19 November 2017

"Under the Sea" Birthday Party

Sarah's request for her 11th birthday party this year was a mermaid/under the sea-themed celebration. Our children's birthday parties tend to be a bit unusual in that we don't tend to have a very targeted guest list--this party had both boys and girls, guests as young as 4 and and some nearly 50, with a whole bunch of teenagers as well.

It can sometimes complicate things to try to plan a party that will have something for everyone. Of course, the one thing that appeals to everybody is food, so we started off with a whole bunch of on-theme dishes. Because most of the guests at this party were 17 and under, we erred more heavily on the side of fun snacks than on actual hearty cooked dishes.

Sand dollar inspired sugar cookies

Seaweed snacks are super popular here--these were the first to disappear!

Odds are, a good percentage of our guests would eat real octopi or squid if offered, but we took the easy route and cut up hot dogs to look like octopi

"Sea Foam Punch" out of blue Mountain Dew (the only blue drink we could find!), Sprite, crushed pineapple, and lime sherbet.

"Fisherman's Pie" was really Shepherd's Pie...with goldfish sprinkled on top.

And can't forget our veggies!

We also had popcorn, cupcakes, an assortment of fish-shaped candies and crackers, tunafish sandwiches (another extremely popular item that went fast--who would have thought?!), and apple cinnamon tea, which has nothing to do with the theme but is very delicious.

The house was an explosion of sea-related decor--on a low budget, as always. Fabric from bedsheets or old dresses covered up normal household items. The TV table was transformed into a treasure chest with scattered coins from Sarah's coin collection and pom-pom jellyfish hung from the walls. MaryGrace did most of the decor work and as always, I'm impressed with what you can accomplish with colorful paper and random stuff from around the house. Living on an island, the girls have amassed a collection of treasured shells, beach rocks, and sand dollars over the years, so those were scattered on various tables for atmosphere.

Of course, at any party, fashion matters. Angel wore his Ariel t-shirt in honor of the theme. I refashioned Sarah's dress out of an old skirt belonging to MaryGrace, by cutting and re-sewing the skirt to make it narrower, and adding straps made from the extra material. The real exciting fashionable addition were the hairstyles. I'm not sure what, if anything, glittery hair has to do with mermaids, but MaryGrace had seen glitter roots on the internet, and a birthday party is as good of a time as any to paint your hair with glitter. Angel's hair gel was donated to the cause, and I mixed in glitter and painted it on Sarah's roots after braiding her hair.

This was a first time experiment, but I was very impressed with how well the glitter application stays in and I'm sure these girls will find more reasons to need glittery hairstyles in the future.

Of course, no party is any party at all without games. First up, after eating, we played a game I'd heard of on the internet--a "Mermaid Race" of sorts where the racers have to step into trash bags, get their knees taped together, and then "swim" their way across the floor to reach a prize--in our case, a candy bar.

This was very hilarious. Pro trip: When you're the game master, always choose the games that will be funniest for you to watch.

Next up, was the game that no party is complete without (if you ask Angel, anyways): a piñata. 

I had told MaryGrace that I didn't think we had the time necessary to make one before the day of the party, but she took that as a challenge and whipped one up. Here, if you want a piñata, you have to go the old-fashioned route and get out your newspaper, flour and water, because there's no option to buy one. Look on the bright side, it saves money when you have no option other than to DIY.

All adults worked hard on enforcing the traditional rules:
1. Youngest player gets to hit first, oldest last.
2. Must be blindfolded.
3. Must stop swinging the wooden lightsaber when we say "stop"
4. All observers must stand FAR AWAY in order to be out of the danger zone

This is always a scary game for adults. This was one tough piñata. After each kid and teen had two turns for a go at the piñata, we let Angel get a turn and within 2 or 3 hits candy was raining down.

After that, the last game of the evening was Ocean-themed charades. Everyone got involved in this game--I had some more difficult cards and some easier ones so that all ages could be challenged to play. Everything from seahorse to shipwreck to pirate to pufferfish to sea cucumber (that one was possibly the funniest).

Cleaning up was a group effort--it takes the whole family to set up and take down these celebrations in the apartment, but the fun is well worth the effort. My little sister was talking not too long ago about how she sees the act of hosting a party as an opportunity to serve others generously--to give guests a chance to make memories and have an evening of fun and good food. That's what makes it worth the effort involved--the chance to see how much fun everyone gets to have spending time together. Our birthday parties are maybe a bit odd--we didn't even sing happy birthday or have a birthday cake at this one, but they're a tradition we really enjoy.

And now my baby sister is eleven. How could that possibly be?
Anonymous said...

That looks like it was so much fun! I love everything about it.
Miss you all!

mypixieblog said...

Awww this looks like so much fun!!! I love the fisherman’s pie and all of your adorable decorations. Also the hair dye!! Happiest birthday to your little sis; she looks so much like you!

Kay R. said...

So many cute details! Looks so fun :)

Beth (Coffee Until Cocktails) said...

What a fun theme for a birthday party! It looks like she absolutely loved it! She looks so much like you too!
The Beth Next Door

Flavia said...

Lovely! Wonderful ideas and details matching the theme! Sea cucumber. Right!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Aw, you did a great job on the party. I'm loving those sand dollar cookies. How cute! And the glittery hair is adorable.


Brita Long said...

What a fun party! I love everything, from the food to the glittery hair.

Susannah said...

What fun!!! I want to come to your parties. ;-)

Midnight Cowgirl said...

What a fun party! Glitter braids are a must :)

AnneMarie said...

That party looks amazing!!! Those sand dollar cookies especially look spectacular, but it all looks and sounds so fantastic. What a fun theme! I appreciate that you guys include party games, because I think games of some kind are necessary for any party, but now that I"m an adult, lots of parties I've gone to don't have any games and it's just kind of unexciting. Games are great :)

Unknown said...

Loved themed birthday parties, and all the clever names on the snacks/dishes. By the way, the glitter braids are awesome!

Anonymous said...

What a fun party idea! Your decorations are beautiful and the food... Fisherman's pie, sea cucumber slices and crab legs are so clever!

Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad said...

This looks like such a great party! I am a particular fan of the glittery hair and the themed foods. I also love your little sister's motto about parties being a way to bless others. She is so wise.

I am currently planning my niece's 1st birthday and scouring pinterest for (savoury) food ideas for a wild animal themed party. Any ideas?!

Jenny Evans said...

Looks like a fun party! I like your tip about choosing games based on how fun they will be for you to watch. At my 6 year old's dog-themed birthday party, the girls were running all over the house for a scavenger hunt and I told them to bark like crazy every time they found a clue. It was hilarious.