January 13, 2010

Tiny Party

My oldest son's and my daughter's birthdays are 2 days apart.  When they were younger this meant combined parties with a theme that I made unique to fit a boy and a girl.  Of course the combined parties went away as they got older, but this year it was fun to make their themes somewhat match.  My son's 13th birthday party was Friday night with the Super-sized party, and my daughter's 11th birthday Tiny party was Saturday.

I found some really cute tiny pink and white envelopes at a scrapbook store.  They were about 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, so that's the size we made the invitations.  The trick was to get all of the info on it without getting the text so small you need a magnifying glass to read it.

My daughter picked the tablecloth and pink placemats to match some napkins that she liked.  We asked a local party store to make helium balloons for us out of mini balloons, but they wouldn't because apparently they aren't made the same and will only hold helium for a couple of hours.  They showed us a sample of the cute mini balloon bouquet that you see as a centerpiece on the table, and that's what we went with instead.  But how cute would it have been to have mini helium balloons tied together!

As the girls showed up we made Shrinky Dinks keychains.  I had a table set up with all the supplies and patterns for them to trace.  They outlined the design with Sharpie markers and then colored them in with colored pencils.  Don't forget to punch holes before you shrink!  Then the girls had a ball watching them shrink in the oven.  Most of them had never even heard of Shrinky Dinks before.   We ate dinner while they cooled down, then later added ribbon for the ties.  You can see their designs above.  So cute!

Cupcake Boxes
We also decided instead of party favors, to make little decorated cakes for them to take home.  I used craft store coupons (and found some on Sale) to get 12 Wilton cupcake boxes that hold 4 cupcakes.  I took out the cupcake dividers and made circles of cardboard to fit inside each box that  I covered with foil.  This made it easy to decorate the cakes and then get them into the box for transporting.  I found some small cake pans and baked 12 little cakes and then froze them to make them easier to decorate.
So after we ate and opened presents the girls had a ball decorating their mini cakes until parents came to pick them up.  I had white frosting for the bases and then mixed up pink, green, yellow, purple and blue icing in bags with an assortment of decorating tips for them to ice with.  I did a small demo of how to make leaves and flowers with different tips, but for the most part they just got creative and had fun.  I also had some little flower sprinkles for them to use.  I forgot to get photos of their finished cakes, but a bad quality photo (but the only one I had) of my daughter's finished cake is above.

We set the table up with the placemats and kid's dishes (3 sets) from IKEA.  They come with little plates, bowls, cups and silverware.  We used tiny straws that I cut to fit the size of the cups.

I spent a month searching for tiny foods, and found some really cute ones.  I had bowls of mini M&M's, crackers, cookies and Oreo's sitting on the table.  For the food I cut refrigerated crescent rolls into smaller triangles with a pizza cutter and wrapped them around Lil' Smokies to make mini pigs-in-a-blanket, and heated up Bagle Bites mini pizzas.  We also had a Jello salad and veggie tray with baby pickles, baby carrots and little celery sticks.  We had lemonaid to drink, but when your cup only holds about an ounce you have to refill it MANY times to quench your thirst.

I also bought some cute little shot glasses at IKEA that worked perfect for making tiny sundaes.  I used a small metal scoop to put in a couple tiny scoops of ice cream and the girls had fun adding their toppings.

I made mini cupcakes dipped in glaze with colored sugar on top.  I found a tiered tray at the DI thrift store that in displayed all the cupcakes on.  I made several for each girl.  You can see them in the top photo also.

You have no idea how many times I heard squeals of "Oh, cute!" during this party.  The girls really enjoyed it and it proved that it's a great theme for girls of any age.  You could also combine it with American Girl or other dolls for a younger girl's party.

January 7, 2010

Backyard Campout Party

THEME:  We were originally thinking of a spy party, but my son then got invited to one a month before his birthday.  I know it doesn't really matter, but we also go for originality.  So we changed plans and thought the Backyard Campout theme would be perfect since we have a big backyard and a fire pit.  Luckily the weather was just getting warm enough to be outside, and not so warm that we'd be crazy to stand around a fire pit.

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INVITATIONS:  I read about some S'mores invitations and thought that would be really cute, but I wanted them to be puffy.  So I turned to my new favorite invitation supply - craft foam.  For the crackers, I cut them the size of real graham crackers (which I measured) on light brown foam, punched holes, scored the break line in the center, and chalked the edges.  The marshmallow was just a free-form shape and brown chalked edges (and a touch of black like real toasted marshmallows would have), and another free-form shape for the chocolate.  I glued the marshmallow to one side of a cracker and chocolate to the other, then I punched holes and hooked them together with a piece of yarn.  It really didn't take that long to make them after I had a pattern because I only needed 7 of them.  My daughter had to help me come up with the saying because I was having a hard time working the word "S'more" into a sentence.

DECORATIONS:  This was easy since we were outdoors, and that's part of the theme.  We pulled our trailer out onto the lawn in the backyard and put up the canopy with our picnic table under it.  This gave us a sheltered place to eat, and the trailer helped block some of the chilly wind.  Then we set up benches around the fire pit and camp chairs and coolers for everyone to sit on.

ACTIVITIES:  As the boys showed up we had them decorate a foam visor with foam camping stickers and letters.  We had 4 red and 4 blue visors, so that automatically split them into two teams for the games.  But after making their visors we sang camp songs and my husband and older son told campfire stories while we waited for everyone to show up.  A great website for songs and stories is Ultimate Camp Resource.

Then we divided into teams and I gave each team a list of items to find on a scavenger hunt in the backyard.  They were: a rolled up blanket, a flashlight, bug repellent, a camp plate, water bottle, first-aid kit, and small cooler.  It was all just stuff we had in our camping gear except the first-aid kits were small boxes wrapped in white paper with FIRST AID and a big + on them in red marker.  I wrote the items on a piece of torn brown paper bag that I crinkled up, smoothed out and rolled into a scroll.  We gave each team a backpack to collect the items in.  Each item had either a blue or red ribbon on it so they knew which team it belonged to.  After the scavenger hunt we had a backpack packing relay with the same items.

At the end of the party we played tug-of-war, freeze tag and animal charades while we waited for parents to pick them up.

FOOD:  I know it's not necessary to feed kids dinner at a 2 hour birthday party, but when it goes with the theme so well, you just have to!  We had hot dogs, which of course they got to roast over the fire on sticks.  My BIL made us some awesome roasting sticks a few years ago, so they worked out great - and they aren't sharp, so we didn't have to worry about puncture wounds.  I had a bunch of plastic baskets from another party, so I lined them with napkins and the boys put their hot dogs and chips in.

To drink I mixed up some lime and lemonade Kool-aid mixes in a clear pitcher (makes a good lime green color).  I washed some plastic bugs and put them in the bottom for "Bug Juice".  The boys loved it, and I made sure I squished them up a bit before pouring into their cups.  While half of the boys roasted their hot dogs, the other half went to the "Trail Mix" station where my daughter and her friend scooped up some favorites into baggies that I had pre-labeled their names on.  They got to choose from M&M's (I found some Indiana Jones ones with adventure pictures on them), Teddy Grahams, peanuts, raisins, mini marshmallows and pretzels.

Then, of course, we made S'mores.  I was worried that at this point they wouldn't be hungry anymore, but they are boys.  They each ate at least two and had a lot of fun perfecting their roasting techniques.  Some boys definitely had more practice than others!

CAKE:  The cupcakes were chocolate cake and frosting with crushed Oreo's for the ashes, pretzel logs for the logs and Fruit Roll-Ups for the flames.  They don't make orange Fruit Roll-Ups so I used red and yellow, wet them slightly and stuck the two colors together.  Then I just free-hand cut out the flames with a small paring knife.  They didn't turn out exactly as I pictured them, and my flames kept flopping, but they were still cute.

My daughter made this cake the next day with the extras from the party.

FAVORS:  These are always one of my favorite things to come up with for a theme party.  I got water bottles from the dollar store (found them cheaper later at Walgreens), and filled them with a whistle, glow stick, Milky Way candy bar, gummy hot dogs, fire ball candies, pop-rock gum and tied them off with a compass. A flashlight would have been a great favor also, but at the time I couldn't find any inexpensive ones that would fit inside a water bottle like these 3-in1 toys do! I kept the water bottles hidden in a cooler until it was time to hand them out.  I always suggest labeling everything with the kids' names.  They always set things down again before leaving, and then you know who it belongs to (again and again)!

My other kids enjoyed helping, and my youngest, who was sick, got to sit in the trailer and watch without getting near anyone.  It was such a fun party for the guests and our whole family.

The end result...

...one happy camper!