A Zoo-Themed First Birthday Party
Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! Throw your little animal-lover a zoo-themed first birthday party they're sure to roar with approval over.
Photo Credit: Less Ordinary Designs
Set the Mood
Give guests a peek at what they can expect at the party. Simply decorate a blank note card with an elephant stamp and write in the party details, or go for an animal-themed, customized printable invitation like this one from Less Ordinary Designs.
Make a Banner
Your baby is a year old—show him off! You’ll need card stock, animal-themed wrapping paper, a hole punch, ribbon, a glue stick, clothing pins, and photos of your child. Cut card stock into triangles and tie together with ribbon, as shown. Then paste on strips of wrapping paper. Finally, use clothespins to attach pics of your little beast.
Forget tablecloths…there are no tablecloths at the zoo! Instead, turn your tables into cute cages for stuffed animals. Start with streamers in a color of your choice, cut to the height of your table, and tape to the top using removable painter’s tape so it doesn’t leave marks. Grab some of your child’s fine-feathered friends and scatter them around. Invite kids to crawl in or free a buddy from the “zoo.”
Finger Food Fun
No one likes to stand around at a party waiting to be fed—especially little critters. Have easy finger foods on hand such as diced bananas, sliced grapes, and graham crackers. Also fun if you’re having toddlers at the party, too: simple sandwiches of bread and butter, tuna or turkey formed into animal shapes with cookie cutters.
Photo Credit: Simple Mom
Feed the Adults
Everyone does fruit trays and veggies and dip; try something unexpected like these Greek Salad Skewers from Simple Bites. They’re bright, cheery, and add color to your décor. Just toss cubes of feta with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of dried thyme, then thread each short skewer with an olive, cucumber round, cherry tomato and last, a square of feta so it stands. The best part? They’re healthy and easy to share with little ones.
One-year-olds may excel at babbling but they’re not so good at small talk—so better have something for them to do. Even babies can make zoo animal tracks with plastic animals, washable paint, and colored paper. String up a few feet of an animal-print ribbon, hang the prints on it to dry, and voila! You have a drying rack and party decoration all in one.
Animal tracks might keep the sippy-cup crowd entertained, but if you have little guests old enough to wield safety scissors, try a fun craft like this paper plate tiger. All you need are paper plates, orange paint, black paper, wiggly eyes, scissors, and glue sticks. It will keep kids busy creating instead of sneaking a taste of those cupcakes you slaved over.
Keep The Cooties Away
Simple straw buddies, made ahead of time, help prevent germs from escaping from their owners. Just place an animal-shape cookie cutter on top of card stock, trace a pencil around it, cut, and tape onto straws. Leave a stack by the beverages with a marker so everyone knows what to do.
You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to make zoo animal cupcakes; try these fondant beauties from Chica and Jo. No worries, they’re easier than they look—you use pre-made fondant, and free downloadable patterns. Your party crowd might just roar with appreciation!
Stock The Bathroom
Being a good host means being prepared for anything, and when there are lots of babies that means having extra diapering supplies on hand. Fill an easy basket or two and place in bathrooms. Don’t forget to add a note attached to some bakers twine so it’s obvious the diapers are free to use.
Forget loot bags and consider book bags. Pick up a zoo-themed picture book like Touch and Feel Petting Zoo by Jeanne K. Grierser and pop them into goody bags. Tots will love looking at them on the way home as they crash from the party high, and parents will appreciate the addition to their bookcase. Bonus good deed: make a donation to a local animal shelter, and enclose notes saying you did so.
"Hand" Written Thank-Yous
Everyone’s baby is a genius, but you’ve probably never met a one-year-old who can write a thank-you note. Instead, trace your baby’s hand on the inside of a card for a truly personal note. Use a giraffe stamp to match your theme or pick up a box of animal thank you cards. Got lots of cards to send? Trace your baby’s hand on a piece of construction paper, cut it out, and use that as a stencil for the other notes.
Allison McDonald is the mom and former preschool teacher behind the popular early learning blog No Time For Flash Cards. She lives in a yellow farmhouse outside of Seattle with her son, daughter and husband Jason.
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