Idea No.

13343

Springtime Garden 1yr - Bug Cocoon Prize

Award

Date

April 2006

From

Aurora in San Luis Obispo, CA

Runner Up

Garden Party

SPRINGTIME GARDEN PARTY 

INVITATIONS:  Spring has Sprung!  It's time for some fun!  Joseph is turning ONE!  Join us for a Springtime Celebration of Fairies, Friends & Fireflies. Flutter on over to (our address), Buzz us at (our phone number) by (date)..We hope you can BEE there! 

DECORATIONS: Green and purple streamers with tissue paper flowers attached along the lengths.  Pretty flower garlands entwined around your chandelier.  Paper lanterns (look fantastic in the evening!) made out of an origami ball.  Drape multi-colored Christmas lights as you would paper streamers and insert each light into a paper ball.  Paper cut-outs of birds, clouds, butterflies, bees, flowers, fairies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, etc. attached to the wall.  For a fuller indoor garden effect, add construction paper grass, white picket fence, and garden signs (How does your garden grow?  Or Free Weeds!  Or Bugs 5 cents, or Welcome to My Garden)  Green tablecloth with hovering insects handing from fishing line from the ceiling  Green utensils wrapped in orange napkins secured with a rubber band or green pipe cleaners to resemble carrots.  Fairy houses (we made these by blowing up a balloon to 5-6 diameter and wrapping it with thin cotton rainbow-colored string dipped in liquid starch (Vano).  Let it dry and pop the balloon, and the string-balls hang beautifully from the ceiling!  They gave the party an airy-fairy look. 

Make paper lanterns by cutting slits in paper and rolling lengthwise so the slits are in the middle.  We curled the lantern around a tube covered in foil so they looked lit inside.  Giant paper leaves and flowers scattered all over the floor and ceiling  We had one, so we could use it at no extra cost:  a white gauze canopy netting, and we suspended it from the ceiling and stretched it in a wide circle to make our grand fairy house.  Lots of little things for busy hands to do in there!  Inexpensive flower garlands (I found 4 lengths for a dollar each nearby) strung together to form a labyrinth flower maze.  Use gardening or camping stakes to keep them in place.  If you have extra, use them as you would streamers from the ceiling.  Paper pinwheels and bug catching nets stuck in the ground in the backyard and front yard  Photo-Op:  From a refrigerator box, cut out two or three holes large and low enough for guests to poke their head through.  Color the outside in a garden theme of flowers, bugs, and so forth.  The head holes can be the centers of flowers, the face of a bug, whatever you dream up!  Be sure to cup an opening in the box for entrance and exit.  Balloons decorations: yellow balloons with black marker-drawn stripes (bees), red balloons with black marker-drawn spots (ladybugs), a string of five (or more) green balloons with eyes at one end (caterpillar), brown balloons with black spiral drawn (snails), purple balloons with attached stiff paper for wings (butterflies), any color balloon with a giant, stiff paper daisy-flower cutout behind it, hanging from the ceiling (flower). 

FOOD: Serve your food in tin buckets and baskets and offer shallow flower pots with hovering insects for individual plates.  Use a new watering can to hold the bug juice (one-third cranberry juice cocktail, two-thirds orange juice) and pour it into mason jars for cups.  Freeze small plastic insects or little frogs in your ice cube tray filled with water for a special icy bug treat.  For creative foods, label each food item with a fun name: butterflies (pretzels), ants (raisins), ladybugs (red grapes or dried cranberries), caterpillars (three grapes on a toothpick), rocks (muffins and scones)  see recipe below, flowers (flower-shaped cookies)  see recipe below.    

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe:  Beat 1 cup butter, 2 cups white sugar, 2 tbl brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 3 tbl plain yogurt, 1 cup vegetable oil and one egg on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add 4 cups flour,1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt and beat well.  Wrap and chill for one hour.  Use with cookie cutters.  Bake cookie shapes at 325 for 12 minutes.  Easy low-fat Scone Recipe: (makes four scones, multiply as needed)  Mix together 2/3 cup flour (you can make these whole grain by using whole wheat pastry flour). 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, dash of salt, and 2 tbl sugar (white or brown, although brown sugar will result in a darker, though more moist scone).  Cut 1 tbl butter into mixture until it resembles coarse meal (you can also pulse this mixture in your food processor), and mix in 5 tbl lowfat vanilla yogurt and 2 tbl chopped dried peaches (or currants).  Stir until dry ingredients are just moistened.  Sprinkle flour on a work surface and turn out dough.  Knead four or five times (it may still be sticky  add more flour if you like).  Place on a sprayed cookie sheet, pat into a 5-inch circle, and cut into four wedges.  Brush with a few drops of milk and sprinkle with white sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 14 minutes or until golden.  Serve with the soft butter and the best jam you can find. 

Edible Centerpiece Fruit Flower Basket:  Spear individual pieces of fresh fruit on the ends on long skewers and insert them into a pretty basket filled with still green foam (usually used for dried or silk flower arrangements).  You can get really creative by shaping the fruit to look like real flowers. For example:  slide a single grape onto a skewer, then a piece of melon (cut with flower cookie cutter) or a kiwi round onto the skewer and top with a single grape for a daisy;  starting at the tip of a strawberry, cut most of the way down into quarters, leaving a quarter-inch uncut at the top, invert the strawberry and slide onto a skewer open up a bit and (to form a tulip) and insert a blackberry;  slide three grapes (or three melon balls) onto a skewer; use sprigs of fresh mint on the lower portions of the flowers for leaves. 

Cake:  Ice a sheet cake (pick up a cake mix and bake it in a 9x13 glass dish) with green icing (recipe follows).  Decorate with rows of jelly beans and other candies to represent a garden.  Fence in your garden with waffle-shaped pretzels, and make haystacks from coconut.  Add a gardening house from graham crackers glued together with royal icing (recipe follows).  Roof your house with wheat thin crackers with green-dyed coconut (shake it together in a plastic bag) for a mossy look.  Break white chocolate bars into random pieces for a slate mosaic walkway.  Use waffle pretzels for windows and more fencing.  Butter Cream Icing:  beat 2 sticks of butter or margarine at high speed, then add 1 tsp vanilla and slowly add 4 c (sift it first for less white lumps) confectioner's sugar.  Add 2 tbl. Milk and coloring of your choice.  Rewhip before using (keeps 2 weeks).    Royal Icing: (this is the one that hardens within the hour).  4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar and 1 cup egg whites and add coloring if needed.  I am paranoid about salmonella, so I use the pasteurized egg white product in the carton.  They also make it powdered, sometimes under the name meringue powder.  Beat 3-8 minutes (until it forms peaks). 

GAMES:  Pin the spider on the web or pin the bee on the flower, but put the spider web or flower on the ceiling and have kids toss up things that stick.  You can use felt and have them toss up foam balls, or use a green piece of plastic cut out like a leaf and toss sticky frogs. 

Toss the ladybugs into a flowerpot and win a prize.  To make it more creative, have kids try to drop a coin (ladybug) into a bucket filled with water in which an open glass gar is hiding right-side up.  If the coin goes in the glass jar, they win a prize! 

Bug cocoons (crack open homemade rocks to find bug prize inside).  To make these, I found a recipe online made out of 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 dirt, 1 cup sand, 1 1/2 cups salt and water. You mix all the dry ingredients together and then add water until the mixture sticks together. You can place plastic bugs or frogs inside and form the mixture around it. Set them on an old cookie tray to dry.  The eggs take about 4 days to dry, so you have to think ahead and start a week before hand.  

Guessing Game:  How many bugs in the jar?  Fill a cleaned out pickle jar with an assortment, but be sure to know how many is in there yourself!  At the end, hand out the bugs to all guessers.  Strawberry pinata holds individually pre-packaged prizes (make sure there's enough for one apiece.  Best papier-móch paste:  Combine 1 cup white flour with 2 cups cold water, then add 2 cups boiling water (heated on stovetop) and return pan to stove and return entire mixture to a boil.  Remove from heat, add 3 tbl white sugar, and stir.  Let cool before using.  Dip newspaper strips and paste to balloon.  Let dry two days.  Paint red and top with a green leaf.  (Hint: crisscross duct tape sting under the green leaf topper.)  We made little fairies from wire, beads, and taken-apart silk flowers (see below) as the prizes in the strawberry pinata. 

Homemade Fairies:  Cut two lengths of flesh-colored florist wire (one 2.5 and the other 6.5), and bend the longer one in half.  Place the shorter one perpendicular to the longer one (so as to make a cross shape), about 0.5 below the bend in the long piece.  Wrap the bend down and under so as to twist a loop at the intersection of wires to secure the short one in place (arms).  Finish with the bend in original position (head).  Curl a tiny loop on both ends of the short piece (hands).  Slide a pretty bead up both long free ends (body) and follow with a silk flower (you will need to take apart the entire flower daisies and roses were our favorite to get at the pre-made hole in the center of each layer.)  We had between 3-5 different silk flower petal layers for  a fuller skirt effect.  (Hint:  put the smaller layers on top.) Follow up with another bead under all skirts to secure them into place (skirt can be long or short  your choice).  Hot glue last underside bead in place.  Curl ends of long legs into small feet.  Attach a small 13mm wood bead for the head and top with a tiny rosebud flower or yarn hair (cut it about 3 long and tie a know in the middle and glue to head.)  You can also add winds made from the leaves of the flowers. 

Bug Hunt for plastic bugs and small reptiles with homemade bug-catching nets (made from wire coat hangers and inexpensive tulle and a glue gun) and small magnifiers (a dozen for a dollar at thrift stores), and collected in a mason jar (bug jar) that served as their juice cup at lunch (wash it out, or you'll have sticky bugs!). 

PARTY FAVORS: Pinwheels made from paper and balloon sticks or skewers (plant these all over your backyard for a festive look, and kids help themselves and don't bother you for them!)  Butterfly net for catching bugs  (also plant in the ground so they can hunt for these when they are ready for the bug hunt)  Plastic bugs from bug hunt  Magnifiers from bug hunt (perhaps in the pinata)  Mason jars with tulle as bug jars from bug hunt and drinks  Pinata prizes (homemade fairies)   MUSIC:  Buzz Buzz by Laurie Berkner, anything by Lorena McKinnett, or any medieval-sounding CDs you can find.

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