Zoo Party (1-3yr) Animals Graze Here
Carolyn in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
For my daughter's first birthday, and son's 3rd birthday (their birthdays are 8 days apart), we did a zoo themed party with a twist. Their birthdays were in October, and we had been watching CNN and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina around the time that we started "plotting". My soon to be 3 year old kept talking about how the wind and the sky had taken away the homes, and he wanted to send down his things (at one point he sugggested sending down our house). So we can up with the idea of the animal themed party where guests could bring new stuffed animals (instead of a gift) that would be sent down to a small community centre in Mississippi.
INVITATIONS: all guests were sent an e:mailed Evite invitation (www .evite.com) that had a picture of a Barrel of Monkeys and on it we wrote Kendall's turning one And Erik's turning three, So the Torhjelm pad Will be the place to be. Gather up your monkeys And come and join the "zoo". We'll have loads and loads of fun And make an animal out of you! The birthday kids have lots of toys And want to spread the joy. So each child please bring a new "stuffed" friend Who'll be sent to a girl or boy. We'll send them South in style And know that they will bring As many smiles as we share that day To kids who've lost everything. So come swing by the party, And have a lot of fun. There will be lots of laughter Before the day is done!!
DECORATIONS: At the front door, we had a 3 foot stuffed gorilla with aniaml print helium ballons and a sign that said "Welcome to our Zoo". We picked up two rolls of newsprint from our local newspaper, and ran the paper like a border down the midle of the wall into the basement and up the stairs ot the living room ~ on them were animals, directional arrows, and posters from the Madagascar movie. Signs around the house included: "Annimals graze here" (where the food was set up), "Catch the zoo train!" (we set up zoo amimals and cages in the middle of our train set), "Polar Bear Den" (big polar bear sleeping bag in an igloo tent along with lots of stuffed animals). Zoo themed table cloths were used for the two food tables and Zoo Pals paper plates.
ENTRANCE TO THE PARTY: As soon as guest arrived, they were invited to a special station where they tied a tag that had been pre-printed around the neck of the stuffed animal that they were donating (tags were at the landing with ribbons). We had wrapped our daughter's Pack and Play in jungle themed wrapping paper , and that became the animal pen the place that all the animals could have a "little rest" to get ready for their long jouney ahead.
PARTY ACTIVITIES: We set up zones around the house. The living room was cleared out and we put out our big parachute with all kinds of animal puzzles, acitivites (like Barrel of Monkeys) and board books. In the far corner, we put out a jungle printed foam mattress with lots of soft aninal toys for the 1 year olds. In the kitchen, the kids could descorate the two large china barrels that the animals were to be shipped (we put out animal stickers, animal stamps, felts and crayons). Downstairs, we had jungle music playing, and it was "free play". From the loft, we hung a zebra pinata that was filled with small animals, bubbles, animal crackers. Later in the party, we had printed off animal masks from the internet taped straws onto the sides, and had the kids pick one for a group photo on the stairs.
ANIMAL PAGEANT: Likely the highlight of the party was when all the children were asked to come and sit on the parachute for our animal pageant. We "woke up" the stuffed animals from their nap, brought them onto the parachurte, and each child received an award for their animal. We had pre-wrapped a different animal book for each child (age appropriate), and had put on tags that said "CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE (picture of animal prints below) Presented to:__________ For: ___________" Each child came forward to accept their award and then placed their animal into one of the special boxes that they had decorated. Awards included things like Cuddliest Bear, Tallest Giraffe, Happiest Mouse, Strongest Dog
FOOD:The party was from 1:00 - 3:00, so we just had lots of snacks and grazing food for kids and adults. For plates, napkins, cups we used the Zoo Pals Paper Plates.
CAKE: We ordered a full Madagascar sheet cake from Safeway
GRAB BAGS: We used brown paper bags that had thank you messages that we made on the computer. We picked up the animal print stickers at Michael's, and did each child's name on the bags with the stickers. Into them we put: bubbles with an animal print, animal stamp pad, Madagascar pencil, "Barney at the Zoo" CD ROM (donated by the local zoo), a safari animal notebook, animal fruit snacks, animal coloring book, and a "Bear Paw" cookie snack. When we closed them, we punched 2 holes in top and tied them together with animal print ribbon.
All in all, it was an amazing day. We had a great time, sent down over 40 stuffed animals to Mississippi, and adults and kids all walked away feeling really good. We had a blast, and all those that were here still talk about it!!!