We decided in mid-March to do Max's birthday party at the Oakland Zoo… several of our friends/family have memberships (us included) so it's a regular hangout, with the added bonus of admission being taken care of! LOL
Because it was a “low key” close friends and family only get together, we wanted to do some fun things to make it more special, and not just another day at the zoo.
It started off simply enough…a quick search on Amazon turned up a dozen child's pith helmets for less than $9. Then Jamie spotted some binoculars on clearance at work, for about $2 a pair, then we had an idea inspired by this project from last month.
I put together little activity books for each kid, using some of the photos we took at the zoo… each photo had a little square spot for a sticker, which each child got as soon as he or she spotted the pictured animal.
Each book measures about 3.5″x3″, I fit 6 per letter sized page, and made 12 books. I used Hewlett Packard “Tough Paper” I had on hand for the photos. It's water and tear resistant, making it perfect for kiddos, and I laminated the customized front cover and cardstock back cover.
We planned to bring our big wagon along to tote the ice chest and snacks and such, but we didn't just want a boring wagon. We talked about converting it into a safari jeep, with cardboard façades on the sides, but we ran out of time. Instead, I made a license plate for the back, grille and headlights for the front, and we draped a piece of giraffe-print fabric over the existing canopy. Voila! Custom safari wagon!
We got a lot of looks as we traipsed around the zoo, but significantly more of them as the day wore on and our group grew smaller… by the end, it was 3 grandparents, us three, and my friend Falynn and her son, who is just a little older than Max. I don't doubt we looked ridiculous, dragging this massive amount of stuff around with such a small band of adventurers!
The Oakland Zoo is built on a hill, with the entrance at the front and the Children's Zoo at the bottom of the hill, then back up for the Afrian animals… at the bottom of the hill is a large lawn, which is where we planned to have lunch. It took almost 2 hours to get down one side of the hill, roughly 37 times longer than it normally takes us! LOL
Everyone plopped down on the grass, and we set out the lunch fixings. We'd decided on a basic picnic, but with a twist. Instead of pre-making sandwiches for everyone, I thought it'd be easier for people to assemble their own (or disassemble, as toddlers are wont to do with sandwiches!) And instead of bread, we used tortillas. We had flour tortillas, cream cheese, a variety of lunch meat, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato. Everyone made their own to their own specifications, and everyone had plenty to eat and I'll probably do the roll sandwiches again in the future… SO easy!
After sandwiches, we did the required cupcakes… I have to credit my sister with these photos, since I was busy being in them!
The babies (Dash, Brooke and Lily, the youngest of the group), had to head out after lunch, but a few of us kept on… seeing the elephants is very important when you're newly three!
Requisite family photo where Max doesn't look like he's having a great time.
If I had sponsors so I could do giveaways, I'd TOTALLY have a “caption this photo” contest for this one… as it is, feel free to caption it and I'll share my favorite(s)!
The elusive newly three year old in his semi-native habitat, with his grandma watching protectively over him. (Or, Max looking at me from the reptile room)
How pretty is my friend Falynn? Love her!
The best shot of (almost) all of the kiddos. And Jamie's mom.
“Look at the gorilla, Papa!”
Looking for the zebra page to stick his sticker.
This gibbon is PISSED he didn't get invited to our awesome party, and told us as much!
Looking at the tiger exhibit involves a lot of looking *for* the tiger.
Max's future prom date in her pith helmet.
So that was our fabulous party, and I'm looking forward to (with much trepidation) Max's next birthday party! Just 363 days to go!