My son and I discovered a book series called “The Octonauts” at the library about two years ago. I immediately loved the cute, adorable characters and my son loved the stories. We found 3 different titles there and he became obsessed. We then discovered that it was turned into a show with the best end of the show jingle: “Creature Report.” You all know what I’m talking about. We also found out the author is a design agency based in San Francisco called Meomi.
When my older son turned five, I asked him what kind of party he was interested in having and he told me, “Octonauts party!” I excitedly started brainstorming in my head some fun ideas. This year, we decided to invite all of his classmates in addition to our regular group of friends and family so we rented a park building which is a great alternative if you need a larger space during the winter birthdays.
Unfortunately, “The Octonauts” aren’t popular enough to have too many party supplies readily available. We had to channel our inner-DIY guru to generate some fun Octoanuts birthday ideas.
I had really enjoyed the style the characters were originally drawn for the book and wanted to apply that to the invite design. I found a desktop wallpaper and did some photoshoshopping to the image and added more waves so the background felt continuous and had my local print shop print them out for me.
I wanted to give a feel of The Octonauts and the ocean feel without blatantly doing that. I remembered Oh Happy Day’s big fringe garlands and had always wanted to use that idea in a party. They kind of reminded me of large kelp but I wanted to maintain a blue scheme that mimicked more of an ocean. The twists and fringe texture gave it that lovely feel of motion (of the ocean. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself). We used some 1″ wooden dowels and taped the end of the fringe to the dowels. We then mounted about 4 of these small 3M wire hooks to the wall. We then nested the dowels onto the hooks to hold the fringe up. This made for a fairly easy set-up and break down; much easier than setting up my PVC frame at least.
I promised myself in the beginning that I wouldn’t redraw these characters but I couldn’t find large enough images to print out so I did end up redrawing them and printing out the characters that floated above. They are about 13×19″.
DIY jellyfish has to be one of the most satisfying DIY projects ever. They are incredibly easy to make and very affordable. In the book, there are some imagery of these light pink jellyfish and I wanted to incorporate that into the decor. After researching a few DIY jellyfish projects, I ended up using the one from Party City//tutorial here.
I made Kwazii’s telescope out of some mail tubes and gold duct tape. Another inexpensive party favor that is great are the bubble wands, or bubble swords as we called them.
Each kid received a little Peso Medical Kit favor box mostly for collecting goodies from the breaking of the piñata. This idea is a pretty standard Octonauts party favor idea but it’s such a great and easy idea, why reinvent the wheel?
Also really easy are these tissue paper corals. If you have ever made Tissue Poms Tutorial, it’s the same technique except you cut a long triangular pattern and to make them sit, you just only pull out half of the tissue. They reminded me of sea anemone!
Food & Cake
For the food, it wasn’t very Octonauts themed. I just wanted to be able to serve some semi-decent food for a large party that could be easily made, but you can also have fun with the naming conventions.
Because of my both my sons’ food allergies, I ended up making a lot of food. It may seem like a lot but with some careful planning, it’s actually not too bad and much more economical for a large party.
– Garden salad consisting of romaine lettuce from Costco and peeled carrots
– Minestrone soup made from home with fresh veggies and ground turkey
– Meatball subs (more for the adults). I bought packs of hoagies from Safeway. They were like $2 for a bag of 6–such a deal. Cooked them with some spaghetti sauce and frozen meatballs from Costco. Topped it off with some mozzarella and stuck it in the oven. Super easy and tasty.
– Cheese pizza and baked chicken nuggets from Costco (Costco was my food hero for this party)
– Fruit bowl made by my mother- in- law. Fruit ALSO from Costco.
– Veggie straws
– A whole mess of chocolate chip cookies. I made them earlier in the week and froze them and them baked them they day before. Still tasted just as good.
For the cake, there was a request for a “Kelp Cake”. In the book/show, vegimals love to bake kelp cakes. These guys right here:
I am by no means any sort of a baker. I can only bake cookies and that was after practicing the same recipe for a year! I decided to attempt it. Granted, it isn’t going to win any sort of Food Network bake-off contest but I think at the end of the day, my goal was, “when you look at this kelp cake, does he make you smile?”
We also picked up these short cakes from Safeway for everyone to design and eat their own kelp cake. The kids loved doing this. I provided some sliced fruit, whipped cream, sprinkles and some frosting for the kids to draw the kelp cake faces on. Definitely a hit.
We didn’t have to have too many activities because we were at a park but a few things we did do was bubbles, cloud dough and the piñata. (I originally had a pin the eyepatch on Kwazii too but I forgot the eye patch. womp womp.) A bubble machine and a large bubble wand goes a long way.
*Party Tip* Face painting and balloons are awesome–and also awesomely expensive. We rented a helium tank for $65 and bought our own balloons online. The tank blew up over 100 balloons. For face painting, we asked a friend’s creative teenage daughter to lend her artistic skills. She isn’t a professional face painter but you could’ve fooled us! We were very thankful to have her help.
I thought it would be fun for the kids to dig up some sea creatures in sand but I didn’t want to do sand so a friend suggested I make some cloud dough. It kind of feels like kinetic sand and as much as they advertise how less messy it is, it will be messy. However, we were outdoors and it was easier (and cleaner) to make cloud dough than to buy sand. I found a good recipe on Pinterest but essentially it is just flour and vegetable oil.
The DIY Kwazii Piñata
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Make your own piñata?? Are you crazy?? I will just preface this section that it isn’t that hard to make and it’s a lot of fun, especially if you like to craft. If you don’t, find a friend that does because I guarantee you, they’ll get a kick out of it. Initially, I wasn’t going to have a piñata, but then I thought it might be fun to have fun one. I searched high and low for a decent Octonauts piñata. I found some on Etsy but they weren’t that great for the price I had to pay and I was already behind on time for shipping. I YouTubed some videos to get an idea of how those big number piñatas were made and decided to apply that same technique.
Being a graphic designer has its benefits. I was able to redraw Kwazii’s silhouette and blow it up as a template to trace onto cardboard.
You will need two of the templates. One for the front and one for the back.
Next, you cut about 2-3″ cardboard strips and using masking tape, tape down the strips to the other side. If you are like my husband, this would be very clean and neat. If you’re me, it will be done very haphazardly with no intent of consistency. Either way, it don’t matter; it will all be covered up. I would also recommend not to tape it too well because if kids are hitting this piñata, you don’t need it to be that strong.
For the body, I bought two large rolls of orange crepe paper and cut along the sides like the photo below. Using a sponge brush and tacky glue, my piñata making assistant and I proceeded to glue down the crepe paper. She sat on one side while I sat on the other and just passed the crepe paper along. It’s also fine if it’s not done in one long stretch but it will feel more seamless if you can. Also remember to start from the bottom and work your way up since it will be layered from the top.
When you’re done, cut a hole up top and proceed to fill with cavity inducing goodies.
For the face, I just print and cut them out. I thought the details would be too intricate to use crepe paper on and this kind of made it easier to do.
The look on my son’s face was priceless when I showed him the complete piñata. It was totally worth it.
Now came the sad part, the destruction of all your hard work…
I can’t believe this little guy is already five. Time flies so I better make the best of these moments. Celebrations are one of my love languages and boy do I love this little guy! I hope you guys enjoyed our Octonauts journey and may yours been just as grand.
“Octonauts at ease! Until the next adventure!”
Invitations, Paper Goods, Pinata – Rachel Of JolieJolie
Decoration Supplies (large crepe paper) – PaperMart
Pink jellyfish lanterns – Amazon and Party City for the crepe paper
Peso Medical Box – PaperMart
Balloons – Bargain Balloons
Big number piñatas inspiration by Sorry Girls
Party City jellyfish instructions
Big fringe garlands by Oh Happy Day