Monday, February 21, 2011

Birthday Party #1 - the Jungle Expedition

This year the Munchkin turns 6 - and we got a bit carried away in the birthday party department. To date he has had THREE parties for his birthday -and the actual birthday has not even happened yet.

Party #1 was with some of his friends from school. It was a Jungle Expedition themed party, held at a local park lodge - complete with a "Mommy Made" obstacle course and some other fun activities. The invitations were printed on "leaves" and sent out about a month ahead.

WARNING: This is a pretty photo intense post - as I walk you through all the elements and what we did.

The kids started out with their pith helmets - which they got to decorate with some animal stickers, fun foamy vines and splats and other geometrics, and a tag with their name. On the back of each chair was a backpack for each of them - which they would begin to load with their "provisions" - including a glow stick and magnifying glass from this first table. (crafty note: nothing much handmade/homemade here - except the nametags which were layered scrapbooking paper - and which the kids promptly unlayered! The backpacks were a clearance rack find and are their school color)
Next they moved on to the Birdseed Challenge. Inside each of these pans of birdseed were hidden 144 tiny erasers shaped like bugs. The challenge was for them to reach in the pans and find the bugs...
They were doing pretty well - until I made them pick up those orange "bandannas" and tie them on as blindfolds. Then it got a lot harder. (crafty note: instead of paying a higher price for individual bandannas, I purchased yardage, cut it with a pinking blade on my rotary cutter, and called it done - no sewing required. We also sent the kids home with any erasers they found -and a baggy full of birdseed.)

After traipsing all the kids through the bathrooms to wash all the birdseed dust off their hands, we had a trail mix station. In the trays were pretzels, cheerios, marshmallows, boxes of raisins, M&M's, and goldfish.
Each child could fill a ziplock with what they liked and stash it in their pack as provisions. (crafty note: the drawstring bags were just simple unlined drawstring bags - with boxed bottoms. It was actually a remnant from when the Munchkin's curtains were a jungle theme and worked perfectly for a little goody bag for this event.)

Once the kids were all "provisioned" and prepared - we moved over to the obstacle course. Actually it was tough keeping their attention on the first few activities - because they all wanted to be on the other side of the room. Here are a few of the boys checking out the course:

The course started at "Base Camp" - made from a tent and tunnel found on craigslist, and guarded by a big stuffed Lion that the Munchkin has had since before he was born. (crafty note: I used odds and ends of fabric torn into long strips, with knots and smaller pieces tied here and there to look like vines. These were scattered all over the course, along with some silk vines I had gotten at a craft store. The green fabric piece over the tunnel was leftover curtain lining from the Munchkin's room - but not fabric I could use for quilting. I had some die cut leaves from another event that I attached with safety pins and also scattered around other parts of the course.)
Next came Alligator Lake. (crafty note: this was a blue vinyl tablecloth. The stepping stones are brown kraft paper taped down with masking tape, and I used full sheet printable labels to print out the alligator and fish and stick them down. The tablecloth is taped down all around and has 2 rolls of shelf liner underneath to minimize slippage. I thought this would be the first thing to "break down" during the event as it seemed the most fragile, but it held up well)
We then moved on to Snake Grass Trail. This was actually one of the most expensive elements in the entire obstacle course - and surprisingly the "scariest" for the kids. It also tended to knock their hats off. It's hard to see in this picture, but the orange thing coiled on the floor is the Munchkin's stuffed rattlesnake.
(crafty note: This was nothing more than raffia grass skirting sold for luau parties zig zagged between two tables, with kraft paper walls bordering it (and a LOT of tape). I covered it all with a tablecloth so that the kids would not be able to see what it was inside.)
After Snake Grass Trail, the kids popped into the Spider Web Trap, where they became the spider and had to catch bean bag "flies" tossed at them by the other kids. (crafty note: the spider web is 2 nested hula hoops - 2 different sizes, tied together with white string. The "flies" are beanbags made from 5" squares of fabric and a little tuft of shower scrunchy netting for wings. I filled them with rice. They are in the basket in front of the chair.)
The kids then rode a small gym scooter down the Rocky Road. I purposely made this narrow and windy as I did not want them picking up a lot of speed on the scooter for safety reasons. (crafty note: the Rocks are brown paper lunch bags - and I put the Munchkin to work scrunching them into rocks. They worked better with a dab of newspaper tucked inside - and our inspired moment was letting the kids play "basketball" with these and a big garbage bag to get these things cleaned up. It DID take the entire package of 100 to make this short road.)
And the road led to Monkey Tree Valley - with an inflatable pine tree. The monkey's hanging off were tagged with the kids names, and the kids had to rescue their monkey, stick it in their pack, and head back through the course. This was the most expensive item purchased for the course - but I calculated the cost of crafting a tree this size, and buying the inflatable was actually the cheaper option. These do tend to be tippy, though - hence the blankets around the base for anchor. (Nothing too crafty on this stage.)
And then we let the expedition commence - each child went through alone -
and the other kids acted as "fly tossers" - which despite some practice tossing before hand got a little bit crazy.Each had a different technique on the scooter -with some finding the "pack on the lap" method working well as they headed back to...
...the end of the trail...5 happy explorers - and one mauled lion!!
...which also doubled as a pillow.And lest we forget the cake -it was a snake with a cupcake body and krispie treat head and tail, with some gummy worms and centipedes to keep it company.
Much fun was had by all!


LJ said...

Amazing!!! Your creativity never fails to impress me. :-)

Colleen said...

Wish I could have gone on that obstacle course. Looks like a great party!

Jill said...

You should take a few minutes to submit this to!/PartyLikeAKid there's a regular website, too, I'm sure they'd love to have this contribution, I sent in Keeley's owl themed party and they loved it!

jillquilts said...

It looks like you had a great time! And such a creative party idea!

Joan Hawley said...

Oh my gosh, what a fantastic party. Do you host these for big kids? :-) Great job!

Anjeanette said...

That is awesome!!! Totally my kind of party. You really outdid yourself with this. I bet the munchkin and his friends had a great time.

Jennifer said...

Wow - impressive party - what are you doing the last weekend in April? You could come plan one for a 6 year old girl ;)

Barb said...

That party "takes the cake" quite literally! I loved getting to see all the pics. Definitely a birthday he will never forget. What a great mom.

Anonymous said...

So completely clever and wonderful! Such memories.

Cindy said...

This is a party! So often people forget about the children and the activities. You can have great decor, perfect set up and a outstanding cake...but if the kids aren't having fun and using their imaginations, then what's the point!? (and yours still looks great, too)! Bravo!