October 19, 2009

The Birth of My Rumpus

My Rumpus details our recent experience with planning a Where The Wild Things Are theme party. We'll guide you through our process so you can learn a few ideas to make your version just as exciting. Also included are step-by-step projects, materials needed, and recommendations for where to find everything you need for the ultimate wild rumpus.

In deciding a theme for our daughter's 2nd birthday party, we considered several factors:

1) For a 2 yr old (still too young to have any major preferences), any theme goes so run with it, as long as it's fun/appropriate for both kids AND adults

2) Consider costs and create a budget

3) Consider the time you have and want to invest (We decided on this theme 4 weeks before the scheduled day, which gave us very little time, and ended up creating everything in 3 weeks believe it or not!)

Hence, our final decision came down to Maurice Sendak's imaginative and beloved children's book. Universal in popularity and plus, who doesn't love the charming characters and story line. A win-win situation.

Before brainstorming ideas for your version of the party, do some research by looking online, visiting exhibitions such as There's a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak at the SF Contemporary Jewish Museum, and reading the book over and over. This will give you all the inspiration you need.

Good luck!

(ps. Disregard post dates. The projects are listed on the left hand column of this blog in chronological order from top to bottom. Make sense?)

October 18, 2009


After research, we began brainstorming key elements for our party. Obviously, our ideas came directly from the book. It was just a matter of deciding the visual components to focus on. Hmmm......Max (the main character), wild things, jungle, boat...not hard choices to make at all =).

We listed our chosen elements, materials needed for each and places to get them. Then we divided the duties. Having an artistic background, I chose to do all the visual work while my wife took care of dessert and food, her favorite subjects! (In the end, everything was completed from the work of only 2 people in 3 weeks time!)

With our ultra handy sheet of lists and the book for reference, it was time to put it all in motion.

The following posts are categorized by projects. This includes costume, decorations, activities, gifts, and of course food and set-up. Each post will include actual hours devoted to labor and total costs (Keep in mind I'm an artist, therefore a lot of supplies I already had on hand making total costs relatively low).

Studio shots:

(View full photo set here)

October 17, 2009


Evite served as the most efficient and economical form of invitation for us. Easy to use, painless, and the format is universal amongst our circle of guests. Plus, you can custom design your invite and fit all the party details on one page. If you have the time and money, written correspondences are very charming and always well received.

Here's our sample message:

_______'s 2nd Birthday Rumpus

Come make mischief with our little "wild thing" as she turns 2!

Yes, it's a "Where The Wild Things Are" theme party but all we ask of each guest is one thing:
*please bring a wallet size or 4x6 photo of yourself that you're willing to donate (for a craft project to be explained during the party).

Food, beverages, and fun will be provided. It's at a park so feel free to bring fold-up chairs or sports equipment if you'd like.

Please RSVP by _______!!!

If you can't make it, then _______ will roar her terrible roar and gnash her terrible teeth and roll her terrible eyes and show her terrible claws and finally, send you to bed without your supper.

"Let the wild rumpus start!"

We used the above picture of Max, Moishe, and Bernard on our invite page. It was fitting because those 3 characters would be played by us (to be explained in the "costume" posts).

Total time: 30 min
Total costs: $0
Supplies from: Evite.com

October 16, 2009

Max (costume)

It's only fitting the central character of WTWTA be represented by the birthday girl herself. Therefore, the following info describes steps to making a girl version of Max's wolf suit. In developing the costume (and all others thereafter), we went with a very simple, more contemporary look. This was due in large part to the small window of time we had. Creating a full costume was a bit ambitious to say the least. There isn't a whole lot of WTWTA mass-produced items available for retail sale. Well, this allows us to be more creative and fabricate all items from scratch. Fun!

Materials: white felt paper, 2 large barrettes
Tools: glue, scissors, sewing kit
(Cut a large triangle from felt paper, fold in half, and glue together. Attach one barrette to one side by sewing. Repeat this step for the second ear. Our girl would've ripped any sort of headband or mask off and she's naturally a barrette kinda girl, so this was our best solution for wolf ears.)

Materials: Crocs, white felt paper
Tools: paintbrush, white acrylic paint, scissors, glue
(Buy a pair of white Mary Jane Crocs or do as I did, paint an old pair entirely white. Cut small triangles (claws) from white felt paper and paste onto toe area with glue.)

Materials: white shirt, white capris, black boa
Tools: scissors
(We hoped to find a beautiful white dress in time, but that never panned out. Instead, we opted for a more casual look with an all white shirt and capris. Cut the black boa (tail) to size, cut a small hole in the back of the pants and insert your "tail" through. Tie it together and VOILA!)

Materials: gold paper crown, black boa
Tools: glue, scissors
(Buy a gold paper crown from a party supply store. Adjust and glue to child head size. Cut black boa to size and glue to lower rim of crown.)

Materials: toy plastic flute, plastic ball, gold foiled paper, wooden cabinet knob
Tools: gold spraypaint, glue, scissors
(Couldn't find the right wand, so I made one from scratch, plus much cheaper. I created it gold to stand out more, versus the steel gray in the story. Paint all items first. Cut strips from gold foiled paper. Attach all components with glue.)

And that's Max's wolf suit!
(View full photo set here)

Total time: 3 hrs
Total costs: $18
Supplies from: Michaels, Old Navy, Diddams, Dollar Tree, OSH

October 15, 2009

Moishe (costume)

For our wild rumpus, Mommy is Moishe. The following info describes steps to making a lady version of Moishe.

Materials: horn barrettes
Tools: paintbrush, white acrylic paint
(Buy a pair of horns from a costume shop and paint it.)

Materials: brown and yellow striped shirt, white pants, fake hair, matching shoes
Tools: gray marker, black pen, scissors
(Find a shirt that resembles that of Moishe's such as ours from eBay. With a pair of white pants "design" the pattern similar to the book's character with marker and pen. Cut a hole in the back, insert fake hair, and secure it by tying. Add matching shoes.)

And that's Moishe's costume!
(View full photo set here)

Total time: 1.5 hrs
Total costs: $10
Supplies from: Spirit Halloween, eBay, Dollar Tree

October 14, 2009

Bernard (costume)

For our wild rumpus, Daddy is Bernard. The following info describes steps to making a male version of Bernard.

Materials: horn with strap
Tools: paintbrush, white acrylic paint
(Buy a pair of horns from a costume shop and paint it.)

Materials: bull nose
Tools: paintbrush, light blue acrylic paint
(Buy a cow/bull nose from a costume shop and paint it.)

Materials: fuzzy gray shirt, gray shorts, tan shoes
Tools: n/a
(Find a shirt that resembles that of Bernard's body such as ours from eBay. Not an easy task, but I was real lucky to find this gem for only $10. Heck, I might even use this silly shirt when I go clubbing later! Add tan shoes or if you have the money, buy huge costume human feet like the book's character.)

And that's Bernard's costume!
(View full photo set here)

Total time: 30 min
Total costs: $23
Supplies from: Spirit Halloween, eBay

October 13, 2009


Used as table decoration or hanging.


Materials: rope, green/brown construction paper
Tools: green/brown markers, x-acto
(Buy a rope from a hardware store that resembles hanging vines. Cut leaf shapes from paper and draw veins. Cut holes through leaves and insert rope through.)

For that added jungle flavor!
(View full photo set here)

Total time: 45 min
Total costs: $4
Supplies from: OSH, Dollar Tree

October 12, 2009


Cardboard cut-outs are good space fillers (especially in a large park), visually entertaining, and a super fun activity! If you're artistic, they're easy and extremely inexpensive to make.

Materials: large cardboard box
Tools: yardstick, x-acto, packing tape, black markers, paintbrushes, paints

(We had humongous cardboard boxes on hand from a set of dining chairs we purchased months ago. I knew I kept them for good reason. First, keep the box intact and cut diagonally along the 2 long opposite sides using a yardstick for straightness. Then, cut straight across the top and bottom of box. All it takes is 4 cuts, like slicing a rectangular cube in half. After separating both sides, you'll have 2 Cut-Outs of similar shape from just 1 box. See pic below.

After securing with packing tape, sketch your chosen Wild Things. Next, measure and cut out a hole for the face. On the back side, give simple instructions for the participant such as which direction to look. It wouldn't make sense to see a Wild Thing facing one way but a person looking the other in the final photo op, so this step is somewhat necessary.

Finally, start painting your Wild Thing. I brightened the colors for extra punch (In print, Sendak's illustrations are a bit muted). Then add the final touch of penwork (cross hatches, shading, etc...) to give it that custom Sendak look.)

The silly ones will love this!
(View full photo set here)

Total time: 6 hrs
Total costs: $0
Supplies from: n/a

October 11, 2009


The main centerpiece of our party. A significant element in the story, it represented Max's travels into and out of his imaginative world. Obviously time consuming but nonetheless, worth the hard labor. I looked forward to working on this each and every morning I woke up. A must have! Plus, how amazing will a somewhat life-size bright red boat be in the middle of your party?

Materials: large cardboard box, cardboard scraps of all sizes, small boxes, 2 poles, small stick, yellow posterboard paper, yellow plastic table covers, rope or twine, L brackets
Tools: yardstick, straightedge ruler, x-acto, packing/masking/duct tape, gorilla/wood/epoxy glue, drying clips, paintbrushes, red spraypaint or house paint, tan paint, white paint

(Again, we had humongous cardboard boxes on hand from a set of dining chairs we purchased months ago. For the boat, I used the same box as the Cut-Outs. First, cut an entire box apart and lay flat. It'll take some ingenuity to create the layout of your boat. I'll leave it to you to figure it out as it is difficult to explain the process (I simply "winged" it) but for starters, here's a photo of my boat layout. A word of advice...create a small scale rough to get a better working idea. Use yardstick and straightedge to keep cuts straight.

Next, piece it together and secure with gorilla glue and packing tape. Now you have your boat core (Basically, it's like a rectangular cube cut in half with one side coming to a point serving as the boat's front)

Create a base for the sailpost using cardboard scraps and small boxes. I doubled up 2 boxes and placed cardboard sheets in-between. Then I punched a hole through the base to insert the sailpost. Scroll down and see detail pics.

Next, create wooden planks using scrap cardboard pieces and the front, side, and back of the boat core as a template for sizing. Apply using wood/gorilla glue, clip together, and let dry. Reinforce the corners and tip of boat. Add a pointed tip to the boat's front. By now, it should look "wooden".

Paint it red!!!

Moving on to the sailpost, take 2 poles (I used 2 plastic broom handles) and connect together with duct tape. Reinforce and cover the duct tape with rope or twine. Add a small stick to the tip. Paint it all tan. Insert the sailpost into the base. It'll take some gorilla glue to keep it stable and sturdy.

Now add the sails. Cut 1 large triangle and 1 smaller triangle from the yellow plastic table cover. Secure to sailpost by tying in knots. Add a small flag to the stick at the tip using yellow posterboard paper.

Add ropes by tying to sailpost and L brackets, which have been glued on.

For the final touch, name the boat after your special someone right in place of where "MAX" would be written. Now you have a boat very similar to that of Max's that stays true to fashion.)

Sail off through night and day......
(View full photo set here)

Total time: 5 days
Total costs: $12
Supplies from: OSH, Dollar Tree

October 10, 2009

Pic 'n Stick Book Project

This is our party's lone craft project. We didn't require much from our guests other than participating in this. Originally announced in our invite like this:

Yes, it's a "Where The Wild Things Are" theme party but all we ask of each guest is one thing:
*please bring a wallet size or 4x6 photo of yourself that you're willing to donate (for a craft project to be explained during the party).

The Pic 'n Stick Project is a great way for your birthday child to recall guests who attended their party. Pic 'n Stick is similar to having a signed yearbook at school year's end. Our guests sure left their mark on the party! Here's how it works.

Materials: WTWTA book (or a spare, if you'd like the original intact), box, typed instructions, samples, Wild Thing stickers, guest photos (wallet/4x6 size)
Tools: scissors, double-sided tape, pens

(First, print project instructions. Here's our sample:

Pic ‘n Stick Instructions

1)Select a Wild Thing sticker (1 per guest please)

2)With your wallet or 4x6 photo, cut out your head or face

3)With your Wild Thing sticker, cut out the body leaving as little white background as possible and replace the Wild Thing head or face with yours using double-sided tape. Feel free to use Wild Thing facial features such as horns, nose, or hair to add to your photo. (See examples)

4)Now that your Wild Thing has been re-created in your likeness, apply the finished product to any page in the book, incorporating it into the story.

5)You’re officially a WILD THING!!!
(ps: write a birthday note for _______ on any blank page as well)

Second, request guests to bring photos of themselves in your invite (see excerpt above). Then, print enough Wild Thing stickers (custom-made via Photoshop) for each guest and create samples to clarify the process.

Create a small box, complete with instructions, and fill with necessary craft tools such as scissors, double-sided tape, and pens. Finally, display prominently with book during the party and have your guests craft away!)

Here's a link to my free photoshopped sticker sheet:

A great memento for your little one!
(View full photo set here)

Total time: 3 hrs
Total costs: $10
Supplies from: Bookstore

October 9, 2009

GiftBags & Goodies

Don't forget the bag of goodies for your young guests. It's our way of saying thanks for coming and plus, kids love being sent off with fun gifts (even adults too!).


Materials: colored lunch bags, name stickers
Tools: scrapbook scissors
(Do a head count of children attending your party. Using Photoshop, create custom Wild Thing stickers with each child's name and a message such as, "let the wild rumpus start!". Using scrapbook scissors, cut the sticker and top of each bag to give it some "flavor".)

(Use any relevant WTWTA toys/knick knacks purchased from eBay or create your own. Our bags included pins, plastic rings, Play Doh, stickers, candy (Runts, strawberry-filled hard candies, and custom candy bars worked best), plush dolls, and paper toys.

Materials: Hershey's chocolate bars, label stickers
Tools: x-acto, cutting mat
(Buy a large chocolate bar pack from Costco. I believe ours included 36. Using Photoshop, create custom candy bar labels to fit size. Include a message like "Happy Birthday _______" and the date. Apply labels to make your custom candy bar!)

(View full photo set here)

Total time: 4 hrs
Total costs: $85
Supplies from: Diddams, Costco, eBay, Dollar Tree, Borders