Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A "Jawsome" Shark-Themed 4th Birthday Party

Well, it's about time that I wrap up my posts about the Little Man's 4th birthday bash, so here's the overview. I don't even know where he came up with the idea for a shark-theme, but it seemed to come out of left field. There are a few things out there that can be purchased for a shark-party but I wasn't interested in buying online and then having to pay shipping. That's why it's a good thing that this mama is creative!

Out in the front yard, I placed three shark fins and a warning sign that read "CAUTION SHARK SIGHTING." Then, on the front door, guests were once again cautioned with a sign reading "DANGER ENTER AT OWN RISK." I used shark stencils for both of the signs and everything was made out of cardboard.

{Land sharks!}

{Don't say you weren't warned...}

To set the indoor underwater scene, we had three kinds of window paint, two of which were homemade. This one was on the dining room sliding door, and I don't recommend it for window paint. This paint recipe was also used in the dining room, and it worked beautifully for making blue waves and multi-colored sharks (which I used these stencils to create). In the living room, I used a blue window paint pen that I had purchased from Oriental Trading to make waves on all the windows. Then, I taped undersea animals to the windows. These were classroom decor left over from my teaching days, so they were two-sided and laminated, which was perfect.

I also made some blue zigzag steamers (directions here) and taped them up in the entry to the dining room and in the hallway so they were visible when guests walked in the front door. These are perhaps the simplest, quickest, and cheapest party decorations ever! And they make a big impact. It felt very much like we were under the waves.

{You can see the streamers in the background.}

Hanging from the dining room chandelier were 3 friendly jellyfish that the kids helped me to create.

I used a roll of blue cello wrap from Dollar Tree to make a table runner, secured with blue painters tape (again, from Dollar Tree). The excess I cut off and taped to my folding card table. Then, I tossed a few sea shells onto both table coverings. (As a bonus, this didn't get messy, so I just removed the tape after the party, and rolled it back up to re-use for something else.)

{See the window paint in the background?}

The thank-you gifts did double duty as decorations. I just displayed some small containers of homemade blue glitter play dough and fish shaped cookie cutters (from Jo-Ann) until it was time to send them home with the party guests. I had made small round labels to fit the containers (which came in a ten-pack at Dollar Tree). Using Microsoft Word, I made them to say "Logan's 4th Birthday" (Logan's curved on top, and 4th Birthday curved around the bottom of the circle, with a shark photo in the middle). I ended up making 3 batches of play dough, and each batch was enough to fill 6 of the plastic containers.

{Cute and inexpensive party favors!}

I decided since it was a nice day and we had kids ranging from infant to age seven, that I should keep this pretty simple and outdoor-centered. So, we turned on the sprinkler, set up the water table, and made sure there were plenty of toys in the sandbox.

I had made a game that I called "Shark Bait," which some kids played with a hula hoop and my homemade fishy "beanbags."

{DIY Game for a Shark Party}

We also had a bubble station which included homemade bubble solution in cake pans and pie tins and lots of wands.

My favorite thing, though, was the shark photo prop that I had made from cardboard. I took all of the kids' pictures inside of his mouth and then used them to make the thank you cards. It was totally "jawsome!"

{A "Jawsome" Photo Prop!}

For the main course, it was a build-your-own-shark-sandwich bar. I had found a 3-piece cookie cutter set on clearance at Walmart for $2.50 a few month ago. It included a shark, a dolphin (which I have not yet used), and a fish. The shark was too big for regular sandwich bread, but I was able to fit it onto a tortilla twice. Then, I bought turkey from the deli and used the shark cutter on that. The deli cheese was too small for me to use the shark cutter, so instead, I made lots of cheese fish. This way, people could build their sandwiches however they liked, and using tortillas was pretty smart because there was less waste than if I had used bread.

{Build-a-Shark-Sandwich Platter}

The shark watermelon turned out very well and made a huge impact. It wasn't too difficult, but it was pretty messy. It took around 45 minutes to carve, which is deceptively longer than the short YouTube video where I found the directions. I then used this website for backup since I could only watch the video so many times before getting frustrated by the lack of information. Anyway, I would probably make another carved watermelon again because it was worth it. It just might not be for everyone!

{This toothy fellow put in an appearance.}

I also served grapes, colorful Goldfish crackers, and the new Goldfish Puffs, which were kind of like fish-shaped cheese balls. All of that was simple and very kid-friendly. For the beverage, I mixed up some lemonade and added a few drops of neon blue food coloring. It was obviously a teensy bit green-ish, but the idea of ocean water was clear and nobody complained.

The Cake:
I had originally though to make a cute shark-shaped cake like this one, but then I decided to go easy on myself and just make cupcakes for the kids. (I always make the kids' birthday cakes because I am way too cheap to pay someone else to do it!) Cupcakes were perfect, anyway, since they are pre-portioned and you don't need plates or forks, which makes it easy for kids' parties.

I made a double-batch of my favorite white cake and included some blue food coloring in the batter. Then, I mixed up some buttercream frosting, which I also tinted blue. I baked the cupcakes in some blue and white chevron cupcake liners that I found at Michaels (Note: This is a good resource for inexpensive decorative cupcake liners. They are often in the $1 section, and when those go on clearance, it's a super deal!) because I thought this was reminiscent of both waves and shark teeth.

To top off the cupcakes, I added a gummi shark to each. These came from Meijer and I had gotten them on sale, two packages for $5. (I used more than one package, but less than two to top all 24 cupcakes.)

{They taste as good as they look.}

I don't usually buy disposable plates or cups for parties, so we just used our IKEA plates and cups. I did, however, pick up a package of blue napkins from Dollar Tree and stamp them with sharks to customize them for this party. Simple, cheap, and totally necessary!

{It's so easy to customize napkins for any theme!}

While this party did not cost tons of money, I did start begin making things about 3 weeks in advance, starting with my shark photo-prop. Overall, I was pleased with how things turned out. I had one very happy little boy, and I think all of his friends enjoyed his "jawsome" party, too!

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