Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A "Very Hungry Caterpillar" birthday party.

(With SOOOO many pictures.)

I decided on Garrett's first birthday party theme back in March. Yes, he was 6 months old. One of my most favorite books as a child was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". I think it was the colors and the holes in the pages that made me love it. Needless to say, Garrett has been read this book quite a few times. He seems to enjoy it too.
So that was the theme.

Randomly, right after I decided that, my brother and sister in law came to visit and we had to run to Target for something. Laura, (my SIL) saw a clearance section FULL of hungry caterpillar party supplies all for 75% off. I stocked up! I got dinner plates, dessert plates, napkins, table clothes, cups, stickers, party favor bags, and invitations. And for CHEAP! I'd found some online and if I'd ordered them, I would have easily spent 5 or 6 times what I did at Target.
I didn't actually work on party details for 6 months straight, just here and there when I'd think of a fun idea. The party was a huge success, and I didn't miss any details. And I did it all very inexpensively. I found a lot of creative ideas and money saving tips online. So here's my version for anyone looking for fun, easy, cheap party ideas.

The decorations:

I made a ton of stuff on my cricut, and had just about all I needed on hand, so I considered it nearly free! I cut green and red circles for the centerpieces and cut the faces free-hand from card stock. I saved and washed cans as we'd eat vegis and soup, put a chunk of floral foam in each can (dollar store, and a dollars worth was enough for 10 cans), copied the polka dot page right out of the book on our color printer, and wrapped it around each can. Glued each caterpillar to two 6" skewers that I had on hand, stuck one in each can, and stuffed the top with red paper shred (any craft store or gift wrap section at the grocery store). The cute fabric squares of all the food the caterpillar ate through was found just a couple days before the party at an amazing fabric store my MIL took me to called M&L. They had a whole line of caterpillar stuff. I could have gone crazy, but I was done planning. My MIL bought the fabric, just for a last minute touch, and it was perfect!
The "Happy Birthday Garrett" was all made on my cricut.
The most expensive part of all the decor was getting the 12 monthly pics printed, (and that was less than 2 dollars). Glued each one to a fun color of card stock, and clipped them to a ribbon. I got the little clothes pins and the labels that I wrote the months on in the clearance bin at Michael's. 12 clips and 12 labels all for $1.20.
Actually the most expensive decor was the balloon caterpillar. About 80 cents a balloon, but I couldn't resist. (And Grandma Greenhalgh bought them.) So cute!
The dessert:

I love candy. And I think candy is a fun way to decorate. So whenever I think of some fun candy to go with a theme, I almost always go overboard. The, "but he was still hungry..." candy station turned out adorable. The sign was made also by copying pages from the book and cutting the letters on my cricut, free and free. I had all the glass jars on hand from my wedding, but you can find them for really cheap at hobby lobby (wait for a 50% off sale, which is just about all the time), Goodwill (DI), and the dollar store even has some fun sizes/shapes of glass jars. We had Runts (for the fruit he ate through), Caterpillar Food (Nerds), Beautiful Butterflies (gummy butterflies), Hungry Caterpillars (sour gummy caterpillars), gumballs, rainbow fruit licorice, pixy stix, and M&M's, -just for all the fun colors. Also, lollipops (he ate through one of those, too). I found the most colorful ones for really cheap on Amazon. But Party City, and Michael's sell cute ones now too, in the wedding sections. And I made marshmallow pops. A sucker stick in a mallow, dipped in melted milk chocolate, then dipped in sprinkles.
I think my favorite part of the candy table was the cake! I made one 5" (i think 5") cake, and a couple dozen cupcakes. Frosted the big one red and the rest green. I made the face and the feet with colored white melting chocolate. And I loved how it turned out, it made me so happy that it worked how I planned!
The games/activities:

I bought bean bag toss (in the outdoor game section). You can find it anywhere, Target, Walmart, etc. for less than 20 bucks. I bought 2 poster board and free hand painted the fruit and copied the caterpillars from the book. Cut the posters in the shape of the boards from the game and just taped them on. They turned out super cute considering it was a pretty 'not sure what I'm doing' idea. I bought a bunch of 10-25 cent prizes and had them in a bucket by the game.
We also had a cookie frosting station. This was a huge hit for the kids ages 3-8. They loved being creative. I found butterfly cookie cutters everywhere, but only found caterpillar ones on Amazon. I baked the cookies ahead of time, made four colors of frosting, and had tons of sprinkles and tiny candies to decorate with. The cookie decorating was a bigger hit than bean bag toss, but both were simple and fun.
The Food:

I tried really hard to stick with only food from the book. A couple of the items were pretty far stretches, but I was able to tie it all together in the end, and I was happy with the spread. I made little signs to put by each dish with the lines from the book, and then what the food really was.
We had ham and cheddar, and turkey and provolone sandwiches. (He ate through salami and swiss.) PB&J for the picky kiddos. I cut them in fourths, then poked a hole in each one with a straw. (The caterpillar ate through them!) Green salad and dressing. (He ate through a leaf.) Pickles and watermelon, he ate through those, too. Deviled eggs on a bed of lettuce. (A tiny egg lay on a leaf) Little Smokies, (he ate through a sausage). Jello cups for all the fruit he ate through. (Lemon, grape mixed with about a half a cup of cool whip while it was still liquid, it just makes it a little cloudy and yummy, lime made the same way, orange with canned mandarin oranges, also put them in when its liquid, and strawberry with fresh bananas. I poured them each in a pan so the jello was about an inch thick, when it was set up, I cut it all into about 1 inch cubes, then put a cube or two of each in these cute tiny clear cups (found at BevMo), a dab of cool whip, and a mini gummy worm, (found at World Market). They were so cute and a really big hit! Then, one of my favorite parts, caterpillar kabobs. I used 6" skewers, put 5 green grapes on each one with a strawberry on the end. They turned out really cute. And the bags of chips were the only thing that I didn't somehow tie into the theme, but we just needed some chips to go with the unique meal. :)
For drinks we had bottled soda in ice, Root beer, grape, orange, and strawberry. Also, strawberry lemonade, and water.
Whew! That's a lot of details. But I loved doing it!

The party was so fun. (I gotta be honest, I was a little worried when I came up with the idea that we'd have no friends here in California to invite) But we had about 35 people show up and it was perfect! I think everyone had a really great time. Garrett's Grandma White sewed a "1" on a onesie from hungry caterpillar fabric, and a caterpillar on his bum. What a cutie!
He LOVED the jello and we just let him go at it, he also had a PBJ and watermelon.
I made him his own little cake with a frosting lollipop and a caterpillar on it.He got lots of great gifts. Books, games, toys, clothes, and some gift cards, all perfect for this new age/phase of life he's entered. (His little sis got some gifts too! We're really blessed with loving and generous people in our lives out here.)
Everyone seemed to have fun, and I couldn't have asked for it to go any better.
Can't believe he's ONE! My baby is not so much a baby anymore.


Dana said...

You are incredible.
I love this party, it is SOOO cute!!!!
We miss you guys, wish our little men could be besties!

ErinandShane said...

Holy Caterpillar Batman! This is awesome. I hope you're REALLY proud of yourself, personally I feel a little jealous at how perfect your theme was with all your decor. AWESOME

Sarah Knight said...

It was sooooooo fun Andrea! I loved every little detail! To be honest I missed half of the detail at the party so reading this was so fun! You are so creative! I had a blast and I'm so glad Garrett did too! You are an awesome mommy! I can't wait to see what you come up with 2.0 first birthday (I know..long ways off)!

Crystal said...

Wowza. You are amazing. I love that idea for a party. Don't you love going all out for a party and NOT spending too much. I did a carnival party for my daughter's 4th, all out, but very inexpensive. Way to go Momma. IMPRESSIVE!!!

Christy said...

Looking up ideas for my daughter's 1st Birthday party and found your site! This is amazing!! Great job! I will definitely be using some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing :)