Thursday, 26 July 2012

Is This The Best Where The Wild Things Are Birthday Party Ever? I Think So!

Are you searching for Where The Wild Things Are birthday party inspiration? 


Hunter is One!

 From the beginning I knew I wanted to host a fantastic party to celebrate my son’s first birthday. There were a few reasons for this:
  • Firstly, as a Defense Force family we get shifted about every few years. In other words, after this year we won’t have the luxury of being in such close proximity to friends and family;
  • Secondly, I love a great themed party, and I get a huge kick out of making decorations to complete the look;
  • Thirdly, Hunter’s birthday was also going to be the first time my father’s partner would be meeting my son, and I found it very emotional. Rather than succumb to the rising anxiety and sadness, I threw myself into the task. Art is a great healer, and by the time I got to hug my beautiful step mum I was able to set aside my heartache at our loss and simply enjoy Hunter’s delight at getting hugs from his Grandma; and
  • Fourth(ly?), I feel as though I could learn a few life lessons by hosting a big bash- not least of all, the ability to be an excellent hostess.
I scoured the internet for other WTWTA themed parties, looking for inspiration. I found some brilliant sites, such as those listed here, here and here. And then I got to work.

I reread Where The Wild Things Are, sketching down ideas as I turned each page. I decided I best loved the monsters, especially Moishe. As I drew him I realised what most excited me about Moishe was his beautiful coat- scales, a stripey knitted sweater and wild shaggy fur. These three textures became the basis for much of the decorations. 

The other thing I loved was the leaves- almost every page of the story is lush with greenery. Spring buds and crunchy autumn litter, the leaves inspired much of the ornamentation, and became the basis for the invites. There will soon be a separate post on the Where The Wild Things Are invitations, including a free download. Watch this space.


Cats are jerks.
Finally I realised I loved the voyage Max takes. From his suburban bedroom, across a magical sea, and then to the jungle of the Wild Things, the journey is as delightful as the tale. But how does one physically represent a journey? I decided that each room of the party would represent a different section of the story, and as guests traveled through the house they would retrace Max’s steps. 


Entering through the front door, guests step out of the ordinary world and straight into a mysterious, wild sea grown straight from the imagination of Max. Setting sail to the land of the Wild Things on a lush boat complete with sailors hat and binoculars, guests pass sea monsters on their way to the party.


My house has two separate living areas, so I made the front room into a mystical ocean, complete with boat, sea monsters and an ocean! The ocean was made of many shades of blue and green paper chain. I bought a huge pack of construction paper from officeworks for $14, and this was enough to make basically all the paper decorations for the entire party.. The boat was made of boxes salvaged from recycling bins at the back of a nearby shopping complex, and decorated in red acrylic paint and permanent marker. The sea monster was drawn and painted on MDF and cut out with a jigsaw. I completed the look with a huge pile of blue and sea-green pillows, and tried to protect the carpet by laying down blue sheets, quilt covers and blankets. I strung paper bunting across the ceiling, having scored a huge pile of old 'origami a day' calendar pages from a dear friend of mine.

 

As the guests walk to the back of the house, they find themselves in an ever growing forest- the world of the Wild Things. Following Max’s steps they are first crowned honorary kings of the Wild Things and then are free to join in the wild rumpus and explore the wild beyond. 

The first major crafty thing they stumble upon is a Moishe textured photo wall- a DIY Photobooth! Check back soon for my DIY bunting post. So many photos were taken up against this wall- although at times the place was so crowded it was near-impossible to be used as such.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Next stop is the kitchen, the wild taking over with autumn leaves and delicious snacks all around. At every gathering the kitchen becomes filled with party people, and knowing this I made autumn bunting for the area out of an old ‘origami a day’ calendar. It gives the photos a particularly festive look, making the kitchen as colourful and fun as the rest of the areas while still being functional.

 

The drinks and snacks in this room were colour themed- autumn leaf orange and wild green cordials for the kids, and a variety of beers for the adults. I bought ten of these wonderful jugs from Ikea at a flash sale one Thhursday night many years ago. Being glass they work well in all settings, and are hardy enough to be stored in a box in the cupboard between uses. The cups were my favourite part of this room- each cup sported a unique googly eye pattern. This was brilliant as the kids actually wanted to drink from the “monster mugs”, and the different eyes meant everyone could tell their cup from the others. Thank you Pinterest!

The greenery takes over as guests move to the living room at the back of the house- our biggest room and main party area. An old sheet painted a big night jungle became the backdrop for all the other greenery. The rising moon shimmered with holographic glitter, and fairy lights twinkled like stars in the twilight. The ceiling was strung with ‘vines’ made of crepe paper, and fallen paper leaves lay scattered on the floor. 


A life sized Moishe (made of MDF and acrylic paint) stood at attention by Hunter’s high chair, and around the room other smaller monsters danced a wild rumpus to the party tunes which filled the air. 

 
 

And then there was the wolf costume my mother made for Hunter. Made of white flannelette with felt claws and fur tail, the costume was absolutely brilliant. With adorable wolf ears popping up from his hood, whiskers drooping adorably against his cheek, and fluffy tail swishing across the floor Hunter was most certainly the true King Of The Wild Things as he purled around the party.


The food was themed too, with the fruit skewers having gorgeous ornamentation, fairy bread shaped like Max’s crown and cute sprays of colour on the toothpicks.



I unashamedly stole this brilliant idea from Carly's Giggle And Hoot themed party.
The Pièce de résistance was the three tier birthday cake. Each layer was based on Moishe’s coat:
  • White fondant scales;
  • Stripes of Orange, yellow and brown M&Ms;
  • Dark choc icing covered in grated chocolate; and
  • A special topper: a little baby-friendly cake (less sugar) in the shape of Max’s gold crown.
Can you tell that part of this cake is not real?
I had epic amounts of pain making the fondant for the bottom layer work, and in the end decided to cut my loses and make a fake cake. The top two layers were chocolate cake, but the bottom layer was substituted for a 10” polystyrene cake block covered in air drying modelling compound 'scales'. Once dried (the fallen ‘scales’ were glued back on using PVA glue) it was painted white, and then iced over in a sugar glaze for food safety. To make up for the lost layer, I baked cupcakes- and thank the gods I did because there was not a single piece left.
I had so much fun making all the crafty bits. Here is a photo montage of some of the prep:
 

All up this took about four months of work, not constant work mind you, but here and there, as inspiration hit I would do something else. Two nights before the party saw my mum, my brother, a girlfriend, my husband and myself painting MDF monsters and cutting out autumn leaves like a group of crazed craft maniacs, and the night before I was up until 10pm hanging vines and shooting death stares at my husband because he wanted to watch the Moto GP instead. I mean, really! The nerve! :P The morning of my sister-in-law came early to help prepare the food and at 12 the party had started.
People start to arrive...
 
I had planned for there to be both pass the parcel and pin the nose on the Moishe monster, the cake cutting and present opening, but due to there being way too many people there I was merrily waylaid by well wishers and all that happened before the official party end of 2pm came was pass the parcel, cake cutting and a whole lotta playing (everyone got into the spirit! Adults in the boat, kid throwing waves of paper, dancing, laughter) it was so much fun! 
It was much closer to 4pm when the gifts were opened, and by 9pm the last guest was gone. I did not even get to hand out the thank you treats- little boxes of Smarties with a WTWTA badge, although someone must have as there were none left by nightfall. A big thank you high-five to that gracious albeit anonymous friend!

As you can see it all got a bit out of hand, with my best laid plans lay shredded and dying on the floor, and yet somehow most everyone had a great time- especially hunter. He had the biggest smile on his face and had a sensational time playing with all the other kids and getting a thousand cuddles from all the well wishers. In the spirit of sharing, here are some of the things I have learned I do well that really help the party smooth along even when on the hosting side it's all gone craaaaaaazy, and some things I wish I had of done to ensure things didn't get as craycray as they did:
  • A big party like this simply MUST have all the decorations finished well before the night before, as the night before is when the final decorations should be in place.
  • All food that can possibly be prepared ahead of time, should be. Vegies cut into sticks, cupcakes iced, dips made, table set with bags of food in place ready to be opened, any food picks or decorations should be in place too.
  • A reliable person should be asked to help refill the drink jugs- and fully briefed on how to do so, where the ice and drink bases are as well as any special serving instructions if there are any (sugar rims, fresh fruit floats, decorations et al). 
  • An extroverted people person should be tasked with getting hot food from the oven to the table as the host/ess will almost certainly have guests to attend to. Imagine them as hired hands, and thank them profusely for their help. One of my dear girlfriends was so switched on to my hosting needs that she went ahead and served the hot food without my even needing to ask. I came running in ages later and she had already gotten them out of the oven and served them for me. What a doll!
  • Just as with drink serving, your helpful friends (aren't friends the best!) should be told of any more food in the freezer which should be heated- I ended up with 24 party pies, 12 mini quiches and a bunch of vegetarian snacks and quorn dippers left over, and found out afterwards that the little bowls of sauce had not been filled because no one knew about them, hidden out of sight as they were. Must have sucked for the guests- sucked that is until they tasted the delicious hot treats! They must have been super yum because they were wolfed down. FYI I went to a Sara Lee outlet on Blunder Road, Oxley, expecting to find great bargains on bulk hot treats, only to find that they wanted $7.99 for 12 party pies and $12.99 for 12 mini quiches, whereas Aldi sell the same amount for $3.99 and $4.99 respectively. I bought party sausage rolls, potato gems and an 'asian assortment' for gluten intolerant and vegetarian friends alike- I ate some of the mini quiches later that week and found them to be unremarkable compared to homemade, but still tasty enough for me to eat three.
  • Photos should be taken of as much of the decorations as possible prior to guests arriving. I took some brilliant photos of my craft preparation but sadly few taken of the table when fully set, or cake once frosted. Still, I was lucky that so many friends took photos of the event as it unfolded and so I send a big thank you shout out to Mum and my lil' bro, Kali, Catherine, Bec, Patience, and Michelle. You are all very dear to my heart, and I adore you.
  • Invite family to come an hour early so that those special family photos can be taken. Some gloomy Sunday many Sundays from now you will find a shoebox in a cupboard and take it down. Inside a photo: glitter in the air, happy faces shining up at you, our little family and we don't we all look so young? The candle is being blown out, and look, Hunter has the sweetest curious expression on his face! Right there, in your hands, frozen in the background a detail so sweet it swells inside your heart and blossoms in your chest like a glorious flower. These days are precious, and the photos are a lasting memento that grows more meaningful as the days go by.
  • Freeze cups of your drink (cordial/juice/softdrink) the night before, so instead of watering down your drink as it melts, it simply keeps the brew cool and topped up as the ‘ice’ melts.
  • KMart has a great selection of pass the parcel treats- check the lolly aisle for $5 plastic tubs of 'lucky dip' treats- a variety of lollies packaged in super cute ways that are perfect for this game and cheap too. I also bought a pad of monster themed stickers from a $2 shop and put a page of these in with each pass the parcel treat. The gift in the middle was a Crayola colour change pack, picked up from KMart for about $3. Remember to make the middle layer a special colour so you know when the main prize is about to be unwrapped!
  • If you love the idea of brilliant photos but aren't keen to decorate your entire house, try making a photo booth, or feature area. For example, I put Hunter's high chair in front of the painted mural and life sized Moishe monster as I knew that the cake eating was going to be my favourite part of the party.

Luke Boerdam shows Hunter how to shred at Pass The Parcel- shred wrapping paper that is!
  • Remember to prepare the music for the pass the parcel before hand. It just completely slipped my mind and so we had a whole room of expectant kids sitting there getting antsy as I messed around trying to make the xBox play a CD through the TV.
  • Have a place for smokers to smoke where the smell doesn’t waft inside and upset the delicate noses of wee babes.
  • If you have pets keep them away from the party- if you have a dog, clean up your yard before guests come, and put pup somewhere they will not be freaked out by the commotion.
  • Write down the name of the gift giver, and the gift they gave on the cards or a piece of paper- Hunter was given many brilliant, thoughtful and beautiful gifts and I have no idea where they came from. So many thank you's due to so many wonderful friends.
  • Have extra food on hand (stuff that will keep- Corn chips and salsa, lollies etc) in case you have too many guests, and only serve food you like in case you have too few.
  • Stress the importance of RSVP-ing. Also stress if it's a 'kids party' or an 'adults party' so drinkers can gear up accordingly.
  • Lots of toilet paper, handwash and a big clean towel are brilliant ideas to have at every party- even outdoor and park parties.
  • Having a space for gifts- even when you have specified to bring none because people love to buy kids stuff, and lets face it- who can blame them? :) 
Thanks for checking out my Where The Wild Things Are post,
We love wild things!
Sandi D

3 comments:

  1. great party! where did you get the backdrop that is hanging behind you all in the cake pictures?! would love to get something like that for my upcoming party....

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    Replies
    1. Hi Spec Ops,
      I hand painted it on an old bedsheet using one of the pages of the WTWTA book as inspiration. If you know someone with an overhead projector you could try doing it yourself. I didnt have to buy special fabric paint, I just used acrylic paints and a permanent marker/sharpie for outlining.

      Delete
  2. Hi! Is there any chance you would be interested in selling or renting the backdrop that you painted that is hanging behind you?

    ReplyDelete

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