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Ideas for Baby's 1st Birthday - Theme Monkey

My grandson will be celebrating his first birthday in a few months. The theme will be monkeys. I would appreciate any ideas food or decorating wise for this theme. At this moment I have a completely blank slate.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

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  1. well, the baby won't have any real idea what is going on, nor will he remember this party later in life. so are you entertaining mostly grown-ups or a mix of adults and kids?

    is it day-time, night-time? brunch-time?

    how many people?

    obviously there should be a monkey cake, and bananas somewhere, but more about the guests and timing will help us help you!


    4 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Since the party is several months away we don't have any concrete ideas yet. We plan to serve only dairy items - no meat. There will probably be at least 100 people - kids included. And you are right, this really is a party for the parents and grandparents to celebrate the birth of this precious life!

      1. re: lukfam

        so dairy but what about fish or eggs? is this a kosher kind of deal?

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          fish and eggs are ok - yes it will be kosher

      2. Like regular monkeys? Sock monkeys? Or maybe even curious George ..saw this one with curious George at the firehouse! ?

        Banana pudding
        Chocolates dipped frozen bananas
        Banana milk or shakes

        2 Replies
        1. re: LaLa

          we won't even discuss the terrifying flying monkeys from wizard of oz!!! :0

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Yah, but I betcha the baby would remember those '-)

        2. Monkey bread is very child friendly! And there are a gazilion ways to prepare it (from scratch or dough short cuts).


          1. Black beans and rice with fried plantains
            Banana bread pudding
            naming a punch "jungle juice"

            This is a tough theme to plan a menu around. The only food I associate with a monkey is bananas.
            Good luck.

            1. If you're doing games, you might like to offer Bananagrams. Or gift that to the parents for future family fun.

              Monkeys are also known to throw coconuts in the jungle. So macaroons would fit the theme.

              For food, if you can serve a stew, I find that most forgiving for a crowd. How about a "jungle" fish stew with coconut milk?

              Here are some monkey cupcake designs:

              2 Replies
              1. re: Seeker19104

                I really like the monkey cupcake designs on pinterest. Not being very computer savvy can you tell me how to use pinterest - will clicking on it give me the recipe and directions?

                1. re: lukfam

                  You sign up for a Pinterest account, then clicking on the picture will take you to the page of the person who posted it.

                  There will be a larger picture there and perhaps some additional instructions. You can also contact the poster for help.

              2. Hi lukfam,

                A very quick amazon search brought me to this cookie cutter:


                You can make cookies with this or use it to make fruit kabobs:


                You could also make peanut butter and banana sandwiches in the likeness of the monkey. The possibilities are endless with the right tool!

                1. For 100 guests, perhaps simply plan a meal you will love and use the monkey theme solely for decorations. You've probably been scouring the Web for decoration ideas and have found balloons and paper ware and invitation ideas. You could have a craft table for other toddlers to make monkey masks.

                  Link just to see what's available.

                  As posted above, the monkey cupcakes are adorable. 100+ cupcakes is a daunting task. I hope you find the recipes and have lot of hands on deck!

                  For each guest, perhaps write his/her name on a banana with a non-toxic felt-tip pen as a place card. Or give a yellow bag with a banana or coconut bread as a take-home favor (in a mini foil tin).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nemo

                    I think your suggestion and the template will be a big help, thanks.

                  2. As previous comment i think that a monkey themed cake/dessert and decor is sufficient- it would be weird to have a meal or buffet table set with exclusively banana and or coconut flavored items....

                    Please advise the time of day or meal or if it will be just snacks for more menu help ideas.....

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Nothing is set in stone yet, this is the first day I am starting to work on it - I have 4 months till his birthday! I am thinking we'd have an afternoon party. I would like to set out a lunch buffet table. I have lots of ideas -
                      - Monkey shaped pizza
                      - Monkey pancakes
                      - Mini quiches
                      - Hot Brie cheese with cranberry sauce and crackers
                      - Individual cheese lasagnas
                      - Monkey bread
                      - stuffed vegetables, filled cucumbers, filled endives, stuffed cherry tomatoes

                      Then a dessert buffet.
                      - monkey themed cake
                      - cupcakes
                      - ice cream bar
                      - little mousse filled cups
                      - candy bananas
                      - monkey shaped cookies

                      - monkey candles - I already found on line

                      But as I said before I am just beginning my planning journey.

                      1. re: lukfam

                        When you make the money bread, consider the ease of using those individual dough balls coated in cinnamon sugar in the shape of a money head. Could be fun!

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Oh geez, I did mean "monkey" bread, not money...sorry :)

                          1. re: HillJ

                            Hey, I'll take some money bread. I just don't think i'd eat it. :)

                        2. re: lukfam

                          The monkey shaped pizza could be fun- you may want to practice ahead of time. The pancakes seem a little out of place- are they savory pancakes?
                          This will be an insane amount of work so i hope that you have helpers and would do larger lasagnas that are then cut and presented smaller vs the labor of individual ones.
                          The mini quiche are easy with muffin pans and can be made and frozen ahead of time too

                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            if you want to plan stuffed cucumbers or endive leaves, work with a filling that can be piped to save time -- like a smoked fish pate or cream cheese/red pepper puree.

                            what kind of capacity to do you have to do dozens of pancakes? they don't hold long and don't reheat well at all.

                            it helps to plan 2-3 "centerpiece" items, rather than making lots of small individual pieces. chafing dishes of seafoood stew or vegetarian lasagne can just be refreshed. same with sweet potato hash. crustless quiche can be made in giant casserole dishes, cut into pieces and are delicious room-temp. (when i do this i put them out in muffin papers.) make BIG bowls of babaganoush and/or tabouleh, but set out smallish ones that get refilled. ALL of these can be made well ahead of time too, so you're not scrambling around the day of the party.

                      2. This might be a stretch but I think of Curious George when I hear monkey. Were there any food items in the Curious George books, other than bananas?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: juliejulez

                          I'll have to check it out.


                        2. Banana, coconut, palm tree, monkey cut outs or prints. For place cards, banner, random decor. Anything jungle-y should be cool, you should throw in a toucan, elephant and tiger for variety. Kids can do "find it" type of game with all the creatures.

                          Circle banner: you can cut out construction paper and mount some prints or draw/cut yourself. Depending on the babies name this may be a lot of circles, though http://www.ezpartyzone.com/pd-ocean-p...

                          I believe you can buy a pack of sweet tarts that's all bananas.

                          Some sort of cupcake topped with frosting and banana chip. Doesn't have to be a banana cupcake

                          Cake balls that look like coconuts. Or donut holes rolled in cocoa powder (may want them to be cream filled)

                          1. Love the ideas that have been posted so far!

                            This may be hard to do for 100 people without everything melting but a banana split bar (with chunky monkey ice cream of course!) could be a lot of fun. I did a sundae bar once and the adults had even more fun than the kids. Get creative with the toppings, as a monkey might. Cereal, granola, dried fruit, caramel corn.... If you want to stay away from the logistics of meltable icecream, you could use yogurt instead. I personally love bananas drizzled with yogurt and topped with cornflakes. When you pile on the toppings and whipped cream, it's still a pretty indulgent treat.

                            A riff on the previous cupcake suggestions: I made mini banana cupcakes once using a mini muffin pan and candy cups for liners. Frosted them with pipeable vanilla whipped cream tinted yellow or green (or leave natural if you like). Very simple and perfect for little kids who sometimes can't even finish a whole regular cupcake but love the idea of their "own" cupcake.

                            A bit healthier: a pile of fruit cut into large-ish bite sized pieces that can be eaten with your hands like a monkey or a fork if you're feeling dainty (cubes of melon, strawberries, raspberries, slices of banana, chunks of apple, etc.) with yogurt, honey and pudding dipping sauces. Put the fruit on a banana leaf or line a bowl with banana leaves.

                            Pile of veggies and cheese cubes treated the same way as the fruit

                            Decoration suggestions to add to the others you have:
                            Clean banana leaves to line serving platters and bowls, or even perhaps to act as a tablecloth if you can find lots of them (I can get them frozen at my local asian market for very cheap).

                            Lots of green and brown crepe paper streamers draped over the trees and fences to be jungle vines (so they can be messy and sag and wrap around trees in a creative way)

                            Planning this far in advance, I'm sure the party is going to be wonderful!

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: greymalkin

                              Love the idea of a bar. If melting is an issue a cake or cupcake bar could work too. A few kinds of frostings, fruits, cookie crumbs, and sauces.

                              1. re: youareabunny

                                you can actually rent "sundae stations" from party rental companies if this is an idea that appeals. you're best off keeping somebody assigned to it though, otherwise it will look like a typhoon hit it.

                                agree with the others that since this is mostly a grown-up party, you don't need lots of monkey-shaped foods, but decorations, plates, napkins, balloons, etc. will suffice. a big monkey shaped birthday cake would be awesome.

                                try not to get consumed with doing lots of mini-anything. unless you have catering experience, this is very fiddly and time-consuming work. make big pans of stuff that can be cut to individual portions, and then even smaller for little kids' hands.

                                you could go tropical or north african with the foods:

                                seafood stew with coconut milk
                                sweet potato "hash"
                                baba ganoush
                                have pita triangles out

                                in addition to the cake, tiny bananas dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped peanuts or coconut flakes

                                west african lime cake (this can be made as a sheet cake, glazed and cut into small pieces)

                                peanut butter cookies


                                piles of fresh fruit, like pineapples, grapes, cut mango and papaya

                                there are monkeys in gibraltar too, so spanish tapas or even large format "frittatas" could work.

                                i hope you're not the only one doing all the work for this party?

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  This is what I was thinking. People don't need to be hit over the head w/ everything being monkey shaped and I don't know how much you can make a pizza or pancakes look like a monkey. It would most likely end up being like the cloud game.

                                  Also, less food choice is better (not directed at you, htn, just adding on here. Just because there are more people doesn't mean you need more food choices. Simpler is better. Check out oriental trading company for inexpensive decorating items. Use barrel full of monkeys to decorate. It would be easy to string them around a cake as a border. Or use them on cupcakes.


                                  1. re: chowser

                                    oh! we are on the same page! wasn't suggesting op make all these dishes, just offering options.

                                    it's MUCH easier to replenish from a big batch than making only 1 piece per person of a million things.

                                    2-3 "mains"
                                    3-4 "apps/sides" is PLENTY.

                                    it looks much more generous to start the buffet with BIG platters and trays than dozens of small plates all jammed in that run out immediately.

                                    1. re: chowser


                                      These are fun and no need to keep an eye on small plastic toy monkeys around the kids.

                                      or monkey bread cupcakes

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Cute! I was thinking it would be a lot of work to decorate that many cupcakes, especially w/ all the other food/decorating that needs to be done.

                                        1. re: chowser

                                          Oh I figured that! You're so good at time savers. I just recall the # of parents who got very nervous when their very young children were anywhere near small plastic toys.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            i had giant barrels of monkeys as a kid. never swallowed a single one!

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              I know I didn't have a giant barrel of monkeys at a 1st birthday party..maybe by the 3rd year without too much fuss from guests. I'll have to think on that for a bit...it's been a long time since then!

                              2. I did a Curious George party a few years ago. I made trail mix with Cheerios, M&Ms, and banana chips, probably some raisins also. I made banana shaped sugar cookies frosted with royal icing. Incidentally I could not find a banana cutter at the time so I reshaped a jalapeƱo pepper cutter. I like the banana theme foods!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JTilCT

                                  Wow, you are all giving me such great ideas!

                                2. Happy birthday to baby. The much beloved Elvis Cake also makes great cupcakes or great mini-cupcakes.


                                  And here is a cute and simple monkey cake http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/c...

                                  I like Nikki's healthy (banana) cookies: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                                  You could do a twist on monkey bread and make it savory:


                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    have you posted that nikki's banana cookie recipe before? it looks so good and i remember wanting to make it...

                                    if not you, thanks for linking it anyway!

                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      I think so, yeah. I think the Elvis cake and Nikki's healthy cookies have made a few circuits around the home cooking board discussion wise.


                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Oh, here's a fennel and coconut tart recipe on Food52! http://food52.com/recipes/23236-fenne...

                                      I haven't tried it but it sure sounds good!


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Too funny TDQ, I provided the identical link to monkey bread way up thread...then proceeded to call it money bread :)

                                        To the OP, any issues with peanut butter and children this young? re Elvis Cake? or this one I also enjoy below:


                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          Just to clarify, our two links to monkey bread were slightly different. Mine was a google search on SAVORY monkey bread whereas I believe yours was for monkey bread, without the savory qualification.

                                          We sometimes do the Elvis cake as cupcake minis without any frosting at all, but the PB frosting is pretty awesome if it works for her crowd.


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Ah, diff types..savory for the parents would be fun.

                                            Maybe a banana frosting on the Elvis cupcakes.

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              That might be banana overdose.

                                              Well, the good news is, this is a group of the OP's friends and family (rather than a random gathering of people she may not know well), so she'll know right away whether the PB is going to be a problem.

                                              I know that the PB allergies are serious, but I have to say, we don't know of a single child my toddler's age who has a problem with PB. Not at preschool (in either of the two classrooms), not at our early childhood education training center (about a dozen sessions, two classrooms each, though strawberries is a definite problem in the classroom because a child in one of the other sessions--not ours--has an allergies ), not in his former daycare, and not among any of the kids in our immediate 1-2 block radius in our neighborhood. While the PB allergies are real and serious, based on the pool of kids we rub elbows with frequently, it's not necessarily a wide-spread problem. If it's not a problem, no reason to avoid it.


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                True, and hard to say. So many schools forbid peanuts, PB or products with some form of nut today. Cupcakes are forbidden entirely in our school district now. But like you said, the OP group is familiar.

                                                Never too much banana (imho).

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Well, go bananas then! :)

                                                  Too bad the banana board from April Fools Day is no longer up!