the very hungry caterpillar birthday party: tyson turns 3

this is r version of the very hungry caterpillar by yours truly. to be fair, my boys did all the painting on large, large sheets of butcher paper. i then cut out the pieces i wanted and collaged them together. click to enlarge and see all the glorious texture. yummy. i love some good ole’ messy texture.


my 3 year old is in love the The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so we made a birthday party out of it!


he can “read” you the entire story and when you get him out of the tubby he likes to be all wrapped up in a “cocoon” and then emerge as a nude butterfly and run down the hall several times flapping his new wings. hilarious.

if the art and story and brilliance of eric carle has not hit you yet, i encourage you to check out his books and then spend some time on The Official Eric Carle Web Site. it is genius.

whilst trying to think of a birthday party theme that tyson would love for his third birthday and while trying to stay within my budget, i looked online to see what other teachers and parents had done with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. my creativity took off. let me share with you some of my favorite parts of the party …all done on a tight budget.


here’s the birthday boy on the morning of his big day with his caterpillar cake.
the cake was simply a bunch of cupcakes arranged on a butcher paper wrapped piece of a cardboard box from my basement. i drew the polkas because of the front covers of the book.


you will notice that the cupcakes are varying shades of green. if you have ever seen eric carle’s art (painted and cut tissue paper), then you know why it is so important to stay away from one-color/texture when trying to create a party in the theme of his art.


gavin thought the cupcakes were delish. he couldn’t get enough.


i love to decorate my kitchen light fixture. as you will see a few pictures below, i wrapped and weaved tulle through it and attached ribbon, streamers and even a pinwheel that i couldn’t take my eyes off of at the grocery. we also hung these lovely homemade coffee filter butterflies. take a coffee filter, color it with washable markers (the more ink the better) and use a spray bottle full of water to soak them. the colors bleed together and create this tissue paper-like effect. (some people use food coloring instead of markers, but i can never get the colors to bleed the way i like them to.) then i just take a pipe cleaner, pinch the filter in half and twist to make the body of the butterfly and the antennae. they were hung from the the light fixture using paper clips and fishing line.


we made these butterflies the week before tyson’s birthday.


you may also notice The Very Hungry Caterpillar inspired art on the sliding door. (and yes, that is snow outside although it was may!) the boys did all the painting for the leaves and the sun. we painted for a few months here and there, whenever we wanted to, in preparation for this window art. i then cut out the pieces and hung them on the window. we hot glued those sparkly puffy balls to the leaves to look like caterpillars.


the happy birthday banner is from pottery barn kids. i have had it for a few years. i got it on super-clearance. love that. they also have a more girlie one with pinks and purples.


here is the food display. if you are familiar with the book, you know that the very hungry caterpillar ate through quite a long list of food before he felt full and curled up into his cocoon. for tyson’s birthday dinner and dessert, we had everything the very hungry caterpillar had in the book. (apples, pearls, plums, oranges, strawberries, lollipops, sausage, pickles, swiss cheese, salami, watermelon, ice cream cones, pie, chocolate cake, etc.)

i used these multicolored glass beads to give the polka-dot feel like the front and back covers have on the book. then using screen shots from THIS link, i made little signs for each food the caterpillar ate and what day he ate it on. the food was arranged in order of the book on the counter. the outlined food is in the same style of the book and i colored the food in (just with crayons) in eric carle style. 

here is an example of the screen shots i used to make the little signs.


each had a toothpick attached for easy displaying.


did i mention gav loved the cupcakes?


does fire do this to every little boy?


look at that double chin. it is so perfect for nibbling on.


the gift this year was a train table that we purchased off of ksl and it was brand new, still in the box! both sets of grandparents chipped in on it and the boys were/are in heaven.


this is the wild after-party the next day. holla!


i tied a ribbon in tyson’s hair from one of his gifts …and mr. r had a heart attack! 

it was a smashing success …and we still have those decorations hanging in the r house. now to think what we will do for gavin’s second birthday in august.

any ideas?


  1. Steph says

    Oh my fun! I miss the days of the fun little themed parties. My kids used to LOVE the very hungry caterpillar… Blast from the past.

  2. Not Just A Birth Mom says

    This is great! My bson had a caterpillar cake this year for his first birthday, and I got him the cutest little Very Hungry Caterpillar outfit I found when he was only 3 months old. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was one of my favorite books growing up!

  3. Betina says

    this is my favorite book of all time. my kids all love it, and when I worked as a speech therapist I must have banked 200 hours worth of therapy out of that book. Great party theme.

    Tyson is so adorable.

    Can he please please please take my Ivy to prom in 13 years or so?


  4. Cassie says

    Wow! I'm going to have to tell Jen Terry to step aside. This party is quality. You are quality.

    Miss your face.

  5. Angie says

    This is adorable!! I love everything but the menu matching the food from the book is my absolute fave! Adam loves that book too we read it all the time :) I just got him Eric Carle bedding for his new big boy bed…I got the african savannah theme but I know they have the very hungry caterpillar too you should google it :) The bedding I got has been discontinued for awhile so I had to hunt forever and paid a pretty penny too but it was worth it!
    Good job I think it turned out amazing!

    • alyssa says

      Hi Angie – I came across this site somehow in my HOURS of searching and see your post from years ago, haha I am scouring the internet trying to find the eric carle bedding!!!! can you be of any help as to where or how u finally found it? I hate that its all been discontinued, it’s adorable!!!

  6. Nichole says

    So cute, and so much energy required…I am sure the party was wonderful and worth all of it! It was great to see you guys at the wedding, your boys are absolutely darling!

  7. Tori says

    Fun party! My Adam has pjs just like Tyson's. How fun. Adam would also be very jealous of that train table. We may just have to copy you and get him one for his birthday.

  8. Lara says

    Simply amazing. "Oh, it's easy and frugal" you say before you detail your months of preparation. Various shades of green frosting? Are you serious??? How are you not the General Relief Society President by now? :p

  9. Sara says

    I LOVE your artwork – those butterflies are beautiful! And 3 cheers for train tables – they are just the best!

  10. Brenda says

    I LOVE the pictures of the boys on the table!!! So cute!!! Reminds me of my girls when they were little. I hope you gets lots of time to enjoy these little guys…I look back and realize just how fast it went. There are days when I miss those special years. You are a fun Mom….thanks for sharing thsi special event with all of us!

  11. Kara@ Creations by Kara says

    I somehow stumbled across your blog because of CBC. I am so grateful that I did! We are in the process of adopting, and I have found so much comfort in your posts. I wish I could have gotten to know you at the conference. You are truly amazing!!! Thank you so much for all you do for the world of adoption. :)

  12. Christine says

    Oh man I wish I was that creative!! So adorable!! I also wish we had family around to make me more motivated to do a big to-do for the kiddo's b-days… it's hard when it's just us… maybe next year. :) Thanks for all the ideas!!

  13. Mary says

    DARLING caterpillar cake (and all the rest)! The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of my daughter's favorite books- she likes to stick her fingers into the little holes on each page.

  14. Marina says

    "Great, all of us had celebrated my 4yr old daughter’s birthday at AZ On The Rocks Gym’, Scottsdale, AZ. They have this Birthday Club, wherein, EVERYONE gets to climb for free on or near their birthday. It was a 2.5 hour party with our own party host; their experienced instructors were very supportive and taught us basic climbing skills in just few minutes, all gear necessary to climb was there, a refrigerator/freezer to store our party goodies. The staff is so supportive and patient and made us feel very comfortable. All of us had loads of fun. This place ROCKS (pun intended)…For
    anyone interested to celebrate their birthday, check out their new innovative ideas for birthday parties; ..”

  15. Monica Bremer says

    Gavin is so adorable in that photo! Makes me wanna pinch his oh-so-cute baby face. Eric Carle is one of the most amazing children authors. My son love The Grouchy Ladybug, so I'm figuring how I'm gonna arrange all the cupcakes. We already booked one of the ballrooms in Denver last month, and the whole family and friends will be there. Anyway, the caterpillar is so pretty.