Thursday, July 17, 2014

Themed Party: Woodland Explorers

My wife enjoys hosting, planning parties and creating elaborate themes. She's really creative, often with some really tricky constraints, such as:

  • It's a party for children who won't notice all the hard work and effort. 
  • There's not a lot of time to plan. 
  • There's no budget.

So... don't kill yourself going overboard. (Don't get Lori started on some of the "1st. Birthday" boards she found on Pinterest. Or do get her started, it could be an amusing post on her blog.)

Here's a recent party she put together for our daughter's birthday. By planning ahead, she was able to use the theme for both a family party and a friends party and we actually still have the 15+ foot tall tree in our dining room.

First, it started with a theme. Rachel and Lori have been reading through Red Wall. Rachel's been re-enacting scenes with her stuffed animals and beginning to write her own stories featuring the characters or characters of her own creation. To make the theme more approachable to children who didn't know Red Wall, they simplified to a more general "Woodland Explorer" theme.

Click photo to view slightly larger.
(Or go to Flickr to see full-size.)
Next, research. Pinterest is a huge boon in this regard, so many creative people out there.  Local stores also provide some great ideas.  A scouting trip to Michaels, Target, JoAnnes, Dollar Tree and the like, armed with a camera phone is a great way to capture a bunch of ideas. That gives you some fundamentals, some ideas, and some nice-to-haves. Purchases were eventually made in the local stores or via Amazon.

Then set-design.  Whimsical and creative (but still budget-friendly) led to some fun designs. Packing materials from Amazon shipments were fashioned into trunks of two trees. One featured tissue paper leaves, another balloons.  Ferns from our backyard featured prominently in the centerpiece.  Print-outs of cartoon characters from Google Images (as well as more green balloons) also tied it all together.  (Handy tip: blow up lots of extra balloons. From our experience, kids of all ages love trying to keep them in the air, and the more there are, the more fun it is.)

Food - ever the host, Lori wants to make sure here's tasty treats beyond just cake and ice cream. There's an added bonus here: Parents tend to stick around longer, helping out, keeping an eye on things. And they're a way to carry on the theme: saltine toffee sculpted to look like bark and an innovative twist on S'mores that started with a little graham cracker shell, a Reeses miniature peanut butter cup, a marshmallow and then had drizzled chocolate on top. Also acorns that were made of doughnut holes, nutella, chocolate sprinkles and a small piece of pretzel stick as the stem. As well as healthier fare. Not to mention an awesome hedgehog made of cheese.

Craft - a craft is a great way to create something to take home and show off the creativity of the guests. Unpainted birdhouses were a great way for each child to show off their individuality.

Gift Bags - you always need to swag to take home. A craft plays into that, but Lori's not going to send people out empty-handed. Lori created some healthy trail mix packs and a whole line of handmade bookmarks for the bags.

Ben and I had a father-son meal and play time at McDonalds while the party was going on, but I hear it was a smash. The boys and some of the girls had departed by the time we arrived home, the rest of them downstairs watching a movie and having a sleepover.

You can see larger versions of the theme photos here on Flickr.

(Or all our public photos on Flickr here.
If you're not seeing any photos of us, contact us for an invite to see the rest.)

Post a Comment