Archive for the ‘We Like To Party’ Category

S’More Fun at a Camping Birthday Party – Linc Turns Two

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

On Saturday we celebrated Linc turning TWO with a camping birthday party! I debated doing a camping theme last year, because it just seemed so fun for a summer birthday, but decided he would have more fun at his own party with another year under his belt. I’m glad I waited, he had a BLAST.

Here’s the truth about throwing a lot of “fancy” birthday parties: After a few, you start to realize that being fancy really is less important than making sure everyone has food they like to eat and fun stuff for the kids. So although I still have strong commitment to a theme, I’m more flexible when it comes to including stuff that might have a cute, camping themed label. For example, hot dogs are camping-themed on their own without a clever name. But adding a bunch of Goldfish and Swedish Fish and calling it “The Fishing Hole” is on theme because of the name. See how reasonable and flexible I have become??

I am SO relieved we didn’t have rain and could be outside because I didn’t have an indoor backup plan. I am NOT thrilled that it was 90 degrees and I couldn’t offer anyone a cool place to relax. But I did plan ahead on the beer and water and juice boxes and lemonade so everyone stayed hydrated, the kids had the sprinkler (and eventually the toddlers ended up in the kiddie pool) so besides letting my own child get a sunburn (SO SORRY EVAN) everyone survived. Even me, which was the person I think everyone was most convinced would pass out at any moment.

All my supplies this time came from either Amazon or Oriental Trading (unsponsored and un-comped, because I wasn’t smart enough to ask ahead of time). I didn’t do a super great job of taking detailed photos, but hopefully these give you some ideas if you want to throw your own camping birthday party. Poor third child’s life isn’t nearly as well documented as the first or second.

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It is a shame I never got a good photo of all the kids in their adorable Happy Camper shirts, but they barely wore them at the party. Luckily I got photos before to use as decoration, so please accept this as proof they exist even though the photo isn’t really OF the shirts. I got them from a shop on Etsy.

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My sister made a chalkboard sign for the door.

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The photos I took on our camping photo shoot made good dining room decoration.

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I made the banner with craft paper, a free font and a free plaid paper download.

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These VERY realistic State Park Camping Signs came from Oriental Trading. I had one young guest worried I might have stolen them from an actual park.

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Two balloon from the grocery store, because I forgot to order a more on-theme red one.

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Extremely half-assed banner I made with leftover camping tent fabric.

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Bucket of sunscreen and bug spray for the guests.

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Chalk, tic-tac-toe rocks and card games for the big kids.

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I was going to do the food outside but it was too hot, so thank goodness we have a huge dining room table.

Our menu was:
Trail Mix Buffet
Walking Tacos
Watermelon
Cheese Puffs
Fruit
Veggies
Dirt Pudding Cups
Candy
Corn Muffins
Cupcakes
And, in theory, a s’mores buffet – but it was REALLY HOT and no one wanted to start a fire. So no actual s’mores were made.

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WHO KNEW individual bags of Fritos with meat, cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and taco sauce would be SUCH a hit?! I ordered a huge box of Frito bags from Amazon and was sure I would have most of them left over. But nope, everyone ate multiple bags. They were a great lunch.

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Trail mix buffet – I had paper bags to fill with nuts, dried fruit, candy, pretzels. cereal and marshmallows. The kids loooooved this.

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Bait = gummy worms and chocolate dirt pudding cups (pudding, crushed oreos, more worms)

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Berry Patch sounds more like camping than just “fruit”

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Cheese puffs look sort of like a campfire, right?

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Cupcake toppers, invitations, food signs and thank you labels all designed by the VERY talented and my most favorite Becca of Jumping Jax Designs.

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My poor, unused s’mores buffet. Oh well, we’ll make good use of all that chocolate and marshmallows at the lake.

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Our party guests might have actually been more kids than adults, so I worked hard to make the party as fun for children as possible. I’m pretty sure the combination of bounce house and sprinkler helped me achieve extreme success.

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Fishing was very popular. $12 kiddie pool and 3 plastic fishing pole sets from Oriental Trading.

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E made tents out of scrap wood and I sewed (actually sewed! with a sewing machine!) the covers. They were less popular than the bounce house. Shocking.

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Giant fishing bobber balls from Oriental Trading

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This was a Pinterest idea that worked out even better than expected. E found a branch and cut it into slices, then drilled holes so I could make them necklaces. I provided markers to decorating the medallions (we kept it supervised with the toddlers, since they’re permanent markers) and every single one of these was used. Total cost: $9 worth of colored string, because I already had the markers.

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Linc had an amazing time. I barely even saw him and definitely didn’t take as many pictures as he deserves for his second birthday (because, you know, I NEVER take pictures of him…) but he slept for almost 18 hours that night. Thank you to everyone who took the time to come be hot and sweaty and slightly miserable in my back yard to make is day special.

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I made Linc his own tiny smash cake with “flame” frosting. He ate none of it, but did eat 4 cupcakes.

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We had funfetti cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes. They were all equally delicious (and from a box).

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Surprise! Twins!! Baby Shower!!!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Last week I helped throw a surprise twins baby shower. The party was a surprise I mean, not the twins. Well, the twins WERE a surprise, but they aren’t now. Now we all are very aware that my friend Steph is having identical twin girls sometime in the very near future. We are very, very excited for her.

One of my co-hosts found out from Steph she was really attached to the colors yellow and purple for the girls, so that was the theme we ran with. I hope she REALLY loves those colors because when you tell someone the theme is purple and yellow you end up with nothing but purple and yellow gifts. I’ve decided that to fit the theme she has to name them Violet and Marigold, but strangely Steph thinks she should “talk to her husband” and “let him help decide”. It makes no sense to me, but whatever. I’m fairly confident Vi and Mari will look beautiful in their purple and yellow outfits.

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I filled in a few inexpensive bouquets from a local flower shop (McKenna’s, I highly recommend them!) with yellow pinwheels from Oriental Trading.

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Diaper cake made with love by my co-host’s 2nd grade daughter.

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Rainbow circle bum pants! Hanging up the baby clothes as part of the decor was a great idea I stole from Pinterest (like most of my great ideas).

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Lemonade and champagne, because what else could you possibly want at a baby shower??

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Yarn mobile I made (just like the ribbon mobile I made for Caroline’s nursery)

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Lemon buttermilk petit fours (adapted from this recipe)

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Popcorn balls (don’t they look like hydrangeas?) These were a really big hit with the big-sister-to-be.

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Juice for toddlers, because there were a LOT of toddlers.

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Cream cheese and bagels from Poppy & Rye here in town. That herb cream cheese might be my favorite food on the whole planet.

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Most of the food was guest provided which meant there wasn’t much for me to do at all (besides eat way too much sugar). New babies are always such a joy and since the youngest baby in our friend group just started walking – despite our best efforts – we could use some teeny tinies around here.

 

 

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Caroline’s Nutcracker Birthday Party

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Welcome to Caroline’s Nutcracker Birthday Party! As always, this will be super long and picture heavy.

This is Caroline’s 5th birthday, which means it’s her last big everyone is invited party before we switch to family/special day/maybe a couple friends/sleepover parties. I can’t say she’s quite accepted that fact, since she told me today she wants an ice skating party next year, but I’m pretty happy I only have one kid to plan huge parties for (at least for the foreseeable future). I really do love throwing these huge birthday events but fall is my busy season for photography so doing a birthday on top of that is a tiny bit overwhelming.

With a December birthday and a daughter who has been in ballet for several years already, I’ve been dreaming of a Nutcracker Birthday party for a while. For those who haven’t been reading my blog for 5+ years, her previous themes were: Winter Sparkle Snowflake, Woodland FairyPrincess and Mermaid. They were all really fun, but this year was the best.

I’m going to put in a page break after a couple of pictures because I just looked and I have 177 edited photos from the party and I’m going to have a hard time cutting that down to an acceptable number. I’ll round up sources at the end and link recipes in the food section, although a lot of the recipes are stuff I’ve linked for every party since her first (because I cannot have a party without thumbprint cookies).

Carolines Nutcracker Birthday Party

Despite the fact that it is December in Connecticut, the weather was in the mid-60’s for her party. I would have done a lot more outside decorating if I had known the kids were going to spend ALL DAY in the yard or on the porch, but at least I got lights on the house and a couple of Nutcrackers for the planter boxes. I found those at Lowe’s. The sled and wreath are just my standard Christmas decor. It’s really nice that the first act of The Nutcracker is just a Christmas party, so all my decorations were already on theme.

Decor:

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I made the wreath using Jill’s tulle wreath tutorial. Super easy and super cute, although glitter tulle is the fabric of the devil.

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PINK five balloon from Party City.

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Candy cane garland from Oriental Trading, who was kind enough to give me a party budget and send me some of my decor for free because they’re awesome and I am a very, very loyal customer.

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Little house from Ikea, circa 2012

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Christmas card holder made by my very talented husband. You can see a bunch of Caroline’s invites I used to fill it in until it gets full of holiday cards from friends. Those invites were done by the AMAZING Becca of Jumping Jax Designs. I cannot recommend her more highly – she is creative, talented and so fun. She turned my very vague ideas (“I’m doing sort of all the colors, but girly? And a little vintage? But not too cartoony, still classy. But good for a 5 year old?”) into the CUTEST invitations. The ballerina in the middle has red hair and glasses. I mean.

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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, One Year Old Is What You Are

Monday, July 27th, 2015

We celebrated Lincoln’s 1st birthday party on Saturday with a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star themed party. I fell in love with the star idea while rocking Linc to sleep in his room – there have been glow in the dark stars on his ceiling since we bought the house. Plus I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he is a sparkly, twinkly baby personality-wise. He’s my little star.

You can check out my Lincoln’s First Birthday Pinterest board for a lot of the recipes and inspiration for all my ideas. I’m putting the post after a jump so all 2 bazillion photos aren’t on the front page for the next month…

twinkle twinkle little star first birthday ideas

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Caroline’s Undersea Wonderland Mermaid 4th Birthday Party

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Last year, right after her princess party, Caroline asked for a ballerina party. I was really excited about that, since a winter ballerina party could be Nutcracker themed and there are SO many adorable possibilities there. Luckily I didn’t do much (any) planning early, so when she changed her mind and asked for a mermaid party instead I didn’t have to undo anything to throw a mermaid party.

I didn’t do as much as I have in the past (her winter fairy party was my favorite and also was CRAZY involved) but since the kids are bigger and more able to entertain themselves I just threw a bunch of balloons on the floor and they took care of the rest.

My theme was Undersea Wonderland, since obviously that’s where mermaids live. I had the very talented Becca from Jumping Jax make a custom invite and printable decorations for me. She is fast, creative and afordable (she also did Evan’s pirate party) and I highly recommend her.

Most of my party supplies came from Oriental Trading Company, as they usually do. This year, they gave me a budget and sent me a bunch of awesome stuff for free, although I ended up ordering twice as much stuff as they offered so I gave them a big pile of money anyway. Story of my party-planning life: budgets are not my strong point. But Caroline has an excellent party, everyone ate all my food and I would definitely say this was another successful birthday.

Decorations:

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Mermaid treasure

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Sparkle jelly fish made from Oriental Trading Co lanterns

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Real life: pen on the wall of the stairs and my husband’s dirty socks in the railing

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These giant balloons are my favorite birthday tradition

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Glitter EVERYWHERE, but I love how these look

Food:

Undersea Wonderland 4th Birthday Party

Undersea Wonderland 4th Birthday Party

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These are my gooey vanilla sparkle cookies, just renamed.

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Ha ha ha ha School of Fish

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Mermaid wands

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Octopus rolls were an unexpected hit! It’s just crescent roll dough sheets cut into shapes with edible eyes stuck on.

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Seaweed dip = spinach dip

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Crabwiches! Eyes glued to toothpicks, sandwiches are ham and swiss

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Sand dollar sugar cookies (same ones I made for Evan’s pirate party). Caroline cut these out herself. HERSELF. Like, my sister supervised but Caroline rolled and cut the dough entirely herself.

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Cheese triangles as shark teeth

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I bought a special starfish cookie cutter for these

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Puff pastry cut into stars with cream cheese frosting filling, sprinkled with a little gold sugar to make them bumpy

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Oyster cookies! I used two different kinds of Pepperidge Farm cookies (one is shortbread, one is coconut) and the same frosting I used on the cake

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The “pearls” are chocolate candies from Oriental Trading Co.

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IT IS NOT A DAVIS PARTY WITHOUT CUCUMBER SANDWICHES

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I broke my own rule and made a cake. The cake itself is from a box, but I made cream cheese buttercream frosting.

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I spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME looking for a mermaid to go on top…and found this one on our Christmas tree. It was Caroline’s ornament from last year.

Undersea Wonderland 4th Birthday Party

The sand is graham cracker crumbs, the writing is a sparkle frosting pen, and I even bought special teal food coloring to make the frosting ocean-colored. Caroline picked the candles.

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Rock candy from Oriental Trading Co

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These were WAY cuter on Pinterest, but as much of a mess as they are the kids loved them and they looked cute on the tray

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I sent E to buy “mermaid beer”. This was the best he could do. It was delicious though!

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Blue punch mixed with Sprite = sea water. We also had pink mermaid punch, but I somehow forgot to take a photo.

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Straws from Oriental Trading, flags from Jumping Jax

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HERE’S A TIP. Don’t make sea glass candy. Melt Jolly Ranchers on parchment paper instead. Dust with powdered sugar. DONE. I mixed it with my jelly sharks because I ran out of bowls.

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Fish sticks. Obviously.

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Ocean Jello. Man, there was a LOT of blue food coloring at this party.

Fun:

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Party favors

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Make the sand/seashell ornaments

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It needed some adult supervision but they all came out really cute

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My sister drew this for me approximately 30 minutes before the guests showed up. She is very talented.

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Waiting her turn…

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The kids LOVED this game

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Cake eating counts as an activity

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So does mermaid punch

Cake time!

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Happy 4th Birthday Mermaid Caroline!

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Thank you to Oriental Trading Company for some of the supplies! I got the 4 balloon, the other balloons, the straws, the lanterns, the pearl chocolates, the necklaces, the wands, the straws, and the rock candy from them. Plus other stuff I’m forgetting and/or forgot to take pictures of (like the green crepe paper that turned my bookcase into a seaweed forest.

The shells and craft supplies are from Michael’s. All the fabric is left over from her previous parties, as are the lights and the crystal curtain behind the food table.

Caroline’s mermaid costume was her Halloween costume. It’s from Chasing Fireflies, a super awesome place to get costumes. Evan also wore his shark costume for part of the time, but we had to take it away when he started attacking guests. True story.

You can find links to most of the inspiration and products on my Pinterest board here. Not everything from my party is Pinterest-worthy. It’s not professional or super fancy or perfect and after 5 years of throwing parties for my kids I am TOTALLY OK with that. We had a wonderful time. I had a ton of family here and they were all so so so helpful. I could never have gotten even half this stuff done without them. An hour before the guests showed up I handed Baby Linc to my sister’s new fiance and abandoned them. He did great. Better than great. I hope I can convince him to come back for Caroline’s party again next year.

Thank you to EVERYONE who came and everyone who helps and everyone who made Caroline’s day so special.

As always, ask me if you have a question on where something came from or how I made something. Apologies for the weird colors/lighting on the photos, it got dark at like THREE O’CLOCK so this were taken at a crazy high ISO under overhead lights.

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