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Organising a bugs and butterflies garden party

Posted by Dawn Isaac on 07 Sep 2011 at 05:39 PM

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"But darling, you must have a theme!"

Even as I spoke these words I realised I'd become one of those appalling mothers who needs to get a grip, but I couldn't help myself. You see, this was my son's birthday we were discussing and there is nothing I love more than over-thinking a kid's party.

To be fair to me, Oscar has driven my slightly demented over the last year. He has been trying to decide on what to do for his birthday since September (which is particularly scary as his birthday is in late August).

To date he has decided he definitely wants a bowling party... no a swimming party... no a cinema party. His latest idea had been to just have a party in the garden. All well and good, but apparently, not for his unhinged mother who was now gripping his shoulders, staring wild-eyed into his face and demanding some sort of theme.

"Well, we could all go and look for snails?" Oscar helpfully suggested.

"Yes!  A wildlife party!  In fact, bugs and butterflies!  Perfect.  Well done darling!"

Oscar smiled, possibly at the idea he had apparently dreamt up, or just because I had released my grip.

So anyway, last week saw our first bugs and butterflies party and, in case you too harbour event planning tendencies, I thought I would share the ideas.

Invites: Well, OK, you could do something wondrous but I actually just texted parents (I know, I've disappointed myself there but this was the summer holidays so no chance of handing out invites int he playground). However, I did suggest the children come as their favourite bugs or butterflies (a suggestion for which I am sure every stressed-out parent thanked me from the bottom of their heart.)

Setting: The best part about this party is that the garden is your perfect, ready made backdrop.  However, if, like me, you have recently decided to paint your front door red, then you can add black paper circles to make a ladybird entrance.

We also set up Oscar's Bug Camp outside with our much used pop up tent, camping chairs, rugs and sign (made by yours truly from a stake, bits of old fence panel and acrylic paint). This created the perfect spot to serve the birthday tea (complete with Spider Cake, courtesy of Mr Waitrose - home decorated cakes are very much beyond my comfort zone),

Activities: After half an hour manic jumping on the trampoline combined with scoffing tea (akin to shaking up a lemonade bottle before giving it back to someone but I was trying not to dwell on this) we retired inside so the kids could decorate their own bug boxes (you can buy these in packs of two for £1.99 from Yellow Moon) with pens and stickers.

Next, we had the main event - the bug hunt.  As I could neither rely on bugs being about, nor on a bunch of six year olds catching them without incident, I opted for cardboard cut outs.  However, the bug collecting sheet (Download BUG HUNT) did give clues as to where the various quarry would usually be found so the kids would know where to hunt in the garden and they worked in pairs, putting the card creatures in their bug boxes as they went.

Also, to make them feel more legit, I personalised some magnifying glasses (which my very helpful mother tracked down in Wilkinsons for the princely sum of 69p each) with some acrylic paint pens.

Then we had musical statues and pass the parcel, because, quite frankly, it would be rude not to. Being me though I elbowed in the theme by making them dance and pass to bug themed music (and of course we used dragonfly wrapping paper).

In this I was helped by the power of Twitter.  Yes, never underestimate the use of social networking for playlists.  In case you wish to see the genius, and sometimes downright tenuous suggestions they are here (with thanks to @simiansuter @sallynex @patientgarden @jamesasincalir @clairepotter @vivgroskop @clairecoz @twitknitting @lizturner3 @Blundstonedlove @clairecozens @wendy_woowoo and friends on Facebook)

High Hopes - Frank Sinatra

Ugly Bug Ball - Burl Ives

Ant Music - Adam and the Ants

Henry the Wasp - The Highliners 

The Caterpillar - The Cure

The Boll Weevil Song - Brook Benton

Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast - Roger Glover

Beetlebum - Blur

The Bug Song - Stompin Tom Connors

Flight of the Bumblebee - Rimsky-Korsakov

Daddy Long Legs - Tumbleweed

The Bee Song - Arthur Askey

Itsy Bitsy Spider - Carly Simon

Come Fly with Me - Frank Sinatra (I told you some were very tenuous)

Love is like a Butterfly - Dolly Parton

I Believe in Bugs (and Other Insects) - Ivor Cutler

The Inch Worm - Danny Kaye

Boris the Spider - The Who

Butterfly - Mariah Carey

Beetlejuice Theme Song

Party Bags: As always, I went for the 16p paper bags sold out our local stationery emporium and simply printed out names and bugs to stick on (recyclable, cheap and on theme - what's not to love?). These were filled with the bug boxes, magnifying glasses, assorted bug themed nonsense and sweets with more E numbers than I thought possible.

And Oscar's verdict? Apparently it was very good... but next year he definitely wants a disco party.


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