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ocean steampunk birthday party dessert table

This may just be one of the most unique party themes I’ve ever seen! Ocean creatures + rusty steampunk details + outdoor games & crafts — talk about catering to your audience!  ;)

Since her son’s love for sharks had not waned since the year before, Abigail of Paper & Cake geared up for this year’s party by putting a spin on a classic under the sea theme — adding rivets, gears and other steampunk details to take this party to a whole new level. 

The resulting Steampunk 11 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea Party is one that I’m sure the birthday boy and his guests will not soon forget!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Custom designed steampunk shark dessert table backdrop hanging from ‘rust’ painted pipes
  • Adorable steampunk sea creature cupcake toppers + anchor & gear topped Oreos
  • Bronzed miniature sea animal figurines, custom steampunk printables & a COOL steampunk goggle craft
  • Morning aquarium visit with, stingray petting, tide pool exploring and sea lion befriending!

under the sea party welcome sign

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DIY painted rust party sign

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kids steampunk birthday party crafts

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marine mammal aquarium brithday party


PARTY DETAILS, as told by Abigail

My son Jack has an obsession with sharks, has even known for years that he would like to be a marine biologist when he grows up. When I asked him what theme he would like this year, of course he asked for sharks — for the second time! Now, I really wanted to make this “under the sea” theme happen for him, but at the same time make it age appropriate for an 11 year old, and of course, cool enough for my kid.

I’m not sure how I came up with it, but, the word “steampunk” almost immediately came to mind for a new and unique style for the graphics. And when I did some research, a Jules Verne classic came up — “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” which totally fit my vision and I ran with it!

Jack’s “Eleven thousand Leagues Under the Sea” birthday party could not have been more fun! Let me back up and start at the beginning…

Early in the morning, we took a special trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific and had a behind the scenes tour and animal experience. It was just amazing to be able to prepare food for a 750 lb sea lion, and then feed him! The Aquarium does such an outstanding job with their education and conservation programs, and we were so lucky to be a part of it!

Then, off to the party we went!

Our dessert table had the most imaginative details from any party I’ve ever designed. From the rusty, corroded pipes holding up our giant steampunk shark to small metal marine mammals on the tabletop (we faux painted the heck out of anything that wasn’t nailed down)!

Clear acrylic risers and white cake stands showcased some seriously spectacular desserts and treats! Bella’s Bakery made chocolate covered Oreos and cake pops (topped with Candyfetti) to match our party graphics and colors. Fruity pebble treats, mini cupcakes and -of course- mini apple pies from Meringue Bake Shop were a special request from the birthday boy.

Paper details included popcorn boxes, cake pop flags and photo booth props brought color and whimsy to the setup. We put out some light snacks (fruit, popcorn and waters) for the kids to grab whenever they needed.

We always have a themed craft project to work on at Jack’s parties, and this one topped the rest! They made custom steampunk goggles made from plain safety goggles, plastic bits and bobs, paint, and a ton of kid imagination.

After they crafted for a while, we all met in the front yard for some fun activities like target practice on a octopus sea monster, “kick the can” (but with a shark instead of a can), and an epic relay obstacle course! And when the kids felt the need for some selfies and silliness, we had a photo booth set up with an instant camera and ridiculous paper photo props.

After singing the happy birthday song, blowing out candles and eating the best birthday treats ever, the kids posed for one last group photo before they grabbed a party favor of Candyfetti from Sweets Indeed and hit the road.

I’m seriously exhausted and smell like fish, but, I love you and Happy 11th Birthday Jack!!

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