Welcome to the Zoo, Elliott’s Two!
For Elliott’s first birthday party we went all out, I started planning and DIY’ing almost six months in advance. The theme was “Where the Wild Things Are”, be- cause he was our Wild One. The party was a lot of fun and the theme was executed beautifully. So for his second birthday you would think I would have started plan- ning at like 18 months, since party planning is one of my favorite things to do. This was not what happened however. Shortly after Elliott’s first party I became pregnant with our daughter Delaney. We welcomed her home on June 4th and with our new addition came sleep deprivation and a complete obsession with staring at her while she slept. Finding our new routine with two under two wasn’t too over- whelming, but it was an adjustment. So, Elliott’s second birthday party planning started exactly 3 weeks prior to the event and about two weeks after his actual birthday. With that being said I think it turned out beautifully, but I will let you be the judge.
Our budget for the entire party was $300, we knew we didn’t want to have the par- ty at our house so I set out to find a local venue that wouldn’t break the bank. With such short notice my options were extremely limited. We ended up finding a park building not far from our house that was perfect. The venue provided tables and chairs, which saved us money and the time it takes to for setting up and tearing everything down. The building was equipped with a small kitchenette and bath- rooms which was a really nice bonus.
Now I know themes aren’t for everyone, but I am totally a theme girl. I wanted a theme that reflected Elliott’s personality and featured some of his favorite things such as his love for animals. We are frequent visitors of the zoo and he loves horseback riding more than anything. He also is working hard on learning his col- ors so I knew I wanted the theme to be one that I could really go crazy with lots of color. So with those things in mind I settled on a “Party Animal” theme. I went with black and white cutlery and tableware, but bright and colorful decorations.
Games and Activities
The ages of the party goers varied greatly so I knew it was important to have games and activities that everyone would be able to play and enjoy. I picked up a bubble machine at Target and it was honestly the biggest hit with everyone. I probably could have just had the bubble machine and no other entertainment, but I didn’t think that was enough. Elliott is really into throwing and catching so I want- ed some games that he could show off his sweet sweet skills. I found some flamin- gos and multicolor plastic rings on amazon and since there was rain in the forecast we set them up in buckets of sand inside. The kids had fun throwing the rings and trying to get them around the flamingos necks. I also did a feed the lion game by drawing a lion on a poster board and attaching it to an A- frame sign that my hus- band cut a hole in for a mouth. I found steak dog toys at the Dollar Tree that were perfect lion food. We also had corn hole boards out for the adults to play.
Elliott loves sweets, so I wanted our sweets table to be extra special. I ordered candy bananas for the monkeys, Swedish Fish, black Sixlets (gorilla poop), and zebra cakes. I made a party animal trail mix that included: circus animal cookies, animal crackers, M&Ms, Goldfish crackers, Teddy Grahams, and dried bananas. I also found a recipe on Pinterest for a circus animal fudge. It was basically sugar sprinkled cookies, every toddlers dream. I was lucky to have my mom’s help with the cupcakes so I focused on a smash cake for Elliott. I thought it would be a fun tradition to make a cake for each of my babies for their birthday each year instead of buying one, something special from their mama and that way I can work on my cake skills each year. Each of the kids took home a gummy animal kabob as a par- ty favor and the winner of the games got a jar of gum balls that I customized with some spray paint and a tiny plastic animal. To say that most of the guests left in a sugar coma would be an understatement!
The party decorum as another task that required some creative thinking (and shop- ping). The “Party like an Animal” banner, I got on Etsy from, The High Five Fac- tory, out of Gilbert Arizona. They specialize in boutique party supplies, pretty packaging, gift wrapping, and craft supplies. They can customize your banner to say whatever your heart desires and in whichever colors you prefer. They sent out our banner quickly and I was impressed with not only the quality of the product, but the great packaging.
Amazon provided us with the animal balloons, the four-leaf tissue paper garland, the honeycomb tissue paper balls, and the table cloths. The great thing about the garland and the honeycomb tissue paper balls was that they included five colors, orange, pink, blue, green, and pink and they folded back up nicely after the party to be reused for another event. I will include links for all the items I purchased online at the end. I found a lot of the other tissue paper decorations and the confetti bal- loons at the local Dollar Tree; I was actually impressed with their party supply sec- tion.
The table decorations were plastic animals with party hats. I scoured the local Val- ue Village, Dollar Tree, and garage sales for animal figures and I ended up with quite the collection. Each animal was dressed up for the party with a tiny little par- ty hat. I made each hat and hot glued them with pom poms I found on Amazon. I used hot glue so after the party I could remove the hats and peel the glue off the animals.
We wanted to keep it simple for the food and wanted something we could cook ahead of time and reheat easily so we wouldn’t have to be worried about cooking or prepping food during the party. For Elliott’s first birthday my sweet husband cooked burgers the entire time in the hot heat of summer and we didn’t want him to miss out on all the fun the second time around. Since Elliott loves hotdogs we de- cided to do classic dogs and for a little extra spice we did chili dogs also. We of- fered a couple pasta salads and chips for sides. Less was definitely more with food this time around. Everyone really enjoyed the food and my husband was able to really enjoy the party.
The party was a huge success and I had so much fun putting it together. Elliott loved having all his friends and family to play with and the cake. He loves cake! That is really what it is all about, an event that brings people together in celebration of life. Elliott has brought so much joy and laughter to our lives, he is truly a gift and I cant wait to start planning his next.
Links for all products:
Colorful Four-leaf Garland Honeycomb Tissue Paper Decorations Striped Table Cloth
Party Like An Animal Banner Plastic Flamingos
Bubble Machine Miracle Bubbles Cake Plates
Pom Poms Gummy Animals