Remember the Care Bears? Oh, how I loved Cheer Bear- even after I was too old to love him. Or her?
Seriously, I was in 3rd grade, sporting a brand new Cheer Bear lunch box that Santa left under the tree. I mean, the fact that my brother and sister (5 and 6 years younger than me) had also gotten Care Bear lunch gear that Christmas should probably have been a clue to me that perhaps I was outgrowing them.
Everyone remembers the Care Bears. But only the TRUE fans remember the WUZZLES!
Every good show has to have a spin off. The Love Boat had Fantasy Island, Dallas had Knots Landing, and The Care Bears had the Wuzzles. Elleroo rocked. I still have a Wilton cake pan of him and am dying for a reason to use it! To be perfectly accurate, the Wuzzles was Disney's version of American Greeting's Care Bears and was not technically a spin off. But still.
I digress, which is totally unlike me.
So, one of my besties is having a Care Bears party for her 3 year old in 3 weeks, which would normally put me into a full on panic. But I've seen what she can do on short notice. She took a 15 minute conversation about dinosaur party possibilities and turned it into the best party I've been to in a long time. I have no doubt she can pull off the Care Bears without breaking a sweat.
When someone tells me they have a party in 3 weeks, the first thing I tell them to do is drop everything and get out an invitation. Normally, in that time frame, I would suggest an evite or even just an email. But she's just inviting a few of her little girl's friends, so she made some invitations- actually, she's probably making them right now...
So, I googled Care Bear ideas and adapted them a bit for the age group.
Kids go crazy for face painting. They love it- any time, any kind. Since Care Bears have symbols, each guest could choose their symbol (of course the face painter would want to have suggestions ready) on their cheek or their arm. They could even come up with their "bear name," according to their symbol.
I like to have different stations at my parties to keep the kids flowing to different places and not all in the same place- which can lead to chaos. I usually have my sister, my mother, and another kidless adult to man each one. I don't think it's necessary to hire someone- anyone can paint a heart or a star. Yes, even you!
Alternatively, different shapes could be available at the door for the kids to choose and they could be pinned on their shirts.
Personally, I prefer the face painting. It's cheap (you already have the supplies), there is very little prep time, and anyone can do it. You can find easy homemade face paint recipes here. If you prefer to buy, I would go with these. They are like crayons. If you dip them onto a wet sponge, the older kids can even do it themselves. Also, they are made in the USA!
Cloud Musical Chairs
Once the bears have their symbols, they can each find a cloud (pillows) to sit on. Then they can play musical chairs. As the clouds disappear, the kiddos can be sent to other areas or to play. Of course, you wouldn't want to have a prize for only the last kids standing, or cloud sitting as the case may be, so I would probably give each one a care bear sticker on the hand (little ones love that!) as they leave the game. This is cheap, (if you don't have enough pillows, you can easily ask to borrow from friends, little prep time (clear an area and have a music source ready), and again, anyone can lead a game of musical chairs.
Those are my two favorites. Since these kids are young, I would keep it to that and let the kids play, have cake, and go home to crash from the sugar high. But, if you want more, more, more!...
- Care Bear color sheets- add a stapler (manned by an adult), and the kids can quickly make their own care bear book with their colored sheets. You can print your own here.
- Place mats- put out some construction paper and stickers and let the kids decorate their mat. Use laminating sheets to make instant place mats. These sheets aren't particularly cheap or green (about .70 a sheet), but they are instant and 3 year olds don't want to wait for you to make a trip to a teacher supply store to laminate them.
- Pin the symbol on the Care Bear- and by pin, I mean tape. This is just a version of pin the tail on the donkey. If you try to play this type of game with little ones, I suggest you write each child's name on their symbol and let them stick it and leave it, rather than having everyone sit around and play the game all at once. That's just asking for trouble, IMO. This game isn't particularly green (that's lots of wasted paper for very little action) and there is moderate prep time in gathering or making supplies (care bear poster or big picture, symbols for each kid, and blindfold- which some kids may balk at). But there must be something to it, because I remember loving it as a kid.
- Find the Bear- hide a care bear before the party and leave small clues around the house leading to it. To me, this type of game is better for 4-6 year olds, as their attention span is longer and they can follow clues...but it could be cute if you made tiny prints and stuck them all over the house leading to the bear. This would be fun way to get older siblings involved in the fun, though. Still, it sounds like lots of prep...and then once all the kids find the bear, they are each going to want to hold and play with it. Then again...you could do it as a final activity and the bear could be holding the favors.
Speaking of Favors
I don't think you need to have a lot of favors for such a young age. I would say a pack of stickers, a package of bubbles, or even a pillowcase with a care bear on it would be fine. With 3 weeks, I would probably buy some bubbles, and make a label that has a picture of a Care Bear on it and says, "Thanks for coming to my third birthday!" Kids love bubbles, you can buy them in value packs, they are consumable so they don't become clutter, and you can easily slap a label on it that makes it theme appropriate.
Care Bears are all about rainbows, so I would focus on that when it comes to food. Here are some ideas:
- Rainbow fruit parfait (maybe in parfait glass- paint the name of the child on it and there's your favor, or keep for your next party)
- Rainbow fruit tray- arrange the fruit in rows like a rainbow
- Cloud sandwiches (fluffernutters)
- Rainbow veggie tray- cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and carrots arranged in rows like a rainbow, with two clouds of ranch dressing (I like the Deceptively Delicious recipe) on each end
Care Bears do things like cheer a lot, love a lot, and share a lot. So, if you have some Care Bear thoughts, share them here!