To start at the beginning... We had been planning this party over the course of about six months, which gave me ample time to gather supplies, place orders, find and test experiments, and finally make all the decorations as well as put together all the experiments. So, what am I saying? It is, of course, possible to quickly throw something together, but it is really helpful if you can at least start your planning a couple months in advance (trust me, your sanity will be tested!).
I'll start out with the party invitations. I saw a great idea on Pinterest to use petri dishes to hold the invitations, and while I knew they couldn't be mailed, I figured they would be great for passing out to school friends. My problem was I got started much too late to have petri dishes ordered in time, but luckily Target to the rescue! They had some petri dishes (in the perfect size) with slime and a little toy in the Halloween dollar section. I just took out the insides, and added the invitations. I cannot remember where I got the idea for the invitation wording, but if I find it later, I'll add the source. I just printed the invitations using Print Shop, folded them and put them in the petri dishes. A mini address label with the kids names on them helped keep the petri dishes closed. Zavion passed these out at school, and they were a huge hit (for both parents and kiddos alike!).
And, as with all my parties, I divided it up into categories;
Activities/games or in this case, Experiments
Two of the biggest decorations for this party were the giant Periodic table and chalkboard. I knew I really wanted to make a big statement about this being a science themed party (like the experiments wouldn't do that right? Haha!), and that's where the idea for the Periodic Table came in. I had been seeing a lot of great ideas on Pinterest using paint chips for various things (pain chip banners, note books, using it for confetti...) and it hit me! I could use the big square paint chips for the Periodic Table! So, I set out for Lowes and after about 15 minutes of choosing my colors (I learned there aren't really any 'set' colors, you just have to separate accordingly) and counting out all those paint chips, I was armed and ready to go. I set my laptop up in front of me for reference and got to work putting all the colors together. Once, I had the actual table in place I also needed to somehow get the symbols on the squares. I elected to use my Cricut to cut out all the symbols, which worked wonderfully! Once everything was cut out, I got to work applying them to the squares and then taped it all together. After that, it was a matter of taping that entire piece onto some poster board, for support, then adding the title (using more Cricut letters). This was definitely one of the cheapest party decorations I've ever done! I was very happy with how it turned out, and it held an honorable spot, on the wall above the fireplace.
One of my other big ideas was to create a giant chalkboard that would give the food table area a feeling of being in a science lab. It was one of those things I really wanted to do, but saw not getting completed. However, I decided it was just too important to put on the backburner! I bought a huge piece of MDF at Lowes (same trip as the paint chips...hubby and I split up) and had them cut a smaller 5x4 piece. I picked up some chalkboard paint and put my hubby to work painting the thing. After a week of painting, drying and curing, it was ready! I also gave my hubby the job of writing down some real equations (I know having a math/science/computer geek hubby would come in handy, hehe!). I also made a last minute decision to write the happy birthday message on the chalkboard, rather then my usual banner that I make. I was really pleased with my decision to do so, because it saved me so much time and it just looked really great too! The finished piece was propped against the wall on the food table and gave it exactly the feel I had envisioned! :)
The rest of the party décor was kept pretty minimal this year (since it was just a kids party, I didn't think they would notice much of the decorations).
For the door sign (I think it's important to always have something on your front door to welcome guests), I had a big beaker (tile printed from my computer then traced onto foam board and cut out) that spilled out a big blob (just using some glittered scrapbooking paper) with 'Zavion's 6th birthday.'
I wanted the fireplace mantle to resemble a working lab, so purchased a group of beakers (Amazon.com: $10.99/5) that I filled with colored water and/or water beads (if you haven't seen these, they are amazing! They're supposed to be for floral arranging, but Zavion envisioned them for his party and they gave a nice experiment feel) then we added dry ice to some to make the 'experiments' bubble. I had a couple beakers set on top of a faux book I bought at Michaels (stenciled 'Chemistry' on at the last minute), Zavion's microscope at the other end and a couple props between (including an Einstein bobble head that came in a long ago Happy Meal...remember when party planning to always look around at what you already have!).
In front I taped several balloons that I had stenciled (using the inverse of Cricut cut letters and a Sharpie) He, the symbol for Helium. I'm guessing that was lost on most of our little guests, but it made me happy. ;o)
I made a simple banner that said 'Experiment' to hang in the lab area (which started out in our driveway and moved to the living room when it started to rain) using my Cricut and various shades of green scrapbook paper.
On the lab table itself, I used some photo holders (Target dollar spot) to hold beakers I had cut out with the letters 'LAB' glued on the front, using (you guessed it!) my Cricut. I added some little bubbles to the top and a piece of green paper in the bottom to make it look like they held different liquid concoctions.
For the first time, I purchased some of my party items! When the idea of the party first came to my mind, I saw these awesome bottle wrappers. I always put bottle wrappers on my list, but they always get pushed to the back, and never completed. But, when I saw these I just knew I had to have some. I originally had planned to make my own, using a similar idea, but in the end felt they were just so cool I probably couldn't improve on them anyway. They came with some soda labels too, and since my mom had already purchased some mini bottles of soda, it seemed perfect. And, I just couldn't beat the price either!
And, because of a small cake issue, I was forced to buy some last minute cupcakes which meant I needed cupcake picks, And, when I say last minute, I'm talking about 10PM the night before the party! I could have made my own but wouldn't have slept, so instead turned to the same company and ordered the cupcake picks and wrappers. They arrived via email in a PDF file the next morning and I was able to get them printed, cut out and placed in the cupcakes just in time...whew!
And, speaking of the cake... It was quite a community labor! A friend of mine made the amazing fondant pieces onto of the cake and my sister's friend made the cake. The night before the party, I made the signs to go on the cake (I was literally bowing down before my Cricut at this point...hehe) and finished it off with a fun border of blue Skittles. It turned out wonderfully and the birthday boy was quite impressed.
I decided to keep the food pretty simple, since again we were just expecting Zavion's friends (and not all the usual Grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc) so made some quick peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (you can do the same with cheese quesadillas, if you have any peanut butter allergies) and cut them out with beaker cookie cutters. I placed them on a metal baking pan I bought (at the dollar store) that resembled a lab tray.
I also had a couple large vases (IKEA) that I use all the time, and they just happed to resemble large beakers, so filled those with chips and pretzels and set them out. Everyone's favorite treat though were the Jello filled petri dishes with worms sticking out. They were very simple to make; just poured the Jello into the petri dishes (Amazon.com: $5.99/25) then added the worms and refrigerated. I think if I just had those to eat, the kids would have been happy!
And, for the little scientists themselves? I ordered disposable lab coats online for each child to use at the party and take home with them. They were surprisingly inexpensive at $1.65/ea and with 10 kids (this is where you can make a big impact without spending a fortune...just invite fewer kids! I'm guessing your child won't mind or even notice that your friends kids aren't there, right? Just set a limit-in our case I told Zavion 10 kids-and I guarantee that will enjoy getting to pick their own guests) it was within the budget.
I decided to make 'official' badges for each of the kids too, so I bought some badge covers and clips at WalMart ($2.95/20) and quickly printed something off the computer. The kids were very impressed by these. In addition to their lab coats and badges, each kiddo also started off with their very own clipboard that listed out all the experiments they would be doing. These were purchased at Staples for $.50/each (there was a limit of two, so in I went with my two munchkins and my mom, and armed them each with two clipboards and $1...then I made my hubby go back with me later for the four more...haha) then I added a coating of chalkboard paint so the kids could write directly on them. I told the kids they could use them to jot down observations, draw predictions of experiments, etc. A couple kids took that very seriously and would not put their clipboards down!
I had also intended to buy some goggles for each kid, but couldn't find any at the dollar store, and felt that it would send my budget over. They would have been a nice addition, but since we weren't doing anything really dangerous, they weren't actually necessary.
I didn't want to go all out for party favors this year, and felt that the experiments they were going to take with them would be a huge part of that. In addition, they of course got to take their lab coats, badges, and clipboards, plus each guest got a test tube filled with Skittles (Amazon.com: $2.99/20).
And, of course the most important aspect of any science party are the experiments, right? Since we did quite a few experiments, I've decided to dedicate an entire blog post to just those. So, this will continue soon with Part 2: The Experiments!
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