How to host your own BUG themed party (for nature loving toddlers)
My toddler is at his happiest when he is jumping in puddles in his wellie boots, kicking leaves and helping us in the garden. As he neared the age of 3 our conversations revolved around bumble bees, ladybirds, birds' nests, worms and spiders.
So for his 3rd birthday we decided to host our own BUG themed party - outside! This is the kind of party you could have in spring, summer or autumn. But winter is probably best avoided! And if you don't have a garden, it's an easy one to do at a park. One thing to mention - there are no REAL insects involved.
We made our own invitations using free downloadable images of insects, leaves, magnifying glasses and binoculars and we let parents know that their children would be outside - whatever the weather:
“Please wear wellies and warm clothes as we’ll
be spending some time outside bug hunting”
Timing & Logistics
My son’s birthday is in November so we knew it was going to be damp and cold in middle England. We therefore decided that only the first 45 minutes of the party would be spent outside BUG HUNTING.
The next hour was inside for lunch and playtime (the party was only 2 hours in total). We stuck a sign on the front door saying:
"Get ready to bug hunt. Please use the side gate"
This meant the kids went straight into the garden (not the house) so we didn't need to take off their coats and boots and then dress them again to go outside.
Bug Hunting Kit
After arriving, the children collected their Bug Hunting Kit from the Bug Hunting Station. Instead of party bags, we gave them these boxes to take home at the end including any "insects" they collected from the garden.
I bought these bug party boxes from Amazon or you could use beach buckets.
Dig for worms & insects
We used a plastic box filled with compost which I bought from a garden centre. A lot of nurseries and kindergartens use compost for activities. I checked online and it seems pretty safe for kids to use without gloves as long as the children wash their hands afterwards.
Then I buried some rubber worms and left out some plastic spades for the kids to dig up with! So much fun. We also filled a water play table with compost and let the children forage around for fake insects.
This was really simple. We already owned a children's sized wheelbarrow and rake so I just collected up a big pile of autumn leaves and let them go for it. This was a really popular activity.
We put fake cobwebs (the kind you buy for Halloween) over a fence and stuck little plastic spiders in them for the kids to pick off! They all loved this.
We printed out a few A4 sized pictures of different birds and the children each had a checklist to tick as they spotted the "birds" around the garden. We encouraged them to use little binoculars to add some reality to the adventure.
Water the flowers!
This was really cute. I bought some inexpensive fresh flowers from the supermarket, plonked them in some soil in flower pots and left a small watering can full of water. My 1-year-old daughter loved this, even though she couldn't quite work out the watering can!
We pre-prepared a hand washing station with soap and towels by the back door (fortunately we have a utility room). But you could also use hand wipes. We had parents on duty who took boots and coats at the end of the Bug Hunt.
We continued the Bug Party theme with the food but it was a lot of extra work. I would probably skip this idea if I did it again! On the menu were: frogs eyes (grapes actually!), jelly snakes, a meatball caterpillar, chocolate bugs, honey nests with bees on top and the usual healthy bits like chopped fruit and vegetables.
I went "off theme" with the cake because my son really wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine one!
Marks & Spencer do a lovely caterpillar cake which you can buy off the shelf. Or make your own ladybird as Kate did for her toddler's bug birthday:
Me? Certainly not. I know all of this looks like a great deal of effort and costly but it really wasn't. I believe I saved a lot of money doing it myself rather than employing an entertainer. Thinking of the ideas and finding the best products were the hardest bits!
And most importantly watching my little nature lover have a great time made it all worth it.
If you want the REAL DEAL, with lots of live creepy crawlies, Kate has just used a company that brought reptiles and creatures to her son's 3rd birthday party in the UK and she as thrilled. You can read more about it here.