Beach Party 9yr - Lake-Front Cottage
Tori in Owosso, MI USA
For my daughter Josie's 9th birthday we celebrated with a big beach party. I wanted the theme to be beach (pails and shovels, beach balls, starfish, beach umbrellas, etc.) not luau (flamingos, hibiscus flowers, leis, surfboards, coconuts, etc.), which was harder than I had originally thought it would be. We decided on the theme about a week after her 8th birthday, so we had a lot of time to look and were able to get most things on sale. My mother-in-law and father-in-law graciously allowed us to use their cottage on a lake an hour and a half away from our home.
INVITATIONS: I found the perfect invitation on clearance at the Paper Factory (.99 for eight). On the front was a beach with waves, a beach umbrella, beach towel, pail and shovel, beach ball, lifesaver, and drink with little umbrella in it. In the very center was a large gold foil sun wearing sunglasses and hanging from a cord a copper foil star fish. It said - Please Join Us! - in blue letters. I filled out the inside with bright blue ink and mailed them three weeks in advance.
DECORATIONS: The cottage has a bathroom, two bedrooms, a large living/kitchen area and a huge screened in porch that covers the entire backside of the cottage and overlooks the lake. There is a small upper deck area right off of the porch on one side and a larger lower deck down on the lawn that leads to the beach and dock. There is a floating raft (a small square floating dock) anchored a few yards out from the end of the boat dock. In the screened in porch there is an eating area with a big table and chairs on one end and a seating area on the other end. In there we hung green, yellow and deep blue crepe paper streamers from the center of the ceiling to the walls every 2 ft. the length of the room alternating colors. There were varying sizes of beach balls in bright colors throughout the room. We pushed two small side tables together and laid a beach towel over them for a gift table.
On the eating table, I used two more brightly colored beach towels for a tablecloth on each end of the table and placed a centerpiece in the middle of each towel with shells scattered around them. We made six of these centerpieces. We used deep red plastic plates with good sized rims and filled them with sand. We placed tea lights (to represent fire pits) in the center and red, yellow or blue felt rectangles that I had cut to be 2 inches by 5 inches on each side as beach towels. We stuck in little drink umbrellas in different spots in each one. We then added little shells (I purchased a basket full of different size and shape shells at the Dollar Tree Store for $1). They turned out really cute! I also placed one in the center of the kitchen table which we used as a buffet table for lunch and snacking from throughout the day. The table was covered with a blue tablecloth and had plates and the matching napkins on it. They were large white plates rimmed in bright blue, green, yellow, orange and red (I bought these at Meijers for 50% off.). We sprinkled shells on the table in between the food. On the white wall above the table we taped six big brightly colored fish that I purchased at the dollar store to add more color to the area. They really made a big difference.
On one counter I set up an area for drinks with another centerpiece, 16 oz. yellow cups, a marker for everyone to write their name on the cups and some more shells. I had 2-liters in a big cooler with ice. At the entrance to the cottage we hung a 12 foot bunting that had rectangular flags hanging down from it. The flags were underwater scenes with bright colored fish and starfish and said - Happy Birthday - in bright red letters. We placed a children's picnic table at the end of the side deck and put another centerpiece on it. I hung beach towels all along the deck rail which worked as decorations at the beginning of the party and towels for the kids as they needed them. (This rail is not lakeside so the towels did not block the view.) Down on the lawn we had a large picnic table with another beach towel for a tablecloth and another centerpiece. On the beach we put a little kids slide for the toddlers and a big blue beach umbrella with a few beach chairs underneath. We set up areas for beach toys. We put out additional chairs on the lawn for anyone who just wanted to enjoy the view and a hammock for a quick nap!
ATTIRE: I made a birthday hat for my daughter. It was a purple craft foam visor and I stuck hot pink sparkly letters on it to say - Josie the Beachday Girl. My daughter wore a brand new two-piece bathing suit bought for the occasion. It was hot pink with purple, turquoise, orange and lime green wavy stripes and flowers on it.
FOOD: I set up a buffet on the kitchen table. We served brats, jumbo hotdogs and turkey dogs cooked on the grill courtesy of my husband. Toppings included ketchup, mustard, relish, and diced onions in a starfish shaped bowl. We had cubed watermelon, pasta salad and a fishbowl gelatin salad. The watermelon was served in a very large bright green bowl. I made the pasta salad using seashell pasta and fresh vegetables, and served it in an extra large blue bowl. To make the fishbowl gelatin salad you prepare 3 (3 oz.) packages of blue gelatin according to package directions. Chill until partially thickened. In a fishbowl, line the bottom with vanilla wafer crumbs, spoon in gelatin, adding gummie fish. Chill until firm. I used a really large fishbowl so I ended up adding a 4th package of gelatin. When I poured it on after letting it chill an hour, it formed bubbles on top which looked awesome. I placed shells along the bottom of the outside of the bowl.
I received a lot of compliments, so it is definitely worth trying! (Note: Just don't make it too far ahead of time, the gummie fish will change consistency after 24 hours - my kids said they felt gooey the day after the party.) I found a sectioned round tray made to look like a beach ball at Party Amercia. It had a white section in the middle and red, blue, green, yellow and white sections around it. I filled it with sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, celery sticks, green pepper slices, grape tomatoes and ranch veggie dip. We had purchased blue and green shovel and pail sets on clearance at the end of last summer. We filled these with sour cream and onion and regular chips. We made sugar cookies in the shapes of fish, clamshells, starfish and the sun and frosted them orange, red, blue, green, purple and yellow. I even ran across a sale on pop, eleven 2-liters for $10, including lemon-aid, so we had something for everyone.
ACTIVITIES: We set up areas for different activities. We used the bedrooms for changing rooms. The kids and adults could swim or go to one of the areas. We had beach toys on the beach which included: sling shots with water balls, little net paddles to throw and catch water balls, blow up toys (beach balls, inner tubes, sharks, whales, dolphins, etc.), shovels and pails, plastic boats, etc. We filled up a large utility pail with water for water guns of all different sizes (another end of season sale purchase). By request of my older boys, we had another utility pail filled with water balloons. My father-in-law has a row boat that we also made available. We had life jackets in all different sizes and sunblock out for safety.
After lunch was over I set up a craft area on the big table in the screened in porch to decorate brightly colored coolie cups. They were regularly .99 but we got them for .25 at an end of season sale last summer at a grocery store. I picked up a big bag of beach themed peel-and-stick foam shapes at the dollar store and there were different colored markers too. When everyone had arrived we started with lunch. As soon as lunch was over the kids (and Dads and Grandpa!) proceeded to soak each other with the water guns and balloons.
Then the kids all hit the water. They played forever on the rowboat, with the inflatable toys and swimming out to the raft. After about an hour and a half of this, we started up the speedboat for water skiing. My father-in-law, brother-in-law and husband took turns taking them out. (Josie was so excited she was actually able to get up out of the water on the skis for the first time ever!) While one group of kids was out in the boat, the others would play with the beach toys, swim or make their coolie cup (a bunch of the kids made them as Father's Day gifts!). I did stop them between one of the boat trips out to get all the kids together to do the games.
GAMES: I had two organized activities: a frozen t-shirt race and the pinata. For the frozen t-shirt race we had wetted down, folded and froze (on a cookie sheet) t-shirts. Whoever could get the t-shirt unfolded and on first was the winner. This was hilarious! They ended up putting them in the lake to help defrost them. We took a picture of each kid as they finally got their t-shirt on and a group picture at the end. A bunch of the kids told me this was their favorite activity of the day. The pinata was a beach ball shaped one. I was really lucky and found it last summer at a 5 and dime store in our town. It was larger than a basketball and only $9.99.
We gave the kids bright blue goodie bags with their names on them and had them take turns until one of them broke it. Josie received, as a gift, a perfect beach game that the kids went out and played as soon as she was done opening gifts. It's called Splash and is like hot potato. You put a water balloon inside and set the timer and then pass it around. When the timer runs out, it pops the water balloon and soaks the person holding it. After this, we switched out the water skis on the boat for the tube and my father-in-law took the little kids tubing. When they came back we had cake and ice cream.
CAKE: It took me forever to make up my mind about the cake. I debated about ordering a cake or making my own. Then I ran across the cutest cake at a local grocery store (the cost of only $9.99 also helped me to decide!). It was a round chocolate cake with sides frosted white and trimmed in bright blue. On the top it was decorated as a beach with bright blue waves behind it and a light blue sky above. A big yellow sun was frosted on the top of the sky. It had five picks stuck in it: a turtle, a starfish, an octopus, a beach ball and a flamingo. I removed the flamingo and replaced it with a #9 candle.
We had a big group so I also made a couple dozen cupcakes. I frosted half of them blue and made the frosting look like waves. I placed round sugared candies that were yellow and red and looked like lifesaves a little askew on each one. The other half of the cupcakes, I frosted yellow to look like a beach and added little drink umbrellas to them. You can also add crushed vanilla wafers to look like sand, but my kids do not like the taste of the crumbs on the frosting. I found the cutest cake plates on clearance eight for 50 cents at The Paper Factory. They had water swirls in the center and were surrounded by a beach chair, pail and shovel, beach ball, palm tree, sun and starfish. We also had vanilla ice cream.
To end the evening, we took everyone who wanted on a pontoon boat ride around the lake while the sun was setting. It was a beautiful end to a fun filled day!
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