Chunky Monkey Party 1yr - Monkey Maze
Rachel in Lehi, UT, USA
June 2009 Winner
My daughter earned the nickname Chunky Monkey for self-explanatory reasons, so I made that her first birthday party theme. Of course I got plenty of ideas from this site (thanks all you creative geniuses out there)! I really wanted to focus on monkeys rather than a general jungle theme, and I chose to use OT's Neon Monkey themed stuff because it was fun and colorful.
INVITATIONS: To save time for other things, I used the Neon Monkey invitations, filled out all the info, then spruced them up a bit. I printed off a picture of their Neon Monkey necklaces and cut out the monkeys. I glued a piece of brown yarn from one top corner to the other of the open invitation and hung a monkey from it, then glued paper leaves at each end of the yarn. So when you open the invitation there was a monkey hanging there to greet you. I stuck extra leaves inside as confetti, then hand delivered each one with some mini loaves of banana bread.
DECORATIONS: Our house was designated a jungle outpost named after the birthday girl, and we turned our entire backyard into a jungle maze! We measured out the yard and used graph paper to design a maze. Then for several weeks leading up to the party I started mowing the lawn according to our design I'd mow the pathways and let the walls grow until it got super long and jungly. It ended up looking great, with cattails and all kinds of crazy plants popping up where we let them! Then we lined the walls with palm trees- I called around to some carpet stores and managed to gather about 20 carpet rolls, 12 foot long each, which we sawed into sections of two or three to end up with 50 trunks. My mom and I spent hours making palm leaves out of green butcher paper with florist wire weaved down the center to make them hang outward more, then we taped four to each trunk and wrapped a couple of strips of brown butcher paper around the top of the trunk which were slit a few times to hang down like palm tree bark.
We placed the trees around the maze on tent poles and long wood stakes stuck into the ground, then wound green streamers between the trees as vines which also served to mark the walls even more. We made more vines out of red, orange, and yellow butcher paper to wrap around some of the trees to make the jungle more colorful, plus added fake tropical flowers here and there from Dollar Tree. I'd bought 21 stuffed monkeys from Dollar Tree with long arms and Velcro on their hands which we hung in some of the trees. Throughout the maze were hidden six different sites that the kids would visit- Butterfly Meadow: This site was next to our neighbor's vinyl fence, which I stuck butterfly window stickers to, then stuck lots of fake flowers and butterflies around in the long grass. In the center was a covered coffee table with paints and paintbrushes and a variety of butterfly suncatchers from Walmart. Fish Pond: We filled a little sandbox with water and some river rocks then bought some cheap feeder fish to swim around in it. Campsite: We set up my toddler's mini play tent with some camping gear and placed several plastic lizards around the site. Treasure Trove: We set some treasure chests with decorative glass gems and plastic gold coins, plus some vases that'd been spray painted gold. In the middle was a large plastic tiki head statue that had a fake flame in its mouth, found at a party store. Tiger Den: I have a large real-looking stuffed tiger that sat in this site. Dragonfly Hollow: We had some Dollar Tree butterfly nets sitting on the ground, and bought a bunch of large dragonflies from Dollar Tree as well to go with this site. In addition to the six main sites, there were a few obstacles along the pathways.
There was a Bug Pit with lots of plastic bugs on the ground where the kids had to walk across some stepping stones that looked like flowers (Dollar Tree) to avoid the bugs. They had to cross a wooden bridge over a nest of plastic snakes. I was planning to string fake spider webs and spiders across the trees leading to the treasure trove for the kids to crawl beneath, but ran out of time. I also wanted to cover a couple of old trunks with brown or black paper and set them across a pathway as boulders for the kids to climb over, but ran out of time on that one, too. We did have a fuming volcano, though! We used one large long box to create a bat tunnel, which we painted black and hung plastic bats inside (I got tons of these colorful plastic creatures for dirt cheap at Walmart during their Easter clearance sale apparently some kids like bugs in their Easter basket?) Then we used a bunch of big diaper boxes I'd been saving to build a mountain around the bat tunnel and covered the whole thing with black garden cover stuff. At the top we set a bucket under the black plastic and cut a hole in the plastic, taping it to the inside of the bucket, and filled the bucket with water and dry ice to get a smoking effect.
In the front yard, we set up an open-air canopy and set up chairs underneath it for a shaded sitting area. In the middle we also laid a blanket on the ground with a bunch of little toys for the little kids to play with. We used sidewalk chalk to draw animal tracks all over the driveway. On our porch sat a sign reading Welcome to Londyn Outpost and behind it we hid our stereo system which played a CD I'd burned throughout the party. It had my daughter's theme song on it, Big and Chunky from Madagascar 2 (cracks me up!), some Harry Belefonte, Reggae, and a few random monkey/jungle-themed songs. In the basement I played some jungle sounds to emanate through the windows into the jungle. I'd planned to hang some raffia trimmings and vines from our porch overhang and windows, but ran out of time. Inside the Outpost living room I'd set up the opening activities, and in our kitchen was a spread of snacks. On the wall was a bulletin board where I used the idea from this site of listing Missing Explorers. I took it one step further and found pictures of really funny-looking people on www.grimmemennesker.dk. So we had a poster for Ben Eaten, U.R. Next, Ima Goner, and I added Anita Reskew. There was also a poster titled Watch for my watch! With a picture of my toddlers Hello Kitty watch, and asking everyone to return the watch to me if they found it.
ACTIVITIES: While we waited for everyone to arrive, I had the kids work on the handprint craft I got from this site, but modified the poem to only include monkeys (sorry other animals): Can you remember my jungle call from when I was so small? Or when I left my monkey prints clinging to the wall? Before your eyes I'm growing and soon will be so tall. Here's a print that you can keep to look back and recall. This is how my monkey print looked on May 30, 2009. My sister-in-law used her Cricut to make tons of cute little leaves and flowers, and I glued a copy of the poem and a blank circle onto half-pages of colored cardstock. I provided a green ink pad and glue sticks for parents to glue leaves and flowers onto their card however they wanted, and had Londyn's sample card there for reference. For the adults, I'd bought 5x7 prints of 12 photos of Londyn, one for every month of her life, stuck them each onto a neon colored paper backing, and hung them out of order along a string in the living room along with some neon colored paper lanterns (like the kind you make in elementary school). Each photo was labeled A-L, and the adults had to guess their correct order. Beneath the hanging line I'd placed a small table with a tiki-esque jar to place their guesses in, some paper strips and pencils, and written instructions so that the game didn't have to be manned.
Once everyone arrived, I gathered all the kids and their parents in the front yard. I told them that they would now be going to explore the jungle and that there were many wonderful things to see, and to be sure to say hi to Mr. Magoo who was camping out there somewhere. I'd made Jungle Explorer Guidebooks for each kid, with one page dedicated to each of the six jungle sites including the name of the site and a picture of the creatures living in that site (free online clipart), then a blank box at the bottom. The first page was for the Outpost, and then on the last page was a picture of the neon monkeys it read How many fuzzy monkeys can you count in the jungle? I explained that as they visited each site they'd get a sticker of that creature to put in the box on that site's page. I handed out a toucan sticker to place on their Outpost page as an example, since I had fake toucans in the living room. Just before I handed out their Guidebooks, I made a sound like a phone ringing and told them to excuse me for a moment while I took this call. I pulled a banana out of my pocket and put it to my ear (it was supposed to be resting on an old fashioned cradle, but I couldn't find an old fashioned cradle phone to use. I basically had a conversation with the various jungle creatures who were frantically complaining to me about the monkeys causing mischief again! I told the kids that the jungle creatures needed their help to sort out the messes the monkeys had made. I handed out their Guidebooks, then had everyone line up on the side of the house leading into the jungle.
At the entrance, I'd set up a photo op so that we could not only get cute pictures to send out as thank yous afterward, but to spread people out as they entered the maze. I followed the Neon Monkey design and painted a board to look like monkeys hanging from vines in trees with the faces cut out for the kids (and parents) to stick their faces into. It turned out pretty cute considering I'm not a painter! Inside the maze, each site had one of the creatures telling the kids how to help them. I made up little poems, wrote them on poster board, and cute them out in speech-bubble shape to set up next to the creature. To hold the stickers, I folded the bottom of a sheet of cardstock upward to form a tray, folded and glued the edges up, and placed the stickers in the tray. On the top portion of the cardstock I glued printed instructions for the parents which were more detailed so that they'd know exactly what to help their child do at that site.
At the Butterfly Meadow, the poem read Monkeys do such silly things, they stole the color from our wings. Please paint our colors bright and new, and later we'll fly home with you! Then they had to paint one of the suncatcher butterflies. Fish Pond: Those monkeys in their wicked pleasure left behind this stolen treasure. Please fish a coin out of our pond and take it back where it belongs! Each kid had to use a provided fish net to remove one gold coin from the pond and later drop it off in the Treasure Trove. Campsite: The monkeys dropped us lizards here and made the campers disappear. Use your eyes to find us all. Look carefully, we're pretty small! Here they had to play I Spy to spot all the lizards. The parental instructions included the correct number. Treasure Trove: Here they simply had to drop the gold coin they fished out of the pond into the treasure pile to receive their sticker. Tiger Den: All I want is peace and quiet, but monkeys love to cause a riot. Please choose a song to sing to me, and maybe I can get some sleep! Each kid had to pick their favorite song and sing to the tiger to calm him down. Dragonfly Hollow: My dragonfly friends flew away when all the monkeys came to play. Borrow a net to bring one home, out of the jungle where they roam! The kids then had to go find one of the dragonflies we'd spread around the jungle, catch it in a net, and set it in the grass back in Dragonfly Hollow.
Along the way they could count how many monkeys they saw and write their answer on the last page. After they'd all been out there for a bit, I leaned out of our kitchen window overlooking the maze (our house is two levels plus a walk-out basement so there are really three storeys of windows overlooking the backyard) and reminded everyone to keep a look out for my lost watch. Shortly afterward, one of the little boys found it on the wrist of one of the mischievous monkeys and brought it back to me to win a prize. A little while later, I leaned out the window again and told everyone that we were expecting a drop from a supply plane, and that I could hear the airplane approaching. I had them all watch the sky for the drop so that they could collect the supplies for me.
Then I had my brothers chuck three separate packages out of a third storey window that were hooked to parachutes. They drifted to the ground and it was a riot watching all the kids race through the maze to collect them. Inside were cute Neon Monkey lollipops for everyone to take. Initially, the plan was to drop each goodie bag on a parachute, but they ended up being way too heavy so we settled for dropping just the lollipops. When they'd collected all their stickers they came back to the Outpost where we handed out their goodie bags as a reward. We served colorful monkey face cupcakes (Nilla cookies for the muzzle, mini Nillas for the ears, the use icing tubes to add eyes, nostrils, and mouth) while Londyn opened her presents outside under the canopy, then we let her dig into her own special monkey cake. GAMES: We brought out a colorfully painted limbo stick for a limbo competition, then played the balloon stomp game, aka the Monkey Dance, where each person had a yellow balloon, banana, tied to their ankle by a string and had to try to protect their banana while popping everyone else's. It was a riot!
SNACKS: We had our chocolate fountain running with bananas, strawberries, and pretzels to dip. I used the ideas from FamilyFun.com to label apple slices as Crocodile Teeth, grapes as Snake Eyes, craisins as Dried Ants, potato chips as Beetle Wings with onion dip, then served Hansen's fruit juice boxes from Costco, and punch bowls of Banana Slush Punch and Monkey Milk (just regular milk to go with the chocolate). We used Neon Monkey tableware then set out fake coconuts holding plastic forks and some cute palm tree picks I found at Big Lots.
FAVORS: There were two sets of goodie bags (packed in Neon Monkey sacks, labeled and decorated with curling ribbon, one set for the birthday girl and her wee friends, and another for the toddlers and older cousins. In each baby bag was a jar of banana baby food, a Gerber banana-yogurt juice, a monkey face snack container (Dollar Tree) with Gerber banana shaped toddler cookies in it, and a packet of fruit snacks. The older kids each got a monkey face snack container with yellow salt dough in it labeled Mashed Banana Playdough- Not for eating! a packet of fruit snacks, some Laffy Taffys and tropical flavored Starbursts, and a couple of Neon Monkey tattoos. They also took home their monkey lollipops, butterfly suncatcher, and one of the stuffed monkeys from the jungle. For the kids and adults alike, we handed out Banana Boat kits, packets of chocolate chips and marshmallows attached to a banana with curling ribbon and a colorful card with instructions on how to make them. Everyone had a great time!
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