“Wayon, zeebor, jaff, ippo…(Lion, zebra, giraffe, hippo…)” That’s Summer naming her favorite animals. She’s been really into animals and so when it was time for me and Kayo to plan her second birthday party, it was easy to come up with a theme we knew she’d love.
Our little “Summer’s Safari” party was last Sunday, August the 25th, at my parents-in-law’s warm and lovely home. Thankfully, despite a little rain, it turned out well and most of the people we invited made it safe and dry. Summer seemed to have enjoyed a lot herself and I was very pleased with the outcome. The truth is that I had already been enjoying myself days before the party, as I was preparing for it.
I really wanted Summer’s party to look and feel handmade. As much as possible, I also did not want to spend on store-bought decor, so I decided to make things I knew I could easily and nicely pull off with materials I have available in my own home. I made a list of things I wanted to make and started collecting the raw materials. Weeks before the party, I had stored cereal boxes, used folders, loose cardboard, strings and other things I thought could be useful.
The lanterns were Summer’s Ninang Eyette’s idea. She teaches at a preschool and her students love them so we made some for the party out of used colored folders and crepe paper.
To make the party a little more girly (Summer is, in fact, a girl), I made some pom poms in yellow, orange and green. It was my first time to make these and I realized it’s so easy and therapeutic! Every mom should learn how because you can use them for almost any event and they instantly make the room look festive.
The food labels and the little happy birthday signs are made of cardboard which I decorated with water-color animal prints. The table center pieces are peanut butter and jam bottles I’ve collected over the years. we found miniature plastic animal figures at Toys-R-Us and they really completed the pieces. My mother-in-law has lots of little dill trees in her garden and she let me cut some to fill the bottles with. It was a nice touch.
Of all the party crafts, my favorite — which I think turned out to be the best decor piece — were the sponge painted tablecloths. The katsa I had bought three years ago for our wedding were perfect for this project. I’m so glad I kept them. I like them so much, I think I’ll be using them at home. I’ll post a DIY tutorial on it very soon!
For the food table, my mom let me use her decorative banana leaf plates and rattan baskets while my mom-in-law lent me a beautiful red African printed table cloth. Kayo and our parents provided Summer’s favourite food to serve our guests. Hotdogs, pizza, fried chicken, red jello and some fruit to add color. The cakes were store bought from Red Ribbon, but we dressed them up ourselves. It’s an inexpensive and quick way to make an otherwise generic cake more unique! Summer and Vito got a kick out of them.
Overall, we only really spent on a few things like japanese paper (wrapping tissue), crepe paper, fabric paint, string and the animal toys. It all amounted to just a little over Php 500. It did take quite a bit of work but it wasn’t very overwhelming, especially because I started working two weeks before the party. I made sure I enjoyed what I was doing and that I did not ignore Summer. It is all for her after all! During a few times when I was working and she wasn’t napping, I would let her draw or paint beside me. Even on party day, while Kayo and I were setting up, we let Summer watch and tear a little paper. I found it so cute when she kept saying “Wow, Mommy! Wow, Papa!” while the pom poms and lanterns were being hung. She couldn’t help but acknowledge the little lion, giraffe and zebra standing on her cake while everybody was singing her happy birthday.
Summer still talks about her party in her own broken-sentence way, even several times a day. It usually consists of the words, “Borday, ceck, blow, chickan, hotdog, jewo, wayon, zeebor, jaff, ippo, Emma, Vito, Cadey (her sister and cousins)…” and it makes me and Kayo smile every time. I take that to mean she remembers and that she had a great time. That’s all we really wanted!
Photos taken by Kayo Cosio and Mare Collantes of Shutter Panda