Even before his birthday, all my 2 year old wanted was the movie “Rio.” If you don’t know what Rio is – you’re not alone. Rio is a sweet movie about two parrots in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The film includes a nice social element about conservation. In any event, the movie was the first thing he asked for in the morning and the last thing before he went to bed. My dad even made up a song – “rio in the morning, rio in the evening, rio in the afternoon.” So, I took it as no surprise that CJ wanted a Rio birthday party.
Rio is not one of those pre-packaged parties you can find at Target, Walmart or even my favorite locale for party supplies, the Dollar Store. Perhaps during the summer you could use luau themed supplies, but in the dead of winter they are hard to come by. Trust me – I tried. From invites to food it became a fun challenge and took my own party planning to the next level.
I started by sharing the challenge with a more experienced (and creative) friend of mine who makes her own invitations that look elegant, classy and professional. The trick – stamps, craft scissors and glitter. Who knew that this affordable trinity of goods could create a heavy weight card-stock invite that was personal and fun.
Once the invites were done, it was time to consider menu & decorations. Elements of the movie came to mind parrots, Carnival, tropical fruit. It evolved into a quasi- Mardi Gras theme with necklaces,masks and maracas for favors, punches for beverages, and brightly colored tissue paper flowers for decorations.
Punches are my favorite party beverage. They’re easy to make and delicious. I usually do two an adult beverage like bloody marys and a virgin beverage. This time, Sangria popped into mind – so that was that. The concoction – plain red wine, some white rum, a bit of gran marnier, a little sugar, orange soda and club soda.
Feathers, glittery pompoms, colored lights and tulle decorated the house. The table centerpiece was a pile of bananas topped with a tropical tree made with pineapples.
Tissue paper pom poms and origami parrots were dancing up above. (Thank you Martha Stewart for the recipe for fabulous pom-poms, and Tiny Shiny for a template for origami parrots that was easy to follow.) Tried making an origami parrot? Well most of the directions call for tons of steps that made me feel like a total idiot! I was immensely grateful to find Tiny Shiny’s post offering a 6 step parrot.
For food, I decided to do bird bites. Since the party was mid-afternoon, the idea was to provide a mostly well rounded menu that could serve as dinner if folks desired. Meatballs, Pineapple, Cheese Balls (recipe here), Pesto Pizza Bites, Soft Pretzels; and since a party isn’t a party without sugar (don’t tell they boys’ fabulous dentist Cherylin (JK)) – homemade fudge & kettle corn.
Then, there was the cake. When you’d ask my son about his birthday, he would say “Rio Cake.” That’s it. He wasn’t concerned with anything else – just the cake. Again, he’s “my” son. So what the heck is a Rio Cake? Well, ask Google. A Google images search will show images of cakes topped with marzipan parrots, flowers and the like. Since that is way beyond my skill-set, I opted for Rio cupcakes that aimed to look like the faces of little birds, pinned here. CJ loved helping to decorate them – or helping with the M&Ms – he would hand one to me and then eat a few. For a larger cake, I did one with fondant and a 2 dimensional very amateur or shall I say avante guard parrot. (Sorry about the pic, had started eating the cake before realizing I hadn’t taken a photo)
Lastly, for entertainment, we broke the bank putting $$ from my Ebay store (WinePlusCountryEqualsStyle) and rented a jumpy from a local Sonoma company. I’m usually anti-jumpy, due to cost, but having done parties both ways the jumpy is worth the dough. Russell at Jump Jump gets an A+ in my book for being easy to work with, providing excellent service and a practically new jumpy.
At the end of the day, throwing a nontraditional birthday party is a winner in my book. Thinking of how to go with the theme, or no theme, and putting your own stamp on it is such a fun experience. For anyone reading this, I totally recommend it. For me, well, it’s time for a sugar detox. And time to plan the next shin-dig a MadMen themed cocktail party to raise awareness about the Epilepsy Foundation – whaahoo!