Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nutcracker-inspired Christmas Party

This party, which I organized for my son's Kindergarten class, was inspired by the classic Christmas story of The Nutcracker. The party coincided with the class's study of the story of The Nutcracker and Tchaikovsky's ballet, which made it even more fun--and educational--for the kids. The party was also very budget-friendly-the entire party cost under $100! Take a look.

I kept to a traditional Christmas color palette of red, green and white and created some Nutcracker-inspired printable bottle wraps to dress up the milk bottles and water bottles. 

For snack, we served fruit and a homemade "mouse king cookie". 

The cookie is a white chocolate dipped Oreo topped with chocolate mouse. The mouse body is a chocolate dipped cherry. The head is a Hershey's Kiss. The ears are slices almonds and the eyes are white sprinkles, with the pupils drawn on with edible marker.

For the activities and games, we divided the children into three groups and gave each group different colored jingle bell necklaces to wear. We then rotated the groups through 3 activity stations. The necklaces helped to keep things organized when rotating through activities.

The first station was a story telling station where the teacher read the Nutcracker story to the group.

The second station was Christmas-themed Bingo. We used jelly beans for markers00many were eaten along the way, but we did eventually hit a few "bingos"!

The third station was the most fun--the children created their own Nutcracker-themed snow globes. They had a great time making them and the finished snow globes made a cute keepsake for them to take home.

 We decorated with Nutcrackers brought in by the teachers. I would have loved to have Nutcrackers at each table as centerpieces, but it simply wasn't in the budget....

 So I improvised by using Nutcracker-themed wine bottle bags as centerpieces instead! It still gave the effect of having nutcrackers as a centerpieces, but at a fraction of the cost.

We also hung the extra bags for hanging decor throughout the room!

For favors, I dressed up some candy canes with cardstock to create 
little "mouse king" candy cane holders. 

To set the mood, we also had Tchaikovsky's ballet music playing and also had excerpts of the ballet playing on a TV. 

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thanksgiving Food Fun with Kids...and a Blog Hop!

Get the kids involved in the kitchen this fall with some quick, tasty and eye-catching snacks and treats! Here are some ideas we road tested...and had great fun putting together! Most of these required little to no baking and minimal use of knives so your little helpers will need minimal supervision. 

Then check out our blog hop with our blogging friends for more fantastic Thanksgiving ideas and FREE Thanksgiving printables!

This fruit kabob turkey is super cute and super easy to make. 
We used watermelon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries and cantaloupe, but you could use any fruits you like. We used a leaf-shaped cookie cutter to make the watermelon "feathers". 
The body of the turkey is a butternut squash.

This "bread basket" turkey would made a great side for Thanksgiving, which the kids can help to make. The feathers are cheesy biscuits rolled and cut with a cookie cutter before baking. We sprinkled them with paprika and oregano to add some fall hues! The body, wings and beak are bread rolls. We used dried cranberries for the eyes. 

...or you could make a fall tree with the same biscuits!

This fruit cornucopia (or rather cone-e-copia!) is a whimsical way to serve up some healthy fruit. 
The waffle cone adds a great crunch too...just be sure to serve right away as the cone does get soggy after a while. 

Add piped-on chocolate stems to chocolate-dipped pretzels and they become pumpkins...! We used orange and green candy melts that melt in the microwave, so no double boiler required!

And the kids will love to make these acorns. All you need is mini nutter butter cookies, kisses and chocolate chips. Use melted chocolate to "glue" the cookies and kisses together. No baking required! 

For more Thanksgiving Ideas and FREE Thanksgiving printables, check out all the awesome ideas in our blog hop below, in conjunction with the awesome blogs listed below.

From top to bottom, left to right: 
Pecan Pie Muffins - Creative Juice
Salted Caramel Apple Recipe + Favor Idea - Bird's Party
Thanksgiving Cookie Favors - Haniela's
Colored Thanksgiving Popcorn Jar Favors - Play. Party. Pin.
Handmade Hostess Gift - Crissy's Crafts
Kid's Bread Basket Turkey - The Party Wall
Free Thanksgiving printable cupcake toppers - Bird's Party
Turkey Feather Place Card Cookie - Frog Prince Cake and Cookie Design

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Monster Bash, Halloween Party

Here's a fun idea for a kids' Halloween party, but it could work equally well for a monster-theme birthday party too. This party took me only a few hours to put together, using items I already had on had that I repurposed for this party. It was for my son's class party at school, so the budget was also very tight--you could honestly recreate this party for under $50!

I chose bright, bold colors and used funny "googly eyes" throughout. Since the party was for young children, I wanted something cute, not gory or scary for Halloween. 

These monster cupcakes are super easy to make. Just frost the cupcakes, cover in sugar sprinkles and top with two marshmallows. I used an edible marker to draw on the eyes. 
Project cost to make a dozen cupcakes--under $5. 

For party favor bags, I used inexpensive plain goodie bags and added whimsical antennae, googly eyes, etc. The bags were filled with monster themed bubble bottles, monster lollipops and small monster toys. Project cost to make a dozen bags--under $20.

For centerpieces, I covered some plain, tall vases with colored paper and added similar faces as the party favor bags. the wooly pom pom antennae are repurposed Truffula trees from the Lorax Party

I wrapped the water bottles with colored paper and added more googly eyes. 

I purchase inexpensive monster masks for each child to wear.

I added more googly eyes to some paper lanterns for hanging decor. 

Party games included a target practice game--the monster targets were repurposed Truffula tree tops from the Lorax Party. I just added googly eyes and other monster body parts to turn the former tree tops into fluffy monsters!

Floating marshmallow googly eyes and gummy worms turned punch into a fun monster drink!

Other party games included a monster craft station were the children got to make their own monster using home-made play dough, pipe cleaners, pom poms, and more googly eyes. 

Since there was so much color, I used black table cloths for contrast and also to make it more appropriate for Halloween. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Legos and Lightsabers (Lego Star Wars inspired) Party: Part 3

This post is about the favors, food & drinks, and decor at the party.

Click here for Part 1: Dessert Table and Invitations
Click here for Part 2: Games and Activities.

For the table settings, I combined licensed Lego Star Wars merchandise from Party City with several DIY touches. For the centerpiece, I used a giant Lego head flanked by giant Lego bricks (made using the same technique as the Lego bricks for the dessert table backdrop). I used black construction paper to create inexpensive place mats, adding a Lego border to tie in with the theme. I even rolled the napkins like lightsabers and wrapped them with paper napkin wraps that I created--tutorial and template for the napkin wraps to follow. I used large building blocks for the place card holders. 

I like to tie the theme into every element of the party--even the food and drinks! Among other things, we had Yoda’s swamp dip, Darth Maul-E salsa, and Jabba “the Pizza” Hutt. 

Drinks, including Vader-ade, Solo-han Blanc and Chew’s Brews for the adults, were served at the "Creature Cantina", while the children enjoyed Yoda Soda. 

The Creature Cantina was a hit with the adults, especially since we had the catchy tune (and other Star Wars theme music) playing during the party!

Party Favors: I love to make favors part of the fun at the party, rather than just things to take home, so many of the items from the games and activities, such as the R2D2 droid craft, Lego box filled with Legos for the Starfighter, pool noodle light saber, lightsaber bubble wand, Jedi robe and certificate all went home with the children, as well as a Lego-shaped bag filled with a Lego Star Wars coloring book, Lego mini-figure crayons and Lego candy. 


Here is a lit of my fabulous vendors/resources for this party:

Photography by Kathie Tam                                               
Cupcake Toppers, Cake Toppers and Sugar Cookies by MJ Tabush Sweet Designs 
Cake Pops by Fayes Cake Pops     
Plastic plates, appetizer cups, licensed merchandise, paper lanterns, darth vader standee from Party City         

Thanks for stopping by! May the force be with you! :-)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Legos and Lightsabers, A Lego Star Wars inspired party: Part 2

This post is the second post about my son's Legos and Lightsabers (Lego Star Wars inspired) birthday party. This post focuses on the games and activities at the party. 

Party Games and Activities: When each guest arrived, they received a “Jedi Mission” card that explained their mission to them. For each completed mission, they got a gold star to stick on their card. They completed the following Jedi missions:

Escape from the Death Star—this mission involved navigating through an obstacle course inspired by Star Wars, Episode IV. Some of the obstacles included navigating through Storm Trooper laser fire (red string tied between trees), wading through a trash pit (a ball pit filled with cardboard tubes), shooting down a tie fighter, bowling down the Storm Troopers, and finally, bombing the Death Star (a corn hole game).

The tie fighter was made using rolled up newspapers, a paper lantern from Party City, and yes, more plastic plates from Party City.

Build a Droid—this mission involved crafting an R2D2 droid. I pre-cut all the droid components” so the children just had to stick them on. I even made the sign look like a droid! :-)

Complete Light saber training--the children battled it out at this station (with balloon and each other), using pool noodle lightsabers and white balloons on which I drew Storm Trooper faces. 

Design a Lego Starfighter—I packaged an assortment of Lego bricks into Lego-shaped boxes. Each child used the Lego bricks to design their own “star fighter”.  The boxes were cut on my electronic cutter, then I added small circles to the tops to create the "pegs". 

Fight in the Jedi Bubblewars—The children got to play with lightsaber-shaped bubble wands and attack the bubbles. The younger children had a blast with this activity.

I made the lightsaber bubble wands by wrapping the handles with cardstock embossed to mimic the lego base plate. I added a red rhinestone for the button on the lightsaber.

Pose in the Intergalactic Photo booth—photo booth are always so much fun and making it part of the mission was a great way to make sure I got photos of every single guest at the party. The children had fun posing with the Darth Vader standee from Party City, lightsabers, various Star Wars masks, DIY Yoda ears, DIY Princess Leia hair buns etc. The backdrop was made using paper plates as the “pegs” on the Lego base plate and themed streamers from Party City.


It was only fitting that we dress up the birthday boy's little sister as Princess Leia. I made her a onesie using iron-on transfer and we also made her some hair buns on a stretchy headband!

My helpers, who manned the various stations, wore "I have Jedi Powers" t-shirts, which I also made using iron-on transfer sheets. 

The kiddos all had fun posing with the Darth Vader standee from Party City....until the surprise that followed...Darth Vader himself!!

Hunt for the Darth Vader Candle: This was the final mission of the party. I had all the children gather and told them it was almost time for cake, but that the Darth Vader candle had been stolen. Their mission was to help me find the candle by answering a series of questions that led through a “scavenger hunt” game. 

I  had a group of the parents holding up signs of various Star Wars characters with clues leading them to the next character.
The very last clue led them to the location of the stolen candle…and the big surprise—Darth Vader himself! 

Darth then gave each child a DIY Jedi robe and a Jedi Knight certificate and had a lightsaber fighter with the birthday boy.  When my son told told me I’d made his birthday wish come true to have a lightsaber fight with Darth, I knew it was worth all the effort! 

Darth Vader Pinata--We also had a Darth Vader piñata from Party City. I covered the piñata stick to make it look like, yes you guessed it, a lightsaber! 

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