Monday, February 28, 2011

Girls (& Little Brothers) Just Wanna Have Fun

Today my sweet girl turned seven. We had so much fun this weekend celebrating her life. When we were planning the party a while ago, she said that she just wanted to go to the mall with some of her best friends. Well, I decided that I would spruce up her little adventure by adding a few fun surprises.

I did not want a brood of six and seven year old girls aimlessly meandering through the mall. I figure they'll do enough of that when they're teenagers. So, I came up with a fun scavenger hunt, covering all the places in the mall where she wanted to go with her friends. I had gone beforehand and talked with the clerks and planted the clues, and so it was all set to go!

We all met at the Starbucks, where we started our party
with our signature drink of fancy chocolate milk.

Then, the clues began.

We went from here...
(I love all their expressions in this picture)

To there...

And saw funny things everywhere.
(Couldn't help but throw in Dr. Seuss this week!)

But, we really had so much fun. And as far as birthday parties, it was her favorite thus far! You could make it more specific to what your little girl likes, but it was actually a very inexpensive party. A little more time consuming with the planning part of it, but so fun for them!

We ended at the food court for pizza and cake.
(Don't ask me about the healthy snacks! haha)

These little women are so amazing. I pray that they will stay friends for all their lives, encouraging one another daily. It does my heart good to be around them, and to have their fresh and fun personalities add a little more spunk into my own life.

I love you, River, and I'm so glad that I get to be your Mama. These last seven years have been the best of my life. You bless me beyond measure, sweet girl!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oh, the Party You'll Throw!

We love Dr. Seuss. And his birthday is in just a few Wednesday to be exact. So, I thought it would be fun to show you a couple cute ideas that you could do for your own little Dr. Seuss party. We've celebrated his birthday the last few years, even with the preschoolers, and we always have a great time. But, if your little one likes Dr. Seuss, I think this would be a fabulous birthday party theme anytime of year!

1. "The more that you read, the more things you will know!" Get out all your Dr. Seuss books and make them the main books you read for a few days (or weeks). If you don't have many, head to the local library and stock up. You'll find yourself getting smarter (and sillier!) by the day.

2. "Try them, try them, you will see!" Last year I tried to make green eggs and ham...and it went about as well as this guys. Pretty funny, but you should definitely try them!

3. "Snack, snack. Eat a snack." When my brother Jack was little, his favorite book was Hop on Pop. So, whenever we came to that line, we always read it like this..."Eat a snack with Brown, Black and Jack!" He loved it. Serve Brown and Black's snack to your kids...all you need is milk, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, and apples, and you're done!

4. "Funny things are everywhere." Do a few educational activities that will be sure to get a few laughs. You can practice rhyming by letting the kids make up silly rhyming sounds and words. The more you laugh the funnier they think it is. If your kids are old enough, let them try writing short poems. Remember, they don't have to make sense, just let them have fun with it! These activities allow them to gain confidence in their language skills, while their having a blast.

5. "Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!" For your craft activity, let your kids get creative, and see what they can think up! Let them paint or color the zaniest creature they can imagine.

Want some more?! Here's a cute website that gives tons of detailed ideas for the perfect Dr. Seuss party.

*All quotes from the man himself. Taken from: 1. Oh the Places You'll Go; 2. Green Eggs and Ham; 3. Hop on Pop; 4. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; 5. Oh, the Thinks You Can Think.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just a Little Pixie Dust...

After I asked you that question at the end of yesterday's post, "What birthday party theme do you think would be fun to try?", I found what my answer would be.

This is totally and absolutely the next kids party I want to design. Now, if I can only persuade my daughter to go with this theme next year! I might not be able to wait that might have to happen. Any takers?! I still have some open spots for this summer! You gotta love Martha for putting all these fun party ideas together. It's totally addicting for people like

I'm such a party junkie.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Have Your Cake & Eat It, Too!

One of my favorite parts of birthday party planning is the food. I love thinking of cute names to call dishes to go along with the theme. Or, just coming up with a yummy menu of goodies. There are so many sites that you can grab inspiration from. I try to remember a few tips when coming up with my birthday menus...

1. Keep it Simple. There's no reason why you have to have 20 things to eat at a party. The main thing that the kids are interested in is the cake and ice cream, but if you're venturing into doing a few other things, keep it at that...a few other things. To streamline your menu to a few items will make your job that much easier.

2. Finger Food! Kids love finger foods that are easy to eat...and parents do too! It keeps set up and clean up nice and easy, and allows for less utensils to have to buy and use.

3. Healthy Choices are the Best. Now, the kids may disagree on this point, and continue to ask when the cake is being served, but trust me...the party will go better, if you limit the junk food. The kids will be able to interact better, and the parents won't hate you for jacking up their kids on too much sugar. I'm definitely a fan of birthday cake (or cookies, etc.), just balance out the cake with good fruit and veggie options!

4. Use Your Resources! Don't give yourself a hard time if you can't think of a totally original idea. There are entire websites devoted to this subject so use them! Here are a few dynamic sites for you to check out for your next party.

1. Let me just say, Betty Crocker is my friend.

2. Picture Me Cooking is a fun blog that has cute recipes that are easy enough for the kids to try, too. They will love helping to get ready for the big bash! Look how cute these are...

3. Tired of the same old party themes? has some really original ideas for easy, healthy and fun birthday parties, complete with recipes to go along with them!

4. Family Fun is exactly that...with more ideas than you could imagine. Check out their amazing birthday cake photo gallery while you're're sure to be impressed!

One thing I love about all of those sites is that even though the recipes look really fancy and intricate, most of them have step by step instructions, (including shortcuts!) to make it easy enough for anyone to attempt.

What birthday party theme do you think would be fun to try?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Speaking of Birthdays...

It was unintentional, but fitting that I chose to do the birthday posts in the month of February. Both my sweet husband and my little girl's birthdays are in February. Two people who celebrate in completely different ways.

My hubby really likes to tone down his birthday. He'd just assume it go by without anyone noticing, however, you can imagine how that goes over in this household. I do try to respect his wishes, and try to never make a "big thing" about it. Though, it was fun to celebrate him in little ways this past weekend.

The kids worked hard on a masterpiece in the driveway...

(tongues hanging out is a sure sign of concentration around here)

We let him sleep in on Saturday while we set up a few of his favorite things.

We enjoyed his favorite chili with a couple of friends while we yelled at and cheered for our favorite team. And, thankfully, the Tarheels pulled out a win for us.

It was pretty enough to even kick around the soccer ball for a bit.

Then, we all had a fun surprise peeking out from the leaves.

It is a gift indeed to see a bit of Spring on the rise. A breath of fresh air for my soul for sure. I hope your weekend was full of celebration, and that joy was found amongst the little things in life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Gracious Gift

My sweet friend showed up on my doorstep today
with this basket full of "Get Well" goodies.

I've been sick all week, but as any mom will tell you, that doesn't mean you get a week off to rest and recuperate. Just the goes on, regardless of how well you feel. Laundry piles up, deadlines are still present, dinner still has to get made, and children still have all the same needs they did you when you felt happy and full of energy. That's why this little surprise was such a delight. It was unasked for, and yet so needed. Unable to be reciprocated, and yet so graciously received.

It's these kind of gifts that bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. It's the compassion that gets me. The way someone would love me that much, just because. It reminds me of the gifts the Father has waiting in store for us. He shows up, in the most unlikely of places, with a basket full of blessings. He insists that we take the gifts, even though He knows we will never be able to repay. He has the most abundantly surprises in store for us, even though we are totally unworthy of them. I believe He has just the thing that we need, waiting to be generously given to our needy souls.

Have you been surprised by a gracious gift lately? One that you knew you hadn't asked for, but knew you needed?

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." ~ James 1:17

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Always an Activity

A few years ago, I remember having a friend over for a play date. While we were hanging out, every time the kids would come in, I would start them on the next activity. She looked at me, and said very plainly, "You always have another activity!" I remember thinking, "Of course...doesn't everyone?!" It made me laugh, as I thought how crazy I would feel if I didn't know of another activity to pull out.

Here are three simple tips when it comes to planning games and activities...

1. Reinforce the Theme - When thinking of the party itinerary, I try to base the games and activities around what the theme is. For example, if it's a Star Wars party, maybe there could be a balloon light saber battle. If it's a princess party, painting nails should definitely make the list! There are so many ideas out there for the taking... google is my friend when it comes to this! I will google an idea, and then tweak what I find to work for my kids age(s).

2. Double Duty - When planning your activities, think about how they can be used to serve a purpose at the party. You can have an activity that also serves as the favor (i.e. they make something to take home). Or you could have an activity that would double as part of the food (i.e. decorating cookies). It's a great way to stay on track with your theme, and also streamline the party agenda. Remember the carnival birthday party I designed this past fall? The first activity was for the kids to decorate their own prize bag...that would also end up being their favor bag holding all their goodies from playing the carnival games. It was a great way to get them involved from the very beginning!

3. Have More than Enough - Always have more than enough activities planned...even if you don't get to all of them. That way, you'll never have dead time, wondering how you're going to entertain everyone! They don't have to be extravagant. It could be coloring pages of whatever theme you're going with. Or reading a story that would have to do with your theme. But, just make sure you have some in your back pocket to pull out...just in case!

Do you have any great tips on finding the perfect activity?

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Game Plan

I like to always have an agenda for any party I plan. Especially for kids birthday parties... otherwise, it can quickly get crazy, and out of control!

Maybe this seems like a no-brainer, but when you're a check-list lover like I am, it's crucial! Having an agenda allows me to stay focused on what happens next at the party. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and chaotic, I'm able to enjoy the party, because I know what to expect. I hope this helps to make your next party run a little more smooth.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Send or Not to Send...That is the Question

So many times, people will say, "Do I really need to send out invitations for this, or can I just do an evite?"

Usually the rule of thumb is that you send out invitations if it's a more special occasion...a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, 50th anniversary, fancy dinner party, 16th birthday, etc. There's no rule that says you have to do actual invitations for every birthday party your child ever has. I love using evites. Just ask my friends...I send them out for anything. An afternoon playdate, a coffee date, a committee meeting, our moving day (I know I'm ridiculous). But, what I have found is that sending out invitations, sets the stage for what's to come. So, to give a little sneak peek of the party to come, I love to give a glimpse as to what we will be doing at our event.

But, yes, it is absolutely fine to just call your friends, or to send an evite! Sometimes, that's an easy step to give simplify the planning process. I think why I love sending them out for birthday parties, is because it feels like you get to start celebrating early. Going to pick out the invitations is just another part of the fun in planning for the party. And, sometimes, it will even give you just the inspiration you need to take the next step. We'll talk about that on Monday.

As for me, I have my maid of honor duties calling. I have quite a fun shower to host this weekend. And, actually designing the invitations for that, was what allowed me to have a vision for the entire shower. Whether you send something snail mail or not, you can still make telling people about the party a part of the celebration, just as much as any other step.

What's your rule of thumb when it comes to invitations?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making it About Them

Usually it starts in November. My daughter begins to plan her birthday party for February of the following year. I think it's because her brother's birthday is in November, and she knows that we have to get past his, before we can think about hers.

I got to plan her first two birthday parties...but after that, it was pretty much her thing. I get to throw in a few ideas here and there, but mostly, it's up to her. I'm ashamed to say that this year, I even tried persuading her to do a different theme, than just go to the mall with a few friends. I mean, what kind of a party is that?! But, I knew, deep down, it wasn't about the party, it was supposed to be about her.

This is where I try to start with all my birthday planning. I try to find out what they are really into then, and what they really love at that particular age. It allows me to begin thinking about how to celebrate who they are, and what they love. To commemorate their year by centering a party around who they are at that age.

For example, even though my son is now scared of dogs, at three, he loved them more than anything! So, that year, we had a puppy party. We had paw-print coloring books and puppy chow and scooby snacks. We had pup cakes instead of cup cakes, and even a puppy parade with any dogs that wanted to come along. It was so much fun, and he loved it. It allows me to remember how much he loved dogs, then...even though right now, he's scared to death of them. And, no it's not from the puppy party! haha.

Whatever the age of the child, I think sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the thought of what would be easy for us, or fun for us. So, as you're planning their party, just remember to make the celebration about them. That's the first step of having a birthday party your child will love!

cupcake picture credit:

Monday, February 7, 2011

You Say it's Your Birthday...

Being a huge Beatles fan, every year on my birthday, my dad calls and sings me this song...

Being a huge fan of birthdays, I love it. I've talked about my birthday here a lot, but I haven't done many posts about throwing birthday parties. In particular, children's birthday parties. Part of the reason, is because most of the time, now days, kids have their parties at all the familiar birthday spots...Bounce U, Chuck E. Cheese, Little Gym, and all the other places to have parties. And, yes, even I, the event planner, has called on their services a time or two.
Back, not so long ago, this was not the I'm sure you remember.

I remember being excited about going to McDonald's for one of my birthday parties (I think I was turning 5), but that was about the extent of going somewhere. Usually, I would have a few friends over, and we would play, eat cake, open presents, the end.

But, because of how extravagant everything in our society has become, that usually just doesn't feel like enough. If that's all you do, it's like you feel guilty for not doing "more", or making it really special.

My hope with this birthday series, is that you will come away from it feeling empowered to celebrate your child's birthday, without the guilt or pressure that can sometimes accompany throwing a party. Rather being able to have a sincere enjoyment of the celebration at hand. I'll kick off the party tomorrow morning!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Daddy Daughter Date

Tonight was a special occasion. It was so simple, really...just a visit to Chick-Fil-A. But this was no fast food night. This was dine her favorite restaurant!

She took her time in her bath. And then excitedly put on her favorite dress. I fixed her hair just so, and she put on her lip gloss.

She wanted me to "announce" her as she came out of her room, even though it was just the four of us there.

He had a surprise waiting for her in a golden box. It was her first corsage. She asked me if she had to wear it...that it was really scratchy.

She giggled and twirled and walked on air. He treasured every moment, seeing his beautiful daughter as the gift she is. They headed toward the car, walking hand and hand. On their special Valentine's Daddy-Daughter date.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unlikely Centerpieces at Home II

Another item I love using for arrangements are tea &/or coffee pots. These can seem so useless much of the time...sitting looking pretty, but not very functional. WRONG!

They are wonderful for flowers, foliage, or just a stick arrangement. Take your tea pots off those dusty shelves, stick some greenery in them, and simple as that, you have a new centerpiece!

Unlikely Centerpieces at Home

Even though it's still winter, I still often will bring in the outdoors. I'll cut whatever is still green, and stick in whatever will hold it. I started thinking about how many objects we have in our homes that can be centerpiece "material", that we often look right over. It wasn't until I started playing around with whatever I had at home, that I saw how many unlikely centerpieces were right under my nose.

Today, I'll start with pitchers. Yes, they are wonderful at pouring your guests a drink, but look what else they can do while they're just sitting around.

The texture that they give your arrangements is so lovely. They are much more interesting of a container than just another vase. Also, it clears up my pantry space!

This one is on my dining room table, and you can't even tell that it's a pitcher...

until you peek under the leaves.

See what you have lying never know if you'll find your next "vase" for those evergreens in your yard. I'll have another unlikely centerpiece tip for you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Paper Date

This past Saturday, my little girl and I decided we would have a girly date. Her birthday is coming up at the end of the month, and so we decided to go get her birthday invitations. She's only having a few friends go with her to the mall. I asked her if she remembered she was turning seven, and not seventeen! I'm just glad that she still lets me come. Now, granted, we could have gone over to Target, but then, I had another idea. I decided to take her to Ashleigh's instead.

I first met Ashleigh when I was styling the shower with Alexa. You might remember the fun menus we picked out for the shower...

Ashleigh's is my favorite place to go with brides to pick out invitations, programs, save the dates, or anything of the like! Ashleigh and her sister Brooke opened their fun little paper boutique about 2 years ago. They have all sorts of great stationary, bags, and gifts. They will sit with you around their big wooden table and spend as long as it takes to find the right choice. And it doesn't stop there. They know all the invitation etiquette that you need to know when deciding upon wording, and will write it up in a way that is just perfect. They'll even come up with cute little rhymes for party invitations!

My daughter felt so special to be able to go with me to such a fun store, and get to pick out the invitations she wanted for her party. I introduced her to "Ms Ashleigh" and after having a handful of their Valentine's M&Ms, we looked at all the beautiful choices. They had so many fun ones to choose from (for girls and boys for that matter), but here's what she ended up with.

she was so excited she kept on posing with them...

Then, when you're finished shopping, you get to walk out with a super cute bag like this.

I love getting to meet so many wonderful people who work in the same industry. We have so many awesome vendors in our area, and this paper boutique is definitely one of my favorites!