Monkey Birthday Party Planning Progress!

Or lack thereof!

With the countdown to the big day just 10 days and counting (ahhhhhhh!) I’m definitely feeling the pressure.

balloonHere are the things that I’ve accomplished so far:

  1. Ordered the mod monkey plates, napkins, party hats, monkey pinata, cups etc from
  2. Ordered a slew of other things from Oriental trading including monkey bubbles, monkey head cupsmonkey bean bag toss game, pinata candy and toy assortment, yellow party bags for favors, monkey masks and foam balls so we can play “dodge the coconuts.” Dodge the coconuts is like dodge ball, except instead of throwing the ball AT the other team you throw the balls up in the air and the kids have to try to not get hit by the falling “coconuts”.


Created and ordered a poster from For $20 shipped you can get a large 3 foot x 4 foot poster printed. We will spray glue and attach it to foam core to create our “pin the tail on the monkey” game.


Left to do:

  1. monkeycake Make marshmallow fondant (which I’ve never done before so wish me LUCK!)
  2. Make a practice cake because I am soooo not a baker. The cake I am going to ATTEMPT to make is only 6”, so I think I will have to make cupcakes too!
  3. Design and make a birthday banner (I already bought the supplies).
  4. Plan Menu! We’re doing a BBQ, but I have to figure out what drinks & side dishes to make/buy. I was thinking of maybe ‘jungle juice” for the kids and Banana daiquiris for the adults (in addition to beer & wine of course!)
  5. Make favor tags for the goody bags and cupcake toppers.
  6. Figure out WHERE in our little property we can fit 30 people! If we want to use the yard for some sprinkler and other games for the kids, we will have to fit a LOT of seating under our pergola. Speaking of seating I think we will need to rent some chairs too.
  7. Design and get thank you cards printed
  8. Not really party related, but I need to squeeze in some time to do Jasper’s cake smash photos. Which requires me finding a cake to smash that I like for pictures (no, I’m not going to attempt to make that one!).
  9. Make Jasper’s One Year video/slideshow.
  10. Make him a shirt with a mod monkey on it using inkjet tranfer paper.. or just buy this one from Etsy!

Hmmm, I think there are a few dozen other things that I’m forgetting, like that we have to eradicate the ant problem down on the lawn so we can play games there, and powerwash the wicker chairs and oh about a million other little things to get the house ready for so much company.

Party at chucky cheese is sounding really good right about now!


And now the educational portion of today’s post:  some fun resources that I found while searching around for 1st birthday party ideas:


A Blog post with links to tons of real people’s birthday parties.. fabulous for ideas.
Top Party Ideas – theme party ideas complete with invitation ideas, recipes, favors and party games
31 Awesome Birthday Cake Designs
Cake pan for giant cupcake


Mod Monkey Party Supplies from
Mod Monkey Birthday Party Invitations
– yep, I opened an etsy shop, you can grab my design here!
Mod Monkey Pin the Tail on the Monkey  Game
– get this from my etsy shop too.
Monkey Birthday Party
from Hostess Blog.
Mod Monkey Baby Shower from Hostess Blog Monkey Cake Recipe
Martha Stewart Monkey Cupcakes
Martha Stewart Monkey Cake (caution, the versions of this cake I’ve seen made by “real” aka “not martha” people don’t look nearly as nice!)
Monkey Party Game Ideas

I’ll probably keep adding more links as I find them. What were your best sources/links for party planning?

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you don’t need party planners if you are just going to hold a very small party for your personal friends ”:

may-lin lorenzo says:

I am also doing a mod monkey themed birthday for my son’s 1st birthday.. I have gone monkey crazy!!!. I made monkey munch!!! my version on monkey food.. trail mix but with goodies like mini honey chex, mini marshmellows, m&m’s raisens. etc. made chocolate covered bananas. dont make the fondant,, just but it at ac moore of micheals use a 50% coupon, saves you time and money.. load pics when u can i will too.. i have more than 100 guests invited so i am really going nuts,, even made jello shots for adults to match blue an yellow dots..

Maria Naccarato says:

Hi Ariana,

I love the “pin the tail on the monkey”! I was getting ready to make a “pin the candle on the cupcake” but this is much cuter. I would be willing to purchase your file if you’re willing to share it? -M

pam says:

this is awesome! i found some monkey themed party kits at michael’s (the martha stewart line) on severe clearance, so i bought three boxes for my boys’ second birthday. i just didn’t know what else to do, and now i know. (thank goodness i have four months until the party, lots of planning time.)

Stephanie says:

Re: the chocolate question – for what it’s worth, I haven’t heard that. I made a chocolate cake (dairy/soy/nut and egg free though!) for Chloe’s first birthday. She had no problems with it even though she had other serious food allergies at the time! :)

I realize posting this makes me the “allergy geek” but one thing I have read is that a true chocolate allergy is very rare – like less than one in 500 people. Studies have been conducted with patients who thought they had severe chocolate allergies and only a handful of them were actually allergic to cocoa. Turns out that most people who think they are allergic to chocolate are actually allergic to one of the other ingredients in processed chocolate or have reacted to trace amounts of dairy or nuts in chocolate that was processed on equipment also used to make candy containing dairy and nuts.

A chocolate cake made from scratch using 100% cocoa powder would be really unlikely to cause a reaction.

I’d avoid nuts though! :)

Molly says:

Landon’s big party is Saturday. I am so not ready. How am I supposed to get everything done when I work full time? And the fact that I’m a professional event planner adds just a little more pressure to my plate.

Keri says:

I’m loving all of your plans, Ariana! The party looks and sounds like it is going to be amazing!! You got me inspired to get to work. Now, I just need to find the time:-).

Jill says:

Looks amazing! Thanks for the great links, too! Only three more months until Ava’s party — yikes!

I’m sure your cake will be adorable AND yummy.

I definitely want to bake Wes’ cake even though I also would not consider myself a real baker (I was a Daring Baker for a while but then got pregnant and had no time for anything not baby).

I can’t wait to see the photos from this party. I’m sure you’re feeling the pressure now, but with your creativity, the party is bound to be a hit!

Kimberly says:

Oh… that butter needs to be SOFT… room temperature!

Kimberly says:

That cake on flickr looks awesome, and really not that difficult. You can do it!!!
You would be shocked how LITTLE gel coloring it takes to tint your fondant. Literally, like 1-2 toothpicks dipped into the color. The blue on James’ cake took I think 2, for a pretty big ball of fondant.
I have not heard anything about avoiding chocolate… I think anything you make yourself with pure ingredients should be fine… plus, they really don’t end up eating THAT much of it. James’ smash cake was chocolate. Maybe make a chocolate practice cake and let Jasper try it prior to his party.
I did use Crisco (as much as I hated to) with the marshmallow fondant… you HAVE to… it’s so incredibly sticky at first. Again, the amount that will actually be eaten is negligible.

Here is my recipe for Swiss meringue butter cream… easy,foolproof, and so totally delicious (and I don’t like frosting usually) it’s the only kind worth eating in my opinion!

* 1 cup sugar
* 4 large egg whites
* 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Note: (you could also add additional flavorings like a touch of lemon, orange, raspberry, or coconut extract, or up to 1/4 c of lemon juice. Or you could up the vanilla a tiny bit… but it’s delicious as-is.

Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in a metal or glass bowl (use your stand mixer bowl, if you have one) placed over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly for about 3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot.
Remove from the heat and using a whisk attachment and your stand mixer, mix on medium speed until the mixture is cool… 5 minutes or so. If your kitchen is hot this may take longer. (It’s best to work in a cool room for butter cream if at all possible.)
Switch to your paddle attachment and while mixing on med-high speed, add one stick of butter at a time, beating it until smooth each time. Once all the butter is in, give it a good 6-10 minute beating on high speed until it is thick and very smooth. If it breaks or looks wrong during this time, don’t worry, it will come back together.
Add your flavoring (vanilla, or whatever you’re using) and beat until incorporated. You should have a very smooth, shiny, white buttercream that will taste DELICIOUS. Tint with a tiny amount of gel coloring if desired, again beating until just incorporated.

This recipe will make enough for one 9-inch layer cake. If you need more, the recipe doubles easily.

I am happy to offer any more tips, advice, etc! :)

ariana says:

Heather, words to live by!

Alicia, how could I have forgotten cake wrecks??? I had that line in my head to blog all week.. about my anxiety about making a cake worthy only of a featured spot on the cake wrecks blog. I need to start writing this stuff down ;)

Alicia says:

I agree with Kimberly – soooooo ambitious!!!! But you can totally do it – and looks like you’ve gotten so much done already. I can’t wait to see pics. I have a feeling you’re gonna put that party planner blog to shame. Of course, if for some reason the cake doesn’t turn out quite right, I’m sure it could still be a hit on the cake wreck blog! lol.
Just remember to breathe and enjoy the planning and the party!!!!

Heather says:

We made a similar monkey cake for my son Jake’s first birthday, and the chocolate icing was fine (actually…I just used pre-made). He was so tired by the time we had the cake that he was almost dozing in his high chair, poor little guy!

Really, my words of advice having just planned a similar party was…order whatever you can, and make sure YOU enjoy the party. Like you, I’m very much a do-it-yourself kind of girl, and have a huge desire to design and make everything myself, but I realized I just had to NOT do everything myself for his party, or else I would have no time to spend with him.

So, relax as much as you can, and enjoy…it sounds like it’s going to be amazing!

HamiHarri says:

Oooo!!!  Can I come to Jasper’s party, pretty please – I’ll help with clean up duty ;)  It sounds like it’s going to be a blast!  And if this party planning is any indication of birthday parties to come – Jasper is one lucky little guy!

I have many fond memories of birthday parties growing up.  My Dad planned them all (he raised us kidlets as a single Dad).  He did an excellent job and my friends always raved about the goody bags (always so much candy! Lol).

I remember at a certain age a lot of my friends were having birthday parties at McD’s and I was totally jealous.  But thinking back to the parties my Dad created for us, the decorations, the games, the food (we always had pop in the old glass bottles – my fav being Tahiti Treat…*sigh* those were the days) I am so thankful for all of those wonderful memories.

I can’t wait to see how your fondant cake turns out – I’m hoping to attempt a fondant cake at some point in the not so far off future.  Maybe if I go overdue (EDD is Feb 24) I can attempt a monkey cake version for hubs’ birthday (he’s my monkey man…lol) on March 8 – nearly 10 months preggers women can still roll fondant, right ;)

ariana says:

Kimberly, your post was so helpful, but also a little scary ;0

Did you use crisco while making the fondant? I watched a youtube video and that’s what they said to use on your hands etc. Thank GOD I’m not planning on doing a whole fondant cake like you did.. just the monkey face on top is. But I did find this on flickr
and now I want to make that one! But that’s a lot of fondant coloring..

Yes please share buttercream recipe, I’m sure I’m not the only one who could use it!

Speaking of chocolate, did you hear anywhere that it’s better to avoid chocolate for 1st bday if baby hasn’t had it yet? I was wondering about the chocolate icing my monkey cake recipe calls for..

chantal says:

I did a French themed pink and black party for Annora’s first. I got these items from Birthday Express:

It was a huge success – I’m probably picking up the photos tonight and I’m beyond excited to see them! Teaser photos are available here:

Kimberly says:

Ummm…. WOW! You are incredibly ambitious, and this sounds like it will be a WONDERFUL party! (I didn’t see a rent-a-monkey on the list….) ;)

Tips on cake / fondant…. make your fondant ahead of time (it will keep for a couple of weeks well-wrapped in the fridge). The marshmallow fondant is incredibly easy to make, actually… I didn’t have to use nearly as much powdered sugar as the recipe calls for, but I also used cocoa powder to make it chocolate. And I am in a VERY dry climate, so with your humidity you might use more. Use your judgment… when it’s no longer sticky at all, but pliable and smooth, then stop. And bake your cakes early and put them, well-wrapped, in the freezer. Then when you’re ready to decorate the cake, like the day before the party, pull them out and let them thaw just a little bit, like for 15-20 minutes before you put fresh buttercream on them… the back into the freezer to harden up the buttercream. (If you need a killer, easy and foolproof recipe for the buttercream, let me know, I’ll share.) THEN roll out your fondant… don’t do it in advance or it will dry out and crack. DON’T refrigerate a fondant-covered cake or it will sweat as it warms back up… ick. I am more than happy to help you or offer tips / troubleshooting as you go… let me know and we can Tweet if you want! :)


ariana says:

LOL, I’m exhausted just reading it too! I think I’m doing most of it by myself, except that Jeff will be doing the outside prep like mowing, ant eradication etc. Now if the weather would just cooperate and not rain this weekend so we can do yard work and obviously not the next weekend the weekend of the party, we’d be much obliged :)

jbhat says:

Ariana, I am exhausted just READING about all of this planning. I hope you are not tackling it completely by yourself.

Everything sounds super cute and fun, by the way. Good luck!

kari says:

looks so cute ariana!
its going to be a jungle!