The birthday tradition in our family is as follows; the birthday boy gets to invite as many guests as he is years-old, and pretty much has free reign over a theme, within reason. So when the almost-6-year-old decides he would like to have a Costa Rica party I started the ball rolling on a rainforest/beach/tropical party to celebrate Lauris turning 6!
For decorations we kept it simple as the majority of the party would take place outdoors: balloons and streamers. Cutting out a few ‘leaves’ from green construction paper and combining with green streamers to form palm fronds, we added brown balloons for coconuts to create palm trees in the dining room. The boys had fun sorting through their Toobs and figurines for animals that live in Costa Rica, and these paired with mini palm trees from a dinosaur set and sea shells helped set the tone. We used these paper plates for dinner and dessert - the set includes a sloth, green tree frog and toucan all in super-bright colors.
While we waited for everyone to arrive we snacked on tropical fruit: mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi and oranges, and of course strawberries – who could forget the fresh strawberries we had on the side of the volcano in the middle of winter!
I had set up a drink station with lemonade for the kids, featuring these ‘pick your nose party animals cups’ from amazon – a big hit for the goof factor, but also helpful in identifying which cup belonged to which kid. These bamboo-print biodegradable paper straws made for an extra little bit of a tropical feel.
Once all the guests arrived we set off on a treasure hunt. As I told the tale of the strange bearded fellow who had run through earlier with a treasure chest tucked under his arm, I handed the kids a scroll that had supposedly fallen from his pocket –directions to the snake pit!
The kids braved the snakes to find the second clue – a map of crocodile creek. Hidden in the kids’ pool among a giant inflatable alligator and dozens of brightly colored frogs were letters that spelled out ‘beach’ once they had arranged them in the correct order.
Once the explorers had scrambled over to the sand box they immediately dug in, quickly finding the hidden coconut. I had thought of drilling a hole in the coconut or cutting it in half and hiding a map on the inside, but considering as I have zero experience opening coconuts I opted to write ‘bridge’ on the outside in permanent marker.
Our playset had been transformed into the cloud forest, and after crossing the hanging bridges and flying down the final ‘zipline’ slide, the kids found the final stage of the treasure hunt – the piñata.
Once again we got lucky in finding a piñata that wasn’t animal-shaped; we opted for a flip-flop, the universal symbol for the beach. Filled with life-savers, an assortment of colorful plastic frogs and snakes, rainforest animal-shaped fruit snacks and other treats, the piñata was pretty hardy, and all the kids got some good whacks in before we let the birthday boy smash it open.
|little brother takes his turn: safety first!|
Once the goodies had been picked up it was time for some fun in the backyard. Between the pool, a slip-and-slide, the sandbox and the mud kitchen, the kids had a great time until the burgers and hot dogs were ready. After inhaling the food the kids jumped back into the games they had been playing, reappearing again only for the cake.
As Lauris specifically requested ‘an island in jello water’ for his cake, I borrowed from the pirate party cake with only a minor deviation in toppers – the pirate was replaced by animals.
It was a wild afternoon, but Lauris declared the party a success. The treasure hunt/šķēršļu gājiens is proving a favorite part of our recent parties, and I foresee them requiring more effort as the kids get older. There are also various decorations making repeat appearances at the various parties, although this was much simplified for this specific party by my loose interpretation of the theme. I had a lot of fun in our little ‘Costa Rica’ – happy birthday Lauri, and pura vida!