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Monday, June 25, 2012

Birthday Party Idea: Dinosaur Party

Last weekend, we celebrated my son's fifth birthday. He wanted a Dino Dan party - actually, he wanted to replicate the birthday party episode of Dino Dan. No pressure. We usually just invite the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but we have now embarked into the friend-party age. We set a limit of five friends (five years old, five friends; it made sense in my head), and ended up inviting eight, plus the usual family members.

I've been an event planner since before I knew it was a profession. I love details! Even in college, when planning an off-campus building-wide party in our apartment complex, I had a clipboard and checklists.  So, if you're thinking about planning a dinosaur party - or a Dino Dan party - allow me to share some ideas and guidelines to help you.


Sure you could purchase dinosaur invitations at the store. Or, you could make them yourself. I printed the party information, four times to one sheet of paper. The party info started, "Dinosaur hunters and explorers, we need you! We will be digging for fossils and having a Dino Dan adventure to celebrate..." I cut them out (4"x 5 1/4"), then I cut brown card stock (construction paper will do) into quarters: 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" each. I mounted the party info to the brown sheets and let my son decorate each one with dinosaur stickers.


We had green balloons, streamers, and table cloths because that's my son's favorite color. Dino parties could also use shades of brown to make the party area look like a jungle. A week before the party, my sons and I went crazy with foam sheets, dinosaur stickers, and markers to make tons of dinosaur decorations. Then my almost-five-year-old started tracing his three middle fingers and connecting them to make dinosaur footprints. We made a herd's worth. Of course, some toy dinosaurs on the tables are a nice touch, too.

Goodie Bags

I found inexpensive pail-and-shovel sets for the "bags" and filled them with bubbles (slap a dinosaur sticker on the bottle and they become Dino Bubbles), dinosaur stickers, dinosaur temporary tattoos, and a dinosaur rubber ducky.



  • Prehistoric Cheese & Crackers
  • Herbivore Treats (baby carrots, celery, peppers, hummus, and veggie dip)
  • Carnivore Treats (animal crackers - my son's favorite)
  • Rocks & Lava (chips & salsa)
  • Dinosaur Bones (pretzel sticks, see photo above)


  • "Crustaceous" Pizza 
  • Dinosaur PB&Js (using a dinosaur sandwich cutter)
  • Fruitasaurus Salad (pictured above; I chopped the rest into a fruit salad)

Dinner (friends left at 2:00; our families stayed later):

  • Herbivore Salad
  • Pasta Raptor Salad
  • Jurassic Potato Salad
  • Rocks & Lava (Cornbread Muffins and Vegetarian Chili)
  • Herbivore Treats on a Stick (Marinated & Grilled Veggie Kebabs)


  • Dinosaur Eggs in Nests (egg-shaped cake bites [vanilla cake mixed with raspberry preserves, coated in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed freeze-dried raspberries], resting in Rice Krispie treats that were shaped in muffin tins to look like nests; see first photo below)
  • Dinosaur Cupcakes (made in a dino-shaped muffin tin)
  • Rock Foundation for the dinosaur cupcakes and dino eggs & nests (tube of cookie dough, rolled out onto a pizza stone with peanut butter chips, toffee bits, and graham cracker crumbs pressed in and baked for 17 minutes). We put a few cupcakes and eggs/nests on the "rock foundation" and put a "5" candle in one cupcake. This is what we brought out to sing "Happy Birthday." The rest of the cupcakes and eggs/nests were divided between two trays, for either end of the table. (see second photo below)
  • Triassic Ice cream


One of the most important things I learned during Student Teaching was to change the stimulus every 15 minutes. This is true for all ages (even adults!). So I planned out our two hour party in fifteen-minute increments.

12:00 - 12:15 p.m. - friends arriving; play with backyard toys; Dinosaur Tattoos

Materials Needed: Spray bottle with water, paper towels, tattoos (leftover from goodie bags)
Rain Plan: Play with dinosaur toys; paper/crayons/dinosaur stickers out on the table; Dinosaur tattoos

12:15 - 12:30 p.m. - Dig for Dinosaur Eggs

Materials Needed: shovels, enough hidden dinosaur eggs to yield 3-4 per guest, brown paper bags
Rain Plan: Use large Rubbermaid bin filled with rice, on a large tarp; bury eggs in the rice

We gave each child a shovel (the other half of the pail-and-shovel sets used for goodie bags) and told them that Dino Dan was here earlier and saw some dinosaurs lay eggs in the sandbox. Each person could find four eggs then we would hatch them.

The dino eggs were made with a homemade play dough. The recipe I followed called for 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2 1/2 cups of used coffee grounds, 1 1/2 cups of salt, 1 cup of sand, and 3/4+ cups of water (enough to make it stick together). We shaped the "dough" around small plastic dinosaurs and let them dry for a few days. THE DOUGH IS NOT EDIBLE. Hopefully, that's obvious; just look at it:
To hatch the eggs, the kids just used their fingers. We had a large bucket out and asked them to put the "egg shells" into the bucket, and they could put their dinosaurs into a bag. Before the party, I labeled brown paper bags with each child's name just for this part.

12:30 - 1:00 p.m. Lunch Break

1:00 - 1:15 p.m. Dino Dan Scavenger Hunt

Materials Needed: binoculars for each guest, large dinosaurs to hide, a cardboard leaf or drumstick-shape, cardboard legs (2 or 4) to hide, piñata with "final clue" inside, rope to tie the piñata, bat to hit the piñata
Rain Plan: hide the objects in different rooms in the house; hang piñata in largest doorway (remove all breakable objects first)

The mission of our scavenger hunt was to find out which dinosaur stole the goodie bags and where he hid them. First, we gave out binoculars - just like Dino Dan's - to use during the mission. Their first task was to find the suspects: some dinosaurs that were hidden. I had given each a tag with it's name, a leaf (herbivore) or chicken drumstick (carnivore), and either a 2 (biped) or 4 (quadruped).

The next clue was hidden in the backyard: either a large cardboard leaf or drumstick. They found the leaf and we eliminated the carnivores.

The next clue was hidden in the front yard: 2 or 4 cardboard legs. They found four, so we eliminated the bipeds.

The final clue was hidden inside a stegosaurus piñata. There was a tiny triceratops with a note that read, "I hid your goodie bags in the garage."

1:15 - 1:30 p.m. Pin the Tail on the Stegosaurus

Materials Needed: dinosaur poster (I drew & painted one; or you can buy one), paper "tails" - with each guest's name written on one, masking tape, blindfold
Rain Plan: hang the poster in the hallway

1:30 p.m. Cake & Ice Cream

1:45 p.m. Open Gifts

2:00 p.m. Say Goodbye & Thank You to Friends

I had a couple of extra tricks up my sleeve, just in case. And they came in handy. First, was Brontosaurus, Brontosaurus, T. rex (instead of Duck, Duck, Goose). The pizza was delivered a few minutes late, so this was a good time-filler. Second, while we were getting desserts on the table, it was difficult to keep all the kids in their seats. They wanted to play. So I handed out Magic Color Scratch Dinosaurs to each child, along with a scratching tool (they come with the set). The dinosaurs are black and the kids scratch designs onto them, revealing a rainbow of colors underneath. The set also comes with string, so they can hang them up at home. The kids liked scratching away, and by the time they finished, cake was served.

My son had a blast. His friends and our family had a great time, too. Even I had fun, once I put my clipboard down. I hope these ideas are helpful, and if you have any dino-rific party tips, please Post a Comment to share them.

As always, thanks for reading. Happy exploring. Happy dinosaur hunting. And happy 5th birthday to my sweet boy.


  1. Wow, I am very impressed! Looks like Liam had a great birthday party! Happy Birthday, Liam!

    1. Thanks, Kate! This is what happens when I don't work...I spend days coming up with the details of a birthday party. Liam & his friends had a great time and I had some "Dinosaur Punch" waiting for me for when the kids were gone. :)

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