Butterfly Garden 4yr - Cocoon to Butterfly
Holly in Albany, CA, USA
My daughter decided to be a butterfly princess for her 4th birthday party, which appropriately enough is in the (late) spring. After reading through the many wonderful butterfly party ideas here, I planned more things than we really had time for, but everyone had fun! We invited her entire preschool class and had around 20 kids.
INVITATIONS: I purchased paper with a colorful butterflies-and-swirls border from PaperDirect.com and printed them from my computer in a curly font. Flutter on by for fanciful flowery 4th birthday festivities! Come out of your chrysalis and Join the dance of the butterflies to celebrate [name]'s flying through her fourth year! [Our surname] Family Butterfly Garden [address, date] The butterflies will be captured at 2:00 p.m. and released at 4:30 p.m. Butterfly Princess [name] requests your reply to the Monarch [my e-mail & phone] with a note indicating that siblings were welcome. We mailed these with butterfly-and-flower postage stamps (from the Pollination set).
DECORATIONS: In order to turn our home into a butterfly garden, we used large paperboard cutouts of flowers and smaller cutouts and photos of butterflies (printed from various websites) sticky-tacked to the walls all around the main rooms and larger nylon butterfly decorations (from party store) hanging from the light fixtures; and craft foam butterflies and floral-craft butterflies made out of feathers and inexpensive butterfly kites all around the plants in our front and back yards. The paperboard cutouts were from Oriental Trading they are meant for school bulletin boards and my mom and daughter and I colored them with tempera paints before the party. We also had a metal butterfly wreath for the front door (spring clearance sale at JoAnns); some tissue paper flowers that my daughter liked from a party supply store; and butterfly-and-flowers print tablecloths. We will re-use most of these decorations for Easter.
COSTUMES: My daughter wore a darling butterfly-print outfit that my mom made for her with purple nylon dress-up butterfly wings she already owned and a purple tiara; my husband wore a huge pair of blue and purple wings from an online costume vendor; my son wore a pair of dress-up monarch wings (from USToy) over orange and black clothes; my mom and I wore butterfly-print shirts and I also had butterfly design socks! The guests wore wings also about which more later.
SNACKS: We served sliced cheese and ham cut into butterfly and caterpillar shapes using cookie cutters; butterfly-shaped crackers (Pepperidge Farms) and Bug Bites mini grahams; and veggies with dip. Plus fruit juice. The party was not at a mealtime so all we needed was finger foods.
ACTIVITIES/GAMES: As the children arrived each was given colorful bug antennae -- craft chenille stems (pipecleaners) curled into loose spirals with a pompom on the end glued onto plastic headbands from the Target dollar aisle -- to wear and a plain white pair of wings to decorate. Dissatisfied with the cost and decorate-ability of the usual nylon-over-wire type of wings I decided to make the wings from posterboard. Two sheets of standard size posterboard made six wing-shaped cutouts (three pairs) each. I stapled a length of elastic to each wing to go over the child's arms and stuck each pair together covering the staples in the process with duct tape. So the kids could use regular washable markers and stickers to decorate their wings. We also had some picture books about butterflies and various toy butterflies and caterpillars set out to play with; and in the back yard little bottles of bubbles with butterfly-shaped lids (Oriental Trading) and a Bella Butterfly crawl-through tunnel (from Target). I also had some coloring pages and materials to make coffee filter-and-clothespin butterflies, but ended up not using those as the kids were more interested in flying around than in doing more crafts. (Lots of active boys!) We also had butterfly and flower temp tattoos which several of the kids put on in between other activities.
After everyone had their wings ready, I brought them outside and had them sit in a big circle on the lawn for a book. I read Are You a Butterfly? Which is a picture book that talks about the butterfly life cycle and what you would look like and what you would do if you were a butterfly. Then I had the parents take the kids wings and stand ready with them, while the kids all turned into eggs, curled up tight, and then hatched into caterpillers. As they pretended to hatch, we put trays of leaves in the middle of the circle for them to eat and grow. The leaves were actual lettuce leaves; sprigs of fresh parsley; nori cut into leaf shapes; homemade green-colored apple fruit leather cut into leaf shapes; and green tortillas cut into leaf shapes so even the pickiest eater could find something to nibble on! When everyone had eaten some leaves and pretended to split out of their skin (just like in the book) it was time to form their chrysalises; we put out assorted blankets and sheets for the kids to wrap themselves up in and they all giggled and giggled their way through that. Finally it was time to emerge from the chrysalis and put on their wings and fly away!
We gathered up the blankets and things and scattered a bunch of large craft foam flower shapes (from Oriental Trading) on the lawn for a butterfly dance; this was a musical chairs type of game but with enough flowers for all players. I had a boom box on the edge of the deck and played some music (classical piano CD) while they flitted from flower to flower and then stopped the music at random times. When the music stopped they were to stay on a flower and I drew a colored marker from a little bag (flower shaped with a butterfly decoration!). Anyone standing on a flower that matched the color of the marker (1-3 each time) was to pick up the flower.
My husband and mom were waiting to serve them some nectar (fruit juice)! The juice was in green paper cups with flower-shaped lids fashioned from craft foam; the lids had a hole punched in the middle for a straw which served as the butterfly's proboscis. While the lucky kids were sipping their nectar the rest were dancing to music again. We kept this game going until everyone had won a cup of nectar at least one time most of the kids wanted to play again and again which was fine.
When that was winding down it was time for the pinata. This was a pull-string type butterfly-shaped pinata from Party America filled with small plastic butterfly rings, mini hairclips and toys (from Oriental Trading and USToy) and some SweeTarts candy. Each child was given a little butterfly net (decorative type from CreateForLess.com which was much cheaper than the toy versions I found anywhere else and they worked well) to use for catching the goodies from the pinata. They looked so cute standing around the pinata in a circle holding their nets at the ready! (Next time I will convert the pinata myself though as I usually do -- the pre-made pullstring one did not work very well; a lot of the ribbons fell off even before the party and the one that was supposed to open the pinata was not very effective.) After the pinata we served cake; my daughter opened her presents and handed out goody bags; and the kids played for a while until their parents dragged them away!
CAKE: Naturally the cake also had to be butterfly shaped but I realized I did not have a large enough round cake pan to do simply one butterfly (using the Betty Crocker design) that would feed everyone. So I created a butterfly garden cake. The base was a plain half sheet frosted green with some grass and flowers piped on. On top of that I had two large butterflies. One was made from a round cake pan and the other from two heart-shaped pans. A long teardrop shape was cut from one of the hearts in order to nestle them points together in a shape like a butterfly at rest; and the leftover teardrop was used for the body in between the wings of the other butterfly. Fruit-flavored licorice candy for the antennae and edible glitter for the spots on the wings.
FAVORS: Of course the kids had their butterfly nets with goodies from the pinata, and their wings and antennae. As my daughter opened each gift she handed the guest who brought that gift a butterfly-print goody bag containing a pencil and notepad with butterfly designs; bouncy ball with embedded butterfly; plastic toy caterpillar; butterfly-shaped paper folding fan; butterfly stickers; and a butterfly made of three crayons (for the body) wrapped up with chenille craft stems formed into wing shapes. The crayon butterflies were sort of a random experiment when I was making the antenna and they were so cute I just had to make one for each goody bag. This party involved a LOT of preparatory craft work with making the wings and the flower cups and painting the big cardboard flowers and so on but I had a lot of fun with it and it all turned out beautifully.
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