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Chloe’s 5th (Painting & Art) Birthday Party!

Chloe's painting art birthday party
Chloe’s 5th birthday party was a success! We hosted 16 kids plus their parents, and even now I find it remarkable that everyone seemed to fit in our home without seeming crazy crowded. Chloe loved having all her friends over and the 5 “art stations” seemed to entertain and engage the kids, despite a span of ages. They could choose what they wanted to do, when they wanted to do it (and I was secretly glad to not have to organize any group games). And when party goers were done with craft projects they were free to roam outside to the sand table and play structure, or into Chloe’s room for dress-up, or Leo’s room for trucks and train table. It was great!

I didn’t take as many photos as usual, but here are a few shots snapped with my phone to show a little of our setup:

painting and art party table

Our main dining table was Station #1, painting. Each place had a set of (washable) watercolors (from this Crayola 24ct setcomes with 3 individual sets of 6 colors), a paintbrush, a bowl of water and a piece of watercolor paper set up for the kids to make their masterpieces.

Art party station play-doh

Station #2 was a Play-Doh table. I purchased a 24ct pack of rainbow Play-Doh and set out our rolling/cutting play tools. The colors were vibrant and lots of fun to mix and mash.

art party collage table

Station #3 was a collage table. I set out our collection of decorative edged scissors, stickers, colored glue sticks and a variety of paper for the kids to craft up a storm.

art party cookie decorating table

Station #4 was a decorate-your-own-cookie project. I originally saw this idea on Green Owl Art and decided it was perfect for little hands. I cut out cardboard circles as well as foam “icing” and purchased the same collection of stickers from Michaels. Easy to do and with really cute results.

Melissa And Doug wooden stringing beads and bead bouquet
Station #5 held wooden beads to make beaded bracelets. It included a set of Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads set and the Melissa and Doug Bead Bouquet set. I think the kids really liked being able to include their names on their bracelets and the Bead Bouquet set had a nice variety of shaped and painted beads. I cut each necklace-length cord into 3 equal pieces (singeing the severed ends with a lighter so they wouldn’t unravel), so that every attendee could make at least one bracelet. Since the kits didn’t come with enough closure beads I supplemented them with lanyard snaps.

art rainbow party table snack decoration crepe paper streamers

Besides the snack table backdrop, the only other “decorating” we had time for that morning (besides balloons) was to line the pass-through from the living room to the kitchen with rainbow-colored crepe paper streamers as we have in the past. Young kids love to run through them and watch them flutter back into place. Plus they really give a visual bang for the buck, which is always nice. The snack table itself held a little less than usual since two of our young guests have severe food allergies. Good thing their moms are such avid ingredient readers, as I overlooked a detail even though I was trying to be careful.

Overall, this party was the perfect blend of what Chloe wanted to do to and the amount of effort I wanted to put into the planning and details. I sometimes wonder if I don’t do enough (or if I do too much), but this one felt just about right. There is no doubt that Chloe loved every minute. Afterwards, I received several sweet and heart warming comments and emails from moms who really thought it was a terrific time. Pretty much the best any mom could ask for. 🙂

P.S. To make it easy on myself I linked to the products above on Amazon, but purchased almost everything locally. For example the Play-Doh came from Target and the best price on the Melissa and Doug beads came from Home Goods.

Elmer's colored glue sticks best price

I also found a few things at Dollar Tree, which is always worth checking before a party. I purchased the left set of Elmer’s Colored Glue Sticks
at Dollar Tree for $1, but then saw them a few days later at Michaels retailing for $5.99. Sometimes it pays to shop around!


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Party Planning

Planning a painting art craft party

My little girl is turning 5 in less than a week! The older she gets the more she has her own opinions of what she wants to do to celebrate. A while back she mentioned a rainbow party. I remember thinking ‘Fun! I can do that!’ Then she said she wanted to paint with all her friends, and it morphed into a painting/craft party (with the same rainbow cake as last year, per her request). Earlier this week she said she wanted a fairy party, but by then I had already stocked up on watercolor sets and paint brushes, as well as other crafting materials (and to be honest, I have no idea how to throw a fairy party or how we’d incorporate boys). Either way, I know Chloe is very much looking forward to having her friends over and having a good time!

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this event – trying to stay within a reasonable budget, keeping the amount of decorating manageable but festive, planning varied and age-appropriate projects to suit different levels of interests and abilities, and most importantly of all: keeping in mind that this party is for Chloe to enjoy.

It is all too easy to fall into the stress of making a party “perfect” and feeling the pressure to impress other people. Its happened to me before, and still does to some extent. I’ve had to remind myself that this is for Chloe. Will she like this activity? Will this be fun for her preschool friends? But ultimately, I want the parents to enjoy being at the party as well. Socializing is all well and good, but its even better if the parents can participate in the fun.

Lastly, I’ve asked myself “How much cleaning up do we really want to do after the party’s over?” I am under no illusions about what might happen while hosting a painting/craft party with little ones involved. It is risky business any way you look at it. Mainly I tried to choose “washable” options and was careful to steer clear of anything involving glitter. The husband hates to see glitter on the floor, which is hard since Chloe loves “princess-y” things and has been gifted glittery clothes and toys which often leave a trail of sparkles behind.

So, that’s that! It’s going to be the largest gathering that we’ve ever hosted at the house, even though I tried to keep the guest list down as best I could. I just hope that everyone has a good time, and that Chloe feels the love of having her family and friends here to celebrate her big day.

More details to come after the party!


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Leo’s 2nd Birthday – Circus Party!

Circus Birthday Party Table

Earlier this month we hosted Leo’s 2nd Birthday party at our house. We kept it small, yet festive, so as not to overwhelm the birthday boy. Luckily, the morning was sunny and perfect. We were able to throw open the french doors to the backyard and let kids and parents wander and play where they liked.

Circus Party Themed Plates and Napkins, Tablewarecircus party kids tent gigatent

sand table

I learned from Chloe’s 3rd birthday to not have too many activities planned, to let things flow a little more naturally. We had plenty of yard toys (sand and water table, beach balls, kiddie pool, push toys, bikes, etc) available, and plenty of seating for the grown-ups. Inside we set up the GigaTent Play Tent (that I bought last year for a steal on Craigslist!) along with more toys. Mostly it was open play, but toward the end we gathered everyone together for a circus-revised game of Bingo for both the kids and adults (original free download here), as well as Pin the Nose on the Clown that I got at the party store. I had grand plans of twisting up balloon animals (see my practice butterfly and poodle) and face-painting, but that never quite materialized. Turns out its hard to host a party and provide the entertainment at the same time!

Birthday boy cupcake

Circus Party Cupcakes

Overall it was a grand time. I was really surprised at how Leo sat and smiled at everyone while we sang him “Happy Birthday.” So cute! He wasn’t at all as overwhelmed as I thought he’d be. Looking back, it may be because we were at our home and not out somewhere else, or perhaps he just sensed that something special was afoot. Also, because of an attendee’s allergy, the vanilla cupcakes were egg-free (using this recipe), topped with cream cheese frosting. The only photo I have of the goody bags is this one. I was so proud of them, but forgot to take another photo!

circus masks

Pin the Nose on the Clown, Circus Party Game

One question I got a lot was about the canopy above the food table – it’s our Ikea Mysig Bed Canopy (only $10!) that I blogged about here. It fit perfectly over our Ikea sewing table -turned-food table.

One parent described our house as “IKEA fresh,” and I was really pleased to hear that. I do love me some Ikea, and why not, when everything is so budget-friendly and easily re-purposed in many ways?

 


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Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

Good Morning Friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Is it Tuesday already? I’ve been a little slow getting back into the swing of things due to a little back-end blog trouble, but I think it might be fixed. Hooray!!

Today I wanted to share with you some printable gift tags I made this weekend. Chloe had a birthday party to attend on Saturday for a male classmate. After finding a gift bag from our party box, I remembered (again!) that all of our gift tags are girly and feminine – no boy themed ones at all. In the past I’ve resorted to using a sticky note, but this time I created some “boy” appropriate tags instead.

Could you use some boy themed gift tags too? We are happy to share! Just download the pdf at the bottom of this post.

Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

Free Printable Gift Tags for Boys

What do you think? Will they come in handy? They aren’t strictly boy, as you can see. The colored bunting flags and the ombre-style “Happy Birthday” text versions could just as easily be used for both genders. And some girls like trucks and dinosaurs and circus tents, too, right?

Click here to download the Gift Tags for Boys PDF or click on the image below. For best printed results use your printer dialogue box to choose the “high quality” setting. On the colorful ones I used my old Crop-A-Dile to add some silver grommets as a finishing touch, but realized a hole punch alone looks just as good. Enjoy!

Free printable happy birthday party gift tags for boys download pdf

P.S. The icons are from the free font LoKinderDingsBum. They have some super cute dingbats. You can find it here.


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Leo’s First Birthday!

Leo had his first birthday party last weekend! We invited the same good friends who attended Chloe’s first birthday (who conveniently all have had their second children as well, so it was a perfect match of preschoolers and baby siblings). We put together a pasta lunch – pistachio, garlic and olive pasta for the adults, mac ‘n cheese for the kids, salad, fruit, cheese and crackers and trix crispies as a colorful treat. Since Leo’s is our first summer birthday in the family, I thought it would be special to do an ice cream cake (strawberry) from Baskin Robbins, and found some toy animals on top to match the lion party theme. I can’t believe he is one already!!!

  .

 

 


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*Happy Birthday Bingo Game* – Free Party Printable

Oh! I just realized I’ve never shared the printable birthday party bingo game that I made for Chloe’s 3rd “Rubber Duck” birthday party! The bingo game was a hit, especially because it was easy to do with a big group and even the parents could participate. We used Chloe’s set of washable Dots and Dashes Paint, but I’ve seen real “Bingo” markers at the dollar store, too.

*** Click here to download Happy Birthday Bingo PDF 779 kB ***

To play, cut out the squares on pages 1 and 2 (shown above). These are the call out cards. The caller piles the cards face-down and calls out one image at a time, allowing enough time for all players to check and see if they have a match. If they do, they mark that image on their bingo card. Once a player has found all 9 images and calls out “Bingo!,” that player wins! There are 12 unique bingo cards in all.

This is fun to play as a family, too. Just cut off the portion that says “Happy Birthday Bingo” and you’re good to go. 🙂

Enjoy!

For more of our party details see Rubber Duck Party part 1 or part 2 or the flickr set.


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DIY Cupcake Party

Since Chloe’s birthday fell on Thanksgiving day this year, and despite the fact that she’d already had a birthday party, we had some of our neighborhood friends over for a DIY cupcake decorating get-together the morning after. Check out some of these gorgeously sweet creations…

  

  

..

 


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Rubber Duck Party! **Part 2**

As I mentioned in the previous post, we decided to throw Chloe’s third birthday a couple weeks early. Her birthday actually falls on Thanksgiving this year, plus she already has 4 birthday parties to attend in the span of a few weeks. I figured it would just be easier to do it early, and at this age, she’s happy to just have fun.

 

We started the party by letting all the kids decorate their yellow goodie bags with markers and yellow feathers in the front room. It allowed time for guest to arrive and gave the kids something to do right away. There was a rubber duck coloring page as well. Following that they played five games:

  • “Match the ducks” – this was like “Memory” – twelve matching ducks (two for each child) had matching stickers underneath each pair. They floated in a bin of waters while the kids took turns each finding a matched pair, which they then added to their goodie bag.
  • “Feed the ducks” – this was a bean bag toss into large melamine bowls. Each child got a prize when they made it.
  • “Pass the duck” – basically, “hot potato” except we used a large duck to pass around. This was the only game that was a little awkward with this age group, so we sorta faked it.

 

  • “Find the ducks” – we secretly filled the floor in the spare room with balloons and “hid” larger rubber ducks (again one for each child) to find. We closed the door so nobody knew that the room was filled with balloons until we opened it for a BIG surprise.
  • “Birthday Bingo”  – After the kids had time to splash around and enjoy the balloon room for a while, we called them back to the dining room table for one last game of “Birthday Bingo” after which we then sang happy birthday to the birthday girl and had yummy vanilla bean cupcakes with white buttercream frosting (closest looking to soap suds).

 

Each cupcake was in a rubber ducky themed cupcake wrapper topped with a party duck sitting in its own matching mini-cupcake wrapper. Chloe thought they were awesome!


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Rubber Duck Party! **Part 1**

We threw Chloe her 3rd birthday party this past week. It was tons of fun – both for me to plan and for her and her friends to enjoy. Chloe’s bathroom is awash in rubber ducks and that seemed to naturally segue into a perfect party theme for a soon-to-be three-year-old.

I’ll go more into party details in the next post (including some pdf printables), but meanwhile, here are some wonderful photos of the big event taken by my talented friend Greta:

Marshmallow pops

Party water bottles

3 tiers of rubber duck cupcakes

Peanut butter cup “mini-cupcakes”

The treats table

 

 

More of her photos can be seen here.


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Party!

As you can see from the photos, Chloe’s first birthday party was quite an occasion! The partygoers included Chloe’s friends Lorenzo and Ava. Besides the toys, the toddlers enjoyed a baby snack bar of peach and strawberry yogurt melts (to match the orange and pink theme, naturellement!), apple puffs, and animal crackers, and for the adults we had a gourmet cheese plate including my new favorite bucheron. We also hung crepe paper streamers in a doorway which I thought would only survive a few minutes, but instead actually stayed intact the entire time. Maybe the rip-and-destroy technique is more for the two-to-three year-olds? It was a lot of fun watching them plow through and laugh, and having the paper fluttering out behind.

Chloe’s cupcakes were tahitian vanilla bean with cream cheese frosting and meringue toppers. I even tried spelling out her name with some success. Despite my fears, she didn’t get sick from eating/playing with her cupcake, although it probably helped that most of it fell to the floor after a short time. And, thanks to the ‘net, we also took advantage of this free birthday hat download (see top photo) and a tutorial on how to make-your-own scratch-its so we could give out party prizes/favors (who thought that adding dish soap to metallic paint could be so fun?!).

I keep going around in my head how Chloe won’t have a single memory of this important event. But, of course, David and I will. Perhaps someday she will look back at photos of her childhood and see how much fun she had. But most of all, I’ll just want her to know how much she means to us, and that she is wholly and truly loved.


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Unique & Funky Halloween Candy Alternatives

eye balls bowl
Last year we did not give out candy for Halloween. Instead we found a package of 80 mini play-dohs in a variety of colors at our local Costco. It was nice to give out something different for a change, and the neighborhood kids were really excited to be getting items other than the same old traditional candy.

This year I was hoping to find another interesting, yet affordable alternative. If only I had stocked up during some of the back-to-school sales this fall! There were bins filled with fun pencils, erasers, mini-notebooks, crayons, and stickers for cheap. Now, they’re no where to be had. Party store favors would be a good place to check – a flyer that came today featured a 60ct bag of plastic spider rings for 99¢ (although these might be a possible choking hazard). And Target sells this pack of 24ct party bubbles for $3.99.

party bubbles

play-doh

eye balls candy

Anyway, today at Costco, I decided to revert to candy. Despite this post, I’m not against candy. I’m just against the boring, uninspired kind. For $8.99 comes this pack of 90ct individually wrapped Absolute Sweet “Eye Ballzz” gummy candy. Aren’t they so funky and gross? David tried one, and yes, they’re edible. I don’t know how many parents will actually let their kids eat them, but I’m sure the kids will get a kick out of getting them!

Meanwhile, for those of you who would truly like to give candy alternatives, here is a list compiled from nationalserviceresources.org and palmettohealth.org.

  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Pencils
  • Fancy erasers
  • Pencil toppers
  • Crayons
  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes)
  • Small novelty toys
  • False teeth
  • Superballs
  • “Slime”
  • Miniature magnifying glasses
  • Plastic jewelry/decoder rings
  • Necklaces
  • Glow-sticks
  • Sugar-free candy
  • Tiny decks of cards
  • Plastic medals
  • Fake money
  • Origami paper & instructions
  • Bubbles
  • Granola bars
  • pretzels
  • cheese and cracker packs
  • sugar free gum
  • packets of instant hot chocolate or cider
  • miniature raisin boxes
  • single serving nut packets
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