Blog, Children's Parties, Feature, Parties, Portfolio

Dual Birthday Party: Surf Shack and Underwater Adventure

Surf Shack Party

A coral reef underwater adventure and surf shack birthday party for your viewing pleasure today.

I am so excited to share this party with you! It was definitely an act of love since it was about 4 weeks after having my third baby. We did a lot of the work beforehand, but we were also working up to the last minute!

My two oldest boys birthdays are two days apart. This year we decided to do a joint birthday party because I was having our youngest son a month before. I wanted to have two distinct parties in one, so I chose a “Surf Shack” theme for my younger son and an “Underwater Adventure” for my older son- meshing the beach and the ocean.


I originally saw this idea here and thought it would be a great way to welcome guests to the party so my husband built a custom easel and did the chalk work for it.


Taking advantage of their summer birthdays, we rented a spray park for the event and had about 40 minutes for set up. With a team of great friends and family, we were able to pull it off just as guests were arriving. The best part of the event? Built in activity! Kids came ready to cool down and play in the water.

Spray Park
Photograph courtesy of Abigail Garcia

I wanted the seating area to feel like guests were under the sea, so we created paper lantern fish, jellys and sharks and hung them from the umbrellas as well as from the canopy of the custom coral reef dessert table. (Find  more ideas on my boys birthday Pinterest board and here is the more refined one).


I love serving meals at birthday parties, but because of the time that the spray park was available for private parties, it didn’t make sense. Instead we opted for yummy snacks. Mason’s Surf Shack served snacks of veggie cups with ranch or hummus, Gold Fish, Sun Chips (fish and chips), and fresh fruit. I wanted to keep it light and fresh since we had so many yummy desserts to devour!

Surf Shack Custom Surfboard

Surf Shack Snack Table Watermelon Fresh Fruit Goldfish Crackers Veggie Cups with ranch and hummus

The sign we made for the back of the canopy was inspired by these Pottery Barn Kids signs. My awesomely talented mother-in-law drew the shark and my equally awesome husband painted it and cut out the shape. As for the surf boards, my insanely talented friend painted them for me. God bless her. (For tutorials on how to make a canopy or surf boards, check my Pinterest board.)

Pottery Barn Kids Inspired Surf Shack Sign

For Reef-freshments we served Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade and water. Since lemonade is my boys favorite refreshment, my mom squeezed all of the lemons the day before and made the rest from scratch. Water was a no brainer since it is always refreshing in NM heat. It was a good thing we packed extra water too because it was one of the hottest days on record!

Reef freshments

My husband built the canopy stand and my mother-in-law sewed the canopy.

Reef-freshments Sign

My husband painted this super cute sign. I had seen someone else use “Reef-fills” as a little play on words for their drink station and loved it so much that I decided to do my own variation with “Reef-freshments”.

Since we were at the spray park, all of the dishes/serveware had to be acrylic/plastic. I found this amazing drink dispenser and drink stand at Pottery Barn that worked perfectly for a beach party! I bought super cute plastic milk bottles from Kara’s Party Ideas for the drinks and Shop Sweet Lulu had these straws that were perfect.

Reef-freshmentsPlastic Milk Bottles- Perfect for a spray park birthday party!

For the dessert table I KNEW I wanted something different. I have had an idea in my mind for a few years of creating a coral reef table, but couldn’t get my husband to commit to making it (it had to be him. I dream it, he builds it). This year he finally agreed to do it and figured out how to make it. Below is the inspiration picture and what we actually came up with.

Coral Reef Table

I LOVED it. I mean WOW. Did he come through or what?! I am so stinking proud of this table and my hubs.

Coral Reef Dessert Table: Underwater Adventure

Asa’s Underwater Adventure boasted a shark cake with a treasure beach ball, turtle cake, octopus cupcakes (with a surprise inside!), starfish rice crispy treats, under the sea creature sugar cookies, coral reef popcorn and homemade ice cream.

Shark Cake with candy filled beach ball
Cake by the fabulous Kim Garcia

Shark Cake by Kim Garcia

Turtle Cake by Kim Garcia on Parties and Potty Training

Turtle Cake by Kim Garcia

Under the Sea Cupcakes

Sugar Cookie Sea Creatures
Cookies made by a sweet friend

Popcorn in paper cones acts as faux coral on a coral reef tableStarfish Rice Crispy Treats

I found these super cute ice cream cups at The Tomkat Studio here. We also used the alphabet stamps on the wooden spoons to complete the look. Homemade Ice Cream

When working with Kim, our cake lady, I knew that I wanted to use The Pastry Pedestal for something different and unique. We decided to create an octopus whose tentacles rested on the different cupcakes. It looked amazing, but alas- the heat won and we placed the cupcakes on the coral reef so they wouldn’t melt all over.

Octopus on The Pastry Pedestal

Octopus Pastry Pedestal

Octopus Cupcake Octopus cupcakesLast year we had a Whacky Cake (originally inspired by The Meringue Bake Shop) included with the boys birthday cakes. This year my son requested another one so Kim created the beach ball next to the shark for my oldest and the octopus head for my younger. In the pictures you can see they were filled with candy.

Whacky Cake Octopus Octopus Candy CakeBeach Ball CakeBeach Ball Cake FIlled with Candy

Since it was my oldest sons golden birthday, we had a custom octopus piñata made. It was HUGE! The kids had so much fun trying to break it open. My husband ended up having to take a turn with the bat to release the candy.

Octopus PiñataMy mom found these shirts at Carter’s. They originally had “18” on them, but my mother-in-law adapted them to match the boys ages. We had them change for the breaking of the piñata.

Birthday Shirts adapted for agesFor favors we did bubbles (found at Target), under the sea squirt guns, and sand toys I found in the dollar section at Target.

Underwater Adventure and Surf Shack Party Favors

Underwater Adventure and Surf Shack Party FavorsUnderwater Adventure and Surf Shack Party Favors

Event Styling and Coordination: Shannon Qualls of Parties and Potty Training

Photography: Greg Qualls, Gloriane Ortega and Abigal Garcia

Printables: Matthew Carlson

Cake and Cupcakes: Kim Garcia of Kims Cake Studio

Popcorn: Walker’s Popcorn

Straws: Shop Sweet Lulu

Plastic bottles: Kara’s Party Ideas

Paper Lanterns: Kara’s Party Ideas and Oriental Trading Company

Ice Cream Cups and Alphabet Letters: The Tomkat Studio

Blue/White Cabana Fabric: Carousel Designs

Acrylic Cupcake Holder: Pastry Pedestal

Party Favors: Target and Oriental Trading

Party Shirts: Carter’s (alterations by mother in law)

Drink Dispensers and Lifeguard Drink Stand:

2 thoughts on “Dual Birthday Party: Surf Shack and Underwater Adventure

Leave a Reply to ShannonQualls Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.