The Complete Guide To A Zoo Themed Party- Decorations

My little one is now 18 months old (eek! how the time flies). I’ve been thinking back to his first birthday party and how much fun I had planning it. B loves animals so when it came time to pick a theme, I knew zoo would be perfect. Given that it was a first birthday, I didn’t want to actually go to the zoo with several small children. So instead I brought the zoo to us. Over the next few posts, I’ll share my complete guide to a zoo themed party, from decorations to food to favors and more. These suggestions will get you on your way to the perfect zoo themed first birthday party for you little one!

Today it’s all about decorations for a zoo themed first birthday party. I’m starting with decorations because they really set the stage for the party. I certainly didn’t want to go overboard and spend a fortune. But, I wanted the decorations to be eye-catching and add to the theme.

The Best decorations for a zoo themed first birthday party. Zoo party decorations diy, animal birthday, zoo party decoration ideas, birthday banners for zoo party

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Decorations for A Zoo Themed First Birthday Party

The Banners

I made a total of five banners for B’s party. Three of them spelled out “Happy Birthday B” and the remaining two were used to display pictures. Let’s start by talking about the banners with the words.

How to make a birthday banner

I really wasn’t sure how this banner was going to turn out, but I was so thrilled when it was finished. I started with burlap flags and bought twine to attach the flags into a banner. If you want to go this route, it’s not extremely difficult, I just folded the top of the flag over the twine and used hot glue to stick it down. But, had I known exactly what I was going to do with the banner, I would have just bought it already made. I found this great set on Amazon that has the flags already ready to be attached to the twine (and the rope is included), and it costs less than what I paid for all my materials (plus you save time, win-win!).

Now that you have you banner ready to go, it’s time to add the letters. Originally, I thought I would be really smart and use a paint pen because it would be easy to write with. Too bad it didn’t work at all, no matter how many times I went over it the letters just didn’t show up. Maybe if you got a really thick paint pen it may work. I then ended up just using white acrylic paint and a paint brush. This worked way better and went so much faster. Make sure you have something under the flags while you are painting because some paint will leak through.

I also wanted to hang the banner in a cute way. So I found small wooden animal shapes at Michaels. I then hot glued one animal to each side of the banner and used the animals to hide the spot where the banner was attached to the wall. Here is an Etsy listing for animals just like what I used in case you can’t find them at Michaels (or don’t have one). It turned out super cute and hid the attachment points really well. Given that each banner was fairly short, I was able to attach the banners to the wood trim above our windows just using painter’s tape (which made for an easy clean-up).

How to set up a picture banner

I decided to do two picture banners for B’s party. One of the banners had his monthly pictures from birth through age one on it. It was really fun to see the progression when all the pictures were side by side. And I had taken his picture with a big stuffed elephant each month which was great for scale and worked perfectly with the theme! The other banner contained pictures of B at various zoos. My husband and I both enjoy going to the zoo so we had taken B three separate times to different zoos. These pictures were a fun way to add personal decorations that fit with our theme.

For these banners, I used the leftover twine and used clothes pins to hang the pictures. I wanted to add something extra to the clothes pins so I found cute zoo themed stickers at Michaels. I simply put the stickers on the clothes pins and immediately had a cute banner with an obvious zoo theme.

picture banner for first birthdayThe Number One Made From Pictures

I had several pictures from the zoo that I didn’t use to make my banner. So I decided to use the pictures to make a large number 1. I found enough vertical and horizontal pictures, then laid them out in a pattern to make a number 1. I had to try a few times before I felt that it looked right. Then I used two white poster boards (you could easily used a big piece of wood or something similar) taped them together, then taped the pictures to the poster board. I was very pleased with how the decoration turned out and it was easy (and cheap!) to make.


Cake Decorations

For the kids attending the party, I made sugar-free banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting (more on that in the food post). But I wanted to do something different for the adults. So I made an ice cream cake. I used plastic zoo animals to decorate the cake. Each of the animals was given a party hat as well. To make the party hats:

  1. Take a small piece of colored card stock and roll it into a cone shape
  2. Use a small dot of hot glue to glue the hat together
  3. Then use hot glue to attach a small pom-pom to the top of each hat
  4. Use a small piece of rolled scotch tape to attach the hat to the animal’s head (this way you can easily remove the hats after the party)

The hats turned out really cute and B was thrilled because he got to keep all of the animals after the party.

Highchair Banner

After making the banners, I still had a few remaining flags and a small length of twine. So, I decided to use those to make a banner for B’s highchair. The steps to make this easy highchair banner are:

  1. Paint a number 1 with white acrylic paint on one of your burlap flags
  2. Measure around the front of your highchair (I measured the front of the detachable tray)
  3. Cut a piece of twine to the length of the front of your highchair
  4. Place your burlap flag at the center of the twine ( I would highly recommend measuring and using a permanent marker to mark the center of your twine).
  5. Attach the flag to the twine using hot glue.
    • Flip the flag face down (so the number faces down).
    • Place the twine across the top of the flag (about half an inch down so you have enough room to fold the flag over).
    • Put a thin line of hot glue just below the twine
    • Then fold the top of the flag down to cover the twine and push it down to stick to the glue
  6. Find ribbon in a few different animal prints (check the craft section at Walmart for cheap ribbon).
    • I decided to use three different animal prints.
  7. Cut the ribbon into several pieces all the same size (the size will depend on how much you want the ribbon to hang down)
    • I measured how long my number one flag was, doubled it (because I would be knotting the ribbon around the twine) and added about an inch to account for the knot and some extra
      • This way my ribbon hung just below the flag
  8. Knot the pieces of ribbon around the twine so that none of the twine is visible. I did a pattern of the 3 animal prints.

This project was surprisingly easy and I was really pleased with how it turned out. I searched all over for a zoo themed highchair banner and didn’t have a lot of luck. So, I was thrilled to be able to make one myself. And, the extra plus was it was really cheap to make.

first birthday high chair banner

The remaining zoo themed decor came from the food, activities, and time capsule. In the next few posts, I’ll tell you all about the zoo themed food, the fun photo booth that we did (the kids loved it!), and B’s time capsule. I’m also writing a separate post all about the smash cake and photo session. I can’t wait to share all the details with all of you!

The complete guide to planning a zoo themed birthday party including everything you need to know to make great zoo themed decorations. These zoo themed decorations are easy and cheap and are sure to be a hit at your party!

The Best decorations for a zoo themed first birthday party. Zoo party decorations diy, animal birthday, zoo party decoration ideas, birthday banners for zoo party

The Best decorations for a zoo themed first birthday party. Zoo party decorations diy, animal birthday, zoo party decoration ideas, birthday banners for zoo party

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2 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To A Zoo Themed Party- Decorations

  1. Hi! So precious!!!! I’m curious where you purchased your animals used to decorate your cake? Thanks so much!

    1. Thank you!! I bought the animals at Target. They had a great selection of them and the animals are thicker plastic so he still plays with them all the time a year and a half later

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