Jungle Party

Jungle Party -8yr- Trees, Vines & Tiki Torches




Neesa in Stafford, VA


May 2003


Special Mention

For my nephew's eighth birthday, he wanted a jungle theme party. 

For d├ęcor, we built the rainforest in our basement.  Trees:  I cut carpet tubes exactly the height of our basement ceilings (9 feet for us), so they would wedge between the floor and the ceiling and be self-standing.  I cut a few more to wedge on top of the tables.  I covered the tubes in brown crepe paper, then notched the tops to accommodate black tubing.  At the home improvement center, I found 1 inch black tubing in the plumbing section.  It's flexible, so it has ridges and comes in rolls of 20 feet.  It's not very expensive.  I bought enough to loosely connect between all the carpet tubes.  Then we used green gossamer (available through prom supply places. Try www.stumpsparty.com) and stuffed it between the tubes and the ceiling. This created the canopy. You could also use wide green tissue paper, crepe paper, or netting for this. 

After the basics were done, I picked up some fake grass mats (oriental trading) and cut outs of tropical birds (oriental trading) I placed these in the trees.  I had access to an overhead projector, so I took a free clip art picture of a barrel monkey and copied it onto black posterboard.  I added eyes with white posterboard ovals and black dots, and definition, where needed, with a silver Sharpie.  I made eight of these. And hung them from the trees. 

For the final touch, we used 10" brown crepe paper (oriental trading or party supply) to make vines.  I attached one end to an electric drill, then turned the drill VERY SLOWLY to pull and twist the crepe paper into vines.  We strung these around the ceiling amid the animals and black tubing 'branches.'  For the tables, I used the two carpet tubes I cut to wedge between the table top and the ceiling.  I covered these in bamboo print paper (party supply or prom supply)  I cut a piece of heavy cardboard from an appliance box bot 12" wide and the distance across the two poles.  I attached this with long staples in my staple gun, then covered it with more raffia table skirting to make "thatch." 

Next were tiki torches.  I bought SONO tubes (cardboard tubes for pouring concrete) at the home improvement store.  They cost about five bucks each and are 10-12" in diameter, so they stand easily.  They're four feet high. I cut a notch in the bottom of these to allow a power cord to stick through and to allow some venting for the light.  

Next, I purchased those flood light holders that are made for outdoor use. These are green plastic with a removable spike and a standard cord.  They sell them at home improvement centers and nurserys.  I got red flood light bulbs for each.  I removed the spike and screwed the base to s small block of wood so it would be self standing.  I placed one light in the bottom of each tiki torch and stuffed the top of the tube with red and yellow cellophane.  I strung all the lights together and plugged them into a powerstrip.  With the decorations done, we turned to invitations.  I used computer clipart to make jungle invitations. 

On the front we put "For A Swinging Good Time."  My nephew really liked the barrel monkeys, so I used those on the reverse side with all the information.  I made sure to tell the boys to wear old clothes for "jungle play," since it was summer time and we planned to do some water games  When the boys arrived, everyone received a pith helmet (oriental trading) which they got to keep, and a green goody bag.  The kids were a little to old for a coloring/decorating type activity for starters, but I found a video of old Tarzan movies which they watched in the 'rainforest' while they munched popcorn and waited for the latecomers. 

Once we had everybody, we outside for games.  It was summer, and hot, so we had filled two kiddy pools with water and placed them side by side under a STURDY tree branch.  We tied a soft black rope (available at home improvement stores.  It has a cotton-like surface so it won't hurt their hands, and is rated for up to 150 lbs) from the tree limb and tied a knot in the bottom.  The boys practiced their Tarzan yells as they swung across the rapids. This was a surprising hit.  Everybody wanted multiple turns, and once the first boy got wet, everyone had to.  With a pack of wet boys, the next priority was time in the sun to dry off!

We played "Tree House Hoist"  I had hidden "lizard eggs" -- plastic easter eggs painted white and filled with candy and prizes -- around the yards.  The boys had to find the eggs and fill a bucket.  The bucket was tied to a milk crate with a toucan pinata in it.  The rope went over a tree limb, and the boys had to put enough eggs in the bucket to hoist the milk crate.  Once the crate was "aloft,"  I removed the crate and let the boys whack the pinata with a stick of bamboo I got at my local nursery. 

After the excitement was over, I let the boys each take six of the eggs from the bucket to add to their candy and prizes horde from the Pinata.  I purchased various jungle and tropical prizes from the dollar store and oriental trading company to fill the pinata and the eggs.   Everyone was dry now, so we moved inside to the 'rainforest' for cake and presents.  My nephew is pretty picky when it comes to his cake preferences. 

He doesn't like colored icing -- just chocolate.  So I made a regular yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and used green sprinkles along the bottom to form 'grass'  You can also do this by dying coconut with food coloring, but if coconut touched the cake, my nephew wouldn't eat it.  I found some cookie cutters shaped like jungle animals, so I used those to 'stamp' the shapes into the frosting, and added a few blue sprinkles across the top for sky.  That's as far as he would go.  We also served green Kool-aid and cheese and pretzels.   

After the cake, the boys went back to the jungle room to watch George of the Jungle.  We gave the boys popcorn, and we lounged around on bean bag chairs and sofa cushions to watch the movie.  By the time the movie ended, it was time to go home.  The kids loved the rainforest concept, and I have been asked, several times, to loan the 'trees.'  I should have kept them, but it was all so cheap, it went out with Monday's trash!

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