Sunday, May 12, 2019

Octonauts Themed Birthday Party

Well, our first ever birthday party is in the books! Don't get me wrong; we didn't completely ignore SourPatch's first few birthdays. There were definitely cake and family time involved in all of them, and I think birthday #3 fell on a day I was hosting preschool, so we worked birthday festivities into the activities of the day (that year had the best dragon cake, too! The tutorial is floating around online somewhere...)

Then last year, SourPatch opted for an excursion with a friend over a traditional party. Yet this year... this year it felt like it was time. Patches was excited about a friend party, and I was ready to try to expand my mothering experiences to include hosting said party. His favorite show of the moment is Octonauts, a show of which I approve and an obvious theme for his party.

Here's what I liked about his birthday this year: it gave us an opportunity to work on party-preparations together. For example, we bonded making a pinata of Captain Barnacle's face. I was going to add a link to the tutorial we used, only to find out the site is having troubles. Basically, we cut out two outlines of a polar bear head in cardboard and a two inch strip of cardboard to go in between. We taped it together with packing tape (not too tight, lest the kids couldn't crack it open...) and left an open flap to add candy later. Oh, and I added some sturdy ribbon tied around the inner cardboard strip for hanging.

Next, the wrapping! To give it the appearance of fur--and that classic pinata look--I cut slits 3/4 of the way up two rolls of white streamers acquired from the dollar store. Since I had modge podge on hand, it was my adhesive of choice to brush across the pinata in sections as I wrapped the pre-cut streamer around and around and around, overlapping the strips to leave no brown cardboard peeking through. SourPatch was a great helper here.

Once completely wrapped, I let it dry and cut out a hat, ears, and face from construction paper and card stock. Add an Octonauts emblem to the hat, and voila! The captain.

I'm glad it looked cute and even more glad that the kids universally seemed to enjoy hitting it. Indeed, they kept hitting it even after the candy came out.

My son also enjoyed helping decorate for the party. We added streamer seaweed to the windows.

We also made and hung jellyfish from the ceiling (the tutorial is found here at Little Stars Learning.)

So... activities. I read lots of moms online skip the party games all together and just let the kids play, especially if they have pleasant weather and a big yard. I considered having the party at a nearby park, but the weather was inclement. Further, the point was to try to throw a "real" party, not just a play date, so, consulting with the birthday boy, we tried to think of activities he and his friends would enjoy.

As the kids arrived, we had a bubble machine blowing ambient bubbles on the porch. First thing, they came and played "Pin the Eyepatch on Kwazii" (another creation we threw together with poster board and construction paper, though I believe there's a version you can buy on amazon.)

Then, there were ocean sticker scenes from Oriental Trading Company available for the kids at folding tables to create while waiting for the other kids to arrive. I'd say half the kids chose to do the sticker scenes while the other half played with toys. Works for me!

Once all the children arrived, we unrolled a "treasure map" to three different spots in our home. The first spot had a classic "fishing game." Dad crouched on the other side of a blue blanket, attaching cheap plastic ocean animals to the end of a fishing rod as each child took turns casting it over. The next spot on the map went to these awesome swordfish swords, also from Oriental Trading Company (but sadly now discontinued.) I had them stabbed into a gold, spray-painted cardboard box so they could each pull their sword out King Arthur style. The kids enjoyed playing with them and surprisingly didn't kill each other with them (though one child did obliterate the box... no picture of that one!)

Our last stop on the treasure map led the kids to sand boxes on the porch full of buried gold (plastic) doubloons. After digging their allocated amount of coins, they were free to go and play until pinata time. I, like every other mom on the internet, made "Pesos' Medical Bags" to hold their party swag and pinata candy. Thank you, Misadventures of a First Time Mum for the band aid printable.

As mentioned before, the kids really do love hitting a pinata, especially with their new swordfish sword. Post pinata, we went inside for cake and candles. I made a Kwazii cake on Patch's actual birthday earlier in the week; we rocked cupcakes for the friend party. Now, what to do for food? Looking online, I found that some really beautiful, elaborate, and adorable, ocean-themed spreads. I thought and thought about what to do... and decided to follow one party planner's much simpler suggestion: ice cream bar. Kids love the power to choose their own toppings, she claimed, and she was right. Cake and ice cream? Simple. Though yes, I'm sure I did spoil these kids' lunches...

I really meant to say "no presents necessary" on the invitations and then just didn't... However, it was great to see how excited the kids were to see SourPatch open his presents. I thought kids hated the "open presents" part? I was actually going to skip it. Again, I'm a rookie mom, apparently; this was a highlight for the guests, and though I'll still likely say "no presents" next year, it was fun to see the kids' faces light up with the happiness of giving.

It felt like a win. Yes, we invited more kids than I thought prudent for the age group (and our square footage.) Yes, it was chaotic. Yet the kids seemed to enjoy the activities and company, and SourPatch had a great time, both in the preparations leading up to the party and at the party itself. Victory.