Care Bear Party - Ultimate Care Bear Party!
Dariti in Austin, TX USA
April 2003 Winner
Care Bears came out when I was a teenager. I owned two of them, and now they belong to my children. Those lovable, cuddly, colorful teddy bears with symbols on their bellies, whose mission is to help people remember to care. Carlton Cards & American Greetings reintroduced them to a new generation in 2002 as they came back for their 20th anniversary. My daughter, having my old Care Bears in her possession for years was ecstatic. Her entire wish list for Christmas was Care Bears, and then of course we HAD to have a Care Bears party for her 7th birthday in January. Party Supplies: It just so happened that our local party store did have the Care Bears plates, cups, napkins, and tablecloth.
They also had the invitations, which included a Care Bear on the inside for the guests to color, and a name badge on the back of the card which they could cut out and wear to the party. Although I usually make my own invitations, these were quite cute, so we went ahead with the store bought ones, and used brightly colored glitter gel pens to write the information on the inside. I wrote in Care Bear style, using hearts to dot I's, and hearts for commas, colons, etc. I found the Care Bear Family font available for free download on the web, and addressed the envelopes using my computer, and added a cute image of Birthday Bear on the bottom corner of the envelope.
Decorations: I bought crepe paper rolls in every color of the rainbow - the bright hues of course; purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, hot pink, and red. We started at the center of the living room ceiling with all colors, and stretched each color out to every corner and middle wall of the room, twisting the paper as we went. It was like there was a spiral rainbow above the room! I bought packages of extra large round balloons, in a rainbow of colors which we filled with helium and lined the walkway up to our door. I had wanted to make a rainbow balloon archway for the guests to walk beneath, but didn't get around to it. Since Valentine stuff was already on the sales shelves in January, we got some heart shaped paper garland, that we hung along the walls around the room, and a 3-D heart decoration that hung from the middle of the crepe paper rainbow. Mylar red heart balloons were also on sale for $.49 ea. Just a few days prior to the party, so we got enough for all the kids (10), and tied them here and there around the living room, and dining room.
I scanned several Care Bear images, enlarged and printed them across several sheets of 11x17" paper, which I glued together as posters, and laminated so they could be hung as decorations in my daughter's bedroom after the party. The largest finished size was 30x16" - this was of Cheer Bear (pink w/rainbow belly) with a rainbow behind her and the words "Have a rainbow day!" This one went up above the mantle. (I had taken down most of our photos and artwork on the walls.) The adjacent wall was adorned with a Share bear poster (purple w/lollipops - although if you remember, the original one had a shake with two straws in it, I guess they don't want to encourage the sharing of germs now), and across the way was Funshine bear (yellow with a happy sun). I used the Care Bear Family font to make large (approx. 9 x 6") letters in my daughter's name, in Photoshop I used the gradient tool to make them rainbow letters, and outlined them in pink. I cut these out, laminated them, trimmed the laminate around each letter, and taped them up along one wall of the living room underneath a "Happy Birthday" banner I found at a dollar store which was also rainbow letters with hearts, smile faces, and butterflies, it went perfectly with everything else. I cut the border sides off two plastic Care Bears table cloths and taped them to the dining room walls, like a wallpaper border. I hung the middle part of the cloths (white with yellow stars) like a curtain behind the cake table (made a good background for the photo of the cake). I used solid colored tablecloths, of bright blue, orange, and bright green on the tables. We lined the mantle with some of my daughter's stuffed Care Bears, and put several more of her Care Bears here and there for decorations as well.
Attire: My daughter wanted a Funshine Care Bear shirt to wear at her party. We looked all over for Care Bear T-shirts, or any apparel item for that matter, to no avail in our area. So, I happened to find Inkjet Iron-on transfer paper for dark fabrics at Walmart (of all places). That got my mind going. My daughter had a color Care Bears story book, so I flipped though it, scanned an image of Funshine, printed it on the transfer paper, trimmed around it in a cloud shape, and put it on a yellow T-shirt. Of course my son then wanted a Bedtime Bear shirt, so I made one for him, and then I made a Friend Bear shirt for myself. Dad wasn't interested in a Care Bear shirt, though the kids keep saying I should have made him one anyway so we all would've matched. [Idea!! You could also make many small transfers (like 4-6/page) and iron them on small cloth tote bags for really neat goodie bags, or make bean bags, or pillows. ]
Games/Activities: The party began at 3:00 p.m. As guests arrived, and were greeted, my daughter led them to a table for a craft activity. I had found a "vintage" pattern on Ebay for making small stuffed felt Care Bears, and taking a few shortcuts from the original directions, I sewed approx. 40 of these cute bears in various bright colors of felt. (I managed to cut 3 bears from 2 sheets of each color. I used T-shirt paint, googly eyes, and heart shaped beads and foam pieces for features instead of hand embroidering.) This was a time consuming project, but I just did a few each night for about a week or so. I made so many because they turned out soo cute, and I just knew that many of the parents would want to have one as well. I left the white bellies/tummies blank, and had a variety of small embroidery patches, felt, and fun foam shapes for the kids to personalize their Care Bear. They had lots of fun with this, and we got some interesting new additions to the Care Bear family, such as "Basketball Bear," "Cherry Bear," "Nature Bear," and "Choo Choo Engineer Bear." Of course I also had made a set of all my daughter's favorite Care Bears, with their appropriate belly symbols, which I lined up on the edge of the mantle shelf as examples and decorations. When everyone was finished personalizing their bear, we left the bears on the table for the glue to dry while we did the other activities.
PIN-THE-SYMBOL ON THE CARE BEAR: I scanned the B/W Care Bear that was in the inside of the invitations, and erased the symbol on it's tummy. I enlarged and printed it out across four 11x17" pages, pieced and glued it together, colored it with markers (saving my color ink cartridge, but not my wrist), trimmed, and laminated it. I bought glittery 5" die-cut cardstock cupcakes from a teacher supply store, which I wrote each child's name on, and placed tape loops on the backs. Of course the child who got the cupcake nearest to the center of the Care Bear's belly was the winner. That lucky child won a thick Care Bears coloring/activity book that I had found at a Kbtoys store for $1.99 just a couple of days prior to the party. There were not many Care Bears items to be found in our area at the time of this party, so I was excited to find that coloring book - and the winner was even more thrilled (just happened to be my daughter's best friend).
PINATA: Upon the mantle we also had a Rainbow pinata that matched the bright colors on the party supplies. I debated over using it - because I couldn't bare to have it busted up, and I didn't really want anyone swinging a bat around in my house, since I knew it would be too cold to do it outside. So I used my exacto knife, and rigged it like a pull-string pinata. I cut slits down the inside of the arch, stuck about 12 ribbons in the tissue paper, and taped one ribbon to the middle part to open it. My husband just held the pinata by the loop, and each child got to pull one ribbon. The last one finally opened the pinata, and my husband shook it until all the candy and toys fell out. We filled it with packets of gummy bears, smarties, and lifesavers (rainbow candies), as well as a few bracelets, necklaces, toy cars, etc. (It's really a good idea to save all those kids' meal toys for pinata fillers!) I gave each child a small plastic loot sack which I got a package of 25 of at the dollar store to scoop their loot into.
Party portraits: I bought several yards of sky blue butcher paper at the Teacher supply shop, and covered my china cabinet front with it (because it happens to be in the main entry way when coming into our house). I then painted a rainbow, some white fluffy clouds and yellow stars with happy faces, like you see in the Care Bears stories. This became the backdrop for the party group portrait, with each child holding their felt Care Bears. After the party I printed wallet sized photos for all the kids looking as if they were standing inside a cloud, (manipulated in Photoshop) with Care Bears logo at the bottom, and a rainbow border. I laminated them with the date, event, and the kids' names on the back, and put them in the Thank you notes. I've done this sort of thing for most of my kids' parties, and everyone always comments on how wonderful they are. Laminated photos are great for putting on your refrigerator, punch a hole in the corner and add to a keychain, or let the kids tote them around, because you don't have to worry about them getting messed up very easily. (I always round the edges of the laminate for kid safety too! You can do this with a regular fingernail file to make it smoother.)
Goodie/Loot Bags: I bought some small handled solid color gift sacks at a craft store, rainbow colors, and my daughter decorated them with some Care Bear stickers, and tied on a rainbow tag with each child's name on it that I had made on my computer. I also made a small coloring book using various Care Bear coloring pages I scanned, or downloaded off the internet, and on the back cover I put a "Thank you for celebrating ___'s birthday with us!" Using the Care Bear Family font. Each bag contained a home-made coloring book, a box of 24 crayons (I bought a case of them after back-to-school for $0.02/box, enough for several birthday parties, or what ever!), various strips of heart, rainbow, and smile face stickers, a color teddy bear necklace (blue, green, yellow, or red), a rainbow heart beaded bracelet, a color teddy bear pencil sharpener (last 3 items were from Oriental Trading Co.), a decorated pencil, a little coin purse with a heart shaped glitter comb & mirror for the girls, (got these on clearance 4/$.98) and a pair of kids sunglasses (4/$1.00) for the boys. We added their stuffed felt Care Bears, and pinata candy to their bags also.
Food: I made Care Bear lollipops and candies with candy melts, and a Care Bear candy mold I also got off Ebay. I flavored the candy melts with the crème de mint flavoring (just slightly), and the candy was gobbled up pretty quickly. I started the party at 3:00 p.m. so I would not have to feed everyone lunch. We just had the usual party snacks; veggie & fruit tray w/dip, pretzels, and chips. I had wanted to make some heart and teddy bear shaped sugar cookies with rainbows and such on them, but did not get around to it.
Cake: Although Wilton did make a Care Bear cake pan in the 1980s - the bidding was high on Ebay, so I opted for just buying the 'Huggable Teddy Bear' pan at a Michaels craft store. I trimmed down the bears' ears, and connected those trimmings to the bear's cheeks using toothpicks, because those Care Bears have chubbier cheeks you know. Then I decorated it to look like Birthday Bear (using a picture I had as a guide), and put a real birthday candle in the cupcake on his belly. I also made a rainbow using two bundt cakes that went around the Birthday Bear cake. After the candles were blown out, and the cake cut - we put in a Care Bears video that my daughter got for Christmas. The kids enjoyed watching the short Cartoon, (approx. 10-15 minutes) while they ate their cake and ice cream. Present opening: I seated my daughter in a chair with her pin-the-symbol on the Care Bear game, and Happy Birthday banner in the background. That looked good in the photos as she opened her gifts. Each of her friends got up next to her when she was opening their gift. (It really helps to do this, just in case your record keeper misses something -- you can check the video or photos later - and it helps the gift giver feel special too.)
Gifts: Of course we had found her a new 2003 Birthday Bear "Retro" Care Bear (that means it looks more like the ones I had) - but we had her open it last. She was very surprised as I had convinced her that they were no where to be found. I had actually searched high and low, and ended up winning a bid on ebay yet again. It's amazing how in demand these little guys are again! This was pretty much the end of the main party, but my daughter had been begging for a slumber party and I had told her no. Well, I changed my mind, and decided to surprise her by asking three of her best friends to bring their sleeping bags and such, but to not tell my daughter. So after she said good bye to everyone, the girls came running back in the house with their sleeping bags and yelled "SURPRISE! We're spending the night!" She was so thrilled. We ate pizza, made popcorn, watched movies (Care Bears of course), and played the 1983 Care Bears "Path to Care-a-lot" board game. Of course I was right in there playing with them, and the girls thought it was funny that I knew all the bears names, symbols, and such. It was definitely a bit nostalgic for me, but fun for the kids too! I also printed out some more Care Bear pictures for them to color, and my daughter let each of her friends pick one of her Care Bears to sleep with. We had a great time. The parents came to pick up after breakfast the next morning (which was teddy bear shaped pancakes, eaten around 10 a.m.).
My daughter loved this party so much, we're thinking of doing the same theme next year - but will probably think up some new activities and such. Right now we're in the process of redecorating her bedroom in Rainbows and clouds. (I guess so the Care Bears will feel at home?) It is wonderful to be able to share something from my childhood with my daughter, and see it spark the imagination and creativeness in her that I remember experiencing. Of course it's also just something fun we can share.
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