Sunday, March 20, 2011

3 Bears Birthday Party

By luck of the universe, my beautiful firstborn was born in a year of boys.  Most of my mama friends had boys that year, so her playgroups and now her playdates tend to be her and the guys.  While this is fantastic, it did pose a small problem when deciding on the theme of her fourth birthday party.  Our conversation went something like this...

Me: Who will you invite to your party this year?
Z: Nolan, Colin, Grady, and Max
Me: Great!  What kind of party shall we have?
Z: A heart party!
Me: Hearts...hmmm...not sure that will work out.  Other ideas?
Z: A flower party!
Me: Well, we did that last year, try again.
Z: A princess party!!!

Yes I know it is a bit sexist to think that these themes might not be the best for a bunch of four year old boys, and in all honesty any kind of party would have been fun for the kids, but we kept on brainstorming.

We settled on the theme of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.  Pretend play has been huge in our house recently and we have retold this story more times than I can count.  Figuring that it would be easy to find bear accessories I hit our local (2 hours away) iParty.  Guess how many bear items at iParty?  0.  The birthday girl and I left with a bee pinata (because bears like honey), and I knew that my next step was with trusty friend internet.

When I got home I googled 3 bears birthday, and found 2 amazing Goldilocks party blogs.

The first I found at Cakies.  Truly gorgeous ideas.  In particular I loved the stuff and sew bears as well as the adorable finger puppets.  OK, I thought.  Something to work with.

Then I found The White Library.  Yikes!  How in the world does someone pull something like that off???  Truly unbelievable, and highly, highly recommended.  I'm a DIY girl though, so ideas are what I am looking for.  The favor bowls...that's an idea for me.

With the sketchiest of ideas in my mind I sent the children off to boil sap for the day with Daddy and Grammy and spent the day shopping.  (As an aside...not until you have 2 young children do you find a Saturday at The Christmas Tree Shop to be peaceful.)  While I wasn't sure what I would come up with, I am so happy with my finds and the way it all turned out.

I picked up white ceramic cereal bowls to and went to our fabulous ceramics studio, The Artery, and for a small studio fee ($5.00, can't beat that) got access to their paint pens.  Each child's name on the front and a warning for uninvited guests on the back, and they were ready to fill.

At the Artery I found some wooden cutouts of bears.  At 59 cents apiece, they were the first thing in the favor bowl.  I figured that painting them could also be a quick and easy party activity if there seemed to be a lull.  From there I went to one of my favorite places in North Conway, The Five and Dime.  Found some great goodies to add.  Wooden mixing spoons (what else would a bear eat porridge with), bear cookie cutters, "zoomers" as my daughter calls those party blower thingies, blow pops, and my favorite find-a book of fairy tale stickers. 

As a final take home, I decided it would be fun to create our own version of The 3 Bears to send home with her friends.  I had her dictate the story to me and I wrote it down in her words.  Then she illustrated it.  You can't go wrong when your pre-schooler first draws with crayon then goes over it with watercolor...comes out gorgeous every time!

Very happy with the favors!

So favors are taken care of...what can I say?  I love party take homes!  Next on the agenda, CAKE!  I admit that I am more than a little addicted to Cake Boss, so once again, how do I live up to that ?

I started of by picking up a Calico Critters bear family from the Toy Chest.  My original plan was to put these little guys on top of the cake, but after several near disasters with buttercream I opted for a different plan.  I overlayed a cookie sheet with some green fabric I had lying around and made a path out of felt.  This way the critters had a frosting free place to stand, but I could still create my bear scene.

Favors are done, cake is done, better think of how to entertain a bunch of 4 year olds for two hours! 

Started out by making "Bear Play Dough".  Zoe and I mixed up a half cup of peanut butter, and a quarter cup of honey.  The third ingredient was supposed to be dry milk, but upon inspection the dry milk from my cabinet had expired in 2007.  Time to improvise!  We added a few scoops of Rice Krispies then added quick oats until it was a dough like consistency.  Voila!  Edible play dough!

Next?  A 3 Bears "Pretend" of course!

Too Hot!  Too Cold!  Just Right!

Too Hard!  Too Soft!  Just Right!


Too Hard!  Too Lumpy!  Just Right!

 Someone's been eating my porridge!

Time for lunch!  On the menu...a Porridge Bar, Fruit Kebabs, and Peanut Butter and Honey Bearwiches. 

Inspired by Let's Explore, I made Oatmeal in the crock pot.  Just poured in oatmeal, water and cinnamon a few hours before the party and let it warm on low.  I added a variety of toppings that the kids could choose from, honey, cinnamon, walnuts, raisins, chopped apples, and chocolate chips.

Fruit Kebabs were a great way to get Zoe involved in the party prep.  She put grapes, strawberries and canteloupe on skewers for everyone to enjoy.

We cut the peanut butter and honey sandwiches with bear cookie cutters to fit in with the theme.

After lunch is was time to go on a bear hunt.  I wrote up a series of clues on bear paw prints, each clue leading to the next clue with the final one leading to our bee pinata.  We didn't catch the bears...but they must have been looking for honey!

Look at all this loot!

Add presents and some cake and ice cream and that's our 3 Bears Party.  We all lived happily ever after, I wish the same to you!