[UPDATE:All links to all templates and tutorials now up!]
Side note: This post is pretty delayed, as explained here in this post. But its a post Ive been wanting to share for so long, hopefully inspire anyone who’s looking for party ideas.And now with my girl’s birthday looming, I thought the timing is pretty fitting
So Im pretty much a sucker for party planning, particularly a kiddies party. Because kids know how to have fun! Always so open to the new experience – no matter how slow or shy they are to open up at first. The more colourful, sillier, active and inclusive it is for them, the better…So I know I can put in the effort, and be assured that it will be enjoyed.
Even more so for the birthday person in question, when I know it’s a theme they’re totally into right at the time. Like when my eldest daughter turned three in 2014, and was nuts about Dora the Explorer. Like really, really into it.
Im talking about consulting Map throughout playtime. Map just knows where everything is,right? And Backpack was just the shiz when it came to anything we might need on our adventure in the backyard. (He’s like a Sports Billy bag, for those not in the Dora-know). And poor Whiskey(our dog) was Swiper the fox on more than one occasion.
So having a Dora the explorer theme for her birthday party was no-brainer. And I really wanted to have the vibrant fiesta-explorer vibe to it that Dora so beautifully encapsulates. So colors , colours,colours, vibrant colors, is what I was after. And since doing the whole house was just going to end up crazy-expenso, I had focus areas instead:
1. The invites
2. Entrance/welcome area
3. Food table
4. Cake table
5. Kiddies table ( I don’t normally do table and chairs for kiddies
this age, because they hardly even sit much at a party, but realised my kid was conditioned by school to have that setup, and very likely the rest of the kids her age are too. So we went with it.
What I did not focus on, much to my huge regret, was a photographer. Like no one. Not a soul. Not even a buddy. There was just me and my little phone, where I randomly remembered to take a few shots in between playing hostess. This is mistake I vowed to never make again. So unfortunately, there are no awesome shots to share with you, Im afraid. Something I’ve clearly not gotten over. But this post is all about the ideas, here people. 😉 So lets get started!
So I had two versions of this: the hand delivered version and the electronic copy version. Because somehow I cant just buy the freagin’ invites in the shop and use them. No, for some inexplicable reason, I must find a way to make things a little trickier, and up the effort-requirement on all things in life. Because life isn’t hard enough.Right?
Jokes aside, I really just like personalised things. Also, all too often I don’t find things that match up to the way it looks in my head. (Also a reason why I don’t often go clothes shopping) So I drew a template for this little sucker right here:
That’s Backpack. And the Map you see there, nicely rolled up and sticking out on the side, is the actual invite. (A printed out version of the electronic one)
Yes, this took some pain staking time to make, and I often lost my lus to finish making them, along with my will to live in the midst of it all…Hence, I only hand delivered five. But if you’ve got the stamina to make ’em yourself, I’ve been so kind as to share the template with you here. Now, am I not just so nice? Eh!;)
The electronic version was easier. Not easy. But easier. You see, I don’t have photo shop. Or any cool software that would have made light of my job. But long story short, here is the one I used. And to once more re-iterate how nice and awesome I am (ah-hem), click here for that template.
This is great way to get the kiddy guests psyched for what they are in for the moment they enter, and really helps set the tone for the party. Especially for a fiesta kind of setting, I think it totally sparks happy thoughts and party vibes.
I used balloons *large colourful ones and one big Dora one) that I sourced from King Cake, along with:
1. Tissue paper pom-poms (Made by my super- duper creative friend, Olivia of Perfectly Normal Life.)
2. Estrella cookies (Star) as part of their take-home stash. It was meant for take-home, however I had one cute little muchkin of a guest who couldn’t help but go back for more throughout the party. I totally took it as a compliment, and am so glad she enjoyed it! This is why I make extras!(and try desperately to keep my hubby from eating those extras) For a how-to, go to that post here.
3. Table cloth– colourful and vibrant Dora plastic cloth. Totally re-usable, which is a great thing as little sister seems to be following suit on the Dora-fan vibes. King Cake, Merry Pack and Funky Bananas all stocked these table cloths, at round about the same price.
4. Party packs were made to look like Backpack. Now, whilst I had every intention of adding straps to these packs to make it really look like Backpack. I had to be realistic, though. Often physically shaking the idea out my head: there was no way I was going to get it all done in time. I have not yet mastered time travel. I’ll let you know when I have. These took time, but I was happy with the end-result.
Also, they came out terrible on film..Like, really uncool. But in real-life they totally looked like Backpack. My girls are my litmus sticks: If they can immediately recognize who or what Ive just made, then my work here is done! 🙂
The party pack’s “thank you” free printable labels I found over at Measured By Heart.
I sourced the the paper bags from Merry Pak – if you haven’t heard of them, climb out from under that rock, and go enjoy some seriously awesome prices on stationary, party and catering goods to name a few. They really are awesome, and you may have to pry yourself out of there, as they have so much to see and choose from.
I found the Backpack face template through Google, however, I had to painstakingly colour it in myself. ( I have no photoshop nor any other fancy software to help me with that) So, if you’re like me, then to save you all that wrist-slitting work, and because Im such a doll, here is a link to that already-coloured in template, ready for you to use! You’re welcome!
I tried to Dora-fy everything in the party pack too, even the Smarties- thanks to cupcake toppers found over here.
Sorry, I didn’t manage to capture any shots of how nicely the welcome area was all pulled together.
This was the adult area, so I felt no need to get all frilly here, but wanted to keep the vibrance still there. A large Dora balloon, some handmade pompoms and a sign of “Tico’s Taco Bar”, with Tico posing next to it did the trick. (Not pictured)
Since Dora is essentially Mexican, I served up Mexican food. Or kinda. You see, it was supposed to be tacos and spicy mince and fajita spiced chicken, hence “Tico’s Taco Bar”, along with chicken and nachos. But due to time, it ended up being roti and spicy mince and fajita spiced chicken –bringing the south African twist to it. And the chicken and nachos were still chicken and nachos….Except I forgot to put it on the table. How dof can one get?! Needless to say we had nachos for dinner and breakfast.
And of course there were the stock standard pies and samoosas, etc.
Ahhh, the true highlight of any party for me, is normally this table.Whilst my cake is not the prettiest I’ve made, it was the most colourful. And as long as my little one got the idea of what was happening there- fantastic. It’s a total cake win for me! Yay.
I figured things are pretty loopy in Dora world, so I might as well stay away from normal in the cake. The fact that I made this cake after midnight, with little sleep prior to that, during a stressful time at work and worked well into 2 am the morning, should explain a lot of the slap-dashery in the making of this cake.
It was essentially Dora and Boots on an adventure in the greens somewhere with crocodiles lurking somewhere. Dora almost always has crocodiles lurking somewhere, have you noticed? And a volcano. So I added a pink volcano (Gooey Geyzer?) spewing estrella’s. And then went to bed, because who knew what other crap I would end up putting on there.
The fact that it was a rainbow cake on the inside, saved it from total-loser-dome.I think. For the recipe, or if not just for a good giggle, as to how I totally NAILED it(hahaha), go see here.
Mike’s aunt made come cupcakes in really loud colors – perfect for Dora.
My mom too added her diving cupcakes to the mix, and we topped them all off with some cute toppers that I found over at Measured By Heart and here and sooo many other sites you could Google. I have to say, I may have gone overboard with the amount toppers. In fact,my lounge may have been mistaken for a sweatshop by three wonderful buddies who came the night before to cut, paste and setup…All after a gruelling day at the office- how lucky am I to have friends like that?! (Still SO grateful , ladies!)
The kids table
This was the pièce de résistance . Well, not really. But it was really colourful and festive and I think totally brought the look together.
I used Funky Bananas for the hiring of table and chairs, banners, table cloths and photoboard all for a pretty decent price.
And lastly, but definitely not leastly is the true pièce de résistance of te party, in my humble opinion was the Backpack and map that each kid received.
It was part of the party games, but it totally added a nice touch to the kiddy table decor. I was going to have a serepate explorer table where the kids could grab their gear once Swiper the fox signalled the start of the games. But I fell in love my buddy’s idea instead, during setup the night before.
These babies really took time and dedication to finish up. All the meticulous hand work that went in to it….I kept thinking, geeez, I need to get back into ass-kicking again, Im spending waaaay too much time doing these soft and cute things…Nothing wrong with soft ‘n cute crafts, don’t get me wrong…I love it…but Im truly missing the balance these days…But that’s another blog post entirely.
I had two versions of these. The fabric painted one and the cut and paste one. To see the how-to, check it out over here.
And that cute little map peeking out over there? Don’t worry, not hand made. Im not that much of a sucker. The free printable template for Map on the outside (what you see there) can easily found on the Nickelodeon site over here. Along with many of the other Dora templates. To see what I did on the inside for the actual map that the kids used, check it out over here.(watch this space)
We didn’t have too many games, just three to get the explorer vibe going, but oh were they SO enjoyed! Also made it quick and simple, as kids were of varying ages, and their attention spans were different.
For Dora party game ideas, and how we incorporated Backpack, Map, Swiper and all the Estrella’s into these 3 games, check it over here.
We finished off with a traditonal fiesta activity of piñata, which all the kids totally enjoyed. Ok except the kids that didn’t get a chance to hit…Was a little ruined by one kid who totally ignored the rules and went for it on the poor donkey. But fortunately my nephew came to the rescue and managed to put the donkey together again for further violent attacks by little people armed with sticks.
Yes, a little scary. Pinata tip: Just make sure you have everyone’s attention and that everyone stands clear. Including adults. No one is safe from a stick wielding kid who plans to the moer the bejeezuz out of a donkey to get the sweets. No one.
Our girl had a blast, not even the rain could stop her from enjoying herself. And her happiness was so infectious, she even managed to convince other kids who were about iffy about the rain, to just go all in!
So, much to my satisfaction, every other kid there enjoyed themselves too!
There is always such warm and magic vibe when we have our friends and family over. They’re all so special, and the reason we could never cut down on that guest list.