I’m not “lion” when I say that there is no better way to pull off a party than family style. With a theme like jungle safari, there’s no monkeying around…well, maybe a little bit.
What Do I Mean By Family Style?
I am a visual learner and I can do almost anything if I can see it. I am not one to usually create ideas out of thin air; I need help with that. That’s why God put us in families. For those of you who don’t happen to have 6 monkeys like me, friends can be the family you choose. Putting a party like this together is a group effort and I just happen to be surrounded by some amazing people. I love to provide opportunities to pull that creativity out when it comes to having a party.
Being a detailed person, I like to start with an idea and let it evolve by rallying my little adventurers and brainstorming together. Most things, at any party we put on, are a result of scanning Pinterest boards, searching Youtube videos, or asking around. I take a little of this and a little of that to form the vision for the project, pull together all the talents and gifts around me, and then set my zoo to work in areas that they choose.
Big Parties…Momentous Occasions
Let me start by prefacing the fact that we don’t have huge parties like this every year. What are you nuts? That would make me bananas. With 6 kids, I’d be a full-time party planner. We still celebrate birthdays every year with family and maybe a few close friends, but on a much smaller scale. Normally, kids enjoy breakfast in bed if they want, they get to choose their birthday dinner and dessert, and whether or not they want a present or an experience for their birthday. Big-themed birthdays happen on momentous birthdays like the 5th. I don’t know where this decision came from, it is just what we decided. You can do a big themed party at any age and every year if you want, I just wanted to make it clear that my life is not all about planning parties year-round. Big celebrations are special, but everything is worthy of celebration.
Delegate and Unleash the Creativity
Mom, you are amazing. Everyone knows it, but the best thing we can do for those around us is to impart all our brilliance by involving the whole family in the process. Learn to delegate and make this a family affair. Gone are the days of just mom doing all of the work, arriving exhausted at the party, serving single-handedly, and leading up the cleanup crew of me, myself, and I. No way! This is just as much a party for you as it is for everyone else. The party starts in the months previous when all the gathering, planning, and preparing are going on. As a result, the culmination is just the final act, the celebration of all the fun you have had preparing. Furthermore, this is about tapping into what is inside and modeling the joys of serving and loving on purpose.
This is not just a party. It is a celebration and I love to watch the other children working hard on making their sibling’s birthday so special. What are we celebrating? The goodness of God! If you are having a party for a King, how would you celebrate? Each little life God has placed in your care is a reflection of the King and a reason to celebrate. It doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny, in fact, finding out cost-effective ways to have a party is part of the fun. It is all about unleashing what is inside collectively as a family and really letting the creativity flow. Life is worth celebrating…every detail.
Safari Party Favors & Decorations
We set the stage by transforming the whole backyard into a jungle safari. From a tiki torch-lined driveway to burlap-covered tables and cardboard cutout safari animals, guests were transported to a jungle safari paradise. A jungle safari playlist, with its wild animal sounds and tribal beat, roared in the background setting the stage for a complete sensory overload.
Safari Ball Jar Tumblers
These pint-sized ball jars were super fun and festive. I loved the idea that everyone had a glass with their name on it and there would be less landfill. They also added to the decor. Using a hot glue gun, I glued burlap ribbon around and then hot glued a coordinating safari ribbon on top of that. I just purchased a few spools of ribbon at the craft store and then finished them off with a sticker to write their name. I popped in a bamboo straw and…voila!
Upon arriving, guests were given a set of binoculars and a safari hat. The binoculars were made from pool noodles found at the dollar store in several fun colors. I cut them into binocular sizes and wrapped them together in various safari duct tape designs such as cheetah, zebra, leopard, peacock, and giraffe. A loop of burlap twine was fitted into the tape to form the strap. The children (of all ages) loved playing with these.
Animal Plate Favors
We purchased some adorable safari stencils on Etsy to create special “It’s My Birthday” plates for each family. Truthfully, I am not sure I would do these again, at least not on a plate. In hindsight, I think it would have been a better idea to use the stencils on a small square canvas to give as a gift. The idea was to give each family a special birthday plate of their own. The paint was baked in a low-temperature oven to preserve the painted image, but it didn’t last as long as we had hoped. We could have found a little better use of our time. Back to the drawing board on that one.
Animal Safari Cardboard Cutouts
This project blew me away as I was unaware of how talented my children were at painting. I discovered I had a family of budding artists. You never know what gifts your children possess unless you give them opportunities to explore. Their art abilities exploded after this party as they discovered their inner artists.
We gathered large refrigerator and appliance boxes from local stores that didn’t need the boxes. We just roughly traced out each animal and cut out the design and the children went to work coloring in all the details. Shout out to my mother-in-law for her amazing crafting gifts and patient love in working with the kids.
Safari Party Food
The cool thing about the menu for this party was that the only recipe I used was for the cake. Everything else came together easily just by adding some fun safari-themed names on miniature chalkboards. I wanted to keep the menu simple and keep the cost down so we did organic hot dogs over the backyard bonfire and the rest were snack foods (on the healthy side of course).
The punch was Get Naked’s Green Machine juice purchased in bulk at Costco, but you could do any recipe or color. Keep it 100% juice. We don’t need to load our kids down with artificial colors or sweeteners when there are so many beautiful colors available in nature. This party punch looks yummy.
Safari Party Games
Pin the Tail on the Elephant
This was just a spin-off of the old classic, Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Each child is blindfolded and spun around 3 times and set in the direction of the elephant where they have one opportunity to place the elephant’s tail…without feeling around.
Do you have any starving artists among you needing some extra practice? Face painting is always a hit with children and it doesn’t take too much to get down to about 4-5 designs kids can choose from. Some face paint kits include stencils or designs in a booklet. You can find face paint palettes at your local craft store or on Amazon.
Hide n’ Seek Treasure Stones (aka Elephant Dung)
Who doesn’t like to play hide n’ seek? Hiding homemade elephant dung all around the property for our young jungle explorers to discover and inspect was really the cherry on top of the party. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. With only a few ingredients you most likely already have around the house, you can turn everyday flour and coffee grounds into mounds of giggles and hidden treasures.
By mixing flour, salt, sand, and coffee grounds together into a ball and hiding a small treasure inside, these Treasure Stones can be formed into anything from elephant droppings to horse dung (for a cowboy party). Scattered all over, the children delighted in searching out the property next to trees or under bushes to find their treasures.
Treasure Stones are hard on the outside, yet easily break open to display the treasure inside. Because the stones bake at such a low temperature, they are protected from melting inside the biscuits. Some common items you can hide inside them are:
- toy rings or necklaces
- toy cars
- little plastic animals
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup used coffee grounds
- 1/2 cup table salt
- 1/4 cup sand (you can use coarse cornmeal if you are in a pinch)
- 3/4 cup water
- small toys such as plastic rings, coins, little plastic safari animals, etc.
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Add all your dry ingredients and then slowly add in your water making sure to keep a firm but moldable consistency. If the dough is too wet, add more flour or sand. The dough should be firm.
- Break off pieces and roll into balls. Add a toy in the middle and slightly flatten to look like a smooshed ball. It should resemble elephant dung.
- Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper and dust with flour. Bake for 45 minutes and allow to cool before hiding.
No worries about toys melting inside the Treasure Stones. The temperature is so low and they are protected inside the mounds. Recipe can be doubled or tripled depending on how many explorers you have.
Thanks to Family & Friends
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- Safari Print Duck Tape – I purchased several patterns and prints including zebra, cheetah, leapord, peacock, and giraffe.
- Jungle Safari Party Plates, Napkins, and cups
- Bamboo Drinking Straws
- Burlap Table Covers and Ribbon
- Safari Animal Stencils were purchased on Etsy
- Cardboard for animals gathered from local appliance stores