Tag Archives: birthday

Shopkins Birthday Party

I have so loved planning our daughter’s birthday parties over the years.  The teacher in me relished in creating party themes based on some of my favorite children’s books.  And while I still hold out hope to get to throw a Mo Willem’s Pigeon themed party someday, I had figured that this year our daughter would have her own strong opinions about choosing a theme for her birthday party.  I was right.  About 6 months before her birthday, out of the blue as we were leaving the grocery store (one of her favorite places to go), she announced that she wanted to have a birthday party with a shopping cart and a ball pit.  Hmmmm.  Not much to work with, right?  I thought this was just a whim and that surely she would forget and pick another better theme for her birthday party as the date got closer.  Nope.  She stuck with the shopping cart and ball pit idea and began telling every random person that she was having a shopping cart and ball pit birthday.  What to do, what to do?  After 4 years of perfectly planned classic children’s book themes this was almost more than I handle.  And then it hit me – Shopkins!  Thanks to the Shopkins (which our daughter also loves anyway) I was able to plan a party with a nice theme that naturally revolved around shopping carts.  As far as the ball pit went, I figured we could always add a ball pit to any type of party!

So I started hunting for everything and anything that might have to do with Shopkins, grocery shopping, and, of course, shopping carts.  I found ideas on Pinterest; darling Shopkins birthday supplies at Party City and Target; shopping carts (big and mini), toy food, and balls for the ball pit on Amazon; Shopkins ribbon at JoAnn Fabrics; and berry baskets, brown paper bags, Shopkins themselves, Shopkins games, stuffed Shopkins, and a neon sign that you might find in a grocery store that says “FUN” at Michaels.  Even though I had pooh-poohed the idea at first, I have to say it ended up being the most fun party to plan and throw.

I put a brown shopping bag on the front of the invitations.  I figured “born to shop” seemed appropriate for our daughter’s birthday party.  The insides of the invitations had pictures of Shopkins along with the party information.

Shopkins Party Invitation

I also used the little brown shopping bag idea for food labels and table decorations.

Tiny Grocery Bags

I was able to find the perfect shopping cart of our daughter’s dreams on Amazon and filled it with stuffed Shopkins.

Shopping Cart Full of Stuffed Shopkins

I also found mini shopping carts on Amazon and filled them with Shopkins to use as table decorations for the party.  And after the party, our daughter still loves playing with them!

Mini Shopping Cart Filled With Shopkins

Since one of the Shopkins is a box of popcorn, and since our daughter loves to eat popcorn and loves balloons, I made a giant box of “popcorn” made out of yellow and white balloons.

Balloon Popcorn

The favors were so much fun to put together.  I collected all kinds of Shopkins “stuff” as well as chocolate chip cookies since there is a cookie Shopkin and put them all together in a berry basket, again something that might be found at a real grocery store.  I tied them up with some Shopkins ribbon.

Shopkins Favors Filler

Shopkins Party Favor

I also used the berry baskets for centerpieces which were honestly a quick fix.  The centerpieces kept blowing away because it was really windy, so I grabbed some rocks from our daughter’s rock collection in the backyard and stuck them into some extra berry baskets and used hot glue to attach the paper shreds and centerpieces to the tops.  Even though they were a last minute idea, I ended up loving them!

Shopkins Centerpiece

The birthday girl herself needed to be all decked out too of course.  In addition to a Shopkins shirt we found at Target, I made her hairbows from some of the Shopkins ribbon.

Shopkins Bows

The food was really fun and easy to plan since many of the Shopkins characters are food anyway!  In fact each food item was also a Shopkins character.  We had apple juice, strawberries, a giant doughnut from a local bakery, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, Shopkins fruit snacks, and popcorn.  I also made a cake in the shape of a shopping cart per our daughter’s request.

Shopkins Food

Shopping Cart Cake

Party activities included the ball pit (obviously), the balloon popcorn, a Shopkins pinata, a really fun game of “Fastest Shopper” which was kind of like an Easter Egg hunt except with little grocery bags instead of baskets and toy food instead of eggs, and a bunch of Shopkins games.  They were all big hits!

Ball Pit

Shopkins Games

All in all, it was a great celebration.  It had everything I wanted in a party, even if it wasn’t based on a classic children’s book.

Cute decorations – check.

Fun theme – check.

Good food – check.

Fun activities – check.

And most important, happy birthday girl – check!  It also had everything our daughter wanted in a party.

Shopping cart – check.

Ball pit – check.

Thanks, Shopkins for saving the day!

Kevin Henkes Mice Birthday Party

About 2 or 3 years before our daughter was born, I bought a bunch of Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday stuff because I knew that one day we would have a baby, and one day that baby would have a first birthday party.  And we did, and she did, and I fell in love with the idea of children’s literature themed birthday parties.  So then came a Madeline party and a Curious George party.  They were so much fun to plan!  I was a little worried that I was on borrowed time to get to pick the theme this year for the 4th birthday party.  After all, four year olds have OPINIONS about pretty much everything.  But I REALLY wanted to do a Kevin Henkes themed party (he’s my favorite children’s author!), so I started trying to get our daughter excited about the Kevin Henkes mice about 6 months ahead of time.  It worked!  We got to have a wonderful Kevin Henkes mice party… and the birthday girl enjoyed it too!

I had a ball making purple purses for the invitations.  I folded card stock so that it opened like a purse and filled the inside with 3 quarter stickers, music notes, and sparkly sunglasses – just like Lilly has in her story!

Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Inside Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

Inside Purple Plastic Purse Invitation

All of the food was Kevin Henkes mouse themed – mouse cake, meringue mice, chrysanthemum cupcakes, Cheetos, cheese, mouse cookies, and fancy little sandwiches as featured in Chester’s Way.  I put pictures of the inspirations for the snacks from the books on the food label cards – because they were cute and also because without them no one may have know what I had been thinking since I do realize not everyone has every tiny detail of every Kevin Henkes book burned on their brains as I do.  Many of the ideas came from Pinterest, but I came up with several of them on my own too.

Mouse Party Food

Mouse Party Food

More Mouse Party Food

More Mouse Party Food

Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

Mouse Cookies

Mouse Cookies

Mouse Cake

Mouse Cake

For the decorations I used brightly colored polka dot napkins that reminded me of many of the outfits that Lilly wears.  I used purple paper plates and cups, red tablecloths, and crowns to match Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  I also got artificial chrysanthemums and put them in purple Ball jars to represent Chrysanthemum.  Finally, I put laminated book pages around, once again to look cute and to help the guests understand what was going on at the party.

Mouse Party Table

Mouse Party Table

The party activities included a pin the blanket on Owen game, a bucket of dress up items that represented the mice in all of the different Kevin Henkes books, a game of Parcheesi like Chrysanthemum plays, and a make your own mouse craft project.

Pin the Tail on Owen

Pin the Tail on Owen

Mouse Dress Up

Mouse Dress Up

Parcheesi Game

Parcheesi Game

Make a Mouse Craft

Make a Mouse Craft

The favors were purple plastic purses on top of baggies filled with Cheetos and nifty disguise glasses – right up Lilly’s alley!

Purple Plastic Purse Favors

Purple Plastic Purse Favors

I even found perfect mouse themed clothes for the birthday girl to wear… not that she would actually wear them on the day of the party.  Oh well.  Don’t these go perfectly with Lilly’s clothes?  Thank you Hanna Anderssen and Gymboree for unwittingly coming out with perfect Kevin Henkes themed clothes just in time for our party!

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Lilly Birthday Outfit

Lilly Birthday Outfit

Hanna Anderssen Mouse Shirt

Hanna Anderssen Mouse Shirt

All bets are off for next year.  I’m pretty sure this was the last of my children’s literature themed parties, so I made it count!  But it’s ok.  I had a good run.  I can’t wait to see what she chooses for the big 5!!!

 

January Card of the Month: Balloon Birthday Card

January’s card of the month is a birthday card.  As I have mentioned before, I like to make several cards at a time assembly line style, and January is a good time to make sure I have a good chink of the birthday cards I will need throughout the year ready to go.  Besides, making cards is a good inside activity, and I have been too cold lately to want to leave the house at all.  Building up my birthday card inventory inside where it is cozy and where there is college basketball on the tv is a much more desirable option than venturing outside in the bitter cold for even just a few minutes and then spending the next 6 or more hours trying to stop shivering.

I rediscovered this balloon birthday card while looking through my card files.  The colors on it reminded me of January so I decided to use it for the January card of the month.  (Although any color scheme would work of course!)

January Card of the Month: Balloon Birthday Card

January Card of the Month: Balloon Birthday Card

I cut out 3 balloon shapes using my Cricut.  I used some fun papers I had in my paper scraps bin.  One was a green velum and one was a pearlized pale green – both perfect for balloons!  The third was a coordinating green and blue stripe.  For the background I chose a light blue card stock that matched the striped balloon.  I cut it to 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ and folded it in half.  I attached strings to the backs of the balloons using glue dots.  Then I attached the balloons to the front of the card with adhesive.  After the balloons were positioned and attached the way I wanted them, I tied the 3 strings together in a knot at the bottom of the card.

Balloon Birthday Card Inside

Balloon Birthday Card Inside

For the inside I stamped some Happy Birthday balloons with light blue on white using a very old Stampin’ Up stamp and matted it with the green vellum and pearlized green from the front of the card.  I finished it off with photo corners punched out of the green and blue striped paper.

A cute card and a fun way to use up extra bits of paper and experiment with different color and pattern combinations.

Happy Birthday to Me!

It’s September!  My favorite month – back to school time, the start of fall, and my birthday!  I love having my birthday in September – perfect timing for one last cookout of the year and getting new fall clothes as presents.

This year my birthday party was especially great because it was planned entirely by our 3 year old!  She chose a Minnie Mouse theme and picked out Minnie plates, napkins, cups, a tablecloth, wrapping paper, and a balloon all on her own.  When my parents tried to persuade her to pick a different theme that might be more up my alley, she said, “No, I’ll stick with Minnie.”  (By the way, she’s already planning a Mickey party for her grandpa, a Daisy party for her grandma, and a Professor Von Drake party for her daddy.  If this doesn’t make sense to you, just google “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”)  She wrapped a package all by herself in Minnie paper, and she did a darn good job if you ask me!

Minnie Wrapping

Minnie Wrapping

She even picked a movie for the evening’s entertainment.  No, not “Minnie’s Bowtique” as you might have expected.  Instead we watched her current favorite movie: “Hello Dolly.”  Sure, I probably wouldn’t have picked Minnie decorations on my own, and I actually can’t stand “Hello Dolly.”  But the fact that she worked hard to plan a special celebration just for me full of things she loves made me feel very loved.  It was one of my best birthday parties ever!

 

Curious George Birthday Party

We recently got to celebrate our daughter’s birthday with some of her little friends.  I absolutely love planning her birthday parties which have so far (lucky me!) all been based on classic children’s books.  It’s like getting to do a whole author study or mega book report in one afternoon – with cake!!  I know that I’m on borrowed time with this before she picks a theme unrelated to children’s literature, but my fingers are crossed that I can hold on a little longer – I have great ideas for both Pigeon and  Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse parties that I’m dying to use…

This year she chose Curious George (or Crazy George as she calls him) for her birthday theme.  I found lots of fun ideas on Pinterest, and came up with some of my own as well.  For food, I served Curious George fruit snacks, Gerber Banana Cookies, cutout cookies in the shape of puzzle pieces (since Curious George eats a puzzle piece in one book),

Puzzle Cookies

Puzzle Cookies

Rice Krispie treats in the shape of monkeys (I used a monkey cookie cutter and both regular and Cocoa Krispies for the heads along with chocolate chips and Twizzlers Pull and Peel for the faces),

Rice Krispie Monkeys

Rice Krispie Monkeys

and yellow hat cakes (Twinkies cut in half and stuck in cake dessert shells).

Yellow Hat Cakes

Yellow Hat Cakes

To decorate the tables, I used banana Runts and puzzle pieces in apothecary jars along with various Curious George toys I found at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

Curious George Centerpieces

Curious George Centerpieces

Each child had a newspaper boat (since Curious George makes boats out of newspapers in another book) with his or her name on it to mark his or her spot at the table.

Curious George Party Tables

Curious George Party Tables

The kids also had supplies to make monkeys out of construction paper and got to play yellow hat ring toss (made out of yellow cones and strips of black electrical tape).

Yellow Hat Ring Toss

Yellow Hat Ring Toss

At the end we handed out Barrels of Monkeys for favors.  I thought it was a fun birthday theme – lots of possibilities!  I hope the kids enjoyed attending the party as much as I enjoyed putting together all of the Curious George themed stuff for the party!

August Card of the Month: Birthday

I love making cards with all of my paper and stamping supplies.  It’s something I enjoy but often run out of time to do.  So in hopes of forcing myself to find more time for making cards, I am going to start sharing a card of the month each month.

August’s card is a birthday card.  I like to make several birthday cards at a time to ensure that I have enough cards to cover lots of birthdays.  For any set of cards I make, I like to plan them out then punch, stamp, color, fold, etc. all the pieces for the cards.  When all the individual parts are ready, I put them together assembly line style.

August Card of the Month: Birthday

August Card of the Month: Birthday

This set of cards was fun because I got to mix and match color combos and patterns, so each card turned out to be a little different from the others.  I punched out circles from patterned paper.  I stamped birthday hats (although you could use any birthday type stamp you want) on white paper and punched them out in little circles.  After attaching all the circles to the cards, I finished them off with little stick on dots.  I love how they turned out, and I can’t wait to send them to friends and family.

Candle Birthday Party

We recently celebrated my dad’s birthday.  When our two year old found out that his big day was coming up, she declared that she would be getting him a candle for a present.  So that became the theme for his birthday party.  It turned out to be one of the cutest birthday party themes we’ve ever had.  My mom found darling candle plates and napkins at Target.  Then she made candles to decorate the table by wrapping colorful paper around toilet paper tubes, making wicks with black pipe cleaners, and adding construction paper flames.

Candle Centerpiece

Candle Centerpiece

The table looked so nice – especially with my mom’s collection of goblets in every color that we use for special occasions.  They went perfectly with the brightly colored candles.

Candle Birthday Table

Candle Birthday Table

And of course we were sure to add in the toy candles that our two year old was so adamant about bringing from her toy box to give to her best friend for his birthday.

Toy Candles

Toy Candles

Madeline Party… or Bastille Day???

When I was little, I loved the book Madeline.  I would always check it out at the library.  As I got older, I started collecting Madeline stuff – dolls, lunch boxes, figurines…  I also loved learning French in high school.  I even considered becoming a French teacher but decided against it because my accent is HORRIBLE.  So when it came time to plan our daughter’s birthday this year, I chose Madeline for a theme with French food for the treats.  It ended up being a great theme for a birthday.  If you don’t have any birthdays coming up it would also be a great theme for a Bastille Day Party – why not???  Even if it’s not a holiday here in America, it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate when it comes up on July 14th!

For the decorations I found darling Madeline plates, napkins, cups, tablecloths, etc. online.  You should be able to find them if you Google “Madeline party supplies” or look it up on Pinterest.  I also put little yellow hats like Madeline’s on everything.  I even got a hat with a bow to use as a centerpiece on one table.

Madeline Party Decorations

Madeline Party Decorations

I found some Eiffel Tower decorations at Sur La Table and other various places.  I even had some French cafe plates from Williams Sonoma that I got years ago but never really had a chance to use before.  I also put the dolls, etc. from my own Madeline collection around here and there.  One of my favorite decorations was a rabbit drawn on tissue paper with a Sharpie and taped to the ceiling – because in Madeline’s hospital room there was “a crack in the ceiling that had the habit of sometimes looking like a rabbit.”

Madeline Party Rabbit

Madeline Party Rabbit

The food was so much fun to make.  For the birthday dinner we served croque monsieur sandwiches, fruit, and several kinds of cheese.  The desserts were all part of “Madeline’s Patisserie.”

Madeline Party Treats

Madeline Party Treats

I got an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter from Sur La Table to make cut out cookies.  I also made cupcakes topped with little French toothpick decorations from Sur La Table as well.  We had macaroons, eclairs, and cream puffs.  And of course, the birthday cake was in the shape of Madeline’s yellow hat with a black fondant bow.

Madeline Party Hat Cake

Madeline Party Hat Cake

I had so much fun with this Madeline/French theme.  I hope our little one and her little girlfriends enjoyed it as much as I did!  Whether you are planning a small birthday celebration with a few friends and family like we had or a big Bastille Day extravaganza, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too!

Ice Cream Cones that WON’T MELT in Hot Summer Weather!

Make them into cupcakes!  These darling ice cream cone cupcakes are perfect for a last hurrah of summer!  When I was little, there was a restaurant in town that always had cupcakes in ice cream cones.  I thought they were the best thing ever.  My 9 year old mind boggled as to how such a thing was even possible.  So obviously, I was so excited when I found lots of “how to’s” for ice cream cone cupcakes all over Pinterest.  http://pinterest.com/alwayswonderful/

I thought that they would be really difficult to make, so I put off trying them.  I finally decided to give it a shot though, and I found they are actually quite easy!  I just used a cake mix and store bought frosting to save time.  As you can see, my ice cream cone cupcakes turned out great!

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Here are a few tips to make sure your ice cream cone cupcakes work out perfectly:

  • Make sure you get cones with flat bases.  Just stand them in regular muffin tins for baking.
  • Fill each cone with batter up to the point where the cone begins to flare out.
  • Bake them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  I was very worried the cones would burn, but they didn’t!
  • When it is time to test the cakes for doneness, use a skewer instead of a toothpick.  If the skewer comes out clean, they are done.  The toothpicks just aren’t long enough to test the cake down in the cones!
  • When they have cooled, frost them using a decorating tip.  You make want to practice once or twice to make sure you get a good ice cream “swirl” shape.  Sprinkle jimmies on the tops to make them look even more like ice cream cones.
  • The ice cream cone cupcakes didn’t melt like ice cream would, but they did start to get soggy the next day.  Some of the cones began to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!  I would suggest trying to serve them the same day they are made.  If you want to save some until the next day, you might want to try storing them in a container that is not airtight.  That might help a little with the sogginess.

I hope you enjoy these fun summer treats!

 

A Very Hungry Birthday!

Caterpillars, butterflies, fresh fruit – all perfect for summer, right?  We recently celebrated our daughter’s first birthday with a The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party.  We had waited a very long time for our daughter to arrive.  I found Very Hungry Caterpillar plates and napkins probably 3 or 4 years ago.  I went ahead and got them at the time in hopes that we would have a baby, and that baby would need a first birthday party someday!  It couldn’t have been more perfect that our daughter ended up having a summertime birthday just made for a The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party!

This party was so much fun to prepare.  Eric Carle’s book provides so many great possibilities!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A lot of my ideas for the party came from Pinterest.  Check out my Pinterest page to see my inspirations! http://pinterest.com/alwayswonderful

One of my favorite projects was making a caterpillar with pictures to show how our daughter had grown each month throughout her first year.

Month by Month Caterpillar

Month by Month Caterpillar

For the food, I chose foods from the book like apples, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, swiss cheese, and salami as well as butterfly shaped crackers and brownies.  (By the way, this would work for more than just a party – gathering up food for a Very Hungry Caterpillar picnic would be a fun activity for any summer day!)

Very Hungry Caterpillar Food

Very Hungry Caterpillar Food

The cake was a lot of fun to make: individual cupcakes decorated to look like the caterpillar and fruit from the story.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes

Finally, I filled the goody bags with rainbow lollipops, m&m caterpillars (I filled a long skinny plastic bag with red and green m&ms), and fruit snack butterflies (I filled a small bag with fruit snacks, pinched it in the middle, and twisted a pipe cleaner around it).  I could also see making these as part of a The Very Hungry Caterpillar lesson at school.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Favors

Very Hungry Caterpillar Favors

It was a very special day.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer or our precious baby!