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Ava's Penguin Party

Our little girl has adored penguins since she was a baby. My sister Sophie works in marketing at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium so Ava has been lucky to be a frequent visitor to the penguin exhibit at the aquarium.

For the first two years of her life Ava took a baby penguin toy with her everywhere, on holidays, on play dates, to the shops. The little penguin became part of the family.

Earlier in the year when we started talking about themes for her 4th birthday party, Ava suggested a 'penguin party with an igloo ice-cream cake.' My husband and I thought it was absolutely perfect.

I had so much fun planning this party with Ava - and her little helper, her baby brother Alex - and am so excited to share all the details from her special day! Enjoy! Xx

The invitation:

As soon as I saw the adorable penguin + party hat invitation by Mini Moi Prints on Etsy I knew this was the one! The party hats were such a sweet touch and I knew I could carry this theme through to the dessert table. Cecilia at Mini Moi also made matching thank-you tags to attach to the party favours.

The decorations:

The room was decked out with white balloons on white strings to give an 'igloo' effect and I placed three black and white bubble balloons with tassels from Boutique Balloons Melbourne on the kids table, each one weighed down with one of Ava's penguin toys.

I kept the styling very simple, with a black and white striped table runner and polkadot and striped partyware from Little Big Company.

I used a black and white striped wrapping paper as a table runner on the kids table and also used this paper to wrap the chocolate bars and to wrap a box which was placed under the cake stand to add extra height.

I used a Toucan garland on the dessert table, along with honeycomb balls from The Kit Source and Little Big Company, plus Ava's favourite toy penguins.

I found a Wilton cupcake ramp online and thought these would be perfect to display the cookies on the dessert table to give the effect of penguins sliding down the snow.

The party games:

When the party guests arrived we had a colouring in station with a sweet penguin party sheet.

We then played penguin pass the parcel and all the guests received a mini wind-up toy penguin, which waddles forward like a real penguin. I purchased these at the aquarium gift shop and the kids loved them.

We then did a penguin race with the wind-up penguins.

The last game was a Happy Feet dance competition; we played a clip from Happy Feet and the kids had to freeze like a penguin whenever the music stopped.

The party food:

The week before the party we saw the forecast for the party day was a hot 41 degrees (106 degrees Fahrenheit) so I decided I wasn't going to do any baking for the party!

For savoury food we served all of Ava's favourites, vegie sticks, corn chips, sandwiches, sausage rolls and mini chicken pies.

For sweet food we served gingerbread and snowflake shaped watermelon, adorable penguin cookies made by Helen at Petite Cookies, Snowflake Pops (literally Raffaellos on popsicle sticks with some twine tied on) and some 'Snow-Block' Marshmallows, which were from Williams Sonoma. The cookies were a match to the penguin on the invitation and were just the sweetest things!

The birthday cake:

Ava's birthday cake could not have been easier to make.

Earlier in the year I had seen Burnt Butter Cakes made fondant penguin toppers so ordered two of these from them. At the last minute I decided to add a black and white 'Ava's Igloo' sign to the front of the cake and Burnt Butter also made this sign. I could not have been happier with how the toppers turned out, the girls at Burnt Butter are so talented!

To make the cake I used a large plastic mixing bowl and lined this with cling wrap. I filled the bowl with 4-litres of softened vanilla ice-cream and then added a packet of blue chocolate smarties/beanies and then covered these with ice-cream. I left the bowl in the freezer overnight and then the next day I turned the bowl onto a chilled cake board, lifted off the bowl and then peeled off the cling wrap. I then used a knife to smooth over the cake before returning it to the freezer to set. I then used the end of a wooden skewer to draw the snow blocks onto the cake. I did this row by row, returning the cake to the freezer after each row of ice blocks was etched in to ensure the cake didn’t melt. I made the arched doorway from ice-cream too, I placed a scoop into a bowl and patted it down so that it was even, placed the bowl into the freezer and then once it was firm cut out the arch from the bowl. I served the cake with hot fudge chocolate sauce (find the recipe on the no-bake page).

Party favours:

After a fun couple of hours, party guests left with little boxes of Ava's favourite sweets, black and white striped mini chocolate bars, balloons and their new wind-up waddling penguin.

It was a super sweet day for my soon to be four-year-old and her gorgeous party penguin friends.

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