Scooby Doo's Mystery -3yr- Sccoby Hotdog Bar
Rebecca in Cleveland, Ohio, United States
October 2012 Winner
Of all the princess movies out there, our little girl could bypass the entire section at the library and find the Scooby Doo movies. She can’t even read yet, but she sure does know who that pup and his silly friend, Shaggy, are. Recognizing that she LOVED to watch this series all summer long when she got to pick out her ‘show to watch’ of the day before bedtime, I told my husband, why not use this as her birthday party theme? There are PLENTY of opportunities there to create a mystery in our own home and incorporate toddler games into it.
INVITATIONS: I have some background into photoshop and graphics, so these weren’t too much of a time constraint since I already had a pretty basic design down. I think that the basic idea that helps is to grab a piece of paper, and fold it like how you want it to open, and then design the invitation according to that size. Printing can be tricky, but always do a trial run. I knew that designing the invitation on a basic 8.5 x 11 and folding it in half in landscape mode would yield two invitations measuring about 4.25 x 5.5 each would be the most cost-effective solution. It also saved time having to cut around too many borders. To start, I found a Scooby Doo font from the internet for free, and downloaded it. I installed it on the computer and used that as the text. I worked with the 8.5 x 11 in landscape mode, so while creating the front of the invitation, I only had to work on the bottom half of the page. I only created the design for the front of the invitation on one half of the bottom, and then I just copied my final product over to the other side to make it easier. I had a centered background scene of a haunted house with a wide white border for text above and below the scene, and then a green border around the rest of the invitation. I found the background scene of the haunted house by doing an image search on google for Scooby doo Haunted Mansion.
Once I found the image I wanted, I used the print screen option, and cut, pasted, and sized the image to how I wanted it on the invitation. I also found an image of Shaggy and Scooby lurking, and did the same steps to put and paste them on top of the image to include the characters on the front of the image. To take it one step further in my nerdy graphic land, I used a tool in photoshop to give the characters shadows as they lurked along in the photo (necessary, NO.. But beauty is in the details!) On the top of the background scene in the white border, it read in Scooby Doo font: It’s a Scooby Doo Mystery! And then below the background scene in the white border, it read in a smaller Scooby Doo font in two lines: Come and Join the Gang/ To celebrate [daughter’s] 3rd Birthday! The inside of the invitation was laid out in the same manner, I only designed ‘one’ invitation, and then copied the design to the other half of the page once I completed it. I knew that when you would open the invitation, the information about the party would be on the bottom half. However, I wanted to have some fun with the top half, too. The storyline of the party was about our daughter’s birthday cake disappearing because some ghost took it away, and we had to find the ghost. So, using the internet search methods as stated above, I found a picture of a Scooby Doo ghost, and another of a birthday cake, and made an image of the ghost holding the cake and looking like he was ‘fly away’ with it. I put this image on the upper left. On the lower half, I used neon pinks, oranges, teals, and bright blues for the Scooby Doo font to give the information about the party.
The information was given as follows in a bright green Scooby doo font with a teal stroke border of 1pt around the text: It is said that the [Host’s surname] Manor is haunted, and we need [daughter’s] Birthday Crew to help find the troublesome ghost that is causing ruckus and turning the house upside down! Come and join us in the fun to reveal who this joker of sorts is before the day is done! And then the next 2 lines read Hunt: 4:00-6:00, Saturday, October --/Location: [Host’s address] For ‘Hunt’ and ‘Location’, the text was a larger size than the script from above in an orange Scooby doo font with a 1pt teal stroke border. The information was a neon pink, same size and type of Scooby doo font. The last two lines read: Regrets only! [phone number]/email address. This text was the same size as the script, in a teal Scooby doo font, with no stroke border around the text. For fun, I found a puppy dog foot print image and used the same steps as mentioned before to create footprints going diagonally from the lower left of the bottom half of the invite to the upper right of the bottom half of the invite. Those were my methods to create the invitation, printing just has to be done carefully. I found envelopes that fit my invitation, so that was no problem with size.
PARTY SNACKS: We wanted to have a theme of food, but also hit a bit of nutrition, and provide for pickier eaters. I created labels for each part of our menu, and one for the punch. I used the same format to find a character for each dish, and then photoshopped each character next to each of their dishes. I decided to cut a landscape piece of paper in half, and then fold that in half again so the label would stand up by itself in a long strip. That way, I could have two labels per piece of paper. The labels were as follows: Scooby Dooby Doo’s Hotdog Bar, Shaggy’s Mashed Potatoes, Velma’s Veggie Pizza, Fred’s Punch, Daphne’s Ambrosia, and [daughter’s] Birthday Cake.
For the Scooby Dooby Doo Hotdog Bar, we had hot dogs and toppings of onions, chili dog sauce, shredded cheese, and coleslaw. For Shaggy’s Mashed Potatoes we made mashed sweet potatoes, and had marshmallows on top that makes it extra tasty. Velma’s Veggie Pizza can be made to anyone’s liking, as many or as few types as you want: we had broccoli, shredded carrots and cheese on top of the traditional cream cheese/ranch spread and crescent roll crust. I found a recipe for Fred’s Punch that had pureed frozen mixture of strawberries and a lime juice concentrate, and then added to a pint of vanilla icecream in scoops with 32 oz of gingerale and club soda. For Daphne’s Ambrosia, I found two recipes that I combined into one. That stuff sure did bring back memories of my childhood in the 80s. I HAVE to share this recipe because I had a LOT of comments about it! In a mixer, you add ½ c of heavy cream and 1 T of sugar until stiff peaks formed. Then, you add 4 oz of sour cream and 1 pkg of pistachio instant pudding and WHISK. Then, you add 3c of mini marshmallows, 1 c of mandarin oranges, 1 c of crushed pineapple, 1 c of toasted pecans, and 1/2c of maraschino cherries. (Cover and cool 2 hours). Lastly, I made a label for our daughter’s cake so that way, once the games had started and we went to look for her cake, the kids would know that there was suppose to be a cake there.
CAKE: I had made a large chocolate cake from scratch with Dutch chocolate and the works, -it’s actually a chocolate cake recipe for the cake in a hostess cupcake. Then, I made large and small cupcakes with the same batter and scooped out cake to add my marshmallow filling like a hostess cupcake. I used a chocolate glaze for the cake and cupcakes, and then topped the glaze once it had hardened in the fridge with additional marshmallow ‘dog bones’. On top of our daughter’s chocolate cake, I colored the marshmallow black and ‘drew’ the outline of Scooby Doo with an icing tip. I colored the marshmallow red for the tongue, blue for the collar, and green for the tag. Then, in green letters around the cake, it said Happy 3rd Birthday [daughter]. This was a bit sloppy, but it looked like it fit in with a ‘Haunted theme’. I even outlined some of the letters with a red marshmallow accent to make the green letters read better. It sure did work to our advantage to make the cake look extra creepy!!
DECORATIONS: I wanted to spend more money on the games and food than the plates, so I compromised. I went to Walmart’s rather FABULOUS section of party supplies (Target just couldn’t even compete in this category), and just bought the Scooby Doo cake plates. I coordinated the dinner plates with the party plates, and then just went solo cups and leftover silverware from college days that I’ve kept for these purposes (it beats buying plastic for every occasion).
GAMES: This is where the fun started. As the kids arrived, I wanted to let them have a craft to do, and then also let families chow down if they wanted from our food buffet. I set up a craft on our daughter’s kid table for the kids to make ‘dog tags’. I had cut up sleeves from one of my husband’s old blue work shirts (it had a hole in the sleeve) in about 2 inch sections. These actually fit over our daughter’s head just right. Then, I bought some drink tags at Wal-Mart and pre-wrote DOO at the bottom of each, so when the kids wrote their name, it would look like Johnny-Doo, etc. I also bought some great Halloween stickers at Target so the kids could throw some on the collars, too. Then, everyone ate and the fun began after. I corralled all the kids together to get a picture taken on our couch. While I was doing that, I had my mother take the cake and hide it elsewhere in the house. After we finished with the picture, I asked the kids, Has everyone eaten? Who wants some Chocolate cake!!!!!!?! They all jumped up and ran into the kitchen. But, there, where the cake was SUPPOSE to be, under the label [Daughter’s] Cake, was a piece of paper that read CLUE #1 on top of a puppy dog print image. On the back side, the clue read: TO FIND YOUR TREAT, GO, AND FOLLOW THE BEAT!! At that point, my husband found a Scooby Doo tune on Youtube and played it. We all danced around in the kitchen- and had a LOT of laughs at how cute and funny the kids were as they bounced around.
Then, the music stopped and a paper airplane came flying in at the kids. It landed and read: CLUE #2 on top of another puppy dog print image. On the back side, the clue read: YOUR BEAT IS MUCH TOO DONE, NOW YOU SHOULD FEEL THE BUBBLY HEAT AND COME EXPLORE MY GHOSTLY RETREAT!! I had made a sign for Ghostly Retreat using the same ghost as the inside of the birthday invitation, and taped it on our basement door. A mom who was standing near the door showed the sign to the kids and said Here is the Ghostly Retreat!! So we all went downstairs to the basement. There, in one part of the basement was a sand/water table that I used for the next activity. I covered it in black trash bags, and made two signs. One side of the table said CAULDRON and the other said GHOSTLY GOBBLES. The Cauldron was filled with 2 containers of white vinegar that I dumped an entire container of red dye into so it looked like a GHOSTLY STEW. I also have a metal ladle, so I made sure to have that laying in the ‘stew’ ahead of time. The ‘Ghostly gobbles’ were sprinkle containers of Halloween themed sprinkles that I found at Target. My mom had this great idea of covering them with a paste of baking soda and water that hardened after a few hours of letting them sit. Each kid put one of these ‘Ghostly Gobbles’ into the stew.. And well, we all remember that science lesson in school?? IT WAS AWESOME!!! The red-dyed vinegar BUBBLED and Fizzed!!! One of the little girls actually got so frightened that she ran back upstairs, but the kids really did have a hoot putting the gobbles into the stew. The paste came right off, and then each of the kids got to take a container of sprinkles home with them.
Once all of the gobbles were put into the ‘cauldron,’ I ‘mixed’ the stew around and exposed CLUE #3 on top of another puppy dog print image, that was inside of a sandwich bag hidden between layers of trash bags in the cauldron. That worked out really great, once I thought of how to keep the clue waterproof and hidden!! The clue read: SO YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD DRAW ME NEAR WITH A GHOSTLY STEW.. WELL, I HAVE NEWS FOR YOU! GO INTO THE GHOSTLY CASTLE AND THERE WILL I SAY ‘BOO’ TO YOU!! In the next part of our basement, we hung up painter cloths on either side of this large, princess castle of kid-size legos so the kids wouldn’t see what was inside until we were instructed to do so with the clues. We strung fake cottonweb across the entrance to the castle, so the kids had to ‘tear down the creepy web’ to get inside.
Tangled in the web was CLUE #4 on top of another puppy dog print image. The clue read: YOU HAVE SURELY FOUND ME HERE, BUT BEFORE YOU CAN SCARE ME AWAY, YOU MUST FIND A PUPPY DOG PRINT IN YOUR PLAY! Inside the castle were 60 white balloons that my mom and I blew up with a helium tank that we bought at Target. Each balloon was at varying kid-height, and was ‘weighted’ down with string attached to an alphabet magnet from our fridge. Some needed two magnets depending on the amount of helium… On each balloon, I drew a different ghost face, but on that “ONE SPECIAL GHOST BALLOON I drew the puppy dog print that was seen on each clue. One of the girls Found the puppy-dog print on the GHOST, and then we had to pop the balloon to read the message inside: OH NO!! YOU HAVE FOUND ME! I WANTED TO ENJOY YOUR CAKE, BUT NOW I MUST LEAVE BECAUSE OF MY MISTAKE!! GO, AND MAKE WISHES UPSTAIRS, FOR GOODNESS SAKE! With that, we headed upstairs to find the cake.. And it was there! (My mom put it back! And then arranged the smaller cupcakes around the big ones to look like puppy dog prints)
PARTY FAVORS: Wal-Mart had great Scooby Doo favor bags that we stuffed with Scooby Doo markers- found at Target in the Dollar Section, Scooby Doo stickers from the Target Dollar Section, and Scooby Doo fruit snacks, and some Halloween ‘bath pills’ that turn into sponges in the water. And some sprinkle containers from the Cauldron game and dog tags.