Friday, February 25, 2011

Birthday Party Backtrack

Since I'm still new to this whole blogging thing I'm not all that familiar with blogger etiquette (if there is such a thing).  I'm not sure if it's acceptable to backtrack and blog about something that took place before I had even officially started my blog, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Party planning is one of my very favorite things to do and I always have themes in the back of my mind even if there are no parties on the calendar in the near future.  For example, R's 1st birthday party theme (a luau) was chosen when she was 4 months old and right now I have themes and ideas in my head for her preschool graduation party in June, A's 3rd birthday party (also in June) and C's 2nd birthday party in November.  Not to mention the extra ideas that are just floating around in there for no one or any occasion in particular.  I wonder if people would think it odd for me to just walk up to them and lend them some of my ideas?  "Hi, I don't really know you that well (or at all) but I see that you have a child (or children) and I have more birthday party ideas/themes in my head then we'll ever be able to use, so I'd like to give you a few".  I would probably freak a few people out with that.

I have always loved a good theme party, even before having children.  My roommates (who shall remain nameless) and I threw a few themed shindigs at our townhouse (many, many years ago).  We had a luau, an 80's party and a lingerie party (don't ask).  We required that everyone attending wear attire related to the theme (trust me, you really don't want to ask about that last one).  We also hosted many Girls' Nights and viewing parties when shows like The Bachelor and American Idol were still new.  We made appetizers galore and drank countless bottles of wine on those fun nights.  Needless to say my party themes have changed a bit almost 10 years and 3 kids later but it's still fun to plan a party for any occasion!

So back to the Birthday Party Backtrack.  R's 5th birthday was a fairy theme - A Fairy Fun 5th Birthday!  As always, I started planning several months in advance scouring the internet for fun ideas looking for everything from games to party favors to decor and food.  I literally spent hours online Googling everything you could ever possibly need for a party.  You will soon learn that I am the Queen of Google.  I Google everything.  Lots of my ideas come from party planning blogs and other blogs where cool moms share ideas and photos from their kids' parties.  That is another thing that inspired me to start my own blog.  The thought of being able to share my ideas and tips with other people really gets me excited.  How great to know that something that I blogged about reached another person (maybe someone that I don't even know or someone half way across the country) and gave them inspiration!  One of my favorite party planning blogs is Hostess with the Mostess (catchy name, right?).  Check it out at

My idea for the fairy party started when I was reading a photographer's blog and came across photos from her daughter's 5th birthday party.  All of the little girls in the photos were dressed as fairies and they looked so precious and cute.  I mentioned the idea to R and she was smitten.  And so the party planning began.

First thing's first - invitations!  I went the DIY route this year b/c I was on a tight budget and I couldn't find any e-vite templates that I liked.  I grabbed some scrapbooking paper at Michael's, typed up a cute little verse, did a little cutting and gluing and the invitations were done.  I sprinkled some "fairy dust" (glitter) inside the envelopes and wrote "A Fairy Special Delivery" on the outside before hand delivering them.

For the decor I envisioned turning our home into an enchanted forest.  R loves flowers and I knew she would really get into that idea.  I made the tissue pom poms mentioned in my first post using pink tissue paper and hung them from our entry way and dining room chandeliers, as well as in the niche above our fireplace.  I made different sizes and hung them at varying heights to add interest.  You can find several tutorials on the tissue poms on You Tube.  I also draped white tulle netting coming down from the chandelier above the table in the dining room.  Starting at the chandelier I rolled the tulle out to each of the 4 corners in the room and pinned it so that it created a canopy and then I spread pink rose petals (artificial ones) on top of the tulle.  I also spread the same rose petals outside our front door and on the sidewalk leading to the door.  In the living room around the fireplace I spread pink gerbera daisies (also artificial).  In the corner of the living room there was pink tulle hanging from the ceiling to create another sort of curtain/canopy and this is where I placed the pink toadstools that I made using cardboard and spray paint.  The toadstools were a last minute project when my original idea didn't work out so I wasn't sure about using them but they were actually quite cute.  I brought the girls' vanity table down from the toy room and placed it in this same corner b/c each of the party guests was going to receive a makeover.  On the fireplace mantel I made a clothesline using fishing wire and hung wings and a tutu for each child.  I also made a sign that said "Fairy Frock Boutique" and placed in on the mantel in a frame.  I used an old vase to display the wands and another vase full of pink tulips to add to the mantel decor.

To start the party we held a Fairy Transformation Ceremony.  I started by reading a special letter from the Birthday Fairy to the birthday girl and her guests.  Then I called each of the girls up to receive their wings, tutus, and wands.  The wands were purchased at Target (in the Dollar Spot) and the wings and tutus came from Halo Heaven -  I LOVE this site and had purchased from them for R's 4th birthday too.  Great stuff and so inexpensive!  Once everyone was dressed in their fairy attire we moved over to the vanity table where I gave each girl a makeover complete with eyeshadow, lipgloss and glitter for their faces and hair.

Next it was time for some activities and crafts.  We started with a quick game of Fairy Godmother Says (a fairy version of Simon Says) and then moved on the the Fairy Scavenger Hunt.  I had so many great ideas for this but I was very limited b/c R's birthday is in January and it was too cold to go outside, so I had to improvise.  I made little "fairy doors" using cardboard again, and to make them look a little more realistic and cutesy I glued pink door knobs on each one.  I hid the doors around the house and placed the items from the scavenger hunt list behind each door.  I gave each of the girls a bag with their name on it to keep their goodies in.  The items for the scavenger hung were - Fairy Dust (a mix of white sand and silver glitter in small plastic bottles), Fairy Gems (gumdrops in cute little pouches), Fairy Kisses (bottles of bubbles), and Fairy Sweet Treats (M&M's).  After the scavenger hunt we moved to the kitchen where the girls made Fairy Snow Globes.  I filled baby food jars with water, added a small drop of red food coloring to make the water pink and had the girls pour in glitter and confetti.  Cute, fun and easy!  The last activity/craft was Fairy House Decorating in the Fairy Fantastic Workshop (our home office space).  Each of the girls was given a small clay flower pot which they turned upside down and then decorated using various embellishments and glue.  There were bowls of artificial flowers, jewels, pom poms and even some cute little pink and green dragonflies (all from Halo Heaven) for them to use.

When all of the activities and crafts were complete we moved to the dining room for lunch.  The food was actually displayed on the island in the kitchen and labeled with fairy related descriptions.  The menu consisted of Nectarous Nuggets (Chick-fil-a nugget tray), Fruit Gems (watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes and blueberries), Fairy Fluff Bites (pink marshmallows) and Magic Wands (rock candy sticks that I displayed in a vase stuffed with pink cotton candy), and of course CAKE from the always amazing Edible Art -  I have never ordered a cake from anywhere other than this bakery.  For C's birthday a friend made the cake but I suppose that's not technically ordering/purchasing.  I am a loyal Edible Art customer:)  Our wedding cake and the cake for my bridal luncheon came from Edible Art and since then I have been hooked.  I don't know that the kids even care for it all that much b/c it is very dense and the buttercream frosting is so rich but I figure that since I spend so much time and energy on planning these parties I deserve the cake that I want:)  And not only do they taste incredible but they always look incredible too.  This time around I looked for ideas online, and using bits and pieces from various photos of cupcakes and cakes, plus a little of my own creativity, I came up with a great design for this cake.  And as always the staff at Edible Art took my idea to the next level and executed it perfectly.  This may be one of my favorite cakes so far!

The dining room table scape was one of my favorite parts of the party decor.  Not only were the pink tissue pom poms and the tulle w/rose petals hanging beautifully in the room but the table was awfully pretty too.  I started by covering it with a pink plastic table cover from the Dollar Tree and then layered a long strip of patterned wrapping paper over the top to act as a runner.  I used light green and pink paper plates for the place settings and topped each with a rolled napkin holding plastic utensils and topped with  small tissue pom "napkin ring".  To make the napkin rings I used a very small tissue pom and attached a pipe cleaner, then wrapped the pipe cleaner tightly around the rolled napkin/utensils.  There were pink place cards with each girl's name and also green plastic cups complete with pink flower rims that I made using scrapbook paper.  The flower rims almost didn't happen b/c I couldn't get them to stay on the cups but then my husband had a brilliant idea (for once) and he suggested that I put a rubber band under each flower rim to hold it in place and keep it from sliding down the cup.  Genius!  In the center of the table was a vase of pink gerbera daisies (real ones this time) and a few bowls of pastel colored jelly beans for the girls to snack on.

Finally to end the party each of the girls received their party favors.  I found fairy books in the Dollar Spot at Target along with fairy lip gloss watches so I wrapped them in leftover tulle and tied them with pink ribbon to make a pretty little package.  The party guests also took home their wings, wands and tutus, along with all of the goodies from the Fairy Scavenger Hunt and their craft projects.  I also gave everyone plastic bags to fill with the jelly beans, rock candy and pink marshmallows.

And so that was our Fairy Fun 5th Birthday Party.  Some of the decorations stayed up through Valentine's day (I knew that all of that pink stuff could be multi purpose) but I was sad to have to tear apart and disassemble all of my hard work when I couldn't play off the decor as being for a holiday anymore.  It's sort of like planning a wedding really.  Not quite as expensive thankfully, but I put so much time, effort and energy into something only to have it be over with in a matter of hours.  But we will always have the memories of that fairy fun day - hearing the girls squeal and exclaim each time they found one of those little fairy doors, the look on R's face when I brought out her cake and we all sang Happy Birthday to her, and all of the hugs and smiles as the party guests were leaving. 
Oh, and TONS of photos to look back on.

Before I end this post here's a Birthday Party Backtrack list of the theme parties we've hosted so far:
R's Birthdays
2nd-Cowboys and Cowgirls
4th-Fancy Nancy Tea Party

A's Birthdays
1st-Birthday Princess
2nd-Pink Lemonade

C's Birthdays
1st-Little Sailor/Nautical

Sometime over the next few weeks or months I'll try to post photos and details from some of those parties but I have a lot of other fun stuff that I want to blog about too, so I need to prioritize and try not to bombard the blog world with posts about my kids' birthday parties.  
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

To blog or not to blog?

Oh boy... here we go.  My first ever blog post.  Assuming I can figure out how to post it.  I've been thinking of starting a blog for awhile now and after talking to a friend of a friend about her blog I decided to go for it.  Problem is I didn't realize that it was going to be such a labor intensive project.  I'm not a computer whiz by any means.  I use the computer for e-mail, Facebook and online shopping.  I'm not completely clueless when it comes to formatting, uploading, and all of the other technical "stuff" but I'm not completely comfortable with any of that either.  I also do not like to fail when I try new things.  So you can imagine my frustration when I sat down one afternoon a few weeks ago to start my blog and immediately hit a wall when ALL of the blog names that I liked were already taken.  I felt discouraged right away and my frustrations only grew as that day went on.  So I decided to take a step back and give myself some time to think.

I finally came up with a name but to be quite honest I'm not in love with it.  Tulips and Toadstools?  It's okay I guess.  Tulips are my oldest daughter's favorite flower and I like them too, and we had just celebrated her 5th birthday when I got the bright idea to start blogging so I stole the toadstools part of the name from her birthday party theme.  We had a fairy party and I turned our home into an enchanted forest complete with cardboard toadstools that I cut out and painted using boxes we saved from Christmas.  Pink toadstools, cute right?  I thought so and I was tired of typing in blog names only to get a message telling me that someone else was already blogging under that name so I went with what I had.  Then I tried to upload photos, templates and a bunch of other pretty stuff to make my page look nice but that didn't work either so again frustration set in.  Time to take another break and regroup.

Here I am 2 weeks later still having no clue what I am doing but I finally decided that maybe having a pretty page isn't what's most important.  That was a hard one for me b/c I am very meticulous and anal when it comes to the way things look.  I worked in visual merchandising for 8 years before having children so I was paid to be that way.  If something isn't visually appealing and interesting then why would anyone want to look at it?  I'm still working on letting go of some of my hang-ups and trying not to be too hard on myself or worry too much about this blog being perfect but it's tough.  I have 3 children ages 5 and under, a part time job, a volunteer position at the preschool that my girls attend and a home to maintain, so everything can't be perfect all the time but close to perfect is okay too:)

So what finally made me decide to get this thing started?  Yesterday did!  Yesterday alone I thought of 2 things that I could have and wanted to blog about.  I posted them both on Facebook but I really, really wanted to write more and share the cuteness that I had found.  What cuteness you ask?  Well first of all, I was at Target (where else?) in the Dollar Spot when I came across the most adorable decorative miniature egg trees for Easter.  They were only $2.50 each and they were soooooo cute!  I immediately envisioned one on each end of my fireplace mantel so I grabbed 2 and threw them in the cart.  The bin next to the trees was empty but I noticed that the tag on the shelf said "egg tree ornaments" so I immediately began scouring the other bins to see if I could find said ornaments.  No luck.  Oh well, there just happens to be another Target about a mile down the road so I knew that I would be headed there next.  And sure enough that Target had the egg tree ornaments - 20 little eggs in pretty pastel colors also for only $2.50.  That made my day.  And just a little tidbit about me, I have been known to travel far and wide hitting as many as 4 Targets in one day when I am on a mission to find something that I want.  My best friend and I put out Code Red Alerts when one of us can't find a must have item and these alerts have gone as far as Iowa where my mom was sent out to complete a Code Red mission once.  Laugh if you want to but you know you do the same thing.  Maybe you haven't given it a name but you do it too. And not just at Target friends:)  Now I'm off track (oops!) but anyway, I got the super cute mini egg trees and the ornaments and I can't wait for Easter to decorate them and put them on the mantel.  How cute!  And cheap!  Especially compared to similar items from places like Pottery Barn Kids!  Another tidbit about me, I love to borrow ideas from places like that and create my own less expensive versions.  So fun!
Item #2 from yesterday - tissue pom poms.  A DIY project that is so easy and cheap.  Are you seeing a theme here?  Easy and cheap!  Oh, and cute!  That's the way I like it:)  So I made pink tissue pom poms to use as part of the decor for the above mentioned fairy party.  You can get a pack of tissue paper for 99 cents and each pack will make 2 medium sized tissue poms or 4 smaller ones.  Then you attach some fishing wire, hang them and you are done. Voila!  Pretty, pretty, pretty!  We used them for decor at the fairy party, then they were hung in the teacher's lounge at my girls' preschool for a Valentine's Day luncheon and now they are in my younger daughter's bedroom hanging beautifully from the ceiling and adding a cute and feminine touch to her room.  And since we are currently renting the room definitely needs all of the cute touches it can get.
So those are my 2 great gotta share ideas/findings from yesterday.  And the main reason I just had to sit down and blog today.  So please forgive my not so pretty page but I just had to get those things out there.   And I feel pretty good now.  Although I am worried that this might be the longest blog post ever. I am a bit wordy at times and I tend to repeat myself a lot but I'll try to improve those things along with the visual presentation of this page as I go along.  
Thanks for reading my first ever blog post.  Yay me!