Yep, it happened. Our first baby…my baby. He turned five! Our minds are still trying to adjust to this reality, but hanging out with him every day, there is just no denying it. There is a new level of maturity in the way he speaks that awes us all the time. I suppose that has been a gradual change over time that I suddenly noticed only now.  He even seems to expect a little more of himself now, doing things he hasn’t done before while noting, “Because I’m five…” It’s pretty cute.

Oh, and another cute thing about this boy? He’s basically been talking about what kind of party he wanted to celebrate the big FIVE the entire 364 days since his last birthday. (I’m not exaggerating, though I kind of wish I was.) Though he changes his mind constantly as any four-going-on-five year old does, he talks a lot about wanting to be a paleontolgist when he grows up. We may have a little Ross Gellar on our hands.

Since he talks about his birthday party with such huge anticipation, I really wanted to make it extra special for him.  With the dino theme, I tried to incorporate lots of nature accents – branches, leaves, etc.  All in all, these were really simple decorations but really helped bring through the theme to life.  I hung a some left over streamers on the wall in a completely haphazard fashion and then taped up some die cut leaves to look like vines as a backdrop for the food table.  Andrew loooved this!  We had the party a few days before his actual birthday and when his real birthday came, he told me I needed to put the vines back up on the wall.  Ha!

We grabbed a few grassy plants from Lowes and I hot glued burlap I already had around the containers to cover the less-than-lovely black plastic. I also made a small set of four dino art prints to set around the house using the same general technique as I did for the sunshine sign. They cost all of $12 and turned out so cute! We may add mounts and hang them in Andrew’s room now that the party is over.

I decided to categorize the food for herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores (because I just couldn’t leave out mac and cheese.) Here’s what we had:
For the carnivores:
Sloppy joe sliders (Andrew’s favorite food from preschool, apparently – ha!)
Scallion meatballs with soy-ginger glaze

For the herbivores:
Cucumber bites
Broccoli “trees” in hummus
Cups of fresh fruit
Veggie cups with a greek yogurt dip (made up the recipe on the fly)

For the omnivores:
Mac and cheese cups

And to drink, green dinosaur smoothies of course! We had lemonade and water as well.

After we broke into the food, we did a few dino-related activities for the kids. The dino dig was such a huge hit with the kids, especially Andrew whose excitement upon finding each “fossil” was absolutely hilarious.  All we did was fill up a baby pool with sand and rocks, bury some dino skeletons (the best fake fossils I could find).  We included plenty of small shovels for digging, as well as brushes so they could brush off their fossils just like real paleontologists might.  We left this set up for several days after the party and Andrew played with it every single day. He just loved it!

We had a simple “make a fossil” station where kids could make dinosaur footprints or full impressions of dinosaurs with modeling clay. I loved modeling clay as a kid (even took a couple of pottery camps), so I got a kick out of this one. It was fun watching the kids decide what sort of fossil they wanted to create.

The kids meandered inside when they started to get too hot, and took full advantage of the color-a-saurus table I had set up. Andrew spends a lot of his time coloring, so I knew he would like this but wasn’t quite sure about the other kids. I was impressed to see what a hit a simple table with art supplies was! I laid out a variety of dinosaur coloring pages, and also supplies to make a simple stegosaurus from paper plates left over from past parties. The kids really liked making the stegosaurus and it was fun to see them being creative.

I love to display photos of the past year with the birthday boy, so I sponge painted a piece of foam board and hot glued some little rocks around the edges to add another touch of dino-ness. (I though this might take hours but it actually only took about 15 minutes.  It’s totally doable!) I also thought it might be fun to make a terrarium sort of thing. I used a big hurricane candle holder we already had, filled it with left over sand and rocks, and a layer of potting soil. We added some artificial moss I had (seriously, who has artificial moss around and finds a use for it? This seems to justify my urge to always save everything “just in case”.)  We added a few more rocks to look like boulders and mini dino toys. Andrew helped me make this and it was a really fun project for him. He absolutely loved it, and was so proud to show it off to guests :)

He also helped me assemble these favor bags for his guests which included a little book of dinosaur stickers, a mini dino toy, and a fossil cookie.  The cookies were another fun project we made together, using some of his dino toys to make impressions in cookie dough.

Andrew specifically asked for a birthday cake instead of cupcakes, so I made a two-tiered cake with chocolate cake for the bottom layer and funfetti on top. I decorated it with my favorite whipped vanilla buttercream, used a little bit of fondant to make additional leaves (shaped from pie crust cutters) and added random vegetation-like frosting around the bottom until the edges were mostly covered. (I used a small leaf tip and a small grass tip for this.) It was a lovely coincidence that the “5” candle at Target was this sparkly green one. It was meant to be!

Thanks to everyone who came and helped make Andrew’s birthday so special. We were glad to celebrate with you!

Invitations and party printables, favor bags, white and striped food cups: TomKat Studio
Andrew’s dino t-shirt: Zen Threads
Die cut leaves: Etsy seller angieheartsjared
Birch straws: Paper Source
Twiggy fabric: Hawthorne Threads
Birthday crown: made by my sweet friend Kelli