Saturday, January 17, 2015

Monkey Theme 1st Birthday

        When considering Tennyson's 1st birthday party I had three main goals in mind: 1) it was to celebrate him 2) as many elements as possible needed to have the capacity to be reused another year and possibly by another person and 3) my budget for food (for 20), decorations, activities and favor bags etc. was $50. I'm pleased to say that I was able to achieve all three goals for his monkey theme 1st birthday party! Here are a few of the details:


     I wanted to make his birthday cake. Compared to a store bought cake, homemade cakes are better tasting, more economical and have that special homemade touch. I can remember very few birthdays growing up in which my mother didn't make my birthday cake. Her homemade cakes were always special to me, and I want to leave the same fond memory for my children. Since we are doing a monkey theme I chose a banana cake with cream cheese frosting.  I made a full size cake (9-inch cake rounds) for guests and a mini cake (4-inch cake rounds) just for Tennyson :)
     We opted for a semi-homemade selection of food. The party is an afternoon event, and so we didn't necessarily need to provide a full meal. We chose to serve: ham & cheese sandwiches, club sandwiches, banana pudding cups, two types of veggie chips, fruit tray (pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe), a veggie tray (carrots, celery, tomatoes), and the banana birthday cake. We decided that the best way to serve a lot of people while still keeping costs as low as possible would be to maintain a very simple menu.  It still looks and tastes like a plentiful selection though!

    We served three basic beverages: water, homemade lemonade, homemade sweet tea.

     I shopped around a bit to find the best value for purchasing paper plates, cups, napkins, silverware etc. in the brown, white, and green color scheme. I prefer the versatility of basic colors versus a printed or patterned set. I like that I will be able to pair another color with either the brown or green for a future occasion.


     I hadn't intended to create food labels initially. But, I then considered it helpful for guests to know what is being offered (and thus I not have to answer these questions dozens of times). Fortunately, I had extra green pattern paper from the door sign and an extra sheet of stickers from the favor bags. I then simply printed the words out on sticky address labels. Super simply, and yet super cute.
     I found a set of plain cardboard pendants at the craft store and decided to make a diy birthday banner. The supplies did cost about twice as much as simply buying a premade banner. However, my diy banner has the capacity to be redone numerous times to fit the occasion. I love how it turned out!
(blacked out portion is our address, which isn't for public viewing ;) )
      I always find it helpful to have the front door marked in some way when expecting guests. They can easily spot your home and know to just walk in. I made this simple sign using poster board, scrapbook paper for letters and balloons, and the same monkey template I drew for the invitations and coloring pages.
Activities for Little Guests:
      I thought it would be great to have a few activities and things for little guests. Kids can sometimes get carried away at birthday parties with there being new things to play with and explore, people to entertain, and sugary cake and/or treats. I wanted to at least have some way to try to redirect that energy.

     I created a coloring sheet with my monkey drawing. I purchased jumbo crayons and placed them in jelly jars tied with brown curling ribbon.  (Note: I learned a lesson in buying the cheapest crayons. They were like coloring with colored candles. They were so waxy that the color would actually come off with additional strokes. I then purchases a set of name brand crayons. I learned to always buy the better crayons. haha!). The nice thing about this purchase is that we're all set for when Tennyson is able to start coloring!
     I also created felt monkey masks for imaginative play. I drew a pattern and then stitched the pieces together using embroidery floss. I also sewed ribbons on back so that the mask would tie on. (I originally sewed elastic to the back instead of the ribbon. The elastic would have held the mask up better. However, without knowing the size of the children's heads I couldn't accurately estimate the necessary amount of elastic needed or be able to adjust it later.) This project was definitely the most consuming. I stayed up much too late several nights working on these. They were the perfect touch to this monkey party though! Did I mention there is probably about $0.25 of materials invested in each mask? Cute and budget friendly- hooray!

Favor Bags:
       I wanted to offer quality favor bags. ( I have a bit of an annoyance at junky party bags that are ultimately thrown in the trash). I chose to include a monkey sticker sheet, Play-Doh and a bag of banana chips. Most young kids I know love stickers. I was excited to have found a package of monkey stickers that were on sale at the craft store. I also wanted another play item and found the Play-Doh to be only $0.50 per container. Party favor bags typically include even more candy and sweets. I, instead, choose to offer a healthier alternative of banana chips. Plus, they fit perfectly with the theme. I probably spent about $2 for the bag and everything in it.

       That's about it! Sweet and simple monkey theme birthday party (for about $50!).

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