Planning a birthday party for S right after a very busy party for E, all during a busy season of life, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to manage baking and decorating a cake like I usually would do. Instead, I decided to get creative. We created a Make Your Own Cupcake Bar where we did some DIY Zoo Cupcake Decorating! Each kid was able to decorate his/her own cupcakes…a dessert and party activity!
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We had so much fun with S’s Zoo Birthday Party at home. Check out our full party details!
All of the kids, and even the adults, enjoyed making DIY cupcakes. It would have been fun to look at a pretty zoo cake, but sometimes it is even more fun to build your own cupcakes!
Party guests were able to choose what animal kit they wanted to use for their zoo cupcakes. Each kit came with basic supplies needed and a list of other supplies they’d need to gather. The kids got to keep their toy animals, too!
DIY Zoo Cupcake Decorating | Make Your Own Cupcake Bar
The one thing I did have to prepare before we could do our Make Your Own Cupcake Bar was prepare the “habitats.” Each animal came from a different habitat, so I used colored frosting and different icing tips to prepare some basic habitats for the kids to decorate on.
For the woodlands, I used green frosting for grass (you can use a grass tip or star tip), then added some blue frosting (using this tip*) or blue gel to make a river through the cupcake.
For the desert, I used an orange-looking frosting to look like clay, then dipped the freshly-frosted tops into some ground-up golden sandwich cookie crumbs so it looked like sand.
For the jungles, I just used a bunch of green frosting, adding some to look like grass, but mostly I used the leaf tip to make it look like a rainforest.
For the ice cold habitat, I used white and blue frosting to make it look like water, snow, and ice.
Check out my pictures to see how some of the habitats looked.
Supplies needed will vary, but we mostly used cupcakes, frosting, blue gel, golden sandwich cookie crumbs, green licorice, rock candy, chocolate candy rocks, candy fish and bananas, and candy leaves (which I cut from sour strips). For the crane, I also used bits of Tootsie Rolls on toothpicks to look like cattails.
You’ll find a list of supplies, habitat labels, and printable tree decorations in our printable party package.
Print out the tree cupcake toppers and glue them to toothpicks. Prepare the candy and place it into various dishes. Wash your toy animals. Place the animals, supply lists, animal habitat labels, and necessary non-candy toppings into baggies.
For those who may not be able to have gluten, if you’ll have gluten-free cupcakes available, I recommend labeling which kits will be fully gluten-free (from the cupcake to the habitat ingredients to the toppings) so it is easy for them to decide which animal they want.
When your guests are ready, have them head to your DIY cupcake bar, choose their animal, read the supply list, and gather all their supplies! Use this opportunity to help the kids learn about different animals and their natural habitats!
Let them decorate their own cupcakes, then eat them!
At our party, several guests grabbed any ingredients they wanted, since I was not able to stand there and hand them out. Make a few extras if needed in case this happens and you have a kid that wants the correct habitat. Ultimately, you just want them to have fun with it!
Here are the specific supplies I used:
- Plastic toy animals (wash first)
- Animal print cupcake liners
- Cake mix
- Muffin pan
- Disposable frosting bags
- Plastic couplers
- Icing spatula
- Leaf decorating tip (Wilton #352, #69)
- Star decorating tip (Wilton #32, #133)
- Basketweave decorating tip (Wilton #47)
- Multi opening decorating tip (Wilton #233, #234)
- Small bowls
- Sandwich bags
- Food processor
- Golden sandwich cookies
- Blue decorating gel
- Blue gel food coloring
- Green gel food coloring
- Peach, Copper, or orange gel food coloring
- Brown gel food coloring
- Pink gel food coloring
- Swedish Fish
- Candy fish
- Runts Bananas
- Chocolate Rocks
- Blue and Clear Rock Candy
- Green licorice
- Green and blue sour candy strips
- Mini Tootsie Rolls
- Mini fruit marshmallows (clipped to look like succulents)
- Chocolate shavings
- Chocolate stars
- Blank index cards
- Printable labels, trees, instructions (purchase our Zoo Party Pack)
- Hot Glue