I am a project manager by trade and a party planner by nature, so each birthday is a fun extravaganza in my world. Much of what we had at the party was done during my lunches and after my son was in bed (I took my sweet time and used a month to complete my tasks – this can go a lot quicker if you have more time or your schedule permits.)
This year my son, Henry, celebrated his 3rd birthday. As in previous years we needed a solid theme that would help us figure out food, decorations and fun activities both for kids and adults. Here’s how we accomplished our mission with success!
1. Pick a theme. This was easy for us, we love reading in the Ramseyer Roost so naturally we are inclined to pick a book theme. Last year we celebrated a bookworm this year we chose Dragons Love Tacos. I asked Henry if he’d be interested (why bother developing a theme if the guest of honor doesn’t like it.) The result was a wide smile and “I like Dragons and Tacos.” Good.
2. Create invites. Most of our invitees were on Facebook, which is where we tracked party specifics, but I still love receiving a traditional paper invitation. We sent out taco invites featuring our favorite dragon on the inside. Cut out yellow circles of cardstock, match a slightly smaller white card stock invite, add some green bits and red semi circles (thanks office circle cutter.) and voila a cute invite to send! Now repeat this about 25 times.
3. Figure out a menu. Again dragons to the rescue, our menu would mostly have beef and chicken tacos with plenty of fixings & mild salsa – dragons hate spicy salsa (we did include spicy stuff for the humans.) With our head count we calculated that 8lbs of beef and 8lbs of mild cilantro lime chicken would do the trick. Here are the original recipes I used to create our beef and chicken taco feast. Below is how I adjusted or modified recipes to fit our specific needs.
Tips for beef: I did cook the beef in a large pot before transferring to the crock pot. We purchased the taco seasoning in bulk at Costco (it’s got a fair bit of heat, but it’s really awesome.) Once we transferred to a crock pot we had steamy taco meat ready in about 2-3 hours on high. We then turned it to low to keep warm as the party rolled forward.
Tips for chicken: I did pour out most of the chicken liquid after it finished cooking – I would recommend leaving about 1.5 cups, it was a bit dry. I modified the recipe to add 1 jar of mild salsa (I would recommend 2 jars), two limes squeezed into the mix, and a nice bunch of finely chopped cilantro, a few tablespoons of cumin and paprika, garlic powder, some pepper and a pinch of salt. Don’t be afraid to add more spice, we needed a low-spice option for our dragons and guests.
4. Cake. Each year I challenge myself with baking/creating some edible masterpiece (read cobble together as best as my untrained abilities allow.) This year I research the internet for taco cakes (I still had some of my senses not to try a dragon shaped one.) It was fun and it turned out. Here is how we accomplished the taco cake.
5. Taco Piñata. Yep this party didn’t feel complete without one. I found this project and it was my guide, it allowed me to use a left over diaper box for construction (we hoard enough boxes to build a fort). I purposely used scotch tape to hold it together – we don’t need Fort Knox, and even with multiple hits it held on for dear life. Lots of kiddos enjoyed it.
6. Decorations! This was perhaps the easiest thing for me. I scanned pages from our copy of Dragons Love Tacos (I would have purchased some if those decorations existed in the market.) And proceeded to frame some with colorful sheets to add a bit of fun to our walls, I used the red dragon to feature as our 3D decoration, circles were once again assembled into tacos, I did a taco garland (50 small tacos, one knotted long piece of thick string and 4 hours of trying to untangle. Be careful how you create this, it looked like Russ’ ball of Christmas lights.) We added streamers and some Cinco de Mayo decorations courtesy of my mother-in-law. We also labeled all our food with taco labels (fold your circles in half and write in pen. It’s that easy.)
7. GAMES & CRAFTS, GOODIE BAGS! To be honest this is really more the icing on the cake, everyone had a great time just chilling out in the sun room, backyard, swings and slide as well as the sand table. A cold beer or margarita can make any party a fun place to be so you really don’t need much more. But that didn’t stop us from having a memory game (resize scanned book sheets and uniform cover sheet, cut out circles and glue stick together, make as many pairs as you wish.) I also found this fun project on Pinterest for making your own fire breathing dragon. The wee ones received assistance from the mammas but for the most part it was a simple craft a kid can do. Lastly, the evening can’t be complete with some goodie bags (yes in addition to the candy bags the kids received, we like to send our youngest guests home as sugared up as possible.) Goodie bags contained some bouncy balls, mini taco erasers – which were surprisingly hard to find, playing cards, stickers, bubble solution necklaces.
We had a blast celebrating our kiddo turning 3, our love of tacos and our love of dragons. Hope you have fun planning/partying at your next Dragons Love Tacos extravaganza!