Who wants to go on an animal safari? My son turning 3 does! When I asked him months before his birthday what type of party he wanted this year he did not hesitate to say an animal party. Over the months I thought the then 2 year old might wane and change his mind, but he didn’t. So the theme stuck!
But what exactly did an animal party mean? Farm animals, reptile animals, dinosaur animals? Nope. He wanted zoo animals. Cool. I can work with that!
This was not a milestone birthday, so we knew we were only going to have close family invited. I created a quick invite and emailed it out. Nothing fancy and low cost. I could have even skipped the invite and just sent a text, but creating the invite is part of planning and theme development for me.
Picking a date is sometimes a challenge since there are always so many other things going on! This time around, his birthday fell on Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving). The struggle, or my considerations, included the fact that we had all just spent the entire day together for Thanksgiving, and Black Friday is either a day of relaxation or shopping. So with that in mind, we had his party on that Saturday.
Usually, the weekend after Thanksgiving is when we start to get out the Christmas decoration. Not this year. A jungle party included wild animals – elephants, monkeys, and tigers – out in the lush, green jungle. Not camels and reds and greens.
I knew that I could borrow and use animals we already had. For the entry way foyer, I created a zoo like atmosphere by using the child sized stuffed animals we owned, a few wrapped boxes, and vines I made. I easily made a sign for guests to view as they entered saying “Welcome to Brady’s Wild and Three Birthday Safari”. The boxes were wrapped with the brown wrapping paper you can get outside of Home Depot. On those I wrote “Beware” and “Don’t feed the Animals”. I cut and twisted brown paper shopping bags into vines and added construction paper leaf cut outs to complete the look. With the stuffed elephant, monkey and giraffe, it made for a great entry way and photo backdrop.
In the dining room, I used large balloons to anchor and flank windows, and large leafs as a table runner. I made a back drop of green with two different shades of streamers. It made for a nice “Happy Birthday” cake backdrop.
The other area where I focus on decorating is where we normally open up presents which is in the family room in front of the fireplace. I ordered a banner and green pom-pom garland. Since this was is third birthday, I added pictures from each year of his life. One picture that I just liked, and one of him holding a balloon on his birthday. It was something I saw others do as a tradition and one that I want to maintain! He was a stinker though this year to try to get that photo, so we’ll see how long I can keep it up!
In other areas, I actually used just normal, colorful, Happy Birthday decorations. It may not have been tied to the jungle part of the theme, but certainly to the birthday part of it!
I most certainly was not going to be serving turkey and stuffing! But what do they eat in the jungle? I honestly tried to look this up. I think they eat certain types of rice and greens. It may not have been traditional fare, but serving tacos was as close as I was going to get! I had all the fixings to make fajitas, tacos, or a salad. We had sliced beef and chicken. My husband had recently gotten a deer so there was also venison ground taco beef. To save on having to cook, we ordered rice from Chipotle.
To better tie in the theme we had Tiger Tails (cheesy puffs), Peanuts for Elephants, Snake Pit (gummy worms), Crocodile Teeth (Bugles), and Zebra Cakes (Little Debbie Zebra Cakes). I had a “Watering Hole” that included other beverages but most importantly there was Jungle Juice (Squeeze Its) for the kids.
I like to think that I’m a good cook and baker. I enjoy trying new recipes and techniques. What I enjoy most about birthday cakes is the joy and memory it makes for my kids. My son talked about his 2nd birthday cake for a year! How was I going to make this one as cool? I did a few layers tall, with jungle green frosting and topped it with a few favorite animals.
Since he was in Pre-K 3, he also got to celebrate his birthday at school! As the birthday boy, he got to bring in a treat bag for each kid to take home. I had the most fun with this! I had the larger sized lunch bags that I filled with an animal mask, animal stamp, stickers and a box of animal crackers. Amazon made this easy since they had a kit ready to purchase.
To see these and other party favorites, check out my Pinterest board.