When asking my soon-to-be three-year-old what theme she’d like for her upcoming birthday the answer was “banana party!”. I was so excited to work with this unique theme and see where it would take us. This theme could easily be seen as a monkey themed party too since they come hand in hand!
When my daughter and I were brainstorming for this party, it was pretty immediate that we connected monkeys and minions to the theme, since they both LOVE bananas. We kept this fact in mind when getting it organized.
Where to start?
My Birthday Party Planning Method
Colors vs. Characters
Whether planning a party in the classroom or at home, I have a specific strategy in keeping costs low and repurposing party “leftovers”. I prefer focusing my attention and my purchases on colors vs. specific characters and themes. I’ve found that it keeps my costs lower AND I’m able to much more easily re-use any leftover disposable items. In my experience, a more open-ended focus on color allows my creativity to flow, which makes the whole process a lot more fun for me.
For this party, the colors were obviously focused on yellow and green to highlight the bananas. This made it easier for me to simply add a few monkey items and Curious George books to complete the look of this party.
Time vs. Last Minute
I must mention that a BIG part of me keeping costs low is to plan months in advance. This allows me the time to notice sales and clearances going on for things that fit within my “color range”. It gives me the time to ask to borrow items and/or make things too. I always have a running list of items to keep an eye out for on my phone, so I can always incorporate it into shopping trips vs. making extra trips out.
Before having children, it was very easy for me to scramble at the last minute to throw a party together, however, it would always cost me quite a bit more in money and stress. This isn’t worth it to me anymore! I find this method allows for less stress, less costs, and more joy!
Slogans and Catchy Phrases
Part of the party planning revolved around slogans and catchy phrases. For this one we toyed with “Let’s Go Bananas!” and “It’s Time to Monkey Around!”. An easy way to add to your party is by looking up puns for the theme and coming up with your own special slogan. It was quite obvious that with our party favors we were going to include the phrase “Thanks a Bunch!” to tie into the theme. It definitely adds individuality and uniqueness to the event!
List of some of the items purchased:
– Glittery, yellow “Mardi Gras” mini hats
(can be reused for future parties, play themes, costumes, dress-up accessories etc.)
– Plastic banana leaves (can be reused for future barbeques, luaus, Island learning themes, botanical themed events etc.)
– Yellow paper “party bags” (leftovers can be reused for lunch bags, making puppets, future party favor bags etc.)
– Yellow tissue pom poms (can be reused for bedroom decor, future parties, Pinterest craft ideas, open-ended materials for play etc.)
– Yellow and Green paper plates, napkins, tablecloths and plastic utensils (leftovers can be used for picnics, barbeques, crafts, dramatic play for children etc.) If I have extra tablecloths, I make sure each car has one inside for spontaneous picnics or art projects!
– Yellow poster board (to make the banana wall decor) (the cut out bananas can be reused in dramatic play/kitchen play for children, creating games etc.)
-Barrel of Monkeys (I found yellow and green ones at the Dollartree; they were too small for the children at this party BUT I used them as decorations, hanging them from the chandelier)
-…and again, when you focus on colors vs. characters, you realize there are so many things you can incorporate for a cohesive, beautiful look.
-Washi Tape and Stickers (we easily found Minion tape and monkey stickers at the Dollartree too!)
List of items “found”, repurposed or borrowed:
– ceramic banana leaf serving plate
– glass serveware
– Curious George books
– monkey stuffed animals
-Banana chips (“Monkey Munch”)
-Beautiful, custom cookies (ours were from The Cookie Corner)
-Bananas (Of course!)
-Banana + other fruit pouches!
-Pretzel Thins (incorporates the brown, “monkey color” too!)
Banana Play Dough:
Whether you might want to make party favors or have a sensory activity available, making some banana scented play dough is sure to be a hit for children!
My go-to basic play dough recipe can be found on The Imagination Tree’s website. I simply added in some yellow food coloring and Banana Bakery Emulsion to give it the fruity smell. The awesome thing about using a bakery emulsion is that it can obviously be used for many things beyond play dough. If you wanted to make lollipops, candies or create a banana frosting, the bakery emulsion can be used for all these things and more!
We made a big batch of this play dough and turned it into a party favor. After dividing and rolling the dough out, we popped a ball into a little 6 oz plastic cup (with lid). Then my daughter added some monkey stickers and Minion washi tape onto the containers for an added pop of fun! We received a lot of feedback that the play dough was a hit!
My daughter was over the moon for her banana, monkey themed birthday party and it is continued to be talked about even to this day.
Angie Waltz is an Early Childhood Educator with over 10 years of experience in Reggio-inspired, play-based classrooms. Her undergraduate degree is in Child Development and she holds a Masters in Human Development. Angie is enthusiastic about sharing ideas, activities, and materials that support a play-based, child-led learning approach. She also loves helping families create developmentally appropriate, thoughtful, rich learning spaces for their children.