It’s been a month now, but I still have a hard time believing that T is actually five years old. Just the other day she was sitting on my leg and I realized that it was starting to actually hurt. Something about age 5 just feels so big.
And as much as I promised that I wouldn’t go overboard again this year, I couldn’t help pulling together a bash fit for such a big age.
In all honesty, I started dreaming up ideas long before even discussing the topic with T. I was convinced she would want a Frozen party like every other little girl has for the last 10 months. But, our girl keeps us on our toes…and requested only three things for her party this year:
– An Octonauts theme
– A Treasure Hunt; and
– A pinata
For those who aren’t familiar with the Octonauts…(you must not have a Disney-watching child under age 7, but I digress), it’s a British cartoon whose main characters (all animals) explore the ocean and its creatures. Each 15 minute segment introduces a new sea creature and some interesting facts about them. As far as kid television goes, it could get a whole lot worse.
So off I went in search of inspiration for an Octonauts party, and I hit a bit of a brick wall. There are some ideas out there, but nothing that was within my budget, quick enough to pull together in a few hours, and really sparked my interest. So I switched gears and included more the underwater adventure ideas.
Inspirational Links (in order from top left to bottom right): Octonauts Cake, Mermaid Birthday Party, Frozen Gummy Fish, Gummy Skewers, Under the Sea Canopy, Printable Treasure Map, Blue/Green Octonauts Party, Rice Krispies Star Fish, Pink & Blue Party, Sand Dollar Cookies, Octonauts Clip Art, Balloon Bubbles, Blue & White Party, Gummy Fish Pudding, Zucchini Whale, Blue & Orange Octonauts Party, Cardboard Gup X, Pink & Purple Invitation, Treasure Chest Foam Cooler, Pink & Blue Invitation (the one we used), Sprinkles Cake, Crepe Paper Seaweed, Balloons on Ceiling, Cardboard Gup B, Sea Creatures Wall, Cut Tablecloth Backdrop, Shark Attack Favors, Bubble Station, Outdoor Water Games, Octonauts To the Launch Bay Sign
After all that research I decided to focus on two elements for decorations: 1) Create a giant octopod (the Octonauts’ underwater ship; and 2) Decorate our outdoor tent to feel like you’re underwater with the Octonauts.
The Octopod was probably the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole party. It was one of my favorite elements of the whole party, though, so I’ll be going into more detail about that in another post (coming soon!).
There were so many different ways to create that ‘underwater’ feel. I saw pictures of crepe paper twisted along celings, blue plastic tablecloths cut up and twisted or just hung in a wave pattern, and even balloons filling a net against a celing. All of these ideas are great, but they all just felt like they would take too long to fill up the giant ceiling in our 10’ x 20’ tent.
Luckily, I happened upon 30’ rolls of 18” wide blue mesh ribbon. Six rolls fit perfectly draped between the crossbars of the tent ceiling. Loose ends along the walls were cut into strips, which curled perfectly to create even more of a wave effect. I just added a bunch of inflatable fish hanging from fishing line (there are many inexpensive choices on Amazon), and we had ourselves an ocean.
One of the simplest things I did to add a bit more of the Octonauts theme to the party was to make inexpensive posters right from our printer. I just found a bunch of images online, edited them in PhotoShop with text or to match the theme colors of the party and printed them on 8.5 x 11 paper; which I then taped onto 11 x 14 poster board. It was a really effective way to “frame” each picture without the hassle of real frames. (Full Disclosure: the sign on the right was originally created by Boy Mama Teacher Mama, I just edited the arrow over to the other side and changed it to have T’s face)
Where I really had fun was with the food. Ever since T’s first birthday got out of hand and too way too long to pull together, I haven’t done much in the way of themed food. But I found so many cute ideas (and even came up with a couple of my own), that I couldn’t resist.
Unfortunately the great lighting during the day meant that a lot of the lighter items just didn’t photograph well – bummer. Here’s a rundown of the food we served (it was a snacktime party only):
– Ocean Water: Blue punch
– Professor Inkling’s Hummus: Regular hummus with a bell pepper octopus on top)
– Tweak’s Bunch-a-munchy-crunchy-carrots
– Sea cucumbers
– Lost Sea Stars
– Giant Kelp Forest: Frozen Grape Skewers
– Kwazii’s Pirate’s Booty: Pirate’s Booty Corn Puffs
– Tunip’s Fish Biscuits: Pink Goldfish crackers
– Undiscovered Sand Dollars: Sugar cookies with slivered almonds
– Happy Humuhumunukunukuapua’as: Mini square shooters with a gummy fish and whipped cream whitecap (*Note: I read a lot of stories about the gummies inside of jello cups getting mushy and losing their texture, so I opted to only have a little bit of their tales stuck inside)
If anyone is interested in using the files I created for the table markers, let me know and I’ll post them!
T’s favorite character from the show is a pirate cat named Kwazii. It’s really no surprise, because he’s the craziest of all the characters, and she loves to get a little (a lot) crazy. I took that opportunity to create a treasure hunt based on the idea that his pirate grandfather left a treasure chest in our backyard and the kids had to find it. I made the map using images found online and in PicMonkey.
I wasn’t so sure about it at first, but I have to say that the treasure hunt was the BEST part of the whole party. Sure, the kids love splashing around in the pool, but I was really surprised at how much they enjoyed having a more structured event.
(This is yet another activity that is too long to provide details on in this post. I’ll go through the whole process and the clues we used in a follow-up post)
For the kids who wanted just a little quiet activity away from the pool, I set up a “Make Your Own Jellyfish” station. All I had to buy was plastic bowls…I just grabbed old crepe paper,ribbons, washi tape and paint pens from my craft stash and let the kids go to town with them. I even think a couple of the parents got more into it than the kids!
Of course, T had specifically asked for a pinata, and when I found a shark pinata, I was in love. It fit in perfectly with our underwater theme among all the other tropical fish, whales and dolphins. That sucker was tough, though. We let the kids each take turns swinging at it, and they all got several turns. I started to rip it a little bit between turns trying to get the candy to come out, but it took quite a while. The kids didn’t seem to mind too much, though.
And of course we had a homemade cake! The different colored blues were actually unplanned. I accidentally bought too little blue frosting and had to send the husband out for more. He came back with a different brand, and it was far darker. I just tried to make an ombre effect, and said that it was to represent the “Midnight zone”, “Twilight Zone” and “Daylight Zone”s of the ocean (straight from the show)
I added jellies for sea creatures and seaweed, and we topped it with a Build-your-own-gup set that was T’s birthday gift. We called it the Gup-T (for obvious reasons). Unfortunately her Kwazii got lost before we could photograph him in the Gup-T, but he was there in spirit. The “sand” was actually just leftover butter cake blended with nilla wafers, and worked perfectly.
I know this post makes it seem like it was a lot to put together, but it was the first party we’ve done where I was actually ready when the guests arrived. Picking just one or two areas to focus on really helped me manage my time and get great results.
Now I want to know