Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Dinosaur Train Birthday Party - The Invitation and Train ticket

I am a Stampin' Up! demonstrator and I love card making.  Each year I make a special invitation for the invitees of Ben's birthday celebrations.  This year Ben wanted a Dinosaur Train themed party with Ol' Spinosaurus as the focus.  Ben requested the presence of the Pteranadon family, Ol' Spinosaurus and the actual dinosaur train on his invitation and I wanted to make a side step card. 

This is what I came up with. 

The images were sourced from google images, printed and fussy cut - thanks to Heather for helping with this tedious job x x x for you. The card is a side step card, for instruction please go HERE.  I played with the card folds until I got the above effect of the Pteranadon's flying in the background of Ol' Spinosaurus and the Dinosaur Train in the foreground with the invitation details to the side.
From the side you can see the steps that enabled me to create the effect of foreground, centre and background.
Step side cards are so versatile and easy to make, and I love the depth they offer.  This is a copy of my template, please note the instructions are in imperial as per the link.

I started with an A5 piece of paper and cut it down to 8". 
I then measured in 2 1/4" from the side and cut from 3/4" to 6 1/2". 
I turned the card on its side and scored the larger section from the cut line to the edge at 3/4", 1 1/2", 2 3/4", 6 1/2" and then across the width of the card at 4".  Score board is excellent for this especially if you are making multiples. 
The card collapses with encouragement, mountain, valley, mountain folds.  Dress as you please!

Let me know what you think of this Dinosaur Train themed Invitation by leaving a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Dinosaur Train Birthday Party - The great idea

The Great Idea

"Mum, can I have a Mr Spinosaurus, Dinosaur Train party?" this question was asked just after our son's 3rd Birthday,  my answer, "sure you can" .... thinking "he is 3, he will change his mind after all he just had a dinosaur party at Sea World!" But he didn't, so the birth of the "Dinosaur Train Party Ideas" board on pinterest and the posts on this blog. The next few posts are to inspire you to, not only celebrate your child's birthday, but to share with you how I planned and made each element for the afternoon.
For those not familiar with Dinosaur Train, it is a Jim Henson production aimed, I would say at 3-8 year old children, though I love it too. Ben fell in love with the figurines when he was  just over 2 years, then we found the DVDs and we have not looked back.  For his 3rd Christmas (2012) all he wanted was dinosaurs so we purchased him Arnie and Lex gave him Boris.   Trains,  figurine characters and interactive characters have continually been purchased and I do not mind at all.  Dinosaur Train is a beautiful animated show about a pteranodon family, including a T rex, who use a train to travel to different time periods to learn about and discover the world in which they live, including exploring the features of other dinosaurs, relationships, diets and much more. I, personally, cannot speak highly enough of this colourful, friendly, educational and inspiring show.  Ol Spinosaurus is my son's favourite character and he was lucky enough to receive this interactive toy for Christmas 2013.
Old Spinosaurus from Dinosaur Train interactive toys - a big hit in our family.
To learn more, play games and undertake a variety of activities, please visit their web site HERE.  To view wonderful, exciting, educational episodes click HERE.

So the theme was decided, now the venue and in contrast to last year's dinosaur birthday celebration, which was held at Sea World, Australia, this one was to be held at home.  So home in the front yard, it is, in the afternoon, so I can get a sleep in (haha great idea though!).  The front yard will be in dappled shade and accommodate a dozen children, their parents, family, God parents and family friends. Note I did not  count on rain, perhaps I should have because it rained all day :-(

Planning for the party started in early January, so the next thing that needed attention was Ben's interactive, sensory garden, built by Ben's god father for Ben's 2nd Birthday (I designed; he funded and created).  Dead trees were removed (broke my heart to remove 2 gorgeous trees, a Grevillia killed by a black frost, and the other, an acacia simply split in two from the activity of borers and the final act of heavy rains) and remaining  trees were trimmed ensuring there weren't any poking hazards; pavers were cleared to ensure that there were minimal trip hazards and broken garden ornaments removed.  New dinosaur plants (ferns) were purchased and planted along with a couple of other Australian natives for scent and texture and lots and lots of seeds were planted...several times leading up to the day.  My strike rate with the seeds - very poor to say the least.
The garden is elevated and has a twisting path from one end to the other with various animals and sensory plants dotted along the length.  A great place for children to explore.
With my budding party planner by my side, together we have pinned hundreds of ideas for activities, foods, drinks and gifts for the Dinosaur party.  Pinterest, for me, is the most innovative storage and organisational tool on the internet.  I am not that great with computers, bookmarks are simply addresses for which I cannot remember why I bookmarked them LOL.  I love having the picture of the idea and the direct link to the website to get details. Purrrfect for me. 

With any given theme, there is generally set colours; for example Halloween - orange and black; Traditional Christmas - red, green and  gold;  Dinosaur Train - orange, green and blue inspired by the colours of the main characters, I presume.

This is Shiny at the rear, Tiny to the left, Don the right and Buddy at the front.  I LOVE the use of bright colour, making the dinosaurs (Pteranodons and Tyrannosaurus Rex) appear visually appealing and very friendly.
The hunt for streamers, table cloths, balloons, cutlery, napkins, plates and cups in these colours began.  I am unemployed and I had a limited budget, so I went around and collected prices then waited until these items of interest came on special before purchasing them.  I was very disappointed to learn I could not purchased licenced Dinosaur Train products directly from from the US :-(

Birthday celebrations, in my opinion, should be memorable, fun and educational to some degree - especially when children are involved.  Ben and I talked about why we were having the celebration at home and we agreed we just wanted to share his wonderful garden, his love for Dinosaur Train and getting outside and making discoveries with his friends and extended family.

We wanted the activities to bring out the excitement of adventure, the amazement of discovery and nurture curiosity in all of those that attended, and who knows, maybe engage an adult or two LOL.  It is also an opportunity for my husband's family to meet Ben's friends and catch up with those that are a part of Ben's life; this included his beautiful Kindy teacher, and have the family see what a gorgeous personality Ben has, and what a fantastic little boy he has grown into.

Ideas for the activities were inspired from a number of people who (thankfully) post on blogs and pin 😊.   Ben and I agreed on the following activities
                                    a dinosaur train for the children to "ride" in
                                    dress ups - who does not love a mask, a dinosaur tail and some feet!
                                    craft activities - colour ins, fossils on paper and dot to dots.
                                    fossil dig
                                    dinosaur and egg hunt
                                    cutting of the cake - a Mr Spinosaurus cake
                                    opening of presents
                                    giving of party favours which ended up being dinosaur eggs filled with goodies

It rained on the day so we only got to do the dress up, paper craft activities and Dinosaur & fizzy egg hunt

We then looked at food and drink ideas and agreed on the following Gluten Free low sugar menu
                                    volcano cakes - carrot cakes and chocolate
                                    fossil biscuits - plain biscuit base, cacao impressions
                                    fossil slice - chocolate macadamia brownie
                                    dinosaur eggs - one of two options boiled eggs or rice bubble eggs
                                    dinosaur scales - Gluten Free vegetable chips
                                    dinosaur fingers/ T rex digits - sausages
                                    Mesozoic worms - onions
                                    pteranodon wings - honey marinated chicken wings
                                    dinosaur claws - cashews
                                    dips, biscuits and chips for the adults
                                    drinks - punch for adults, water for the children and adults

It was so nice to know Ben could choose almost anything on the table to eat.  He asked three times what he could have and his gorgeous big blue eyes were so amazed and excited knowing he could have anything bar the dips, bread and punch.
Yes this was a gluten free, lolly free, low sugar menu.  I wanted Ben to be able to eat anything he wanted and not be sick ... yes I could have has separate food for Ben and saved myself a lot of money but I saw this as an opportunity for his friends and family to experience a clean food menu knowing that the food they ate was healthy, guilt free and that there would be no behavioural issue that night due to sugar overload.  This meant that everything was organic; sugar was replaced with rapadura, honey or maple syrup; wheat flour was replaced with GF flour, rice four, nut meal or a combination  and we used cacao instead of cocoa.

The next thing was to plan where the activities would occur in the front yard  and where the tables of food would be located - I probably should explain, our front yard is many times larger than the backyard, in fact there is very little back yard, just a small patio/pergola area.  Again no plan for rain and should have!

Deciding on what sort of decorations was the most challenging for me; Ben had a number of pictures he liked and a number of characters he really wanted pictures of but other than that, pinterest was again my inspiration.  We both had a wish list as long as our arms but time and money would dictate what would come to fruition.  I  started with designing the birthday banner, then decided on the location for the balloons, designed signage for the activities and then the dinosaur train station banner. Food labels were the next thing to design and table sprinkles and dinosaur toys were chosen; streamers, cellophane trees and dinosaur lanterns would finish the decorations.

The Banner was to go across the front of the house, luckily the feature wall under the pergola was just big enough!
With all the planning done, it was now time to decide on the guest list and an invitation. I am a Stamping' Up! Demonstrator and love to make cards, and for this card I wanted a step side card. Ben wanted the Dinosaur Train, Mr Sponosaurus and the pteranadon family on the card.  This is how I achieved that! I feel I cheated a bit, in that there wasn't any stamping or hand colouring but I was happy with the finished product.  Ben was blown away to say the least with an excited exclamation of "you did it Mummy".

So now you know what I have been up to over the past two months and for more detail on any of the activities or creations please click on the links, search within my blog or scroll to the next post. 

The execution of all that was planned was not as planned.  As you have read, I envisaged a beautiful sunny afternoon with a front yard full of activities, decorations, food and cake.  It drizzled and rained ALL day and did not let up.  So what to do? I was, to say the very least, numb with shock and sheer exhaustion and believed the sky would clear and the sun would shine after the BOM said it was not going to rain all the way up to the night before, then it said showers.  We set up the food, paper activities and dress ups under the pergola in our very small back yard.  We were so lucky it was not cold or windy.  I think I would have had a melt down if it had of been.  So snug and cosy it was and much of what we had planned did not eventuate.  Why did I not postpone I hear  you ask, simply... the cake.
The Ol Spinosaurus was melting away with the humidity and weight of the construction.
The next several posts will detail how I planned and achieved various aspects of the party, noting I really believed it was not going to rain!  See you at the next post