For the first three years of my daughter’s life, we never had birthday parties for friends, keeping things really small with just family, it has always been so lovely doing that, however this year, our little girl made it VERY clear that she wanted a party with all of her friends there! As her personality has begun to really shine, and her interests appear to become really set, I realised that she would not only start demanding a party, but also the ‘theme’ for her birthday party, as well as the type of games she wanted to play.
So, ‘The Woodland Explorer’ theme was born and as she is a Summer Solstice baby we were able to plan for an outdoor affair… with the hope of limited rain!
The main area I always like to focus on for birthdays is ‘the cake’, so this was something I started planning well in advance, you can read more about the ‘Belle and Boo, Rainbow Ombre Birthday Cake’ here, however, all the other bits, the set up, the games and the food, I realised if I got things ahead of time, there would be no ‘last minute’ panics!
The week before the party, the UK heatwave hit, and although we live in the middle of the woods and have plenty of shelter from the sun under the trees, our garden, where we planned to have the party not only faces South, but there is absolutely no shade, apart from late in the afternoon from the oak tree. So, I set about thinking of ideas to find shade, I went to eBay and managed to find a lovely scout tent and after a test run putting it up, I was pretty pleased with how things began to come together.
The next hurdle I faced was where to sit 17 children… our home is ‘open plan’ and has enough space, however our table has six chairs and I ideally wanted to keep everyone outside as much as possible, so I drew up some plans and headed to my husband’s workshop and asked him to make me two picnic benches that would sit against the length of the tent, against one of the walls. We had plenty of soft wood left from a job, however the new and ‘perfect’ finish wasn’t quite the ‘look’ I wanted to create, especially with the vintage looking scout tent; so I set to work with my Annie Sloan Dark Wax. This was perfect and really aged the tables and created the look I was after!
The week of the party was here, Midsummer day was the actual birthday and THE hottest day of the Summer so far, however the weather outlook for the weekend didn’t look great. The weather was set to break and the sun would make way for rain… not ideal, but rain has never put myself or my daughter off being outside, the concern, really was putting other children off staying outside!!
The morning of the party, the rain came, however, I set to work setting up the ‘Treasure Hunt’ in the woods and decorating the tent and tables, as well as putting out the party bags and balloons.
The ‘Woodland Trail Treasure Hunt’
This was the first game that I planned for the children to play. The ‘Fairy Path’ in our woods which is lined by ‘Fairy Houses‘, would be ideal, long and magical enough to keep 2-6 year olds happy, but short enough for them not to start complaining! I started out by designing a Treasure Hunt with 6 simple, black icons, perfect for young ones to understand. Each icon appeared on a ‘Woodland Explorer’ clipboard with a twig pencil and checkboxes, so that when they saw each sign on the walk, they could check each one off.
Each sign, I had printed and laminated and hung from trees; I really felt the icons were the simplest way for the this age group to understand, as it is still pictures rather than objects that they are more likely to grab there attention and keep their focus.
At the end of the woodland trail, tied up and hanging from trees were brown paper bags with a little craft project inside for them all to take part in as the next part of the party.
Clipboards & twig pencils:
Sourced from Ebay
‘Woodland Trail Treasure Hunt’ Game:
Designed and created by me! If you would like to find out more, or you are interested in one for your party, please contact me.
Make, Paint & Decorate a Fairy Door Craft Project
Once all the children returned from the ‘Woodland Trail Treasure Hunt’, half the tent was set up as a ‘craft area’. A table made simply out of two soft wood trestles, with a top made from Ply that they could get as messy as they liked!
The whole idea was for them to feel inspired by the ‘Fairies in the woods’ and to then create their own Fairy Door. Again, I designed a very simple pack, and designed the label to match the clipboard artwork. Each MDF door kit was in bits, the main door, a door frame, window and a bee, so that they could decorate and then assemble the doors themselves. The windows I also applied some patterned paper to the back, to give the impression that there is something behind the door.
I set up bottles of paint with pallets, plenty of paint brushes, glitter glue as well as lots of little trays of embellishments for the their creations. I was so impressed at the doors that they created, each one was beautifully decorated and they all did such a wonderful job… it was actually the mums I found hysterical as they tried to coax and encourage a particular colour or embellishment of their choosing rather than their child!!
Paints, Pallettes and Aprons:
Glitter Glue & Embellishments:
I already had for crafting projects at home
Fairy Door Kits:
Designed and created by me, having sourced all the elements online. If you would like to find out more, or you are interested this kit for your party, please contact me.
Woodland Explorer Feast
No children’s party would be complete without a feast to feed the party girl and her friends; taking inspiration from the parties my mum used to throw for me and my sisters, I set about creating simple food, but with lots of inspired tableware!
The tables we made were ideal for a child’s party, as it meant they all piled into the tent together, the craft table was turned into a table covered with party food, ranging from ham sandwiches, sausages, veg with dips and crisps to marmite pinwheel bread bites. The Explorer feast tables were laid out with some really fun paper plates all sticking with the ‘wild explorer’ theme, each paper cup had a different coloured straw and there were fun woodland party hats, as well as party blowers, which of course were a huge hit to this particular age group!
Paper Plates, Cups, Party Blowers, Garland, Party Hats:
Paper Straws & Balloons:
For Just One Day
The whole idea of the day, was to throw a wonderful party, but we didn’t want anything too rigid as part of the fun, was just watching the children enjoy the setting and their surroundings, so herding them off to games felt a little too restrictive. The Woodland Trail and the Craft Project were so lovely to watch as it was all very much at each child’s pace, however, as the afternoon wore on, it was time to play ‘Pass the Parcel’, and I have to say, this was the ONLY thing I felt nervous about.
In ‘my day’, it was a game of chance, you either won or you didn’t; now, it seems (since going to lots of other parties) that every child wins once, then the final layer is a random choice… so, I wanted to get it right! I picked one of my lovely friends as my ‘spotter’ to make sure I didn’t miss anyone out, and the game began! It all went pretty well; I didn’t load the parcel up with sweets, as I always feel it ends up as a game where little ones get totally loaded up on sugar and half an hour later, they crash and things descend into chaos, SO, I found myself a ‘Pass the Parcel Kit’ full of fun little prizes for each layer, with one bigger toy at the end for the winner.
Another hour of fun passed and we rallied the troops for a go on a Rainbow Piñata; I have no photos of the party itself sadly, as I didn’t want to be stuck behind a camera, but this would have been a part of the party that would have created some fabulous photos of the children!! It was quite frightening to see each child step up to our swings and give the Piñata a good old whack, but the faces were an absolute picture as they got more and more focused on getting the treats out! Eventually, it was the older siblings who cracked it, and then of course there was the feral mad rush to get as many sweets from the ground as possible!
Pass the Parcel kit:
The week before the party, myself and my daughter set about putting the party bags together. I explained to her that these bags were a personal “Thank you” from her, to all her friends for coming to help her celebrate her party, and she really did seem to enjoy putting each one together, making sure that each bag had each item in. I often feel that party bags are opened and the bits inside then discarded and eventually end up as landfill, so we chose some items together that she seemed to think her friends would like to keep! They included, a Rainbow Pencil, a Flump Marshmallow, a Glitter Hi-bounce ball, a GIANT balloon, Party Bubbles and a woodland pencil.
Each item was dropped into a brown paper bag and sealed, I then tied coloured labels to each one to make them a little more colourful!
Party Bag Contents:
Once all the games were played, the children started to get a little ‘wired’ and things started to unwind, so the cake was brought out, “Happy Birthday” was sung to my gorgeous girl, and as each person left, the day was over… and another small family party was to follow the very next day.
Sadly, I don’t have photos from the party itself, however, as explained above, I didn’t want to be stuck behind a camera, not to mention, I was far too busy throughout the day! What follows are a few photos once I had set everything up; the weather may not have been perfect, but the drizzle did subside, and the afternoon, whilst not gloriously sunny, was a wonderful dry and very, very happy afternoon. Once the weather brightened up, we were able to open up the other side of the tent and have a free-flow of happy ‘explorers’ craft, create and feast!
One of my happiest moments, was just watching all the little ones run about, whilst all the adults just had a nice chat and relax with a drink!
A special, BIG thank you to Camilla of milliemanu, for sending my daughter THE most gorgeous party dress. The Tommy dress and matching Liberty print headband was just perfect for the party and the beautiful Liberty print dress has become a new wardrobe favourite.
/ FEATURED //
Tableware, Garlands, Pass the Parcel & Piñata – Party Pieces
Paper Straws & Balloons – For Just One Day
Felt Cake Topper – Beautifully Boho
Please Note: I have not been paid or received any free goods (other than a milliemanu dress), all thoughts and opinions are my own.