Thursday, March 31, 2011

Basketball Party Decor & Favors!

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm focusing for the next few days on basketball party ideas in anticipation of the March Madness excitement on both Saturday and Monday.  I had hoped to convince the husband to throw a last-minute Final Four party on Saturday, but he's just got too much work to do, and we have family coming to visit next week.  But that doesn't mean I can't dream, so on to the inspiration!

Since the games are so close, printables would be the fastest and easiest way to decorate.  I love the basketball invitation from Photerrific Cards.  I can just imagine how adorable these jersey printables from Storybook Style would be.  I also love the clean look and feel of the basketball party circles from Delightful Order

I'll admit, it was difficult to find real party decor based on basketball.  I did, however really like the idea of the flower/basketball hoop centerpiece from Creative Juice Group, and All You Need Is Love had an adorable basketball party for her son with fantastic Cracker Jack favors!

If we'd been hosting a party this weekend (like I wanted to!) then I would have had a chalkboard showing all the brackets as a backdrop, mini basketballs hanging from the ceiling, maybe a little basketball hoop/net cake or cupcake stand and lots of printables!  What creative displays would you put together?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

{Featured Parties} Pub Party

Looking for last minute ideas to host your March Madness final four party?  Starting today, I’ll be featuring parties, and inspiration just for that purpose.  When I first saw this Pub Party over at Passion for Parties party a few weeks ago, I immediately knew I wanted to feature it.  Seriously, this is a great example of how to use basic items to seamlessly incorporate a theme...and who doesn't think of beer when it comes to a major sports event?

Almost all the details were handcrafted, including the invitation, which included a simple background and a picture taken during a trip to NYC:


Simple tricks, like changing out display pieces with framed pub art, and beer bottles incorporate the theme into the decor of the room:

Beer caps would seem obvious, but she used them sparingly, which helped to highlight the simple, yet fun presentation!

I especially like the simplicity of the centerpieces.  Just an empty six-pack container and peanuts.  It fits with the theme and is simple to set up.  Sounds perfect to me!

Hop on over to Passion for Parties for more pictures and details, including before and after pics, menu items and party activities!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion

Things are really starting to move around here.  I can't believe it, but some amazing bloggers have featured a couple of my parties and some of my tutorials.  Yay!  You can check out each of the sites through the sidebar on the left
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To top it all off, I'm now listed on the Top 25 Party Plannin' Moms!  Okay, so for now it's more like the top 100.  I'm newly listed, which means I'm waaaaay down near the bottom....so any votes to get me bumped up a bit higher would make my day!  You can even come back once a day every day through April 11th if you want to try to inflate my head a little.  But don't worry, I'll still stay down-to-earth.  There are far to many incredible sites on that list for me to get a bloated ego!  Just click on the button below or through the sidebar on the right and cast your vote!

{Inspiration Board} Mario Kart Birthday

I've mentioned before that when planning the Toy Story Birthday Party, the birthday boy's mom and I first thought that he would be wanting a Mario Kart birthday party.  Seriously, he wants me to watch him play every time I see him...he absolutely LOVES Mario Kart!  While I waited for confirmation of the theme from his mother, I started to pull together a few ideas and came up with a bit of inspiration:


I love all the primary colors that are associated with this theme.  Add in the fun games and activities you could have based on race cars and mario.  It would have been a blast throwing a party like this.

Image Sources:
Box Car Racing - Disney Family Fun
Cake - P is for Party 
Invitation - On Demand Memories
Marshmallows & Mustache Pops - Grey Grey Designs
Mario Kart Table - Phoenix Event Planning
Favor Boxes - More than a Cupcake
Mario Favor Bags - Cherished Blessings
Race Car Cookies - TC Is Spoiled

Friday, March 25, 2011

{Etsy Finds} Fun & Colorful Easter Treats

Easter is coming in just four short weeks....and I've been enjoying a short hiatus from party planning over the last couple of weekends.  While I'm not yet getting into the thick of Easter party projects, I did have fun taking a quick look through Etsy for some fun Easter treats to share with the kiddos!

This candy Easter egg truffle sampler from Bizzy Betty would be adorable on a bright, modern display.

Or you could go with a more vintage direction and get these cookies from Stone House Oven.

I might just have to get these Faberge style eggs from Dainty Delights!

These Easter egg marshmallows from Oh Yum are so soft and pretty!

Although this french nougat from Kettle Confections isn't specifically an Easter treat, the bright colors just make me dream of warm weather and pretty flowers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

{Real Parties} Green and Blue Dinner Party

Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers posted an amazing party that she and her husband hosted.  I immediately wanted to share it with you.  Paula, over at JC's Loft, is a master at realistic and adorable design on a budget.  What made this party so fantastic, is that Paula actually held the event at a restaurant.

Why is this significant?  It sounds so much easier to just call a restaurant and have them handle most everything.  But Paula acted as a full-fledged party designer.  She coordinated linens and backdrops.  She made the invitations, dessert platters and centerpieces. 



I am in love with the blue and green color scheme (similar to one I will be using in the very near future!). 
Just look at that gorgeous dessert display (sans dessert...but you'll just have to head over to her site for the final display)

Paula even embellished the restaurant provided desserts with simple, yet adorable toothpicks and flags.

So next time you're just too exhausted to imagine having everyone over to your house, but want a stylish and fun DIY party; think of this.  Restaurant entertaining doesn't have to be rote.  If you find the right venue, and work smartly, you can have a fantastic party without worrying about vacuuming your carpets!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

{Tutorial} Rocketship Pizza Tray

I've received several emails requesting information on how to make the rocket ship pizza tray that I used for the Toy Story party.  When I was making it I took several pictures of the different steps, but I left out so many steps that they were pretty much useless.  So please accept my apologies for what is my best attempt at an after-the-fact tutorial!

My original inspiration for the rocket ship tray was the whole idea of recreating Pizza Planet and Buzz Lightyear's space ship.  Over Christmas, I'd seen Bird Craft's tutorial for her DIY cupcake stand, and used a similar method for the centers of the rocket ship.

Materials:
-3 Frito's Cans from The Dollar Store/Tree (empty)
-3 Pizza Pans from the Dollar Store/Tree
-White scrapbook paper or wrapping paper (warning 8.5 x 11 paper isn't big enough!)
-Duck tape in your choice of colors
-Small metal tin filled for weight
-Styrofoam cone (I wish I could tell you the exact size, but I accidentally left the cone on site, just make sure it's big enough to approximately match the width of the Frito's Cans)
-Aluminum Flashing or other metal sheeting (I purchased a roll at Lowe's for $11 and have tons left over!)
-Snips for cutting flashing
-Silver finishing nails
-Aluminum foil
-wooden skewer
-leftover cardboard box



Steps:
1. Cut one of the Frito's cans to half the original height.  Cover all cans with white scrapbook paper or wrapping paper.  Decorate the cans with stripes of color using Duck tape. Feel free to layer and overlap as you like.  There's no perfect arrangement.

2. Find and mark the centers of the top and bottoms of each of the pizza pans.  Glue the filled metal tin to the bottom of one tray as the base.    Alternate sandwiching the Fritos cans between the base tray and the remaining trays, saving the short can for the top of the highest tray.
**Notes: It's a pain to glue the filled tin, but the added weight is very helpful to ensure that the tray doesn't tip over too easily.  Also be very careful to make the tins line up as closely as possible, so it really does look like the ship just flew into the pizza trays.**

3.  Cut the cardboard box (I used the flaps of a Pampers box) into two wings, using a pre-cut side as the side that will go against the Fritos cans.  Go ahead and cut them a little wide and high to start and just trim them down until they perfectly fit between the Fritos cans and the lip of the pizza tray.  Glue the wings in place between the lowest and middle pizza trays.

4.  Using snips or another metal cutting tool, cut the flashing down to a sheet that will fit over the styrofoam cone.  With help from someone else, carefully wrap the sheeting around the cone and hammer into place with small finishing nails.  Trim off any extra flashing from the bottom of the cone, and glue onto the top of the tray.
**Notes: This seriously took me desperately holding everything in place while my husband hammered.  You will likely also still have several sharp edges, so make sure that all kids are supervised around the cone**

5.  Wrap the wooden skewer with aluminum foil and place into the opening at the top of the styrofoam cone.  Now you have your very own rocket ship pizza tray!

I hope that this is understandable.  Please let me know if you decide to make one of your own and share some pictures!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

{Tutorial} Inexpensive UFO Platters!

Remember that Toy Story party I posted a couple weeks ago?  Well, I finally got to work on some of the tutorials...I know, I know late as always!

I made no fewer than four different display pieces for the party, and some readers have already contacted me asking about how I made some of them.  So, the first tutorial from the party is for one an incredibly simple and inexpensive, but fun way to display food for any boy's party - the UFO Platter!


1. Gather Your Materials:
2 Pizza Trays from the Dollar Store
1 Stainless Steel Bowl (I bought mine from Goodwill for $1.00)
Scrap Paper (Free - on Hand)
Toothpick (Free - on Hand)
Aluminum Foil (Free - on Hand)
Total Price = $3.00!


2.  Sandwich the 2 pizza trays with the top sides together.
 3.  Cut the scrap paper into three small "windows".  Glue them onto the outside of the bowl.  Glue the bowl upside down on the pizza tray sandwich.





4. Snap the toothpick in half & wrap with aluminum foil.  Glue to the bottom of the bowl with a tiny dot of hot glue.



Now you have your shiny new UFO platter.  These were great for serving sliders and other small foods.  One word of caution, the antenna at the top can be very fragile, so take care!



Editing to link up:           Visit thecsiproject.com

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why I'm Not Martha Stewart

Time is precious.  I've known this for a while now, but this whole monthly party experiment has really brought that into perspective.  I was recently looking to find inspiration for my Easter buffet; and decided to peruse the more obvious sites.  You know, sites like Southern Living, BHG, and-of course-Martha Stewart.  And on Martha's site I found some incredibly beautiful ways to decorate eggs for Easter.

I have a problem with this, though.  Some of these techniques are borderline insane! I can't imagine taking a dremel or adding a hinge to a natural egg shell.  Granted, the result can be amazing if you don't mess it up:

All images via MarthaStewart.com


I just don't have the patience for such efforts.  Kudos to those that do.  I'll enjoy sitting back and enjoying the fruits of your labor.  I'm much more likely to attempt Martha's simpler methods:

Glittered Eggs
Marbelized Eggs
I suppose that's the wonderful thing about Martha and many of those other sites.  If you're like me, you appreciate the time, effort and beauty associated with all of those advanced techniques.  But in the end, it will be all about the hardboiled eggs rolled in a $5 egg-dying kit.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

If you were to look at myself or my husband, you wouldn't expect the amount of Irish blood that runs through our veins.  Actually, when you add up all our ancestry, T is more Irish than anything else!  So here's a classic Irish tune to brighten your day; from our family to yours:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Free Printables Roundup!

I'm so excited about some of the printables I've seen for St. Patrick's Day lately!  There's a great variety from simple to intricate and shabby chic to modern!  I still haven't finalized my St. Patrick's Day gifts for the little ones at T's school, and I'm thinking about combining more than one of these options, they're all so fantastic.  Check them all out and let me know what you're doing for St. Patrick's Day!

Source Credits:
1 - A Step In the Journey
2-  Auntie Lolo
3 - Bird’s Party Crafts
4 - Chickabug/How Does She
5 - The Crafty Scientist
6 - Crafts and Such
7-  Flamingo Toes
8 - Funky Polkadot Giraffe
9 - Lizard & Ladybug
10 - Not Just a Housewife
11- TaiDye Original

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

{Inspiration Board} St. Patrick's Day!

Whether or not you've got your St. Patrick's Day plans all lined up, I've pulled together some fun inspiration and ideas to help bring a little bit of Irish into your life! 


Image Credits:

Friday, March 11, 2011

{Foodie Friday} Eating Irish for a Day!

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, the internet is a buzz with printables and green-colored sweet treats.  I thought that this would be a good time to pull together a full day’s worth of Irish and St. Patrick’s Day foods to help you celebrate!

Breakfast

image via Allrecipes.com
Irish Soda Bread - My full-blooded Irish Mother-In-Law makes Soda bread every year, and it makes some of the best toast.  I think that this weekend, I’ll be making this Amazingly Easy Soda Bread recipe from Allrecipes.com.  Yum!

Lunch
Image via Better, Homes & Gardens
Potato Pizza - You can probably go to any restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day and get corned beef and cabbage.  But I love this idea of a potato pizza.  Yes, it’s completely carb-heavy, but imagine your family’s (or co-worker’s) surprise when you cut into this Irish take on an Italian-American classic!

Dinner
Image via FoodNetwork.com

Guiness and Onion Soup - French onion soup is a fantastic meal for cold winter months.  And although Daylight Savings may be about to start, March is still known for cold blustery winds until late in the month (anyone else remember ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’?). This Guiness spiked version sounds like a great way to celebrate the day and warm up from the inside out.

Dessert
Image via TwigangThistle.com

Pot ‘o Gold Treats - This idea from Twig & Thistle is deceptively simple, and a great kid-friendly idea.  Seriously...it’s just rice krispy bars wrapped in gold foil.  Pure genius!  I’m all about simple in my house, and treats like this would be fantastic for my toddler girl and her school friends!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

{Lessons Learned} Toy Story Party

It's time for installment #6 of Lessons Learned!  There were plenty of fiasco moments to share; some of which are areas I've discussed before (read them all here).


The biggest lesson I learned from this party?  No more hot food, unless I have someone else prepare it; or I have someone helping me.  As a single person operation, I just don't have time to set up and cook all at the same time.  I even cut down significantly on the home-made food this time - but those French Fries killed me!  I loved the way they looked, but they took so much time.  I've said over and over that I've got to stop making the food for these parties, since I don't plan on getting a catering license.  And, honestly, I had planned on purchasing more for this party, but I just couldn't find what I needed from an external source.
I have a total love-hate relationship with those french fries!

Second lesson learned:  Sometimes, I just need to suck it up and hire some help.  It's so frustrating to see so many ideas that have to go out the window because I just can't do it all myself.  For example, I was going to do more to the Al's Toy Barn wall, with a long dragon toy draped over the backdrop, but I ran out of time.  I was also going to hang planets over the main buffet, but yet again, I ran out of time.  And speaking of running out of time, I forgot to include this picture in my post yesterday.
Is Buzz flying, or falling with style?

Third lesson learned: I figured out a great way to keep myself on track with my projects.  It's so simple really, but it helped immensely.  All I did was literally type up a list of every single project, and the components of each project.  That list became my best friend for all my purchasing trips , and for keeping track of what needed to be done.

Fourth Lesson Learned:  I need to learn how to simplify my work processes.  It's taking entirely too long to make some of these projects, and that's taking time away from my family.  I kept track of most of the time I spent on the last party and it added up to at least 48 hours spent between research, consultations, purchasing, making the custom pieces, cooking, setting up, helping at the party and then cleaning up.  When you add that to the fact that I work over 40 hours a week, cook all the family's food, and do all the laundry - it's simply exhausting.  I love putting these things together, but there is a limit to what the body can handle.

I'm committed to finishing out a party each month for the rest of the year.  These last few months have opened up my eyes quite a bit; so we'll see what I learn over the next few months!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

{Real Parties} A Toy Story Birthday

I'm finally back with pictures from my latest party!  After having put together so many parties for girls, I was really excited to design a party for a little boy!  I want to apologize in advance for the poor photo quality.  (Big Surprise)) I ran right up to the last minute getting everything ready for the party, and had to take my pictures very quickly with what amounted to horrible lighting.  To make matters worse, the camera's battery was starting to die right at the beginning of the party, and the backup battery wasn't in the bag!  Whoops!

A few weeks ago, the birthday boy informed his mother that he wanted a Toy Story themed party, so we were off with a theme.  Now, I know that Toy Story parties have been done over and over again; but it's all about what the kids want for their birthday; and this is what he wanted. After some quick research, his mother and I had a detailed consultation to discuss ways to make the party unique to the birthday boy.  In the end, we decided to include the various locations in the movies as the primary source of inspiration for the party.  I presented some different invitation options, and this is the invitation the birthday boy chose:

Image via The Creativity Box

As guests entered the house on the day of the party, they were greeted at the door with a custom logo reminiscent of Andy's room from the first movie:

I suppose it's the obvious choice, but we turned the primary buffet into "Pizza Planet" from the first movie.  I handmade most of the food displays; including the spaceship pizza tray, the flying saucer platters and the two-tiered cone stand.

The drink buffet was inspired by Andy's bedroom, and all his favorite toys.


We also had Al's Toy Barn set up for the cupcake and favors display.  The favors each included a marshmallow alien, Toy Story stickers and a Toy Story puzzle.
For the most part, we just let the kids play with toys and enjoy the beautiful day outside.  The only organized games we had were an Army man hunt (based on the opening scenes of the first movie) and a Mr. Potato Head take on "Pin the Tail on the Donkey".  In the end, the kids all seemed to have a great time; which is what makes all of the work worth it.
Some of Mr. Potato Head's parts appear to have been confused...but the kids loved putting him back together again!
Related Posts:
        Toy Story Inspiration Board

        Rocketship Tray Tutorial
        UFO Platter Tutorial
        Lessons Learned
        The Original Theme

Sources/Vendors:
        Invitation: The Creativity Box
        Buzz Lightyear Favor Boxes: Birthday In a Box
        Toy Story Character Images (for Party Circles): Ry Creation
        Toy Story Die Cuts: Coca Cola Bear 1980
        Cupcakes: Creative Confectioners
        Coffee Cups (used for French Fries): ThinkGarnish.com