family + crafty things…creepy, crawly birthday

One of our highlights of 2011 was D's birthday party. He's not a birthday party kind of guy. I find this extremely ironic since I love to put on a good party. Anyhow, he initiated the idea of an all boys party which included his classmates and other friends outside of school. 


Since our place is small for a group that size, I had to find a alternate location or park. Unable to reserve a park spot and nervous about the possibility of rain, we ended up booking the party room at Paxton Gate Kids in the Mission. In the end we combined Paxton Gate's beetle pinning activity with a reptile show presented by Owen, owner of the East Bay Vivarium

Having a party offsite had it's benefits, but it meant I had to keep things simple and transportable. Decorations were minimal, huge black balloons with silhouettes of insects and reptiles. 

Dirt parfaits were the dessert treat served with a bottle of bug juice to wash it down. I used Smitten Kitchen's vanilla pudding recipe [easy and tasty!] layered with Oreo cookies that have been refrigerated and zapped in a food processor. Goody bags were sewn and stenciled by yours truly. Each bag had a composition notebook with custom cover and back I printed and spray mounted, a bug jar with custom label and fact sheet, a pencil and sharpener, and gummy worms. Bug Crunch was the snack and I used this recipe as my guide, substituting chocolate covered raisins and cranberries for all the candy.

It was so much fun, I want to do the same for my birthday. Of course I'll have to substitue the bug juice for booze.




Paxton Gate Kids did a terrific job hosting our party and engaging the boys. They were extremely helpful before the party assiting me with balloons and setting out all the food and goodie bags. A big thumbs-up for the crew and the store.

Owen is AMAZING! He is so informative, witty, and entertaining. The love and respect he has for his animals is inspiring. If you live in the Bay Area, and are looking for a different type of entertainment, give him a call. Better yet, head over to Berkley to check out his store.

For those of you worried about the beetles, they were already expired. The "pinning" consisted of rehydrating the insects in hot water so that the legs and antennae become pliable. The boys used tweezers to pull and arrange the legs then used pins to keep them in place. The pins actually don't go through the insect, they criscross each other over the legs and antennae to keep them in place while they dry. It's a really fun activity. If you're interested you can get some home kits from here.