Sweet Parties: JAWS Beach Birthday Dessert Table

Foreword: We were planning to save this party until closer to summer to post but we had a special request and interest from a blog reader. We love our readers and we want you to be happy, so without further ado here is Jaws! May it wash away the winter and bathe you in the glorious warmth of the sun complete with shark sightings.

So there I am, doing my inspiration thing.  Browsing the Intarwebs, looking at Pinterest boards (more like totally getting distracted), and doodling on my idea pad.  I was well on my way to designing the perfect princess themed birthday dessert table.  The kind with loads of pink, fairy dust, and happiness strewn about. Then a single sentence changed all that.  “Can you make it a Jaws shark party instead?” Uh… My normal response to that question would most likely have been more…shall we say colorful?  But seeing as how Jaws is a cinematic classic and one of my favorite horror-ish flicks, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, plus I do enjoy a design challenge.  A Jaws dessert table isn’t one of your run-of-the-mill beach-y themes either, just as Jaws isn’t your ordinary Great White shark.  So I enlisted the help of our HD copy of Jaws on our Media Center computer.  An HD copy is great for grabbing screen shots of certain elements that I wanted to recreate on the table.  The software we use to watch our movies, VLC Media Player, has a nifty feature where you can pause the movie and nab a snap shot of the screen, much like these:

(Both of these elements are actually recreated on our table!)

Incidentally, while researching for this theme, I found out that Amity Island, the setting for Jaws, is a fictional location. No matter, Amity Island, or at least a small portion of it was brought to life in dessert table form. Before I had settled on any sort of overall design I had actually decided upon a look for our printable food tags.  
The reddish-orange and white bungalows located on the fateful Amity beaches provided me with the perfect type of details for a boardwalk scene. The final design of our printable food tags were nothing like I had originally envisioned.  This is where working with a partner can really payoff.  Originally I intended for the tags to be tent cards, but after rough sketching one and cutting it out, Heather says, “Let’s make them 3D!” Ugh… She has a certain knack for tacking on more work.  I mean…what I meant to say was that it was a totally great idea!  I even went a little (more) OCD for this project and crafted bases for the bungalows that give it a boardwalk look and feel.  Just a hundred wooden craft sticks and a glue gun and voila, boardwalk platforms! See for yourself:

Other printables that Heather designed were the “Beach Closed” warning that the Amity Police Department had erected, and the decals on the air tank that ultimately was used to take down the shark.  Our air tank was constructed from a 2-liter bottle, sprayed painted gray with a few small bits to fashion the valve knob up at the top and finished off with the printable decals. And last but not least, you can’t miss the ginormous Amity Island billboard sign that almost spans the entire length of the table.

Decor wise, I knew that I had wanted to depict a beach scene.  But how best to do that, and with what props and materials was the question.  Ultimately we decided to go with a sandy colored flat sheet to represent the beach and some IRIS dish towels (in blue) from IKEA to mimic the ocean.  We placed them on the front of the table, much like a runner, but not centered down the length of the table.  We did this to give us enough room to make the faux beach boardwalk with the 3D food tag bungalows all lined up, sitting atop their craft stick platfroms.  We rounded out the rest of the design with more props from IKEA, the extremely versatile SOLBRÄND 4 piece plate set in light blue, and the dark blue 2 pack of bowls.  And scattered about the beach-scape are seashells plucked right from the very real beaches of Myrtle Beach, SC.  Having vacationed there the week before gave us opportune time to pick up lots of beach related trinkets for the table.  We even found a shark tooth.
To make our prep-time even more complicated (Heather’s idea again) we undertook the construction of Jaws himself, in Piñata form.  We didn’t document this process since it was the first time we had ever made anything of the sort and were basically just winging it with some guidance from the Oh Happy Day blog. (They have an alligator tutorial.)  Suffice it to say that what you lack in cardboard and tape formation skill, you can make up for in covering your piñata in multitudes of fringed tissue paper.  We also used a disposable foam plate to make our Jaws scary teeth, an easy and very effective trick!

Let’s see, now that we’ve covered the printables and the decor, let us move on to the eatables. Wow, I’m very surprised that Microsoft Word’s auto spell check feature did NOT flag “eatables” as a made up word.  Ah yes, a quick stop at Google has enlightened me:  
eatable n. 1. Something fit to be eaten.
eatables 1. Food.
I digress… 

For this quaint little beach get together, that happens to also involve a man-eating shark, we went with some:
  • Sea Dogs - Just your average Hot Dog really.
  • Shark Fin - Sugar cookies with royal icing.
  • Life Preserver - Cake doughnuts, dipped in melted frosting and topped with fruit roll-ups.
  • Root Beer Barrels - Any self respecting Jaws fan knows that this is how they tracked the shark in the open ocean.
  • Shark Attack - Cupcakes, straight out of the Hello Cupcake book! 
  • Ocean Water - Blue Hawaiian Punch
  • Shark Bait - Which was a mix of Swedish Fish, Goldfish brand and shrimp flavored crackers. 
  • Shark Teeth - In the form of triangle cut tortilla chips and “Chum” salsa, complete in a chum bucket.  


About the Chum…call it crude if you must, I called it witty as hell.  Some other little touches that I think made it a must for real Jaws fans… foam plates with a shark bite cut out of them, the plastic silverware and drink cups in an oh so obvious blood red and brown sugar disguised as sand at the base of our serving pieces. We had a blast with this table, it was truly great fun to bring a classic film to life in dessert form!