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I started planning my son's 4th birthday party about 3 weeks beforehand because I was trying to decide on a theme. After days of indecision, I finally decided to do the shark party.
First on my agenda were the invitations. I decided to send an online invitation, via Pingg. I found an old photo of my son sitting on a fake shark, from when we went to the shark exhibit at the "Aquarium of the Pacific" last year. I uploaded it into Picasa and edited it by adding the white shark silhouettes and the "You're Invited!" lettering in "scary" shark font, which were available in Picasa. Then, I uploaded the finalized photo into "Pingg", and then updated the party info.
Our house is small and to have a ton of guests in our house takes a bit of planning. I'd set up different "stations" around the house because I knew our guests had to be spread out, simply because we didn't have enough chairs in one area. I used the entire ground floor of our house, including the front patio and the attached garage. In the dining room, I covered the table with paper and made it a coloring station, complete with crayons and markers, and had printed out shark-themed coloring pages. I Googled "shark-themed coloring pages" and tried to pick out the most friendly-looking shark coloring pages. I didn't want to scare any of the kids! I also had an ocean scene foam activity kit set out for the kids to use.
The living room wall was papered with this great ocean scene that I picked up at Joann's Fabrics, in the "teacher department".
We had set up some play areas out in the garage, as well. My hubby put up blue tarps on the sides of the garage to simulate being “under the sea”.
We set up the old playhouse/slide set in the garage, and I had a bucket of helmets, knee and elbow pads and orange cones set out near the garage door opening and had bikes, scooters, skateboards and roller skates set out for the kids to play with, in the alley. I recruited some of the parents to bring extra bikes, helmets, etc, to ensure we had enough.
I love pennant banners, but I didn't think they would look good as decoration for a shark party, so I racked my brain and thought I could make a triangular-shaped pennant banner that looked like sharks. These are what I came up with.
"Beware of Sharks" Signs:
I found these signs on line, and though they were originally created for a shark/scuba party, I thought they'd be cute for a plain ol' shark party, so here's what I came up with:
I used royalty-free shark clipart, my Keynote software (PowerPoint or Word or Pages would work, too), and Picasa for the font, and then printed them out on yellow cardstock. Drove down to my local Home Depot and found some wood scraps in the scrap bin for 50¢ (not 50¢ each, but 50¢ for ALL OF THEM - score!) for the stakes, adhered the printed signs with a glue stick to cardboard, then used my hot glue gun to attach the signs to the wood stakes. I put a sign out near the street to direct the arriving party goers, and then put the rest here and there along the driveway, so they could follow the signs to the house.
Wearable Shark Fins:
This was one of the ideas that I came across while researching shark parties on the internet when I couldn't decide on the theme. These shark fins really cemented the party them idea. I thought they were SO CUTE! I made my own and I was so happy that they actually stood up on their own!! I was nervous that they were going to fall to the side. Some of the adults wore them, too!
Shark Party Hats:
Shark party hats!! How brilliant! I really loved this idea! This is the original photo I saw while searching for ideas online. Plus, bonus: the blog posting came with a tutorial! I picked up some party hats at Party City, then set to work. The kids LOVED them and scrambled to put them on when we gathered around for the cake.
The Shark Cut Out:
What's a party without a shark cut-out? I thought of my carpenter neighbor/artist, and decided to ask if he could recreate a cut-out shark and HE DID!! In a matter of HOURS!! Here is the shark prop that my amazing neighbor made. Are you kidding me right now?? My jaw was literally dropped to the ground. For HOURS. I kept going over to look at it, again and again. I couldn't believe how amazing it was and how skilled my neighbor is!!!! And what a great guy to take time out of his day to help make my son's party amazing! And I love how the cut out was a decoration, and photo prop and a game! I immediately set out to make "chum" bean bags so we could play "Feed the Shark"during the party.
The only issue was that it was the night before the party and I had NO RED CLOTH!!! I frantically searched my tablecloth supply. No red tablecloth. I checked my towels. Nope. I even checked my clothes. Nothing suitable. Then I'd remembered that I'd dressed up as a "podium girl" a couple of years ago for Halloween. This particular "podium girl" was the Tour de France "King of the Mountains" podium girl, who wears a white dress with red polka dots. I'd taken a white tank top and a white skirt, then attached red cloth circles to the entire outfit. I dug up the costume and immediately started taking off all of the dots. A trip to the store for some "beans" to fill the bags with, and a few minutes later, I had these. Pre-cut circles, from red terry cloth. Supplies: red cloth circles, glue gun, measuring cup, "beans", funnel. Sandwich two circles together, then apply glue most of the way around one of the circles, leaving about an inch for the opening. Using the funnel add the "beans", filling about 3/4 full. Hot glue circle closed. Voila!
I created a "Feed the Shark" game sign; again using royalty free shark clipart and font from Picasa, printed it on a piece of 8x10 cardstock and taped it to an old paint bucket and the game was ready to go!
The Shark Watermelon:
Then I also wanted to make a shark watermelon, but yet again I was running out of time, so I recruited my neighbor again to carve it for us. It came out fabulously and the birthday boy loved it:
Ah, yes. The cake. I came across this terrific candy coated cake, with a little tiny shark on it. It was perfect! My son just LOVES candy. What 4-year-old doesn't? I ended up making this "aquarium" cake and cupcakes; complete with gummy sharks! Here's my version.
I think I got a little heavy handed with my version, but the fact that it was decorated with candy, especially gummy sharks, sold me on the idea! Christian's been known to go a full day on nothing but candy. I of course used my Gramma Jewel's Red Earth Cake recipe, and used the Sprinkles Vanilla Buttercream frosting recipe. I ended up tinting my frosting blue, to simulate water, but I do like the white frosting version, as well. I made a cupcake for each child with the candy, and then also some cupcakes without candy for the adults who didn't want crunchy things in their cake.
Shark Party Favors:
Before each child went home, they got to fish their own party favor out of a bucket with a Huck Finn type fishing pole, that (again) my neighbor put together. The party favors were shark squirt guns, soft shark bath squirters and a couple of shark loofahs. I made the shark party favor tags to match the signs and tied them on with some gray and silver string. I put a zip-tie loop on each favor, so that the kids could hook the fishing hook into the loop and pull it out of the bucket.
I think everyone had a good time and the best part was that I wasn't running around with my head cut off this year!
All in all, it was a successful party and I think all of the kids had fun. I'm sort of glad I ran out of time on all these things, because it forced me to make things simpler, easier and to delegate and recruit help. Thank you to everyone who helped me to make this party so spectacular!
Everyone who was wearing a shark fin and a shark party hat!
Activities / Games
Feed the shark chum toss, shark-themed coloring pages, variety of bikes and ride-on toys and a mini-slide.
Shark squirt guns and shark bathtub squirters
When we yelled "surprise!" when my son walked into the door.
What People Ate
Shark fin shaped (bread cut into triangles) tuna fish sandwiches,
What People Drank
Shark chum strawberry lemonade
Most Touching Moment
When my son's birthday wish was, "I wish my mommy could stay home with me always!"
When my son was opening a present in front of all of his guests, and said, "Hang on, let me get my scissors!"