This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing about our volcano birthday party!
My Monkey loooooves volcanoes! We even got to visit several with him on our recent trip to Costa Rica:
Volcán Irazú is not (very) active, so we were able to climb up and look right into the main crater. Monkey was a little nervous about getting too close, but in the end curiosity won out!
Volcán Arenal is the most famous volcano in Costa Rica, and rightly so! It is very active, and many visitors are able to see small eruptions. We were not so fortunate, but we still enjoyed the spectacular view.
So it wasn’t hard to pick the theme for the boys’ birthday party last year – volcanoes! Our parties are always very small, but I still wanted to make it something special. Here is what we did:
For decorations I relied heavily on the Dollar Store and Party City. We found plenty of red streamers (though we ran out of tape – details, details!), plus some fun “fireworks” decorations made out of ribbons and stars. I even stuck some shiny red pom-pom gift wrap bows around. I also cut out volcanoes out of black and red poster board and taped them up on the walls. But the best find were the sparkly door streamers! The kids loved running through the “lava”! In fact, this was the last decoration to be taken down after the party – more than a week later!
To be honest, for the food I didn’t worry much about the volcano theme, but for drinks I had to make “lava juice”! Really this was just strawberry lemonade, which I made by blending lemonade (from concentrate – keep it simple!) with frozen strawberries and sugar to taste. It was so yummy! While the adults got the full affect of the colorful juice in their “grown up” glasses, I wasn’t about to let hyper preschoolers run around our house with cups of red liquid. So instead I found inexpensive red sports bottles, which we labeled with each child’s name. The “volcano cups” went home with the kids as part of their favors.
We kept the games low-key and open ended. I cut out some “volcanic rocks” from black poster board, which I scattered around our entryway. When the kids arrived, they were warned to stay on the volcanic rocks so they wouldn’t fall into the lava!
I also set up a play dough table with a big volcano (made with a double batch of brown play dough, plus red and yellow for the lava), along with dinosaurs, cars, and trucks, all laid out on a green tablecloth. (You could also add moss, which you can find with materials for floral arrangements). I actually molded the volcano around an empty plastic salsa bottle – it was perfect! My husband even dropped a little dry ice inside for a super cool effect!
Since we only have one low kids’ table, when it was time to eat we just moved the play dough and toys out of the way, along with the now messy green table cloth, to reveal a clean red table cloth underneath – easy! (The volcano is sitting inside a plastic red serving tray I found at Party City, so that was easy to keep intact).
The cake was the most fun part for me. I took my favorite yellow cake recipe and used strawberry jam in between the layers – yum! (You actually also need to put frosting on the top of each layer to “seal” it from the layer above. The jam goes on the bottom of the upper layer). I then made several batches of frosting – brown, red, and green. The volcano, of course, was brown, with red lava coming out of the crater. The green frosting covered the base for the grass.
Here is a great tutorial for making a stacked volcano cake. I couldn’t find exactly what she called for, so I did a 9 x 12 cake on the bottom (the grass), then 2 – 9 in round cakes, with a Bundt cake on top. I then shaped them all with a serrated knife.
But the real finishing touch was the dry ice. (I saw this suggestion in several places, such as this volcano cake post). As it turns out, you can buy dry ice at our grocery store. You just have to be careful that the kids don’t try to touch it, but wow! It was so cool!
Unfortunately a lot of the smoke had already started to fade by the time we got this picture, but it gives you an idea.
(For another cake idea, you can also see what I did for Baby’s smash cake! And yes, we did a combined party for the boys – we’ll see how many years we’re able to get away with that!)
For favors, in addition to a few super hero trinkets, I put together DIY volcano kits, based on this awesome tutorial from Crayon Box Chronicles. We had so much fun playing with ours the next day! They were wrapped up in my version of these cute volcano treat bags.
I also had a lot of fun making these volcano hats, based on this photo I found on Pinterest. I had to figure out how to reverse engineer them, so here is a glimpse at the work in progress. I taped together a few strands of red gift ribbon and then taped that to the inside of the “crater” top (made by cutting a small semi-circle from the top of the cone).
Taping the edges together was a bit of a pain, but they held together well. We didn’t want any of the kids getting scratched by a staple! I also taped a strip of red poster board along the bottom for the lava. For the straps, we used jewelry wire, which worked okay, but next time I’ll stick with ribbon or yarn. Unless you have the fit exactly right, the jewelry wire can really irritate the kids’ skin.
Overall I was thrilled about how thehats turned out. I even made mini ones for Baby and another toddler friend.
Hope you enjoyed this glimpse at our volcano birthday party! It was the perfect way to celebrate our two little volcano Monkeys 🙂