Welcome to the Jungle

The last few weeks have been spent party planning and preparing for a visit from Connor’s grandparents who came to town to help celebrate the big ONE.  Now that the dust has died down and we’re getting used to being the parents of a toddler and not a baby (sniff!), I thought I’d share some of the things I made for the shindig.

I’ve never hosted a party for little kids before, and I wanted to be sure that there were things to keep all ages happy (the kids ranged from 6 months to 3 years).  And yes, I admit I will seize any opportunity to Martha-Stewart-out.  I can’t help it, I see a group of people who need to be fed and entertained and I’m like the Hulk with an icing bag and a roll of streamers.  I’m surprised Thomas doesn’t usher people into our home with a warning: “Don’t sit still too long – you WILL get decorated.”

The decorations went up three days early (with the exception of balloons which have a nasty habit of popping in the middle of the night and scaring us half to death).  The food prep couldn’t start until the day before.  That left games.  I turned to the internet and my mom for jungle-theme inspiration.  From the web I got coconut bowling; from my mom a bean-bag toss.  To that I added Pin-the-Tail on the Elephant, and an animal “hunt” (wherein the animals were only looked for, not symbolically shot down, don’t worry).

The coconut bowling was probably the biggest hit, although if I did it again I might weight them down with something in the bottom.  The kids played with it outside and every time the wind blew they picked up a spare.  A little water or some rice or sand would do the trick.

I also bought two coconuts and had Thomas “shave” them a little because they were leaving bits everywhere.  Having more than one bowling ball is a good idea because we did manage to crack one open on the patio stones.

The bean-bag toss is another good one, because you can put the hula hoop in the grass or suspend it to toss the bags through, and stand as close or as far as you want.  Alternatively you could have the kids throw the bags into a bucket.  I made 4 bean bags with plain cotton on one side and an animal print fabric on the other, and I painted numbers on them, thinking that after the party we could use them to teach Connor.  An alternative would be to make enough bean bags to have one for each kid, and paint them with their names instead – ta-dah! personalized party favour.

For the animal hunt, I cut tigers, elephants, giraffes, parrots, and monkeys (I know, I know, it’s a cross-continental jungle okay?) out of construction paper and stuck them to the walls.  These ended up sort of blending into the decorations and we didn’t pursue it as a game, but I still liked the effect.

Next up – simple syrup recipes to make your own flavours of soda.

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