DIY Mama: Sea Turtle "Honu" Birthday Party & Children's Party Planning Tips!

When my son turned 2 we threw him a sea turtle themed birthday party. Of course since our family lived on Kauai for a few years we can't call sea turtles anything but Honu. When our lil guy was taking swimming lessons we'd say, "Swim Baby Honu, Swim!" (We still say that actually, haha.) So when I saw the most adorable Sea Turtle party decorations at a party store I knew I had to get them!  It's a good thing he was still technically a year old when I was shopping for party stuff and he didn't have a set opinion on them. That all changes at 3. 

Here are some of our simple ideas for the party:

This pattern also had alternative napkins and some decorations that said "Baby's 1st Birthday!"  I usually buy one pack of plates in each size of the birthday pattern and then plain colored plates in the party color theme at a party or discount store. I make sure all of the children have a party theme plate. They are the one who notice those kinds of things. All of the dads, grandpa's and your own husband/sig other would be happy just eating off of their hands or putting food directly on the table. They could care less what the plate looks like. So don't feel the need to pay extra for every single plate to be in the birthday pattern. I got plain cups and added some Honu stickers on each cup (which for some reason none of the stickers are showing in this pic!  LOL!) We also had a sharpie marker and wrote each child's name on the cups.
Photo wall for the birthday boy and guests. 
I made the "banner" myself out of construction paper. I traced the letters of his name with a stencil and added some Honu stickers that I bought with the decorations. I love buying the stickers that come in the pattern of the decorations. You can use them for so many things!  The "banner" isn't even strung together. I just taped them close together. I bought the Honu picture and the palm tree at the Dollar Store (they are seasonal items.)  I made the tissue pom poms myself. The woody is a one-of-a-kind item though. My mother-in-law is a talented artist and she painted that for his bedroom. We have a surfer/beach/honu theme in his room as well.

You can move the girl off the island...

Anyway, so my MIL found a woody and took a picture of it and painted it on that thick foam poster board and then used a razor to cut around it. She was like, "it was no big deal. Just an easy little art project."  Right!  I'll leave it up to the experts. But it was a big hit for our guest picture wall and now it hangs in his room. We think it's awesome!

We booked the party room at an indoor play place and they had a king's chair for the birthday kid. It was HUGE! You can't really see the sign I made but it has my son's name and the #2 as well as some more Honu stickers. We got some star balloons in the green and blue party theme and then big sister choose the other two. She was so excited that she got to choose two of his balloons. We get them at the dollar store for $1.00 each. It's a cheap way to get a bunch of balloons!  Cheap works for me! 
Absolutely adorable craft idea I found online by talented author and artist Tammy Yee
Living on Kauai we saw her beautiful children's books all the time and read many of them when our daughter was a baby.  Here is the direct link to the Honu craft. She also makes a beautiful paper bag owl craft which we made for my daughter's 5th birthday party. It was a nature party with a nature hike and these two paper bag puppets were a great addition to our other nature themed crafts. Our guests raved about them at both parties. I followed along with her simple instructions on the link to the craft. 

We wrote this on the back of each paper bag so they were sure to go home with the right mommy or daddy who adopted them. 
Even the parents wanted to color!

Because we were at an indoor play place with a million things to do the little ones were way too busy to color during the party, so they finished them at home.
Plus most of them were just barely 2 years old so they didn't sit for too long!  That is why I only had this one simple craft and no games or piñata. The venue provided enough entertainment.  

Grammy baked and decorated all of the super yummy, homemade vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and the "Big Boy Cake" too, as our lil guy was calling it. For other parties I have made my own cupcake toppers but I couldn't resist buying these lil guys. They were just TOO cute!  

Next time I set up a photo op wall I'll be sure to stage the kids in front of it first so I can make space for all of the decorations. However, if you have ever booked a party room at a children's location you know your time is very limited and all of my elves were working fast to set things up and get the party rolling behind the scenes so the kids didn't feel too rushed. We ended up booking an extra 2 hours which sounds very expensive but it actually wasn't. We technically only had the party room for 2 hours (we eeked it out a bit though, it wasn't very busy that day) and we booked the total play time for 4 hours. It ended up only costing us an extra $2.00/$3.00 per child for the extra 2 hours of play time!  Crazy, right? I'm glad I asked about it and we were so glad we made that decision. This gave people a cushion if they were running late for the party (which parents with toddlers ALWAYS are - we are anyway) and we didn't want to feel rushed during the actually party time which is only 2 hours. How are you expected to play at the place and then have a birthday party with food and cake, games, etc. in only 2 hours? And we wonder why so many people have ADD!)
This way no one felt rushed and the kids had plenty of time to play before and after the actual party portion of the event and most of our guests stayed for about 3 1/2 hours or so and we were ready to go. It worked out well if you can fit it into the party budget. I put a few refueling snacks like raisins, juice and crackers in the goodie bag so there weren't too many tantrums in the car ride on the way home. 
Someone had been playing dress up and was refusing to let me see her face for the picture!   ;-)

Thank you for coming to our party!

Our simple lil Honu birthday party for our Baby Honu turned out super cute and a lot of fun for the kids!  

Kids Party Tips:
I'm a firm believer in keeping parties small and only inviting the kids your child sees often and enjoys playing with. This takes a lot of restraint on the parents part. Mainly mama. When the babies are a year old you can get away with inviting everyone on your list (all of the family members, friends and adults who don't have kids as well as all of your friends with kids all various ages.) When your child gets older 2 and 3 and above you should really try to stick to close relatives (grandparents and close cousins) and children your child already knows as well as kids in a similar age bracket (unless they are the sibling of your child's friend.)  For very little children I recommend sticking to a 2 year age bracket if possible. This usually means for a 2 year old it's ok to go up to 4 years old. An 8 year old will be totally bored at a party for a 3 year old regardless if it's your very best friend or not. And trust me, they will want and expect to be entertained!  Not kiddie games either. The difference of only 1 year even can make a HUGE difference with a group of very young kids playing together. This is good to keep in mind when you are planning to have age appropriate games (geared for the birthday child) and a piñata, etc.  A 5 year old will dominate everything at a 2 year olds party (and probably knock kids down as well) and it won't be fair for either child. Don't put children in this situation and then expect them to be perfect angels. It will end in tears.

Unfortunately, we went to a party once where my child no longer 'knew' the birthday child because it had been so long since they had seen each other (even though they played a lot as babies) and without going into detail, it didn't really go well because we were the only ones the birthday child didn't know really well. So it was crazy awkward for everyone. It wasn't their fault, they were just a child, but I should've listened to my gut when I was having doubts about going. 

The hard thing about that is that (thanks to Facebook) every single person who is a friend of yours with a child will expect to be invited to your child's party. This doesn't mean you should invite them. Less is better - for you and especially for the birthday child.  Birthday parties for children are overwhelming because there is a lot going on, it's usually a sugar free-for-all and it's total party overload so try to think of ways to make it easier for them. 

Hectic isn't fun. 

And having to stop playing with kids you do know to come over and give hello/goodbye hugs to kids you don't even know or don't remember isn't fun either (even though you've known the parents for a million years and you have pictures of the tow of them hugging and playing. They don't remember it. Invite them to YOUR party!) 

However, there is always going to be the, "I feel obligated to invite (fill in the blank)" maybe even a few - and that doesn't have to be as negative as it sounds. But ask yourself this: Would you invite this person and their child over for a one-on-one playdate with just you and your child?  

If the answer is no then you have your answer for your guest list. 

If you don't quite know how to let your friends know and you plan to share your child's party pics on facebook, etc., then you can blame it on the family budget why you are keeping it small. EVERYONE should be able to relate to that one. If not then I'd like to know your secrets. 

You can then say, "due to our tight family budget we have decided to keep the party very small so we are only inviting the kids we see all the time in his weekly playgroup/swim class, or her best buddies from school, etc."

We are in the process of getting ready for another birthday party around here and we are keeping it even smaller this time. Thanks to Pinterest children's birthday parties have gotten really out of hand lately. It inspired me to write this: - When we were kids you had birthday cake, punch and a few games with friends. Now it feels more like a destination wedding than a kid's birthday party.

Remember, less is more. Children will entertain themselves with a few good buddies and an open space to run, some chalk and some bubbles and toys you usually bring out when friends come over. You don't need to provide them with fabulous entertainment every minute of the party.  There is a saying to keep the guest count the same number as the age of the child. When they are ages 2-4 this can be kind of hard because you might have some really good friends you see weekly at a playgroup or something, but still try to keep it small if possible.  I hate to be harsh, but the total spaz kid who is a tyrant at playgroup becomes 10 times worse when there is sugar, excitement, overstimulation and another child's brand new toys involved. (Which brings me to an important point: Open all gifts after everyone goes home. Parents will understand.)

Remember this motto: Would you invite this person and their child over for a one-on-one playdate with just you and your child?  If the answer is 'no' then you have your answer for your guest list. 

Have fun and party on!  Oh yea, I'm on Pinterest now. I have been pinning ideas for our next birthday party. Can you guess what our theme is going to be?  Check out my Pinterest party board called,

And always you can follow me at twitter too.

Thanks for stopping by.

Coco Cana

1 comment:

  1. What a fun birthday party! You did a fabulous job on the decorations, and I'm sure the partygoers had a blast!


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