Bugs in the Garden 4yr - Ants & Worms
Marlene in Monroe, CT USA
April 2005 Winner
We chose a garden & bug theme for the 4th birthday party of our boy / girl twins. It is a great theme in that it is gender friendly & it has many possibilities for activities, games, decorations..everything .. I knew we could have fun with this theme..and you can too!!
I sent out invitations via email by using free clip art found on the web pictures of watering can, ladybug, bee, potted flower, but there are many choices if looking to mail or hand deliver invites. One idea is to buy a packet of seeds (10 cents a packet at Dollar Tree)..you can type up the party details & glue or tape to the back of the packet or make a bee or ladybug or butterfly with construction paper & write your party details on that You can be creative with your wording..we said "spring has sprung..now it is time for some fun..Joshua & Carly are growing like flowers..come join us for a Garden & Bug themed birthday bash. Fly on over to (our address), Buzz us at (our phone number)..and then I ended it with " we hope you can BEE there"
As decorations I hung flower garland I purchased at orientaltrading.com. I also found tons of stuff at local dollar stores such as posters of ladybugs, flowers, bees..butterfly garland that you hang in a doorway..i bought plastic flower pinwheels & used them on the walkway to the front door (those I got thru orientaltrading.com). I also found a bee & butterly garden markers at Target's dollar spot so I bought some of those for our walkway as well Our dollar store had ladybug & dragonfly wind socks so I hung those inside as well as outside the house. I also found plastic dragonflies at the dollar store so I used fishing line to hang them sparatically from the ceiling & some tape to hang some on the walls of party room For balloons you can do colors green (grass), red (ladybugs) & yellow (bees).
We made bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, caterpillars & snails out of construction paper. I took green construction paper & frayed the edge to look like grass. I then hung that around the bottom portion of our living room walls..I used green paper to make flower step & leaves. I hung the posters of flowers I had gotten at dollar stopre on this "garden wall" & used the stem & leaves I had made to make it look like this flower was growing out of the grass..I did that along all the walls of the party room..on this "grass" I taped the ladybugs, bees, etc.. That we had made out of the construction paper this was very inexpensive & really was a huge "WOW" affect You can make your own placemats..just take clear contac paper & cut size you want. Lay it on table sticky side up. Press dried flower petals on it & then place another piece of clear contar paper on top or you can find free flower & garden coloring pages online..print it out & glue it to construction paper or a cheap vinyl placemat (can find at Walmart). Allow the children to color (is great activity to keep kids busy while waiting for everyone to arrive)..then cover it with clear contac paper..an extra favor the kids can take home after the party I bought some tin pails & watering cans from target & walmart.. Used some with flowers (like a vase) as centerpieces , others were used to hold the paper plates, napkins & silverware
I bought two butterfly shaped buckets in the garden dept. of Target they have dividers so one I used for chips, potato salad, etc & the other was used in a bean bag toss activity I purchased lady bug paper plates & napkins at Michaels on clearance..that was nice & gender friendly. I had picked this theme a long time ago so I got this last year when spring stuff was being clearanced out..one reason why it is a good idea to plan ahead..or off season (for the deals) for tablecloths I used solid green to resemble grass. Then red plastic cups..I used a marker to make black spots on them (to resemble ladybugs) you could also take yellow cups & draw black stripes on them (as bees) You could also use astroturf as a tablecloth..that would be awesome I used a plastic wheelbarrow to put juice boxes in (was just the cheapie $4 plastic wheelbarrow Walmart sells in toy dept with all the summer & beach toys) and I used a new plastic watering can to serve "bug juice" from
Each guest was greeted with ladybug visors. You can find red foam visors at Michaels or AC Moore craft stores. I used a hot glue gun to glue on black foam spots, googly eyes, black pipe cleaners as antennae (all items found in craft stores)..or I have seen this sold as a craft thru orientaltrading.com..kids can even do this as a craft at the party I had the party during an "off" time (10-12pm)..this way we only had to serve snacks & not a real meal..is much easier (and less expensive..I like to spend our budget on the activities & favors / prizes as you'll soon see..kids enjoy that more then the food anyway).
Some snack ideas are: "ants on a log"--peanut butter on celery with raisens on top (or for kids who don't like celery you can do this concept but use a graham cracker instead)..or just put out a bowl of raisens and call it "ants"; I served Cheetos & called them "worms", cubes of cheese with some of the flower toothpicks (I got them from orientaltrading.com); Peppridge Farm makes butterfly shaped crackers. Sargento makes bags of cheese pre-cut into starburst shapes..they look close enough to a flower shape..i served those with the butterfly crackers; "bug juice" or "nectar"…can be punch with 7-up or anything you want to serve as your drink (serve out of a watering can); "caterpillars"--3 grapes on a toothpick ; "spiders"---cream cheese or PB on ritz crakers with raisen eyes & pretzel stix for legs.
Other snack ideas are : large pretzels can be called "butterlfy wings" or make "butterflies" by taking celery, fill with cream cheese & use two large pretzels as wings & broken pieces of pretzels as antennae & then raisens for eyes. Another snack is making flowers with vanilla wafer cookies..put frosting or PB on the cookie as "glue"..use mini pretzels all around. With curve side out to act as the petals & then use frosting to sandwich the other cookie on..looks just like a flower If you want to serve a meal consider making a "caterpillar" by having different sandwiches on rolls all lined up as a caterpillar across length of the table..carrot sticks for legs, olives for eyes..use your imagination..OR you can make butterfly sandiches two different ways..use butterfly shaped cookie cutter on sandwiches or another way is to take a sandwich & cut it diagonally. Then use a pretzel rod or a carrot stick in middle to act as the body & put both halves of the sandwich on either side to act as the wings (with the point towards the carrt stick)..voila!!
There are plenty of dessert ideas. I took ice cream cake cones (the flat bottom cones) baked cupcakes in the ice cream cones (just fill the cones 3/4 full with any cake mix & cook as directed on the box). The ice cream cone looked like a terra cotta flower pot. I put chocolate frosting on them as dirt, but then on the table I had tupperware containers with crushed oreos & gummy worms all mixed together (as dirt & worms) so kids could decorate these "flower pot" treats themselves. As the flower I used plastic flower pinwheels I purchased thru orientaltrading.com (and each child got to keep this pinwheel as a favor)..an edible version of the flower would be to take two flower shaped sugar cookies put frosting on the back of onestick on a popsicle stick & then the other flower cookie (so the popsicle stick is sandwiched in between the 2 cookies)..then stick that into the cupcake cone also looks just like a flower in a flower potperfect for this theme Other ideas you can do are "mud & dirt" many choices..can do an entire cake like that (frost with choc frosting, use crushed oreos as dirt & gummy worms, etc..)..or you can do this as individual cupcakes OR this can be chocolate pudding in clear plastic cups or even in terra cotta flower pots, etc.. OR a flower cake by using round cake as the center of the flower & twinkies as petals. Use yellow icing on the center round cake & choc chips to resemble seeds (or a simple Ding Dong in middle of the twinkies can be center of the flower) OR make cupcakes & line them up to look like a caterpillar. Licorice as legs. M&Ms as eyes. All body cupcakes green..maybe the head cupcake red frosting (or can use Hostess Snoball cakes for the body of caterpillar to save time from making cupcakes) or even use 4 small bundt cakes line those up in a row to be a caterpillar, frost & use M&Ms for eyes & legs, pipe cleaner for antennae or licorice, etc OR another idea is a Ladybug cake I had seen in Family Fun magazine a long time ago bake the cake in a 1 1/2 quart bowl (for a domed cake) & make 1 cupcake as the head, red frosting, junior mints for the ladybug's spots. Green gumdrops as eyes & black licorice as antennae OR an idea I saw online is someone had taken a flower pot filled bottom of it with tissue paper..then put a styrofoam ball in it insterted toothpicks all around the ball & then to the toothpicks attached baked cupcakes..it looked like a full bloom of flowers in the flower pot..hen pipe frosting ontop of each cupcake to look like a flower (just as you'd drawer a flower on a piece of paper)..the site I saw this on had a picture of a completed one & it looks amazing.
There are sooo many ideas you can do for activites & games at this party. One idea is to bury trinkets in a sandbox & kids can use rakes to dig out..can hide toy worms, bugs, coins, etc This is especially great to keep much younger kids busy..maybe while their older siblings are doing the more hands on stuff Another party game is Pin the Bee (or butterfly) on the Flower or pin the spot on ladybug..you get the idea. Make using posterboard..or I found posters of ladybugs & poster of a flower at our Dollar store..then you can use bee stickers or make black circles from construction paper if doing spots on a ladybug. You can write each child's name on each one so you know whose is whose. Prize for this was ladybug kaleidoscope necklaces from orientaltrading.com Next we had a ladybug bean bag toss (ladybag bean bags available on OTC or flower bean bags sold on birthdayexpress.com)..have the kids toss them into different size flower pots..or you can make pseudo bean bags by just using a yellow sock (for a bee)..fill with beans or rice. They sell ladybug & bee knitted balls (like hackey sacks) thru orientaltrading.com..kids can toss those into flower pots & then it can double as their prize for the game as well..they were pretty cheap & sold by the dozen Another game is a flower or bee shaped pinata..what is nice is this can double as a centerpiece or decoration as well We had the kids decorate terra cotta flower pots with paint, markers & also stickers..I found insect stickers at the dollar store & gardening themed stickers at Dollar Spot section of Target..the flower pots were $1 at both Franks Nursery as well as Walmart ladybug visor craft kit off orientaltrading.com that I mentioned earlier OR you can buy headbands, pipe cleaners & styrofoam balls & you can make bug antennae..either ladybug (using black headband & paint styrofoam balls red or use red pipe cleaners) or bee antenae using maybe yellow pipe cleaners, etc
These types of things can be bought at Michaels Kids can make bug jars..just use any jar you wash out..or new canning type jars that I saw at Kmart (kind people use when canning jelly, etc..)..come in sets of 12 jars for about $7..poke holes on top of lid (air holes)..have kids decorate outside of jar with insect & ladybug stickers (from OTC)..if you want you can offer them some plastic bugs to put inside, I have also seen bug jars made from oatmeal containers..they then can use these decorated bug jars for the Bug hunt (details below..keep reading) :) Another fun & easy craft to keep the kids busy is they can make caterpillars (can do this when they 1st arrive while waiting for rest of the guests to come). You take an egg carton..cut down the middle lengthwise (you are left with what holds 6 eggs)..it is the body of caterpiller. Have kids paint it green (or use markers). Then pick an end to be the head poke two holes & pull pipe cleaner thru..this is antennae..add googley eyes & there it is..easy as can be my kids did this in preschool :) (or if you just use 3 sections it can be an ant) A craft we did at our party was we made doorknob hangers. We used the foam doorknob hangers found at Michaels Before the party I wrote "don't bug me" on them & kids decorated them with foam bug stickers (found large tubs of foam bug stickers at Michaels & also at Christmas Tree Shop). Other phrases you could do are "buzz off", "buzz to come in" or "going buggy" Another game we played was "caterpillar limbo" . I found a green pool noodle type toy at the local dollar store. I used hot glue gun to put on black pipe cleaner as antennae & googly eyes to look like caterpillar. We played "Buzz Buzz" song by Laurie Berkner to limbo to (another option is "there ain't no bugs on me"..I think from A Bugs Life movie) :)
The prize we gave away for this game were bug pez dispensers (from Dollar spot section of Target) You can play bug Bingo--use stickers to fill in the board( free blank bingo cards can be found online..feel free me to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the site)..squares can be: butterfly, dragonfly, bee, ladybug, flower, watering can, etc Another game we did was "jumping insects"..they sold toys at Target Dollar spot that were large plastic insects that have a cord attached & a balloon you squueze to make the bug jump..we lined kids up & they raced..this was a huge hit & their prize was to keep this toy Our big finale was the Bug hunt..I took plastic bugs & butterflies (found at various dollar stores as well as Dollar Spot section of Target) & used double sided tape to attach small pieces of candy (like tootsie rolls, starburts, dum dum lollipops. Smarties, etc). I had found Butterfly shaped vinyl child aprons at the dollar store..they were gardening aprons .. So I told kids that we had to dress like a butterfly so as not to scare the bugs or butterflies away so I gave them each one to put on I then hid the plastic bugs (with the candy attached to each one) all over ..each child received a large bug or butterfly net to collect what they found (they had at dollar store & also in springtime in Dollar Spot section of Target or you can get thru orientaltrading.com)..what they find they can keep (bug net then became part of their favor) can use bug jars for this as well (also can be found at Target's dollar spot in the spring or at dollar stores)..or they can make the bug jars & then use in this game There are lots of ideas you can do for favors / prizes. A cute way to present the party favors is to have them in a wheelbarrow or wagon & then just wheel them out at end of the party.
The favor bags I used were a craft kit thru orientaltrading.com..they were foam bags & on them were ladybugs & bees & they said "busy as a bee" and "cute as a bug". Other options for favor containers are the large bug or butterfly nets that kids used during Bug Hunt, or bug jars (that either they make or that you buy..can be found at dollar stores or Target had them in Dollar Spot at springtime)..also the terra cotta (or you can use plastic) flower pots that the kids decorated..you can stick in a packet of seeds & a ziploc bag of soil so they can plant it at home So the kids left our party with LOTS of goodies...the foam doorknob hangers they made, the terra cotta flower pots they decorated, the pez dispenser from limbo game, the ladybug / bee knitted balls which was prize for ladybug bean bag toss game, the ladybug kaleidoscope necklaces from Pin the Butterfly on the flower game, the flower pinwheels I had used in our flower pot desserts, the plastic bugs, butterfly apron & bug net from the bug hunt, the ladybug visors & the jumping insects from the race game, & then in the favor bags that they received at the end of the party had insect stickers, a packet of Marigold seeds ($.10 a packet at Dollar Tree), a butterfly shaped plastic bug jar (from dollar store) which also came with bug catching tweezers and finally a gardening tool set I found at the dollar store (was watering can with 3 tools)..so as you can see I like to give alot of favors, but it was all stuff either from the dollar stores or from orientaltrading so it really didn't cost much (some put their money into the food..I put mine into the favors & prizes..I think kids like that more..I know I did) Other favor ideas are flower shaped rings, gummy worms, binoculars (orientaltrading.com actually sells binoculars that are bee & ladybugs..VERY cute) Well, I hope you found some inspiration from my ideas..this party was a huge success & with your own creativity yours will be too!!! Feel free to email me with any questions..Have fun!!