The Big One has just turned 7... where did that time go?! And like most 7 year olds he has a pretty good idea of what he likes! After my flat refusal to entertain the idea of a party at a certain Fromage Eating Mouse's Arcade (a.k.a. Hell on Earth), he came up with the idea of having a Raptor party. I initially thought he meant dinosaurs, but thanks to the Kratts brothers on PBS kids, my budding zoologist meant birds of prey! Apparently (according to the Big One at least)... "one can identify a raptor by three key features: they have the forward facing eyes of a predator, sharp talons and hooked beaks". That's me told!
So once I'd figured that out, I was then a little stumped with how to fulfill this wish. Thankfully, the wonderful Houston Audubon Society came to the rescue in the form of their Outreach program and their marvelous birds. We were very privileged to have Cairo (a peregrine falcon) and Tskili (a great horned owl) visit us at our home for the Big One's party! Both are rescue birds that were unable to be returned to the wild and were absolutely enchanting! Read below for more ideas for this theme...
I created a peregrine falcon birthday cake using a dove shaped cake pan (click on the image below to buy one). I used my vegan chocolate cake recipe as it is very fail safe for this sort of project and one batch filled the cake pan perfectly. This gave me a basic bird shape without too much effort. I then carved the beak slightly to make it a bit hooked and removed the olive branch from the dove's mouth. A thin smear of chocolate buttercream icing and then a layer of white fondant icing and I was given a blank canvas to paint (literally). Using some extra fondant I shaped some legs with taloned feet. Then I used Wilton color dust in brown, yellow, white and some Wilton Dab-n-Color in black, mixed with a little clear vanilla essence (although you can use any clear alchohol) to create the palette of colors I needed and I painted the fondant as if with watercolor paints!
Birthday Party Food
The party was held mid-afternoon and so I only provided a small finger buffet of snacks and treats. With a bird theme for the party, I decided on the following:
- Birds nests
- Finger sandwiches
- Owl cake pops (see my earlier post about cake pops for more information on how to make these)
The birds nests were simple chocolate rice crispy treats with chocolate mini eggs on top.
I displayed the grapes in a large glass bowl with plastic eggs.
The owl pops I decorated with ears made from mini choc chips stuck to the pop before coating in chocolate, light brown fondant icing for the tummy, a yellow moon shaped cupcake sprinkle for the beak and two white chocolate wafers (buttons) for the eyes. I wrapped each one individually in a cello bag tied with an owl patterned ribbon from the discount bin at my local craft store! I displayed these in a Styrofoam disc covered in tissue paper.
I used plain 'natural' colored, paper goody bags with raffia handles for the goody bags and simply printed out labels with a thank you message and picture of a peregrine falcon to stick on the front.
For Raptor themed goody bag fillers I used:
- Cardboard fold up binoculars for a bit of backyard bird watching!
- Bird stickers
- Owl bookmark/reading guides
- Resealable owl sandwich bags filled with 'owl food' (pretzels, chocolate raisins, chex etc...)
- Anti-gravity eagles (click picture below)...
The presentation of the birds lasted an hour and kept all 12 children (and their parents) perfectly enthralled and entertained!
After that the children had a quick snack and a game of pin the beak on the owl!
I gave out raptor/birds of prey coloring books and dollar store crayon packs to the winners (click on image below)...
And the best bit was seeing the smile on the Big One's face when he got to have his picture taken with Cairo the Peregrine Falcon!