Safari Party 1yr - Green Snake Cake
Gina in Keystone Heights, FL USA
May 2002 Winner
Jungle Adventure!! I had a Safari party for my son's first birthday. I invited all of our friends and family to help celebrate, so we had two age groups to work with - the baby/toddlers (8mos-3 yrs)and the 4-7 age group. I had 7 in each group. I knew a few months before hand what the theme would be, so I had adequate time to check the local dollar stores and take advantage of sales and close-out deals online.
INVITATIONS: I found a cute elephant invitation online at Family.com. You cut out the image of a cartoon-like elephant face from grey construction paper. Make the ears big enough to fold over the elephant's face, covering it. The trunk should be about three inches wide and long enough to print your invitation info on it. Draw a face on the elephant and print your info on the trunk, then fold the trunk up two times to fit neatly against the face. Next fold each ear in toward the face, covering the trunk. On the outside of the ears, write something like You're Invited on one ear and To A Jungle Safari. On some I wrote Bring Your Wild Animals on one ear and To Our Jungle Safari. Everyone loved these!
DECORATIONS: At the end of our drive I decorated with "jungle trees" and vines. I used empty 5' carpet rolls with posterboard leaves and Kudzo vines I found in the woods. I had signs on old pieces of wood nailed to trees as they went down the drive that said things like Beware and Turn Back Now. At our front fence, I had cutouts of jungle trees and vines, and jungle animals. My husband rigged some speakers that were hooked into the system in our house, and we had jungle noises playing loudly so it sounded like the animals were in the surrounding woods! My grandfather also had an old stuffed wildcat that we staged at the gate. I decorated the two main rooms inside the house (family room and kitchen) as well as the back porch to look like a jungle. I had crepe paper jungle vines in various shades of brown and green hanging from the ceilings.
The jungle sounds were also playing (at a lower volume) inside the house. I made huge green leaves from dark green posterboard and cut-outs of various life-sized jungle animals . I had big plants/greenery and a few dozen of the large inflatable jungle animals that I purchased from OTC. I placed these all over the house. I also had stuffed monkeys and snakes hanging from the "vines" and parrots on their perches hanging in corners. I had my husband take a bunch of huge boxes, refrigerator and TV boxes, and put them together to resemble caves and tunnels, all intersecting with various "exits". I spray painted jungle vines and leaves all over the boxes and had silk vines/greenery hanging over the exits. The inflatable jungle animals were all around, in, and on the caves. It was pretty big, but we have a lot of space available in the family room. On a nice day this would work outside. I decorated the back porch the same way, and I took 48" butcher/craft paper and lined three of the walls with it. I had paints and water in 5 gallon buckets ready for the kids to paint their own jungle scene . More about that later.
ACTIVITIES: AS everyone began arriving I separated the two age groups, toddler and 4-7, and had adults ready to supervise activities for each. I had the men dress as safari guides and the women dress as their favorite jungle animal. As the older children came in, I had two safari guides (dads) for the older crew, who issued the kids safari hats and binoculars and told them the rules of their upcoming safari hunt. Details in a minute. Meanwhile as the toddlers came in we dressed them in various jungle "outfits" that I found on clearance online. They were actually cute little bonnets and headpieces with matching bibs. Of course, the birthday boy got to be the Lion! Then we gave their moms their survival packs (loot bags), which consisted of simply a spill proof cup in a jungle design, a Velcro bib also with a jungle design, a fisher-price jungle book with a squeaky animal on each, a foam animal mask purchased from oriental trading company (OTC), and a pack of the Gerber fruit snacks everyone loved the packs, parents and tots alike! I found a special close out deal on small insulated travel packs that had a jungle print - we used these as the loot bags. As the big kids were involved with their safari adventure, we let the tots crawl all over and in the jungle caves. They had a ball pretending to be animals!!! We took lots of video of this We also had the JUNGLE BOOK video playing for toddlers who became bored with the caves, but none ever did.
The big kids, as I had mentioned, were then busy hunting for jungle animals. Instead of hiding actual inflatable jungle animals in the back yard, I made it more challenging by making jungle tokens for them to find. I took 1" stickers of various cartoon jungle animals that matched the infallible animals, and made little round tokens with them. I put one animal sticker on neon posterboard and cut around it, leaving a small area of the neon showing. I then put a similar sticker on the other side. Voila', token! When a child found a token, they turned it in and received the inflatable jungle animal that matched the picture on their token. It was more exciting for them than I thought it would be! They were jumping up and down and cheering for each other as each found their token! After that they were off to the Jungle Mural on the backporch. I mentioned this earlier just don't forget the rinse water and some old rags to dry the brushes with!! As the kids came in they stashed their safari gear in their safari bags (just a big brown paper bag decorated with a cutout jungle leaf and zebra w/ each kids name across the top). Each bag was in front of a chair so they could put their jungle animal on the chair to await their return. I then quickly threw a homemade apron over each child (an inexpensive garbage bag with holes cut for head and arms). Then they all got to pick a spot and paint their own jungle scene! At the end of the party we cut each jungle scene off the wall so the children could take them home with the rest of their goodies. And, it was instant clean up of that area! By the time the big kids were done with their masterpieces, the tots were ready to eat.
FOOD: We then all gathered in the kitchen to snack on jungle themed goodies. Snacked included sandwiches cut with animal cookie cutters, spider cookies (using oreos and chocolate dipped Chinese noodles), and crocodile eyeballs and guts (peeled grapes and pasta noodles cooked w/a bit of oil). Instead of the usual presents we asked one parent in each family to bring an inexpensive copy of a book that he or she loved as a child. We asked them to write a short note to the birthday boy inside the front cover and date it. It was perfect, and now my son has his own small library of so many wonderful classics - each personalized from a loved one. After that we sang happy birthday and cut the cake.
CAKE: I made a giant green snake cake for the party. It was too easy. I found the idea on family.com. I just made two bundt cakes, one vanilla and one chocolate, and then cut each in half. Then I put them together in a snake-like pattern - think two "S's" put together! I used basic store-bought white icing and tinted it bright green with food coloring paste. I decorated the eyes w/M&Ms and used a red fruit roll-up cut to resemble a snakes tongue. Very easy! I made a special platter to hold it because of its length, so I cut cardboard long enough, then covered the board with foil. We had purchased elephant squirt cups from OTC for each child to take home as well - we used a label maker to personalize each. We had green juice for the "jungle juice". After the cake my husband handed each big kid their own jungle animal mask - elephants, zebras, etc, and let them hit the jungle caves!! This was the ultimate hit of the party for all ages!! They were still playing hours later, their parents had to drag them away We also had survival packs for each of them - given to them as they were leaving. I took a plain brown medium paper bag with handles and decorated them with different jungle animals. Then I used glitter pens and googly eyes to all.
Each child got their own jungle animal on their bag along with their names in calligraphy along the top or bottom, depending upon the jungle scene! In their survival packs I had put jungle animal stamps, build your own animal stickers, jungle animal fans, glass spinning tops, jungle whistles, animal coloring books and crayons, animal stampers with ceramic animals on top, etc. Everything had a jungle theme! While the big kids were cavorting in the caves, the little ones were watching jungle videos and using washable toddler-safe fingerpaints to create their own jungle scenes on the back porch (I had saved a wall for them!). Then we let them take turns at our lion pinata. After they each had 2 turns with the pinata we let the big kids take a turn until the piñata busted. Toddler safe candy and toys went everywhere. The toddlers had first shot at the loot, then the big kids finished it off. They just added the new loot to their existing survival packs.
Everyone left with a full survival bag, an inflatable jungle animal, and a big tired smile! The big kids also had their safari hats and binoculars, along with their elephant squirt cups. The toddlers all had their animal costumes and their sippy cups with the jungle print! All the kids also took their jungle painting with them. Everyone was exhausted and happy! We used pictures that we had taken of each child during the various activities as thank you notes - we enlarged them to 5x7's at Wal-Mart and wrote our message on the back of the pix! The parents had as much fun as the kids!! Many have asked me to plan their child's next party.....I think I need to rest for a while!
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