Idea No.


Caterpillar Party 1yr - Food Game



Oct 2003


Jennifer in Auburn, NH, USA

Special Mention

Caterpillar Party

For my daughter's 1st birthday in July, we used Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a theme.  The emergence of this hungry little caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly seemed really appropriate.    We invited friends and family to "flutter by" for her party. 

For the invitations we drew freehand our own version of the caterpillar's story on a circle in pie wedge shapes.  We then placed a second circle with the appropriate size cut out window over it, held together with a brass fastener.  When you turned the top circle you were able to see the whole story emerge through the cut out window.  The last "window" read " all too quickly she had become . . ." and when you turned the invitation over there was a butterfly fluttering with the words "a beautiful butterfly."  Our guests really seemed to love the invitations because the toddlers who came were familiar with the story and could "read" the invitation.  

As guests arrived they were given homemade butterfly wings that had been made with tissue paper glued between two pieces of poster board.  The wings had elastic ties that went over the children's shoulders, like a backpack would.  It was cute to see them running around the yard.   

For an activity, we had all families participate.  We had everyone participate in what we called the Very Hungry Caterpillar game.  My husband and I had painted all the food from the story onto 2-3 foot pieces of cardboard and cut them out and attached them to wooden stakes.  There were 16 pieces all together.  They were placed all over the yard, with directions on the back of each food for an activity to be completed.  Guests were then given a bingo-like sheet that had all 16 foods drawn on it.  They also had stickers to make sure they visited each stop on the hungry caterpillar's jouney.  Activities ranged from dancing to hopscotch, hitting balls off a tee to climbing through a tent.  It was very entertaining and we enjoyed watching the adults the most complete these silly tasks.  We made one of the activities a leaf with two cut outs so that each team or guest would have their picture taken.  These pictures were later sent with the thank you newsletter. 

For a cake, I made my daughter her own little butterfly cake.  For everyone else I used the book as inspiration and created a cake similar to the picture.  I placed two 9x13 cakes together (long sides together) and with various frosting and layers created the three dimensional effect of Carle's drawing of a chocolate cake.  Then I cut a round hole out of the cake and placed a cupcake which I had frosted red with a face to resemble the caterpillar eating his way through the cake.   

For favors, I personalized each child's bag of goodies by using cookie cutters to make butterfly nametags out of foam for the girls and created a version of the caterpillar for the boys.  I ran a chenille stem through each side so that they could hang them up when they got home.  Inside the paper bag that I scrunched like a cocoon where butterfly shaped cookies, stickers, butterfly and caterpillar pencils and erasers, and a few other seasonal treats.   

The paper goods were simply bought at the dollar store, solid colors to match Carle's use of primary colors.  To soften it for my daughter we added pink into the yellow, green, and red.  For the various snacks, we tried to offer some of those from the party and even placed a few holes in things like the strawberries and cheese. 

For thank yous we always write a newletter recapping our child's year with a "story" about the party.  This year we enclosed the pictures taken during the hungry caterpillar game and sealed the envelopes with butterfly stickers.  Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time despite their age and the game was such a big hit that my neignbor borrowed it for a family reunion she was throwing. 

It was very inexpensive because the invitations and decorations only required paper, markers, paint and cardboard.  The most expensive purchase (aside from food) were the wooden stakes for the food cut outs.  But it was worth it and we've used them for other projects since.  This theme was really fun and imaginative.  It would work well for girls or boys.  I hope it inspires you to choose some of your child's favorite books for party theme ideas.

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