My oldest daughter loves animals, so we threw a Safari party for her 9th birthday. I made invitations that looked like a passport. Inside it read "We're going on a safari! Get ready to go into the wild and have some fun! This is your passport for _____'s Safari birthday party. We will be taking you on a safari trip around remote areas of Africa. Our expedition starts on ________ at 4:00 pm. All explorers should bring their passports. Safari wear is optional but adventurers may want to dress to go outdoors, weather permitting. Our trip will conclude at 6:30pm." On the reverse side of the invitation we typed Passport ID#_______
issued to (name) of (city) on (date) expires (date).
To decorate, I made trees from colored butcher paper and put them all over the walls of our house. My husband and I spent hours making the vines from brown crepe paper.
I painted warnings with washable Crayola paint on all the front windows. Notice the smeared handprints on the left? I thought about doing it in red paint, but thought that would be too gory for little girls.
My husband dressed up as Sir Nigel Higginbotham, the Safari tour guide. He's such a good sport to play a part in all our kids' parties! He even spoke with an English accent.
This is me, obviously not prepared for a picture:) I ran the Red Cross welcome station. As the girls arrived, they had to present their passport invitations, which I stamped. I welcomed them to Africa, warned them not to touch the animals, gave them an innoculation "shot" with an empty, needleless syringe, a malaria pill (red candy in a hospital grade jar marked with the red cross sign), and outfitted them with binoculars and plastic safari hats (from Zurcher's). Then they were able to decorate their hats with sharpie markers as we waited for everyone to arrive.
Sir Higginbotham led the girls on a tour of our backyard. We have enough stuffed animals to start our own preserve, which came in handy for this party. We placed groups of African animals around our backyard, such as zebras, lions, tigers, monkies, snakes, etc, and my husband improvised names for them as they came upon each section. The girls liked the black-butt monkies and brown butt bears the best.
After the tour we led them back to the patio, where they had to follow the elephant prints (spray-painted on the grass), to the elephant watering hole. To follow they had to walk holding hands like below.
At the elephant watering hole, we played elephant tag, an idea I got from Family Fun. I cut off the legs from nylons and placed a rolled-up sock in the toe. The girls had to put these "elephant trunks" on their heads, and keep them on while trying to pull off everyone else's; the last one still wearing a trunk was the winner.
Musical animals: when the music stopped (in this case my husband sang "The Lion Sleeps tonight"), everyone ran to grab an animal. The girl who didn't get one was out, until we ended with 1 winner.
Inside we played animal charades and a game where everyone had a piece of paper; the first person draws the first half on an animal, folds it, the second person draws the middle, the third draws the rear end. I thought it was a bomb, but the girls thought it was funny. Go figure. I also had the girls try to find all the monkies I had hidden in the house, and the one with the correct number won a stuffed monkey. There were 33.
Then we told the girls they were about to enter the most dangerous part of our tour, and descend into the bowels of the African jungle to search for snapping crocodiles, hissing spiders, and vampire bats. They'd have to be on the look out and watch themselves if they were to survive this leg of our tour. We had them follow the "river" across the floor, down the basement stairs, and through the hallway to the carpeted area of the main open space. We told them to avoid touching these hanging crepe paper vines, as it was poisonous jungle weeds that would grab them. At the end of the river we constructed a relay they had to get through in order to go eat at the banquet hall.
First they had to swing over the hissing crocodile swamp. The skull on the floor was from our last tour that didn't do so well and poor ol' Joe had gotten himself eaten by the crocodiles
Next they had to crawl through the bat cave, which was constructed from 2 large appliance boxes. I hung black crepe paper and plastic bats from the "ceiling" of the cave.
Then they had to dig through the cauldron of worms (cooked cold spaghetti noodles floating in water in a dutch oven) to retrieve the diamond crystals that were stolen from the Goblet of Death by Evil Lord Norbert and return them. We hid clear glass bubbles (the kind used to make your own magnets) in the noodles and had the girls put them in a skull hand Halloween cup when they found them (pictured on the left behind the girl in pink). Surprisingly, the girls LOVED this part. I was afraid they'd be too prissy:)
Then they had to fish out a "hissing spider" from another black cauldron and place it next to the bowl (I put plastic spiders in ice cold water.)
Last we fed them a dinner of mini hamburgers, "snakes on a stick" (I sliced hot dogs in fours length-wise and skewered them on a shish-ka-bob stick), chips, "swamp juice" (a sickly-looking concoction of kiwi strawberry juice and sprite, with pop rocks and gummy snakes. The girls loved the jungle juice but some wanted to know if the pop rocks were store bought or not as their mothers warned them about drugs looking like candy.), animal crackers, fruit salad,
My whole thing with throwing parties is to do it for a cheaply as possible. I estimated this party cost about $50, but it's one my daughter will always remember. This party is featured on birthday party ideas.com as well; I won their October 08 birthday contest!