Animal Theme Party Ideas
If you can't stage your animal theme party at your local zoo, you can still turn your place into a wonderland for little creatures with a few clever tricks. If it's Old McDonald's farm you're after, throw some hay on the floor or improvise with cut-up pieces of raffia (available at craft stores, and much easier to vacuum up when the party's over).
Use red- and white-checkered table decorations for that country look, and create centerpieces using small farm-animal toys. These can later be dismantled for party favors when the kids are finished eating. To simulate a jungle or the Sahara, think zebra or leopard print, mini potted palms (fake or real), bamboo beaded curtains, and strings of animal-shaped mini lights.
To add even more ambience, play either a CD of animal sounds or some Martin Denny. This master of exotica frequently featured animal calls in his groovy, upbeat music.
The animals your guests choose as their costume depends on your theme: Barnyard equals roosters, chickens, pigs and cows, while safari will bring out lions, tigers and gazelles. Encourage everyone to dress up and channel their inner beast or bird. You can later stage a parade where every child gets to strut their stuff.
If the idea of costuming your child sends you into a panic, try this: Hire or become the party makeup artist to transform each kid into his or her dream animal! There are lots of books available with step-by-step instructions on how to re-create animal faces, and you'd be surprised at how still and quiet children become during face painting.
Kids' party activities don't need to be elaborate or expensive to be fun. Outdoor games like water balloon tosses, animal-themed DVDs and coloring books all keep little ones occupied and happy.
If you're planning on being indoors, corral your sweet little animals for some cookie decorating! Pre-bake batches of animal-shaped cookies and have your guests decorate them with colored icing, chocolate chips, cinnamon hearts and silver ball candies. These cookies can later be wrapped up and put in each child's goody bag.
You can also mix up a batch of baker's clay and make animal shapes with cookie cutters. The children can help with forming the animals, or simply paint and decorate them once they've baked and cooled.
Want a fun way to distribute your goody bags? Have the kids "fish" for their treats! Before the party, decorate a white sheet with colorful fish and other sea creatures and make a fishing pole by tying string to a stick and putting a clothespin on the other end. Attach the sheet over the door to a room or large closet, leaving a few feet at the top, and put the goody bags inside.
At the end of the party, get behind the "pond" and tell the kids they're going fishing. One at a time, have the kids cast their line over the sheet. Attach a goody bag to the clothespin and give the line a tug to let the child know when they've caught something.
If some of your animals are vegetarians, offer them veggies with different savory dips (guacamole, onion dip, hummus), macaroni and cheese, and every kid's favorite: pizza. If you have a bunch of carnivores on your hands, add hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.
Another fun idea kids love is a build-it-yourself sandwich bar. Arrange platters of meats, smoked/baked tofu slices, cheeses, veggies, breads and rolls, and encourage your guests to create their own masterpieces. The same basic concept can be applied to other yummy, kid-friendly foods like salads, tacos and ice cream sundaes.
Orange Cranberry Juice
- 1 qt chilled fresh orange juice
- 1 qt chilled cranberry cocktail
Stir together orange and cranberry juices in a large pitcher. Pour into glasses filled with ice.