins. (also from Party City and actually picked out by my little guy). The Dollar Tree was my own personal treasure chest! I found little pith helmets for the kiddos as well as tiny plastic compasses. In addition we found paper animal cutouts in the teacher section (We hung those everywhere!) and a variety of fake plants and leaves. The leaves and plants were stuck in pots and buckets along side some other pots and buckets with sand & rocks or moss & mud. These were used as habitats for the the toy animals to play in- jungle, swamp, dessert, rainforest, etc. Another favorite fabulous fete find was duct tape!! I bought two rolls, one with zebra print, the other with leopard print and I used the poop out of them!!! Including wrapping them around water bottles to give a budget friendly personal touch!
Since the party was from 1:00-4:00, we were able to keep the food simple. Just some snacks. Mostly fruits and veggies (since that's what animals eat), some peanuts in the shell for the elephants and bananas for the monkeys. We also had a little chip and dip hoo ha, water and lemonade (aka swamp juice). My big man has a tradition of home making and decorating our little bear's birthday cake. This year the little man wanted a lion! I was so impressed with how my big man free handed the face on a simple pair of rounds. It was awesome! I made monkey cupcakes. Super cute and super easy. Gotta love Nilla Wafers!
The invitations and thank you cards were also DIY. The Pages program on my Mac makes it simple. Just a few groovy fonts and some free clip art and voila! Invitations! I printed them out on card stock and sent them out postcard style. (Also cost effective)
Seeing as most favor bag contents are basically landfill fodder, the favors were part of the safari experience - the aforementioned pith helmets and compasses, some homemade safari passes with their names on them and a pair of homemade binoculars all to be used during an elephant poop hunt. A what? you ask.. lemme s'plain. Elephant poop is basically treasure stones made to look a little less stoney and a little more poopish. Baked inside each pile of poop was a little plastic animal. We then hid the poop all over the front yard and let the little explorers hunt. They had a blast and looked adorable on their expedition. In addition to the hunt, we had tons of other fun activities. There was a trampoline, a sandbox, craft table, art easel, piñata bash and, grooviest of all, a reptile meet and greet!!! The fellas over at Reptilian Paradise really hooked my little herpetologist up!!! (seriously, if you're in Denver these are THE guys!!! http://www.reptilianparadise.com) Not only did they come and bring some amazing animals, but they employed an inordinate amount of time, patience and care to share with the kids. This was an experience most preschoolers are not afforded. They could not only ask questions, but also touch, feel, hold and feed the creatures!!! AMAZEBELLS!!! I was 100% blown away by their kindness and professionalism. And the kids were spellbound! Their little curiosities were piqued beyond belief. Best quote of the day came as Andrew from Reptilian Paradise brought out the bearded dragon and asked if anyone had any questions. A little voice boomed out, "Does it breathe fire?" Magic, I tell ya!
The whole day was filled with fun, friends and family. Backyard birthday bashes are the only way to go in my book!
Now that is what every kid should look like at the end of their party