Young children love to identify animals and imitate their sounds, so hosting a zoo themed birthday celebration gives a whole new meaning to “party animals”! With all of the amazing animals to choose from for a party mascot, you’re certain to have fun with invitations, simple decorations and birthday cake/cupcakes. You can set up an imaginary zoo with cardboard box cages and stuffed animals at home but since most local zoos also include a picnic area, why not celebrate on-site? Real deal or imaginary, kids will enjoy a zoo themed event.
If you opt to have your event at the zoo, pre-party, determine what the zoo has to offer:
- Are admission tickets at reduced prices for a group rate? If the rates are steep, perhaps each family can buy their own tickets, while you provide the food and treats. Make intentions clear as you extend your invitations.
- What is covered in the admission price? Is riding a train or some other conveyance around the zoo grounds an extra cost? Some zoos also have real animals to ride—for an additional charge.
- Can you have a private tour or will an employee meet with your group for a question and answer period?
- Can you feed animals? Often zoos only allow their pre-determined vending machine food to be offered. If you decide to include that experience, what type of change will you need to have so each guest can participate?
- Is there a petting zoo section?
- Take into consideration the size of your zoo and your guests’ ages. If the zoo is very large, you might want to limit your visit to just a section or two.
Decide where everyone is meeting; will you car-pool from home or meet at a clearly designated zoo spot?
Especially for an off-site party, you’ll want to know what parents can help at your celebration. Choose a couple of moms/dads to make on-going head counts! To make it easier to keep track of your group, perhaps hand out same-colored T-shirts or ball caps for everyone to wear at the party’s beginning.
The host family should arrive at the destination earlier than the guests. You’ll be grateful for an extra set of hands to help you quickly set up the party. Forgo elaborate decorations but make it festive with a few clusters of weighted balloons and colorful, disposable tableware. Animal masks and washable markers will add to the décor, serve as favors and be a fun activity while you’re waiting for everyone to arrive. Animal themed games like Duck, Duck, Goose and Animal Walk-Across are fun and you won’t need extra equipment to play.
Simple hand-held food items will make eating easier for young guests. Individual box lunches/bags can be theme decorated and made ready at home. Frozen juice boxes will help keep things cool and should be ready to drink when the kids are. Whether you provide a picnic lunch or choose to offer snacks only, I recommend that you begin the party with your food, before you visit the animals!
So go ahead. Plan a zoo themed birthday party and watch all the REAL party animals enjoy the celebration! Remember to take extra hand wipes…
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