Before you get too excited, let me make clear I do not do DIY. I will never ever do Homes Under the Hammer (which I love!) or Changing Rooms or any such thing. Painting a wall bores me in about 2 seconds and I’m not to be trusted near any tools with teeth.
However, I am a craft loving woman who has married a craft loving family. This year we decided to throw our daughter a birthday party, invite all her class and (rather foolhardily) do a lot of it ourselves. It was fun! I had spent large amounts of Summer with the kiddo watching Art Attack and the brilliant Art Zooka so I was ready! The party theme was “Wild Animals”.
We went into creative overdrive!
1. Invitations: Homemade using MS Publisher. I have never used it before so not only was I creating an invite, I was also learning a skill. I was amazed at how much clip art has improved since I last used it. Result!
2. I made a pinata following some instructions from Pinata Boy. My first attempt using a punch ball and flour paste collapsed sadly overnight. So I tried again with a normal balloon and Art Attack glue (=PVA and water in equal parts) and used the Pinataboy tip of covering the whole thing in paper first. All in all I made 4 layers of paper/glue before covering it with white streamers cut up using my recycling scissors and some decorative touches. At the party, it was so tough the kids couldn’t break it and Mr Plummy Mummy had to smash it with his boot. This lead to a massive scramble for the contents by the kids and lots of tears from my kiddo who didn’t want to see the thing broken.
3. Food – Mini cakes. With some Betty Crocker icing. Kids never seem to finish cakes at a party so I thought these mini cakes would be best. Ended up making so many that each kid got 2 each and the parents had a few ….just to taste you understand!
As someone who teaches healthy eating as a living, I had to have fruit at the party. These were in the form of fruit kebabs, the sticks of which we stuck into a hollowed out watermelon shell. Some kids ate them, some had loads and some had none. I love the kid that had loads!
4. Photo booth. This was the most fun. Photo booth props can be expensive. We had a large frame lying around as the glass had broken in a housemove. I got hold of a cheap Gangnum style poster from ToysRUs and some wallpaper lining to make a picture for the other side. My husband attached the side wood and a base so it would stand. In doing so, he managed to near saw his finger off. Poor guy.
I was pretty proud of my naiive Hello Kitty painting on wallpaper lining…and am now totally in love with acrylic painting! Not many kids used it at the party but the ones that did looked very cute. The great thing is we still have the structure and can just update it with new pictures when we want.
My mother in law and sister in law also made some photo booth props. Sadly, these were hardly used by the kids. I wonder if at the age of 6 they were too young to understand the concept. They even left all the face masks that we provided for them to decorate despite spending ages nicely colouring them in.
4. Safari man! Hubby made some binoculars from some 2 litre soda bottles. He also wanted a giant net where my dubious sewing skills paled in comparison to his engineering know how to make it stay upright! My daughter is now short one hula hoop but again, it was worth it. The kids loved both his props.
5. There were loads of other homemade things – a game my mother in law came along with where she printed off lots of animals and the kids had to find their animal mates plus a simple obstacle course hubby and I devised using cones from Tiger, Tiger and some tunnels and boxes from Ikea. He even recruited help from work in getting people to save the milk bottle caps that we used as part of the game.
It wasn’t all home made though. For the second half we had some lovely Cool Creatures come along and the kids had a go at touching meerkats, a hedgehog, a skunk(!!!!), a skink (lizard with a blue tongue) and snakes. I went running away at this point as snakes made my skin crawl but the kids were amazing especially when it came to the very long albino python.
Not everything went to plan. We started late so we didn’t play all the games we planned. Not all the kids wanted to do the dancing game (perhaps they are too young for the Birdy song?). One child refused to join in with ANYTHING (grrrrrrrrrrr). The music wasn’t loud enough – we had it at sensible levels compared to the eardrum smashing levels that I have heard at other kids’ parties. We didn’t put enough chairs out so had to scramble when it came time for the food, the hall was hot so there were not enough drinks for the kids and then a lot of the food was not eaten. And finally, the animal man took time to go around with his creatures which would have worked better with fewer kids as many of them got bored.
However, despite all that and our running around like headless chickens – I think seeing my gorgeous girl bravely handle all the animals and only have one meltdown during the whole party means it was a success. I am also confident that I will not be repeating the experience for at least another 15 years!