Mar 14, 2000

Lions and tigers and monkeys, oh my! If you have a child who is enamored with all things wild and wonderful, why not plan a Jungle or Safari theme party?

This complete party plan theme is appropriate for boys or girls, and is especially well suited for a party that will be attended by children of both sexes. Use as many or as few of these ideas as you wish....whatever your budget, time and patience level dictates. Add some ideas of your own and your child is guaranteed to have a party that will be remembered for
years to come! Be sure to include your child in the pre-party planning activities.

Most of all, have fun!


Children wear safari pith helmets (available at children's specialty stores like Zany Brainy , costume/dress up shops and the Oriental Trading company), or make animal headbands or ears out of construction paper, fun foam craft sheets, or fake fur (glue or sew onto inexpensive headbands or barrette clips). If you decide to turn the children into animals instead of safari hunters, be sure to paint their faces accordingly!

Purchase inexpensive toy binoculars and/or butterfly nets for children (available at the Oriental Trading Company or children's specialty toy or dress up shops). You can give these to the guests in lieu of a goodie bag.

On the invitation, request that children wear plain white shirts and khaki or olive covered pants to the party. This is not mandatory, but would certainly add to the overall feeling of the jungle/safari theme.



Use leafy green colored helium balloons and scatter in small groupings of 3 and 5 (always decorate in odd numbered groupings, as it is more pleasing to the eye). around the room. This will help create a lush, green jungle effect. You can weigh these down with a rock wrapped in green tissue paper so that they can be placed on the floor or ground.

Streamers and Such:
Use Green Streamers on the ceiling to create the feeling of a canopy of leaves.

Draw large leaves on green construction paper, poster board, or fun foam craft sheets....cut them out and then tape to the streamers and onto the walls to further enhance this effect.

Room/Table Decorations:
Use real or silk green house plants (borrow some if you don't have enough) and make these part of your jungle decorations. Big leafy ones or rubber type trees would work best. Place in strategic groupings to recreate the feel and look of a "jungle".

Make large exotic butterflies and head hunter or savage type masks out of construction paper, poster board or fun foam craft sheets. Make large tissue paper flowers in bright, tropical colors. Attach these to the walls, plants or party area.

Place rubber toy snakes and tarantulas in several key locations throughout the party area....hang several snakes from the large plants and have one hang down from the light fixture in the middle of the table to create a wonderfully scary effect. Tarantulas can rest on some of the plant leaves or hide them in locations where they are likely to be "discovered". Snakes can also be woven around the backs of the chairs. Have fun!

Purchase Raffia from a craft supply store. This is usually sold in long strands. Place the entire bunch down the center of the table...like a table runner. This will create an effect of native jungle grass.

Borrow your child’s plastic jungle and zoo animals and use them to decorate the table (if you don’t have any, purchase an inexpensive set....you can always make this part of your child’s birthday gift!). Place in small groupings on the table. If desired, add some large rocks from the yard or garden to give the animals variation in height and to lend added interest.

Table Centerpiece:

Do this either as a large single plant, or in a grouping of 3 plants of various heights. Ferns or other grassy type plants would work well. If the plants are in terra cotta pots, leave as is and just tie several strands of raffia together to form a natural "ribbon" around the pot (secure the raffia to the pot if necessary, with a dab of hot glue to the back of the raffia "bow"). You can also cover up the pot completely just by covering it with green tissue paper and then tying it with a raffia ribbon to secure. Glue on a few large tarantulas and other creepy crawly jungle creatures.


Name your food! Nothing adds more to the atmosphere of a theme party, then to name your food to fit the party theme. You can do this easily with a computer publishing program (an invaluable party planning tool). Write or print up a fancy menu sheet like they do at expensive restaurants (use a plate stand to display the menu on the food table), or simply print up labels and affix them to the front of the serving dish. If your guests are too young to read, tell them what’s on the menu....laughs are guaranteed!

For the safari/jungle theme party you can either serve your guests from a food table (wrap the table in one of those grass table skirts that you can purchase at a party store for a luau party....add a sign to the front of the table that says, “Food Stop”, “Oasis” or anything else that fits the theme), or consider serving up the food in brown paper lunch bags (after all, safari hunters tend to eat on the go). You can then wrap your sandwiches in plain brown food wrapping paper tied with a raffia ribbon and the snacks can be placed in snack sized plastic ziplock bags (with labels on them to identify the food).

Safari Sandwiches -
peanut butter and banana sandwiches
Jungle Burgers - beef , turkey or veggie burgers served in pita bread
Bananas (and/or other tropical fruits)
Jungle Salad - a leafy green salad
Fire Ants - plain or chocolate covered raisins
Trail Chips/Mix - this can be either potato chips, Trail mix, Chex mix....anything a tired animal or safari hunter would need to give them energy!
Creepy Crawly Bugs - gummy snakes, worms and other insects
Jungle River Sludge - brown or black Jell-O Jigglers broken up into pieces
Nile River Water - Add green food coloring to 7UP, Sprite or other lemon-lime soda


(Make yourself or purchase ready made from a bakery)

Pith helmet
Animal face
or make the following:

The Great Safari Hunter:

This is an easy cake to decorate for even a beginner cake decorator. Just practice a little with the tips and some practice icing on a sheet of waxed paper...once you get the hang of the tips and how to use them, you’ll be able to achieve very professional results (and amaze your friends in the process).


Prepared cake
Toy plastic binocular
(your child can always use this later as a toy, so don’t be overly concerned about the price)
Large gummy candy tarantulas, spiders or other insects, OR Oversized toy plastic tarantulas or other insects.
Pastry decorating bag/s and coupler
Wilton decorating large “leaf” tip
- recommended tip numbers: 69, 70, 326, 112, 113, 115 or 366 (Note: when using the larger tips 112,113, 115 or 366, use without the coupler)
Wilton decorating “grass” tip - recommended tip number: 233

Make a round or rectangular shaped cake. Fill if desired. Apply a thin layer of leafy green frosting to the entire cake. Decide where you want to put your child’s name and/or greeting. Lightly trace or mark off the area on the cake with a knife or spatula (Note: for this cake, an irregular shape slightly off center to the right or left would look best). Using the “grass” tip (tip number: 233) fill in the surface of the cake with grass (except for the area that you have designated for the name/greeting). To make grass, squeeze the pastry bag and then pull up as you squeeze. Stop squeezing then release. To make the grass appear realistic, be sure to vary the position as you pull....some should be straight up and others should be off to the left or right side.

Position the toy binocular on the cake....this would look best either towards the top right or left side of the cake. Hold it in position above the cake before you press down....decide where you want it to go before you apply it to the cake...you’ll only get one chance to do this! If the binocular has a handle, position the handle so that it hangs a bit over the side of the cake.

Add large leaves using one or more of the recommended “leaf” tips. You can make the leaves ruffled by moving your wrist up and down slightly as you squeeze. Again, vary the position of the leaves to make them appear more natural. Be sure to pipe leaves under and around the binoculars and around the rim of the opening where you will be placing the name/greeting. A complete bottom border of leaves would also be a very nice finishing touch.

Finally, position the gummy or toy insects on the cake (use a bit of icing to secure one or two to the binoculars if desired).


Young children generally do better at noncompetitive games or at competitive games where everyone is a winner. You can play these games and have no "winners" and "losers", or have a small, inexpensive prize for everyone who plays the game (give a prize to the child as they leave the game to make them feel like a "winner"). These can be inexpensive stickers, pencils, crayons, etc. You can also eliminate the need for a prize and a prize winner in each game, by simply giving all of the players a "Participant" ribbon...You can make your own by tracing a ribbon shape onto foam craft sheets and then cutting them out. Use a fabric pen or slick paint to add the words "Winner" or "Participant", or "Good Sport" on the ribbons, or these are available ready made at party supply stores and The Oriental Trading Company.

Jungle Animal Freeze:
There are no winners or losers in this game....just a hilarious good time! Play music (something jungle or animal inspired like "I'm Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor" or "Talk Like the Animals" would add a nice touch) and then instruct the children to jump up and down or dance to the music. Stop the music and then shout out a name of a jungle animal. The kids then have to stop and strike a pose like that animal!

The Great Peanut Hunt
Before the party, hide unshelled peanuts around the house or party area. Make some obvious and others less so....vary the level of difficulty depending on the age of the guests in attendance. Give each child a brown paper lunch bag with the words “Peanut Hunter” written on the front. Tell the children that they’re elephants who must forage for peanuts hidden in the “jungle”. Whoever finds the most peanuts after an allotted time, wins. As an added bonus, everyone gets to keep the peanuts they find. Make the prize for this game a plastic toy (or stuffed) elephant.

Animal Charades
Here’s another game with no winners or losers. Before the party, cut out pictures of animals from magazines or from a computer publishing program. Glue or tape them to small index cards. Place the cards in a bag or upside down in a pile. When the game begins, each child takes a turn to pick a card (advise them not to show anyone else what’s on the card). They must then act out the animal that’s on the card without using words.....animal noises and sounds are permitted. When the children guess the animal correctly, everyone jumps up and acts out their own version of that animal. Continue playing until each child has had a turn. This game is guaranteed to bring on peals of laughter and to burn up some excess energy!

Pin-the-Spot/Stripe/Tail-on-the-Jungle Animal:
Blow up a large image of a jungle animal (have your child choose their favorite) and then cut off a part of its body (this could be the tail, nose, or a stripe or spot that has been whited out to appear “missing”). Recopy the animal with the missing part onto a large poster sized sheet of paper or card stock). Then make multiple copies of the missing part for the children to use as their game pieces(Your local copy center can do this for you). Play the game just like Pin-the-tail-on-the-Donkey.

Don’t Touch That Snake!:
Play this game just like "Hot Potato", except that you use a toy rubber snake in place of a potato. Tell the kids that the snake is poisonous and they must pass it as quickly as possible to the next person to avoid being bitten!

Draw that Creepy Crawly Jungle Bug!:
Older children and aspiring artists will love this game. The object of the game is to be the first person to draw your own jungle beetle (or other creepy crawly bug of choice). You will need drawing paper (enough for each guest), a supply of crayons and a pair of dice. You will also need a sheet of paper that tells you what number total you must roll in order to draw a body part.

Example: 1 = head, 2 = body, 3 = leg, 4 = leg, 5 = leg, 6 = leg, 7 = leg, 8 = leg, 9 = eye, 10 = eye, 11 = antenna, 12 = antenna).

To the play the game, each player takes a turn rolling the dice. If they roll a number 1 and 2, they can draw either the beetle’s head (1) or the body (2), but not both. Or they can draw a leg (3) because 1 plus 2 equals 3. If their beetle already has the parts that match the number rolled, their turn is over. Whomever finishes drawing their beetle first, is declared the winner.

Safari Animal Round-Up:
Before the party begins, gather together as many stuffed animals as you can (borrow some from friends and family if you don’t have enough). Hide them throughout the party area.....make this more or less difficult according to the age of the children who will be in attendance. Send the safari hunters out to round up the wild animals. Whoever finds and captures the most animals wins!


Give each guest a photocopy of a coloring book image of a jungle animal to color or paint (this is a nice activity to keep the children occupied as they are waiting for all of the guests to arrive).


Paper Plate Snakes:

You will need paper plates (one for each guest, although have extras on hand just in case someone makes a mistake and needs/wants to start over), child safe scissors, crayons and a black washable marker. Each child will create their very own snake by drawing a spiral line with the black marker on the plate....have them start in the center of the plate (assist younger children if necessary) and then draw a spiral around the plate (just like a coiled snake) . Instruct the children to draw a face on their snake and to decorate the snake’s body using crayons. Once the snake is decorated, cut along the black lines to “uncoil” the snake and free it from the plate! Again...assist younger children if necessary. It is also a good idea to have a few examples made before the party for the children to use as a guide.

Safari Binoculars:
You will need empty cardboard toilet paper rolls (2 per guest), tape, yarn, stickers, markers, crayons, colored cellophane and glue. To construct the binoculars, tape together two toilet paper rolls. If desired, tape two circles of colored cellophane to one end of each roll to make a “lens”. Then instruct the children to decorate their binoculars by using the construction paper, stickers, markers and/or crayons. Once they are decorated, punch a hole at one end of the outside edge of each tube (the end opposite the lens end). Pull a length of yarn through the hole (long enough so that it will slip easily over a child’s head) and knot it on both ends to secure.

Note: As with all craft activities, assist children as needed and provide a few ready made examples for them to follow. You may also wish to do this activity early in the party so that the children may use their binoculars during the party activities!

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