Monday, May 20, 2013

Nolan's Sea Monster Birthday Party

My firstborn baby is now 7.  Seven!

By the way, he designed that shirt he's wearing.  I bought a t-shirt from Walmart and washed and dried it.  Then I came up with a design using PowerPoint.  Then Nolan came in and changed the picture and the fonts until he was happy with it.  I printed it onto transfer paper and ironed it onto his shirt.  It turned out a little darker than we wanted, but he said it's his second favorite shirt ever.  So I think we did okay.

That's sorta the way his whole birthday was this year.  He had an opinion about every little thing.  This is the first year where he's cared about the details.  I made invitations on the computer, and then I wanted his approval.  He made tons of changes, and they ended up being very different than my original vision.  Even though it was harder to include him in every decision, and I wasn't able to execute everything the way I wanted to, it was very fulfilling to truly make his birthday party exactly how he wanted it.

Here's the final version of his birthday invites.  I printed them onto white cardstock, trimmed the edges, and folded them in half.

This is the outside, so the right half was the front of the invitation.
This is the inside.  I loved the pictures of Nolan reading one of his many books about sea creatures.

I searched the internet, but I couldn't find any other parties that were mysterious sea creatures.  I found lots of cutesy under the sea parties, but they were all too juvenile or just not quite right.

So I started a Pinterest board of any ideas I could gather for Nolan's party.  He loves any mysterious water creatures, both fresh water and salt water.  He also loves learning about interesting sea creatures.  You can view my complete Pinterest board here.

We didn't do too many decorations.  I bought an assortment of little sea creature figures from Oriental Trading a few weeks ago when they had free shipping.  We just scattered those around on the food table.

I also copied pictures of interesting or weird sea creatures from around the internet, and I put them in a PowerPoint document to make little cards.  I added an interesting fact or two about each creature.  I printed them on cardstock, cut them apart, and we pinned them up on our fence and the wood paneling in our garage using push pins.

This is one of four pages, so there were 16 cards total.

Several weeks ago, I found aqua table cloths on clearance at Walmart.  I thought they would be great for the party since they're sorta the color of ocean water.

My kids always always want pinatas at their birthday parties.  I think it's ridiculous to pay $20-25 for the pinata (that just gets beaten to a pulp or ripped up) and then another $10 or so on candy (that none of the kids really need anyway).  So this year I convinced Nolan that we should have a couple of games instead of a pinata.

I bought the games from Oriental Trading.  One is a ring toss octopus game, and the other is a bean bag toss fish game.

For drinks, Nolan chose a blue Hawaiin Punch, and I poured it into a dispenser I have that is already aqua in color.  I also made a big jug of water with lemon slices in it (just because we love water with lemon!).

We don't have an ice maker, so we usually just buy a bag of ice from the grocery store or gas station.  However, for this party, I found a little silicone mold at Hobby Lobby that has little fish (it was $2.99).  For the last week, I have been emptying fish ice cubes and refilling the little fish cavities with more water.  Over and over.  Just to have cute little fish ice cubes.

And now for the fun stuff...the food!

The main dish was sandwiches from La Gondola (a local Italian restaurant).  Nolan, who has never liked sandwiches, recently discovered that he loves their gondolas.  So we bought several of their gondolas and called them "submarine sandwiches."  They didn't really look like submarines once we cut them up.

I had seen a cute snack idea that had a yellow pepper upside down in some sort of dip (like a squid/octopus head) with strips of yellow pepper like tentacles.  I tried to replicate it with hummus.  Between my giant yellow pepper and small container of hummus, it looked a little more like a spider (ew).

I had pita chips and fresh veggies to dip in the hummus.  I cut up cucumbers as well as mini sweet peppers, and I also included baby carrots.

Nolan is a fruit lover, so I knew we had to have some fruit.  I found this cool carved shark watermelon here.  Our local grocery store didn't have any regular watermelons (just the really small round ones) until this week.  I told Nolan that God loves him so much that he told a farmer to plant some watermelons just in time to have them ripe for Nolan's birthday.  He smiled with his missing teeth.

The shark's eyes are grapes (cut in half crosswise and secured with toothpicks).  I filled the shark mouth with chopped watermelon and raspberries (I let Nolan choose the second fruit).

I let Nolan pick two flavors of Goldfish for his party, and Griffin and Nora each thought they should pick a flavor as well.  So we had four flavors.

I also made Velveeta Shells & Cheese, which Nolan loves and I very rarely make (because the regular Kraft blue box is cheaper).

I made octopus hot dogs by cutting the hot dogs before I boiled them.

My dad helped a friend with a crawfish boil earlier that day, so he brought a cooler full of goodies to add to the party (crawfish, corn, potatoes, and sausage).  They fit the party theme, and everyone thought they were tasty.

After our meal, we moved on to cake and ice cream.  Nolan requested that I make him a Loch Ness Monster cake.  I didn't want to spend a tremendous amount of time on it, so I tried to keep it simple.  I baked a Funfetti cake (his choice) in a 9x13 pan.  Then I put the cooled cake on a wooden cutting board and frosted it with aqua blue vanilla frosting, swirling it to look a bit like waves.

I made Rice Krispies Treats and used some of the mixture to create a long neck with a small head and a hump to be the Loch Ness Monster's back.  I covered these pieces with purchased black frosting.  The neck wouldn't hold its shape, so I stuck it in the freezer until we were ready to get out the cake.  I also let Nolan apply the fish sprinkles that came with our frosting.  I used the orange frosting with the writing tip to write "Happy Birthday Nolan."

It wasn't a professional looking cake, but it made Nolan happy.  I'd rather have it be what he wants than spend tons of hours making something that looks nice but isn't what he had in mind.  {I'm slowly learning as we have more and more birthday parties!}

Nolan chose cookie dough ice cream and strawberry ice cream, and we also had the leftover Rice Krispies Treats.

Then Nolan opened his presents, hugged each person after he opened his/her gift, and then we all hung out in the back yard talking and playing with the kids.

Enjoy some pictures of the birthday party festivities.

The family prayed "God is great" out loud together at Nolan's request

Nora figured out how to swing by herself, and now she could swing all day if we let her.

My handsome Griffin

My goofy Nora

I absolutely love this picture of the kids huddled together.

Nolan and Great Grandma Parsons

Layla showing Nolan how to work one of his new guns

The gun in action with Layla and Charlie watching

The girl cousins playing in the sand box

Baby Addison laughing in the swing

And she was laughing because Griffin was playing peek-a-boo!

And my favorite picture of the day (thanks to my sister Kristi!)...

We were getting ready to pray.  Jared and I each wrapped an arm around our Nolan.  I love his sweet face and the way he's touching Jared's hand.

Happy Birthday Nolan!



  1. It looks like it was a great party. I loved seeing all the pictures of everyone. See you next week! :)

  2. Stunning party! All of these arrangements look superb. Nolan's Sea Monster Birthday Party took my heart and I think that this bash would be ideal to copy (HAHA) for my son’s upcoming birthday. We are inviting a lot of guests so would need to book spacious party venue in Chicago.