Spongebob 6yr - Cartoon Photo Invitation
Jen in Frederick, MD
December 2003 Winner
Spongebob Squarepants never gets old in our house. So we spent my daughter's 6th birthday party in Bikini Bottom.
I made invitations using a digital camera and Photoshop. I took a picture of my daughter sitting in a chair with an empty Playdoh ice cream cone and superimposed it on a screen shot of Spongebob and Plankton eating ice cream on a park bench. Spongebob's face was covered in pink ice cream so I put the same kind of ice cream in her cone and used the paintbrush tool to paint ice cream around her mouth as well. It looked like she was sitting right next to him as she welcomed her fourteen or so classmates to join her in Bikini Bottom! We even got Spongebob's font online, so it was very authentic!
It's a December birthday and it snowed, so we kept everything inside. But outside, children were greeted by floating jellyfish. We made them with pink balloons by coloring the top half with large red circles and taping pink streamers midway on the balloon (curling ribbon works too, if you don't have cats). We tied them to the front porch railing and nearby tree limbs, and scattered a few throughout the house. Using pastels and cardboard, I posted a front door welcome sign: a cutout lifesaver roped to a bamboo post that read Bikini Bottom. I got several rolls of newsprint from the local newspaper. They can't use the end rolls and just give them away! I rolled them across the hardwood floors and secured them with painter's tape. As the kids arrived, I informed them that there had been a terrible sand storm and I couldn't find Bikini Bottom, so they needed to help me draw it back in with crayons. This kept the kids busy doodling until most of the guests had arrived. The highlight of the day was a special area I created for each child to have a photo shoot with everyone from Bikini Bottom.
I got some VERY large computer and copier boxes from work and constructed Bikini Bottom dwellers: Spongebob, Gary, Patrick, Squidward, Sandy and Mr. Krabbs. Each one is about 3 feet high (except Gary, of course). They turned out as realistic as the cartoon - my daughter has been carrying them all over the house and having conferences with them. My brother made Charlie Brown tree stands for each one and we mounted them on dowel rods using cardboard and heavy duty Scotch mounting tape so they would stand up. I painted the stands sand color and used a toothbrush to flick paint specks to get that Bikini Bottom sand color look. For a character background, I used a blue/teal light to dark layered tie-dyed technique I found on the RIT website. Very inexpensive I used some white sheets I got at Goodwill. Some pink fabric spray paint worked perfectly for the large flower-shaped images on the sheets. I tacked them to two corner walls in the dining area. It made for a great æphoto shoot setup when I added the characters and some extra lighting. Everyone got a souvenir picture taken in Bikini Bottom! As a frame for their photos, I bought cheap foam craft sheets and cut them into frames for 5x7 photos, hot gluing each to a cardboard backing. Each child got a frame and used glitter glue sticks to add sand, tiny colored shells, foam fish and iridescent sparkles as bubbles - all found at a local craft store. The frames went home with them that day with a note in the favor bag saying the picture would be on its way (in the thank you note) and listed an email address if they wanted a digital copy of it. I found a Pin the Pants on Spongebob download at the Nick.com site and set up a sponge-painting table in the kitchen where they use cut out sponge shapes to paint.
The favorite activity by far was in Jellyfish Fields! I have hardwood floors, but have a green carpet remnant laid out for a play area in the living room, so it was a perfect Jellyfish Field. I included a cardboard sign mimicking the sign on the cartoon. For the game, I made fishing poles out of orange painted dowel rods and string. Hot-glued to the end of each string was a painted pink Styrofoam ball cut in half. I took pink pipe cleaners and twisted them tightly around a pencil, then pulled the jellyfish tendril out to twice its coil length and hot-glued 6 to the flat side of each jellyfish body. I hot glued a small piece of rough side Velcro to the end of each tendril. The kids then fished for felt flowers (cut out in the same flower pattern from the cartoon), while they had to avoid the felt seaweed (green felt) and ônetsö (cut out of tan and brown felt). We have a large projector screen and projector, which plays DVDs so we had a special movie style viewing of two Spongebob episodes in the living room, while they ate lunch and cake.
The cake was a sand pail cake (similar to the gummi worm dirt cake recipe, only with vanilla cookies instead of chocolate). On top of the sandy bottomö base I took a pumpkin cake pan from Halloween and used the shape to bake two cake pieces iced together to form a 3-D pineapple house birthday cake to go on top. The pineapple leaves were shaped out of flattened green gumdrops and I found characters at a toy store to put around the house on the ôsandö. We served seanut-butter and jellyfish sandwiches cut out with fish, flower and star shaped cookie cutters and Krusty Krab pizza (bagel bites for all you die-hard fans who recall the pizza delivery episode). Around the dessert we made food coloring swirled white chocolate shells, starfish and dolphins from a mold I bought at a craft store (check the soap molding aisle if you don't find it in baked goods area). As a snack food we made a chocolate-covered Chex mix and set it in a cat food bowl (newly purchased) with a sign reading Snail Mix, instead of the usual Trail Mix.
For decoration I created the bottom of a boat out of three cardboard slats screwed to the ceiling and a brown sheet hot-glued to the slats already cut out in a boat shape. Suspended from the ceiling it really looked like the underside of a boat giving the impression of being underwater. Around it I taped string with Christmas hooks, each holding a sour Gummi worm (out of reach of the kids, but we told them to beware of the HOOKS another cartoon reference). I taped blue streamers around the boat as a wake and randomly on the ceiling for water. I kept the blinds down halfway and taped green cellophane cut in the shape of seaweed to the bottom windowpanes and put a blue light in the living room lamp. As favors I found a mini-bubbles pack, similar to wedding bubbles, but in blue, yellow and purple colors. I also found these great tiny sticker sheets with one inch by one-half inch Spongebob faces which fit perfectly on the six sides of the bubbles so if you twist the bottle quickly, it looks like a moving cartoon (the best part, they were much cheaper than the Spongebob party favor bubble packs and they worked MUCH better). I also got jelly poppers and tongue-twister pencils from Oriental Trading and Spongebob stickers and clip-on snakes (baby Alaskan Bull Worms!) from the local party store.
Each activity/craft station had an adult supervising and upon completion each kid would get one of the prizes/favors to put in their favor bag. Each bag was labeled with their name using fabric paint. During present opening, I made an area of coloring pages from Spongebob coloring books and puzzles so the kids wouldn't be bored. The finale was a Spongebob pinata with a pull-string trigger, which was nice considering we were indoors. The kids loved the treasure inside: Spongebob chocolate coins and stickers, ring pops and individually wrapped Twizzlers. My daughter was able to help with a lot of the preparation because so many things were simple arts and crafts, so she was thrilled and the children loved the realism of feeling like they were in the cartoon!