Our little apple is not so little anymore as he turned a fantastic four years old on July 11th. Manav, our lil'Appu, is a proud, cheerful and full of smiles four year old with tons of mischief up his sleeves and lot of good wit and charm.
He is tall, intelligent, a bit shy in front of strangers but smart, loves to walk, run and ride his bike all day long. He cannot get enough of swimming and staying in the water. He loves writing his name over and over again on his white board and has learnt to color within the lines and recognize all the alphabets and numbers and counts until 30!
He is a music lover and absolutely loves Bollywood songs and listening to the Malayalam rockband Thaikudam Bridge. Hrithik Roshan is his favorite dancing actor and Appu even tries to imitate his steps.
He loves helping his dad with all kinds of housework and backyard chores and thinks he has a lot of muscles :-D
He sticks to me like a bee to a flower and literally keeps me on my toes. There is never a dull moment with my bumble bee and like I always say, I can never have enough of writing about him. Manish, myself, our family and close friends wishes him all success in life and we'll be there to support him in whatever his heart desires to do. This year's birthday was a lot more special with Appu's paternal grandparents being here and they helped a lot with all the decoration and party planning.
I was initially quite clueless as to what theme to keep for his 4th birthday. Oh! btw...I love doing themed parties...it's just so much fun to keep a theme and watch it materialize and the internet has all kinds of fun ideas. After looking around for ideas I saw this super fun theme - A CARNIVAL party or a CIRCUS theme that can be easily done in any outdoor or indoor space and it's a perfect theme for boys/girls of any age group or even for adults. Infact I even saw some weddings in a carnival theme, how fun would that wedding have been? :)
Long post ahead with all the tiny details we included for this fun birthday party, so keep reading!
After discussing with Manish about the theme, he too loved it and we decided to do a Carnival birthday party in our backyard! I wanted to keep a bunch of fun games for the kids with a proper Carnival approach where each kids got tickets to play the games. We invited only very close friends and neighbors whom Appu was familiar with so that he would have fun playing with everyone and not be shy.
The games were all set out all over our backyard with a proper sign board for each game which we printed out and made ourselves. The games we planned were:
Carnival Can Toss : 6 cans stacked together to be knocked down with a ball. Me and my friend Winnie, saved all used cans (fruit, tomato paste, coconut milk cans etc) cleaned and wrapped them in printed paper for the game.
Ping Pong Fishing : Aim pin pong balls into the fish bowls (plastic cups with blue cellophane to resemble water and a plastic goldfish) and if they win they get to keep the fish!
Starfish Ring Toss : Starfish shaped inflatable with 5 rings & poles, kids had to aim all the rings on the poles.
Bowling Pins : Roll the bowling ball to knock down the pin spread out on his alphabet mat. This game was Appu's special request and his birthday present from us, he loves playing it all the time.
Duck Pond Fishing: Fish the ducks out of the pond using the fish pole -- this game was a huge hit!
Ping Pong Toss: Aim 6 ping pong balls into 6 red cups.
Each kid got a wristband and name tags as they walked up to the games area...yup wristbands, just like an actual Carnival, just that these said 'Manav's Carnival' on them :-)
Even though it turned out to be a super hot and sunny day, all the kids including my little guy and all my volunteer friends (who manned the games) were sporty and played very nicely and had a good time.
CARNIVAL THEMED DECORATIONS & CAKE TABLE
We decorated our entire backyard and patio deck with fun carnival themed party hangings and lots of colorful balloons. It looked very colorful and festive.
For the Cake table I wanted a colorful station that depicted a fun carnival-like-candyland including a full fledged Directional sign board and colorful balloons. We stationed the cake table against our backyard fence which was a good spot.
There was a Circus Tent, Carousel and Ferris wheel on the Cake table to go with the Carnival theme. We also kept some colorful (homemeade) Trix treats, M&M chocolates and cookies, yummy Truffle balls, popcorn and cheesepuffs and a colorful Lolipop tree.
For the Circus Tent , we borrowed a styrofoam lolipop stand from our nearby Dollar Store and wrapped it up with fun carnival red and white striped wrapping paper and printed out a Carnival tent that fit perfectly as the backdrop.
We made some colorful Trix Treats (instead of Rice Krispie treats) on a stick and though some of them standing meting due to the heat and started dropping down on the stick, it still looked quite good.
The colorful Ferris wheel was made my my talented couple friends Swati and Navaneet and it actually rotates...how awesome!
There was also a fun photograph of Appu which he posed for saying he had strong muscles and that was perfect to keep near the marshmallow dumbbells (which I called Strongman dumbells). And not to forget the waterbottles with customized wraps.
I decided to make a Carousel Cake this time for Appu's birthday and one that actually rotates...yes the Carousel on top of the cake actually rotates. As usual I love to experiment with my family's b'day cakes, so a fun fact about the cake is that the yellow portion of the cake is not fondant but yellow colored White Chocolate Ganache...so I made my first Colored Ganache cake! And another fun part...the cake was filled with colorful polka dots...so a Polka Dot surprise inside cake it was....yaay! More about that in a separate post.
The Directional Board was our next big project. We actually went to Menards to get a decent sized white colored wooden board to form the stem of the directional board. I had plenty of colorful chart paper which my brother-in-law helped cut into different sided arrows and I printed out the names and stuck them on the chart. Later my father-in-law helped stick each sign on the board. It was amazing to see how it all came up finally! The sign directions did not quite match with where the actual stuff was but it did not matter...hehe.
For the Carnival prizes, our plan was to actually hang all the prizes on the wrapped board with pushpins and place the board near the Games area for all the kids to see, but they wouldn't stay and kept falling down with the weight, so we just placed them flat on the board and kept a sign that said Carnival Prizes.
Each set of prizes were kept within ziploc bags and we printed out an image that said 'Manav's Carnival' and 'Happy 4th Birthday' on either side and placed them on top of the ziploc and stapled it up. It looked just like how a party favor bag bought from party city would look like but customized :-D The fun carnival prizes included variety of toys, pencils, chocolates and fun star shaped sunglasses. Each kid could select any bag they wanted. Apart from the color of the toys/glasses and chocolates everything in each bag was same.
Cake cutting went really well...all the kids gathered around the cake table...they all got so excited that they started screaming on top of their lungs, which was quite noisy if i may say so, but they were all happy and that's what mattered.
Appu wanted to hold the knife and cut the cake all by himself which I had to reluctantly agree to unless I wanted a tantrum at that moment.
Everyone sang Happy Birthday while Appu decently cut a pretty slice all by himself and literally gulped the entire piece. He happily ate a slice from whoever gave him one and was the first to take another big slice to go n eat it all by himself...either he was damn hungry or he really loved the cake...hehe!
It was a fun Polka dot inside White Chocolate cake with White Chocolate Ganache and everyone said the cake tasted amazing. More on the cake in a detail post...coming soon :)
We kept a fun Photobooth with lots of cheeky carnival props for everyone to strike a pose! It was huge hit and everyone enjoyed taking a snap with the fun props. We forgot to take a pic of the props but you get it right? ;-)
FOOD & DRINKS
When I asked Appu what he wanted to eat on his b'day he said without evening thinking - Pizza! So well, we went the easy route with the food, although I had a huge plan of a carnival themed food spread, but I'm so glad I didn't go crazy on that and ordered some simple food. The only hard work we did on the food was making the food labels...Lol!!
We decided to not keep any carbonated drinks as it was a kids party so instead there was plenty of refreshing and chilled homemade Mango lemonade and Strawberry lemonade and Water for drinks with Potato chips, colorful fryums and popcorn for snacking.
Appetizers: Chicken Wings and Cheesy Garlic Bread
Pizza: Variety of Veg and chicken options
Pasta : Veg and chicken Pasta from our favorite Italian restaurant - Bucca Di Beppo.
Dessert: Chilled Mango custard with mixed fruits and nuts.
My mother-in-law and I made the delicious Mango Fruit custard for dessert which we forgot to bring out from the fridge until the last moment - oops! so a few friends missed that treat before they left. Sorry about that folks...we enjoyed the remaining dessert over the next few days...hehe!
In all it was a superb birthday party , the games and decor were a big hit and although it was a super hot day everyone seemed to have had fun. My parents-in-law, Manish (hus) and some close friends were so helpful in getting everything setup for the party.
The night before the party my mother-in-law (mummy) and father-in-law (pappa) stayed up late at night to stick the personalized labels for the water bottles and the carnival prizes and pappa helped with all the balloon blowing and getting the directional board ready. Love them!
Phew! Finally I'm done with writing down this b'day post. I feel like I've been writing this forever as I did not want to miss any detail, a lot of which I had to purposely omit to not make it too boring. It's also taken me sooooooo long to just get all the pics sorted out, for which I need to thank my friend and photographer Bishal for capturing such awesome moments of the birthday party.
If you've kept up with my rambling until here, then I'll be back soon with some more details on the cake soon in my next blog post, so stay put...until then, lets all have fun, be goofy and have a carnival time ;-)