"So Natalie. What should we do for your birthday this year?"
Natalie, then 3, surprised me by having the perfect party in mind. "I want a Shamu party, Mommy!" she shouted with glee.
The only problem: I chose to ask her opinion a good three months before her birthday. Which meant I had to talk about the Shamu party roughly 13,000 times before it happened in July. Rookie mistake.
Natalie had been enamored with all things aquatic ever since our visit to SeaWorld earlier that year. Never mind that, when we lived in San Diego, we had annual passes, that she'd already seen the Shamu show dozens of times, that we used to meet friends almost weekly to play at Shamu's playground. This was her first visit as a big kid, and she was over the moon. The dolphins! The sting rays! The whales!
She even got to feed a walrus, courtesy a SeaWorld trainer who invited us behind the scenes.
Shamu was her new best friend. So it was that I set about creating an under-the-sea party in the heart of the Midwest.
Shamu and other assorted sea creatures
I decorated with a mix of blue and green streamers and blue and green balloons for that watery effect. I also found a clear, mylar dolphin balloon that remains one of my favorite party decorations ever. Ocean creature party supplies completed the look.
This was my favorite thing about her party. (Spoiler alert: The cake is always my favorite thing.) I made these crazy cute cupcakes.
Best part? They were super easy! I just tinted some buttercream blue and rolled the edges of the cupcakes in blue sugar. Fruit string, or any brightly-colored fruit chew that can be cut into strips, served as the seaweed. I bought some Goldfish Colors and used black gel icing to dot eyeballs on them. I used three fish on each large cupcake. And then, because I had some young guests attending, I made some mini cupcakes and put white gel icing dots on top of those to complete the look.
We pinned The Tail on the Whale. (Of course.)
And we decorated wooden letters (since it was a small party, I was able to get the first letter of each guest's name) with colorful seashells and stickers. I found the letters and the seashells at a craft store for a couple of bucks each.
I used large shells that Corey and I bought on our honeymoon as snack bowls and filled them with the leftover Godlfish crackers and Swedish fish. Repurposing for the win.
I also made blue Jello cups for snacks and tried to stick gummy fish in them when they were halfway set. But apparently, gummy candies are Kryptonite to Jello. The bowls never set up and the fish just floated in the half liquid blue goo and they were fairly unappetizing. Word to the wise.
Overall? A huge success. Natalie turned 4, and she was celebrated whaley well.