J’s Big Birthday Adventure: Part II- Party Favors

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I’ll be honest. After engineering over 20 Backpack/Rescue Pack invitations, I was pretty beat. But I knew my work was far from done.  The fear in inviting your child’s entire class to a party is that either a) no one will show up or worse b) everyone will show up. I had my work cut out for me if I was to entertain a bunch of three year olds. I thought a Dora map adventure might do the trick. I planned to follow the general format of the show and sent the kids out into my big back yard to search for the birthday piñata.  Why do they have to find the birthday piñata.  Well, Swiper stole him silly.  You really need to keep an eye on that Swiper.

There can be no map adventure without Map and Backpack. I knew I needed to fabricate both of these.  Also, there would undoubtedly be things we would need to do at each of the stops on the map. This solved the dilemma of what to make for party favors. Clearly, each of the girls needed Dora’s Backpack, and each of the boys needed Diego’s Rescue Pack. Inside would be all the items needed along the way. Once we reached our final destination and broke open the piñata, the bags would be very handy for storing all the candy.

As you know, there are many crafty mommas out there. I pinned several Backpack/Rescue Pack party favor bags on my idea board here. Some of my favorites were:

Using orange and purple lunch bags or gift bags such as these Rescue Packs by Reading Confetti

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Dying Oriental Trading backpacks purple as with these Backpacks by Googly Eyes and Glitter 

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Using drawstring backpacks such as these seen on Etsy 

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Or reusable grocery totes such as these on Mission Decorate 

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I really liked the idea of the kids having a wearable, reusable bag so I narrowed down my options to drawstring backpacks or reusable grocery bags.  I found both purple and orange totes and purple and orange drawstring  backpacks at affordable pricing online. Ultimately, I went with the drawstring backpacks as they were larger and could actually be worn as a backpack.

For Backpack, I used the template found at Nick Jr. to trace the face onto the drawstring bags using Elmer’s Painter’s Pens. I traced the template first in pencil and then went over it using a fine tip sharpie. I used paint pens rather than fabric paint to fill in the color so that the work could go quicker with less chance for mistakes. The downside is that the paint pens are opaque. This was not much of an issue for the red mouth but required multiple coats for eyes and eyebrows and just did not provide the coverage that fabric paint would have. Still, I think they came out pretty good.

For Rescue Pack, I also used the template from Nick Jr but needed to resize and tweak it a bit.

Map needs to go inside Backpack.  I used the Nick Jr map template above photocopied on one side of 8 1/2 x 11 white paper and photocopied a map of my own drawing on the other side. I searched and searched for an easy map template. The best I could find was this. I used it as a general template and then did separate image searches for the stops I chose for J’s adventure: The Dancing Trees, Crocodile Lake and Play Park. The last stop is actually J’s playscape, so I just drew that from memory. It came out pretty good for someone who doesn’t draw, and might help someone else out in the future. For PDF versions, please visit my free printables page.

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Inside the backpack were the items we needed for the adventure: a Dora or Diego magnifying glass, Dora and Diego maracas, a mini flute and Dora or Diego blow outs. More on the specific purpose of these items in the next post.

The finished product can be seen below.

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Again, I will not lie to you.  This is not a quick, easy project. Because I did not trust myself to free hand the face and was very careful with the paint pens, each bag took some time. I made 20 and was very thankful for one particularly long nap both J and D took one Sunday afternoon. J often sat at the table next to me coloring while I would knock out 1 or 2 bags. If I were to do it again, I would STRONGLY consider printing each of the faces in color on iron-on transfer paper.  There are several face template files available to purchase on Etsy and would have been well worth the money. I think this may have been 10x easier. Hindsight is 20/20.

Stay tuned for Party III- Party Time to find out how our adventure went.

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J’s Big Birthday Adventure: Part I- The Invite

Some of you may recall that I made my blogging debut by writing about my daughter’s first birthday party.  In fact, the helpfulness of other moms in the party planning arena was what pushed me to start my own blog. If you would like to refresh your memory, feel free to to take a glance at Once Upon A Birthday Party Part I, II or III.

Well, it turns out that kid parties- when you go all out in a crazy crafty kind of way- are exhausting. I needed a full two years to recover from J’s first. I vowed to hold off on another one until at least school age. And then J started day care, and we started to get invited to lots of other birthday parties. In fact, J’s entire class seems to have birthdays that fall between October and January. She naturally assumed that I too would throw her a party that included cake, a bouncy house and goodie bags. I could not disappoint, and that is how Juliette’s Big Birthday Adventure came into being. The theme- D-D-D-Dora… Dora, Dora, Dora the Explorer.

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I must admit that I was a little disappointed that she did not like my ideas for a Blues Clues or Peppa the Pig party. Ultimately though, I embraced the theme and found that ideas abound on the web for Dora/Diego parties. See my pinterest inspiration board here for a few examples.

The Invitation

Every great party must have a great invitation. When you google “Dora” and “Birthday,” you are sure to come across the DVD  or game Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure.

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I loved the DVD logo and the idea of the party being a map adventure. Both had to be incorporated in the invite. I also really loved all the hand made backpack invitations I saw online.  Here is one of my favorite examples from HighHeelsAndDiapers.com

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Super cute and there are several templates available online including this one and another FromBeccasHome.blogspot.com. Problem was I wanted both an adorable card stock backpack and a clever photo invite. This is how I came to spend several sleepless nights unsuccessfully attempting to build an invite on google docs (MS Word, Powerpoint and Google Art), downloading several free photo editors and even a free trial of Adobe Photoshop before finally begging my sister to help me. She is a pro at PhotoShop and came up with this invite (minus the personal details which have been removed). If you do not have a talented sister, may I suggest this invite template by Shery K Designs.

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I could not possibly be satisfied with this awesome invite by itself. Nooooo. I had to still house it in Backpack or Rescue Pack. Must not have gotten my fill of cutting and pasting as a child. Of course, since I wanted to fit a 4×6 vertical photo card in the backpack, I needed to draw my own template. I promise to scan it and post it here when I get a chance. Of note, I made a 2 piece template as I wanted to use 8.5 x 11 card stock that I already owned. I could have done it in one piece if I had purchased 12 x 12 card stock.

After another sleepless night of tracing, cutting and folding, I ended up with a pile like this:

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One more sleepless night for assembling and gluing and Backpack and Rescue Pack finally came to life.

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Did I mention that I made 21 of these? Do not let those Pinterest Mommas- present company included- fool you.  This was no easy feat. I delivered these invites to J’s classroom on a Monday. By the time Friday rolled around and some of the invites were still in cubbies instead of getting their due fridge time, I was very much inclined to give the evil eye.  Ok,  I might have. There, I’ve admitted it. But it was a labour of love- both for my J and all things crafty. Wait until you see what I came up with next in Part II- Party Favors.