Somehow my baby turned four. Don’t ask me how it happened. I remain as mystified at that as I am that my oldest is just shy of 15. Life’s full of mysteries, friends. Kids grow up.
Anyway, little man requested a tiger party. Maybe he wanted a Daniel Tiger party, I don’t know. But he didn’t say Daniel Tiger party. He just said tiger party. So I threw him a tiger party. I tried to walk the line between phoning it in (like the first three birthdays, each more lame than the previous one) and going all out and making myself crazy.
Surprisingly, I think I [mostly] found that sweet spot.
But before we get to the party let’s talk about the cake. I planned cupcakes for the party. I find cupcakes easier with kids, and faster. However for our family celebration I wanted to do as the birthday boy requested: tiger cake. He’s been so excited about a tiger cake that waiting for his turn in birthday season was agony for him. Doesn’t Granddaddy want a tiger cake? Mummy? Daddy?
I used the suggestions from PBS Kids in shaping the cake, and it was pretty easy to do. As my cupcake ears weren’t as tall as the double-layered cake I broke up a granola bar to prop them up. A total Nailed It! move.
He watched me make the cake with rapt anticipation, and yet the lack of surprise didn’t dampen his excitement when it came time to light the candles.
In fact, he blew one out before we even started to sing.
He was excited about the decoration of the cake, but I was most excited about the inside. I didn’t measure, but I used the method from King Arthur Flour instead of freestyling a marble cake. I love the effect. In retrospect I wouldn’t have made it a layer cake, but a tall single-layer cake. I think that would allow the stripes to stand out better. (I’m already trying to come up with a new excuse for a striped cake.)
Without further ado: Party Time!
I scheduled the party in between mealtimes because I didn’t want to feed the troops a full meal. However you can’t have a party without food! What do you serve at a tiger party? Orange foods, obviously.
When I stumbled across orange duct tape I knew it would be perfect for jazzing up water bottles. I striped the oranges just as easily as the water bottles. I made tiger tails with pretzels and candy melts. The rest of the foods weren’t tiger-specific, but orange, and they helped round out our foods. On the hummus plate I chopped up carrots and an orange pepper. I filled the bowls with orange popcorn, cheese-its, and goldfish crackers.
Party Decorations and Favours
I thought I was pretty clever for making the balloons do double duty as decorations and party favours. I stuffed a small safari animal, some candy, and a glow stick into each balloon as I inflated it. Huzzah! Decorations and goodie bags all in one! Usually children are sad when balloons pop, but when these pop instead of being sad they will discover a prize! It’s like a pinata.
In retrospect I would have kept the balloons in a bouquet and out of reach until the children left. Only then would I have passed them out. Remember what I said about the kids being pleasantly surprised when the balloons popped? Well by the time the party was over most of the balloons had been popped. So when the kids left I just made sure they had a toy, a glow stick, and some candy. With or without balloon.
I didn’t want to overschedule the kids. We had guests ranging in ages from 2 to 12 so whole-group activities would be difficult. But certainly they needed a little structure. Once a critical mass of guests had arrived I gathered them and gave them each a pair of binoculars. I need your help, I told the kids. There are animals lost all over the backyard, please go find them.
Once found, we put the animals in the sandbox. Free play at it’s finest.
My middle son ran a ring toss game in the yard for whomever was interested. We called it “Catch a Tiger by it’s tail.” And I didn’t get any good photos of it.
The only other formal game I had was Pin the Tail on the Tiger. As children arrived I invited them to personalize a tail before we would put them on the tiger. It was an easy thing to do, but I was surprised at how much some of the kids really engaged.
My 14 year old offered face painting to anyone who was interested. When bath time came at the end of the day, this little tiger cried crocodile tears that I would wash off his face paint. Having big brothers is super awesome. Everyone should have big brothers in their lives.
Before I knew it, the party was over and it was time to say goodbye. It was a grrr-ific day!