Let’s fly away to Rio

Kelly Christie turned her daughter, Brooklyn’s, fifth birthday backyard party into a colourful Rio carnival.

A favourite movie and a mid-summer birth date set the tropical theme for this fifth birthday extravaganza.

A year in the making

“A whole year? Really?” I hear you say. Well that’s what happens when your four year old has a penchant for birthdays and nails down party themes years in advance! I tend to go a bit overboard on the DIY decorations, but I’ve learned from experience that simple often works best. Create a focal point for your party that really sets the theme – in this case it was the party table, draped in a colourful tablecloth with a backdrop of real palm leaves. Melons, coconuts and pineapples provided cost-effective and vibrant decorations for the table, as well as vintage wooden bowls and platters procured from op shops.

Setting the scene

To make decorating as simple as possible, work with what you’ve got. We have a reasonably tropical garden so that was a great starting point, and then I just chose to play up certain elements and disguise others. A trampoline isn’t a feature that’s easily hidden, so I thought to turn it into an aviary to fit the theme. After many hours of trimming feathers from colour photocopies, the parrots made a rather unsightly trampoline into a fun party feature.


DIY delights

Knowing the party was in the height of summer I also wanted to create enough shade. By stringing up fruit netting from roof to tree, I was able to hang glitzy garlands and birds to add to the Rio atmosphere, and provide some much needed shade at the same time. Op shops and $2 shops really are a party planner’s best friend. I picked up the pom-poms at the $2 shop, split the streamers into bundles and cable-tied them to the netting.


Birds‚ birds‚ birds

In the months leading up to the party, I picked up plenty of stuffed parrots and Rio figurines at charity shops and on Trade Me (including the pair of flamingos in the garden, which have now become a permanent decoration). Even the piñata was a bird – Nigel, one of the lead characters from the movie Rio. We handcrafted him from a couple of balloons, a fair bit of newsprint, and an ample paint job.


A piece of cake

I love a beautiful birthday cake but really don’t have the skills to craft some of the amazing creations you see out there. So I look for big impact with minimal effort. Creating the Rio characters was in the ‘too hard’ basket, so I kept an eye out for Rio figurines on Trade Me and came up trumps with the whole set for $10. They were used to dress up the very colourful city of Rio cake – a rainbow cake, iced with Italian buttercream, with homemade marshmallow buildings and a fondant Christ the Redeemer statue. Making the rainbow cake was a great way to get the kids involved – they loved mixing all the bowls of different coloured cake mix.

Time for the games

With a good salsa soundtrack playing in the background, the kids thoroughly enjoyed the limbo, a good old egg and spoon race, a treasure hunt, and of course, smashing that painstakingly-made piñata!


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