Beach Birthday Party

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Giant Octopus Attacks Local Pool! Ok, the papers didn’t really say this the next morning, but they sure could have. Octopi attacks are a real issue these days, especially in southern Utah. I love having a July baby to plan a birthday for and the town pool seems like an obvious place to hold such an event.

I wanted to be sure to have a child-planned party with her, instead of a mom-planned party for her. I wanted something she could help with, own, and love. I also wanted her to help and she wanted to help just the same. Helping included letting her make lots of the decorations for the event. She picked the theme, from my suggestions, and then I picked a color scheme so that no matter what we made it would be cohesive. Sure some of the things weren’t picture perfect, but the party was hers and she loved it even more because she was part of the process. Seriously, get your kid involved in the party planning; that way you are working on something wonderful together instead of you taking time from them to get something done. I had a blast co-planning the party with a five-year-old; she has a knack for event planning.

Now I’ll show you around.

A giant starfish welcome sign that she made. I cut it out and glued it together; she wrote and dotted (notice the fish on its upper arm, she thought the starfish might need a friend).

A green paper star-shaped welcome sign in children's handwriting hanging on a fence

The set-up:
Two party tables with a giant inflatable octopus and beach-themed decorations

This my daughter didn’t help with…. I made it the day of the party while she played with cousins. This is actually an orange igloo cooler that I covered. The “tooth” is where the water comes out. 🙂 Pretty sweet way to work a big ugly drink cooler into the party. I’ll tell you how I did it later in the week.
A giant hand-crafted blue octopus table decoration

We made a fun sea creature garland to hang here and there. She picked the shapes she wanted, I cut them out of scrapbook paper, and then she helped me add the accents and tape them to some yarn. We cut out two kinds of seashells, star fish, two kinds of fish, dolphins, and seahorses.

Here are the details she added. Again, not Pottery Barn approved but adorable because she made them.
A close-up of a child-crafted fish garland decoration

A fish with “lungs”:
A close-up of a child-made fish garland decoration

I love themed party food! These beach-inspired treats were low-key, easy, and kid-friendly.

We had the catch of the day: Swedish and Gold Fish
Escargot: Ham and cream cheese pinwheels
Cowboy Caviar: Bean and corn salsa
Dried Starfish Legs: tortilla chips for the salsa
Oysters a la Ranch: Ranchified Oyster crackers
Starfish: Birthday cake with buttercream icing
A collage of beach-themed party snacks and a starfish shaped cake

To add a little beach to our party, I put down a plastic tablecloth, spread sand on top, and then put a piece of clear vinyl on top (bought at the fabric store for $1/yard) so that the food wouldn’t get sand on it. Then I laid out seashells and the food. You can buy seashells from the Dollar Store in big packs. I thought this was a cheap way to add a lot of impact and loved how it turned out.
A party table with sand and shell decorations, a sand dollar cake, and a starfish cake

Glass jars with sand, seashells, and rope:
3 mason jars with sand and seashells and a rope at the top
A giant blue hand-made octopus on a party table with yellow tablecloth and beach-themed decorations

The fence behind the octopus was the perfect place to hang our jellyfish. The wind blew through that way and made them flutter and dance just perfectly. I’ll let you know how we made them later, too.
A collage of images of jellyfish crafted from coffee filters

Pools and birthday parties are awesome because the entertainment is built right in.
A little boy sitting with his feet in a pool, smiling and holding a party blower

A girl in a bathing suit and towel blowing out candles on a starfish shaped birthday cake

I’m so glad that I went about the party with May in charge. This was the least stressful and most fun party I’ve done yet. Thanks for the help, little one, and happy birthday to you!
So what do you think? Could you let your child help you and feel ok inside when things aren’t perfect?

I’m linking this project up over at:
36th Avenue

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  1. This is such an interesting idea for a fun kids party. I am sure kids will have a great time creating memories. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  2. What a fun party! I love the octopus—I have never thought to decorate the water cooler but that is so fun! And what a great idea to include the birthday kid in the prep. I’ve done that some in the past but will definitely look for more chances to do it in the future. ❤️

    1. It’s a gallon pickle glass pickle jar! I’ve never seen a gallon mason jar before but it would be pretty.

    1. Hey!

      Last summer got away from me and I never posted how to make that drink cooler. I essentially just used plastic table clothes from the Dollar Store. I wrapped one around for the cooler and added eyes and then I cut others long way (with the plastic doubled, not just one layer) and then stapled up the sides for the legs. I stuffed them with newspaper. I just set the legs under the filled cooler when ready and it held them down great.

      I hope that helps!

      Thanks so much, Melissa

  3. I was SICK when we showed up so late. I think the day just got away from us. I LOVE this party. SOOOO CUTE!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE the sand under the table, the jars, the octopus but mostly I love the decorations Macey made. They are perfect! What a great bonding thing. I’m trying to let go of my need for perfection and let my little help more with stuff like this too. And I can’t tell you how excited I am to have met you in real life and to have a new friend! Not sure how many more all nighters I can pull with you (I’m getting way to old for that) but I had a great time getting to know you better!

  4. Looks so neat! You put a lot of work into making a memorable party for your daughter. Love the mason jars with shells.

  5. Could I let him help? YES. 🙂 He helped do his cookie monster cake (the extent of the party last year, I’m afraid… other than the food. Of COURSE we had food. :)) and he STILL talks about it.

    But the question is: could I ever do something this cute?! I love the cooler and the ideas for the food. It’s tons of fun. 🙂 I bet Macey LOVED it.

    Happy Birthday Macey! Wish we could have come and partied with you!

    It was so nice to see you guys on the fourth… I wish it’d been longer! We need a nice chat, Melissa! 🙂