Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Play it again, Mama: How to Throw a Curious George Birthday Party

When I set out to throw my 4 year old son a monkey party, I had no idea what I was looking for. He's just at the right age where I wanted to incorporate the theme as much as possible, and yet he's too young to really plan a lot of cooperative games. So this one took a bit of creativity.
Planning did however get a bit easier when N suddenly decided we weren't just having a monkey party, but a Curious George party. Now there's something I can roll with. But how do you keep a 4 year old character party from breaking the bank? That's what I set out to discover. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
1. We made our own invitations. A picture of N in his Monkey costume from Halloween, some sale scrapbook paper, and I was on my way.
2. I calculated how many kids would attend and even recognize Curious George. If they were 2 and up, I had character plates and cups for them. If they were any younger or over 13, it was plain yellow and red plates and cups. Plus I bought all the solid color party supplies at the Dollar Tree. Along with an array of colored balloons. The balloons were great party decor and each of the guests took one home as well.
3. We have a trampoline and although I was nervous, it turned out ok. There always seemed to be one adult nearby to watch the kids and break up any rough housing. Additionally, we borrowed a small bounce house from a friend that attends our church. Don't be afraid to exchange services and equipment with other families. This can cut down on your cost drastically. Just be the type of family that other people want to share with.
4. Another thought on keeping these elements under control: Print out a sign with your character and label the activities "2 Monkeys" (or however many you are comfortable). Many preschoolers are used to seeing similar signs in school deliniating how many friends can use an activity at a time.
5. We planned the party for early afternoon, after lunch, but still early enough that party guests could take a late nap afterwards. This drastically cut our food costs as we only served a few chips and salsa, and cake and ice cream. Quick, simple, affordable. Additionally, we avoided the costly soda, and served ice water and juice at the party. I did some research an other foods that monkeys eat are fruit salad and nuts, maybe popcorn. Depends on your budget and ambition.
6. We kept the guest list short. We have a small house and a small yard. And every one of Big Boy's friends has a younger sibling. That adds up fast. So I invited four of his closest friends and their younger siblings, and all pertinant family members (grandparents, and aunts and uncles). That's it. Most of the guests came from church. Since I knew I'd be taking a special snack to his class during the week, I felt that could be his time to celebrate with classmates without my having to invite 15-20 more kids.
7. We make cute little Thank You cards (I'll share these some time next week) and will be mailing them out with our Christmas cards this year. This doesn't work for everyone, but with a middle of October birthday, I figure it's not too late to send out Thank You's at the end of November. Save a stamp or two.

That's about it. There's plenty of resources on the web to help you plan with games for older kids. But this year we kept it simple and all the kids seemed to love it. A little music playing in the background and plenty of time for parents to visit. We had a great time.

Party favors waiting for the guests.
Plain paper bags decorated with monkey stickers and labeled "Monkey Munch." Warning: this is a VERY dangerous recipe to have.
We filled snack size baggies inside for the guests to take home with them.

Curious George masks waiting for the party guests
I printed these off the internet and purchased elastic jewelry cord from Walmart. I measured the length of the cord on my children and labeled them (BK=Big kid and LK=Little Kid). After knotting the end of the cord, I sealed it with a tiny bit of clear fingernail polish to secure it.
So cute!

Scenes from the party table
I found that buying locally, the initial cost of supplies was higher, but I saved drastically over Amazon on the shipping. Only thing I couldn't get was the stickers I wanted.

Plastic Bananas hanging from twine in our backyard tree.
Cheap unexpected party decor.

Big Boy with his Curious George cake (by Grandma).
My mom used the Wilton's 3-D Bear cake pan and transformed it into a monkey with a chenili stem tail.
Grandma's a whiz with cakes so we've saved the cost of buying a cake each year.
Grandparents are often willing to volunteers services and time.

Two friends wearing their Curious George masks

Big Boy riding his bike after the friends have gone home.

Other ideas we had (some I wasn't brave enough to try):
*George says
*Pin the Banana in George's hand
*Cover an outside way with butcher paper and let the guests paint with washable paint
(Apparently George likes to draw on the walls)

Further Curious George/Monkey Party Resources:
Curious George Birthday Party-- the most extensive resource I found. Great ideas!

Curious George Mask--This is a great mask. It's the one we used and sooo cute.

Curious George Parties--Great ideas for the preschool set. Very practical!

Monkey Birthday party--Great game ideas!

Monkey Cupcakes--super cute cupcakes that we didn't use, but I would love to try sometime. Our preschool wouldn't allow sweets, but this is what I had planned on making.

For more Works for Me ideas, check out We Are THAT Family.


amy & lisa said...

Oh I love Curious George! When my daughter was in high school she had a collection of monkeys and Curious George was a big part of that collection. :)
I love your monkey munch...how cute, and bananas hanging from the tree...what a cool idea! Looks like it was a fun party!! Great job!

mo said...

Hi. We are throwing a Curious George themed party for my son. What local stores might carry this stuff? I have looked all over. We live near Wal-Mart, Target and Dollar stores. Even our Party City said we have to go online. The only thing I saw remotely close was Curious George cups (the old cartoon, not the PBS animated version) and they were sold separately not in a pack. Just wondered if there was a store I hadn't thought to check. Thanks!

Lee said...

I did have to go online to find the party supplies. I think "Birthday Express." ??? It wasn't easy to find. I know Walmart carries the plastic cups now in the PBS version. But they're all sold separately and run about 88 cents a piece. Best of luck! I wish the Curious George was more widely available. I guess it has something to do with copyright issues.

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