Friday, October 18, 2013

Safari Birthday Party

This is one of the most fun (and easy) parties we have had yet - planned around a huge adventure any girl (or boy!) would love.  My animal-loving daughter jumped at my suggestion that since we were in the middle of getting settled at the new house, perhaps a trip to the zoo with something smaller at home would be fun.

We started with the zoo/safari theme and were surprised at how easy it is to find animal-print goods right now (not to mention how many things we could find around the house like this fabric-turned-tablecloth from my sewing box).  We started with inexpensive solid-colored bags in rainbow colors and added a stripe of zebra duct tape to each bag (all found at the local CVS pharmacy).  Then my daughter wrote each child's name on their bag so she could make sure each had their favorite animal print.

Into the bags went an animal-print balloon (Dollar Tree), an animal tattoo hand puppet, animal-print slap bracelet, an animal-print bandanna (these three were all from Oriental Trading), a zebra mint (Walmart).  And to complete the package - a package of zebra cakes, of course!

Extra bandannas on the table and animal-print cupcakes (more on those in another post) completed the theme.  I was able to set this all up the night before so when we got back all I had to do was uncover the cupcakes and grab out the ice cream.

This was the front of the invitation - a picture of my daughter was in the middle.

On the inside was the safari instructions - now the trick is to follow up with the parents verbally before and make sure they see that you will be picking the kids up or make arrangements to meet at the zoo.  Most of the girls who were invited lived very close to each other in our town and our house was the farthest away so I thought it would be fun to use our Suburban (which kinda looks like a safari truck anyways) to pick them all up and have a little adventure on the way to the zoo - about a half hour drive.

My daughter greeted each one at their house with their goody bags so they could wear some of the items like the bandannas right away.  It was the first time many of these girls had been on this kind of all-girl road trip so they had fun just singing to the radio and all sorts of general silliness.  It didn't take long for them to experiment with turning themselves into zoo animals with the bandannas which was pretty funny too...

When we arrived at the zoo, my mom and my son joined us.  The girls were fine with little brother tagging along as most of them know him and my mom was able to get extra pictures while I was busy herding the girls.  Not that they were misbehaving but it is handy to have two adults in case some need to use the restroom or you need to split the group for some other reason.

I was fortune to be able to arrange a major score through a co-worker who happens to have a zoo-keeper hubby - we were table to get up close and personal with the RHINO!!  (Can you say bonus awesome-mom points!)

We were all fascinated with the friendly (huge!) rhino.  Here's my brave little boy feeding her by hand (you can see he chose to wear his bandanna like a super-hero cape - I mean what else could it be for...).

We also enjoyed getting up close with the birds with feeding sticks in the walk-through cage.  For some reason the kids were as fascinated by the chipmunks and sparrows eating all the dropped popcorn as they were by the animals in the cages...

After a busy day, we headed back to the house for cupcakes and ice cream (they really are a fun crew, aren't they?!).  They had about an hour to tour the new house and play before we piled back in the truck and took them home.  Everyone was back home by dinner - tired and happy - and their parents enjoyed the time to themselves.  I would totally do this sort of road-trip birthday party again.  Even with admission to the zoo (which for all the kids cost less than taking two of them to the movies) this was cheaper and far less time-intensive before the party than any of the home birthday parties I have done in the past.  

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