A Barnyard Soiree
A petting zoo in the middle of Philly? What could possibly go wrong?
You may have recently read the story about the mom in Australia who spent $9,000 on her son's first birthday party. And while I didn't spend anywhere near that kind of money, I did go a little over-the-top with a barnyard theme, complete with a petting zoo of two goats, two sheep, two pigs, and a bunny! Here's what we did to throw a big birthday party on a budget.
Picking a Theme
Since my son's birthday is in the fall, I knew I wanted to have a party theme that went with the season. What could be more autumnal than a barnyard party!? Scarecrows, hay bales, pumpkins, and of course farm animals!
Even though we were inviting over 50 people, we chose to have Little Dude's party at home. We had a decent sized house, porch, and yard that has accommodated this crowd size before. Plus, having a party at home means your venue cost is $0. What we hadn't counted on was really cold weather! The weekend before was gloriously warm and sunshiny.... the weekend of the party, not so much. Everyone was crammed inside which kept it "cozy".
Designing a Menu
Believe it or not, my son's nap schedule dictated this more than anything else. It ended up being later in the afternoon, post lunch, but before dinner, so we went with simple finger foods and snacks that my mom and I made the platters for the night before. But they weren't just any platters...they all had a barnyard theme, too!
We made popcorn on the cob treats, which were very popular. (This was before I was blogging, so I didn't chronicle the making of them, but you can find instructions at Smart School House.)
We had an owl veggie tray, a fruit salad turkey, "chicken feed" (Chex Mix) in a bucket, and lil chicks deviled eggs.
From the scarecrows greeting the guests at our front walk to our outfits, everything was down-home farm fun!
I used a sharpie on the bottom of pink cups to make pig noses, making it especially funny when someone took a drink. We had classic sunflower bouquets in mason jars, straw hats for the kids enjoy and keep as party favors, and Little Dude was decked out in denim overalls and a John Deere cap.
Note: Somehow, I failed to get pictures of the outside with the hay and pumpkins and scarecrows. I must have been a little distracted...
Since this was a first birthday party, and the majority of littles would be in the 1 year old range, I didn't worry too much about having any games or an arts and crafts project. I figured it would be more work for the parents than necessary and I really wanted everyone to enjoy a relaxed, non-structured party. I did, however, want people, specifically family, to have the some fun memory making opportunities. We ended up getting one of these photo stand-ins (from Shindigz) that we had at the entrance of the party at the start and then moved to the same area where the animals where once everything got going. It was a huge hit and I think it was much more popular with the grown-ups than the kids!
We also had these silly animal masks for the kids to wear. They weren't as a big a hit with the kids as they were with me trolling my sister.
A petting zoo!
Although we live in one of the largest cities in the country, we happen to have a really cool agriculture-based public high school in our neighborhood. (We also happen to have a history of animal escapees from nativity scenes, which had my nerves on edge!) And, as luck would have it, they have a 4H club that will do on-site petting zoos with a few of their animals for a donation to the club. It gives the students an opportunity to educate the public about their animals and the mission of the club and gave us an opportunity to support our local high school kids!
The only bummer about this was the previously mentioned crummy weather. It was very chilly outside, so visits to the animals were brief (but so fun!) I would absolutely do this again and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to help their little one understand compassion and kindness towards all beings.
Isn't this what everyone waits for at a first birthday? Watching the guest of honor smash, mash, and generally make a mess with their first birthday cake is definitely the best part of the party.
For the guests, I made little cupcakes to look like a flock of lambs. It was time consuming, indeed, but was super easy and turned out absolutely adorable!
Little Dude's aunt is incredibly creative when it comes to fondant. She made the cutest set of piggies for his mud pen smash cake. I made the cake and added the piggies to it.
And when I displayed them all together, it was just too cute for words!
Happy barnyard birthday, Little Dude!