Welcome to the Squirrel, Bird, Butterfly Party Experience!
This year was a big step for us. Almost all of my daughter's American friends have left Bella Italia. So, when it came time to figure out who to invite to her 5th birthday party she was pretty clear about wanting to invite her friends from school...there are 28 in her class. We settled on the park near her school.
My first challenge was creating the invitations. I borrowed a clever idea from an invitation my son had brought home and made the invitation using the child's name with a little "si" or "no" boxes to check in place of RSVP. This kept me off the telephone, and gave me some idea of how many children would be there, I find it extremely difficult to understand Italian over the phone.
The second challenge was the weather. The first Saturday after her actual day of birth was right in the middle of a very rainy weather streak. So we fortunately postponed the party for a week. This concept was a little hard for a recently turned 5 year old to grasp, but we managed. When the party day finally rolled around the weather was PERFECT FOR A PARTY!
We arrived at the park about an hour before the party to set up and decorate! We kept the decorations fairly simple with lots of colorful balloons and our well loved Birthday Banner that we have used for 4 years now! For each birthday I add a new piece to the banner with the child's hand print and the age stitched onto the hand print.
Baby Girl helped create a few fun games for her party. The first game we played was "Fly the Bird Home." Which was essentially a bean bag...well actually it was rice....toss game. An IKEA box proved to be the perfect shape and size for a tree. I cut a hole in the tree and painted a quick trunk and sky. Baby Girl cut out leaves to decorate the tree. I cut out a butterfly, which she was more than happy to color and add to the sky. I sewed three bags out of bird fabric for the "birds." I told the children, in my best Italian, that the birds wanted to fly home to the tree. The children then took turns tossing the birds into the hole in the tree. This was a big hit at the party, especially among the boys, some played more than 10 times!
Our next game was "Give the Squirrel a New Colored Tail." I drew a tail-less squirrel in a tree. My son said it looked evil, and I didn't disagree, but once Baby Girl was finished with the coloring and the decorating, the picture as a whole was certainly more cute than evil squirrel. She added ants, butterflies, a bird, a bee, a small owl, the sun and some clouds.
The game began with a brown tail taped to the squirrel. Again, in my best Italian, I told the children the squirrel wanted a new tail, one with some color! I removed the brown tail and one by one blind folded the children, and they got to try to add a new colored tail to the squirrel.
Yes, it is essentially pin the tail on the squirrel....but isn't a little story more fun! Again this was a big hit, we even had some of the older siblings wanting to play! And as you can see it was a very colorful squirrel in the end.
Our final game was "Help the Bird Take the Eggs to the Nest." I placed a big pile of plastic Easter eggs on the ground several meters from the "nest" (a large round basket). I gave the kids plastic spoons and told them to help the bird move the eggs to the nest, but they couldn't touch the eggs. The kids loved this and took the task at hand very seriously. There was no real organization to the game. All the kids had spoons and they all worked at taking the big pile of eggs to the same nest. It turned out to be a great game for this age group, no waiting for a turn and completely cooperative. Once all the eggs were moved all the bird helpers were all "rewarded" with gummy worms.
I also used the gummy worms in one of the snacks we served. We had a fairly traditional Italian Birthday Party spread, with little panini (sandwiches) and different kinds of snack chips. The big hit however was the "Bird Food" I made. It consisted of roasted sunflower seeds with chocolate chips and gummy worms. This was something different! Apparently roasted sunflower seeds are not usually eaten here. "Bird Food" as enjoyed by parents and children alike.
As requested by Baby Girl the Birthday Cake was a squirrel in a pink shirt.
The cake was made using a 9"x13" rectangle and a 8" round cake. The cake was made using my chocolate zucchini cake recipe, but I replaced the zucchini with pears. I left the rectangular cake whole and cut up the round cake to make the squirrel. I cut and layered pieces of the round cake until I was happy with the shape and dimensions of the little squirrel. Sticking with family tradition the frosting is cream cheese frosting. I began with a white layer of frosting just to hold all the pieces and crumbs in place. I stuck the cake in the frig for a couple of hours before adding the colored frosting. The browns were made by melting chocolate into the cream cheese frosting. The squirrel had a purple jelly bean eye and was eating half of a fresh strawberry.
Baby Girl and friends were very excited about cake!
We sang "Happy Birthday" in both Italian and English!
After the cake it was time for the PINATA! I spent more hours than I care to admit making a giant red bird pinata. Both of my children helped in the making.
How many Papas does it take to hang a pinata? Not quite as many as it takes to rehang a pinata after the hook breaks after the second child takes a swing! Opps!
|Our 5 year old taking the first swing!|
At the end of it all we had one happy 5 year old with a chocolate cake smile!
Who was more than willing to share chocolate kisses with her Mama!
...and fun was had by all.