Friday, October 24, 2014

the very hungry Gwyneth

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to bring you a report of Gwyneth's Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed birthday party!  (Since it's based on a classic children's book, this post is at least tangentially related to my blog theme, right?)
Party appetizer: grape caterpillar skewers
This is not a new concept, of course: just do a search for Very Hungry Caterpillar Party on Pinterest and an overwhelming number of ideas for decorations, foods, and favors will assault you with the ferocity of a thousand swirling Martha Stewarts sculpting a butterfly piñata out of twelve years' worth of carefully-stored-in-archival-quality-lignan-free-paper belly button lint, hand-dyed in a rainbow of hues from organic beet peelings, kale leaves, and harvested-under-a-blue-moon fairy wings.

Me, I'm not crafty like that.

Therefore, we rented a shelter at a local city park so we wouldn't have to do much in terms of decorations, and I put my energy into food, activities, and the favors.

(Mmmm...caterpillar food!)

Rather than staying scrupulously faithful to the book --I didn't really want to prepare one apple, two strawberries, three plums and so forth all the way through a slice of pizza, a sausage, and a cupcake--I started with several book-inspired salads and appetizers.

"In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf."
Rather than serving the fruits separately, I just threw them into a salad.  
(For the dressing, I infused fresh ginger into a simple syrup and added lots of fresh mint.) 
Butterfly Pasta Salad--featuring farfalle pasta
(shaped like butterflies!)
"Then he ate through one nice green leaf,
and he felt much better."
Sandwich supplies
Dessert was easy: Caterpillar Cakes!

(store-bought cupcakes spread with store-bought icing
into which I mixed green and yellow food coloring)
As for the decor, I ran out of time to do what I really wanted (making yard decorations out of green paper plates stapled to chopsticks and inserted in the ground at appropriate lengths to look like the iconic famished creepy-crawly).  But since the party was outside, decorations weren't even necessary.

We did set the atmosphere with some insect-inspired children's music:

silly, catchy songs about bugs--educational, but the kids don't even realize they're learning!
And we did a craft: a "sticky table," using adhesive contact paper (backing removed) taped to a table. I provided little crafty doodads, like paper leaves, sequins, plastic grass from sushi plates, pompoms, pipe cleaners, and colorful caps from squeezy baby food pouches, and the party-goers made 3D scenes that stuck to the paper--even on a windy Colorado day!

la chenille la plus longue de Lafayette !
The "sticky table" scenes then became a fun background for blowing out candles
 and serving the cupcakes.
la chasse aux papillons
Our main activity (besides eating, of course, and running around like small wild beasts) was a butterfly hunt, which involved donning the antennas that Griffin had helped prepare,

pompoms, pipe cleaners, and plastic headbands from the dollar store
grabbing some butterfly nets (also courtesy our local $1 establishment), and running after tissue-paper-and-pipe-cleaner butterflies

take a small rectangle of tissue paper,
pinch the center together,
and wrap a piece of pipe cleaner around it
so that the antennas are sticking up
that another (tall) parent threw into the air on this very windy day.  

Gwyneth's fête was magical!  (Other than the fact that the birthday girl participated in almost nothing except the eating of the cake.  Oh well--she was only turning two.)

I also put a ridiculous amount of time and energy into creating the favors: spiral-bound workbooks about caterpillars.  With the help of Google and Pinterest, I printed out coloring pages, mazes, seek-and-finds, easy crossword puzzles, poems about bugs, and other activity sheets, then had them copied and bound.

(I hate all that plastic crap and candy that guests typically receive in the 
ubiquitous child's birthday party favor bags.)
Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!  I'll take a creative and (semi) educational kid's party with store-bought cupcakes any day.  (Although, apparently, it will take me 15 months to finish blogging about it.)


  1. We love this book so much...I think we have 3 copies at home.
    We're probably going to be doing the same theme next week as my almost 4 year asked for it.

    Love all your photos...Happy b-day Gwyneth.

    1. Aw, thanks! Here's where I gathered all my favorite ideas:

      Have fun, and let us know how your party goes!