mermaid

Theme parties are fun opportunities to get creative, whether you’re 5 or 35. An under-the-sea theme offers a lot of ways to re-create a seascape with easy-to-find or recycled materials and some imagination. Kids can join the fun with crafts and homemade decorations inspired by their favorite marine life. Just in time for summer birthdays, here are some do-it-yourself ways to turn your living room into a mermaid’s den.

Lighting

This how-to uses blue light bulbs to create the effect of light filtering through the surface. Another option is to cover lampshades with blue cellophane. You can also tape metallic streamers to the ceiling to make an expansive shimmering effect, and hang sheer blue and green fabric across the ceiling to make the effect of waves above. For an even more immersive look, use bulletin board paper to make it look like a boat floating above, complete with a foil anchor. Blue and clear balloons make festive bubbles too.

Props

Pick up a kid’s toy chest or an old trunk for a treasure chest. Fill it up with gold coins, fake pearls and jewels; if you want to include a treasure map, you can draw your own and drip a little water and tear the edges to make it look weathered. The treasure chest is also the perfect place for kids’ party favors.

More elaborate props can be made with paper mâché. This how-to uses paper towel tubes and gloves to re-create a coral reef. To make seaweed, you can paint old plastic bags and cut them into strips; leave them hanging loose to catch any drafts and give the look of a swaying kelp forest. If you have furniture in the room, you can drape a furniture pad or small shag rug to copy the rounded edges of reefs and underwater alcoves.

Sea Creatures

If you want to keep the scale consistent, paper mâché is your best bet. Some of the most eye-catching are deep sea anglerfish, octopus and manta rays. For kids, origami sea creatures are perfect to attach to a fisherman’s net: try sea horses, shrimp, tropical fish, clams and crabs. There are lots of fun ways to make jellyfish, out of recycled plastic sandwich boxes, balloons, paper plates or paper lanterns with crepe paper tentacles. Whatever your budget, timeline or age, the ocean is an endless source of inspiration for fantastic party props.

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Image: AForestFrolic