Isn’t It Time For… A Party! | How I Hosted My Two Year Old’s Rainbow Hey Duggee Party
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Last week Reuben turned two. With his 2nd birthday approaching I invited a few of his fellow toddler friends to come round for a play date with cake. “Nothing big and fancy” I promised. But then too many nights Pinteresting happened and far too much thought spent over Reuben’s favourite things, and before I knew it this play date had turned into a party with a theme – Hey Duggee! And what a cool little party it was.
Reuben loves Hey Duggee. He hasn’t been watching it for all that long but he’s already totally into it; he laughs at the characters’ quirks and dances along to its silly catchy songs. He’ll even tell you his favourite is Roly. So, if you haven’t seen it, Hey Duggee is a CBeebies preschooler’s animation that’s educational, full of colour and really quite entertaining to watch, even as an adult. Duggee is a dog who’s kinda like a scout leader and rather than have scouts, the children (Roly the hippo, Tag the rhino, Norrie the mouse, Betty the octopus and Happy the crocodile) are ‘squirrels’, and each episode is centred around a particular ‘badge’ the squirrels acquire. So when I thought about it, Hey Duggee was the perfect bright and cheerful theme for a fun toddler party.
Now this is all new to me – hosting kids’ parties, as a parent of one – so I had zero idea what you do with regards to celebrating little ones’ birthdays when they’re too young to remember. We could have just done a play date and cake and it would’ve been perfectly acceptable. We could have done nothing and that would’ve been fine too. But, just like at Christmas, I love to make a thing of festivities; get my craft on and create something cool, because if you can, why not? And sometimes a challenge is all part of the fun!
I thought I’d share Reuben’s party with you to offer some party decoration inspiration, plus there’s a recipe to make a rainbow cake. If your little one is a Hey Duggee fan too then this theme is just perfect for a bright and cheerful child’s birthday party.
Here’s all the resources you need to host your own Hey Duggee party!
HEY DUGGEE CUT OUTS
Having the main dog himself come to Reuben’s party was quite possibly the highlight of his birthday. Seeing an almost four foot Duggee standing in the living room was an unexpected sight for sure and everyone thought he was great. It made a brilliant ice breaker and the perfect backdrop for the party. I found this giant Duggee cut out on Star Stills who kindly sent our Hey Duggee cut outs to decorate our themed room. The big Duggee cut out comes in a set with five smaller sized ‘squirrels’ – all are self standing, high quality images printed onto thick cardboard to withstand the effect of excitable toddlers.
Duggee can be folded down too, so once we’re finished having him standing in the room (he’s still loitering a week later), we’ll be able to store him away until it’s safe to bring him out again.
Star Stills also sent us a pack of fun Hey Duggee face masks and a pack of table decoration cut outs, including six Duggees and a set of miniature sized ‘squirrels’. The party table was only small so I didn’t bother putting any of the smaller cut outs on the table, so I scattered them around the room for extra random decoration and I used them in a feature decoration I made for the wall (see the banner hoop I made, further down!) These were all really easy to assemble because they just popped right out of the card ready to use, so the cut out characters really built up the branded theme. The masks were great fun; though the little ones were wary of putting the masks on their own faces, they did find it hilarious seeing who’s mummy was hiding behind their favourite squirrel.
HEY DUGGEE BANNERS
I love a bit of bunting for a celebration so I was thrilled to find some printable party bunting on the official Hey Duggee website. They actually have a lot of crafts on, all free to download and print off which I thought was pretty good. There’s some brilliant Hey Duggee party invitations which I was tempted to use myself but since I’d just asked the mums via a Facebook Messenger group chat, there wasn’t any point. But I was really pleased to see the birthday bunting; I went for the yellow flag design that has little rainbows on, phrases like “yay” and features the squirrels. I printed the flags onto glossy photo paper so the colour printed up really sharp and quite professional looking, and strung them along some natural string across the fireplace.
I also made something just pretty randomly. I remembered seeing some decorations using a hula hoop which I thought was a cool idea. I already own a hula hoop so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try and make something of it. So I found a banner alphabet I liked and printed up some letters onto coloured card stock. I thought “Hey Reuben is Two” was a long enough phrase to play around with on a hoop plus it plays along the Hey Duggee theme. I threaded the words up onto natural string and strung them adhoc across the hoop so it was a very casual, fun look. I tried covering the hoop will ribbons and then tissue paper but I couldn’t get it to look right so I kept it pretty bare but for some table decoration Duggees stuck randomly around it. It didn’t look perfect but I was pretty proud of that idea!
HEY DUGGEE RAINBOW CAKE
I wanted to make Reuben’s birthday cake right from the start. But while I can happily knock up a sponge cake, creating some sugar paste masterpiece would have been way out of my skillset. So I decided to bake a bright rainbow layer cake (recipe below), sourcing some edible icing toppers to decorate the cake instead.
I had a custom made topper including Reuben’s name with the number ‘2’ either side of the picture, and had the text changed to yellow so it looked more colourful. It was posted out to me so all I had to do was apply it to the cake. It didn’t look as good as I’d hoped (it didn’t fit the cake for a start) so I don’t think I’d use a topper like this again, but the insanely fun layered cake more than made up for it. I had to buy a set of five cake tins* to make the five layers and a set of food colouring gels* to make sure the cake had a vibrant rainbow of colour, but the result was so worth the effort. After initially baking a trial run cake the week before I felt so much more confident baking the birthday cake the day before the party. It turned out so well – it had that wow factor, looked really fun and tasted amazing (can I say it was the best cake I’ve ever made?!)
I also ordered some cupcake toppers too which I used on a batch of vegan cupcakes as a dairy free option. I used an eggless vanilla recipe to create some basic cakes which I topped with piped Dr Oetker buttercream style icing, ‘unicorn’ colour sprinkles and a Duggee rice paper topper.
Now I spent more time than I needed to stressing about what food to lay on for the party. Pinterest can be the worst for letting yourself get carried away rather than inspired so in the end – for my sanity – I had to bring it all back to pretty basic nibbles. We put out some bowls of pretty rainbow drops, party rings, a plate of jam sandwiches and some carrot and cucumber sticks so that the little ones could nibble as they played. And I bought some coloured plastic cups for drinking water and a pack of orange Fruit Shoots which the toddlers were keen to have.
To incorporate an activity and lunch in one we did a “make your own rainbow pizza”, where mums helped the toddlers to decorate their own mini pizza. Red and green peppers, tomatoes and wafer ham were chopped up, cheese (and dairy-free ‘cheese’) grated and a basic tomato base was prepared beforehand so it was all ready to go when it was pizza time. Rather than make our own pizza dough we just bought a couple of boxes of Napolina mini pizza bases which were the perfect size for the little ones. For this we could have awarded the Hey Duggee ‘pizza badge’ but I didn’t think of that great idea until it was too late. A. Woof.
HEY DUGGEE PARTY BAGS
I’d seen a few ideas for Hey Duggee party bags that looked bright and colourful but they required paper bags (some brown, some rainbow colours) which I just couldn’t find in the shops. So in the end, as much as I really tried to avoid it, I created my own using plastic loot bags. Using some images of Hey Duggee badges from the CBeebies website (I picked the Super Squirrel badge and the balloon badge), I printed them onto glossy photo paper and stuck them on the bags. They weren’t the strongest bags and the badges likely didn’t last very long, but they looked pretty good all the same.
I didn’t really have a clue what to put into the party bags but it all kind of came together. First I got some Hey Duggee stickers made up that said “thank you for coming to my party, lots of love Reuben” which I thought made a cute personalised touch. They only cost a couple of pounds on ebay and I had enough made to give to Reuben’s friends as they left and to put in their little bag. Then I found some fab little Cbeebies colouring sets that included Hey Duggee colouring pages, and they came with a mini set of crayons. I hadn’t seen Rainbow Drops in ages but when I spotted them out shopping I thought they’d be brilliant to add in as a sweet treat, and because they’re basically just rice and sugar they were suitable for Reuben’s vegan and dairy-free friends too. Bubbles are a must in party bags – fun and cheap – so I bought a box of these, and then as a little chocolate treat I popped in a small Kinder bar, and dairy-free chocolate buttons as the vegan alternative.
I toyed with the idea of making up a fun playlist using the kind of music like Kidz Bop but Reuben wasn’t impressed. Then I wondered if you could get Hey Duggee music and chanced upon the Hey Duggee Greatest Hits Badge album* containing all the songs from the tv episodes which I thought was genius. At the start of the party we had the tv on playing Hey Duggee so it was still pretty normal for Reuben but once his friends had arrived we turned it off and switched to the music. It sounded strange listening to Hey Duggee as opposed to watching it but the little ones thought it was great – I think Reuben quite enjoyed dancing to the Raindance song.
Party games are basically pointless with two year olds, not that we didn’t try. Musical statues was an immediate flop. I planned a simple activity of colouring in, and found some amazing Hey Duggee colouring pictures online (google or Pinterest brings up loads). I just printed several sheets off and bought some extra packs of crayons, and the toddlers did do some colouring in albeit for not too long. Thankfully we did have the Hey Duggee music to keep the toddlers entertained with a little dancing here and there but they were mainly happy with playing with Reuben’s presents or his toys that we’d left out. It was pretty much all cars, the odd bounce on the trampoline and trying to get Danny the rabbit (who’d appeared in the room then legged it from the kids) to come and play. Whatever the little ones did, they enjoyed themselves. And no-one cried, so that was a win!
Have you hosted a Hey Duggee party? Maybe you’re a rainbow party pro? I’d love to hear your toddler party ideas!