J’s Big Birthday Adventure Part IV: Food and Decor

I promise you this is my last installment. I am completely Dora’d out, and J has moved onto princesses anyway. She has informed me that she is having a Princess Ariel pool party this summer, a Princess Sofia birthday when she is 4, a Princess Rapunzel party when she is 5 and a Princess Aurora party when she is 7. Really need to work on her counting.

Decorations for J’s party were really easy. Earlier in the week, I had used this online kit from Shery K Designs to make cupcake toppers for J’s at school party (Yes, this child celebrated her birthday with not one, not two, but three separate parties. Soooo spoiled).


Also in the kit are pendant flags, which I printed on card stock and hung on the fireplace and in the dining room.

The giant Dora and Diego balloons were a huge hit with J who dragged them around the house for weeks.  They were purchased at Party City.

Our friend Rachel works for a company that specializes in personalized invitations and stationary. She surprised us with three huge personalized Happy Birthday banners- two I hung in the entry way and amongst all the Explorer Stars in J’s hallway. The third I used to dress up the coloring table. You can buy yours here. The Dora and Diego coloring pages were downloaded at Nick Jr.

The cake, Explorer Stars activity and prize box and party favors were displayed on the entry way table. It was not long before someone put their finger in the cake! The cake came from HEB. It looked nice enough and was less expensive but not as tasty as a custom cake. I really need to either cultivate a dormant talent within me for cake decorating or make good friends with someone who rocks in this area.  There was also a copy of Dora’s Birthday Surprise that I intended to use as a guest book, but, alas, I forgot to make this announcement.

For food, we had Mexican. Some of the menu items included: Tico’s Taco Bar (a full taco bar with all the fixings), Isa’s Empanadas, Fiesta Flautas and Diego’s Animal Rescue Center (cheddar and pretzel flavored goldfish, Teddy Grahams and animal crackers).  I had full intentions to label the food with the corresponding character, but I ran out of steam at the end. I still think it would have been very cute.

Despite the cold and THE cold, the day was a great success.  I don’t know if I can be easily convinced to throw another large party next year. I may again require a two year recovery period. But if anyone can melt my resolve, it would be my sweet little Juliette. Love her to pieces.



J’s Big Birthday Adventure: Part III- Party Time

Finally, the week of J’s big birthday party had arrived.  And we almost did not make it! Several things conspired to get in our way.  First, the lower field of our septic’s leach field went out. Please click here to view my previous septic woes. We still had one functioning field, but septic issues are certainly not welcome when you are about to have 30-40 people over who, inevitably, would like to flush the toilet without issue.

The second was that Juliette came down with a cold and managed to have a fever which kept her out of school on both the Thursday and Friday prior to her party.  We went back and forth to the doctor’s to get tested for ear infection, strep and flu. All negative. J, herself, remained in high spirits throughout. However, I felt the need to proactively send an email out to her class to let the parents know that although she was fever-free and the party would go on, we would certainly understand if anyone wanted to drop out to avoid potential germs.  No one really did.  Getting sick is a constant thing in daycare. I think most everyone else has made peace with that.

Third, and most importantly, despite a beautiful fall here in the ATX, the weather on that day never really rose above freezing.  This put a huge damper on the planned activities, namely the Dora map adventure ending with a piñata and play time on J’s house with a slide. We were also going to borrow a bouncy house, but it was just too cold.

Not easily deterred, I abbreviated the map adventure and added an indoor component that required searching for Dora’s explorer stars. Dora’s explorer stars are cute pastel stars with faces on them that have the points of the stars rounded off. Needless to say, I did not have the time to cut out a bunch of stars on the night before the party. Instead, I found some foam stars at WalMart. They were red, white and blue- leftover from the 4th- so not ideal, but they had to do.

To start the activity, my helpers rounded up the kids, got them to quiet down for a moment or two, and each was handed their Backpack or Rescue Pack.  I explained to them that their first mission as Explorers was to find the explorer stars hidden in plain sight throughout the house. Inside their backpack was a magnifying glass to help them find the stars. Each Explorer who brought back at least one star could pick a prize from the prize box.

Next, we bundled up the kids and headed outside for the map adventure. I informed the kids that Swiper had stolen the birthday piñata, and we had to follow the clues on the Map in order to get it back. We had go through the Dancing Trees, around Crocodile Lake and onto to Play Park, and there we would find the birthday piñata.


For the Dancing Trees, I had good intentions to actually go out and pin faces to my trees. Alas, I ran out of time, but I did have the kids take out the maracas in their backpacks and dance to the Coconut Conga. In the Dora TV series, that is how they get the Dancing Trees to open up a path to allow them to pass. I used the video below as my inspiration.

For Crocodile Lake, I placed a blue sheet in our fire pit and placed a blow up crocodile on top.  Actually, it was a blow up alligator ring toss game, but I figured three year olds would not be so discerning.  We did not play the ring toss game due to the cold, but we did need to find a way to get around the crocodiles safely. Fortunately, each kid had a flute in their trusty backpack. They played their little hearts out, which lulled the “crocodile” to sleep and allowed us to walk around without incident.


Finally, we arrived at Play Park.  We were supposed to take our Dora and Diego blow outs out of our backpacks and sing the “We Did It” song, but it was really cold, so we went straight to the breaking of the piñata.  Each kid got at least one turn before the adults helped to liberate the candy.

The kids really wanted to play on J’s playscape at this point, and the parents really, really wanted to get back to the warm house, so cake time it was. I think the kids had a great time despite the weather. My only regret is not taking more pictures. But chaos does tend to ensue with that many three year olds!

I had not planned on a part IV, but I cannot NOT discuss the decorations. So I will gear up for one more blog entry before I conclude this chapter. Until then Explorers.