About a month ago my husband and I threw a birthday party for our daughter who turned 3 (for those of you following, this post is way overdue). It was a stressful time as it was the very first birthday party we were organizing ourselves since our move to Toronto and since my status change to SAHM. For a recap and better understanding of what is to follow please see the post: Learning to Be a Stay At Home Mom, Lesson 1: The Birthday Party.
After all the stress of planning and several nights of staying up into the wee hours (including the night before the party) I have to say my husband and I got great feedback. The guests had fun and more importantly our daughter enjoyed herself immensely. Looking back at my obsessive attempt to make sure everything was just right I may have become that mom for a while. You know, the one who had to make things herself (well not everything- the hubby helped with decor and he made all the gourmet sandwiches. Yeah I really got lucky with this guy) But back to me. So annoying right? No seriously, I annoyed myself throughout the process. Did I really require TWO cakes and by that I mean did I have to MAKE them? Well it all started with a whim of creativity with the birthday party invitations. I got excited about it, put in a lot of effort and was really proud of them. I didn’t expect such a well received response to them however so when that happened, I was like “oh sh&%! I have set some kind of standard for the party. How can I disappoint the children by not meeting their expectations?” A few balloons and snacks were not going to cut it. So that was how the spiral down the rabbit hole started and then snow balled because I now had a reputation to protect. You’ll see why.
The Birthday Party Invitation
Since attending her cousin’s Jake and The Neverland Pirates themed birthday party back in October, my daughter discovered a whole new world. From having never seen it to all of a sudden becoming obsessed by it. All she wanted was to be a part of Jake’s pirate crew. So when I asked her what kind of party she would like, the answer was of course Jake! (Disney Jr’s series based on the successful Peter Pan franchise. It’s got the whole gang, Captain Hook and also Smee) I immediately realized then there was never going to be such a thing as a ‘unique’ themed birthday party as all these kids go through similar obsessions around the same time. I am pretty sure next year’s theme will be whichever Princess movie Disney decides to release this summer (Oh wait I already know, it’s going to be Sleeping Beauty- perhaps my daughter will finally relate to her inner Maleficent!). If last year’s Frozen is any indication I would warn all parents to stock up on this summer’s movie merchandise immediately. But I digress. Since the theme was pirate related, the first thing that came to mind was treasure. What better way to find treasure than a treasure map? As a kid myself I used to love the idea of maps and hunting for treasure and always wanted to discover an age old piece of cloth with a secret to be revealed. Perhaps I was channeling my own childhood fantasies, but this is what I decided I must do.
How to make your own Jake & The Neverland Pirates Birthday Invitation
Go to Curry’s (or any art store) to get raw canvas for the map (available by the foot), a ball of twine to tie it with and black construction paper for the name tags. I figured a 10 inch by 8 inch size would be good for the map and since I needed to make approx 30 or so, 3 feet of raw canvas worked out nicely. Choose your colouring tool of choice. I went crazy on coloured Sharpies (they even have them in bronze!). It had been a while since I had a reason to get art supplies (not the dollar store variety) so I was a kid in a candy store. I even signed up for the Curry’s reward points, so you know how serious I got.
Next step is to make your basic template. Sketch out your treasure map on a similar size blank piece of paper. Make sure to do this in pencil as there will be plenty of erasing till you figure out the proportions. I am kind of old school and so preferred to hand draw each invitation and colour it in myself. Which left a lot to be desired in terms of quality control (each invitation had its imperfections and eccentricities). But hey at least I can say everyone got something original. For the technologically savvy I am sure there is a way to create a template from which exact copies can be made.
After I had the artwork all mapped out (pun intended). I got to work on the tedious labour i.e cutting out the required quantity of raw canvas sheets as per my specs. With that out of the way it was time to draw! In the interest of time I decided to tackle the Jake character drawing and colouring on each of the invitations first. I felt it would be the toughest part requiring the most amount of concentration.
Fun Fact: When I was 10 years old I wanted to be a Disney Animator when I grew up
I had never drawn this animated character before so tried to focus as much as I could. As long as my biggest critic (Toddler Queen) could recognize who it was I was in the clear. Although after a while weariness kicked in and I churned out all kinds of Jake doppelgangers. It was like amateur lookalike night at your local bar. I even had a few Michael Jackson versions of Jake. Wait..something just occurred to me
Jake = Lost Boy + Neverland = Michael Jackson. #mindblown
May I present to you the Jake Parade.
After all the Jakes were complete, it was time to write out the party information. Note: writing was tricky because after a while the Sharpie’s fine tip started to erode after being brushed against the abrasive canvas. This caused the ink to spread and didn’t look as neat as I would have liked. I would suggest to use a different type of marker for this part. Otherwise these markers were dark enough to give the desired effect on the fabric, without having to paint on it.
Finally it was time to make the name tags. I cut small rectangles from black construction paper, punched a hole close to the edge on each, using a hole punch and wrote the names of the guests with a gold Sharpie. Next I cut some twine (finger to elbow length- as many as there are invitations). Once these items were ready I individually rolled the completed invitation. Followed by wrapping a single piece of twine around the rolled map and tied one loose knot. At this point I took one end of the twine and slipped it through the hole of a name tag. Making sure the name tag was pushed as close to the centre of the knot, I took both ends of the twine made bunny ears and tied a regular bow knot. This way the name tag was secure in the centre of the knot. Voila. Now repeat this as many times as required.
It probably took me about 4 days to get the majority of the invitations done. Usually I would do them in the night once my daughter had gone to bed. There is only so much you can get done during the day with her prancing about around me. However once she figured out it was for her birthday, she kind of let me be. It was in her self-interest after all. On the whole I was quite pleased with how they turned out. The best part is that all the kids are continuing to use the invitation as an actual map, including her highness. It was definitely worth the effort.
If you have some time and a lot of patience, I urge you to try it. Or maybe make just a couple to join in your child’s imaginative play. Aargh let’s go find some treasure matey!
Stay tuned for a couple more posts on the party activities and the birthday cake(s) ! You don’t want to miss this.