My daughter and I take so much pleasure in talking about and planning for her birthday party. For this “Surfer Girl” party, the theme was chosen more than one year in advance of the event itself. It’s not that we are obsessive compulsive when it comes to planning birthdays, it’s that we use these conversations to connect with each other and have some serious mommy-daughter bonding time.
So, back to this “Surfer Girl” party… It was pretty tough to find any store-bought kits, decorations or paper goods that fit this theme. I usually look around at least a little bit for inspiration and to see what other people have done in the way of a cake for every birthday I throw. I don’t know what would happen today if you were to google it, but a couple years back there was nothing, nada, zippo.
Taking inspiration from my husband’s surfboard collection, I came up with a surfboard shape for the invite (you can print your own blank). I also found a pink and orange hibiscus print scrapbooking paper to use as a backing paper for the surfboard. Writing some surf inspired lingo for the invite was pretty fun:
surf’s up! Autumn is turning 4
you are invited to catch a wave and hang ten with us
saturday, february 4 at 10:30am
wax up your surfboard and paddle on over to
1234 main street, regrets only 562-555.1212
One of the most versatile decorating items I have is the fish bowl style glass vase. It comes in handy for every party, I’m not kidding. I have 4 of them and you’ve probably seen them before at my parties filled with cars, but for this party they are filled with seashells. I purchased a bag of shells at my local party supply store to augment the meager group I already had at home.
I also used beach towels (that we already owned) instead of tablecloths, and cut giant surfboards out of colored butcher paper to a hang on the walls (you can see them here in the background).
TIP: if you want to hang decorations on the walls and from the ceiling, but don’t want to repair and repaint the drywall, try “Command Strips” from 3M. They come in a variety of styles to fit every need and I promise they come off without a scratch!
This party started at 10:30 in the morning, so I was able to have brunchy snacky items instead of a meal. I made pumpkin muffins and chocolate banana muffins and served them in conjunction with smoothies. Not just any smoothies, but, custom build-it-yourself smoothies. Here is how we set it up: I made a little banner matching the invitation graphics and hung it off the countertop where the blender was set up. Each child filled a red plastic cup with their choice of frozen fruits, to which we (okay, my husband) added orange juice and yogurt. We did purchase some sippy cups with straws from Oriental Trading Company to eliminate spillage, and VOILA! Breakfast!
Pumpkin Bread (this is a big batch - yeilds 3 loaves)
- 3 c. sugar
- 3 1/2 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 4 lg. eggs
- 1 c. vegetable oil
- 2 c. canned pumpkin
- 2/3 c. water
- 1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (opt.)
For this group of 4 year olds, we had a craft project and a non-competitive (although prize winning) game. The craft was putting together an aquarium themed picture frame that I purchased, once again, at Oriental Trading Company.
The game we planned was “Freeze Dance” with a bit of a non-competitive twist. The game is meant to be played like this: have a group of children dance while the music plays, and freeze when the music is stopped. If a child moves after the music stops, they are “out” and go sit down on the sidelines. The “winner” gets a prize. Now, because the kids playing this game are only 4 years old (or less) we wanted to be sure all the children felt included and that they didn’t need to compete with one another for a single prize. So, we gave each child a prize as they were called “out”, the child could decide if they wanted to go back in to dance or sit out, and the “winner” was not actually singled out as the big winner of the game but given a prize just as everyone else had gotten.
I loved making this cake! Let me start though, with the “cake topper”. After searching high and low for something, anything, that could sit atop the cake and match our surfer girl theme (girl being the operative word, as there were plenty of boy surfer cake toppers), I actually ended up sending away for an adorable salt and pepper set that matched our theme perfectly.
For the cake itself, I did vanilla cake with blue buttercream frosting. To give the effect of water I separated the frosting into 3 batches, tinting each a slightly darker shade of blue. After a thick coat of two shades of frosting on the sides, I pulled a cake decorating comb through it making little wave patterns. For the top of the cake, I kept the buttercream a touch on the thin side and pulled peaks up with a spatula. The board underneath the cake was also coated with a layer of the dark blue buttercream.
I cherished every moment planning this party with my daughter. It just goes to show you, your theme can be one of a kind or straight from the TV. Use some creative thinking to make it your own, spend as little as possible and make it look homemade - even if it isn't!