Dora Safari Party -3yr- Adventure Costumes
Brie in St. Bonifacius, MN USA
For our daughter's 3rd birthday we had a Dora the Explorer Safari theme because Dora is her all time favorite! I wanted to create a party that was based on a typical Dora episode, but with our own personal "twist". This party would have children attending from ages 1-12 and their parents, so we also needed to make sure that it would appeal to a wide range of ages.
I found some invitations that could be personalized on www.birthdayinabox.com. It was a 5x7 card that had a picture of Boots holding balloons and Backpack holding a fishing net all set in a jungle background. They read "Hola Amiguitos!"…Please join us for Keely's 3rd Birthday Fiesta!" the rest of the party info followed. I purchased the matching personalized Thank you notes as well. About six weeks before the party, I started working on the ideas for decorating, creating games and planning how the day would flow. Once I had all of if figured out, I lined up a couple of friends to help out as guides and to work the games so we would be able to enjoy the party too. I typed a party agenda to stay organized and give to the helpers so we could be on the same page. We purchased two of the Dora CDs from amazon.com to play throughout the day as background music.
As each child arrived, they were greeted and escorted down the center hall to a table in the kitchen where they needed to "get ready" for the day. Large cutouts (from partydirect.com) of Dora and Boots, Swiper, and Benny the Bull were dangling over the table with streamers and balloons in bright purple, orange, green. We placed two large inflatable palm trees (orientaltrading.com) on each side of the table. I welcomed everyone to 'Keely's Dora Adventure' and gave the children and their parents a brief rundown of the game plan. Each child then got to choose a straw safari hat, a backpack, binoculars, a "fishing" net (it was really a butterfly catching net), and a compass (all of which were bought by the dozen from orientaltrading.com.) This would also be their goodie bags to take home. My husband, myself and the two friends that were helping dressed out in the gear too. The kids were given paint markers and a little time to personalize their backpacks while others arrived. Once they were all dressed and ready, we took a group photo of them with the digital camera.
They were then given the first of three "assignment" envelopes. The first envelope had a picture of Backpack on it. (I bought several rolls of Dora the Explorer gift wrap and cut out all of the characters to use for just about everything. It was a tedious task, but once I was done, I had enough brightly colored pictures of each character to make a big impact on simple items.) In the first envelope was a sheet with a simple picture I drew of two palm trees; one with Swiper peeking from behind it, and a river with multi-colored ducks swimming around. At the bottom it read " We need your help! We have to go to duck river to rescue ducks before that sneaky fox, Swiper, swipes the clues to the next task! Use something from your backpack to get the ducks from the river. Vamonos!"
My family room was decorated with balloons, streamers, and the same character cutouts dangling from over the window and archway. Against a wall, we laid out a waterproof drop cloth, and used my daughter's small inflatable pool as the "river". I cut out bright colored poster board and made letters to spell out "DUCK RIVER" and taped them to the pool. We used two smaller paper palm trees on each side of the river and had twelve multi-colored plastic ducks floatimh around (aslo from orientaltrading.com). Each duck was numbered 1, 2, or 3 on the bottom with permanent marker. I used the Dora gift wrap to cover three small boxes (kid size shoe boxes) and numbered each of them 1,2 and 3. In each box were cards made from poster board with the various Dora character pictures on them. Each player would use their net to "rescue" one of the ducks out of the river. The number on the bottom of their duck would tell them which box to pull from. I used a large poster board to give the key code for the game and put it next to the River. Players would either win a pass to get them a copy of the next task, a small candy treat, or a picture of Swiper which would mean that he had swiped the prize and they needed to try again. Each child would keep taking turns playing until they ended up with the pass for the next assignment.
As each child finished the game, they would receive the second envelope with Benny the Bull on it. Inside, they would find a blank index card, a pencil with jungle animals printed on it, a sheet with the faces I drew of a lion, a tiger, an elephant, a monkey, a giraffe, and a zebra and a second sheet titled 'ANIMAL SEARCH PARTY' that read "Great job on the duck river rescue! We have another job for you. The animals pictured are going to help us solve a puzzle. The problem is that the animals have taken off and we need to find them! Use the enclosed pencil and paper to write down each letter you find the animals tagged with. That sneaky fox, Swiper, is already out there so be on the look out!
Let's meet back at Duck River when you have found five (5) letters. P.S. There are more than one of each animal!" (I purchased a set of a dozen assorted inflatable zoo animals from orientaltrading.com and hid them all over the main floor of the house. The animals ranged from 12 to 17 inches tall. The ideal situation would have been to have the children go outside for this activity, but the winter weather didn't allow us that option. I hid the animals behind pillows, tvs and furniture, under tables, I hung the monkeys from the large inflatable palm trees anywhere that was not too difficult, but enough of a challenge. Some animals were tagged with pictures of Swiper, so that meant the child had to keep looking.
When the children made it back to Duck River they would find another large poster with pictures of Grumpy Old Troll glued all over it and a riddle. They would have to scramble the letters they found on the animals to figure out the answer to the riddle which was: "The Grumpy Old Troll says we can't move on until we solve his riddle: [If you can make animal noises and you have your own show; If you use a field journal; you're Dora's cousin] Write the correct answer on your card and turn it in to receive your next task!" The answer was "D-I-E-G-O". When the children solved the riddle, they received the third and final envelope that had pictures of Isa and Tico on them. Inside was a picture of Diego that I downloaded from nickjr.com. Below him read " Hola! I'm Diego! Great job getting past the Grumpy Old Troll! In order to gain access to Keel'ys 3rd Birthday Fiesta, we have to go through the Jungle to complete some tricky challenges! Go downstairs to get started!" In our lower level family room and office, we set up a 'JUNGLE SPORTS CHALLENGE'. We used four large inflatable palm trees and 6 smaller ones, balloons and streamers to decorate. We set up a 'Treasure Tent" that had a tunnel leading to it. Each time a child completed a challenge, they won a trip to climb through the tunnel and into the tent to pick out a small prize.
For prizes, we used bubbles, candy, cars, pens, paints, rings, brainteasers, etc. They used their backpacks to hold all the loot. The challenges included a game of animal croquet that we got from lillianvernon.com. It works well indoor or out and was perfect for a jungle with all the cute animals as targets. Next they would have to shoot a number of hoops to match their age on one of those nerf over the door baskets. The parents could pick up the smaller kids to make their baskets, and the older kids had a line to shoot from. After that they would do a 'Bean Bag Toss' that was numbered and they received candy to equal the numbers they hit with the bean bags.
Finally, we used my daughter's large toy chest to create a 'Ball Frenzy'. We purchased the bag of 100 balls from ToysRUs, marked one with "X" and gave each child one minute to dig in the balls to find it. If they found the "X", they won another trip into the Treasure Tent. While our friends worked the Sports Challenge, we worked on framing the group photo we had taken earlier for each of the children. I found the "Adventurous Amigos" frame on nickjr.com and used poster board to make a sturdy backing for it. We presented each child with one photo as they completed the challenge and invited them all back upstairs for the FIESTA! We set up a self serve taco bar in the kitchen with choice of beef or chicken and all the fixings. I bought aluminum chafing dishes at partyamerica to keep beef, chicken and tortillas warm. Chips and salsa and other dips were around for snacking. We used Dora the Explorer partyware for the children and solid colored partyware for the adults. While the children were downstairs, we changed the kitchen table from the explorer set up to a place for eating for the adults by adding a dora table cloth and centerpiece.
For the children the formal dining room was decorated in true Fiesta style with a Fiesta sign, sombrero, streamers and all of the Dora centerpieces and tableware. We ordered a custom Dora cake from our local bakery and sang "Feliz Cumpleanos!" at cake time. After opening presents, we went back to the lower level for the pinata. All of the children wanted to do the challenges again of course. This was an extremely fun day and everyone, kids and adults, continue to rave about what a great party it was and wonder how we will ever be able to top it! We had some of our closest friends and their children attending, so we planned for a longer party with a meal included. A way to cut back on the time would be to eliminate having a taco bar and host the party at a time appropriate for just serving cake and ice cream.
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