An Under the Sea Themed Birthday Celebration

by Donna Hann on 07/01/2016

Under the Sea Ombre Ruffle Cake

Together my daughter and I decided that an Under the Sea party would be a fun theme to celebrate her recent birthday. We both love the brainstorming, planning, and organizing that go into creating a great party. Go figure, my 11 year old has soaked up my event planning fetish. There could be worse things… I thought I’d share our process for getting from concept to execution of her party with you here.

First we jotted down ideas that came to mind when we thought of what was in and around the sea. We came up with oodles of ideas that we might end up using in some manner as we developed a vision for the party.

lobsters, starfish, mermaids, gold coins, fish, coral, seashells, blue water, jelly fish, anchors, sand,

treasures, sea turtles, sharks, seaweed, pearls, sea horses, and more…

Next we needed to settle upon a color scheme. We found inspiration during a trip to Hobby Lobby where we saw this gorgeous coral satin fabric (which later was pinned onto a large board that served as our dessert buffet back drop) and colorful ribbons (which accented the buffet as well as served as “tentacles” on our homemade jelly fish that hung over the birthday cake).

Under the Sea Party Color Scheme

We decided that in addition to a fun taco bar for dinner (complete with a watermelon shark) we should also have a dessert display. The display was set up against the neighbor’s split rail fence to provide support for the coral satin fabric covered board that served as our backdrop. Onto the backdrop I pinned a mermaid cut-out I hand sketched onto aquamarine colored sparkly paper. Around her hung the jellyfish we constructed out of paper lanterns, ribbons, and plastic tablecloths. I loved how they moved as the wind blew them. They looked like graceful jellyfish swimming “under the sea”.

Mermaid Backdrop and Paper Lantern Jellyfish

We needed invitations and certainly I could have sent out an Evite or created my own design, but I found these sweet invitations on Etsy through the shop GenerationsInk for only $15.oo.  The designer created the invitation after receiving my details about our party and sent me a proof via email. Once I was satisfied with the proof, she sent me the final product as a .pdf and I had the option of printing them out myself or taking them to a local print shop, which is what I opted for. The sample below from her site is very similar to the one we created.

Under the Sea Invitation: GenerationsInk

The dessert buffet was a ball to put together. My design savvy friend, Kristin, found these perfect hand stamped muslin party favor bags on Etsy by CrimsonHollow that we knew would work great for the girls to fill with candy. Kristin kindly bought enough for each guest and we hung them with mini clothes pins on a chicken wire picture frame which I already had in my daughter’s room.Under the Sea Prop Staging

muslim mermaid favor bag

Under the Sea Dessert Buffet

Following our Under the Sea theme, we found plenty of fitting candy for the dessert buffet. Featured were gummy sharks, Swedish fish, gold foil wrapped chocolate coins, sour punch straws (green seaweed), gummy lobsters, and rock candy sticks (coral).

Under the Sea Candy Buffet Staging

I also got my candy making mojo on with these white chocolate seashells using some plastic molds I already had in my ginormous supply of catering equipment from “back in the day”.  After the chocolate had set up, I gently painted them with edible luster dust to give them their shimmer and pale pink hue.

Seashell Chocolates

We kept clean up easy by using disposable products at the buffet in our themed colors. I dug out this cute yellow metal “E-Z Toter” I had previously picked up at a local antique shop to hold plates and napkins. A small pitcher (found at the same antique store) held the plastic forks.

Under the Sea Buffet

Here is my watermelon shark in all his fierce glory. We filled him with diced pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

Carved Watermelon Shark

Two glass spigot containers held “mermaid treasure” and “ocean water” drinks that were set up on the deck. Now, I know I already have two of these, but if I ever have to replace one, I’ve got my eye on this beverage dispenser. I love that it has a built in fruit infuser.

Under the Sea Drinks

The birthday cake was a two tier creation with the top tier being my three layer gluten free devil’s food cake with toffee cream filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. The bottom cake was a gluten free yellow cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream frosting.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Toffee Cream Filling

After filling and frosting both tiers, the top with both a crumb coat and a final coat of turquoise tinted vanilla buttercream and the bottom with only a crumb coat, I stacked them on top of one another. Then I began the process of creating waves in an ombre effect using piping tip #104. I started at the top of the bottom tier with the lightest of 3 shades of buttercream tinted with varying amounts of Americolor Turquoise gel food color. Each shade of turquoise took 3 rows of “ruffles”.

Ombre Cake Ruffle Frosting

With a small piece of yellow tinted fondant I hand cut a seahorse to add a little pop of the sea to the top tier. I think the birthday girl’s smile expresses the joy she had on this day. Can’t wait ’til the next party we can plan together…We make a good team.

Under the Sea Party Birthday Wish


Under the Sea Dessert Buffet

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