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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monkey Party

My little sweetheart turned 6 yesterday - so big! Seriously, I can't believe how OLD she seems lately. It's kind of a bitter-sweet realization. But still a big reason to celebrate.
Kaitlyn had requested a Monkey Party, which at first seemed hard to put together. Turns out, it doesn't take much to make a big impact and to keep 9 little girls (plus my 2 year old) happily entertained for an hour and a half.

-I enlarged, printed and colored a couple of monkeys (really cute ones from Dustin Pike). One for the front door to welcome the guests, and the other was hanging from the "tree" (brown butcher paper I had crumpled for the trunk, and large green paper leaves) I attached to the wall
-vines hanging from the ceiling. These were made from paper leaves attached to green yarn. I used 3 lengths of yarn to make it a little thicker.

The table:
-I bought a couple packages of Zoo Pals plates and cups. I separated out the jungle type animals and saved the rest for later (can we say Farm Party?).
-the centerpieces were misc Monkey type items I had collected from the dollar bins, along with some bananas, and a few balloons.
The food:
I kept it simple with monkey cupcakes (I also took some of these cupcakes to school), bananas, and lemonade. I found the instructions for the cupcake here, but they're fairly simple. You use lg vanilla wafers for the nose, smaller wafers for the ears, M&Ms for the eyes, and do the nostrils and mouth with frosting.
I also (it's one of my traditions) make a more elaborate cake that is used for decoration at the kids' party and eaten later at the cake and ice cream party we have with the grandparents. For the cake I used my Animal Crackers pan (from Wilton) and followed these instructions to turn it into a monkey.

The favors:
(I'll have to find a close up photo of the bags, I took one earlier but need to take a little time and figure out what file I put it in - too lazy to do it now :) )
-I used brown paper bags, turned down the top edge and threaded some blue ribbon through it. I shrunk an image of the invitations and added it, along with each child's name to the bag.
-inside the bag I put some Curious George notepads and some monkey stickers (both from the dollar section at Target)
-the bags were then used to hold their craft items, and to collect the rest of the favors when the pinata was broken. The pinata held some monkey erasers (3 for $1 at Michael's), jungle animal pencils (6/$1 at Target), banana flavor Laffy Taffy, and Nerds (because Kaitlyn loves them, and they were in the same bag of Halloween candy that the Laffy Taffy came in).

The activities:
-when the children first arrived, I had them color jungle animal magnets. (pkg of 3/$1 at JoAnn's)
-then they made "binoculars" with toilet paper tubes and decorated them with crayons and monkey stickers
-we then used the binoculars to go on an animal safari. I had hidden pictures of animals all over the house (really great resource for these was National Geographic Kids website. You can print out a photo of the animal, along with some fun facts about each animal)
-once the animals were all found, the kids took turns acting like the animals while the rest of the guests tried to guess what animal it was. In order to have enough animals for each guest to find at least 2 I had to use some pretty obscure animals, so at times we resorted to giving hints on the hard ones (anyone know what kind of sound a meerkat makes??). The kids LOVED this game.
-more animal charades while we waited for everyone to finish eating
-pinata time. I know - scary to blindfold a bunch of little girls and give them a stick but Kaitlyn's idea of a party isn't complete without a pinata. So we grit our teeth and hope for the best. We didn't break anything. And I (the blindfold putter-on-er) only got hit once.
-and that was the end of the party. It went by SO quickly. I even had a couple more activities planned but didn't have to use them because the kids enjoyed the animal game so much. Care to know what the other games were? Ok. I was going to do a monkey toss (using Barrel of Monkeys monkeys), a Monkey See Monkey Do game...and a third one that I can't remember right now. Good thing I didn't have to use it huh?

And that, my dears, is how you throw a Monkey Party! What, oh what, will she come up with for next year?? My guess is I will find out sometime in the next week or so... :)

*update (12/20/09): this post featured over at Somewhat Simple