This year for my daughter’s birthday, we decided to go with a safari party theme. We chose the theme right after Christmas, as usual, but due to Girl Scouts and other activities, I got a late start on planning this year, so it was a bit more stressful trying to get all the decorations completed in time! But, after WAY TOO MANY late nights, I was able to turn our property into the wild jungle, animals and all! (Well, not real ones anyways – didn’t want to risk any kids getting eaten! 😉 )
The first thing I decided was that I needed a safari guide! I certainly did not want to try and entertain 15 children for 2 hours by myself, being the introvert that I am. So, off to the web to search my two favorite children’s entertainment companies! One of the companies was pretty limited to fairy tale and princess characters, so I couldn’t use them. But the other company that I have used in the past (for the Fairy Party) did have a safari explorer character available (yippee!). If you are in the Northern California Area, I highly recommend Happily Ever Laughter Parties, their entertainers are AMAZING! Miss River was our guide and she came dressed for the jungle:
Once I had a guide, it was time to start planning the party decor and activities. Off to Pinterest I went! I found some great ideas for DIY safari and jungle decorations as well as several ideas for a jungle obstacle course that the kids would complete while on safari. First I’ll shed a glimpse on the decorations I created and bought.
All my decorations were either handmade, or purchased from Amazon, Oriental Trading Company, the Dollar Store, Walmart, or Hobby Lobby. I probably could have gotten all the decor supplies from fewer places, but some of my ideas occurred when I was at a particular store upon seeing supplies there, so I bought them as I saw them.
When guests first arrived, the first thing they encountered was the sign at the beginning of our driveway announcing they were at the Brennan Safari Park! I used animal print duct tape that I purchased from Walmart, and then I glued on some safari animals that I printed pictures of, as well as the wording for the sign that I created using a Safari font I found and printed. Here is the sign at the entrance:
Next, using materials from the Dollar store, and spare wood that I had on hand, I lined the driveway with animal crossing signs that I created. These were the next decoration guests saw as they arrived and drove up the driveway:
Next were the deck decorations, which is where we had the tables, chairs, and food set up. I purchased all the table covers at the Dollar Store. Since the Dollar Store table covers tend to be pretty thin, I purchased two per table: a plain white cover to go on the bottom, and then the zebra stripe, pink, and white table covers to go over that (this ensured that the top table cover wasn’t see-through), so it only cost $2 per table to cover them (much cheaper than buying table covers on Amazon or through a party store, where they wanted around $5 or $6 for one safari-themed plastic table cover!
On Amazon, I purchased a pack of 50 leafy vines. I then used these to decorate everything around the back deck (wrapped some around the safari bridge (shown later in this post), some around the play structure, and I hung several from our fabric cover over our deck (used paperclips to attach the vines to the fabric. You can see the vines hanging down around the deck here:
For the table centerpieces, I had several dollar store glass vases that I purchased for previous parties, so I wrapped some twine around those for a more rustic look. I also had some plastic palm stems that I used for a Luau party a few years ago. I only had enough for two vases though, so off to Hobby Lobby I went! I found some giant tropical leaf stems that were perfect and bought those to fill the other two vases (we had four tables set up on the deck for seating). Here’s some pics of the centerpieces:
On Amazon, I found a bag of balloons with tiger, leopard, and zebra patterns on them. I didn’t want to deal with helium, so I purchased some balloon sticks so we could use the balloons as decor. We stuck some on the mailbox at the front of the driveway, and the others we stuck in the center of the fake palm leaf centerpieces (as you can see in the pictures above).
At Walmart, I found a banner kit made of thick tan paper, twine, and mini clothespins. That is also where I found the really cool animal print duct tape. Using these items and “Happy Birthday” wording in a Safari print (I’ll post my instructions for making the banner in a future post, stay tuned!), I created a cute safari-themed Happy Birthday banner that I hung on the wall above the food table:
Here’s a close-up:
To decorate the property so the kids could go on a safari, I purchased stand-up animals from Amazon (Shindigz sells them on Amazon). I bought two packs of 3 animals. The first pack had a giraffe, zebra, and lion, the second pack had an elephant, tiger, and gorilla. These come with cardboard stands, but since we were having the party outside and I didn’t want any wind to blow them over, my husband stapled them to wood stakes and put the stakes into the ground. For some of the animals, I created a “Beware of …” sign to put up next to the animal. I used spare wood boards that I had on hand, and printed off the wording in a Safari font, and then traced and colored it onto the wood with a Sharpie. Here are some pics of the stand-up cardboard animals (some look a little too real!) :
I also purchased some inflatable animals and a small floating hippo head from Amazon to add to the decor. The inflatable animals were a large crocodile that we put in the pond (with a wooden sign I made nearby stating “Beware of Crocodiles!”), and then I had a small 3′ inflatable giraffe and a small 3′ inflatable zebra, as well as a large inflatable anaconda (the anaconda will be shown in a picture later in this post). The small hippo head was too small to put into the pond, so I filled a large planter with water and then added some lily pads that I pulled out of the pond. I then put the hippo head floating in the planter amongst the lily pads:
Lastly, for decor, I made wooden signs that we hung around the property. The “Beware of Lions” sign was staked into the ground next to the cardboard lion and can be seen in the picture above, and the “Beware of Crocodiles sign was put next to the pond near the crocodile, as shown above. I also made a sign stating “Please don’t feed the animals” and hung that on a tree behind our house where the main portion of the party was and I made a directional sign showing which way to Base Camp, the Watering Hole, the Jungle, and Safari. Here are pics of those signs:
To begin the safari expedition, the kids had to stop at Base Camp to pick up their safari gear. I had a stand with plastic poles that came as part of a Tiki bar kit that I purchase for a previous party, so I used a portion of that kit to create Base Camp. I created yet another wood sign stating Base Camp and hung that from the poles used to make the “hut”. Here is included all the safari gear for each child (these were all the favors for the party). Each child got a net cargo backpack, a pair of toy binoculars, a small plastic compass, a safari pith hat, and a safari animal mask (these were all purchased from Amazon):
Now for the details on the safari and obstacle course! To start, the kids crossed a bridge (that I built, plans for that will come in the future!) that crossed a river (blue tarp) filled with small slithery snakes and one giant anaconda (inflatable snake). All of these were purchased on Amazon. Here is a pic of the first obstacle course task:
Next, was a slackline with a training line that we put up between two trees (Slackline was purchased on Amazon) that the kids had to cross:
After the slackline, the safari guide led the kids to a ‘rustic log’ (two 4×6 boards held up by retaining wall bricks) that they had to cross:
After crossing the rustic log, the little explorers next jumped through hoops (literally!) I hung four hula hoops in a row from a tree branch using rope and the explorers climbed through the hoops:
Once the kids climbed through the hoops, they next had to crawl through a deep, dark, jungle tunnel (not really, it was a series of pool noodles staked into the ground and it was quite open to the outside, but hey, we’re pretending here! 🙂 ):
Once the kids escaped the tunnel, they had to brave jumping from log to log to avoid being eaten’ by crocodiles!
And finally, the last obstacle was to climb through jungle vines to escape the jungle (stretchy nylon rope tied back and forth around a group of trees)!
Once all the kiddos and the safari guide had escaped the jungle alive, it was time for face painting! The safari guide was also an amazing face painter! Here are some pics of the birthday girl getting her face painted:
Once everyone had their face painted, it was time for a picture with the safari guide in front of the African Savannah (background purchased from Oriental Trading Company):
Then it was time for cake and cupcakes! I made the cake myself using boxed cake mix. I stacked the cakes and made buttercream frosting that I frosted all three cakes with. I then used sugar sheets for the zebra and giraffe patterns. I added some zebra patterned candles and some small plastic trees and safari animals. For the cupcakes, I found some zebra pattern cupcake liners at Walmart and then I used canned cake decorating frosting to decorate the cupcakes (used black, white, and pink to match the table covers):
For food for the party, I put that out at the beginning so people could eat while we were waiting for the entertainer to arrive. I chose to purchase a party pack of fried chicken and chicken strips for the main food. Then I made a pasta salad and a cous cous salad and put them in wooden bowls for side dishes. I also had a veggie tray and a fruit tray out for people to munch on.
It was such a fun party and all the kids seemed to have a great time. I know this is a party my daughter will hopefully remember for a lifetime!