Friday, May 22, 2015

A wild zoo party!

Lauris is five years old! We celebrated once with my sister and her husband, once on the actual day, and finally with a group of friends last Sunday. Sticking to the rule of years=guests, we invited five friends to the zoo with burgers and cake afterwards in Cleveland Park.

The idea came about when discussing possible themes; Lauris wanted to go somewhere to celebrate, and the zoo was the only realistic answer I received when asked where he would like to go. (Skiing in May in the South, anyone?) We set up in the picnic shelter, greeted our guests and finally ventured in through the gates, passports in hand. Using animal print paper from a craft shop, images from the internet and a little help from my mother, we made a scavenger hunt for the kids to complete while in the zoo. When they found an animal and answered the question they got their book stamped, an easy way to keep the group together and moving on through. It was a beautiful day at the Greenville Zoo, and I think the kids had a good time.

We emerged to find the grillmeister had been hard at work. I had filled up the big drink dispenser with lemonade, and the kids had a giggle with these cups – the beaver snout made an appearance at dinner tonight! Pinterest yielded a carved watermelon in the shape of a hedgehog that came out pretty cute, and we made sure to have a ton of veggies for the kids to snack on in addition to burgers and hot dogs. 

the toothpicks are the hedgehog's quills

After a quick dinner the kids were off to play on the playground for a bit, the benefit of reserving a shelter in Cleveland Park. However soon enough they were back, and we tried out these cool tattoos, transforming their hands into animals of all shapes and colors.

I had so much fun making the cake this year, and it was actually pretty easy (the hardest part was transporting it to the park). Using a double batch of my go to chocolate cake recipe from Martha Stewart I made a double layer 10-inch cake and a single-layer 8-inch cake. The darker frosting was with dark chocolate, the lighter with milk chocolate. Add cocoa batons from Trader Joe’s for the fencing, palm tree cake toppers (left over from the pirate cake), chocolate rocks ordered online, brown sugar sand to cover up the parchment paper at the base and a Wild TOOB, and you have a zoo cake! As the jello ocean was such a hit at Mikus’s party, I used a variation of it for a third enclosure – although I hope never to see a dolphin and an alligator in the same pool…

After opening up a few presents we regrouped in the grassy area with the piñata. Finding it a bit morbid to hit an animal (piñata) with a stick, I had hoped to find a palm tree or something jungle-themed at our party store. However we emerged with a giant pink star which the boys helped grandmother embellish with additional colors and patterns for a wild result.

Evening slowly crept up on us, and after a bit more playground fun, racing, snacking and even some face painting it was time to bid adieu to the guests and pack up. The guests headed home with goodie bags filled with (what else!) animal crackers and goldfish to counter the sugar of the candy gathered from the piñata, while the five year old headed home with a full stomach of cake and jello. Vilis and his first birthday are up next!


  1. Looks like a very fun party. Daudz laimes, Lauri!

  2. What a wonderful birthday party. You are SO creative.. Great idea about the number ---5 guests for the 5 year older... NEAT....

    Looks like a fantastic day.



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