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Monday, December 19, 2011

Elf Antics

Thought I'd share a few photos of our elves this month. They've been quite busy! Trying to break the pinata the day of Tyler's birthday party

yarn & candy cane zip line

ooops! He must have fallen into the stocking while trying to leave a surpise for the kids! (mini gingerbreah house kits)

blanket fort!

Thank goodness he was too little to get the Harley out of the garage! The elves did get to ride in the car to take the kids to school that morning though.

Playing dress up

What have your elves been up to?

*you can see original idea post for our elves here (link) as well as some of the other elf antics throughout the years if you search tags for Christmas, or elves.
Linking to:
Elf on the Shelf party at Come Together Kids

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

31 Days: Day 31 - Recap

I thought I'd wrap up the series by doing a quick recap of all the posts from the 31 Days of Creative Celebrations. The organizational side of my brain demanded it - you know, to make referecing everything easier... :) Enjoy!


Day1: Inspiration

Day 2: Invitations

Day 3: Guest List

Day 4: Party Favors

Day 5: Gifts for Kids

Day 6: Super Sizing It (DIY projector tutorial)

Day 7: Gifts for Women

Day 8: Happy Birthday to...Me

Day 9: Gifts for Men

Day 10: Party Planning

Day 11: Decorations and Food

Day 12: Orchestrating the Fun

Day 13: Party Checklist

Day 15: Fish Birthday Party

Day 16: Other Gift Ideas

Day 17: Live and Learn

Day 18: It's All About the Presentation

Day 19: Halloween Decor

Day 20: Inspriation Board #2

Day 21: Finding the Fun in Daily Life

Day 22: Halloween Costumes

Day 23: Pirate Party Invitations

Day 24: How to Make a Pinata

Day 25: Traditions

Day 26: Thanksgiving

Day 27: Party Themes

Day 28: Homecoming

Day 29: Pirate Party

Day 30: Cards and Tags

31 Days: Day 30 - Cards and Tags

We've talked about parties. We've talked about gift ideas and creative gift wrapping. I guess that only leaves cards and tags.

Tags are pretty much a must when it comes to gift giving - at least if you want the person to know who it came from or where it's going to! But a lot of the time the card itself is an after thought. You've spent all this time deciding on the right gift then shopping for it or making it yourself and wrapping it up all pretty and all you want is to be done with it, right? Well, that's what happens to me when I hit that point. But I hate to just throw something on there and ruin the look.

When it comes to Christmas I try to think about the tags ahead of time, print them out all at once, then have them ready when I'm wrapping up the gifts. This year I went for a monogram look on the tags. Simple, easy and classic.

For all the other gift-giving events life throws at me, I try to keep a good supply of cards on hand. Most of my stash lives in this little guy - my card organizer box. I created a bunch of these a few years back as gifts, along with one for myself (see original post here) and it has worked pretty well for me.

Inside are tabs so I can keep the cards organized by category.

Here's a look at a few of the cards in the box.

And for those little things that don't really require a full out card, just a place to write To and From I use little tags or small 2x2 cards like these. They're also a great way to use up all those scraps!

Keeping the box fully stocked was pretty easy back when I lived in Utah and participated in a monthly card making group. I'm overdue for a big card and tag making session. Hopefully I'll get around to it after all of this holiday craziness passes us by.

Monday, December 5, 2011

31 Days: Day 29 - Pirate Birthday Party

Ahoy Mateys! Party day finally arrived for Cap'n Tyler! He was so excited and we had such fun! (and plenty of guests showed up yay - I have to admit I was still worried despite a few more RSVPs than last time)

Let me walk you through Tyler's Jake and the Neverland Pirates Birthday Party.

I blogged about the invitations earlier (link) so I'll skip right to the

First and foremost for every birthday party is the themed cake! I was happy to find a fairly easy recipe for making a pirate ship cake (link)
Tyler informed me that the ship's name is Bucky. And that Bucky MUST have 2 blue and white striped sails. And that Jake MUST be on the ship. Lucky for me I found a nice little printable playset (link) and just printed the characters onto cardstock and stuck them in the frosting. The party was scheduled from 10 - 11:30 so that I wouldn't need to serve a full lunch. But to round it out a little we had Cannon Balls (grapes), Treasure Maps (fruit roll ups), and Pirate (root) Beer.
And this little guy is the cupcake(s) I took in to Tyler's class today
I loved the idea of making a sail to add some height to the food table. It was pretty easy to tie a couple dowels together, stick them in a bucket of sand, and add a fabric remnant for the sail.
I liked the look of the pennant banner on top of the sail. I used the red/white striped part of the printables found here (link) (and also used that same site for the sailes on the cupcakes)for some of the pennants and cut a strip off one of the black plastic tablecloths for the other pennants and just added the letters (that I printed onto cardstock and cut out in circles - the same set of letters I used for the banner for the Fish Party) I went themey with the with the plates and napkins and just grabbed the pirate ones they had at Target. They worked well with the black, red and white color scheme I was going for.

The table was covered with the a black plastic tablecloth and an old looking net I picked up at the dollar store around Halloween. Add in some gold coins and a few other pirate accessories and I think it turned out to be a pretty cute table. Also note that little treasure chest. It too was a printable from and we used it as our "Team Treasure Chest" throughout the party. (You'll see what I mean when I get to the activity part of the party).
A quick look at the outside. I didn't want to do too much out there but I do think it's important to put out some balloons to mark the party house, especially when some of the guests have never been to the house before.
And a sign on the door to set the mood.
As I may have mentioned before, it was really hard to guage how many people were actually going to show up at the party. And in order to hopefully increase our chances of a good turn out we invited pretty much everyone in the neighborhood under the age of 12, and Tyler's entire preschool class. If everyone had come, we would have had 30 or so kids running around the place. Eek. We ended up with closer to 10, which was a great number. But I didn't know that during the prep work so I tried to plan accordingly. Instead of putting together favor bags, I just gathered a bunch of pirate theme prizes (stickers, candy, chocolate coins, real coins, plastic jewelry, etc) and used them in the games and the pinata. And for everyone to collect their "loot" I threw together my version of the bag "Izzy" on Jake and the Neverland Pirates wears around her neck to carry her Pixie Dust.

I printed out a bunch of blank tags, with a place for me to write the child's name on later. Then cut them into strips and stapled them to the strap of the bags.

The bags themselves were made out of felt, cut into a circle with a piece of embroidery floss (I tried the jute I had used everywhere else in the party but it was too thick and the bags didn't close well) around the outer edge to cinch it closed.

The Activities!

According to my usual MO, we started the party coloring pictures so that the kids would have something easy to do while waiting for everyone to arrive.

Then it was time for our Treasure Hunt! I had taken a piece of brown craft paper and drawn a map/blueprint onto it. Then I tore the map into pieces that I hid at each station, along with a few gold coins.
The first piece of the map led the kids upstairs to the playroom where they found the Walk the Plank game.

Basically it was a balance beam made from a 2x4 and a couple scrap pieces of wood. The kids walked across it to the far end, picked up a gold coin, then walked back across the plank and deposited the coin in the Team Treasure Chest.

Once everyone had a turn I helped them find the next piece of the map.

Which led us back downstairs to the living room and the Pirate version of the Open the Present game (does anyone know if it has a real name? I've never heard it called anything which makes it very hard to define). You've played that game right? Usually it's done at Christmas parties with large groups of people. You all sit in a circle and take turns rolling a set of dice. When a person gets doubles it is his turn to start opening the gift (which has been wrapped in many many layers of paper).

The catch is that first he has to get dressed up before he can start in on the gift. At the Christmas parties you usually have to put on a hat and scarf and a set of gloves (making it hard to get the gift open). For our Pirate version we used an eye patch, a pirate hat, and a hook in one hand.
The person that rolled doubles hurries to unwrap the gift before someone else rolls doubles and takes over the unwrapping (after first having to take the dress up clothes from the other person and put them on themselves). The kids really had fun with it.
The prize at the end of the gift was of course another piece of the map and a few more chocolate coins.

The next piece of the map took us to another section of the living room for the Coin Toss. Self-explanatory right?
Another piece of the map, another journey - this time to the sun room where the food was set up. Yay! Time for Cake!But we hadn't found the treasure yet! The next piece of the map led us to the garage for a scavenger hunt through the sand. Each person needed collect 2 silver coins, 1 copper coin, one precious gem and a pirate flag. At the bottom of the bucket, the final piece of the map was hiding.I had hidden the pinata inside a plastic tote and put a red X on the lid of the tote and the kids had to find the X. This wasn't as easy as it sounds, as our garage has its share of plastic totes, but it wasn't hard either.I made the pinata. You can find my tutorial here. (link)
Luckily the pinata held up long enough to give everyone a turn (thanks to forcing the big boys to wait until last). After that we went back inside to open gifts.

I think the kids had a great time. I certainly did while planning it!
Oh and in case you were wondering - the budget came in under $50, including food. yay!

Linking to: