The Inaugural 5th Birthday Carnival Party

Gallery

SONY DSC

Almost immediately after finishing my daughter’s Dora the Explorer 4th Birthday Fiesta I began thinking about her 5th birthday. I wasn’t trying to rush the calendar or anything but I had officially been bitten by the birthday planning bug and just a few months after she turned 4 she started preschool and began making friends. I found myself trying to dream up fun ideas to make her 5th birthday party extra special for her. I ruled out a few ideas before settling somehow on a carnival theme.

I must make 2 distinct notes at this point:

1st- This was almost 11 years ago and Pinterest was not a thing yet.

2nd- The plethora of themes available at your average party supply store today (rock star, fiesta, disco, hoe down, awards show, CARNIVAL/ Circus, ect. ect. ect.) is a vast improvement from the party themes available ready made a decade ago…….trust me I searched.

I make these 2 distinctions because I must relay that I had to really do work and put in time back then scouring page after page of search results looking for inspiration and then “Collecting” the ideas via “copying” images of inspiration and “pasting” them into a Word document creating a collaboration I called my Party Boards.

This is what I consider to be the more structured beginning of my My Fool Proof 6 Point Party Planning Steps. As I scoured for ideas I looked in these 6 categories, or steps as I had in the past as described in my previous blogs in this Party Plan Series.

Winnie the Pooh 1st Birthday, the one that started it all…

Classic Princess Party for a 2nd Birthday

Blues Clue’s 3rd Birthday Party

Dora the Explorer 4th Birthday Fiesta

Eventually I grew more efficient in my research stage but at this juncture in my party planning evolution it was still a semi time consuming process to research and create my Party Boards. The creation of Pinterest was a HUGE time saver for me (only AFTER I learned how to keep that hobby under control though. Read about that HERE in an upcoming blog about Putting a “pin” in a Pinterest Problem before it begins!) In the case of this carnival birthday I began searching for ideas in stores and online 4 months out from the big day and realized quickly that within my meager budget (especially because by this point we were renting a house of our own finally!) and considering the limitations on inexpensive and/or disposable carnival themed birthday items available, I needed to get crafty. If the things I had gotten used to just buying ready made were proving difficult to find then I decided to get in tune with the “Me” before “Mom”. That person was a super creative, 4 year Fine Art student obsessed with crafting or creating art and when that person was crowned “Mother” she tucked away those supplies (and inherently talents) in a closet long ago.  This party was the perfect reason to open that closet and pull it all back out. This party will go down in my history as the “Crown Jewel” of my “mommy crown” that brought the “Me” back out of me. So let’s get down to the details…

Theme?

I was fully committed at this point to replicating a carnival in honor of my little girl. By this point that was all I knew. I didn’t quite know what to expect myself to actually pull off but I was committed…….even more so after my step sisters gifted my daughter & my oldest nephew a combined gift of a personal home inflatable bounce house………(yes I did say step sisters. If you caught that, then yes it had become official a few months before Christmas that year and it was exciting and fun to have sisters for the first time…..but back to the topic at hand.) The gifting of this bounce house in December solidified the plan, gave me 4 solid months to prep & plan ahead and added a fun new level to this carnival theme! With the creative part of me unlocked for the first real time in over 5 years it gets really FUN! Hold on tight, I went all the way with this theme……

Where.

As previously mentioned, we were renting a house by this point in our life, we had moved in just a few months before Christmas also. We were renting a 2 story house with a kitchen large enough for a table & chairs to fit comfortably AND a dining room.  We had a good sized living room & a partially finished basement and we felt like our space was huge! Thanks to the size of the house and a front yard large enough to use for guest parking and a little back deck, backyard & two car garage I felt equipped to entertain at my own house this time. With more time to prep the space I got moving as soon as the snow melted and began cleaning up the yard & flowerbeds as well as organizing our garage (in case we had rain & needed outdoor cover since my oldest daughters birthday is in early May this always has to be a consideration).

When..

I wanted maximum attendance from our family & family friends and we were inviting friends from her preschool class so I went with a Saturday afternoon, the day after her actual birthday and not a school day. I planned for this party to be longer in time than the ones I had previously planned because there was going to be a lot to do so it started just afternoon and went well into the early evening, but we were again blessed with beautiful weather so that helped the fun continue seamlessly.

Decorations…

We started a few hours before the party on the task of inflating helium balloons to adorn the railing of our back deck, the canopy cover for the eating area, and various other places through out the party to create a festive feel to our outdoor space. I also began working weeks in advance on painting signs for the various games & stations of our “Carnival” including this welcome sign!

SONY DSC

Welcome Sign

SONY DSC

View from the back deck where our grill & concession stand were located.

Food & Beverage….

For the food I decided to go with a concession stand theme like you would find at a school or local church carnival.

SONY DSC        SONY DSC

We set up a 6 foot tale in the middle of the deck and had food offerings lines up buffet style. I had positioned my grill on the other side of the table with my brother graciously volunteering to man the grill, cranking out burgers and hot dogs as needed.  I had prepared popcorn in bright colorful paper bags already portioned out to minimize waste and so it could be grabbed on the go easily. At the time my aunt owned a small bar & restaurant and hooked me up with the use of her nacho cheese warmer & ladle so we had authentic nacho’s readily available as needed and I had purchased a box of soft pretzels from our wholesale club and had a few batches of those cycling in and out of my oven right in the kitchen during the main food portion of the day.

SONY DSC

As for drinks I went with bottles of water, cans of soda and little juice barrels for the kids. All in all the food was a raging success and went off very smoothly and I was happy to have offered a new variety of choices a little outside the normal, pizza, chips & cake offered so frequently at kids parties.

Entertainment…..

As for entertainment, well the whole party was really the entertainment. I had come up with a handful of game ideas that I could easily replicate at home (as referenced in the signs above) and those were space out through out the back portion of our driveway and in the front of the garage doors. Games like:

  1. Balloon Pop – I had taken a small piece of mdf and taped blown up balloons across it offering 3 beginner darts to the children to attempt to pop a balloon.
  2. Bean Bag Toss – We had a small tic tac toe bean bag toss game that had been previously gifted to my daughter and we set that out allowing the kids to use beanbags to try to flip 3 in a row!
  3. Ring Toss – For this I simply purchased a set of pool rings and 6 2 liters of the cheapest soda on the shelf. I chose 3 orange sodas and 3 grape sodas and set them up like bowling pins letting the kids try to ring the top of the bottles!
  4. Sitting Ducks – I had been lucky enough to find an inflatable kiddie pool shaped like a duck and then I found 2 sets of rubber duckies in the baby bath department. I took paint markers and painted dots on the bottom of the little duckies in one of 3 different colors and the kids got to pull 3 ducks to determine the prize! 
  5. Ring of Fire – This was the most time consuming of all the games. I took a standard hula hoop and cut out construction paper flames in red, yellow & orange and them taped them around the hoop. The finished product was cute and was the perfect Ring of Fire for a stuffed lion tiger to be tossed through!

We had also set up a face painting station that my new twin stepsisters had offered to work during the party!

SONY DSC SONY DSC

My step sister Jennie painting my little girls face and discussing some other face painting options some of the other little guests

SONY DSC

My sweet birthday girl with her face painting creation!

Then there was the BOUNCE ZONE! We had set up the small inflatable bounce house just off to the side of the covered eating area where the adults spent a good portion of the time so that there was always plenty of supervision and we limited it to 2 children at a time to ensure safe fun, but the kids sure did enjoy it!

The last activity planned was a photo op that I had thought up. With help from my father we designed an easy to assemble and easy to store solution and he purchased the supplies and assisted me in the cutting and construction portion (because truth be told I am a little scared of power tools). I had worked for a few hours on in the last few weeks before the party sketching it and painting it. I don’t pride myself of drawing lifelike people so the sketching was almost agonizing enough for me to quit but I persevered through my doubts and completed it for an enjoyable photo op that you will see again in future parties.

SONY DSC

My goofball brother posing as a clown in my homemade photo op spot!

Now if you have read my previous parties then you know this is where I normally sum up the party, the special moments and offer any last minute tips of my own before sending you off to be creative yourself, but as I have warned, THIS PARTY CHANGED ME! Besides just embellishing the theme into more areas of the party I also added a new step to my planning so don’t go away yet!

THIS IS A NEW STEP!

I explain the addition in an amendment to my original post about My Fool Proof  6 Point Party Planning Steps (referenced in link above)

Favors……

In all of my past parties the favors were an afterthought, something I did because as a parent that’s what I was obligated to do and candy & crumby little plastic toys were what you filled those little bags with right?

*** Now I want to make a side point here, I know that to give favors or not to give favors can be a questionable topic. I understand that celebrating birthdays isn’t just about material things. I also have been blessed to have a family who REALLY enjoy giving gifts, sometimes to the point of excess, and because of that I have always felt that favors at a child’s birthday are not any different from favors at a wedding. They are meant as an immediate gift of gratitude for not just bringing a present of monetary value, but ALSO and more importantly to me, as a Thank You for their presence and for making the time in their life to come celebrate with us! I discuss this more in further depth in this upcoming post “Favors…to do & what not to do” If favors isn’t your thing great, if they are then enjoy this additional blog & this added step will be a fun step for you to look forward to in future party blogs of mine!***

Back to the topic at hand… Favors! I decided to re-imagine our party favors this year in keeping with the theme, so naturally I decided on a prize table where the kids could take the tickets they had “won” participating in the games and redeem them for prizes. Now I was not very strict or observant of the actual redemption since the children were all with the company of their parents I just let parents do the general management of their child’s choices. I set out a variety of useful yet fun items like pencils, plastic sunglasses and small bubbles with a few candy options mixed in like suckers and smarties.

SONY DSC

Our Prize Table!

The fun part was that I had enjoyed planning this party so much, and was actually already expecting our second daughter at the time of this party so I made a plan all the way back then to make the Carnival a tradition for our children for their 5th birthdays so packed up all the leftover prizes, game components, signs and our photo opportunity for our next carnival almost 6 years away. All in all the party was a tremendous success

and my little lady had her “Absolute Best Birthday Yet!” …………but I had unleashed a monster in myself so that title would forever be up for grabs with each additional birthday party I organized and the gift bag in the front of her gift pile gives a little hint to her next birthday theme! As always use this as inspiration to step outside of your own party bubble and try some new things, it pays of in the moment and it pays off in the memories I promise! Now go be creative and as always…

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Dora the Explorer 4th Birthday Fiesta

Gallery

dora-explorer-party-supplies-invitations-1As my daughter  began to learn to speak (and read) more and more words, became more and more physically independent and started developing her own opinion more and more, these two chipper characters from the invitation above became what felt like permanent fixtures in my life. Around the time her infatuation with that cute Blue dog from her Blues Clue’s 3rd Birthday Party began to slow down her love of all things Dora the Explorer began! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Dora as much as the next person but my little girl became a walking, talking little mimic of Dora the Explorer, her little pal Boots and of course the Map!

“I’m the Map, I’m the Map” she would bellow at the top of her lungs anytime it got stuck in her head, which was on the daily because she rapidly desired nothing for her TV time EXCEPT Dora. I don’t know if it was the Spanish lessons that were incorporated into the show that made it more interesting to her or what it was, but she loved it. The catchy songs definitely stayed in her brain and on her lips better than the Spanish did though! [After 1 year of Honors Spanish 1 as an 8th grader, she couldn’t wait to move to French this year as a freshman! I had a good laugh to myself about that.]

So I began to plan my little girl a Mexican inspired Fiesta to celebrate her quatro cumpleanos (4th birthday)! There wasn’t a lot to choose from in the party stores back then for themed parties so I had to get creative.

Now if you have read either of my first few blogs in this Kid’s Birthday Party Blog Marathon:

Winnie the Pooh 1st Birthday, the one that started it all…

Classic Princess Party for a 2nd Birthday

Blues Clue’s 3rd Birthday Party

then the format I will use is familiar to you, if you have not yet read them be sure to use the links above to check them out! Below is my My Fool Proof 6 Point Party Planning Steps to use when outlining and organizing your party goals! Now let’s get to the details!

Theme?

Yes, this was an easy one also, Dora the Explorer silly!  Fiesta style of course! Mother Nature agreed with this as well giving us a beautiful scorcher of a day! The day of the party we had 80 degree temps which is rare for Northeast Ohio in early May!

Where.

Still living in the same quaint 2 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath apartment that my mother had intended to lease just for herself before my little family crashed it, again my step dad offered up his home for me to use saving party room rental fees. He was not yet my step dad but as my mom’s significant other of a few years still but it still made financial sense. (This is a recurring pattern until the Inaugural 5th Birthday Carnival Party blog that is coming next!) We planned in advance to have the party outside on the deck (due to one of the activities I had planned) and had prepared our guests to dress accordingly for the weather with a little note in the invitations.

When..

We chose a Saturday afternoon again and looking back couldn’t be happier that we did because the weather was GORGEOUS!!!!

Decorations…

Though my party planning had begun to evolve by this point I still had yet to discover the beauty of creating an atmosphere for your celebration. I was good to go with the store bought birthday sign, latex balloons & that infamous crepe paper; for this event though I did add a pinata! It seemed suited to the Fiesta vibe we were going for!

Below are some pictures of the traditional retail selections that I used. I included some really cute, easy and affordable alternates for you to try if you feel creative.
Also keep a look out for an upcoming blog that details my Pro’s & Con’s of Store Bought vs. Creatively Led Kid’s Birthday’s.
If you try any of these ideas I would love to see pictures or hear stories about how they turned out! Please share!

 

Food & Beverage…..

So this is the department that I first began to evolve my party planning routine . Not coincidentally, it was about this point in my life that as a new mom to a little one finally eating regular food, I began to step outside of the box in the kitchen. It was at this age myself, early twenties, that I started trying to replicate dishes I had enjoyed out to eat at a restaurant, getting creative myself in the kitchen with new to me ingredients and all together stepping outside of the meals I had grown used to eating growing up. Thus for this birthday I threw away the sheet pizza, chips, veggie try combo and got a little creative…

I decided to take on a quesadilla bar, with a “Fiesta Salad” similar to this one from The Food Network and chips, salsa & guacamole offered as sides. I also had made sugar cookie taco’s as a light alternative to the traditional cake & ice cream. I still had cupcakes planned for the candles to sit on & for the kids, but I thought this would bring a sweet, fresh addition. This isn’t an exact recipe but it replicates what I did perfectly. The only change I would make now would be to soften a little cream cheese & whip that with the heavy cream. Mmmmmmm, sounds yummy! Whenever I am craving something sweet, although I would much rather a chocolate bar or a piece of cake, I can sometimes make myself choose the healthier, fruit option to make my body feel better rather than worse.     The quesadilla bar was basically made to order quesadilla’s topped with their choice of dip or extras. The selection I offered was, cheese, thin diced chicken breast, peppers & onions, tomatoes, sour cream & the salsa & guacamole too. I set up the toppings buffet style similar to this picture  quesadilla bar!! great for summer..make quesadillas on the grill :)and was pumping out made to order quesadilla’s two at a time using an Electric Griddle like the one pictured below but an older model that my mother had given me for Christmas.

Presto 07062 22" Electric Griddle w/removable handles - Ceramic, Black

Presto 07062 22″ Electric griddle w/removable handles – Ceramic, Black

Here’s a fun take on this idea using a Open Face Mexican Pizza concept instead.

Open-Faced Enchilada Quesadillas | Recipe By Photo

This Momma here had some cute alternative ideas for her daughter’s Dora Birthday food

Food-One

Entertainment……

For this birthday party I had a cardboard Dora the Explorer playhouse that my daughter had been given as an early birthday present so we set it up in the grass portion of the backyard and let the kids all collectively create a full size work of art and then play in it afterwards. It was a perfect way to entertain them until we were ready to do the pinata & the presents. I had just purchased plastic goody bags again and filled them with party store plastic party favors but this is a super cute idea for some Backpack Goody Bags

ca6454f7a9e48c0afff820f4b97ca3c9                    Backpack Goody Bags

These backpack goody bags could be done in orange for Dora’s cousin Diego’s backpack too in case you are looking for a little boy alternative!!!

Though I joke about her obsession and I am so very grateful that the phase only lasted a few years, I do look back on this birthday with a different kind of fondness. It was the first party that she had a fair amount of her own friends and playmates in attendance and she was really beginning to enjoy the celebration of her birthday in a new, interactive way. I also think back fondly on this party because I stepped out of my normal routine and ultimately took on a little bit of a challenge and it went very well. This party gave me just the boost of confidence I needed to begin approaching my events from a totally different perspective! So in your party planning, my best advice is to not be afraid to take a reasonable risk every now and then cause you may wind up suprised! I stress reasonable though because if you take too big an uncalculated risk it could be a disaster! Don’t jump on any idea, weigh the pro’s & cons and if it is really that intimidating then don’t try it for the first time at the party! Happy Planning!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Snow Camping with Kids

Gallery

So when it comes to family memories my family loves to make them by way of celebrating birthdays, milestones, holidays and family traditions like they are our very first priority. Whenever possible we make them top priority above work and other worldly focuses. I have been blogging this past week about my evolution of party planning through the timeline of my children’s birthdays over the last 15 years. I am taking a brief break from that topic to bring to you our current family adventure! (Don’t worry, I will resume the birthdays on Monday with my first really fun party!)


Today we headed out on what is a new to us family tradition, “Kids Trout Season”. You, see for practically as long as my husband can remember he has been heading up to Tidioute PA to camp on the  Mountains for the beginning of the local Trout Fishing Season. He started going as a child, about 5 years old, and they would camp at his grandparents camp house not far from their families favorite fishing creek. A whole bunch of the cousins & uncles would be there too & they would wake up super early and fish the morning away while Grandma cooked breakfast back at the house. They would commence a long weekend of fishing, food & family.

The tradition fell dormant for a few years after my husband’s grandparents began getting to be of a difficult age to maneuver the weekend and eventually were left with the need to sell the property for their own care. Sadly we were not able to manage maintaining it within the family. After what I assume was a painful break of about 4 years that my husband chose not to attend trout fishing season at all, he finally decided to make his return a number of years ago with a select few guys. Just like that it was an annual tradition, morphed into a guys trip.

It has become a huge success for him & his friends and they always enjoy themselves but he always expressed a sadness that it was not the family event that it was when he was a child. Last year, in my husbands incredibly thorough preparation and research of the fishing & stocking reports in that area in the months & weeks leading up to the guys trip, he discovered that PA was beginning a Youth Mentored Fishing Day the week before his annual guys trip. Immediately the wheels began turning in his head and the first annual “Kids Trout Season” was hatched. I was unable to attend last year because our youngest daughter was too young for the incredibly cold and potentially snowy forecast so I stayed home with her. My husband and a good friend of ours took our oldest 3 girls up for a 3 days 2 nights camping/fishing adventure. I will have to do a future blog, featuring my 15 year old as a guest blogger, about that because they had some great stories and got some awesome pictures.  This year I will be blogging my way through my first ever “Kids Trout Season” so for tonight I will show you pictures of how my husband sets up a camp with my girls while my  good friend Timmy & I set up a camp kitchen.
This is our camp from the road…

Above is our camp from behind near the creek that runs next to our favorite spot….

From near the bridge for the road to cross the creek…

…and because we camp I the middle of the Allegheny National Park there aren’t predetermined camp sites & bath houses being in the middle of the forest and mountains out of service we have to be very primitive so we have created a bathroom for my little ladies to have some privacy. Below is our potty corner…

…and this is how two foodies prep for a kitchen camp. Keep in mind the quantities are also in preparation of the guys trip that begins Tuesday so we don’t plan . Consume that much in 3 days! This is to feed a dozen guys for an addition 3-5 days addition fierce my kiddo’s and I leave Sunday afternoon.



One if the cooking racks set up in our fire pit…

And who says a girl can’t coordinate & still look good while camping! This is my #2 daughter helping prep for the dinner fire. Tomorrow the fishing adventure begins now that we have fishing licenses in hand & a functional camp  set up! So I’m gonna post this before we head back up to no reception at camp & I will be posting available again tomorrow with our fishing adventures details!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Blues Clue’s 3rd Birthday Party

Gallery

Who remembers Blue’s Clues? It was a very popular Nick jr. television show that blended live actors with a bunch of animated (and talking) household items and a very friendly little dog named Blue. The premise of the show was that the live character would have a problem that needed solved or fixed and it seemed this sweet Blue Dog was super smart because Blue would leave paw prints on objects in their world as “clue’s” to help his owner figure out his dilemma. The “He” in the show changed over the course of the show being on the air but neither of the guys were meant to be very bright, needing much assistance from the audience to spot the clues and figure out their meaning. He had a little spiral notepad that he would use to draw his clues so in some regard each episode was a mini virtual scavenger hunt with a few little drawing lessons mixed in before you had all the clues and could celebrate solving the problem with a witty little song.

The show no longer airs any new episode’s but you can still find repeats on Nick jr, and you can stream full episodes online HERE! It was a pretty cute show with some catchy tunes that planted themselves in your head & didn’t leave easily. The show aired new episodes from 1998 -2007 and grew to be quite popular at that time…………and my oldest daughter loved her some Blue’s Clues. Being born in the middle of this media trend she quickly fell in love with that sweet little blue dog. She would watch it for hours while she played if I let her and she was always interacting with the show. From the moment she could begin making sounds in return she was trying to help solve the problem, in the middle of playing she would walk up to the TV hurried to point out the paw prints (which signifies a clue!) and once she could hold a crayon she had to have her own “Handy Dandy Notebook” for clue’s! Honestly I accredit her early talking and problem solving skills to this show because from the moment she fell in love with it her skills in those departments vastly increased. {I really do advocate finding repeats for your little one to fall in love with if streaming isn’t an available option. You could check some thrift shops too, maybe find a DVD of episode’s to bring out occasionally for rainy day fun!} With her growing love for Blue and the ease of finding the Blue’s Clues party products in every retail store when my daughter was approaching her 3rd birthday, it seemed like a no brainer to do a Blue’s Clues Birthday Party.

{Now here is where I fess up…………I was not always as creative as I have become when it comes to party planning. I never had big blow out birthday parties as a child, in fact due to my location in Northeast Ohio and the timing of my birthday being just before Christmas, a number of my birthdays wound up getting cancelled due to weather. Thus I had never thought to insert an extreme amount of creativity into these gatherings. Because of this I will be including in the breakdown of the details some incredibly cute ideas that I DID NOT THINK OF back then but wish I had!}

Now if you have read either of my first few blogs in this Kid’s Birthday Party Blog Marathon:

Winnie the Pooh 1st Birthday, the one that started it all…

or

Classic Princess Party for a 2nd Birthday

then the format I will use is familiar to you, if you have not yet read them be sure to use the links above to check them out! Below is my My Fool Proof 6 Point Party Planning Steps to use when outlining and organizing your party goals! Let’s get to the details!

Theme?

Yes, this was an easy one. Blue would be the color palette and that cute little dog would tie it all together.

Where.

Still living in the same quaint 2 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath apartment that my mother had intended to lease just for herself before my little family crashed it, again my step dad offered up his home for me to use saving party room rental fees. He was not yet my step dad but as my mom’s significant other of a few years by this point  but it made financial sense. (This is a recurring pattern until the Inaugural 5th Birthday Carnival Party we are quickly approaching!)

When..

I once again chose a Saturday afternoon near her birthday since her actual birthday once again fell on a weekday and it fit into the schedule for softball. You see softball was even more encompassing of our life at that point, with my sweet husband and our close friend playing across more than 5 or so different leagues that Spring. Being in a transition point in his life our friend was in need of an easy & encouraging friend support system and a couch to use to crash on the regular and he had become a very big piece of my daughter’s world at the cusp of her 3rd birthday so he absolutely HAD to be in attendance! The party had to work into “Joe Dear’s” schedule. Her favorite pal had to be there.

Decorations…

Due to the space constraints that naturally occur when 4 adults & a 2 1/2 year old are living in a “quaint” apartment, I didn’t have the space to accommodate crafting sessions. I didn’t have the budget due to our continued financial restraints that had only been complicated by a back injury my husband had endured that had subsequently changed his work capabilities. With these external situations effecting my party budget severely, I went the route that I believed at the time to be the less expensive route.

I made a quick stop at that same favorite discount party supply store and picked up some cute Blue’s Clues themed paper products that didn’t look exactly like the ones pictured below but were close. I also opted to get reusable plastic cups identical to the one below to hold the favors. I picked up some small character cutouts to adorn the walls, a birthday banner, some paper party hats, and a handful of Blue’s Clues themed favor cup fillers including mini “Handy Dandy Notebooks” like the one pictured below, and off I went to the toy store to pick up her present(s). Below the pictures of the traditional retail selections, I included some really cute, easy and affordable alternates if you feel creative.  Also keep a look out for an upcoming blog that details my Pro’s & Con’s of Store Bought vs. Creatively Led Kid’s Birthday’s. If you try any of these ideas I would love to see pictures or hear stories about how they turned out! Please share!

e649a0554543915dc8e2bcd44def24df43a37a500161f0990215a8bdf012af9991d95c47aa45f40a1a4ec5f01a9af490b5a81667e445ad33974fe68ec2c2afd43701f458609430017431306e60d1195d6d23156065923b79f312fd7372a62901

 

 c473be4d030ef31e71b09545d10cd629 Blues Clues Table house:

A tablescape as I call it, is an easy way to transform your party space. Like this Cute & Easy Backdrop & Tabletop Mailbox . Another one of my favorite ways to easily infuse your theme into the atmosphere of your party is by creating simple & inexpensive centerpieces.  You could get some colored popcorn style boxes, some tissue paper and a few dowel rods to create a cute centerpiece like the one above using a few extra party plates! they can even go home with guests as an additional favor! If you wanted to get really crafty and you can sew, then why not create a Tablecover Play Blue’s House!? It will not only add the perfect touch to the party atmosphere but it will be super fun for your little guests to play together with too! Decorations that double as an activity are always a great idea.

Food & Drink….

I didn’t get terribly creative with the food for this party and looking back through this process, this is the part of my party planning evolution that irritates me the most because it’s my favorite way to incorporate a theme into a party now! Since my same old pizza, veggie try & chips is utterly boring (perhaps practical but boring nonetheless) I will instead fill this section with really cute ideas I was able to find while searching for this blog & I will link you to the original source wherever possible! Enjoy and as always if you replicate something I would love to see it so share your experiences!

blue's clues cupcakes:  Blue's Clues party - the use of dog bowls. Foods like Bow-wow-nies, pupcorn... Cute doggie bags as favors:

 Blues Clues Birthday Party Ideas | Photo 1 of 36 | Catch My Party:  Wayward Girls' Crafts: Blue's Clues Party- contd.:

A bunch of two-tone blue paw print cupcake looks cute and is an easy & delicious way to address your birthday cake. Dog dishes can be purchased brand new (so they are sure to be sanitary) from you favorite dollar store to be used as serving dishes like demonstrated here. Whether you serve bone shaped cookies or finger sandwiches the dishes can be widely used so $1 is most advised, then donate them to a local shelter when the party is through! Ms. Salt & Mr. Pepper are simple easy additions too with a set of shakers from the dollar store, I would use puffy paint though personally over the marker because then they can be peeled off when the party is over and you have a spare set of shakers for entertaining rather than wasting them with permanent marker but still super cute execution on their behalf! Lastly, throw some blue colored punch in a pitcher and go enjoy your party!

Entertainment…..

So the first activity I would recommend you plan to do would be to  plan a Blue’s Clues Scavenger Hunt, I included a “vintage” sample from Nick jr. and a bookmark template that you could print on card stock ahead of time and cut them out. If you wanted to go the extra mile you could take them to Office Max or another similar store and have them laminated so they will last much longer………………..unless you own a personal use laminating machine. One of these is HIGH on my gift wish list!

Kids can solve Blue's Clues in this scavenger hunt!: Blues Clues Bookmark free printables: Blues Clues Paw -- this will be my tattoo for two reasons. 1 for my dogs who have passed and 2 Sweetpea wore a blue's clues collar for years.:

This is a great resource for Blue’s Clues activity printables, a printable invitation and envelope template and some favor box/pouch templates.

Here are a few coloring pages and one more…

I encourage you to go introduce your toddler, pre k and kindergarten kiddo’s to Blue if they have not already met and consider some of these cute ideas for your next Blue’s Clues or puppy themed birthday party!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

 

Classic Princess Party for a 2nd Birthday

Gallery

*Let me preface this post with a little unsolicited advice about the nature of toddlers and birthdays…

In my opinion a child’s 2nd Birthday is really more like the “first” birthday for the actual birthday child. At one year old your child can barely speak to you in mumbles most of the time so they aren’t articulating their personal thought on their first birthday celebration, thus it can look like whatever you want it to……..by the second birthday party though, that’s a totally different story. At two years old, your child not only knows words to begin communicating their desires but they have preferences to communicate and an urgency to do so. It can be fun to help them discover themselves in this way but difficult to focus them as their plight to define & make known their favorite colors, favorite characters, favorite foods or more commonly, least favorite foods and of course favorite cake flavors overwhelms them!

My most valuable kids birthday party planning advice imho is to remember when involving them in the planning and preparation stage, keep it at a minimum. This is beneficial for two reasons,

  • 1st because it will keep the nagging & mind changing to a minimal for you, allowing you to plan & process ideas more smoothly…
  • 2nd because the lack of choices eliminates the potential for them to get overwhelmed by their choices.

{Also worth noting here is that it allows every birthday to have some element of surprise. Though they may have an idea what you have in store you haven’t ruined all the details by over involving them and that just adds to the excitement level of your birthday star.}

Aside from having an opinion for the first time about their birthday two year old’s are consciously aware for the first time that a room full of people came together just to celebrate the fact that they were born. They are the center of attention by those who love them and have gathered to celebrate them and they are aware of it. This is one of the first opportunities for them to see the community of love & support around them. Not only are they aware of this, they are capable of interacting with the guests in a completely different and more engaging way than when they were still one and the guests are likely to include some little playmates as well as family now which adds to the memory making potential.

Let’s get down to the business at hand,

A Disney Princess Party!

Disney-Princess-Wallpaper-disney-princess-6475251-1024-768

When my oldest daughter began to approach her second birthday she was fully engulfed in all things Disney Princess, though she enjoyed some of the non princess characters new out at the time like Nemo & Sully & Lilo she really loved the Princesses, particularly Belle & Ariel (which just so happened to be my favorites as a grade school girl when they came out as new releases).

Now unfortunately, like her 1st birthday from the Winnie the Pooh 1st Birthday, the one that started it all…” post, I do not have an abundance of pictures to include due to our film dependence of the early 2000’s and our family’s flood debacle of 5 1/2 years ago. Contributing to those problems is also the fact that honestly, though I lived this creatively fueled way my whole life,  I was not the most tech savvy back then and am a bit of an introvert.  This meant the idea of putting myself out there to display my ideas and projects wasn’t something I thought to prepare to do ever before, but especially not in that season. I never would have imagined having God lead me to blogging, opening up my life to share it and my ideas for the world to see. The documenting you will see during this Birthday Blog Marathon will be an always evolving process that I have acquired along this party planning journey. They are learned & practiced skills for me, and not one’s that I am naturally accustomed to.

{*As content gets to be based on more recent events the links & visuals included will improve also. As soon as we make the digital camera transition around the 5th Birthday Carnival Party  my posts will transform!}

As a BONUS I will be linking some of my favorite go to Princess Party ideas below, ones that I have pinned through the years (post Pinterest Launching) to keep in mind for my next royal birthday gala. With 4 girls I’m bound to have at least one more to plan so you will benefit from my creative overly preparedness! Lucky You!  

As previously blogged about here in My Fool Proof 6 Point Party Planning Steps, I shared some of my go to pointers for each of the following points so feel free to familiarize yourself with my Basic Formula by following the link above after finishing this party if you so choose to. Back to the princesses…

Let’s breakdown the details:

Point #1 Theme?

Yes, with “Princess Brain” in full effect in our home and a royal bedroom shaping up with the gift of a new pink & purple Disney Princess bedroom set for Christmas, by the time Mid March hit I knew without a doubt I was planning a Princess party & my two year old was sure to remind me every day, regularly whether I had asked her about it or not. To say she was excited was an understatement.

Point #2 Where.

Again we went with my step dad’s house (still just my mom’s boyfriend at that time but he was frugal enough to see the waste in renting our apartment party room when his house was big enough and he was kind enough to offer again.)  We had moved into an apartment by that juncture in our family journey, an apartment that was my mother’s residence at that season, a quaint little 2 bedroom 1.5 bath apartment. Needless to say there was no room for any kind of party in our little apartment with all of us living there so again, my step dad offered up his space to aid my meager budget that year. My second year as a mom had become more challenging as “life” was teaching the little girl in me a thing or two about financial strain……but I digress…the location was set.

Point #3 When..

For this party we chose a Saturday afternoon. That year her actual birthday fell on a weekday and we wanted to set it for a weekend day when friends & family could make themselves available more easily. Also Co-ed softball was on Sundays and as I was learning (being a non athlete entering into my relationship), you didn’t mess with Softball!

Point #4 Decorations…

Village Party Store - APF2426 Now again I chose to go very “retail party store” for her paper products and decorations for this party theme. I purchase some hanging princess decorations pretty similar to the ones pictured with a small pop up cardboard centerpiece from my local Party Supply retailer. Not to be forgotten of course was also a big bundle of latex & helium balloons to fill the corners of the living room and a Happy Birthday banner to adorn the large fireplace mantle in his living room. {BONUS tip: If you don’t have a convenient location to go to you can also visit one of these sites to order your party products and save the trip out. Three of my favorite sites are Oriental Trading CompanyParty City & Wholesale Party Supplies and they all have reasonable prices and a wide variety of themes.}

Point #5 Food & Drink….

As a young mom, new to managing my way in a kitchen and working full time on top of learning how to run a household with little time to experiment in the kitchen I decided to go basic and simple again on the food & Drink for this party. I ordered sheet pizzas from a local pizzeria again and offered up the normal vegetable tray with dip and chips that I placed in a pink Disney Princess plastic bowl that I had splurged on to match the party theme. {BONUS tip: I encourage you to make these types of small and practical splurges occasionally when you see fit for your budget. You will be surprised how some splurge items wind up becoming favorite party tools that you use time and again. We still have that bowl and it is a favorite choice of my kids for when we have popcorn during movie nights.} For beverages I kept it super simple with pop, water & juice boxes for the kids.

Point #6 Entertainment…..

So a room full of adults making conversation while watching a half dozen toddlers ages 18 months – 4 years old play together under the supervision of one sweet well intended 8 year old little girl can be pretty entertaining all on it’s own.  Now if you want to take on the task of trying to organize a game, craft or activity for the kiddo’s at you party, here are a few of my favorite “Maybe Next time” ideas that I have Pinned.

One simple idea is to greet your little guests with an activity upon arrival by setting up a cute “Glam Station” like shown below that is fit for a princess. These types of favors are far more practical than candy & little plastic toys and again it adds to the decor and atmosphere in a better way than a stack of plastic goody bags. Once your little princess and her friends have all arrived and dolled themselves up for a royal celebration you can get right down to one or more of these creative games below. Another cute activity idea if your guests are of an appropriate age is to do a diy princess wand activity. This particular link takes you to a wooden diy, you could complete any amount of the prep &/or assembly prior to the party & just have them decorate them. For younger children foam paper & pipe cleaners may be a softer option.

* I can’t take credit for the game ideas or graphics below. From this point on I am providing you only with links & graphics to the original sources for the following ideas (when they could be tracked down) . I have not personally executed these ideas but the first time my 4th little girl wants a princess party I am ready and so you can benefit! If you try any of these ideas let me know how it went over!

Cinderella Tea Party: Princess DIY Wand Tutorial:

Princess Party Game Ideas:

Here are a few other ideas for decorations, activities & favors too!

Dollar store plastic tablecloths and a few balloons - awesome party ceiling!: Serenity Now: "If the Shoe Fits..." Cinderella Birthday Party!:

This is such a fun & cute way to transform and indoor space with just some simple Balloon and Dollar Store Plastic table cloths! You could use all one color, your birthday princesses favorite color perhaps to take it from playful to “elegant” too if the birthday girl so desired a more royal feel. Another great decor tip is to use your food to help with the atmosphere. This is a tip I didn’t catch onto really until the Dora the Explorer 4th Birthday party. This Blue Cinderella Cupcake tower with tutu is a perfect example of how your food can be displayed to add to the look of your party with even less effort. I LOVE cupcakes in lieu of a birthday cake especially for littler kids because they are easy to serve, easy to toss when the kid gets bored with it as soon as presents begin to be opened. I may also prefer cupcakes because when there are leftovers I feel less guilty eating a cupcake (or 3) in 4 bites than “A slice of cake”  with a fork!

Now go forth and plan yourself the most royal of all royal celebrations for your little princess. Remember to reasonably take on tasks you feel capable of completing without over stressing , after all the whole point is making the memories!

Thanks for reading!

~ Rebecca

My Fool Proof 6 Point Party Planning Steps

Gallery

Let’s get down to my Basic Formula to Party Planning,

my Fool Proof 6 Point Plan!

I will give you a little tip blurb on each of my 6 points below, because as I discuss in Party Planning Pays off in the Moments & in the Memories just a little bit of planning in advance can go a long way! This introductory outline to my 6 Point Plan is truly Fool Proof!  Watch for future posts with more to be followed up on highlighting extensively each individual Planning Point with my favorite tips, links & graphics to consider while planning your next kids birthday party. But for now let’s cover the Basics:

Point #1 Theme?

– This should be a yes or no  question. Either you like a theme or you don’t, it shouldn’t be complicated, don’t force it and if you do want a theme then the theme should feel obvious and be something you can get excited about planning, that makes the rest much easier!

Point #2 Where.

– This question can only be answered as a result of a complete guest list so get moving on your guest list! Think about your potential venues & any chosen theme when molding the size of your guest list though. You don’t need to take on an enormous task planning for a very large group on the regular, it will make you nuts!

Point #3 When..

– This can be tricky because life can be crazy busy and finding just the right time that works for those most important to attend can seem overwhelming. My best tip is to keep in mind that those who are most important will always do their best to attend and sometimes scheduling conflicts are unavoidable.Try to keep the date as near to the child’s actual birthday as possible because that helps center the excitement to one week! Don’t let those who may complicate the scheduling ruin the mood of the day and you should never sacrifice your preferred date or time to accommodate someone else’s schedule unless entirely necessary because ultimately in the end it will almost always wind up in more stress for you and that would be a waste, because your focus and enjoyment is of utmost importance to your little one, the reason we do any of it anyways is to build memories.

Point #4 Decorations…

– Consider your skill level as to not overwhelm yourself in tasks but don’t be afraid to take affordable priced chances to create special keepsake items that can double as decorations because you just may surprise yourself. Some of my favorite things created for my kids have come through the years as a result of me stretching my skill set beyond my comfort zone! Not to mention the look on their face when they see the time you put into their special day and how they cherish the keepsake is really priceless…….BUT DO NOT OVERWHELM YOURSELF in too many projects or projects too far outside your skills and always be conscious of expense because in some of these cases you may not love the result if you are experimenting so you don’t want to regret the expense.

Point #5 Food & Drink….

– This is another Planning Point where you need to consider your skill level. Again don’t overwhelm yourself in labor intensive or large bulk quantities of food, try to keep it simple and as much as you can prep ahead of time, hours or days, the better! Your kiddo wants you in the room during the party not hiding in the kitchen prepping a feast, this is about the memories!

Point #6 Entertainment…..

– This is where you decide on games, an activity, craft or outing as part of the party. The degree of entertainment and expense you are willing to spend on this will largely depend on the age of kids & size of guest list but ultimately casual visiting and playtime is just as great and in some ways better than an adventure, group outing or craft. Just evaluate your guest list as you brainstorm this Planning Point

Now that you have my basic starter steps & tips to begin planning your childs next Birthday Bash head over to Pinterest to get some inspiration! Don’t compare yourself, don’t get over ambitious and most importantly don’t get sucked in……..SET A TIMER! Limit the number of pins for each party you are planning and look for great local resources that can save you some time, you don’t have to do it all yourself! You can enlist willing help. Now get planning!

Thanks for reading!

~ Rebecca