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Splash Party

Backyard Beach -2yr- Pin Tail on Dolphin




Tova  in Lake Worth, Florida USA


August 2002



At-home backyard beach party.  We just did this for my daughter's 2nd birthday in July.  It was AWESOME! 

My daughter loves the water, so a beach theme was perfect for her. But I like to do parties at my home, I find it's much easier on me with two small children.  I would like to make it known that most of this was home-made and I did NOT spend a whole lot of money on this party, but did have a BLAST doing it!

All of the children invited were asked to bring their swim suits and a beach towel.  We used our daughters' chalkboard and posted the surf report (just like you see when you arrive at the real beach)with the high and low tides, weather and surf temps -- I got all of the info online that morning so it was all accurate. I posted that so guests saw it right as they entered my house before going out back to where the "beach" was set up where our above ground pool is.    

I have a friend who happens to work as a Graphic Designer, and she printed me out the most perfect "Welcome To LISA'S BEACH" sign for me. I was, originally, going to do this by hand with posterboard so anyone who does not have access to a nice printer for a sign can still make a wonderful sign by hand.  That sign was posted on my sliding glass door just before you walked into the backyard.  

We also made our own "Pin the tail on the Dolphin" game by gluing a cutout dolphin I found at a party store onto a large piece of posterboard.  We used some colorful pen, glitter and glue to decorate the board with clouds and waves.  We used the dolphins tail to trace a new tail on some heavy paper for each child playing the game.  We wrote each child's name on a tail, used some tape on the back and away they went!  They all loved it!

The decorations, of course, were all beach themed, most of which were purchased at a party store or through Oriental Trading.  Tropical fish tablecovers, napkins, etc.  We did use beach pails to serve chips and goldfish crackers (with the shovels as spoons, of course) and also used one beach bucket as an ice bucket.  I served other snack foods from a star-fish shaped tray, and put plastic sea-life ice cubes in the punch.  In my inflatable tropical fish ice chest, I had different juices for the kids but they were ALL beach-themed.  I had "Orange Ocean" Hawaiian punch, "Surfer cooler" Caprison.  "Pacific Cooler", etc.  If it was a beach-themed flavor, I purchased it for the kids to drink.

I borrowed colorful beach towels from friends and used them as temporary "rugs" in the bathroom, kitchen and other areas as props.     We had foil fish decorations hanging from the ceiling inside the house, a decorative "net" with plastic sea creatures like lobsters, crabs and seahorses "caught" in it as a backdrop where my daughter was going to open her gifts.  We used dangling shell "beads" as a "door" to enter the hallway.  We also had long strips of cardboard cut into "wave" shapes, painted blue, to use outside as decoration.  My friend set it around the edges of my wooden deck and it just so happened it was the perfect height and looked adorable, like the people on the deck were sitting on a floating dock.  The "waves" main purpose, however, were to serve as a backdrop for the souvenir photos I always take of the guests to send along with their thank you cards. 

For this party, I stood each child on a Styro-foam "surfboard" I found at Wal-Mart and painted with some leftover old purple paint.  I encouraged everyone to do their best "surf pose" (some chose "paddling") and they had a blast.  I used a blue blanket and white sheet (where I tried to create the curling wave sea foam look) to sit the surfboard on and even had my children's rubber bath toy sharks out as props...    I have a small above the ground pool, which served as our "ocean".  I bought lots of floaty toys and rafts at the local dollar store (it's amazing what you can find for a dollar!) so everyone had plenty of beach balls, rafts, float rings, etc.   I had found a Pirate Ship inflatable baby pool on clearance for about 8 dollars the year before that my kids played in until we bought the small above ground pool.  But we used this pirate ship pool as a staged "shipwreck". 

Probably one of the best parts of the part was the inflatable treasure chest which I filled a few inches high with old costume jewelry, broken trinkets, foil covered chocolate coins (put in the freezer first so they would not melt in the sun).  I also found some gaudy necklaces at the dollar store, some with huge dragon pendants, some with crowns pendants with fake jewels.  To me, this looked like great pirate loot so I purchased about 10 and threw them into my pot of treasure.  I have to say the kids AND the adults had fun sifting through all of the goodies.  There was one 9 month old guest who just sat herself inside the treasure chest and ended up with more bracelets and necklaces on her feet, arms, toes, head -- she was covered in jewelry and it was adorable!   I let each child choose one piece of "buried pirates treasure" he or she liked to take home.   The pirate ship, itself, was set up in a "crash" position on the "beach" so the littlest guests could play in the water, too.   For the goody bags, I found the cutest beach pails at the Dollar Tree.  They were each like a little octopus!  Each had a little sand sifter "hat" and 2 arm shovels...  It sat on a sand stamper of octopus legs.  They even had glued on eyes and smiles.  They were SO cute!  And then I know this is something the children can actually take home and play with.  So often goody bags are just thrown away.  I filled them with "Shark Bites" (gummy sharks), fish temporary tattoos, a real starfish (which a lot of kids thought was really cool to have a real starfish), plastic sea life toys, and real sea shells I found at the dollar store and a craft store.  The shells I did not give away I used around as part of the decorations.   When it was time to open presents, we sat my daughter on top of her breakfast table (covered by a beach blanket) so that she could feel like she had a special place to open her gifts, plus elevating her helped everyone see what was going on as small children tend to crowd the birthday party honoree during gift opening.  They still hover around the table, but this way, everyone gets a good view and can take pictures that don't end up being more shots of the back of curious onlookers heads than a child on her birthday!

The cake I made was SOOOO much fun!  I saw it on the cover a magazine (Woman's Day, June 2002 issue) and just knew THAT was the cake for my daughter's party.  The cake was a basic, double-layer round cake with a definite beach theme!  It sat on a plate of "sand" made from crumbled up Vanilla Wafers (I think I was supposed to use graham crackers… oops).  As per instructions, I cut out part of the very top layer so I could put blue gelatin inside as the "ocean".  You frost it with blue waves of icing, decorate with a twinkie boat (fruit roll up sails) and teddy graham swimmers, mermaids and sailors.  Even a cute little life preserver made from a wintergreen lifesaver.  I painted little eyes and bathing suits and hair on the Teddy Grahams with colored gels.  I also decorated the outside of the cake with schools of goldfish crackers, seaweed (green fruit roll ups) and even a mermaid bear and a chocolate treasure chest with candy "gold" overflowing into the "water".  It was SO MUCH FUN!  

We played a beach boys CD in the background for music.  I steered clear of anything too "Hawaiian" that might resemble a luau.  This was a beach party, so there was no limbo (although volleyball would have been acceptable) no hula skirts, no parrots to be found anywhere.  Just surfboards, sand (even used their fisher price play castle as a "sand castle"), frisbees, a hula hoop and SUN!  And PLENTY of sunblock to go around to everyone!   We even borrowed some of that orange fencing from a friend who works for the county like you see on some beaches when there is an area that is closed off.  That made it look more authentic to me. We also used several colorful beach umbrellas (all but one borrowed)to keep us all from getting too much sun.  

The food we served was beach fare.  I tried to think, what do kids get when they go to a snack bar at the beach?  HOT DOGS!  I could not BELIEVE what a hit the hot dogs were!  I had so much fried chicken leftover, but not a single hotdog! There was also a tropical fish piƱata the kids got to beat the stuffing out of. 

A few things that did not happen…  I wanted to buy some play sand and do something with that (dig for buried treasure or something) but when I went to purchase it, all of the bags had been soaked with rain and were too heavy and too messy to bring home…  I also wanted to play "dolpin, dolphin, shark" instead of "duck, duck, goose" but all the kids were having so much fun with everything else, we just never got around to it!  And I also had to stop myself from purchasing a few small bowls and goldfish to put on the food table. 

I wanted to get plastic seaweed from a pet store, but it cost too much money just to be used as a prop.  Then I though about the fish and I could give them away as prizes, but I stopped myself because if I hadn't, I could have gone on and on forever.  I had SO much fun with this party and just kept getting ideas up until the last minute.   I did something that I thought fit well with the theme that was both educational and interesting with the thank-you cards.  Of course they were tropical fish cards and I sent along the "surfer" photos, but also enclosed with each card, I sent a booklet I had received from my pediatricians office about sun safety for kids. 

The booklets contain great advise for parents to keep their kids safe (especially since we live in South Florida) because I see sooooo many parents out there not protecting their children from the sun.  I thought this might help them to realize what threats are out there and some good ways to combat the problems.  The back of the booklet also had a one dollar off coupon for sunscreen for their children.

And that was my very successful backyard beach party.  And the great thing is that almost everything I purchased, I can use again should either of my children ever want another beach party or, perhaps, a luau.  It was so much fun.  And when someone would notice a small detail, like the octopus sea life hand soap dispenser in the bathroom (disposable from Soft Soap), it made me glad I put so much effort into the tiny details.

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