You know how it is with second children—they seem to get a little less than their first born siblings. Less photos, more handmedowns, etc. With Viola we had birthday parties every year. In hindsight, I wasn’t sure that that was time, money, or effort well spent as those early parties she didn’t really enjoy or even remember. With Eva I decided that we would only do “big” parties from age 5-9 (10 and beyond I figured both girls would be wanting to do slumber parties instead of the themed extravaganza’s we’d been having). The early parties with Eva were simple family affairs. We got our cute photos of her eating cake or smashing an ice cream sundae and that was that. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
All was going well until a few months before Eva’s 4th birthday when she started planning her party—herself! She began telling anyone who would listen (grandmas, nanny, preschool teachers) all about the birthday party she was going to have when she turned 4, and they relayed the information to me much to my surprise. She was very particular: it would be an Ariel birthday party, with fish balloons, and a “tall, tall, tall” fish cake, and Ariel and Prince Eric would be there, too. Suffice to say, this was all news to me. But she was so adamant about it and so adorably particular that I just couldn’t help but break my own rule. And so we had an Under-the-Sea themed birthday party!
Room Wraps – I am a big fan of room wraps because they’re an inexpensive way to really transform a space. We like to cover our bookshelves in our party room with a room wrap to keep the kids from touching the knick-knacks on them. For the Under-the-sea party we found ocean themed room wraps which we added a coral reef overlay to.
Seaweed – I used twisted green crete paper to create seaweed around the room, too.
Fish, Fish everywhere – I bought several types of paper and inflatable fish which we strung from the helium balloons overhead, and attached to the walls. We found helium balloons in various fish shape, including sea turtles and dolphins, which we let loose in our high-ceiling’d room. I attached green streamers to the strings to look like seaweek and enhance that “under the sea” feel. Small clear and blue balloons (half inflated) served as bubbles.
Sunken pirate ship – We reused the pirate ship from our pirate & princess party as well, and pretended it was a “sunken ship”.
Ariel’s Grotto - We covered the fireplace in fishnet and re-used some of the pirate treasure from our Pirate&Princess party to create Ariel’s “grotto”, complete with inexpensive candelabra full of silverware of course!
Table settings – We reused the spindle tables (honestly, those things have gotten so much use!), with Ariel-themed tablecloths and more fishnet. I also found fish confetti which we sprinkled about. We re-used the stacked clear dishes as centerpieces that we had from our Frozen party, which I filled with seashells, and the shabby chic teacups/teapots from our Pirate/Princess party as well.
BUBBLE MACHINE – no under the sea party would be complete without a BUBBLE MACHINE. I personally hate bubbles (gasp!) but when I commit to a theme I commit 100%!
Treats / Food
Buffet - The buffet included starfish sandwiches (PP&J cut with a star shaped cookie cutter), “SeaFoam” (blue cotton candy), candy sushi, seaweed grape kebobs, goldfish served with a fishnet, clam cookies, seaweed salad, a watermelon sharp, blue jello cups with happy banana dolphins, and more! I found cute sea creature kabob sticks which I liberally stuck into all the food!
Cake - The bakery where we usually get our birthday cakes had gone out of business a few months before our Ariel party. Our friend Becky offered to make the cake and WOW! did she outdo herself! I bought ready-made blue icing and a variety of sugar fish; because Ariel is Eva’s favorite character, we already had on hand lot so Ariel decorations from her doll set that we were able to use for the cake. Becky used crushed nilla wafers to make the sandy sea floor bootom and green sour straws for seaweed. BEST.CAKE.EVER!
FUN & GAMES
Facepainting - Eva remembered the facepainter we had had for her sister’s party, and this was one of the details she’d ‘planned’. She wanted everyone to have mermaid scales facepaint. Unfortunately, since we were planning this party super last minute Cindy was unavailable, but with the help of the internet and a little experimentation I figured out how to get the mermaid scale effect using fishnet stockings and blue/green face paint!
Storytime – Prince Eric and Ariel came for storytime and to visit with the kids and to take photos. The kids LOVED chatting with them and singing along to some of their favorite songs.
Games – The kids played a variety of games to fill their goody bags with prizes. We had octopus ring-toss, magnetic fishing, and ducks floating in water like at the carnival (does that game have a name?), as well as crab sandbox that the kids could dig through and keep the treasure that they found (reused from our pirate party). Once again: sand throughout my house for weeks, but SO WORTH IT!
GOODIE BAGS / PRIZES
Each girl received a sandbucket to collect the goodies she won in the carnival-style games (every one was a winner!), which included seashells with fish and seashell shaped soaps/bath fizzies (fishing station), mermaid-themed rubber duckies (duckie station), seashell necklaces (ring toss station), pirate treasure (sand station), and fish-themed candy from the buffet.
Re-use is a big theme in our house and part of how we are able to have such “big” decorated parties is by creatively reusing and recombining elements from other parties. The Mermaid party was two months before our Luau party, so a lot of the same decorations were re-used for that party, which helped me justify the cost knowing that they’d be used at least twice. At the time of writing this post they’ve gone on to be used 3 more times… for Eva’s Moana party, Viola’s Jungle Cruise party, and as set decorations for a community theater play the girls were in!
I’m so glad I “gave in” and let Eva have a party a year early. She still talks about her Mermaid party. I learned lots from this party – how to facepaint, and how to bake tiered cakes! – and have so many great memories!