My husband, Jack is a mechanic and works long hours, six days a week and fifty weeks a year. For his 50th birthday I wanted to do something that would let him feel young, wild and free again, so I planned a Tarzan theme for the party.
I decided to order special invitations for the occasion. The paper was textured like bark and the chosen font gave the appearance of the letters having been carved into wood. The party details were written inside and I also added that the guests should dress like jungle people.
I reserved the hall at the local recreation centre. I rented some jungle gym equipment for the guests to climb on which, for safety, was set up on rubber mats. I surrounded the jungle gym with artificial trees and plants and placed artificial butterflies, lizards, birds and other small animals in the greenery. I also rented large sized cut outs of jungle animals like a lion, elephant and a cheetah. My friend Lisa and I hung green balloons and streamers from the windows and gym equipment. I asked a supplier of animals for parties to bring a few cages of small song birds to put in the hall. The DJ I had hired set up his equipment and started the evening with various jungle themed or African music.
Many of the guests arrived dressed in leopard and tiger skins. Other costumes were more creative and authentic. Of course, I was dressed as Jane and Jack was Tarzan. Each guest received a plush toy monkey. They were very cute and had Velcro hands and feet and a little backpack to carry it around in. The guests had a good time playing with them especially Nick, my best friend Alice's husband. Nick kept on sticking his plush toy monkey on the back Alice's faux leopard dress. She stuck it back on him when he wasn't looking.
It wasn't long before Tarzan, my husband, was climbing to the top of the jungle gym. It was like he had tapped into a new well of energy! He even gave a funny Tarzan yell. I was glad I hired a photographer to capture the best and funniest moments.
The guests were like a group of kids in a sweet shop and were so into the gym equipment that they kept right on playing until the caterer had finished setting up the buffet dinner .The food and drinks were set up on one long table covered with a zebra print tablecloth. Exotically perfumed candles placed down the length of the table added to the 'smell' of the jungle. The centrepiece was a huge crystal bowl with water, blossoms and floating candles.
Tarzan and his tribe eventually worked up enough of an appetite to come off the jungle gym and line up at the buffet table. I had asked the caterer for an original menu of 'jungle type food' There was mixed salad with crispy vegetables with a light, fruity dressing, fruit salad, vegetable soup, served in plastic bowls that looked like hollowed out coconut shells, baked fish, and rice pilaf. Dessert was fresh strawberries and cream served in a half pineapple.
Some of the men really got into touch with their primitive side. Nick put one of the coconut bowls on his head. Tarzan put two coconut bowls together in front of my chest, "Jane like new bra?" he said. The photographer was really sharp and snapped a picture.
After dinner an exotic animal handler entertained us. He had tarantulas, a boa, geckos, an iguana, and a spider monkey! Some of our more adventurous guests touched and even held some of them. One of the monkeys climbed onto Nick's head before the handler could catch it.
I had the local cake shop create a cake with a jungle theme, complete with trees, grass and a watering hole. A sugar artist had created intricate and edible animal figures to put on top.It seemed a shame to cut it. We all sang happy birthday and the photographer got a few more pictures.
Before the party came to a close, everyone gathered around for a game of Barrel of Monkeys. The game turned into a tournament and the winner received a gift certificate for an organic market.
The party was a wonderful success, but most importantly, my husband had more fun at his fiftieth birthday than he had in a long time. He forgot about work and remembered what it was like young and free again.