A Very Bunny Birthday Theme
Maelle is at an age where she knows exactly what she wants. Months in advance she told me she wanted a bunny birthday. This wasn't shocking as she loves all animals, but especially rabbits. It meant, however, that I would be organizing another at-home birthday party which I wasn't particularly keen on. But, children are only little for so long, and the magic of youth won't last forever. Therefore, while it's still special for my kids, I will (within limits) try to pull off the theme of their dreams. This particular theme posed challenges in that bunnies aren't a very common birthday theme. Finding anything in stores proved to be a fruitless endeavour. I instead turned to the trusty World Wide Web and ordered anything rabbit specific well in advance.
I love using Evite.com for all of my invitations. They have a great selection of free styles and the site makes keeping track of RSVPs a breeze. With everything in one place it is simple to send reminders, group message guests of any changes, and set up notifications when guests view invites. It tells you how many people are coming and allows you to create an email bank so you don't have to search for addresses year after year. I can't recommend this site enough.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of bunny themed decor on the internet. I based the party colour palette on a bunny banner that I was able to snag; I ran with a purple, yellow, and green decor theme and kept it minimal, letting the activities be the main feature of the party.
I bought all of the general decorations from the dollar store. There were purple and yellow table cloths, purple plates, number 4 balloons, and a number 4 candle. I had leftover cups and cutlery from previous parties which saved us a few dollars. I bought the wood crates displayed on the food table at the dollar store and they were the perfect addition to create a rustic "farm" feature. As an added bonus, I will be able to reuse and repurpose the crates for future activities.
The feature wall on our outdoor privacy screen consisted of a happy birthday sign and number 4 balloon from the Dollar Tree. The bunny banner, bunny garland, and the flower decorations were from Party City. I wanted to keep the rustic, simplistic theme and this feature wall was just enough to make it festive without being over the top both in budget and style. It was the perfect backdrop for pictures, had just enough space for us to all eat and a great gathering point for the party goers to sing Happy Birthday.
The party was from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM so I made sure to let parents know that lunch would be provided.
This year, I opted to serve sandwich platters which I ordered through Safeway. I wasn't aware that Safeway even did custom orders and was pleasantly surprised by their selection, prices, and the quality of the food. You can pick food up as early as 8:00 AM making it a simple task to complete well before any guests show up. We opted for the following platters:
- Classic Tea Sandwiches (Large): sliced chicken breast, roast beef, ham, egg and chicken salad served on fresh sliced white and whole wheat sandwich bread. Served with jumbo pitted olives and dill pickles.
- Family Celebration (Medium): A perfect tray for all ages: ham and cheddar, chicken and cheddar, peanut butter and jelly, fluffernutter sandwiches, and finished off with slices of cheese, celery, carrots and grapes.
- Rice Paper Wraps (Large): We substituted wheat-based wraps with rice paper to create three delicious wraps—roasted turkey, roast beef and black forest ham—each combined with roasted red pepper hummus and served with grape vine leaves filled with rice and garnished with carrots.
Of course there was way too much food, but, I'd rather have too much than too little. Note to my future self, don't order so damn much!
The rest of the sides and snacks served were bought from Costco.
- Bread with spinach dip: Costco bundles 2 baguettes together and also sells 2 packages of spinach dip together. This was a crowd favourite and the 2 loaves were gone by the end of the party.
- Meat, cheese, and crackers board: All items were purchased separately and assembled at home. The trio of sausages were delicious and a huge hit with the adults. The cheese came pre-sliced and packaged making it a great time saver.
- Tortilla chips with artichoke dip: La Terra Fina Spinach, Artichoke, and Parmasean dip is the best dip/spread I have ever had! I would highly recommend giving it a try. It is also great with vegetables.
- Vegetable tray
- Fruit tray
- Munchies original snack mix
- Juice boxes
- 2 take 10 coffee packs from Tim Hortons: A party essential because, where there are parents, there should also be coffee. Not much more than cup was left by the end of the party so it was well worth it.
My sister, Krista, went above and beyond in the dessert department. She followed 2 recipes from her favourite baking blogger, Smitten Kitchen.
- Peaches and cream cake with a buttercream with sour cream frosting: This cake was so good. The peaches made the cake moist and the buttercream (with a twist) was the perfect amount of sweetness to balance the peaches and give it that unique, but classic, peaches and cream flavour. Both the adults and kids alike devoured this cake. The recipe was split into 2 separate cakes - one 9x13' double layer cake which was decorated with Maelle's favourite coloured sprinkles and a second, adorable bunny shaped cake that had Maelle on cloud 9.
- Fudgy chocolate sheet cake with a classic chocolate Italian meringue recipe: The cupcakes were delicious but the showstopper was the icing. It was nearly impossible to stop licking the leftovers in the bowl! My sister iced them to look like dirt with carrots poking out. They tied the whole theme together and were simply charming! Unlike a lot of cakes consumed at parties, both the frosting and cake were eaten by the kids which speaks volumes about the taste of the actual cake.
I approach organizing the kids' birthday parties similar to how I set up my Kindergarten class for centre/activity time. I have a variety of different activities available to interest the children and different stations that promote different skill sets.
- Bouncy castle: We were lucky enough to be gifted a former next door neighbour's bouncy castle. They live next to my parents in Steveston, BC, and their kids are now in high school so they happily handed it down to us. Bouncy castles are always a hit and this one was no different. I think every child ventured in at least once, some staying a lot longer than others, and all of them having an equally awesome time.
- Water balloons: Kids go crazy for water balloons. Now, with the easy fill "Bunch O Balloons" it is an absolute breeze filling up 350 of them!
- Play structure: We have a playhouse which our kids love. The party guests were also happy to get out their energy and especially loved climbing to the top with water balloons to hurl down at innocent bystanders.
- Orbeez/Water beads: This is a great way to hold the attention of a bunch of kids for an extended period of time. The children loved filling cups and scooping the beads into different containers. This product provides a sensory experience like no other and the feeling is a bit addicting if I do say so myself.
- Bunny mask making: I ordered these through the Oriental Trading website. They were affordable and a great activity to calm little bodies and engage their creative sides. Plus, what parent doesn't appreciate the added benefit of some fine motor activities. Win, win!
- Bunny necklaces: Speaking of fine motor activities, beading is great way to work those little finger muscles. Oriental Trading comes through again with a super affordable and simple activity.
- Bunny bank painting: I also order these from the Oriental Trading website. They were an absolute hit. Every kid went to the station to paint their own bunny bank. We put out water colour paint pucks in a muffin tin, along with water and paint brushes, and let the kids go at it. They turned out so cute and each one was an original work of art!
- Bunnies: The main attraction of the party was, of course, the bunnies. We "rented" them for an hour through a local farm. There were 8 bunnies in total. Now, I'm not going to lie, the bunnies were not cheap. In order to make sure that the bunnies were not a waste of money, I checked with parents prior to the party to ensure that the date and time we were choosing would be possible for most of them to attend. With firm numbers in advance, I was able to make the decision to finalize the rental and, in the end, I'm thankful I did. The young lady who came was kind, good with kids, set up, supervised, and cleaned up quickly and efficiently. The kids had a blast. Every child visited and the entire hour was utilized by the guests. Maelle loved it and the smile on her face alone was enough to make it worth it.
As always, I try to make favours something the kids can use in the future. This year worked perfectly because I used the entertainment as the thank you gifts. Each kid got to take home their bunny bank, bunny necklaces, and bunny masks, and I threw in some smarties and bunny gummies as treats.
Special thank you to the husband, who did absolutely none of the planning and instead let my crazy, over the top ideas become a reality. He took on the role of my assistant; setting up, picking up food and coffee, and generally taking direction like a boss (not always his strong suit). Also, thank you to my mom and dad who were there to set up and also refill food, watch the kids, and make sure all of the activities were monitored. Of course, endless thanks to Auntie Krista for being on dessert duty and also helping with the setup. Finally, thank you to Uncle Christoph for being on Linden duty for almost the entire party (including feeding him and putting him down for his nap). He has become a mischievous little man so it is no easy task chasing him around. It wouldn't have been the same without all of your support!