Wordless Wednesday – Super Bowl Party, A La My Kids

**Warning: too many pictures of how I scrambled to keep my kids busy so that my husband could watch the pre-game stuff**

Football strips...

Football strips…

superbowlfootballchain

…turned into football chain for the tv.

superbowlpennant

posters and pennants advertising the game and the teams

superbowlpennantsolo

up close shot of our “football field” pennant

superbowltray

our special football chips and dip platter

Our football shaped/themed cups

Our football shaped/themed cups

Our Super Bowl football cake that I made from scratch and decorated to perfection (sarcasm people)

Our Super Bowl football cake that I made from scratch and decorated to perfection (sarcasm people)

Semi-Homemade Lorax Birthday

As promised, here’s what we came up with as party favors for the “Lorax” party – please keep in mind that I waited until 2 weeks before the party to really think about this and I live in a small city that never has anything that I want or need for birthday party purposes. ¬†I actually think we did pretty good coming up with stuff thanks to the internet, even if the goodies weren’t perfect or exactly what I envisioned ūüôā

Lorax mustache silly straws

I printed these mustaches from this great website.  It was so easy to use, even for a pretty technologically-challenged person such as myself!  They have other Lorax-themed printables and links to pages with more as well, if you are thinking of having a Lorax party in the future and you have more than 30 minutes to plan it!

Bar-ba-loot trail mix

Having watched the movie approximately 3 billion times with my youngest son (who, sadly, can actually quote parts of the movie – amazing for a kid who can barely talk), I know the little bears in the movie are called Bar-ba-loots and I know that they love to eat marshmallows. ¬†Now, others less knowledgeable of all things Lorax-related probably don’t, but since I needed something easy to use as another gift that was still kid-appropriate, I made a mixture of chocolate teddy grahams and mini marshmallows and called it Bar-ba-loot trail mix. ¬†Yeah. ¬†I am a genius (or so I thought until I was searching for one more idea and saw that some other creative mom apparently thought of it first – but since I didn’t technically steal her idea, I’m still going to go with my “I’m such a creative genius” thought).

Dr. Seuss-ish fuzzy socks

The last thing we gave was a pair of fuzzy socks that reminded me of something from a Dr. Seuss book. ¬†They were also fuzzy like the “thneed” from the book and since I couldn’t actually reproduce a truffula tree or a thneed, we handed out these socks and called them thneeds because I thought it was clever. ¬†Probably not that clever in retrospect, but I knew that these could also come in handy in case anyone forgot their socks for the bouncy houses. ¬†That’s the mom brain doing double-duty and trying to be fun and yet, still practical. ¬†Now, they weren’t the most well-made socks, but they were so cute that I couldn’t pass them up and all of the older kids got toe socks so that made them more whimsical (or psychotic) like a Dr. Seuss party favorshould be. ¬†(Sidenote: my older son thought they were gloves at first because he had never seen toe socks before, so he wore them on his hands. ¬†Awesome.)

When it came time to figure out what to do for the cake, I quickly realized that there was not much I could do as far as the Lorax theme. ¬†Nobody had Lorax cakes! ¬†Again, here’s a kid that likes something off the normal “kid” path. ¬†(I do love that my kids are somewhat original in their party theme choices because I like them to be unique in this very cookie cutter world, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick something normal for once so I can just order a regular cake from the grocery store and call it a day!)

I wanted to try to make truffula tree cake pops like Bakerella did, but at the last second, I chickened out because I didn’t want to try and then fail and get stressed out (which is what usually happens when I attempt to “bake” things). ¬†So, I decided to buy the orange funfetti cake mix and frosting that is currently available because of Halloween and just make regular cupcakes with printable toppers (also found on the aforementioned great website).

Lorax Cupcake Toppers

These are the example cupcakes. Ours were neither iced that beautifully, nor were the toppers so perfectly round. That’s what makes ours “unique”.

I realized when I went to print the toppers that I didn’t have any card stock left so I ended up just using regular paper and attempting to cut matching circles out of the sticky foam that I had left over from our recent wheel of fortune projects. ¬†That made them, um, special (code for slightly funky, yet colorful). ¬†Yeah. ¬†And, I let my older kids ice the cupcakes themselves because they wanted to “help”. ¬†This also added to the funky element but at least I could blame that part on them!

not a great picture of the special cupcakes so you can’t see the funkiness up close, but they were still tasty and that’s worth something, I guess

So, there you have it. ¬†Not my proudest moment in party favors or cupcakes, but they seemed to work and I didn’t have to stress out about them too much! ¬†Always a plus! ūüôā

‚ÄúIt’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†Dr. Seuss,¬†The Lorax

A Third 2nd Birthday

Last year, I combined my baby’s first birthday with my son’s 6th birthday (meaning that I bought my son a smashable cake and we added his name to the birthday song at the party; we also made some cupcakes and gave him a birthday shirt on his actual birthday – we like to go all out, clearly). ¬†I knew that he wouldn’t know he was being deprived and it just made more sense than planning a whole party for him when we really didn’t have many other “baby” friends at that time anyway.

This year, we could have done the same thing because at 2 he still wouldn’t know much about birthdays, but I felt bad since I already did the combo last year so we tried to put together a quick party for just a few friends and family. ¬†Seeing as though my boys’ birthdays are less than 3 weeks apart, I didn’t actually start to think about my 2-year-old’s birthday until after my older son’s party, which is rare for me because I usually like to plan things way in advance! ¬†Anyhow, much like the plans for my older son’s party a few weeks ago, I knew I couldn’t do anything other than pick a place and get a cake and favors, so we booked a table at a local bouncy house place and I extended email invitations to 4 other families. ¬†Nope, I didn’t even get real invitations or decorations. ¬†So sad. ¬†But there it is. Still better than last year, although I am the first to admit that the bar had been set pretty low.

My “baby” is obsessed with the Lorax right now so I knew that I had to somehow create some favors and cake with that theme. ¬†I will write separately about that because finding “Lorax-themed” items other than large books is quite difficult so I had to improvise in my usual scatterbrained way! ūüôā ¬†Anyhow, each family invited was able to come and as the families included some older children as well, my older kids had playmates too.

The bouncy house location had changed slightly since the last time we attempted to take our little family there so there was no longer a baby bouncy house like I was expecting. ¬†This turned out to be ok (though disappointing) because they did still have a 3 and under house, a few houses with easy access for parents to “rescue” their children,

bouncing with big brother

Bouncing over to say hi to mommy

When he realized he was “stuck” in the bouncy house and needed to be rescued

a few rides,

riding in the jeep with a friend

a little climbing playhouse,

running through the maze to find big sister

a slide,

big sister finally getting into it!

and a few other games, like skee-ball and air hockey!

learning to roll the ball instead of hurl it

big brother in an intense game of air hockey

(not to mention aisles to run down like a psychotic chimp – this comment directed toward my crazy birthday boy who did just that).

After tiring themselves out for the first hour, we headed to the tables and had some pizza and cupcakes.

time for the food

When it came time to light the candle and sing Happy Birthday, my little monster decided he would have a spontaneous meltdown. ¬†I had been waiting for this moment and he did not disappoint. ¬†Here’s my boy “basking” in the glow of his 2nd birthday party while my husband tries to show him the cupcake and candle, clearly doing his best to burn the joint down with his balancing act.

who wants to sit still for a cupcake and the birthday song when you can just scream?

In the end, I think everyone ended up having fun, even though it was pretty hectic. ¬†I just know that we made the right call by having a special party for my 2 year old. ¬†Here’s how he said, ‘thank you’ for our efforts.

Too much partying will wear a kid out – and I love it!

Absolutely thrilled to be able to do it all again next year….but will definitely start planning in July!

UFO Party Favor Not Quite Out Of This World

So, my oldest child will be turning 7 tomorrow and we have a birthday party planned for next weekend.  The past few birthdays I have allowed the kids to pick out themes and I have organized games and prizes and decorations of all sorts based on their themes and the random ideas I steal borrow from Pinterest.  This year, I am just POOPED and have no time or energy to go all out so I told my sweet boy to pick a place to have this party so that all I had to do was the cake and favors!

He complied and we ended up choosing the skating rink near our house.  They provide invitations and all the other generic stuff you need for a quick cake eating/gift opening session and the kids will be free to wear themselves out skating for the rest of the time.  FANTASTIC!  Perfect choice.

I then asked him what theme he wanted for his cake and the favors and he replied, “outer space”. ¬†Not so great. ¬†None of the party places in our city have space-related party items other than Star Wars or Transformers (eg, the normal things that young boys his age like), nor do any of the cake places, so it was up to me to come up with something remotely close. ¬†I wanted to make something exciting, like this cake:

cake pop planets on moon/sun cake?

but I was quickly reminded that artistic endeavors are not exactly my forte.  So, I ended up just printing an exciting cosmic picture (as chosen by the birthday boy)

ooohhh, the planets (minus Pluto so it’s up to date – but I do miss Pluto! ¬†How is Mary’s Very Eager Mother Just Serving Us Nine Pizzas without Pluto?!)

to be turned edible and placed on the cake by our local grocery store bakery rather than try to create something myself (this was a good idea Рsee previous birthday posts regarding cake/cupcake disasters).  More expensive, but definitely worth it to get it checked off the list!

Then it was time to decide about the favors. ¬†As stated before, my son is not your stereotypical about-to-be 7-year-old. ¬†He likes educational things that most kids shun. ¬†As a parent, I think this is great, but when looking at it from the perspective of other kids, I knew we couldn’t just get some books on space and call it a day. ¬†So, while I did find some very reasonably priced “outer space” books,

I knew I needed to get some other usual kid crap to put with them so that the favors didn’t seem too nerdy, for lack of a better word.

I found some glow in the dark necklaces shaped like glow sticks to give the kids when they get to the party (thank God Halloween stuff is everywhere) so they will glow when the lights go out during some of the songs. ¬†That seems kind of cosmic, right? It will also help us identify who is with our party – that’s smart safety mom coming out!

Then, I started trolling Pinterest for one more idea to go along with the books (Pinterest: once again the greatest way to make me feel inferior at everything).

One person made awesome astronaut training packs for her son:

(yeah, that wasn’t going to happen this year) and another made cute UFO treat holders out of mini pie tins:

Flying Saucer Party Favor for Outer Space themed party

(of course, those are nowhere to be found in any of the stores around us).  I talked to my son about ways to adapt those ideas and we came up with this:

Medium sized pie tins from the dollar store…

…filled with space related junk (rockets, space stickers, glow in the dark planets, milky ways, starbursts, etc.)…

…with a NASA logo glued on top (because this was definitely something NASA scientists would have come up with) – Yes, I realize that from the top this looks more like a tire rim than an UFO, oh well.

While these favors are hardly as exciting as the original ideas from Pinterest, they will also double as little frisbees so technically they are FLYING objects, and they are a little rough in design so we can call them unidentified as well.

I’m kind of just hoping the kids ignore the rough construction and enjoy the books more….we’ll see….

Birthday Treats – Linking Up

What’s your favorite birthday party treat?

I’m so excited about this special post because I was invited to “link up” with my friends, Tami and Lauren, the creators of¬†Side By Side Design, who are celebrating their 1-year blogging “birthday” this week! ¬†The theme for the link-up is “favorite birthday party treats” so here’s a few ideas based on my favorite party treat: LOLLIPOPS!

FUN!

Since I attend/plan mostly kid parties and baby showers at this point in my life, the choice of lollipops should be no surprise. ¬†But, I have noticed that even the adults that attend these shindigs seem to really enjoy the lollipops so I’m going with the idea that they are a universal treat.

My goal when I use the lollipops at parties is to incorporate them in a fun way, fitting of the theme of the party. ¬†For example, at my daughter’s recent Alice In Wonderland Party, we made a lollipop mushroom (for the “who are you?” caterpillar/butterfly themed table) out of styrofoam and dumdums. ¬†We used it as a centerpiece for one of the tables and for a party favor for the kids to add to their stash as the party ended – a win, win because Lord knows I didn’t want to bring 100 dumdums back home with me for my kids to fight over!

lollipop mushroom – you could tell the shape better in person, but you get the idea

As I said earlier, I have planned and have been asked to help with the planning of numerous baby showers over the last few years. ¬†As a mom of three, with ages ranging from 1-6, I know what new moms need and don’t need, based purely on trial and error experience, so I like to go the practical route.

I started by making trusty old diaper cakes in an attempt to make practical baby gifts more exciting, but after a while, the diaper cake ran its course so I tried to get a little more creative with my gifts by making sandwiches, sushi, cupcakes, and, you guessed it, LOLLIPOPS, all out of baby supplies! ¬†They’re fun gifts and very useful once unwrapped.

sadly, I’m not a great photographer, but here’s a glimpse at some of my early washcloth lollipops

Usually these types of crafts are reserved for the baby shower or a hospital gift once the baby is born, but a few years ago, a long-distance friend of mine was hosting a “Splish-Splash” (bath/pool) themed 1st birthday party for her son. ¬†Since the majority of children attending were young babies, WAY too little to enjoy a real lollipop, she asked me to make the washcloth lollipops to display on the tables. ¬†When the party was over, each child got to pick a washcloth “lollipop” and a rubber duck filled with child-friendly bubble bath, which he/she could then use at home!

**SIDENOTE, I also made a diaper/swim diaper cake with the duck theme as a present for the birthday boy (which she also displayed) and she said it REALLY came in handy as several of the babies soiled themselves immediately upon arriving at the party so she had plenty of backups and thus no pool contamination! :)**

who knew she would need the contents of this “cake” before the party even got started?!

Anyhow, the point to my ramblings about cute baby parties and practical necessities is that the lollipops (or cakes, sandwiches, sushi, etc.) don’t always have to be edible to be a treat and a way to incorporate fun into a party! ¬†You can even make faux lollipops for adults as a housewarming gift or bridal shower gift by using dish towels and mixing spoons. ¬†So much more fun than just wrapping them up!

Here are a few other easy lollipop ideas that I like for the future:

Another example of a fun, non-edible lollipop idea for a candy-land themed party!

alien spaceship lollipops, perhaps for my son’s upcoming space-themed party?

homemade flower bouquet with lollipop centers, perhaps for valentines?

There are so many ideas out there and these are just a few.  I hope you are inspired or at least amused and I hope you will check out the other ideas submitted to the Side By Side Design blog on their feature Friday!  I am all always interested to hear about exciting party planning ideas from others so please feel free to share your favorite treat ideas with me, too!

Special thanks to Tami and Lauren for inviting me to be a part of their link-up!

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P.S. I Love You

A few weeks ago, my husband’s family threw an engagement party for my sister-in-law, who will be getting married next year. ¬†Unfortunately, we live ¬†entirely across the country and with 3 kids, it gets really expensive and difficult to travel so we were unable to attend the party. ¬†As such, we wanted to make sure that we sent a gift that would represent us well in our absence.

I pride myself on personalizing gifts when I give them to people because I like to put thought into the gift. ¬†Sometimes this becomes difficult because I certainly don’t have an unlimited budget, so I am forced to come up with homemade alternatives. ¬†And, as I have mentioned in the past, my creative side and my artistic side don’t always mesh up so the projects rarely turn out the way I plan. ¬†Even so, I keep trying and this gift-giving time was no exception.

Once again, I found myself scouring Pinterest with my kids, getting all kinds of ideas and then realizing there was no way I could do any of them in a useful way.  CURSE YOU, PINTEREST!  However, we did see a cute, vintage mailbox that was used to hold wedding cards at an outdoor wedding.  My older son loved this idea and it seemed like an easy enough project to do with 3 little kids.  It also fit the outdoor picnic theme of the party so we decided to go with it.

Here’s the idea we started with

I searched several old shops to try to find a cute, vintage mailbox, but couldn’t find any in good shape, so we just went and bought a new one, which I put together with my mad building skills, along with yellow and purple paint to match the party colors.

I liked the “P.S. I love you” written on the side so we definitely wanted to keep that, but I also wanted to be able to have each of my kids add a personal element to the other parts of the box without overwhelming the whole thing (which can happen very quickly when all 3 start “helping” at once).

My older son’s contribution

Granted, our PS I love you portion was not quite as pretty as our inspiration mailbox, but it made it on there so I was happy.   Even though my son had originally shown the most enthusiasm as we chose this idea, once it came time to actually participate, he decided he just wanted to add his initials (which happen to also be the first initials of the betrothed couple Рyeah for that coincidence) and his fingerprints in between them, which we turned into little smiley faces.

Next, we did my daughter’s side of the box. ¬†She ¬†wanted to make flowers and butterflies because that’s what she is into these days, so we used her fingerprints to make those. ¬†They were a little lopsided, but she insisted on positioning everything herself so it’s authentic! (I am very grateful that craft paint mistakes wipe away easily from mailboxes, allowing for quick fixes when necessary)

my daughter’s contribution

Now, my youngest is 20 months old so there wasn’t a whole lot that we could do with him without messing the rest up, so we just used his fingerprints to add a small 4-leaf clover to the back for good luck. ¬†I’m Irish, so I try to add those “lucky” kinds of details when I can and it worked perfectly for a toddler’s attention span!

baby prints

After all of the sides dried, we decided to break out the trusty old chalkboard paint to add a few small spots for the couple to write their own notes to each other.

A spot for future messages!

an inside spot for “secret” messages ūüôā

The fun part about this gift is that after you use it to hold cards or notes for the couple at the party/wedding, the couple can then take it home and use it in their house; whether for containing actual mail, or leaving notes for each other, or for anything else, it is a reminder of a day that was just for them.

I hope they liked the idea as much as we did and I’m glad we could participate in the party happenings, even if it had to be from 3,000 miles away this time.

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Alice In Wonderland Party Prep – Part 2 (Food)

Continuing on with my party planning woes, we now come to the food choices. ¬†Our party was around lunch time so I knew we had to serve more than just snacks, but my daughter wanted “Alice-specific” food, not my usual go-to choice of pizza (which is what we did at the pirate party and it worked out wonderfully). ¬†So, I headed back to trusty ol’ Pinterest for ideas.

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of themed foods (other than cake/sweet stuff) for most of the Alice in Wonderland parties out there. ¬†People generally suggested finger sandwiches because of a tea party theme and things that said “eat me” and “drink me” on them and those ideas would work just fine for the main part of the meal, but I needed more, which meant that I was actually going to have to come up with some ideas on my own! ¬†Blerg!

I sat down with my older two kids and we tried to come up with healthy-ish food that could be named after individual characters (It was also important that it be food that mommy could make herself without struggle and without having to throw it away when it didn’t turn out – this is always a challenge, even for a simple dinner). ¬†It took some time before the menu was finalized, but our totally cheesy, themed menu was finally complete! ¬†Here’s what our lucky guests got:

  • Drink me: In my fantasy world, all of our guests would have received antique glass bottles with a magical elixir and a tag that said, “drink me” on it!

so cute....but as it turns out, quite expensive

However, once I went to the craft store and searched online for something like this, I quickly realized that it would just cost too much (and would probably be dropped by one of the children, thus resulting in a trip to the emergency room) so I tried to find something comparable, but more practical.

not nearly as pretty, but these are made of plastic and could be purchased in 6 packs at the grocery store...they still say "drink me" ūüôā

I also thought it would be cute to personalize some “wonderland water” bottles for the adults in case they weren’t interested in the “mad hatter punch” or “looking-glass lemonade” (told you it got quite cheesy with the labeling of the food), but I’m not great making my own labels, nor did I want to pay someone else to do it, only to have them get wet in the ice and peel away like I have seen at so many other parties. ¬†So, I used checkerboard duct tape!

Note to self: this could also be used for a Cars party that may occur in the future

I must give credit to Pinterest because I never would have thought of this myself since I am certainly not a connoisseur of fine utility adhesives, but they make so many patterns now that I just went with it!  It worked much better because it was easy, cheap and water-repellent!

  • Sandwiches: I knew we would be doing some kind of sandwiches because if I couldn’t get pizza, that’s about the only other thing that could be done easily. ¬†So, we decided on basic PB&J for the kids and chicken salad from Costco for the adults. ¬†But how could we make this part of the theme? ¬†For starters, we named the sandwiches “Tweedledum’s PBJ” and “Tweedledee’s Chicken Salad” – I really am so clever (or so desperate). ¬†Then I saw a cute idea for creating a sandwich checkerboard with playing card suits toothpicks.

so cute and clever

I was pumped to make this, purchased dark and light bread, etc. ¬†For some reason, it didn’t occur to me until 2 hours before the party that I didn’t have a square platter. ¬†I had some large square plates, but they wouldn’t fit enough sandwiches for everyone, so we just worked with what we had and it turned out something like this.

a round checkerboard - things get a little crazy in Wonderland

  • Fruit: I wanted to make sure that I had something somewhat healthy to serve along with all of the usual sweet party goodies so I bought some grapes and some apples (we won’t debate how fruit also has sugar so not really as healthy as it seems since it’s the thought that counts). ¬†How could we tweak plain apple slices and grapes to fit our theme? ¬†Here’s how.

grapes on flamingo toothpicks = mini croquet sets

Apple slices, peanut butter, and marshmallow teeth = cheshire cat smiles

Neither of these were quite authentic, but the idea behind them was solid. ¬† Yeah, that’s what I am going with.

  • One more nibbling food: I wanted to grab one more little thing to make sure there was an array of food, so I went with some buy one, get one free baked lays (I am also sticking to my theory that baked chips = super healthy snack) and labeled them “red queen bbq” and “white queen plain”. ¬†Perfect.

    dueling chips

  • Cupcakes: ¬†Believe it or not, Alice in Wonderland is not a popular enough theme to warrant grocery store chains having special cakes with those decorations. ¬†So, you either have to order a specialty cake from a small bakery (which generally costs a fortune) or make something yourself. ¬†I am an awful decorator and can only bake with a boxed mix.

    the absolute best thing ever invented

I freely admit this limitation because I think it will lower your expectations and then you could be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  There was no way I could pull off the topsy-turvy cake covered in fondant that so many others seem to have mastered with very little effort.

wouldn't it be nice to be this talented?!

And, I wasn’t about to spend the time and money trying, only to end up baking cupcakes at the last-minute because I failed miserably. ¬†So, I made the logical decision to just go ahead and bake the cupcakes because that’s where I would end up anyway.

It would have been very easy to print out cupcake toppers with different colorful characters (all of which can be found online with very little search effort Рshout out to others on the web with talent that share their printables FOR FREE; I appreciate you more than you know) but of course that would have been too easy.  We had to try for something a little more difficult.  Originally, we were going to attempt this cute little guy from the family go website.

looks simple enough

But, once I started piling up all the different ingredients it would have taken to decorate 3-4 dozen cupcakes, it would have been easier to just get a cake from a baker.  Ugh. Then my daughter came up with the idea of having white rabbit cupcakes since it was almost Easter and we were seeing a lot of rabbit stuff around town.  Sounded good to me.  I found some gummy rabbit teeth candy and bought some plain white icing, cotton candy for the noses and chocolate covered raisins for eyes (again, pretending that these raisins are healthy to make myself feel better).

It was a master plan….that I could not seem to execute on my own. ¬†The ears wouldn’t stay put, the teeth looked funky, etc. ¬†Fortunately for me, my mom was able to come early so she could help me salvage what I could and I think they turned out okay, considering how I had almost destroyed them earlier that morning.

exact replicas of the white rabbit

I did get tired of decorating after a while and I figured most of the adults would want a more basic cupcake (or at least I hoped they would) so we just put some heart toppers that I had leftover from Valentine’s Day on the rest. ¬†Good call on my part.

heart cupcakes that I wisely displayed in cute cupcake stands to distract from the fact that I had gotten lazy

  • Eat Me: And, of course we had to somehow incorporate the “eat me” idea, so we filled some heart-shaped boxes (also left over from Valentine’s Day – way to go me) with some candy and wrote ‘eat me’ on the lids. ¬†Mission Accomplished.

I have lovely penmanship

All in all, we had a perfect amount of food, most of it tasted much better than it looked, including the cupcakes, and it was a lovely buffet. ¬†Considering my food abilities and artistic talent, I’d say it actually went better than expected!

But, next year, we’re getting pizza.


Alice in Wonderland Party Prep – Part I (Decorations)

Well, my daughter’s Alice In Wonderland party was this past weekend and I will say it was pretty successful. ¬†Thankfully, she is only 5 and just being the center of attention for a few hours is all she needs. ¬†I desperately tried to make decorations that matched the theme, while staying on our very limited budget. ¬†Of course, nothing turned out like the ideas that I found on Pinterest, no matter how simple the projects seemed in theory, but I have learned to accept my limitations.

Therefore, here’s a glance at what I did in the many weeks before the party, side by side with what I was trying to accomplish and how it all turned out. ¬†It should give you a laugh. ¬†But, in my defense, I did stay on budget thanks to my minimal DIY skills and power shopping months in advance so it turned out to actually be one of the least expensive parties we have ever done (currently patting myself on the back for the money aspect)! Enjoy.

Idea #1: Incorporating playing cards: I decided early on to just use a basic black/white/red “queen of hearts” idea for the food table so that I wouldn’t have to buy expensive plates, cups, etc. ¬†As I have stated numerous times before, my creative ideas tend to flow hand in hand with my “how cheaply can I do this and still kind of pull it off?” brain. ¬†I hit up Walmart’s generic party supply aisle and was quite pleased. ¬†I now knew I had to use the playing card characters as inspiration to kind of pull it all together. ¬†There was no way I could build the life-size men out of wood like some other parties I have seen,

An ideal decoration (obviously found on Pinterest)

nor could I realistically sit there and make a ton of tiny ones like those shown on the “children’s craft” ideas on the Disney website. ¬†So, I decided just to buy a cheap deck of cards and string them on some left-over red and black ribbon (shout out to Becky who laughed when I told her that I would be recycling the pretty ribbon that she used at her son’s party earlier this year).

my spectacular card strings (used for the food table and the hearth on the fireplace)

I also ended up making “menus” for the food out of the leftover cards.

see my playing card labels...yeah, I'm that good.

Total cost: $.50. ¬†Yep, I’m pretty awesome, even if my outcome wasn’t nearly as spectacular as it could have been.

Idea #2: Mad Hatter hats: I really wanted to be able to buy everyone huge mad hatter hats to dress up in at the party, but the cost of these hats really adds up, so I went with some tiny green hats (leftover from St. Patrick’s Day) that came in a multi-pack and let the kids decorate them with various art supplies I had lying around the house.

Some kids loved it, others could have done without it, but they ended up being cute decorations too.

Idea #3: Character tables – Alice in Wonderland is all about being eclectic, which totally works when you are on a budget, so I wanted to try to incorporate some of the other characters, even if they didn’t quite match the red/white/black general theme. ¬†This turned out to be more difficult than I originally thought since our tiny city doesn’t have a Disney store and I didn’t want to spend a fortune ordering random stuffed animals and things we would basically only be using for 2-3 hours. ¬†So, we improvised (I’ll elaborate on some of the homemade items in a minute).

White rabbit table (a white rabbit, a clock and the key to wonderland)

queen of hearts table (a heart "tree" and painted roses)

the caterpillar table (our version of the caterpillar and homemade mushrooms)

Idea #4: Talking flowers – I love the talking/singing flowers from the Disney version of the movie so I tried to find some ways to make something even remotely close to that and originally, this is what I was going for:

so cute in the little tea cups

However, I wisely tested this with some googly eyes on random silk flowers I had around the house and nothing made them stick to the flowers; not the adhesive already on the back, not glue, not tape, etc.  So, I found another plan: hanging cardboard flowers which the eyes did stay on!  These served double duty as they also welcomed the guest into the party room.  (Found a 6-pack on sale for $1 at Target! So lucky!)