Our little Benjamin turned one last month, and I couldn’t help but throw him a huge party. I know Ben won’t remember his 1st birthday, but I still thought this milestone was important to celebrate. Many of our friends have minis of their own, so I made sure our party was adult and kid-friendly. With a large crowd of 40 adults and 12 children, here’s how I created a Safari-themed party in our Toronto condo.
To be honest, I chose a theme for Ben’s birthday based on props I knew we already had. I found SO many of my old stuffed animals (zebras, monkeys, etc.) in my Mom’s basement and used them to create a safari. I also found an old zebra-print blanket in storage at my Mom’s which I used on the floor in the kids area.
If you follow me, you know I LOVE plants. We have a lot of plants in our condo, so I used these to create a jungle-like atmosphere. I also got some fresh exotic flowers – Birds of Paradise to help with the decor. In addition, I bought fake Ivy on Amazon, which can be found here to add to the ambiance. I purchased a balloon kit and extra foil balloons on Amazon which were a hit with the kids! Amazon is a great tool for decorations, especially if you need those little extras in a pinch.
Create nice open spaces.
Especially in a condo where every square-foot is important. In our case we moved our dining table over and made it the kid-friendly food table, and then moved our coffee table so it could be used as a low table for the kids to eat at. By moving two pieces of furniture, we created a nice open space for entertainment.
It’s All in the Details
Our front door was adorned with an adorable sign which read, “Beware! Entering the Jungle. Ben’s 1st Birthday!” which I bought from Open A Party. I also bought personalized labels for water bottles and loot bags!
The children’s jungle themed tablewear we purchased can also be found on Amazon Here.
Using Photoshop I designed a cute statistics board highlighting all of Ben’s first-year milestones. I got the idea from Etsy and recreated it to match our theme.
Keep it Eco-chic
I always try to keep waste consumption low whenever we host large groups of people. It’s easy to use disposable kitchenware but it creates a LOT of garbage. The main reason we decided to purchase glassware from Ikea was to eliminate creating waste from plastic cups. Luckily we had no broken glass, and buying cheap glasses meant our finer glassware was safe! You can find the Ikea glassware we used here, ($2.99/piece). I also bought eco-friendly biodegradable and compostable wooden utensils from Amazon, which you can buy here.
Feed your Guests
Both moms helped with a lot of creative food for the kid’s spread. My mom is a master at presenting dishes in a creative way so I knew she would be up to the challenge. They put together some great dishes like “lion hummus.” I made my own hummus from scratch, but you could easily use store bought hummus and shape it into a lion. They also made dishes like “porcupine feta dip”, “avocado crocodiles” and “snack sandwiches.” I whipped up some “jungle juice” for the kids (which was just simply green juice in a jug).
For the adults, my Mother-in-Law’s European food store Alicia’s Fine Foods supplied us with delicious charcuterie boards, and my father-in-law even made ostrich tartare. If you’re curious, you can find ostrich meat at St. Lawrence Market (Toronto). Later on, we barbecued meat and veggies for dinner.
Entertain the Little Ones
I knew having 12 kids in a condo over 4 hours was going to get hairy. So, we hired a safari-themed entertainer from Little Jingle Beans, who came with animal hats for everyone. She sang songs and had a big parachute for games. This all lasted about 45 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time as attention spans were running short. The age of kids ranged from 3 months to 4 years old, but I noticed that the children aged 2 and up benefited the most from the entertainment and games. I was quite pleased with the overall performance and the children looked like they had a lot of fun.
Time it Perfectly
The party went from 3pm to 7pm. I scheduled it around typical children’s nap times. Most children are done their 1st/only or 2nd nap by 3pm so it was perfect timing. The entertainer came at 4:30pm so that anyone running late would still be there for the show.
Tip: Plan naps on party day well. Ideally you want to make sure your child is well-rested so they are happy and in the best mood for their party.Ben had a 2-hour nap right before the party, I literally woke him just as the first guests were coming in.
Dress the Part
My in-law’s had brought Benjamin’s “Prince” t-shirt from Milan and I hadn’t had a chance to dress him in it yet. This was the perfect opportunity as he was Prince of the Jungle! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it anywhere to link it, but it was from Dolce & Gabanna for those who asked.
My dress was a simple blue dress from Oak and Fort, you can find it here, it was fitting for the occasion.
I hired Robin’s Nest Photography to capture Benjamin’s special day on camera. Though he may not remember his first birthday, he’ll always have the photographs as memories. I was very pleased with their service, Kansas was extremely personable, professional and as you can see the shots came out beautifully. I also LOVED that the Robin’s Nest gave us ALL the photos taken that day, instead of only offering a certain number and having us pay extra for the rest. I would highly recommend them for your next party.
Let Them Eat Cake!
I ordered Ben’s birthday cake from Velvet Lane Cakes in Toronto. Because Ben is allergic to eggs and has a hard time digesting Canadian dairy, they made him a specialty cake that was gluten-fee, egg-free and dairy-free. It was a vanilla cake made with apple sauce and almond milk to substitue for the eggs and milk. This sheet cake was two layers and created in the shape of a 1 with various animals from the jungle made from fondant. This was Ben’s first time eating sweets, but I felt comfortable with him digging in. It was such a beautiful moment, he literally didn’t know what to do with himself. We love Velvet Lane for making him such a beautiful and delicious specialty cake!
I also want to mention Delysees Toronto. Our step-mother generously had them create custom animal macarons for the party, and they were SO cute. I absolutely LOVE this bakery, their treats are always show stopping.
All Hands on Deck
The whole family helped out with this birthday; From sister-in-laws to Grandma’s we had all hands on deck. This party wouldn’t have been possible without family contributions near and far. Thank you to everyone for their generous contributions!
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I’m Elle! A Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist. I’m a multi-passionate woman, but nutrition and understanding how the body works is really my passion. Through my own personal journey, I have trained my body to heal itself using strategic, natural tools and techniques. Now I’m ready to help others!
As a new Mom, I understand that wellbeing is a journey. I hope my expertise will inspire other parents to choose nutrient-rich foods and the right products to create a happy, healthy and sustainable home. Click Here to Continue Reading