Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Polar Bear Club

I still find it utterly fascinating that every winter thousands of seemingly well adjusted individuals, strip down to swimwear in frigid temperatures and plunge themselves into icy waters: the most famous of these events being Coney Island's Polar Bears New Years Day Dip!

Of course it's all for a charitable cause, but since just seeing photos of these brave souls gives me hypothermia, I thought I'd borrow their namesake for my own climate controlled icy themed celebration. Admittedly mine involves staying toasty warm in my living room and eating cupcakes, but I've borrowed some frosty bear and arctic adventure motifs to honor their adventurous spirit.

Up, up and Away.....

I've heard one of the best ways to explore the arctic is by hot air balloon (add to bucket list) so I thought I'd set these pint sized bears (49 cents from IKEA) aloft in their own airborne flying machine fashioned from leftover Christmas balls.

The Inspiration

My balloons are a fairly simple DIY but there are many wonderful Hot Air balloon crafts online, from the exquisitely crafted here:

Bear Balloons

You'll Need:
Christmas Balls
decorative craft wire (craft or Dollar store)
Assorted ribbons and scraps
small craft baskets
bears, penguins or other "passengers"

No baskets? You can also simply trim a paper cup and cover with cute paper
Snip the handle off the basket

Cut wire equal lengths and attach to basket making lengths as even as possible
* You could also use string or ribbon but I find the lightweight wire easier to work with (no tangles) and it keeps the basket more stable when hanging

Remove topper from ball and arrange wires inside cap making sure they are evenly spaced and replace

Hot glue string hanger on top of "balloon
Tie ribbons around balloon knotting on top (over string hanger for extra hold) and securing with dots of hot glue along way. Make sure ribbon is threaded through loop hanger on bottom (really top) of balloon for extra hold. This looks messy but we'll camouflage it with a flag later

Once glue is dry add any decorations to suit your fancy!
I added ribbon streamers to center and a wired ribbon flag on top. I cut some leftover wired ribbon to a fun flag shape and formed it to look like it was blowing in the breeze, gluing it on to conceal knots.
I also cut some of that cheap commercial Christmas ribbon (which I removed from an otherwise adorable Christmas lantern) into bunting and glued around the basket for flair.

I felt the bear's ears seemed a bit pointy and more piglet than Polar bear so he had some quick minor surgery to make them more rounded and bear -like.

after: he seems pleased

Once they're ready, get the bears on board and take flight!

Having a party just for cubs? 
Why not incorporate the more kid friendly ideas into a fun fete based on this adorable book

Iceberg cupcakes and easy Igloo Cake

Years ago I made an edible igloo with frolicking polar bears for a local gingerbread contest, and while I was happy with the results it was a nerve-racking and painstaking process. Not to mention my kitchen looked like it was hit by the blizzard of 92.

So for fun, but much simpler sweets, here's alternative arctic eats which won't cause a meltdown.

You'll need:
white or vanilla cupcakes
White or vanilla cake baked in a batter bowl
marshmallow or vanilla fluffy frosting
clear sugar candies

 For the igloo cake

 From one batch of batter I baked a small dome shaped cake in a batter bowl and some cupcakes
I lined the bowl with some strips of parchment to ensure easy removal 
I improvised an entryway from a styrofoam cup and covered it all with white icing
cover with marshmallows- I cut the large ones into smaller "bricks" and lined the door with minis
Sprinkle with coconut, pop in a resident bear.
Simply remove bear and cup when ready to serve

For the iceberg cupcakes

I used clear peppermints but any clear candy will do
Crush slightly in pastic bag with mallet or heavy spoon
 Melt in preheated 350 degree oven on foil lined cookie sheet (about 5 minutes)
 Once cooled break into "icebergs"
Icebergs should be used as a garnish
Be Careful these can be surprisingly sharp and are not suitable for children
I broke off any extra sharp ends and tossed the icebergs in a bowl of powdered sugar to give them a frosty finish.
Insert icebergs into cupcakes and enjoy or
 for kid's version pop on a mini marshmallow or shredded coconut instead!

Northern Lights in a Jar

What could be a more amazing sight, than watching the Aurora Borealis flash through an arctic sky and illuminating the snowy terrain with vibrant color. Although my experience with this natural phenomenon is limited to documentaries on the National Geographic channel, I thought I'd give a nod to this feat of nature in miniature.
You'll Need:
clear glass vase or container
plastic wrap
glow sticks
glitter or faux snow 

To create this or any icy landscape in indoor temperatures, I found this ever so simple but absolutely ingenious idea for simulated ice here:
 crumpled plastic wrap simulates an ice floe
 add glow sticks

These are difficult to photograph but look fun when the lights go down!
You can set up several jars as decor around the room

vintage Russian photo:feeding polar bears


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much- lots of fun to create- I just love bears!

  2. Hi Christina, this is such a lovely post! The Northern Lights in a jar is such a fun idea :) Elisabeth xx

    1. Thanks so much!-the Northern Lights are so easy to make-I was thinking of maybe coloring the water with food coloring next time :)

  3. That is just absolutely adorable! And such a good post-christmas theme :-) Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Thanks so much! I needed to beat the January blahs lol

  5. Cute party- love all of the ice.

  6. Wow Christina! You really did your own thing for the Polar Bears! I sure like your take better than a dip in the icy ocean! The cupcakes look tasty and the hot air balloons are so sweet! All your polar bear creations are amazing. It was so kind of you to share how you did all these things too.

  7. Thanks so much! Yes, I thought I'd skip the icy dip part LOL- Thanks for your kind words!

  8. I love the bear balloons, they are so adorable! I've got to make some!

    1. Thanks so much! If you make some I'd love to see some pics! I may try some more in different animal/color combinations.

  9. Saw your party on Catch My Party and LOVE it! So cute and so many great ideas...I especially love your Northern Lights! =) Great job!
    Angie from

    1. Thanks so much Angie! I just recently found Catch My Party - what a fun site!

  10. What great inspiration and ideas in this post! I loved it! Thank you for sharing it with us at TTG. I hope you are having a wonderful week!

    1. Thanks so much! and thanks for hosting- love your blog!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this inspirational post at Simple & Sweet Fridays. So many great ideas!


    1. Thanks for hosting! I always love visiting your blog!

  12. Creative and fun! Thank you for joining Home Sweet Home!

  13. Thanks so much! and thanks for Hosting!

  14. Love the Polar Bear idea. So, cute! And, those "hot air balloons" are simply the most adorable thing I've seen. Thanks for sharing at Throwback Thursday.


    1. Thanks so much Denyse!
      These were really fun to put together -thanks for visiting- I just love visiting Throwback Thursdays!

  15. Wow! This is amazing. You are very creative and artistic. What a cool idea. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thanks Vashti-
      I had a lot of fun making them - so glad you stopped by PennyWise


Love to hear your comments and suggestions! Because of excessive spam we are currently asking for that pesky word verification