I’m embarrassed to admit that this project took me about 3 years to finish. I had an idea a while ago that I wanted to create a gallery wall in the playroom that could showcase my kid’s art and could easily allow for the changing of pictures. I wanted it to be fun and practical. I started picking photos, drew a few collage options, ordered a few frames and then life happened. Everything sat for quite a while, until I finally found some time again and tackled it. Nic and I altered a few of the frames ourselves so that we could hang photos and art using clothespins. We placed the collage on the floor, then re-arranged it tons more times, before committing and hanging everything up. We are so happy with how it turned out and hope it provides some inspiration if you are looking to create your own gallery wall.
These are so easy to make and oh so cute! I made rice crispy treats using a slightly non-traditional recipe because of my son’s dairy allergy (I have also convinced myself that these are healthier because they don’t have butter), but feel free to use your favorite crispy treat recipe.
– 3 tablespoons canola oil
– 4 cups marshmallows
– 5 cups rice krispies cereal
– Dash of vanilla
– Star shaped cookie cutter
– Orange Candy melts
– Candy eyes
– Parchment or wax paper
1. Microwave oil and marshmallows in 30 second increments until melted.
2. Add a dash of vanilla then stir until well combined (the oil doesn’t incorporate as well as butter does, but if you keep stirring it will combine)
3. Add cereal and mix well.
4. Press into greased pan (when we were avoiding soy I used a bit of canola oil and rubbed it all over the pan. Now we just use Pam Spray)
5. Let cool slightly, you don’t want them to cool completely, then use a cookie cutter to cut out shape. (I usually take all the extra and smash it together to get a few extra treats- then I snack on the rest.
6. Melt candy melts according to package instructions in a medium bowl (I used microwave safe cereal bowls)
7. Press each treat into the liquid covering about 1/3rd of it.
8. Remove and place on the wax paper (If they don’t look perfect, no worries. I thought the slight swirl I made flipping each one over made the starfish look more realistic)
9. Before the candy coating hardens, place the eyes on.
Viola! So easy, right? These are so delicious and way too simple and they would be perfect for so many birthday party themes. Not to mention, you could easily use a different candy melt color and cookie cutter to fit your party. The options are endless.
My boys are very into ocean animals and love the Disney movie Finding Nemo so when they saw Finding Dory this summer and loved it, I knew we had found the perfect birthday party theme. Since my boys’ birthdays are two weeks apart we decided to do a combined party this year, which worked out great. I promised myself I was going to keep things low key, then after weeks of restraint, I gave in and went crazy buying and making as many things as possible.
Once the boys had nailed down that they wanted a bounce house in the backyard, I started off my party planning like I always do-with a search on pinterest. There were tons of cute ideas, many of which I ended up copying at the last minute.I ordered very cute invitations from Party Door. I also ordered t-shirts for myself (Amazon), Hudson (Shop Disney Parks) and Luc (CrazyCorgiLadyDesign). My hubby, who is very helpful when it comes to parties and puts up with all my over the top party planning, draws the line at wearing party theme t-shirts.
I absolutely love desserts and tend to make that the focal point of parties I throw, so let me start by showing you that. For kid parties, I am a huge fan of cupcakes instead of cake. For one, I can make them myself, which saves a lot of money. They are also so much easier during the party. No cutting, no wasting (am I the only one who dreads cutting cakes because they are always too pretty to eat?) and they can still be themed and cute. I bought these adorable cupcake wrappers from EasyPeasybyAlison on etsy and love how they turned out.
I make rice krispy treats for every party because they are easy and I have a recipe that makes this one of few desserts my oldest son, who has food allergies to dairy, eggs and nuts, can eat. At about 11pm the night before the party, a lightbulb went off and I quickly sprung into action. I turned my rice crispy treats into starfish. I was so happy with how they turned out and the best part is they were so easy to make. You can find my allergy-friendly rice crispy recipe here along with details on how to make the starfish rice crispy treats.
I saw this great idea from Oh my! Creative and knew I had to copy it. My oldest son is obsessed with sharks and by leaving the cool whip off a few he was able to have a second dessert option. They didn’t have grey foam at any of my local craft stores so I just used grey cardstock and it worked great. You just make blue jello in clear cups according to packaging instructions. Cut out shark fins from grey paper and glue onto mini spoons. *Check the height so the shark fins are start at the top of the cups. Place spoons into cups. Then add whipped cream or cool whip.
Bucket of sand was one of my favorite desserts to make as a child so I made some mini sand parfaits and stuck umbrellas in the top. Sadly, I couldn’t find the recipe I used as a child and did’t love the way these tasted so I won’t share a link, but I’m sure if you look on pinterest tons of recipes will show up. They look so cute and you could even keep it super simple by alternating vanilla pudding and crushed up nilla wafers.
I always make oreo truffles, but in my attempt to simplify this year I decided to skip them. That is until midnight, when I realized that a few of my friend’s husbands come solely for those and I’m a people pleaser, so I got to work making fish bowl pops. I always make oreo truffles using this recipe from Bakerella because they are way quicker than cake pops, oreos are my favorite and I love the way these taste. Cake pops are a pretty long and tedious process as it is, so if you can cut the time down and focus more on the decorating you will be happy you did. Anyways, I got to the part where I needed to adhere my fish sprinkles and they were too heavy and kept sliding off. 🙁 I then tried fish candies from the pinata candy bag with no luck before settling on hand drawn fish using edible markers. When the markers started acting up two pops in I decided to call it quits and head to bed (it was extremely late at this point and my brain was shutting down). I was disappointed that my pops didn’t turn out how I envisioned, but everyone else thought they were adorable and loved them. After the party ended, I remembered that I had bought two boxes of Dory cereal specifically for the cake pops. Of course, the marshmallows worked perfectly.
One of Hudson’s favorite parts of the dessert bar was the Goldfish Bar. We filled fish bowls with different flavors of pepperidge farms goldfish, filled a glass with swedish fish and another with candy worms. This was a big hit!
Another highlight of the dessert bar was a last minute impulse buy from Amazon. I had been searching for a coffee pot similar to the one in the Finding Dory movie and by luck a few nights before the party I came across this toy coffee pot with a swimming dory. Thanks to Amazon Prime, it arrived just in time for the party and was so cute! We still have it out and treat Dory like a real fish.
I normally make party banners myself, but again, in my quest to simplify, I outsourced and I am so glad I did. The details on this banner from TwoEarlyBirds were beautiful and from experience I know I saved myself a lot of time (and maybe even a bit of money) by ordering one instead.
We also set up a drink table. I made a few jellyfish to hang from the ceiling. The jellyfish were made loosely following these instructions from Party City. I bought a few of those white crates they sell at craft stores before Hudson’s first birthday and tweaked one by adding a “shelf”. I also bought a few boxes of mason jars. I use this display at every party and just tie different colored ribbons around them depending on my theme.
I also always offer beer and mimosas. People don’t drink a ton at kiddie parties in the middle of the day, but they always appreciate the option and seem to enjoy a little indulgence. This time around I kept my mimosa bar simple by just offering Freixnet and orange juice.
I put blue Hawaiian punch in a dispenser that I transformed into Dory using these instructions. This was really easy to make and everyone loved it! Both boys shouted DORY! as soon as they saw it. 🙂
Last year, we got jamba juice for Hudson’s birthday party and it was such a huge success that we got them again. They are such a great allergy friendly option, they are easy for kids to drink, perfect on a hot day, and lets face it, who doesn’t love fruit smoothies?
As a few final touches, I added a fish bowl with a bath toy in it and another fish bowl filled with blue m&ms and a few goldfish crackers.
For food, we had subway “submarine” sandwiches with some fun and festive sides. My husband carved an awesome shark out of a watermelon for Bruce’s fruit salad. Both of our boys went crazy over it! For directions, check out Popsugar Food’s You Tube video.
I made our go to pasta salad using shell pasta.
We had veggies and ranch dip with Hank as the centerpiece. We also had submarine sandwiches from Subway. I made the food labels and whenever possible I stuck a matching bath squirter character by the label.
For favors, I bought Finding Dory bath squirters from Walmart. Both of my boys are obsessed with these. I filled our popcorn buckets from the movie with the favors and made a thank you sign to go with it.
In addition to the bounce house, we had a pinata. I made bags using an idea and printable from Any Tots. We filled the pinata with a Dory Pinata Candy Mix from Walmart.
The photobooth has become a signature at all of our parties. It is so much fun and the best part is we always end up with photos of all our guests. I bought the cutest downloadable photobooth props from SimplyMadeWithSam. You can check out all our diy photobooth recommendations here.
The party was a blast! I just love the whole experience with my boys. The planning, the build-up of excitement, and the joy on their faces the day of. Hudson ran to the door every time someone arrived to welcome them to his birthday party. Then he excitedly showed them all the fun details. It was so rewarding to see how much he loved and appreciated all my hard work. Luc, showed his appreciation in his own way, with excited shrieks of “Dory” “Marlin” and “Bailey” I know they both had such an amazing day!