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golden masquerade party for golden halloween birthday

Golden Masquerade Birthday Party

On my 30th birthday, I was taking care of a newborn baby and not really up for a big celebration. I was just impressed that we were able to leave the kids with my parents and get out for a sushi dinner. The following year, I turned 31 on the 31st, which means it was my golden birthday. I decided that I needed to have a party since I didn’t do much for my 30th. Since my birthday is on Halloween, I went with a Golden Masquerade theme. Everyone came in masks, which was so much fun. Since I was planning the party for myself, and Nic and I went out of town the week before, I kept this party simpler than the ones I throw for the kids. It was nice not to put as much work in and hire more vendors instead. It turned out great and I got to relax and enjoy it more. Here are some of the details.

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday

Dessert Bar

We got desserts from Sweet and Saucy Shop and they did an amazing job. We had a 6″ round white buttercream, red velvet cake with gold sprinkles cascading down the cake.

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday - dessert bar

We had salted caramel white shell macarons with gold glitter painted stripes on them. We had oreo flavored white chocolate dipped cake pops with gold sprinkles. We had white chocolate dipped rice crispy bars. We had the most gorgeous s’mores tarts and candy bar flavored mini cupcakes. We also had some gold candies for a favor – we even had beer flavored jelly beans.

golden masquerade halloween birthday party - cake from sweet n saucy shop


We offered two specialty drinks in addition to beer and wine.

golden masquerade party beer drinking

The first specialty drink was the Masked Margarita which had Cuervo, triple sec, and sweet n’ sour with fresh squeezed lime and a gold salt rim.

Masked Margarita - with a gold salted rim for a Golden Masquerade Party

The second specialty drink was a Golden Raspberry Lemonade which had Raspberry lemonade, seagrams vodka and a gold sugar rim.
Golden Raspberry Lemonade with gold sugar rim - perfect for a Golden Masquerade Party

Photo Booth

Everyone had so much fun in the photobooth. They have become a staple at all of our parties. For more info on my DIY photobooth, check out this post.

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday - photobooth

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday - photo booth


For food we had sliders, southwest egg rolls, phyllo puffs with chicken, an imported and domestic cheese display, seared ahi tuna canapé, and meatballs.

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday - appetizer


Erin from White Fig Designs did the flower centerpieces and she did a fabulous job. She used white flowers with touches of dark accents and feathers.

centerpieces for a golden masquerade birthday party


All photos were taken by Jennifer Calderon.

This party was so much fun and everyone really enjoyed the theme. Especially being so close to Halloween, I think the adults really enjoyed a night out to get dressed up. I had a pretty awesome Golden Birthday and had a lot of fun watching this idea come to life.

golden masquerade party for a halloween golden birthday

let's get wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

Let’s Get Wild! Party Animals Birthday Party

We threw the boys a combined birthday party last weekend (this was their second combined party – last year they had a Finding Dory Party) to celebrate Hudson turning 5 and Luc turning 3. Since the boys’ birthdays are only two weeks apart and they are so close in age, it just makes sense to combine their parties. It saves me a lot of money and effort and they love it, so it’s a win-win. This year, we had the party at Scooter’s Jungle, an awesome indoor play place, which made the event even less stressful. I went with a wild/party animals/jungle theme because I knew the party room would already be decorated for that theme so I figured why fight it?

let's get wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party - dessert table

I had invitations made by Cute Party Dash.

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

I then used the same images, which can be purchased from Paper Sphinx to make a Watering Hole drink station sign and a thank you sign to put next to our favors.

let's get wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party - watering hole - jungle juice (jamba juice smoothies), water with zebra duct dape, coffee

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

While looking through Pinterest, I came across a party image and became obsessed with it. Normally, I pin hundreds of images and sort of take my favorite aspects of each party and create my own thing, but I just couldn’t get this party out of my head, so I copied it. It was a bit challenging because the pinned image didn’t link to anything, but after some detective work, I found the original post. You can check it out here for some beautiful party inspiration.

let's get wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

One of the biggest challenges of hosting a party at a venue instead of at home is that I had limited time for set-up (only 15 minutes before the guests entered) and quite a few rules and restrictions to follow. In order to make my dessert table vision come to life, I had to get creative. I bought two 28 x 40 tri-fold poster boards and overlapped them to make a large backdrop. I used this template and this template for the leaves. I folded a lot of the leaves in half and lightly taped them on so they would have some dimension. I bought the WILD balloons from Amazon (thank goodness for 2 day shipping and good customer service because the first order I received a V instead of an L!). This backdrop was surprisingly easy to put together, it was easy to transport and it was the best way to achieve the look I was going for given the restrictions I had.

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

Another challenge was that the venue didn’t allow any glass. All of my cake stands and serving platters are glass, so I had to do a little shopping. I found the white cakestand on Amazon. The gold cakestand was from Kirkland’s. The large white trays were from Ikea (I already had them) and the clear candy jar type dishes were from Walmart (They might be an in store only purchase because I couldn’t find them on-line).

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

Our party started at 9am, so we decided to serve Luc’s favorite food: donuts. We also got our go-to party food/drink: Jamba Juice smoothies (Jungle Juice). We had two large travel containers of coffee from Starbucks, mini water bottles with zebra print duct tape on them, a veggie tray, a fruit tray, and animal crackers.

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

For dessert, my very talented friend, Jessica Soumah, made delicious cupcakes and the most gorgeous cake! I ordered cupcake wrappers from Amazon, which were perfect. I also ordered gold glittery candles from Amazon. I cut way back on my dessert making this year and only made rice krispy treats, but even with those, I cheated and used store bought treats. I cut some straws in half, stuck them in the treats and dipped them in candy melts. I did half of them in white with a black drizzle to look like zebras and the other half I dipped in green then sprayed with gold mist to match the cake. (*tip – to get the streaks of gold instead of an all over mist, spray the gold Color Mist onto wax paper then use your finger to apply).

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

I got plain white table cloths from Walmart, Striped and Tropical Leaf plates from Amazon, decorated the tables with palm leaves from Amazon.

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

For favors, I just ordered adorable monkeys from Scooter’s Jungle.

let's get wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party - monkey favors

It was so much fun (even us adults were having a blast riding the jumbo slide). All the decorations, food and drinks were relatively easy, but still looked so cute. The kids had a great time and I would definitely consider the party a success!

wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

let's get wild party animals birthday party. Lots of great diy ideas for a safari or jungle themed party

shark week playdate - free banner printable, chumming for sharks yogurt recipe, shark bait recipe, link to popcorn bucket printable and tons of other shark week ideas

Shark Week Playdate and Free Printables

We had our friends over for a playdate during shark week, so I of course used it as an excuse to have a fun, shark themed get together. I love little events like this because it allows me to be crafty and creative without all the work and stress of a full-blown party. I didn’t start making stuff or preparing until Monday (our friends came over on Wednesday) so this is totally do-able for busy or last-minute moms. 🙂


I started out like I always do, searching Pinterest for ideas and free printables. I found some really cute stuff to use as well as some fun ideas. I didn’t see anything I could use for a banner though, so I made one myself. I think it turned out really cute and I always feel like a banner makes the table look complete. You can download the free banner printable by clicking HERE. Just cut it out, punch holes in the corners and run string through it. Lately I have been using blue painters tape to hang up my banners then covering the tape up with cute washi.

shark week letterboard idea

I also used my letterboard for the occasion. It was a bit of a challenge creating the shark fin, but I love how it turned out.


Chumming for Sharks Yogurt

chumming for sharks yogurt - perfect healthy snack or breakfast for shark week or a shark birthday

I wanted to have a few snacks with at least one healthy option, but most of the ideas on Pinterest were not very healthy. Usually I am all about desserts, but we have been making an effort to eat healthier lately so I came up with my own snack idea by combining a few ideas from Pinterest. We ended up making chumming for sharks yogurt. The kids helped me make these, which was a lot of fun. To make these you will need the following:

  • Granola (optional)
  • Greek Yogurt (we used vanilla)
  • Blue food coloring (you only need a few drops)
  • Frozen Strawberries in Sugar (we bought this from the frozen section of the grocery store)
  • Plastic Cups
  • Mini spoons
  • Grey construction paper (to make shark fins)
  • Glue gun

We added a little bit of granola to the bottom of the cups, put a few drops of blue food coloring into the yogurt, scooped the yogurt into the cup, then topped it with the chum (the frozen strawberries). I explained to the boys that chum is what they dump in the water to attract sharks and then what do you know, a few sharks showed up and jumped right into our bowls. 😉 The kids loved it! I free hand cut out shark fins out of grey construction paper and glued them onto mini spoons. I also used a few sharks left over from the adorable popcorn buckets I made using a printable from My Printly.

Shark Bait

shark bait popcorn snack is easy, delicious, and perfect for shark week or a shark party

Of course, I had to do one sweet treat, so I made shark bait. It was so delicious and all the little sharks ate it up super fast! I spent Tuesday night driving from store to store searching for shark gummies. I feel like I always see them until the time I need them, then they vanished. I found gummy bears, worms, snakes, octopus, frogs, dinosaurs, alligators and lions! Literally every gummy animal ever made except sharks! Then I thought, why would sharks want to eat sharks, and decided that putting them in my shark bait didn’t make sense anyways. That is when I came up with the goldfish idea. Sharks love eating fish, especially delicious sweet ones. They have so many fun flavors now too that you could use, but I must say, the s’mores goldfish were perfect in this recipe. To make the shark bait you will need the following:

  • Sea Salt Air Popped Popcorn
  • Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips
  • Blue M&Ms
  • S’mores Goldfish Crackers

I put wax paper on a cookie sheet, spread out my popcorn, sprinkled in goldfish and m&ms, then drizzled the melted white chocolate over it. I put it in the fridge until it cooled then broke it apart and put it in the cutest popcorn buckets from My Printly. These were so perfect for our playdate and I have been refilling the containers with shark bait all week so the boys can munch on it while watching Shark Week.

Ocean Water

ocean water - blue gatorade with a swedish fish makes an easy and fun drink for shark week or a shark party

For drinks, I kept it simple with blue Gatorade and a swedish fish on each straw.


Shark Sensory Bin

shark sensory bin

I set up a shark sensory bin. What I love most about sensory bins is that they don’t always have to be fancy. I didn’t have time to buy anything (and to be honest didn’t really want to spend a bunch of money) so I just used what we already had. A bag of glass circle vase fillers, water and plastic sharks. That’s it! And you know what, the kids loved it and played with it for quite a while. Sometimes, I think we as moms get caught up in making everything Pinterest worthy, but kids don’t need much to have fun. They were getting so creative and having the best time! When you give kids water activities, you usually can’t go wrong.

Shark Slime

shark slime - perfect activity for shark week

We also made shark slime. For our first attempt, the day before the playdate, we tried to use a non-borax recipe, but the slime was so sticky. I watched a bunch of you tube videos and started adding everything they recommended for sticky slime, but nothing helped. So my hubby bought borax and like magic our sticky bowl of blue goop turned into slime. When our friends came over, we made a second batch using the borax recipe and it worked great. The kids loved playing with their sharks in the slime! I used this recipe to make the slime.

Shark Play Doh Mats

shark week playdoh mats free printables

I also had a little play doh station with our shark week playdoh mats, some playdoh and some cutters. My boys had already done this activity earlier in the week and the kids were all having so much fun with the other activities that we didn’t get to this. You can check the play doh mats out here.

Shark Cutting and Tracing Activity

free printable - shark cutting and tracing practice

I also made a fun little printable for Hudson. I printed one out and had it laminated so it could be used as a tracing exercise. Both boys had fun with that. Then I printed one out on regular paper so Hudson could also use it for cutting. Hudson loves cutting so this was perfect for him. You can get the printable HERE. *Graphics were purchased from Prettygrafik Design.


I had a few crafts to do that I found on Pinterest, but we didn’t get to those either. Good thing shark week lasts an entire week so we can fit in all the fun we planned.

Clothespin Sharks

clothespin shark craft for shark week

I let each of the kids select one craft from Pinterest. Hudson chose clothespin sharks from Kix. This wasn’t an ideal craft for my kids’ ages so I pretty much ended up making these, but the kids did love playing with them.

Toilet Paper Roll Sharks and Paper Towel Roll Hammerhead Sharks

Luc chose to make paper toilet roll sharks. The one he selected was a regular shark, but his favorite shark is the hammerhead so I got really excited when I found a paper towel roll hammerhead shark on Pinterest. We are planning to make both, but so far have only completed phase one. I will update this once we finish the project.

Shark Hats

shark hats perfect for shark week

I was also planning to make shark hats, but the hats we selected required an obscure paper size in numerous colors that was not readily available (please tell me I am not the only one who spends tons of time driving from store to store looking for seemingly basic craft supplies that are actually impossible to find). Luckily, one of my friends, Danielle, from Mama Life Inspiration, who is an awesome blogger, posted an adorable shark hat idea. So we ended up making those instead and the boys had tons of fun finger painting their shark fins and tails. Of course they also loved running around in their shark hats. For more details on the hats and for the link to the shark fin hat template click here. Danielle also has a bunch of other fun shark week ideas on her blog so be sure to take a look.

As you can see, we squeezed a whole lot of Shark Fun into one week. My boys just love sharks so much that I couldn’t help myself and went a little overboard. You could easily pick just a few of these ideas to make your shark week a bit more fun.

I hope you have a fin-tastic Shark Week!!

Party with our Peeps - peep pops, bunny tails, donuts and free printables - Easter Egg Game and Photo Booth Sign

Party with our Peeps

Our Party with our Peeps was so much fun and a great way to welcome our friends visiting us from Australia.

Our friends arrived in the morning, so I had a spread of easy breakfast items like donuts and cinnamon rolls ready for them.

If you really want to get into the theme, you could also shape your cinnamon rolls into bunnies. (I did this on a different morning and stuck with regular cinnamon rolls the day of the party to keep things simple).

bunny shaped cinnamon rolls - cinnabunnies for Easter breakfast or a Party with your Peeps

I also made peeps pops. No one really ate them (probably a good thing because – sugar overload!), but they were so cute and really made the table look complete.

Party with our Peeps - peep pops, bunny tails, donuts and free printables - Easter Egg Game and Photo Booth Sign

To make the pops I just inserted cute party straws, snipped off the bottom and stuck it to a white candy melt. I lined up the candy melts on wax paper then used a lighter to melt them just slightly before sticking the peep on. Then I tied a bow around them. So easy and cute. 🙂

make peeps pops using, party straws, candy melts and ribbon

I hung up the adorable banner my friend cut out for me using her silhouette (I drew on the faces with sharpie so they would look more like peeps) with washi tape. It was so easy, looked cute and didn’t wreck my walls. I placed the photo booth sign (get your free sign here) and props on the table too.

free printable - party with your peeps photo booth sign - perfect for Easter

We played the Easter Egg Game after we ate and it was so much fun! Check out this post for instructions and free printables.

Free Printable - Easter Egg Game- fun activity game for toddlers and young kids

After naps, we decorated our Easter Eggs. We had also planned to do a fun peeps art project from This Sweet Happy Life, but everyone was a bit tired so we let the kids run around in the backyard playing with the water hose instead. 😉

This party was a lot of fun and would be great for a play date with friends or just as an Easter kick-off. It ended up being the perfect way to welcome our friends. It was very simple, but made the day feel extra special.

>Party with our Peeps - peep pops, bunny tails, donuts and free printables - Easter Egg Game and Photo Booth Sign
homemade alphabet half birthday donuts - could write any message or celebrate any occasion with these

Alphabet Donuts for Luc’s Half Birthday

Luc loves donuts! It’s his favorite food and he would eat them all the time if I let him. A few places in the Los Angeles area make these adorable alphabet donuts (I’m sure you have seen them as they are all the rage at the moment) and I thought that would be the perfect way to celebrate Luc’s half birthday. After calculating donut and delivery cost though, I decided I would attempt to make these myself. Of course, now that I have made these, I think the price is totally justified so if you aren’t the DIY type and want to buy some, check out DK’s Donuts and California Donuts. These were really fun to make and not very difficult, but they were time-consuming, so if you have a lot of time on your hands or you are cheap like me, read on to learn how to make your own alphabet donuts. 😉

half birthday doughnut dough and cookie cutters from michaels or amazon

half birthday donut making

homemade alphabet donuts to celebrate a half birthday

decorating half birthday donuts

homemade donuts to celebrate a half birthday

Alphabet Donuts

  • Servings: approx. 18 donuts
  • Print

Fun and easy, but time-consuming, doughnuts that are perfect for celebrations or teaching your kids about the alphabet

Copycatable Rating:????? Credit:The Pink Wings

Tips: I used these cookie cutters from Wilton.


    For Donuts
  • 1 1/8 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cugar
  • 1 package instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 sticks butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • canola oil (I used two 24 ounce bottles)
  • For Glaze
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1-2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • food coloring
  • sprinkles


  1. Heat milk to about 105-110 degrees F. Pour the sugar into the milk and stir to dissolve. Place yeast in a small bowl and pour milk over it. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat your eggs, then add your butter while mixing continuously. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn to medium speed and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix for a couple of minutes until well combined.
  3. While still mixing, gradually add the flour about 1/2 a cup at a time. Once it’s all combined, mix for another 5 minutes. Scrape if needed, then mix for another 30 seconds. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Spray a large mixing bowl with oil. Transfer your dough to the bowl, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Prep a few cookie sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper dusted with flour.
  6. Lightly flour a clean surface and roll out your dough to around 1/4 inch thick. Use your alphabet cookie cutters to make letters and place them on your prepped cookie sheets. Roll together leftover scraps, let the dough rest a few minutes, then repeat until done. Cover with tea towels and let ride in a warm, dry place for at least an hour until they look fluffy.
  7. Before the dough is quite risen, fill a heavy-bottomed pot almost halfway with oil on your stovetop and bring temperature to 375F (or if you are like me and don’t own a thermometer that reads that high, follow this test to know when the oil is hot enough) Prep some pans with paper towels for your fried donuts.
  8. Once the oil is hot enough, place a few donuts into the hot oil and fry for one minute. Turn them over and fry for one more minute. Remove from oil and let rest on paper towels. Let the oil heat back up if needed, then repeat until done.
  9. For the Glaze:
  10. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients until smooth. Divide into smaller bowls and add food coloring as desired. Dip the tops of the doughnuts into the glaze and immediately add sprinkles. Set aside to dry. Best eaten within the day. (*I have doubled the glaze ingredients in my recipe because I ended up needing to double it and my glaze consistency and color differed between batches so I recommend making it all at once. Also, in my opinion, a bit thicker glaze works better)

And just for fun, here are some of the past ways we have celebrated Luc’s half birthdays.

homemade (allergy free) half birthday cake for a half birthday celebration - number topper made with cricut

For his first half birthday, I made my first layered half cake (using the wacky cake recipe and an allergy free frosting recipe because I was on an elimination diet while nursing Luc). I used my cricut and gold scrapbook paper to make the numbers, then taped them to cake pop sticks.

homemade (allergy free) half birthday cake for a half birthday celebration - number topper made with cricut

For Luc’s 1 1/2 birthday, I made him pancakes. Both boys love pancakes, so they are always a hit.

number pancakes for a half birthday celebration

For all of the fun ways we have celebrated Hudson’s half birthdays, check out this post.

homemade alphabet donuts to celebrate a half birthday. You could use these to write any message or celebrate any occasion
half birthday celebration ideas - half cakes, half stack of pancakes, alphabet donuts, numered pancakes and cookies
gender reveal cake idea

Hudsons’ Gender Reveal Party

A friend of mine mentioned our Gender Reveal Party the other day so I found myself looking back through the pictures and thought it would be something fun to share here on the blog. The party is from March 2012 so it might be a little outdated now, but I still love it and hope that if you are having a Gender Reveal Party that some of the ideas might inspire you. Spoiler Alert: It’s a Boy! 😉

gender reveal party - cutting the cake - its a boy

I copied tons of ideas from Pinterest (I was hoping to link to original sites, but most no longer exist) and threw in a few of my own ideas too.

As with all of my parties (and my life in general), the #1 priority was dessert. I used pink and blue square paper plates to create a backdrop and had a bakery create a gorgeous dessert bar of pink and blue funfetti cupcakes, oreo and red velvet pink and blue cake pops, m&ms, blueberry sour rings, lollipops, cotton candy (which was seriously adorable and a big hit with the kids), salt water taffy and sixlets. My favorite part though was the gorgeous cake!

gender reveal party dessert bar

Another one of my favorite aspects of the party was a Gender Poll scrapbook page where everyone wrote down their guess. At the end of the party I just slipped it right into my scrapbook.

gender poll scrapbook page

I used free printable wish cards for everyone to fill out for our baby.

gender reveal party wishes for baby - link to website offering free printable

We had pink and blue props for our make-shift photo booth. (This was a HUGE hit with the kids). We have always had a thing for photobooths, but this was before the cool set-up we have now. For awesome DIY photo booth tips check out this post.

gender reveal party photo booth fun

We had all of our baby’s ultrasounds hanging up for people to take a look at.

gender reveal party ultrasound pics

We played an old wives tale game.  I created the poster board and boy and girl onesies using my cricut then I looked up a bunch of old wives tales. At the party, we went through each one to see if they predicted a boy or a girl. Girl ended up winning by only one.

gender reveal party old wives tales game

After the game, we gathered everyone around and Nic got his family on skype for the big reveal. We actually already knew what baby was going to be, which some of our friends had complained about, saying that the whole fun was seeing our reactions. We found out before the party because Nic wanted the moment to be private. I wouldn’t have minded either way, but if I had to do it all over again I would do it the same way. It was really special to find out in a more intimate setting and have a few days to take it in on our own, but mostly, I liked doing it this way because instead of focusing on our reactions and emotions, we got to take in everyone else’s. I so wish I had taken a photo because that moment was priceless. I hope I never forget that moment when everyone first found out we were having a boy. It was really special.

gender reveal cake idea

planes birthday party - free printable for propeller cake pops and tons of fun ideas

Planes Birthday Party

planes birthday party - free printable for propeller cake pops and tons of fun ideas

One day while we were driving in the car, I asked Hudson if he knew what theme he wanted for his upcoming birthday party. I threw out a few options and out of the blue he said Planes. I thought it was kind of funny, because while he does love planes, that wasn’t one of his favorite movies. I waited a few days, asked again and got the same answer. By about the 5th time, I decided to commit and dove into planning his 3rd birthday party. It ended up being a really fun theme with a cute color scheme of blue, orange and some red. We had the party at My Gym which made things much easier (set start and end time and they did all the entertaining). This was great because Luc’s 1st birthday party was only a few weeks later so I had a lot on my plate. I also had to keep in mind the fact that everything would need to be transported to the event location and we only had a limited amount of time for set-up, which forced me to minimize decorations and keep the food on the easier side. All in all, it was a pretty simple, low-key party that everyone had a blast at. The only real downside was that it went by so fast, we didn’t really get great pictures of everything.

planes birthday party family picture

Since the party was in the morning, I went the breakfast route. We served donuts “spare tires” which were literally just packaged chocolate and powdered sugar donuts on a platter with a few racing flags.

planes birthday party donut spare tires

A fruit platter of “plane parts” with a cream cheese dip “fluffy cloud dip” To make the dip, I just combined one 8 ounce package of softened cream cheese with one 15 ounce jar of marshmallow cream. It is so easy and so delicious, especially with an assortment of fruit.

planes birthday party fruit plane parts and fluffy cloud dip

We picked up a coffee traveler from Starbucks for our adult “fueling station”. That couldn’t be a more accurate description of coffee for parents, right?

planes birthday party - free printable for propeller cake pops and tons of fun ideas

We had Jamba Juice drinks  and water for the kid friendly “jet fuel”.

planes birthday party fuel up water bottles

The Jamba Juice drinks were perfect because they were dairy free so Hudson could have them and they were just easy for the kids to grab and drink. They were so popular in fact, that I think they may become a party staple.

planes birthday party jet fuel jamba juice smoothies are perfect for young kid's parties

We also had a bunch of “in-flight snacks” like chips and cookies.

planes birthday party chips and cookies for in-flight snacks

For desserts, we had propeller oreo cake pops, cloud rice krispy treats, marshmallow propeller pops, planes cookies and dusty cupcakes.

planes birthday party - free printable for propeller cake pops and tons of fun ideas

I made oreo pops using this recipe from Bakerella, then made little propellers to attach. A link to the free printable is at the end of this post. I just cut them out, punched a hole in the center with a hole punch and slid them on. They were really easy and super cute.

planes birthday party - free printable for propeller cake pops and tons of fun ideas

I used a cloud cookie cutter to cut out the rice krispy treats (I used the dairy free recipe listed here).

planes birthday party cloud rice krispy treats

For the propeller marshmallows, I made the propellers using candy melts on wax paper (I just free-handed the propeller shape), dipped half of the marshmallows into candy melts, then attached the hardened/cooled propellers.

planes birthday party marshmallow propeller pops

I ordered the plane cookies from Dainty Cakes by Andrea on etsy and they were so detailed and a big hit with everyone.

planes birthday party sugar cookies

I absolutely loved the Dusty cupcakes, they turned out so cute and were a huge hit with the kids. Sadly, the company I ordered the cupcake wrappers from is no longer in business, which is a huge bummer because these are brilliant. It is so much easier to hand each kid a cupcake, especially at a party like this, and every kid was ecstatic to get their own Dusty! Hudson’s face when he first saw the cupcakes was priceless and they were pretty easy to make (just took a few nights of cutting and taping). In case you love this idea as much as I do, I did find Planes Fire and Rescue cupcake wrappers by Printamajig on etsy.

planes birthday party dusty cupcakes using cupcake wrappers

I bought the tablecloths, plates, napkins, goody bags and balloons from Party City. I ordered the flags and Hudson’s t-shirt from Amazon. Luc’s wingman t-shirt was from Target. The Planes movie characters were a gift, from the Disney store, that doubled as decorations. I made my own invitations inspired by this design by PartyInnovations09. I used water bottle wrappers and cupcake toppers (for the adult cupcakes) from Homeketeers (I’ve linked to their homepage, but was unable to find the printables so they may no longer be offering them). I made personalized wings for each kid by making a printable, printing the wings on cardstock, cutting them out and attaching pins like these to the back. The kids thought these were really cool.

planes birthday party personalized wing pins

I also made the Happy Birthday Banner (you can find a similar one here),  the food labels, and the gift bag tags. We filled the goody bags with some fun planes themed items from Party City and everyone collected them from Baggage Claim before they left.

planes birthday party thank you for flying by goody bags at baggage claim

That was pretty much it. Like I said, I really kept this one fairly simple (for me, lol).

planes birthday party - free printable for propeller cake pops

To get your own free propeller printable, click here. For more inspiration, check out my Pinterest board.


Hudson’s 1st Birthday Party

To me, a first birthday party is just as much about the parents as it is the birthday kid. Let’s be honest, that first year is tough and I kind of think of that first birthday party as a “congratulations parents you survived” just as much as I see it as a celebration of your child’s first year of life. So, I kept that in mind when creating this party and theme. I was inspired by all of Hudson’s favorite things, which all happened to start with the letter B: Balls, Balloons and Bowties and threw in a few of mommy’s favorites too like a Bubble Bar. 😉  I liked this because it gave me direction without being too specific. I decided on the colors blue, yellow and green and had so much fun with it. I love that the theme incorporated all of Hudson’s favorite things, but wasn’t such an overbearing theme that I can look back on it three years later and still be totally in love with it. I mean, it really is the only party for your kids where you get complete control so you might as well create a party you love!

first birthday family photo

I made a guestbook showcasing the highlights from the past year with space for guests to write Hudson messages like where he will be in 20 years and his best trait. I used the wedding guestbook template on Shutterfly, then changed it up to make it work for a 1st Birthday Party and absolutely love how it turned out.

hudson's bowtie first birthday party guestbook

I printed out Hudson’s weekly photos and hung them to the shutters above the welcome table using clothespins I had dyed blue, green and yellow using this tutorial.

first birthday guestbook bowtie display table with weekly photos hanging

I made bowties for all the guests to wear. You can find instructions here.

first birthday diy no-sew bowties

We had a photo booth with tons of fun props. You can get the details for my DIY Photobooth here.

first birthday party diy photobooth

I bought a few of those funny mustache and lip pacifiers and set those in a bowl along with paci wipes so our littlest guests could get in on the photo booth action too.

hudson's bowtie first birthday party photobooth strip

We had a ball pit using an inflatable kid pool, which was a huge hit with the kids.

diy ball pit is a great idea for a first birthday party

We had a bubble pool with tons of wands for the kids to play with. I think the big kids enjoyed this one more than the little kids. 🙂

first birthday party bubble pool

We had a bubbly bar for the adults. 😉 I bought the buckets from Joanns and added a “shelf” to two of them so I could stack mason jars.I tied ribbons around each jar and bought straws from shop sweet lulu to make them more festive.

bubbly bar for bowtie first birthday party with mimosa bar

We served lemonade, iced tea, water bottles with wet your whiskers labels on them, champagne and juices for making mimosas.

hudson's bowtie first birthday party mimosa bar

For food we had: manwhiches (sandwiches from Subway), fruit cups, bowtie pasta, veggie cups and puffs. I know how hard it is to eat as a mom running after your little one, so I tried to serve the food in small portions that could be eaten on the move. This approach  worked well for the kids too. Above the food table I hung a banner I made showcasing Hudson’s monthly photos. I also made labels for the veggie and pasta containers and made flags for the sandwiches using Bella Blvd washi tape.

bowtie first birthday party food table with manwiches and bowtie pasta

Cakegoodness created an amazing dessert bar consisting of tons of candy, cake pops, mini cupcakes, #1 rice krispie treats and Hudson’s gorgeous vegan cake. I made the banner and treat bags and ordered bowtie and #1 cookies from the RP Confections on Etsy.

bowtie first birthday party dessert table

bowtie ruffle cake for first birthday party

real men eat dessert bowtie cupcakes for first birthday party

bowtie first birthday party dessert details-bowtie cupcakes, one rice krispy treats, one cookies and candy

For the centerpieces, I bought buckets from Party City, filled them with hydrangeas from Costco, and stuck homemade bowtie sticks in them. For a last minute centerpiece idea, I thought they came out looking really cute.

bowtie first birthday flower centerpiece using bucket and hydrangeas

For favors, each kid took home a bottle of bubbles with a personalized label to match the theme.

bowtie first birthdya party bubble favors

I also found Hudson’s vintage highchair on-line, sanded it, then Nic spray painted it. I made the ONE banner and ordered the hat, Hudson’s onesie and his special bowtie from Etsy shops.

bowtie first birthday party vintage high chair, candy bar sign, hat and diy i am one banner

We sang Hudson happy birthday and watched him dig into his cake.

first birthday party cake smash

The best part of the day though was sharing it with all of our favorite people. Our families and friends helped us get through a challenging and extremely rewarding first year and it was so fun to celebrate Hudson’s big day with everyone. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives.

hudson first birthday party ideas collage

photo booth diy using ipad

DIY Photo Booth

A friend of mine did this at her daughter’s first birthday party years ago and I loved it so much I just had to copy her. I have since used this at every one of my kid’s birthday parties, my own birthday party and holiday gatherings. It is always a huge hit! It seemed a bit pricey up front, but it has more than paid for itself over the years.

diy photobooth

Here is everything you need:

Ipad Floor Stand (You can most likely find more affordable options on Amazon for the ipad stand. I personally like this stand because it rolls, it is adjustable, it is quick and easy to insert the ipad and most importantly the ipad feels secure once strapped in. I also love that we can keep our ipad in the protective case while using the stand just for added re-assurance.)

Pocketbooth App


Backdrop (This is what we have, but this is totally optional. You could easily make your own backdrop, but this backdrop set does make it nice and easy to create a clean space that you can then decorate however you want.)

For the first few parties we linked the ipad to a wireless printer so people could print out their photos, but now we don’t bother with that and instead everyone just e-mails their pictures to themselves through the app.

Sometimes we use chairs or benches to sit on and sometimes we don’t. We find for kid parties no chairs work better so that the kids can use the set-up unsupervised (why do kids feel the need to climb on everything?)

I also thought I would mention props. I have slowly added to my generic photo booth props over the years, but my favorite props are actually theme specific. I have a board on my pinterest page titled DIY Photobooth where I have included many of the props I have used over the years. Most of these are free, but a few are not.

I also always make a photobooth sign and stick it in a frame. If you would like to use this one from Hudson’s 1st Birthday Party, you can get it here for free.

bowtie party photobooth sign free printable


Starfish Crispy Treats Cereal

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.

Starfish Crispy Cereal Treats - simple and fun treats perfect for an ocean, nemo, dory or ariel the little mermaid themed party

– 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.