Dumbo Circus Party

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My little two year old is a now a three year old–big event! JP’s been talking the last month or two about how he was going to have a Dumbo party (sometimes several times a day), so even though I wasn’t sure he totally understood what that meant, that’s exactly what we had for him.

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I decorated our sky blue walls with clouds, a stork, crows, Timothy the mouse, and flying Dumbos. I just printed coloring pages on the color paper I wanted, cut them out, and turned them over.

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It was fun to be able to use my old gumball machines that I’ve had since I was young–probably junior high. I filled them up with new gumballs, of course.

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I had in my mind that it would be fun to have a circus parade on the mantle, so I used my kids’ animals and gussied them up a little with crepe paper and ribbon for a parade.

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I used a lot of flags cut out of paper and stapled to ribbon to decorate. Most of these were from past parties, rearranged with new color patterns.

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We started out with coloring pages and a photo booth before dinner, although I wish I had done a better job with the photo booth–I forgot about it after only one picture!

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Here’s a fun one from later in the party:

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Dinner was typical circus fare: corn dogs, kettle corn, jumbo pretzels, apples with caramel, and my friend brought over a veggie tray. We also had candy circus peanuts and frosted animal cookies.

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After dinner, we headed outside for some simple carnival type games stationed around the backyard.

Ring Toss–water bottles and pool rings with clown noses and whistle lips as prizes (I got my idea for this here).

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Bullseye–a game I bought 4 and a half years ago at Hobby Lobby for Little E’s first birthday party, which was also a circus party, just not specifically a Dumbo circus party.

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Ball Toss–three wiffle balls and a stack of red cups with slide whistles as prizes (idea for this here).

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Penny Toss–the kids had to stand behind the sheet to toss the pennies in the circles.

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Fishing Hole–paper fish with safety pins scattered on a blue sheet with a small Melissa and Doug fishing pole we had from one of their puzzles.

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Balloon Darts–a bunch of small balloons taped on a piece of wrapped cardboard. Even though we used a dart with a rubber tip, I stayed by this one the whole time for fear of someone getting hurt. I sort of wished I had bought the steel tipped one because the end kept getting bent, and the kids had trouble popping the balloons–they had to throw really hard, or it would just bounce off the balloons. Despite the problems, this was the most popular game. The prizes for this one were sticky hands.

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Last of all, we had the Fish Cup game with a few toy fish inside cups with water in them. The kids threw ping pong balls in the cups, and if they could do it, they could win their very own goldfish (ok, not exactly like at a circus or carnival). I found the idea for the goldfish prize here.

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After games, we headed back in for cake!

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I had fun making this cake in different colors, but if I do this again, I need a white cake recipe that doesn’t require gently mixing an egg white mixture with the rest of the batter. I was supposed to fold it together, but I had to really stir to get the color right, which made the cake way too dense. I also put lemon filling on top of the yellow layer, which was crazy because with the weight of the other pieces on it, even with a frosting barrier, the lemon filling squished out and eventually the other layers slid off because it was so slippery.

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I completely forgot to have JP wear the Dumbo ears and collar I made him from felt, fleece (for the collar), a head band, and hot glue (my idea came from here)! He wouldn’t have worn them for long anyway–I think he got too hot. He does look so cute in them, though!

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Party favors were popcorn boxes from Hobby Lobby, swirly pops, animal cracker boxes, whistle lips, and hand clappers.

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We had a great time at our Dumbo circus party!

Elmo Party

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JP turned two and so did his friend two weeks later, so we decided to have an Elmo party for the two of them. I chose Elmo several months ago because JP loved him so much at the time, but by the time we had the party, he wasn’t as excited about him. Oh well, I think he still enjoyed his party!

I made his Elmo invitations on my Cricut. I’m glad Elmo is easy to make with simple shapes!

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I wish I were better at photography. It’s a little hard to read the words, but I tried to include lines from Sesame Street in the invitation.

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My friend made this adorable Elmo sign to welcome guests to our party:

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My Sesame Street sign, made out of cardboard and paper (and bamboo for the pole), directed guests to the food.

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Here’s the colorful spread that we had:

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My friend made the fruit and veggie platters, that we found on Pinterest. We had to have Elmo, of course:

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Here’s Oscar the Grouch, made after a picture taken by Party City:

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And Cookie Monster and Zoe, which we found from this adorable Sesame Street party. You can also kind of see the red Elmo dessert plates I put together. They look a lot like this.

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We had to serve goldfish, since that’s what Elmo would have liked, along with cookies, Cookie Monster’s favorite:

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We had pizza, making an attempt at an Elmo face on this one:

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The chocolate cupcakes were easy to make: frosted in white frosting, rolled in red or blue sprinkles, eyes piped on with more frosting and topped with a mini chocolate chip, and mini chips ahoy cookies for Cookie Monster’s mouth and half an Oreo cookie for Elmo’s mouth. My inspiration for the cupcakes was found here. I was supposed to buy jelly beans so I could use the orange ones for Elmo’s nose, but I forgot. Just as I was about to run to the store last minute, Mr. C thought of using ginger candies that we already had. I’m glad he’s a quick thinker! Since Elmo loves his crayons, I loved using crayon candles, although I thought they looked a little creepy stuck in Elmo’s and Cookie Monster’s cheeks. I also did confuse a few kids, who thought they were real crayons set on fire.

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A few more of our decorations included paper chain streamers:

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and Elmo and Cookie Monster balloons.

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We planned a few activities: a jar filled with cookies, where kids and adults were supposed to guess how many cookies were in the jar. The person who won took home a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies. We also had a Cookie Monster toss. Here is my inspiration for it–a really cute party! I just printed Cookie’s face on several pieces of paper and attached them to a box I had wrapped in black wrapping paper (I’m glad I was able to use that paper from a previous party!). I also made rectangular holes on the bottoms of the sides so kids could get the “cookies” out once they threw them in. I made the cookies from felt sewn around three bean bags I already had with little felt chocolate chips glued on.

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We planned other games, too, but really, all the kids wanted to do was go down the slide JP got for his birthday. By the way, JP is in his beloved Cookie Monster costume here, about to go backwards down the slide:

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 We gave each child a little bag filled with Crayola products, including a crayon shaped chapstick for the girls, an Elmo coloring book, and a bag of goldfish…

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…and said good-bye to all the little friends who joined us!

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Ninjago Party

Mr. C turned six years old, and when I asked him what he wanted the theme of his birthday party to be, he knew he wanted it to be Ninjago.  For those of you not familiar, they are Lego ninjas that have a tv show on Netflix. When the ninjas fight the “bad guys,” they say, “Ninja…go!!!” which, I guess, is where they got their name!

Here is the invitation with Mr. C’s eyes showing through the golden ninja on the front (which I blocked out for this picture).

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I did a lot of research on Pinterest as I usually do for parties, and I loved the idea of the party being a training session for ninja apprentices (I especially loved how this mom did it here), so that was our theme.  Here was our welcome sign on the door:

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The food counter

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We’ve done something similar with tootsie roll pops before for our superhero party, but I liked these better since they were wrapped in streamers.  I found the idea here, and the ninja eyes here.

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What’s a Japanese ninja party without fortune cookies?  Why not make them even better by dipping them in candy melts and sprinkles?

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Gummy worms made some nice “serpentine snakes” so the kids could dispose of the “bad guys.”  I found that idea from this beautiful party. I guess I forgot to take a picture, but I also had some cute rice crispy candy sushi that I had fun making.  They were modeled after the ones at this party.

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I made a pagoda, which I copied from here.  It was very easy to make with black wrapping paper (although I was sad I didn’t already have some–I don’t know what I’m going to use it for in the future) and red wrapping paper.  I cut the pieces out of cardboard first, then wrapped them.  I was thankful I hadn’t gotten rid of my borders (for the roof) from when I was an elementary teacher!  My wonderful husband drew Lloyd, the green ninja–Mr. C’s favorite–with oil pastels.  He’s now hanging (along with a lot of other party relics) on Mr. C’s wall.

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The kids had made these Chinese lanterns in church before, so I knew how easy it would be to make them.  I found a template here, printed them on colored cardstock, and the kids and I cut them out and stapled them.  It was a fun project for all of us!

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I found a lot of Ninjago parties that used black, red, and white as their major colors, and I thought it was so cute, but this year, I wanted Mr. C to be able to choose what he wanted, and he was sure that he wanted all the colors of the Ninjago characters.  I thought it turned out cute anyway!

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I saw the balloons with Ninjago eyes on a lot of sites, but this one was a good one!  I didn’t end up using her link, though, since it wasn’t high enough resolution to print (like her, I printed them at Walmart to save ink).  I ended up using this invitation instead, and just cut the eyes out.  I liked the look of them with the balloons the opposite direction better, but since I’m cheap and don’t like to buy helium filled balloons, this worked just as well.  It just made them look a little chubby.  It was funny, though–I had to put a piece of tape between the ones that were close together. Otherwise, because of the static, they would all turn to face each other.  They looked like they were all about to start fighting!

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I guess I’ve spoiled Mr. C for parties because when I had all the lanterns and balloons up, I told him that I thought I was done with the major decorations, and he was disappointed–he thought it wasn’t enough.  I had some extra streamers, though, so I guess I spoiled him some more by putting them up.  I didn’t have to buy them, and they weren’t any trouble to hang, and they satisfied him, so, oh well! Apparently a party isn’t a party without some streamers.

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I had a list of the “Ninja Training Schedule” for the day, which were our activities.  I found a lot of good activities here.  I was actually really afraid of how this party would go since it was my first one with only boys.  I was afraid they’d be wild ninjas, running around beating on each other, which is why I made a tight schedule.  They only ended up with about ten minutes of free time!

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When they first came in, I was supposed to give them a short sleeved youth sized small or medium t-shirt in the colors of Ninjago for them to tie on their heads like ninjas, but I forgot until it was time to go outside. I got this idea here along with the idea to make this photo instruction card printed at Walmart that I included in their gift boxes.

Their first activity was “Art Skills,” which was just coloring a Ninjago character while we waited for everyone to arrive.

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Next, I made a ring out of cardboard (I think it was the size of my largest bowl), covered with blue painter’s tape–believe me, you wouldn’t have wanted to see this picture–it wasn’t cute or pretty.  I hung it from a rope tied to a ceiling fan, and the kids lined up for “Star Throwing Practice,” where they had three chances to throw a homemade ninja star (made beforehand from this video) through the ring.  I wore my husband’s Vietnamese conical hat to be the Sensei.  After that, we played “Sensei Says,” which is basically Simon Says with ninja flair.  After I gave a few instructions, I let some of the kids take turns as the sensei by wearing the hat and giving the instructions.

After snacks, we all went outside (and praise God it was one of the few beautiful warm days we had this winter–last time Mr. C had a birthday, it was snowing) and played “Stealth Ninja,” which was like “Red Light, Green Light,” except they were supposed to go in a sneaky, quiet way while my back was turned, and they were supposed to freeze when I turned around.  They did freeze really well, but they didn’t do a good job being sneaky once the second round started.  After that, they just ran!

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Our next game was “Who’s a Spinmaster?”  Since Ninjago characters always spin like whirlwinds when they’re about to go into battle, we did a relay where the kids had to spin around a bat, go a little distance…

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…pick up a bouncy ball with a spoon, and carry it back to their line, which signaled the next in line to do the same.  The team that finished first won.  It worked pretty well, except they didn’t go around the bat enough times to get dizzy.  I should’ve had adults make them go around three times or so–it would have been more entertaining!  At any rate, it was entertaining for the kids.

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Then the kids played “Dodge Cannon.”  They stayed inside a circle while we moms threw balls at them to get them out.  The moms agreed that it was strangely therapeutic!  At the beginning of each game, I told the kids how each game would make them better ninjas–to make them better weapon throwers, better listeners to their sensei, more stealthy, more agile, and better spinmasters.  While we were outside, I finally let them have their ten minutes of free time–I figured that was better than inside the house!

Of course, we also had our cake (don’t look too closely–it was almost a complete failure, but it ended up better than it could’ve been–since I blocked out Mr. C’s name, it looks even worse).  It was chocolate cake (Mr. C’s favorite) with buttercream frosting, covered with molding chocolate, which is cheaper than fondant but has similar properties and is better tasting to some.  The problem with it in my limited experience is that it dries out more quickly, which can be a big challenge.  Here are instructions.

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Here are the Ninjago favor boxes for each of the kids.  We had gone to Legoland a month or two before Mr. C’s birthday, so we bought Ninjago keychains there, as well as stickers.  Each child received a keychain (which Mr. C said could spin around like a real Ninjago character unlike the actual Lego minifigures), a sticker page, a regular fortune cookie, the shirt already given, the instruction pictures I mentioned, and homemade folded paper ninja stars.

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With all the activities, the party went by quickly, and we were truly sad to see everybody “ninja…GO!”

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