When Violet was about 22 months old, my husband turned on an episode of Dora the Explorer one morning to see if it would keep her occupied while he showered. The rest is history. I don't know what is it about Dora, but Violet is obsessed in every sense of the word. Luckily, there's plenty of Dora themed books, stickers, coloring pages and dolls to keep her from just watching TV all day... though that's what she'd prefer to do, I'm sure. Dozens of DVDs are what allowed us to survive the 30-hour drive to Boise, no lie.
So when it was time to plan her 2nd Birthday Party, Dora seemed like the obvious choice. I wanted it to be Dora themed for her, but not like the Dora aisle threw up on my parent's deck. We had the party in Cincinnati, it wasn't exactly on her birthday, but close enough. Since I knew I wouldn't be hosting any parties, showers, or dinners for the next year, I really enjoyed planning for, setting up, cooking, and celebrating with everyone! I used Dora's clothing colors as the party colors, and incorporated little Dora elements here and there while still keeping it child focused. We had about 20 adults and 6 children, and I made a Taco Bar for lunch and ordered an ice cream cake. I've made them in the past, but didn't have all of my bakeware with me to make one there. Plus, the chocolate crunchies from DQ are so good!
I found these adorable invitations on Vistaprint, I got the matching envelopes. They came quickly and were great quality!
For the decor, I used pink and orange table cloths, streamers and balloons.
For the tables, I found Dora markers and coloring page table runners, then decorated with fresh hydrangeas (from my sisters flower beds!) and bubbles as well as the goody bags!
The design of the goody bags is not original (found using google image search - Dora Birthday ideas), it's just a plan purple treat bag decorated as the backpack and map. For the map, I used rolled up index cards stapled to the side of the bag.
Rather than fill the bags with candy (though there was a bit!) I thought of a snack I could associate each of the main characters with eating. Here is what I came up with:
Boots the Monkey - Banana Chips
Benny the Bull - Apple Juice
Tico the Squirrel - Peanutty Bar
Isa the Iguana - Strawberry Fruit Strip
Swiper the Fox - Bunny Crackers
Dora - Fruit Snacks
For the beverages, I bought reusable (but labelled disposable) Dora the Explorer Munchkin cups for each child (here's a link, but I got them for $4.99/3 cups at Kroger).
The beverages I served were:
White Grape and Apple Juice with Frozen Green Grape Ice Cubes
Plain and Chocolate Milk
Water and Soda Water
Classic Sangria (with Blackberry Brandy!)
Corona and Corona Light
While guests arrived and got drinks, I also set up tortilla chips and various dips. I made standard guacamole and pineapple-green chile guacamole, then purchased Trader Joe's Corn Salsa and Restaurant Style Salsa.
(Banner found here, the age is interchangeable! We can have Dora parties forever!)
Now after working for Moe's for 2 years and purchasing several caterings from there, I felt confident that I could produce something similar. My mom has chaffing dishes and pans, so all I had to do was buy the food and cook it! The only place I was concerned was quantity, but I way overshot it. I have scaled a bit back here to better represent what you might need for 20 adults and 6 children (but you'll still have leftovers).
2 dozen hard taco shells and 2 dozen soft taco shells
2 lbs. crockpot salsa chicken
2 lbs. seasoned ground beef
2 lbs. seasoned tofu cubes (I used TJ's sprouted tofu, very firm, holds up well)
2 lbs. seasoned black beans
1 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 cups pico de gallo
2 lbs. shredded monterey jack cheese
6 oz. can sliced black olives
8 oz. jar sliced pickled jalapenos
16 oz. tub sour cream
Small bottle of hot sauce
I seasoned all of the food mildly since children (and my mom!) would be eating it, and then put out hot sauce so the adults could season it as desired.
For the tofu, I sauteed one small onion and 3 garlic cloves in a little olive oil until soft, then I added the cubed tofu, a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles, chili powder, cumin, corriander, salt, pepper and 1 c. vegetable stock. I didn't measure anything, just tasted and eyeballed the seasonings.
I used the same recipe with the ground beef, and had my brother in law taste test it for me.
The chicken was just simmered in a crock pot with a large jar of salsa for 4 hours on high, shredded, then seasoned with chili power, cumin, salt and pepper, again, taste tested by my brother in law.
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the food! Taco bars are a great crowd pleaser!
When it came time to open presents, Violet was completely shy and sat with Aunt Kristine, while the other 5 kids and I opened her gifts!
For dessert, I ordered a Dairy Queen birthday cake. The sheet cake feeds up to 36 and was $35, including decorations! My mom cut giant slabs for everyone and there was still quite a bit left over. I used the Dora candle found here, and the standard "2"!
Violet and her best buddy in the whole world, cousin Evan, enjoyed their cake!
We also had the kiddie pool set up (with the Dora sprinkler, we got it at Target) for entertainment and Dora tattoos. It was truly a great party, Violet still talks about it!