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Friday, August 29, 2008

Dora Birthday Party

For Kaitlyn's 4th Birthday we decided on a Dora theme. I was particularly excited about this one because although it was a lot of work, it was also fun to come up with all the challenges for the kids on their adventure - just like in the TV show!

We started out in the living room (of my mom's house -mine was too small and I couldn't count on the weather cooperating), where we discovered that Swiper had swiped the birthday cake. Of course we had to go to his hideout to get it back. And what do we need to help us find it? The map! I had made backpacks for all the kids (you can find instructions at, complete with their own maps. The map told us to follow the Star Path (star shapes cut out of cardstock and taped to the floor) across the Puzzle Bridge, through the Lollipop Forest to Swiper's Hideout. So the kids looked around for the stars and sure enough there they were leading us into the kitchen.

In the kitchen was the Puzzle Bridge (blue sheet spread on the floor for the lake, bridge made out of posterboard with various shaped pieces cut out of it) that needed to be put together before they could cross. How do we do that? Ask Backpack if he has anything that will help us. And yes, each child had a puzzle piece that fit into one of the holes on the bridge.

Once across the bridge we ran into Swiper (my niece), who we scared off by shouting "Swiper, no swiping!"

The star path led us to the stairs, where we encountered the Singing Door. The poor Singing Door (with my niece doing the voice from behind it) couldn't get the words right to some popular kid's songs.

As soon as the kids helped her sing them correctly they were allowed through and made their way downstairs to the Lollipop Forest (large lollipops constructed with posterboard and dowels which had been shoved into flower pots so they would stand up). We were about to make our way through the Forest when I received a call from Diego saying that some of the animals from the Animal Rescue Center were lost in the Lollipop Forest. Well, since we were there, of course we helped Diego look for them and sent them all back to the Animal Rescue Center (these were stuffed animals of course). We also caught a glimpse of Swiper through the window - he was carrying off the presents! "Swiper, NO SWIPING!"

We consulted the map again and found we were almost to our destination. Sure enough, we could see Swiper's Hideout just past the Dark Tunnel (card tables covered with brown sheet). We needed something to help us get through the tunnel and happily found mini flashlights in their backpacks. Once through the tunnel we were confronted by the door to the Hideout, which was locked up tight. The kids had to search through a big box of keys for the Star Key that opened the lock on the door.

Once through the door we found...Kaitlyn's Fiesta! Swiper hadn't been stealing the cake and presents, he was just helping set up for the party :)

We then ate and did the present thing. The food included cupcakes, strawberries (one of Katy's fav things), Dora shaped animal cracker type things, and star shaped Goldfish, and of course Katy's green punch. The cake was saved until the next day for our extended family party. (that's my tradition - cupcakes for the kids, the fancy cake for the grandparents) Then the kids had to go back and do the whole adventure again because they loved it so much.

The only thing I was sad about was that I didn't have the sound effects to go along with everything - the songs, Swiper's voice saying "oh man!" and so on. Oh well. As people keep telling me, it was an over-the-top party even without that :)

Oh, can't forget the party favors. I gave them little bags filled with some Dora fruit snacks and some things I had printed out from (paper dolls, coloring pgs, etc). And of course they each got to keep their backpacks, maps, and flashlights.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fairy Birthday Party

For Kaitlyn's 3rd birthday I chose to do a fairy birthday party.

The Decorations:
-bubble machine outside on the porch which was decorated with ballons, tissue flowers, and streamers
-giant butterflies and tissue paper flowers hanging from the ceiling, giant tissue flowers in pots
-fairy tent (white christmas lights and tulle, hanging from the ceiling)
The Party:
-when the girls arrived they were each outfitted with fairy wings, flower crowns (silk flower leis that I had pulled apart and threaded the flowers onto pipe cleaners that I had formed into circles, and added curly ribbon streamers), and fairy dust (body glitter) on their cheeks
-Find the Fairy game - printed out clipart of fairies on small pieces of paper and hid them around the room
-Kaitlyn's favorite freeze dance game (I really need to come up with a name for this one, but names really aren't my specialty): printed and colored pictures of a fairy, unicorn, flower, etc (with at least 1 of each item per guest), cut the paper into circles, and laminated the circles. To play you just toss out the circles on the floor and designate on item for everyone to stand on. Turn on the music and the kids dance around the room (you can tell them to skip, hop, crawl, etc too). When you turn off the music you call out a picture for them to find, stand on, and "make a shape" (pose). This one was a real hit - Kaitlyn had a meltdown when we tried to move on to the next game so we ended up playing this again after eating.
-fairy picnic: I find tiny tea sets that I served the food on. The food itself was mini cupcakes and fruit fairy wands (melon cut into tiny star shapes with a cookie cutter, on toothpicks) and green punch (specific request from Katy since that was her absolute favorite color at the time)
-make your own beaded bracelets/necklaces

The Favors:
-I "planted" silk roses into small pots (that I had painted and stenciled with butterflies) and hid the favors inside each rose and inside the pot. The favors included butterfly hair clips, bracelets, and small vials of body glitter (fairy dust), bubbles, flower shaped sidewalk chalk
Oh! I almost forgot one of the best parts - the invites! I need to find one of them and post a photo because they turned out really cute. I made teeny tiny invites - probably about 1 1/2" square in a tiny font. Then I put them into larger envelopes along with fairy dust and little magnifying glasses.

How To - Tissue paper flowers
-Stack 5-6 sheets of tissue paper together (can be full sheets or smaller pieces as long as all pieces are the same size) and accordian fold, lengthwise.
-Find center of folded tissue and tie together with pipe cleaner.
-Gently separate each layer of tissue paper from the rest, shaping the flower as you go. Better instructions can be found in many places in the internet if you can't understand my description (I know, photos would help)

How To - Wings (this is the quick, easy, cheap version - there are other methods)
-cut tulle into rectangles, roughly 15" x 24" or so (depends on size of children)
-take 2-3 tulle pieces and scrunch together in the center. Either wrap with wire or thread to hold together in center.
-cut 1/4-1/2" elastic into approx 36" length and sew ends together to form a circle. Size will depend on child - you want the loop to fit comfortably around both arms and connect to the wings in back. Attach elastic to center of wings, forming 2 loops for the arm holes.
-wrap center of wings with ribbon to cover up the area where you connected everything together and sew it all together.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Birthday Parties

In case I haven't mentioned it yet, I love throwing elaborate birthday parties for my kids. And in preparation of the next round of parties (Oct and Dec) I am going to recap some that I have put together so far. Hopefully, this will get me even more excited to get going with the rest of the preparations for Kaitlyn's 5th Birthday - which is a little more than 6 weeks away. For those of my friends that think I'm nuts to put this much effort into it, you will be happy to know that I have trimmed my party plans down quite a bit from what I had originally envisioned. :)