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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Party Like a Princess *~*~*~*~*

Pin It Now! "Mom, I want a PRINCESS party!" Chances are, any of you out there who have a daughter will likely hear that phrase at least once in your lifetime...and this happened to me just this past year.  My daughter, at age 5, is most definitely going through the "girly girl" stage, so a princess themed birthday party was going to be PERFECT!

Again, I always start with the INVITATION to help set the theme. This time, my daughter had a specific request...she wanted her invite to include a castle, flowers and a pretty dress.  I *think* I pulled it off :o)

It reads:
"Once upon a time, in a beautiful land a few miles away...
the kingdom was summoned
to celebrate Princess Ally's 5th Birthday!

You are invited to a royal celebration in honor of
Ally XXX

The grand festivities will take place on:
August 14, 2011
at 12:00 p.m.
 ~ A noble feast will be served ~

The XXX(last name) Castle is located at:
XXX (address)

Please RSVP with Queen Amy if you plan to attend this royal gala...
the castle needs to plan for your arrival

Email: XXX  Phone: XXX

This theme was a fun one when it came to DECOR...the posibilities were endless!  That being said, neither my daughter, or I, are big Disney Princess fans, so we were going for more of a general princess type of theme...think castles, jewels, etc.

We had a lot of fun turning our driveway/entrance into a whimsical castle-type entrance...including a ribbon tree (we just cut long pieces of pink tulle and tied them to random branches on the tree) looks really pretty blowing in the wind. We also cut out a castle out of poster board to put "Ally's Castle" on it and I also found a princess crown stamp to add a little extra touch to it.

Inside, we had some simple touches here and there, like taking an extra mirror we had and writing "Mirror Mirror on the Wall" with lipstick on it. On the food table, I added some "royal jewels" that I found in the craft section of Michaels (that my daughter then used for projects after the they did not go to waste ;o).

In my opinion, every princess needs a throne ;o), so I took a white tablecloth and used it as a chair cover and bought a roll of wide hot pink ribbon that I then used as a chair tie. I added a couple safety pins to the back and...voila, a throne! The "royal staff" (i.e. wand) that is laying on the chair I found in the dollar bins at Target.

I think that my daughter's DRESS and ACCESSORIES were just as much part of the decor as everything else.  I was really excited when I found this Hello Kitty tutu type dress at Macy's on sale (again, major bargain hunter here ;o) was perfect! Her outfit was topped off with a crown, necklace and clip on earring set that I found at Claires.  We completely lucked out that I found the castle balloons at our local dollar store, it fit the theme perfectly!

The CAKE was simple, but I felt fit the theme well.  It was very easy to make and decorate...which was the best part! After icing the cake, I used a toothpick to make the markings on the cake in a basketweave pattern. I then used some pearl sugar beads and put them in each of the intersections to dress it up a bit. I put some white piped icing around the edge and then to finish it off, I placed the crown and wand on top (both bought from a party supply store).  Simple as that!

Some other "EXTRAS" that we had were disposable plastic pedestal "wine glasses" (that we served either juice, water or milk in for the kids ;o) that I found at the dollar store (I wanted for the kids to feel like they were being 'fancy'). We also gave each of the kids a light up ring pop that also fit with the theme.

The only photo the I had of the glasses from the party was pretty blurry for some reason, so I also found a pic online and posted a pic so you could get a better look.  I believe that they were 5 glasses for $1.

In the end, our little princess was happy, so I think that our "Royal Ball" was a big success!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Watermelon Themed Birthday Party...

Pin It Now! Nothing screams summer more than WATERMELON! Having a daughter that has an August birthday AND who absolutely loves watermelon, made coming up with a watermelon themed birthday party pretty easy :o)

To me, an INVITATION to any event sets the tone to the entire party...even before it starts.  Therefore, I always make sure to design the invite to mimic the party theme.  Are there some cute store bought invites that can be used?  Sure. But, I always feel that it's much more special to make my own invites...not to mention that it is SO easy and inexpensive!

This invite took maybe 1/2 hour total to design (I use InDesign because that is the program that I am used to using at work, but you could also use Photoshop, Publisher, etc...whatever you are comfortable with). idea of good decor is one that is eye catching, stays with the theme, but is also easy to execute (and if the kids can help, even better!).   Here are a couple of decor ideas that I had for our watermelon party...

The kids help me make these watermelon signs that we hung on the front door...we also had some extra construction paper and black poms for the kids (nieces and nephews) to make some watermelons of their own during the party...

Something as simple as changing out the placemats (I found these at the Dollar Store, by the way), can really change the look of the house...

Balloons are an easy way to get a lot of bang for your buck...not to mention that the kids LOVE them! Now, for work events, I am honestly not a big balloon fan, but for something as fun as festive as a kids  birthday party, they are just the ticket! Since I could not find any watermelon shaped balloons, I figured that I woudl just make my own, by taking regular latex balloons and use a sharpie to make the dots...voila! Instant watermelon balloons!

FOOD...I always want to make sure that the food fits the theme as well, and for watermelon I thought a picnic style lunch (dollar sandwiches, chips, etc) was perfect. Adding something fun like a homeade fruit kabob display was also a great way to add decor through food (and the kids LOVED to eat them...perfect portions). Serving in picnic baskets, adding gingham prints, etc. really ties in the theme as well.

What is a birthday party without a CAKE? I made an attempt at making a 'watermelon' cake, which was actually a strawberry flavored cake (I wanted it to be pink) with mini chocolate chips mixed in (for the 'seeds'). I frosted it in pinkish/red icing on top, covered in mini chocolate chips (for 'seeds') and then green icing around the outside, covered in watermelon flavored jelly beans. (FYI - since I do so many different things with my parties, I make my life easy when it comes to the cake and always use a boxed cake mix and generally use a store bought icing and then just alter it with food coloring as needed. However, if you are ambitious, by all means, make homemade!).

I had leftover batter, so I decided to make some cupcakes!  I topped them in either green or pinkish/red icing and a watermelon gummy candy slice (found at a bulk candy store...bulk candy stores are a GREAT place to go when you are looking for "theme" type candies by the way). I wanted to display them in kind of a special way, so put them on wine glasses turned upside down :o)

One of the fun perks of having a little girl is being able to dress her up! Finding a "perfect" DRESS or OUTFIT for her birthday party is no exception.  I am a HUGE bargain shopper though, so I will generally buy ahead seasons (i.e. get items off the sales racks this summer for next summer...hoping I get the size right ;o). I was really lucky that I found this adorable watermelon dress on sale from Gymboree that I held on to for her party (I sometimes will even use that to help me think of a odd as that may sound).

FUN....As I mentioned before, I am not big on games and such at parties since I feel that giving kids time to run and play outside and just enjoy being together is the most important. However, I do always make sure to have at least one or two craft activities available for the kids to do if they wish.  As I mentioned earlier, I had some materials for them to make their own watermelons with construction paper and black pom poms, but I also LOVE using the foam items for crafts.  This time I found the great foam sun visors, which were perfect for this hot sunny day!  I then had several differnt stickers available for them to decorate (ABCs, flowers, fish, etc.) as well as markers. The kids had a lot of fun making their own visor...AND this was their take away item (in place of a goody bag).

We also had some outdoor water activities set up for the kids (as we always do for my August baby's birthday party), including a pool, sprinklers, etc. Since it was such a hot day, we even decided to put up our tent in a shaded part of the yard so that the kids would have a place to get out of the sun and play.  The little girls LOVED getting their dolls and playing in their little "house" out in the backyard :o)

Remember, try to use the resources that you have around you...and keep it simple! :o)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Butterfly Garden Birthday Party

Pin It Now! Ok, let's talk birthday parties!  Anyone who knows me knows that I am ALL about coming up with themes for my kids' birthday parties, then making just the perfect cake and having decor down to the littlest's just what I do :o)

I have a lot of party themes to share, but let's start with the Butterfly Garden birthday party theme that I had for my daughter's 4th birthday.

I should start by saying that this party was mainly for family (although several young cousins were in attendance), so there were not a ton of games and such involved as there would be for a "friend party."

When selecting a theme, I always think about what my child has interests in at that given time...and at that time, my daughter was ALL about butterflies!

So, let's delve into the details...


I will start by saying that I'm not a fan of fondant, so I always find designs and such that I know I can accomplish by using just regular icing and decorating tools.  For this cake, I used regular white icing (I used store bought) and then used spray green icing over it for a fun effect, followed by swirls using a green gel icing pen. I finished the cake off by making icing flowers of various colors (using a flower tip)...then a white sugar bead in the middle of each flower to add a little *sparkle*. 

The butterflies are actually hairclips that I ordered online, but I felt fit the theme perfectly.  I simply wrapped the clip part in Press n Seal and that was the portion that touched the cake.  I wanted to ensure that once everything was said and done, that my daughter could still use the clips as hairpieces.


Since my kids birthdays are in months that the weather is generally nice outside, I always like to not only decorate inside the house, but also include some decor outside so that guests can sense the theme as they pull up to the house.

Wide angle shot of outdoor decor

Close up of butterflies

Butterfly #1

Butterfly #2

Butterfly #3

Above are some pictures of the butterflies we put ont he garage door. I simply purchased packets of plain white cardboard butterfly cut outs from Michaels Craft Store and the kids and I used our imaginations to color them in different designs/patterns.  I always try to incorporate the kids into the outdoor party decor in some way and they have now gotten to the point where they look forward to it each year...and we all have A LOT of fun doing it! Butterfly #1 was mine, Butterfly #2 was my son's and Butterfly #3 was my daughter's :o) 

Lawn decor

Here is a photo of the butterflies that we had in the lawn.  I actually found these in the floral department of my local grocery store for VERY cheap!  They were using them as decor in the midst of their flowers and I asked if they were for sale and she said yes, so I snatched a few up!  These later became decor in my daughter's bedroom...which has a summer garden theme.

Heading back inside, we incorporated the butterflies as well.  I apologize for the fuzziness of this photo, but I wanted to show you how we used fishing line to hang some butterflies (again, from the floral department of the grocery store) above our food area to make it look as if they were flying:

Hanging butterflies

It's become a tradition to get decorative balloons for the kids' birthdays, so for this party, what better balloon to get than a huge butterfly?!?!  It was incorporated into a floor height balloon bouquet and we had it sitting next to my daughter as she opened gifts...that way it would get in all of the photos as well (tying in the theme).  My daughter LOVED it!


Since this party took place during the summer months, it was a perfect opportunity to take advantage of outdoor water activities.  We had our pool up, slip n slide and sprinkler available in different spots throughout the yard for the kids to run to at their liesure.  I'm a BIG fan of doing things such as these as opposed to feeling the need to play games. Let's the kids run and get some exercise!

Cannon ball!


I do not have a picture of it, but I always try to have some type of art or craft type of item for the kids to create and then they can take home with them.  For this party, I purchased little notebooks with the foam covers (found at a craft store) and then bought a variety of foam stickers (ABCs so they could add their name, butterfly/flowers, googly eyes, etc.). I let them decorate however they would like (usually while I'm cleaning up from lunch, before presents). The kids are always proud of their work AND they have something useful that they can take home (and it's not a bunch of candy or goody bag 'junk' as I like to call it)!

Last, but not least, a little girl cannot have a birthday party without the *perfect* outfit!  Here is the outfit that my daughter actually picked out herself (from JCPenny)...she has gotten SO much use out of this outfit (helps to have a girly girl ;o)

Party outfit

I hope this this helps give you some ideas!  Stay tuned for more party/theme ideas!...