Coco's Safari Party

It was hard to come up with a theme for Coco's second birthday. She loves dolls and her dollhouse, but I wasn't going to do that. She likes Minnie Mouse, but I wasn't too into that for a theme. She loves playing with her little barn and the animals, but a farm party felt too first-birthday. I sort of went from farm to safari and when I started searching, there were so many cute ideas. I liked that it wasn't too girly, but using gold and pink along with green and tan for the colors seemed like a good mix.

I only started planning maybe a month before her birthday -- April was so busy with Hawaii, the boys' birthdays and New York. But now that I've done parties for several years, the planning it so much easier. I usually look back on my Evernote from the previous party and see how things are divvied out:

  • Dessert food, snack food and catered food
  • Decor
  • Outfits for each of us
  • Games
  • Goody bags
  • Guest list
  • Invitation
  • Book photographer and any entertainment and party helper, order catering and cake
Then I spend some time pinning stuff and eventually narrow it down to certain colors and decor style, and start ordering stuff. I always make a trip to the dollar store, and once again, they didn't disappoint. I was able to get fishing nets to hang over as decor, inflatable monkeys and little animal figurines. Once you get going on an theme, I'm always surprised with how many ideas they're are.

Weather is always a concern, more so for the boys' parties in April. It was unseasonably cool the weekend of Coco's party, but our backyard does get so much warmer than the front so it was mostly okay. The wind was an issue, again, the backyard is protected, but usually we have people come through the garage for the party but there was no way we could keep the garage door and the door to the backyard open, it was such a wind tunnel. So there was some scrambling at the end, but everything worked out. I also had my party helper come at 7am this year so while it's always a scramble at the end, I was much better prepared this year.

For decor, I kept mostly with the green and gold colors, with burlap accents and some pink thrown in there. People came through the door from the garage and we had decked out the area with green plastic table clothes stretching across overhead, then used streamers and balloons to create a jungle effect. It was still windy through here so maybe didn't turn out exactly how I imagined, but still bummed we didn't get a photo of it. We had the catered food in this walk way on a table covered with kraft paper and a grass table skirt, and a mosquito net hung from above. The catering from Bacon Bacon was a hit again.

When people stepped into the backyard, we had drinks right there -- champagne for mimosas, coffee and other drinks.  Meri Meri has the most adorable party supplies and reasonable prices so I ordered some great stuff included a 'Go Wild' banner which I changed to '2 Wild'. I had a pink table cloth with some burlap place mats underneath, then crates to put the cake on. I used fake leaves on the base of the cupcake stands. I usually make some of the food and this year I just made the sugar cookies, which the boys helped decorate. I found out the Whole Foods sells these great cupcakes, $4 for 4 full size, so I picked up 5 packs of those and just stuck an animal cracker on top to personalize it again. Would definitely do something like this again. We had gummy frogs, sharks and worms out on the table which was a hit with all the little kids. I wanted a simple cake this year so decided to just order for a bakery, and it was perfect. I added the animals on top and the TWO sparkler topper. The cake was delicious and I picked it up the day before so pretty stress-free and much cheaper than the custom cakes that require delivery the day of.

For the snack table, I always like to have fun with different foods that can be themed out for the event. The table was covered with green table cloth and a leftover piece of burlap and topped with an old leather suitcase and a decorative giraffe. We had plenty of plastic safari animals scattered all over as well. For snacks, we did:
  • Tiger cub cuties
  • Pretzel stick twigs
  • Pea chip banana slugs
  • Green smoothie jungle juice
  • Animal crackers
  • Apple slices chopped in half for crocodile teeth
  • Banana chip monkey treats
  • Craisins fire ants
  • PB&J sandwiches cut out of animal cookie cutters

I always love having fun signs around and had fun with the backdrop for the food table, basically hanging plastic animal masks and paper honeycombs in various shapes along with TWO balloons. 

When I first started planning, I wasn't too sure who we'd have come. I have a group of friends with kids Coco's age, but in the last couple of months, that group has dwindled as several have moved out of the city. I decided to invite kids from Coco's classes, it seems like a core group that overlapped with a lot of the ones we do. It turned out to be really fun to have a good number of kids her age. I wasn't too sure how into games the kids would be, so was excited when I read about the Amazing Rachel who does basically everything for party entertainment. You tell her the ages of the kids, the theme and any preferences, but otherwise, she runs the show. She came in and started doing face painting, which mostly only the older siblings wanted to do. Then she switched to puppets and the parachute which was a big hit with various ages. Then she moved back into balloon animals. She only stayed an hour but it was the perfect option for a group of kids this age.

The boys helped me make several games -- feed the monkey and feed the elephant. I ordered some fake bananas on Amazon to feed through the monkey mouths and then for the elephant, after drawing and paining the big elephant on a box, we attached a dryer vent for the trunk and put a big bowl of whole peanuts to drop through to the back. There were also some cute inflatable animal games I found in the dollar bin of Target. Jessica helped make these treasure stones that the boys scattered all over and helped break out, with the idea of them being elephant dung. We also saved toilet paper rolls to make binoculars that the kids could decorate with stickers. I couldn't think of anything themed for the rock box, but kept it open and threw some trucks in. Kids always love playing in the playroom since all the toys are new to them.

I found a cute khaki dress for C on Ralph Lauren and tried to theme the rest of us out in appropriate colors without getting too crazy on the theme. It came together well.

I was so excited when I came across Safari-themed Melissa and Doug puffy sticker sets and then the Water WOW books as well, all on sale. These are so popular with kids this age that I knew they'd actually be used, so while they were a bit more per kid than I'd normally spend, it wasn't junk. I love how they turned out when I wrapped them with leaf ribbon and the thank you note.

The party was a lot of fun. It's always a lot of work for such a short event and it flies by, but I've learned lessons along the way that make it easier and more enjoyable each time. Thankfully no one was sick this year, the boys had fun and were great helpers leading up to the event. Coco was in good spirits and enjoyed multiple cupcakes and slices of cake (though I did realize that we forgot to feed her actual food during the party). The only thing she didn't like was that kids were playing with her toys. It was so fun to have our cousins, Aunt Jenn and Meg and Kenny, who all made it in time for the party.

Thanks again to Alyssa Hunter Photography for capturing the event!

Catering: Bacon Bacon
Colette's dress: Ralph Lauren
Colette's giraffe headband: Party Ears
Entertainment: The Amazing Rachel
Invitation, signs, food tent cards, favor tags: Lucky Plum Studio
Meri Meri banner, toucan and leaf napkins: The Happy Elf Shop

No comments