Thursday, 27 February 2014

Party Party Party - Jungle theme children's party.

Bug has just had her third birthday - I can't believe she's three already, as I still remember blogging before she came along!

She decided that she'd really like a party, and as her birthday fell on a few days holiday from pre-school, we decided that we should make a trip down to Devon to see all the family, so it would be a tea party for Bug, C and all the cousins (five of them aged from 1.5 to 7 years old).  I can't stand big children's parties with stacks of children racing around.  The pack mentality seems to rewind evolution and turn them into rampaging animals.  I was quite pleased to be organising a sensible sized family gathering.

I offered Bug the choice of five themes: number fun, jungle, British wildlife, flowers, and under the sea.  She opted for a Jungle theme.

Together we made some jungle theme invites: these were simply green card (postcard sized), with some snakes cut out of snake-print paper, some frogs and leaves stuck on, some ants drawn on and all the relevant information written on.

I don't like party bags - in fact the idea of spending money on some rubbish that will be imminently thrown away gives me the heebie-jeebies.  At a previous party we made paintings on canvas that could be taken home.  On this occasion I decided that we could do a craft activity (making snake decorations) and these could be taken home, but we'd want something else too.  I found a party website, but was disappointed how many "jungle theme" items included giraffes, lions, zebras etc. - as far as my knowledge goes, these animals live on the savannah not in the jungle!  However, I was able to find some plastic cups with monkeys on (in the end they didn't have these in stock and we got penguin ones - but never mind!), some little jitterbugs, packets of toy insects, and some foam flying butterflies.

Decorations: Bearing in mind that we were travelling for ten hours to the venue, and I could only take so much with me to decorate my sister's sitting room!  I hung a large mosquito net above the table, and filled it and the surroundings with 25 green balloons, then hung green crepe streamers liberally around the place.  I also made some bunting with green leaves, frogs and monkey faces.  We finished off with the snakes that we made at the beginning of the party.  My oldest nephew (it was his house) also brought out his box of bugs and distributed those around the place.

Activities: We started off making the snakes - these were brightly coloured A4 construction paper.  We drew a spiral on to the paper and invited the children to decorate them with felt pens, holographic paper and stickers.  When they had finished we cut around the spiral and hung the snake by his tail.  This took about 20 minutes.  We then played Pass the Parcel, I had put plastic insects between all the layers, and then the prize was a wooden snake model to make.  Of course, with this game it's important to choreograph so that everybody gets a layer.  We followed this with Musical Monkeys (it's a bit like musical statues, only everybody has to dance and pose like a monkey).  Youngest nephew wasn't interested in this game at all, and Bug was pretty oblivious too.  C doesn't go to many parties, and this was his first time joining in with a game, so I was sad to see how devastated he was at being out at an early stage.  The other cousins had monkey dancing down to a tee though.  I asked Big Grandad to adjudicate this game, he used to do all our parties when we were children, but he didn't get into the spirit of it at all, and ended up delegating to 7 year old nephew!  After the games it was about an hour into the party, and time for the ...

Food:  Keep things simple.  At parties children don't eat nicely and make a beeline for anything sweet or fattening.  I went for plenty of pizza, lots of fruit, some iced buns (with bugs/butterflies on top for the jungle theme) and the cake, which was simply Blackforest Gateau.  Normally I would have liked home-made pizza, buns, cake etc. but since I was away from home, in this instance it was Sainsburys.  Drink was "Jungle Juice", half a carton of tropical fruit juice, half a carton of orange juice, half a carton of mango juice, a bottle of lemonade and a tin of fruit cocktail, all in a punch bowl with a ladle - that went down very well.

All in all I was pretty pleased with the party.  I think it was just about the right balance between excitement, and being low key enough not to be overwhelming.  There was plenty of time for the cousins to play together with toys, to exchange presents, but they came together for the craft, the games and the food.  There was space and time for the adults to chat.  There wasn't too much food left over.  It didn't take too much clearing up (important since it was at my sister's house).  And of course, most important of all - Bug loved it.

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