Two hungry caterpillars in our family have just had birthdays, so we had a 5th and a 1st birthday celebration rolled into one. Fortunately, 5 year olds love the Very Hungry Caterpillar just as much as Mum and one year olds, helped along by having had 'mini beasts' as a theme at kindy last term. I was only slightly worried he wouldn't comply, as he does love to sit and look at birthday cake books...picking out his next birthday cake shortly after the previous one. He wanted a ship. Our hungry caterpillar cake was WAY better! I'll saved that bit 'til last.
With so many wide and varied ideas for Very Hungry Caterpillar parties, Pinterest being the source of inspiration for much of our party, I did have trouble limiting myself to only a few. Five year old Keegan was an able and willing helper for much of what we did. So, what did we choose?
I came across free printable hungry caterpillar images at Make it Cozee , so used them to make the invitations, similar to these ones at Imprintables. Bit adorable, I just couldn't justify $5 each for them so made up my own. My lack of printer ink and the tooing and froing from Officeworks was probably almost worth the $5 each in the end. Imprintables do have some beautiful invitations.
Speaking of adorable, I made a little dress for Anya. Special 1st birthday dress. I had bought fabric from a couple of different places, not quite allocated for any particular purpose, other than a messy mat for under her highchair. I wanted to make a dress for her to wear for the party. After seeing a few ideas online, nothing was jumping out at me, so I waited. And waited.
I spent a good part of the two weeks before the party sewing things.
I sewed bean bags.
I sewed ties for the boys to wear.
(I think he was pretty happy with his)
I started the messy mat (which for the party ended up covering an art canvas for a decoration)...
And then it came to me. The dress. I'll just do another Pop Frock (Ala Make it Perfect). And put wings on it. When I did that, I had a..."OMG, you rock" moment with myself. It actually worked. It was perfect!
Then there was the party food...
I made up my own food labels, Keegan taped the pop sticks on the back. I found the link for the images at Make it Cozee. I did find a few blogs offering free printables but I wanted to include pictures of fruit, not just words. Most five year olds I know can't read yet! Not that they needed a label to know that apples were apples. I just liked the idea of it.
On the party table we had fruit. Apples and pears, left whole, plums (yes, I managed to find early season cherry plums), strawberries and oranges.
Instead of cut up oranges, I made a orange jelly cups in a rainbow of colours, cut into wedges. I was expecting this to be a bit tricky, but if your mother-in-law is of the CWA/Country Club watermelon-onion salad vintage, like mine, she will have a melon baller and that makes the job of removing orange pith ridiculously easy! I have to confess, I don't think I've seen my mother-in-law make watermelon salad or go to CWA or the Country Club, but she still has a melon baller. So, thanks for the loan! Because it was a warm day, we were worried the jelly would melt into a sticky mess so only put a few out at a time.
These are the oranges I made, looking pretty good if I say so myself. These pics were taked about 4 or 5 days after the party, which I think is why the red one went a bit crinkly, though none of the others did...can't explain?!
Along with the fruit we had Vegan Black Bean Brownies for the chocolate cake. Turns out, being a vegan recipe these were egg free, nut free and dairy free. Suitable for a couple of our party guests with allergies. And divine! I've made them before and the didn't last long. This time I tripled the recipe and froze them. A mere three were scoffed before being hidden in the freezer for the rest of the week. I know they wouldn't have made it to Saturday morning otherwise.
Cupcakes...I kept with the egg and dairy free baking as I had used the Vanilla Orange Cupcakes recipe from Chocolate Chilli Mango (cool name, huh!) and knew it was a winner with my super fussy, allergic to egg nephew. I only put orange zest in half of the cupcakes, just in case he (super fussy nephew) didn't like them. But I forgot to mention it on the day. I'm not sure if he even ate one of these or not this time, but I did make lamingtons out of them a while ago and he ate those. And. I give myself extra points for this. I did make the dairy free salted chocolate caramel frosting in the recipe. Delicious! Admittedly, I was sceptical. Soy cream cheese?!? What the heck. I did have to search a few stores to find it. Clearly not much demand for it in my local area, but I found it.
Lollipops...I thought the availability of blue and yellow swirl lollipops would have been profuse, given the popularity of the book. But no. I couldn't find any on the Internet. Not one. Yellow swirl yes, blue swirl yes, but no blue and yellow swirls. So we visited Lolly in Fremantle, and they kindly made them exactly how we wanted! Perfect. Just like in the book!! These were the first food to disappear off the table, parents no doubt cringing when I say, "don't worry, there are more hidden in the garden for the treasure hunt".
We also had the rest of the food on the hungry caterpillar's menu - Swiss cheese, salami, pickles (gherkins to us), cherry pie in the form of cherry lollies (also from Lolly), sausages (cocktail frankfurts - geez, how we all love those things, even though we know that we shouldn't), watermelon (as predicted, we were unable to restrain Nathan from eating a third of the plate before any of our guests arrived) and a nice green leaf. This was a iceberg lettuce leaf rolled up with a toothpick. Not as popular as the lollipops.
I hear you asking, what about the ice cream cone? I had mini ice cream cones and Keegan's current favourite ice cream - mango sorbet, but forgot to get them made up and out on the table...oops! Being a pretty hot day, they would have lasted 5 minutes before potentially being another melted sticky mess, so I'd figured I leave them until later. Just... too much later.
A treasure hunt - kids loooove treasure hunts, being intrepid explorers, secret agents, or just finding lollies and things hidden in the garden. Keegan cut out red circles for the caterpillar's head, while I cut out the mouth, body and stomach, stapled them onto a Ziploc bag and voila, a caterpillar party bag. The kids collected all that the very hungry caterpillar ate ... I realised the night before I had left out the pickle. Ugh. I don't eat pickles. Probably why I forgot about it. So I told them, whomever ate a pickle would win a prize. I didn't think any of them would. But two of our little friends mustered the courage for the challenge. Anything if there is some sort of reward!
For the younger children, we had hidden egg carton caterpillars in the garden (mostly painted by Keegan). One contained a star, for a lucky spot prize. How else do you play games for children under 18 months to win something ?!! No pass the parcel this time. Layers for twenty two children was going to be just too many!
There was a 'secret surprise' box for them to put their hand into find a butterfly, amongst parachute men, yo-yos and chocolate money.
Decorate a butterfly, constructed with a wooden spoon and foam butterfly cutout (many thanks to my cousin Emma's efforts at helping me trace and cut these out and to the Retro Housewife for the inspiration).
Throw beanbags through the hole in the fruit. Keegan wasn't keen on the beanbags, but wanted caterpillars to put through the fruit. I didn't make caterpillars, I made beanbags kid.
Keegan helped me paint the fruit onto large Aussie Farmers vegie box lids. I cut the top half out and used a brick to hold them down. A couple of garden stakes would have worked a bit better as the boys mighty throwing with their beanbags often tipped the fruit over. I should start a post with 101 things to do with your Aussie Farmers box.
They were also fun for looking through.
Anya had fun throwing beanbags too!
And making good use of the basket in the sun...
More of the dress... because I was just so so excited about how well it worked. If you want to know how to stiffen up fabric for butterfly wings, ask someone else. There is probably a much better way than what I did. The fabric butterfly was one from a Very Hungry Caterpillar panel I've had put away for a while.
What else, what else...
Caterpillar headbands. I looked in many cheap stores for packs of black headbands but couldn't find any. The best find were these, 5 for $3. All the boys wanted black ones, so with only a few girls at the party, there were lots of purple and pink ones left. Thank you Baxter for being so obliging and wanting to look the part!
And...I told you I was saving the best bit for last...
The Cake...Wow!!. My friend Kate from Groovytater Catering did such an amazing job on this cake. We were blown away! And to top it off, it was an egg, nut and dairy free cake, that tasted fantastic! Just like birthday cake should.
Then the candle blowing...
And the cake eating...
The candle holder with the candle, gnome and numbers one and five were purchased from a beautiful little gift and book shop in Bibra Lake called The Honeyclock. Check it out some time!
There are some other great ideas that I would have used at Mondocherry, just decided in the end what we had was plenty, plus I ran out of time! I especially liked their dress up butterfly wings (something I think we'll add to our dress up box) and the tissue paper pom-pom caterpillar. I now have a reasonable stack of green and red tissue paper. Christmas gifts.
And if you think I may have gone a little overboard with the whole hungry caterpillar theme thing, check out this amazing very hungry caterpillar 1st birthday party!
In a Nutshell...
Cake by Kate from Groovytater Catering
Photography by myself, some kind person who picked up my camera during 'the cake moment' and my talented friend Elke
Free printables at Make it Cozee
Games - caterpillar treasure hunt, bean bags & giant fruit
Fun stuff - caterpillar headbands, decorate butterfly spoons
Lollipops from Lolly
Anya's sweet adorable party dress - Pop Frock by Make it Perfect (pattern in the Make it Perfect book)
I think that was a bit of an easy one!! Keep thinking 'outside the box' to find the next clue. If you are stuck, please send me a message for another hint!
"Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast"
Remember, think outside the box. It's not on this site!