Penguin Party -7yr- "Happy Feet"
Lindsey in McKinney, Texas, USA
My daughter has always liked penguins, so with the release of Happy Feet (and all the merchandising with it), this was the year for a penguin party. It worked out perfectly that her birthday is in January.
DECORATIONS: I happened to hit the party store a few weeks after Christmas and found all of their winter decorations on 75% clearance. I bought strands of blue snowflake garland and a dozen 18 diameter cardboard snowflakes - I hung the garland over the windows in our family room lined the white snowflakes with glitter paint and hung them with thread from the blinds and other places in the room. I also bought snowflake wall cover that I used to cover a portion of the wall for a group picture backdrop (along with a penguin/igloo bulletin board set). With much of the wall cover roll remaining I used it for a tablecloth at the welcome table. I bought several snowflake spray table top decoration and strings of icicles to hang from the bar in the kitchen (open to family room). I bought snowflake window clings to adorn the windows in the front of the house. We used a 6-foot by 8-foot inflatable igloo/penguin Christmas decoration in the front yard. I had 5-ft and 3-ft inflatable penguins inside and 6 helium-filled white balloons at the welcome table. I also had a "Happy Feet" birthday banner hanging above the eating/activity table in the kitchen. Along the long wall between the front room and family room I created a penguin play land with a snow scene penguin cutouts and paper snowflakes my kids made.
ACTIVITIES: We had 10 1st graders at our house from 1-3 pm girls and boys. Upon arrival the kids stopped at the welcome table to make nametags on penguin cutouts that were pinned to them then they received a penguin tattoo either on hand or face. Next they moved to the activity table (covered in just a white plastic table cloth) to make sugar cube igloos (see familyfun.com) - I made 5x7 cardboard bases covered in blue paper. The kids created whatever igloo fort castle or wall they wanted to with the cubes and icing. I had the icing in small bowls with small watercolor-size paintbrushes. I also had little plastic penguin finger-puppets to go with the igloos. After all the kids arrived we had a snowball fight with paper balls. It was kids against adults and the kids had a blast. The kids made their own paper balls when they finished the igloos - I just gave them a stack of paper. It was by far the highlight of the party…and cheapest thing to do! Next we did a group picture with all the kids in front of the snowflake/penguin backdrop with their Happy Feet penguin masks on (and off).
Then we divided the kids up for stations. 3 stations - about 10 minutes in each.
Station #1 - playing with a Happy Feet dance mat and two dancing Mumble penguins (Christmas presents for my kids); also at this station a picture with the birthday girl and the 5-foot penguin (I used these pictures to make Thank-You notes).
Station #2 - playing with snow "cream" (shaving cream) at the table. Each of the 3 - 4 kids at the table received a tray (cookie sheet) with shaving cream on it to play in. We buried little cars and a few toy penguins in the cream.
Station #3 - a bin of "ice" with little penguins and other animals to play in. We had the bin on a plastic tablecloth on the tile floor. The "ice" was made up of super-absorbent crystals (from the garden store) and some crushed ice. Stations 2 and 3 had easy access to the kitchen for clean-up.
After stations time for cake and ice cream. I made a penguin cake from two 9x13 sheet cakes. On one sheet I cut out a full-length gourd-type shape for the head and body. I used the cut-off pieces for wings. From the other sheet I cut out two feet and a beak. I used black white and yellow icing. I served blue kool-aid with penguin ice cubes (a tray someone gave us a while back also makes great jello shapes). We used Happy Feet cups plates and napkins. After cake/ice cream we moved on to presents. Since we just had Christmas I really didn't want to be inundated with more toys so I wrote a tactful note on the invitation that said my daughter would love books at her party if you'd like to bring a gift (she knew I was doing it) and the response was great. After presents I had planned to do a penguin waddle relay (using heavy string to tie legs together) but the kids had more fun continuing in the snowball fight and late arrivals finished their igloos. Then it was time to go home!
GOODY BAGS: From Oriental Trading Company I ordered the small penguin buckets penguin tattoos penguin finger puppets 5-foot inflatable penguin snowflake kazoos and snowflake snap bracelets. I made the penguin buckets ahead of time with hot glue. I put a tattoo puppet kazoo and bracelet in each bucket. I also added a few Hershey kisses and small bag of 4 Swedish fish candies. The kids were able to take home their igloo craft. We also printed copies of the group picture and I put them in snowflake picture-frame cards I also got on Christmas clearance (I just cut off the half of the card that had the greeting).
NOTES: I took time the week before the party to do a little decorating each day. Now a week later some of the decorations are still up and my daughter loves it. So we've been able to prolong the enjoyment of the party and get more out of the effort involved in putting it together.
I had lots of help - 6 adults (my family members) were on hand to help. One person was just in charge of tattoos two people were in charge of the shaving cream station one manned the ice station. One just took pictures. One downloaded printed cut and stuffed the frames for the group pictures. 3 of the guys had a great time playing/wrestling with the kids during the snowball fight. I actually moved some furniture to make a wide open space in the family room because I knew it would get a little crazy.
Everyone had a great time at this rare "home" party - most parties around our suburban town are done "off-site" and parents pay for it. The effort for this party was done in love for my daughter and I know she will always remember her penguin party. I know I will. :)