January 16, 2019

Are You a Mermaid or a Shark?

Having my children born only four days apart MAY put a major strain on our bank account, but in terms of party planning, being able to combine the two birthday parties together is a definite boon, for a number of reasons. Mainly, I just don't think I could handle two parties in one year...this one very nearly did me in. But, once it all came together, it was OH so worth it. Seeing the excitement on both of my kids' faces was so gratifying, especially Anderson's. He kept pointing at everything, and talking in excited babbles. And Wren? I'm pretty sure she had a smile on her face the entire day as she ran from activity to activity. So, like I said...worth it. But do I plan on doing a party of this scale anytime soon? Talk to me next year. But I'll just say, that if I never have to see a dyed coffee filter every again, I'll die a happy woman! Kidding. Maybe.
The theme we decided on for this year's birthday bash was, "Are You a Mermaid or a Shark?" Guests were sent an invitation asking them which one they would be, with all of the party information included. 
The original party date was scheduled for the 5th, but because Graham's schedule changed (and there was no way he could miss work), we had to switch the date to the 12th. Then, that entire week, the forecast for Saturday was rain, rain, and more rain. I was heartbroken! All of our activities were scheduled for outside. But, we lined up the use of some pop up canopies, and decided that the show had to go on. 
The party was held at Graham's little sister's house, and so we decided to spend the night on Friday so we could get a head start on the party set up. And it's a good thing we did! We stayed up late into the night, and I got up nice and early on Saturday to continue the prep work. I was frosting cakes, taping up decorations, and setting up food until the VERY last minute, so I wasn't able to do my hair and makeup, but since the day was not about me, I tried not to care that I looked a bit tired and frazzled! Thankfully, everything came together so beautifully thanks to all of the help from our family members. They scrambled with me to get the last minute details finished up, and we only started the party a tiny bit late! Phew! 
As guests entered, they were greeted with a welcome sign, hanging seaweed, and a tube that was for the "guppies" to enter.

Once they moved past the seaweed, they were prompted to "choose a side!" Were they a mermaid or a shark? Then, guests grabbed a name tag and wrote down their new shark or mermaid name. Names were based on the letter of their first names and what month they were born. Some of my favorites were, "Killer Jabber Jaws" and "Glittery Lovely Bubbles."
Then, they found themselves "under the sea" with lots of bubbles, seaweed, coral, shells and basically any ocean-themed thing you can think of! My favorite decoration of the whole party was the gold coral that Graham made with a can of spray insulation and a can of gold spray paint! And also, shoutout to my dad for cutting the bases for the coral. I was SO happy with how they turned out.

Now, out on the patio is where the real party started! And guess what...there was no rain! It was the best surprise of the party. It made everything go so smoothly, and even though a couple of activities had to move off the grass, things still turned out *almost* how I had planned them in my head. 
With such a large age-range of kids at the party, I had to rack my brain for activities to meet all of their needs. For the littlest ones, we had a "walk the plank" game that my dad (again) made for me, and of course I didn't get any photos of! Basically, the kids had to walk across the plank without falling into the shark-infested waters. Anderson, the smallest of the group, held onto my hands as he successfully walked the plank, and all of the other kids followed, even the big ones! Next, they moved onto "Make Your Own Sea Foam." Kids were given a plastic cup that had a hole punched into the top of it. Then, I poured bubbles into the bottom, and they blew their straws into the liquid. Streams of bubbles poured out the top of the cup, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. 

For the bigger kids, we had a "Sand Art" station, where they poured different colors of sand and little shells into tiny little glass bottles. To make the process go more smoothly, we had mini funnels and scoops (salvaged formula scoops that I had been saving for months) to pour the sand. I added key chain hooks to the top of the bottles, and had parents help the smaller kids glue the tops on with a hot glue gun. My biggest regret of the party is that I didn't get any photos of the activity in action or any photos of the finished bottles. But, take my word for it...they were SUPER cute! 
My amazingly talented sister also painted these cornhole boards, one with a mermaid and one with a shark. This was another activity that was enjoyed by all of the kids and even the adults. Anderson had fun climbing all over the game, until his hand went into the hole and he smacked his head into the board...
Now, the food. I had way too much fun choosing ocean-themed food. AND decorating the food table. The backdrop included, you guessed it, more sea weed, as well as "Wren"and "Anderson" signs. There were also jelly fish hanging from the patio overhang, but I only got a photo of the ones hanging on either side of the table. I loved these little jelly fish, and feel like the added just the right touch to the party decor!
For the main dish of the party, guests were offered "submarine sandwiches" that included an array of meat and cheese choices. There was also "seaweed dip" (artichoke dip), "seaweed rolls" (spinach tortilla, cream cheese roll-ups), "shell pasta" (pasta salad), "starfish sandwiches" (PB&J's cut out with a star cookie cutter), and sea snails (mini hotdogs wrapped in crescent rolls).

Next, was a nice selection of chips and crackers. They included "driftwood" (pretzels), "shark teeth" (Doritos), "sea slugs" (Cheetos), and "shark bait" (goldfish). 
Moving on...all of the treats! First, were the "clam bites," which my mom informed should have been "oyster" bites since clams don't typically produce pearls. Whoops. But they still looked cute! 
We also had "dinglehopper delights," which were basically just a Rice Krispie treat with a mini fork shoved in the top. Wren got a real kick out of these ones!
We also had an array of candy: peach rings acted as "life preservers," while red vines were "coral." The Swedish fish and gummy sharks? Well, those are pretty self-explanatory! 
My future sister-in-law also baked the CUTEST cupcakes and we popped mermaid tails and shark fins into the top.
I also love how these "sand dollar" snickerdoodles turned out. Another sister-in-law made these beauties. They were cute and delicious!
The two things that I'm probably the most proud of are the kids' cakes. I do not bake. I repeat, I DO NOT bake. It is not in my wheelhouse. So, when I decided that I would make, not one cake, but two? Yeah, I surprised myself. After reading 500 blog posts on making cakes and frosting, and watching 1,000 Youtube videos on how to frost said cake...these were the result. Not the greatest. But, hey...like I said, I'm proud of them!

Just like his big sister, Anderson was NOT interested in his smash cake. He absolutely refused to touch it, and would only eat it if small bites were placed INTO his mouth. His sister, on the other hand, DEVOURED her piece and could have taught him a thing or two on how to really enjoy a birthday cake. 

 I'm so grateful for these babies, and I LOVE celebrating them in this way.  I can't believe I have a big one year old and an even more giant three year old. These kids bring me so much joy, and their dad and I feel so very blessed to be their parents. Happy birthday, my babies. We love you!

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