Friday, January 31, 2014

Big, Messy Art Party

Margaret's third birthday party was all about her favorite things: creating art, making a mess, and covering everything in rainbows.

The balloon banner was an easy and inexpensive way to make a big statement. I used a tutorial I found online to assemble it.

Get Messy!
Shaving Cream Color Mixing - We filled the sensory table with dollar store shaving foam, sprinkled confetti throughout, and offered cups of liquid watercolors and droppers for color mixing.

Fizzy Painting - We made fizzy paint by mixing corn starch, baking soda, water, and food coloring. The kids painted it onto the concrete with big brushes and sprayed it with vinegar to make it fizz.

Wacky Painting - We rolled out and taped down large pieces of butcher paper and offered up trays of tempera paint and a variety of odd painting implements such as potato mashers, dish scrubbers, paper towel rolls, and toy trucks.

A pool of water to wash off and cool down was one of the most popular spots.

We had a sensory pool filled with colored cooked spaghetti, water beads, and partially set Jell-O. We'd planned on the Jell-O being set and cubed up, but it had plans of its own and never gelled.

Baby James thought it was a giant snack tray. (We made sure to keep the water beads out of his mouth.)

A little baby haven in the shade in case things got too rowdy.

Inside, we had lunch and cake. The cups had dried food coloring in the bottoms, so when the water was added, it "magically" changed colors.

The cake? The cake was a disaster. See that big wedge taken out of the back? That's because the whole thing started falling apart while I was assembling and frosting it, and in a fit of frustration, I ripped off a chunk and threw it into the sink. *sigh* Cakes are no friends of mine.

I saw an idea like this online but forgot that the watermelon was supposed to be turned upside down. No matter, it worked just fine this way, too.

The PB&Js would have looked and tasted much better if I'd have used nonpareils instead of sugar sprinkles. Live and learn.

Yogurt pops - Colored yogurt frozen in Dixie cups in layers.

This party was a huge hit! The birthday girl had a blast, and a bunch of neighbor kids stopped by to join in the fun!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sunshine First Birthday

When it came time to brainstorm a theme for James' first birthday, only one seemed fitting. Though his first 6 months passed in a haze of colic, the final 6 months of his first year were simply sunshine. At the six month mark, he became the smilingest, dancingest, giggliest ball of love there ever was.

We served a buffet of orange and yellow foods that just so happened to be favorites of the birthday boy: bananas, egg salad sandwiches, butternut squash soup, carrots, and lemonade.

I like to always have a large butcher paper "guestbook" out at the kids' parties.

I'd planned to make rays out of a second round cake, and at the last minute, the cake was a crumbling mess, so skewers made an admirable stand-in. (I've told you before that cakes and I don't get along!)

I made Jamie's crown from a piece of lace stiffened with many layers of Mod Podge and painted turquoise.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Margaret's Let's Go to the Circus Party

We went far bigger than usual for Meg's fourth birthday party. She and I both had such fun brainstorming and executing all the details, and for her first "friends party," I'd call it a rousing success.

Welcome to the backyard Big Top!

Eat Up!
The treats table featured popcorn, peanuts, circus train animal crackers, and raspberry lemonade. Sadly, I couldn't find boxes of Cracker Jacks anywhere! Party hats, confetti poppers, and punch balloons were free for the taking.

I wanted the cupcakes to turn out better than most of my culinary ventures do, so I ordered some from the grocery store bakery. I ordered chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting piped on with a round tip and was handed these... and for double their estimated price! Not quite what I'd pictured, but they looked fine once we put them in festive liners, sprinkled on some candy-coated sprinkles, and popped on homemade pinwheels and colored-flame candles.

Let the Games Begin!

I added our wooden beanbag toss game with a pail of plastic balls at the last minute. The dads in attendance ended up giving it more attention than any of the children did.

Meg's Nana, Nan, and Auntie tied endless balloon animals and swords, and Nana painted everyone's faces.

After playing outside for an hour or so, we invited everyone inside for cupcakes and a magic show performed by Auntie. Naturally, I videoed the show and forgot to take a single photo.

Meggie was our afternoon's ringmaster, fittingly.

The first of thousands of balloon sculptures.

Rainbow Dash proved to be a popular choice for face painting.

Pinata loot: finger traps, paper yoyos, fortune telling fish, bubbles, stickers, pom pom balls, colored Band-Aids, and glitter glue pens.

Little brother was to be a strong man, with a mustache and chest hair painted on, but he managed to sleep through the entire party and only wake up in time to pick through the leftover snacks.

Someone had a great day!

And, oh, the mess afterward!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nature Boy Birthday Party

We celebrated Jamie's second birthday in November with a nature-inspired party.

Our palette was bright red, robin's egg blue, greens, brown, and metallics. For the nature element, we brought in tons of stars and nodded toward this time of transition between autumn and winter with felt autumn leaf table scatter and a wintry cake.

Since he's still so young and his birthday falls right in the thick of the holiday season, we kept things simple and focused on small, pretty details for the cake table.

We had tons of party hats left over from Meg's party, so I turned one inside out, covered it in coordinating paper, glittered a number two, and added a yarn pom pom to the top. I like having a special party hat each year for the birthday child to wear in cake photos and later to tuck away in their memory boxes as a memento of the day.

As has apparently become our tradition of sorts, the drinks were served in glass milk bottles. I used washi tape labels to mark names. The birch-look paper straws are Kikkerland. I purchased them from Amazon.

I painted the wooden forks with food-safe soy paint. I taped off the straight lines with painters tape, and I used circle stickers to tape off the polka dots. I used a bronze Sharpie to add detail, but it bled a bit, so I would use a paint pen instead if I ever do it again.

I folded the napkins using these simple instructions.

I love a cheery bunch of balloons on the birthday child's chair.

The balloons were secured with baker's twine and decorated with sweet satin bows.

This year was a big deal for me, because it marked the first successful cake I've ever made. I am severely cake challenged, and every year I end up crying and swearing in the kitchen the morning of my kids' party, elbow-deep in batter and frosting, because I have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to baking. This year, I went with a simply decorated cake, and I searched the internet for tips on the baking and frosting before beginning. It's nothing special, really, but I couldn't be happier that it turned out just as I'd hoped it would.

The trees are from Amazon, and I'll admit I wasn't crazy about how cheap they looked in person. The top of the cake was coated liberally in Wilton edible glitter stars.

For entertainment, James spent a leisurely afternoon opening gifts while we all visited with family, and we all played this darling Belle and Boo version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

And here's my beautiful big boy on his day.

His Papa encouraged him to try this!