>> Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I've been thinking lately about where I started, and how far I've come with this whole "party" business. There has to be one or two of you out there who know that I had another blog, before this one, called "piece of cake parties"? It started out as a place for me to write about and share all of the events that I did for friends and family - and trust me, as a non-party planner, I did a TON! The very first post I did back in May of 2008 was all about my daughter's first birthday party. I was SO proud!
Please don't laugh?
So, without further ado...
"In getting ready for my 3 year old son's birthday party this weekend, I fondly remembered planning a 1st birthday party for my now 6 year old daughter.
Even back in 2003, I was adamant that I would not buy a prepackaged "kit" of birthday supplies. No Dora, no Thomas and NO princesses! Once I had announced this plan to my friends I couldn't then go back on my word, even after I figured out how difficult I was making it for myself. Oh, the pressures of your very first child's first birthday party!
I decided on a "Jungle" theme - mostly because my daughter's favorite book was "Goodnight Gorilla" and she loved saying the word giraffe. I asked a friend to help with some illustrations of cute little jungle animals, very appropriate for a 1st birthday party, (although, cheap stock photo would have worked just as well) and just printed the invitations on my color printer.
Next I had to decide on decorations. I just happened to have a ton of leftover green, brown and maroon construction paper, I found leaf and animal silhouette templates online and I went to town! Animals and leaves covered every horizontal surface, the ceiling and some windows too. I chose 3 shades of green streamers from Alin Party Supply and hung them from every chandelier and tent canopy.
Keeping with this Jungle theme, I found green striped cellophane party favor bags and tied them with animal print ribbon, made sugar cookies in animal shapes (although I could have just bought animal crackers) and make cupcakes with a little iced leaf on top. Our house was really small, so for comfortable seating I rented three round tables and covered them with forest green table cloths, and topped them with the paper animal and leaf cutouts. I also purchased plates, napkins and cups in 3 shades of green to match.
I knew there needed to be some kind of activity to entertain the children, and I had not yet heard of bounce houses or rent-a-character. I did not have any experience throwing a kids party before, so I just went with what I knew...crayons and paper. A child height table and chairs with a long piece of white butcher paper plus a few boxes of crayons and markers kept those multi-age kids busy for longer than you would expect.
And now for the pièce de résistance! The moment you have all been waiting for... the cake. While looking at my latest issue of Martha Stewart Baby, they had several options for children's birthday cakes. To my great surprise, there was a giraffe! Everything was right there in black and white - a template and everything. All I had to do was make a regular 9x12 sheet cake, the cut out between the legs became the neck, cut off a slope for the back and it becomes the head and tail pieces (see pattern details below). White frosting in a can (colored yellowish), frosting in a tube (in a contrasting color) to outline the legs, feet and face, plus some chocolate jimme sprinkles for the spots and you look like a STAR pastry chef!
Honestly, anyone can make this cake... here are a few tips:
- use boxed cake - it always turns out right
- use frosting in a can if you want to, it's easy and it tastes good
- what are you going to put the cake on? cut a piece of cardboard and cover it with foil, or purchase a ready made cake board of plastic or cardboard
- push 2 inch strips of paper towel or wax paper slightly under all the edges of the cake to keep the frosting off of the base board
- if you plan on writing on the cake, leave enough space for it
- remember to purchase candles!
- make cupcakes too - the kids actually prefer them to a piece of cake (and you'll be sure to have enough dessert to go around)
Michael's, Joann's or any online Craft Store
- paper to print invites on - or just use whatever you have at home
- green, brown, maroon construction paper
- animal print ribbon - to tie the party favor bags and for misc use on the food table
- crayons and markers - unless you already have some at home? you certainly don't need to buy new especially because kids are really hard on them
Party Supply Store
- paper streamers - multiple shades of green
- plates - multiple shades of green
- napkins - multiple shades of green
- plastic cutlery - clear, leftovers can be used at your next party
- plastic cups - clear, leftovers can be used at your next party
- cellophane party favor bags - look for some with green stripes or an animal print
- roll of butcher paper - can be brown kraft or white
- something to put the cake on - cake board of cardboard or plastic
- Party Rental Store
- tables - do you need kid size as well as grown up?
- chairs - do you need kid size as well as grown up?
- green cloth table cloths
- cake mix - find some on sale and buy 4 boxes, you'll need enough for cupcakes too - remember, these have a long shelf life and buying extra will save you if/when you make a mistake (trust me) OPTION FOR A BIG PARTY: make the giraffe a double layer cake
- 3 cans of white frosting - (extra is always a good idea) for the giraffe and cupcakes
- food coloring - yellow/orange for giraffe body
- chocolate jimmies
- frosting in a tube (brown and green) - to trace the features of the giraffe and for the leaf shapes on the cupcakes... you can also use a pastry bag with a tip or I've seen icing syringes or plastic kits right there in the baking aisle at the market
- make sure you have eggs and oil for the cake
- EASY OPTION FOR THE CAKE - buy a plain, no frosting, 9x12 sheet cake from the grocery bakery and while you are at it get a dozen cupcakes as well.
>> Monday, August 15, 2011
Last bit of pictures, I promise! It was just such a lovely evening, just a great opportunity to meet people I've been "talking" to online for years. Here are a couple of highlights...
>> Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Well ladies (and Richard) here it is. My interpretation of Wonderlandia, or as I like to call it, "Imagine a Journey"...
With fanciful illustrations of a flying machine and a sailing vessel, this is the perfect party for a little birthday girl who dreams of a trip full of wonder. Bright colors were combined with more natural tones - in moss and kraft paper - to really pop off the table.
The table turned out better than I could have ever thought - it all came together, wind and all! I have to acknowledge a ton of people, starting with Jenn herself because really without her we wouldn't be here staring at these fab photos. My sister Missy (photographer extraordinaire), Cathy and Brittany (creative confections), Amy (my sounding board), my husband Richard (a man with a lot of patience). Did I forget anyone?
Okay, now for the secret. Not probably at all a secret, but here it goes... I will be offering this collection in my shop - yay! I'm excited to finish it and have it ready for you all. It was such a fun set to work on, such a fanciful collection to look at... wouldn't your daughter just love it?
More photos tomorrow! Come on back for pics of the event itself, and you have got to check out the swag bag that HWTM gave everyone.
>> Tuesday, August 9, 2011
On the day of the HWTM Wonderlandia event, my fabulous (and ultra patient) sister agreed to drive down with me, and help me set up my tablescape. She was also a bit of a nurse/babysitter/gopher/personal assistant because I was not feeling 100%, just having gotten over some flu thing. Even though we left the L.A. area in plenty of time to make it to San Diego for our scheduled set up time, I was freaking out because of TRAFFIC! Why is there always traffic in Southern California? It's like asking why does the sun always shine in Southern California, right?
Anyway, we were late.
We headed up to the hotel terrace with our boxes of supplies, and proceeded to attempt to set up in GALE FORCE WINDS. I am not kidding you - it was blowing. Also? There were hotel guests EVERYWHERE, sunbathing (I love that word). If you've met me, you'll know that not feeling well+late+wind+paper decorations= stress case. Luckily, I had my sister and my girl Amy to talk me out of my tree.
Shall I get to the photos? Okay, here is me schlepping my paper and decor, using an entire roll of Glue Dots to prevent my Wonderlandia from blowing off the roof deck.
>> Monday, August 8, 2011
It all started with an email from Hostess with the Mostess. It seems as though Jenn (founder and editor-in-chief) wanted little old me to design one of 5 featured themed tablescapes for her oh-so-fab launch party in San Diego this past weekend.
ME? um, yes please!
She gave me the task of designing the "Kids Birthday" table, and other than asking me to work in the "Spirit of Wonderlandia" and to use a general color palette, gave me free rein to go crazy. I'll be honest with you, I was feeling completely over my head. And why wouldn't I? The other designers doing the other 4 tables are really creative people - I mean, have you seen these ladies? The Special Day, Events by Heather Ham, Jesi Haack Design and A Subtle Revelry.
After getting over the initial shock of it all, I put my glasses on, opened up a new browser window, and emailed my friend Amy. It did take a couple of days to figure out exactly what my theme would be, I mean I couldn't just put some fairies on it and call it a day, could I?
So here is your sneak peak, at my table - the perfect birthday party for a little girl with a compass, a spyglass and a wild imagination...
>> Monday, August 1, 2011
On Sunday afternoon, we attended a Fundraiser Party for our friend Casie. She was recently accepted into the Orange County High School of the Arts (woo hoo!). It is just the perfect place for her, a girl who LOVES to perform. The only drawback - the price tag for a year of attending.
The solution? An all out 80s themed Fundraising party. Marcy (Casie's mom) rented out the local park facility, and together, she and I brainstormed for all things on the cheap or free or donated. To match the theme, I designed some photo props for a fun photo booth. We also incorporated the props into table centerpieces, which were white paper bags trimmed with black and white checker tape.
To stay on budget, she put together a dessert table with handmade yummies brought by friends, and included (what else) cake pops! A completely ridiculous over the top display of "Have a Nice Day" pops (recognize it from here?). She and her husband also put together a talent show and lots of "Minute to Win it" games for her guests to enjoy. The big ticket (pun intended) event? Lots of silent auction items to bid on, and raffle baskets to try and win.
I have to tell you how impressed I was at the decor, the organization and the turnout! There had to be 75 people there - at least. The fact that each of my kids won a raffle basket didn't hurt our experience either - they were elated to have won!
I can't wait to add the printable 80s photo booth props to the shop, but you may have to wait a week or two because they will only be on the NEW website -just moments away from launch.