Ice Cream Sundae Birthday

Part of our recent road trip was a visit to my sewing sister’s house. This is my sister who made the drawstring bags for our Hello Kitty birthday party. Our trip overlapped with my niece’s 8th birthday, and we were able to celebrate with her. My niece invited two friends to come swimming on the afternoon of her birthday. On the day of the party, my sister whipped up some activities that made the party look like she had been planning for weeks (not only does this sister sew, she is also very good at parties). She kept it simple, but it was so cute and colorful.  I think it would be an easy party to host for a wide variety of ages. What are other good ideas for impromptu birthday parties that look coordinated and well-planned?

The Face Painting: My sister did an Internet search for kids’ tattoos– not face painting designs– and copied a collection of simple ideas on master pages that were easy for the kids to reproduce. She set up the face paints and design choices on the table by the pool.  It was a “self-serve” operation. The kids took breaks from swimming and decorated their faces, hands, legs, backs…

The Cake: My whole family loves a grocery store birthday cake! My sister ordered an undecorated cake– she did plan this ahead of time– and provided materials for the guests to decorate it. Think of the finished product as an edible pinata. TIP: We decided that an activity like this probably needs a small group. Maybe eight children, max. If you are having a larger party, provide individual cakes or two or three larger cakes. The Betty Crocker Cake Mate squeezable frosting cans were perfect for this project. They came in bright colors and offered different frosting tips for fun decorating options.




The Ice Cream Sundaes: My sister had colorful spoons and bowls from a previous party and purchased a variety of ice cream toppings at the grocery store. After we scooped ice cream, the guests added as many toppings as they wanted!

The Supplies: Most of the food items were in white or blue ramekin dishes. Everything my sister used was in bright “ice cream” colors, which created a themed look to the party even though it was a very casual get together. She had pink bowls, ice cream sundae spoons, brightly colored M&Ms, sprinkles, chocolate and caramel toppings, ice cream cones, brightly colored frosting, and Tervis Tumblers with colorful lids filled with M&Ms for party favors.

4th of July Block Party

It probably is not very helpful to post ideas about a 4th of July block party on July 5th, but it was a ton of fun. In fact, our group is considering doing it again for Labor Day… or Halloween… or just a Saturday night. I am also including a few recipes that are delicious and worth having for any group gathering. I know others hosted neighborhood block parties. What worked for you? What do I need to add to our upcoming block parties?

The Schedule: Our super friend and neighbor, Jackie, created a flyer with the afternoon’s schedule and delivered them to all of our mailboxes several days before the holiday.  The line-up included a bike/scooter/golf cart parade (with costumes or festive wear), classic relay races, a cake walk, potluck dinner, and fireworks.

The Parade: We all met at the end of the street at 4:00 and kicked off the events.  There was a seating area for the judges near the start line.  All participants received a certificate with a special recognition.  Our daughter earned most adorable for her wagon entry. You will note that I have shamelessly included a picture of our new puppy!

The Relay Races: Adults and children could participate in a three-legged race, sack race, dizzy bat, egg carry, and others.

The Cake Walk: I have not done one of these in years. Entrants stood on a numbered square.  As the music played, you walked around the squares and stopped when the music stopped.  A number was drawn, and if you were standing on the matching number, you got to pick any cake or treat from the cake table. This event was highly competitive!

The Prizes: After tallying the totals for the relay races, there were prizes for all. I can’t believe the trophies Ms. Jackie put together. You can do a lot with plasticware, dolls from the Dollar Store, and some gold spray paint. Well done!

The Food: The men stabbed and burned, so there were plenty of hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, and pulled pork. I supplied a twice baked potato casserole that I had not made in awhile.  I had forgotten how amazing this casserole is for group events. I also shared a strawberry lemonade cocktail (with a kick) that was perfect for a hot day. Click here for 4th of July Recipes.

Pretzel Chocolate Snacks

I found this snack idea on Pinterest, and it actually looked like the original picture when we finished making them! These little bites are easy and taste delicious. They have that perfect salty and sweet combination. We are eating them so fast, they may not make it to our neighborhood 4th of July party (which is the reason I made them in the first place).

The Ingredients: Snyder’s Snaps Pretzels (the ones that look like a tic tac toe board), Hershey Kisses, M&Ms (plain and/or peanut)

The Directions: Line up pretzels on a cookie sheet. Put one Hershey kiss on each pretzel. Bake at 275 degrees for ~3 minutes. Take out of the oven and immediately smush M&M into the top. Refrigerate to re-harden the Hershey kiss.

Variations: Whatever holiday, smush the coordinating colored M&M. Halloween– orange. Christmas– red and green. Valentine’s Day– pink, red, and white. St. Patrick’s Day– green. You get the idea.

** I had a student give me a bag of these little morsels at Christmas.  He (and by “he” I mean the mom) made them to look like Rudolph.  I know they used the mini traditional shaped pretzel and a red mini M&M for the nose.  I ate them before I thought to pay attention to the construction.  If anyone has made the reindeer version, please let me know the details!

Teddy Bear Picnic Birthday Party

I saw a bag of mini Stauffer’s original animal crackers on the impulse buy rack while waiting to check out at Office Depot several weeks before my daughter’s second birthday. That sighting sparked the idea for the teddy bear picnic where we could serve all mini food to our guests (human or fuzzy).

The Invitation: I used a local stationer, The Party Basket, in New Orleans for this one. The invitation included a little poem that told our guests, “A favorite teddy bear is a welcome guest to make (name’s) birthday the beary best!” Everyone RSVP’d to “Mama Bear”.

The Location: We hosted the party at the playground at our local park.

The Picnic Baskets: I located the baskets at Michael’s. I shopped at a fabric store for bright fabrics, which I cut into squares. My mom found colorful plastic tea sets that came in clear backpacks at a discount store. One tea set served four, so we divided up the complete sets.  Each picnic basket contained dishes to serve two guests– the child and his/her stuffed animal friend.

The Food: I made bear shaped tea sandwiches using a teddy bear cookie cutter. Each guest had one turkey sandwich and one ham and cheese sandwich in my favorite clear cellophane bags from Michael’s. I packaged mini Goldfish and the mini animal crackers in bags too and closed all the bags with stickers. We also included mini boxes of raisins and served small juice boxes. My daughter was going through an Elmo phase at the time, so the juice boxes, stickers, paper napkins, and the cake toppers were Elmo-themed. This mixed well with the fun colors in the tea sets.

The Picnic: We found brightly colored tablecloths in the sale bin at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and spread those out near the playground. There was room for our friends to set out the food from their picnic baskets and eat with teddy bears, dolls, and other party guests.

The Cake: Since we were serving all mini items, we purchased a small cake for the birthday girl (they call them “smash cakes” in some places), and the guests ate cupcakes.

The Party Favors: Guests took home their picnic basket with the plastic tea sets.

Hello Kitty Birthday Party

I tend to get a little over excited when planning parties for my children but when my daughter asked about having a Hello Kitty birthday, I was particularly giddy. Hello Kitty is all about crafts and cooking! I actually had to scale back from the original plan to have “shops” in the backyard where guests would go for individual activities (see the carnival booth plans at Mr. McGroovy’s).

The Invitations: did not have what I needed for this party, so I ordered invitations through Tiny Prints. The cards were purrr-fectly wonderful.

The Crafts: We had several stations set up on low tables under one of those big tailgate tents in the backyard. Children could make giant tissue paper flowers. We folded several layers of colorful tissue accordion style then wrapped a pipe cleaner tightly around the middle. The kids pulled the tissue layers apart to create the flower. We also photocopied a Hello Kitty picture on cardstock. We then hole punched around the edge of the picture and tied a piece of long yarn to one hole. The guests could lace the string (like those nursery school lacing cards) and/or color the picture of Hello Kitty.

The Cooking: We used heart, butterfly, and tulip cookie cutters and made plain sugar cookies. We set up a table with the cookies, icing, and various sprinkles for a cookie decorating station.

The Scavenger Hunt: Each child received a drawstring bag with clues inside. Since our guests couldn’t read yet, we had slips of paper with pictures of places around the yard. You would pull a picture out of the bag, look for the location in the picture, then go to that place to pick up one treat. When the kids finished, they had filled Hello Kitty’s purse.

The Drawstring Bags: My sister made these for my niece’s spa birthday. She very kindly sewed the whole batch for me. Here is the basic pattern, but our bags had a 6″ square base and the sides were 22″ long and 10″ tall.

The Party Favors: Everyone took home the filled drawstring bags. After completing the scavenger hunt, the bags contained a headband with a red bow hot glued to it, lollipops, Hello Kitty lip gloss, Hello Kitty mirror, Hello Kitty mini notepad, and a few other fun items. All of the party stores and places like Target have a pretty big selection of mini Hello Kitty party favors.