Monkey -1yr- Empanadas, Coconut Rice & Pineapple Chicken
Cailean in Seattle, WA USA
For our son's first birthday we already knew we wanted to do a monkey theme since he always has acted like a little monkey the way he clings on with his hands and feet and the way he uses his feet to touch and hold things. It was hard to find monkey things separate from a safari or jungle theme. We knew we wanted South and Central American monkeys vs. the African apes so at least we had somewhere to start.
INVITATIONS: We typed out invitation details and formatted them in a banana shape, printed them out, then cut out yellow cardstock to go on top and then cut the cardstock in half so the recipients could peel back to reveal the invitation details. We said Our monkey is turning 1! We'd go bananas if you'd join us!
DECORATIONS: I couldn't get enough free brown paper grocery bags so I bought a roll of the brown craft paper and cut it into thin strips which I then rolled and twisted into long brown vines and then cut out and taped on green construction paper leaves. In retrospect, brown streamers could have easily replaced the twisted vines. I found some good palm tree decor at our local party store a 6 tall joined palm tree we nailed to the wall and a few inflatable palm trees and monkeys for very inexpensive.
I also got a handful of brown balloons which I made into monkeys balloon heads with brown circle eyes, light brown oval mouths with red lips, long thin rectangular nostrils and then brown ears all glued or taped onto the balloon. I left the balloon end as the top so it could be like a tuft of hair. I then simply cut out a body, arms, legs, and tail from thick brown construction paper. The monkeys turned out very cute.
I hung vines from the ceiling, the doorframe between the kitchen table and the kitchen and then hung the monkeys from the vines and then also from our table ceiling lamp above the kitchen table and also from the jointed palm tree on the wall.
GAMES: Since just our family was over, games were geared towards the grown-ups.
The first was that everyone had to find the orange fruit slices (grows in the jungle, right?) in a Cool Whip container (one per person) and the first to get all out won.
The second game was that everyone had to make up a creative way to get a banana from one end of the room to the other without using hands to hold or feet to kick. One person picked it up with their mouth and walked it to the other end, another pretended it was a hacky-sack and sort of swooshed it to the end of the room, another hopped it across, another got it somehow onto their shirt and took it across on their shoulder.
The third game was that everyone teamed up and one sat down while the other stood behind them and had to sight unseen put on a marshmallow creme beard and then stick on a cup of coconut to create the beard. The winner was the best judged by us. I had created a tall stick of bamboo on the wall with green construction paper leaves taped on. This was the prize wall. The bamboo were actually sticks of Charleston Chew stacked high and the winners took one to take home.
FOOD: This was a challenge to come up with South American cuisine everyone would like. I made black bean banana empanadas, coconut rice, chicken skewered with a pineapple dipping sauce, a tropical fruit pasta salad, a bean and corn salad, and chips and pineapple salsa. I had a sign in each of the food to explain why it was jungle-related. The drink was orange-pineapple blend juice.
CAKE: I made a simple 9 round cake, two layesrs, put banana pudding in the middle and frosted it with chocolate frosting. I had used some batter to bake two cupcakes and cut off the bulbous top and used the rest to stick in as ears. I used Junior Mints as eyes, licorice as a mouth, yellow frosting as the fur around the mouth and as the ear fur, and then cut out tiny strips of dark fruit leather as the nostrils. It turned out pretty cute. We also had ice cream to go with it wanted Chunky Monkey Ben & Jerry's ice cream but couldn't find it! Has it been discontinued? I also put banana chips around the cake. I should mention that as part of the eating decoration, the tablecloth was green and we took Curious George napkins and painstakingly found a similar font and typed out our son's name and colored it in blue like the napkins had George colored in, the taped each XXXXX name on over George. I also made the brown paper cups into little monkeys but adding on construction paper faces and ears.
FAVORS: When everyone left, they also took home a favor in addition to the monkey hanging from the jointed palm tree, I had found some banana flavored gum in monkey packages at a party store. So I bought some yellow and brown felt and made little felt bananas and put the gum packages inside. I then hung the bunches of bananas from nails behind the tree. It really looked like they were hanging from the tree. Everyone got one before they left. It was fun and definitely ALL monkey!