Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Birthday Party: Strawberries!

There is not much cuter than a one year old on her birthday!  For this little one's birthday, we focused on strawberries and expanded with colors.  Pinks, reds and bright greens are fabulous together and really helped make this party pop.
How do you choose your party times?  It can be tricky when you're trying to avoid nap time as well as mealtimes - but the best option is to choose a time that works best for the birthday girl or boy and hope family and friends can make it.  Having a fussy birthday baby only adds stress!  For this sweet birthday girl, the party was timed just right - not around a meal and not around nap time - and everyone was happy from start to finish.
Keeping with the theme, we planned a Strawberry Shortcake Bar for the treats and it was yummy!  The homemade shortcakes fit perfectly into the cups - topped with berries and whip cream - and they were delicious!
Cupcakes are often the easiest way to serve the masses and not have a lot of prep during the party (cutting the cake, plating the cake, serving the cake).  It's super easy to place a candle on a cupcake for the birthday boy or girl, sing Happy Birthday and allow guests to choose a cupcake at their own pace.  AND there are so many fun cupcake toppers out there to choose from!  Mom ordered these fun strawberry toppers on Etsy and they were perfect!  Perfect colors, yummy taste and adorable!
For drinks, we served pink lemonade (a small touch to stick with the color scheme)!  Covering these mason jars with cupcake tins was a perfect way to keep our drinks spill proof and the green straw added a fun pop of color.
For activities, we kept it simple - one year olds can't communicate their favorite things yet, so it's sometimes refreshing to keep it simple.  A few themed coloring sheets and playing with the new toys did the trick.
Two of my favorite small touches from the party were the polka dot balloons and little pink boxes placed throughout the house to add pops of color and theme.  The other small touch were the real strawberries planted in red containers and placed throughout the party space. These small touches not only added pops of color, carrying the theme beyond the food table, but also contributed to the overall theme of the party.
Check out those awesome wall puffs!  This unique spin off the traditional hanging puffs allows the party planner to add texture and depth to a tablescape without a ladder!  They were simple to make (1/2 the work of hanging puffs) and they are so much fun!
Handmade by mommy and friends, these personalized bracelets were a fun, final touch for kids to take home.  The strawberry beads were purchased off Etsy and the beads and string were purchased at a local craft store - together, they were adorable!  We printed custom bag toppers and ta-da!  A beautiful and fun favor for the kids to take home.

This was such a fun party to attend!  What's the next party on your calendar?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Birthday Party: Star Wars

Trying to plan a fun party for your boyfriend or husband?  Let's be honest, most guys don't like big parties... to celebrate or not to celebrate - that is the question.  I say CELEBRATE!  Not many people out there (male or female) will get angry or upset when it's all about them.

One of our great friends recently turned 30... the big 3-0.  He's generally a quiet guy who doesn't like a lot of attention - but he loves Star Wars.  This isn't just a watch the movies Star Wars fan, but a read the books fan.  So, we decided to plan a Star Wars birthday party... and make it a surprise.  Shh!!!
Because it was a surprise, it was much easier to choose a neutral location for the party - and what better than a movie theater?  Our local theater has a birthday party option and it turned out to be pretty cost effective!  Not only could we bring in any movie to watch (which worked out with our theme), but they also provided drinks and popcorn to all the guests.  What kind of deals can you work at your local theater?  Choose a favorite movie and you instantly have your party theme.
Star Wars is a long movie - and because all of the guests had to work the next day, we had to start the party around dinner time.  We served all sorts of delicious and themed food!  It's amazing all the different Star Wars themed food ideas out there.
These fun cupcake toppers were handmade by a shop on Etsy and turned our adorable.  Keeping with the pops of green for color, we chose mostly Yoda toppers, but added a Darth Vader for character.  Although big cakes can be fun, cupcakes are a simple way to serve many and add to the theme.
Candy bars are a fun, tasty and inexpensive favor - especially because you can make your own label and call it good!  However, Birthday Guy is vegan - which means inexpensive milk chocolate was out of the question.  But instead of bagging the idea, we decided to make his favorite treat (peanut butter chocolate bark), wrap it in aluminum foil (which only added to the theme) and wrap with our label.  It wasn't as easy as buying store bought, but it was more cost effective - and it still turned out super fun!
Are you looking to plan a party for a special someone?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Birthday Party: Dirt Bike Dolls (& Guys)

This summer, we attended a super fun party for a fun little girl!  Miss M loves dirt, dirt bikes and playing outside - but she also loves pink, purple and everything girly!  This party mom did a great job combining the two - and pulling off a super creative party in the process.  Miss M only wanted girls at her party... at least until two days before the party... a little bit of improvising and Dirt Bike Dolls became a party for Guys AND Dolls.  I love that this party was truly about the birthday girl - it would have been super easy for mom to say invites already went out, too many kids already, etc... but she rolled with it and made it a perfect party for her little girl.

This was definitely an outside party - and we did just that, say outside!  Check out these fun party games: Unicorn Squirt involved using a squirt gun to squirt mud off a picture - first team to fully reveal and guess their animal won!  Mud Masks were just that - masks made of tasty, chocolate mud - some kids were braver than others.  The final game was an obstacle course called the Dirty Dash - there were all sorts of dirty, muddy obstacles for the kids to run through.  How fun!
Because it was a late afternoon party, there was no need to serve more than dessert - and this dessert looked the theme!  Mud pie pudding (with worms and everything) was the perfect themed dessert.
And it wouldn't be a Dirt Bike Guys & Dolls party without dirt bikes.  This little guy was taking kids for rides every chance he got!  And these bikes parked next to the party banner was a fun touch!
What a creative party!  Pick a theme for your next party and go with it - be creative!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Shower Sunday: Yellow Pinwheels & Mason Jars

I love baby showers!  There is always excitement in the air... excitement about everything!  Mommy is excited, friends are excited and family is excited.  Although I think all baby showers are fun, I especially love showers for baby number one.  There is always a bit of extra excitement (if that's even possible).  Last month, I got to help with some shower details for a friend.  Sarah is my sister's best friend and through the years, I've come to love and respect her so much!  I was able to help with her wedding and was thrilled when my sister asked if I could help with Sarah's baby shower.

We found the perfect invitations from Cate at Bella Love Letters.  We were on a time crunch and Cate worked fast and the invites were gorgeous!  We also asked her to design some thank you cards for us.

As guests arrived, they were greeted by this table.  The picture is terrible but the idea is there.  Yellow, gold, orange and light brown candies were used to create this fun candy bar for guests to enjoy during the shower and to take home as favors.  We used milk glass and clear containers to help the candy pop.
The food spread was beautiful. Emily and Amy did a great job preparing some yummy and eye catching treats.  To tie in the yellow and bring the ceiling down, we added puffs directly above the food table.  Emily's home was prefect for fabulous party flow - food in one room, mingling and gifts in another, plus a patio to expand the space.
Using the same graphics as the invites, I created some basic food tags.  I'm all about labeling food especially with all the allergies out there - plus, it's an awesome way to continue the theme with your table and make the food pack of the decor.
Emily is a gifted florist!  She has an eye for classy, simple arrangements and had small flower arrangements placed throughout the party space. 
I loved lots of little things about this shower, but my absolute favorite was the mantel.  This was a fabulous idea and I have every intention of doing it again... and again!
The pops of yellow were all pieces of one big gift basket for Sarah.  I love the use of milk glass and yellow flowers and the idea of hanging the dress, bib and socks from old painted frames.

Baby shower activities and games are always a bit tricky.  In my book, there is a fine line between tacky and classy when it comes to shower games.  We played one real game but had a couple different activities as well.
 "Finish Mommy's Sentence" is an easy way to get the guests involved, but focus on Mommy.  Because this is Sarah's first baby, it was fun to hear her answers compared to guests who have one or two kids already.

For the other activities, we collected words of advice for Sarah and Paul (Mommy and Daddy) as well as some words of advice for the baby.  We asked guests to fill them out and collected them in a jar.  We didn't read them at the shower, but gave them to Sarah to take home and enjoy reading later.  This is a fun way to involved Dad by extending the shower fun beyond the party hours.
For prizes, I wrapped fancy white chocolate bars in doilies and tied with a yellow ribbon. 
The best part of the shower was, of course, was the good company!  At the end of the day, a great party means good friends and lots of fun.  I loved watching the mommy-to-be open her presents and laugh.  Excitement was in the air!
This was one of my favorite showers to plan - I loved the location, the inspiration and the company.  Candy bars are a great way to tie in color, but the mantel decor was by far my favorite small thing about the shower.  

This was also the first time I've used a designer from Etsy and I was super impressed by the choices out there and the ease in ordering.  If you have access to a good printer, this is the way to go for invites!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Birthday: Minecraft Party

As the kids get older, cool parties are harder to come by!  The best place to be inspired is in the birthday boy or girls' hobbies and interests. My creative sister recently planned a fun party for her son that I just had to share... "Carter's 12th birthday was an easy decision.  He's totally into Minecraft this year and it was such an easy theme to work with.  Everything in the game is pixelated, very retro video game style.  So I decided to go with anything square and work from there.  I was able to find some great downloads for all the blocks and character/creatures so I spent quite a bit of time cutting and folding!  I think overall, they really pulled the theme together."

I'd have to agree! Minecraft is all the rage these days with tweens and teens and there are lots of free resources out there to help with the details.  Minecraft is a game which allows players to build anything and everything out of 3D textured cubes.  Crystal did a fabulous job pulling the party together with lots of thoughtful creativity and small touches here and there.
Click here for the Minecraft birthday banner.

The weather was beautiful, so they took the party outside!  This is a great way to expand your space when your at-home living space isn't ideal for a big gathering.  There are likely all sorts of parks and greenspaces you can take advantage of in your neighborhood.

One of my favorite ideas with any party is including the food as part of the theme and decor.  It's an easy way to add to the theme.  Crystal used the food tags to tie in the theme - notice the pictures are each made of small 3D cubes!  The food itself was based on the food that the main character, Steve, eats/cooks in the game.  Even the cake was the same as the one in the game!
Want to create your own food labels?  Look at this great font option!
Here are some of those fabulous printouts that Crystal found!
 Every party needs a favor!  Favors are not only a fun way to keep with a theme but it also extends the party for the guests!  Whether is keeping the guests busy in the car or for days to come, favors are a special way to say thank you for coming.  Crystal used bright green ("Creeper" colored) bags filled with a rubics cube, square wooden puzzles and green taffy.  Crystal and her hubby found the taffy a few weeks before the party on a weekend away - when you're planning a party, it's never too early to start picking up small things and planning ahead.
Activities are also harder to come by for older kids, but I loved the creativity of the games Crystal chose.  The first game, Creeper Tag, is a Minecraft version of capture the flag.  Simple instructions and will probably cause everyone to break a sweat on a warm day!
 The other game was Minecraft Bingo.  This spin off the classic was a hit and turned out to be a highlight for Crystal.  "My favorite part of the party was the Minecraft bingo.  It was great to see young and old enjoying a game together.  Carter's great grandmother had a blast with it, and so did Carter!"
Have you thought about creating a bingo party game for your own theme?  What a simple, fun idea!

Thank you, Crystal, for sharing your party creativity!