Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
- A fun game that works very well at parties when there are children of very different ages present is a search game (for the boys' second birthday party, which had a bug theme, I scattered a gross of foam bugs in the yard and they had such a blast finding them that they begged us to hide them again for them).
For a jungle animal theme, I would suggest scattering plastic animals and sending the children on "safari" to collect as many as they can find.
- Face-painting is always a popular activity. Try tiger stripe faces, if you have the time and the talent.
- Cut out animal "paw prints" and use them to lead your party guests from your sidewalk up to your door.
- Family Fun always has a bunch of great birthday party ideas. Check out their "It's a Jungle Celebration," with some clever cake ideas, activities, decorations and craft ideas.
- If you are going to serve lunch, I've made this snake sandwich by Paula Deen before and it was a terrific hit: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/snake-bites-recipe/index.html
- Older children may enjoy playing "Who am I?" Tape the name of an animal to each guest. Each are allowed to ask other party-goers yes or no questions until they figure out what they are.
- Pin the tail on the tiger/monkey/zebra or whatever other animal can be especially fun for younger kids.
- Another fun activity for younger kids can be "Duck, Duck, Hippo" -- most pre-schoolers already know the rules.
- Guests can be transformed into jungle animals with inexpensive foam animal masks (these are from Oriental Trading -- I've ordered these and they were a good deal).
- Animal charades can be a fun activity. The kids can act out various animals or try to imitate their sounds for small prizes.
- Dress the birthday child in safari clothes and invite guests to do likewise. Purchase pith helmets for guests to wear.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
My boss is fond of quoting his daughter at times when things aren't going right: "Sucks to be you." (he's actually not as awful as that quote makes him sound (and, in fact, he is likely to be reading this RIGHT NOW. Hi, Dave!))
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Last night, we headed over to walk down Peacock Lane to see the holiday lights (a Portland tradition) with a family I didn't know. The dad went to college with Tad. Since they had one boy the same age as our twins, it seemed like a good idea to get to know each other.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The original point of this blog was to support my etsy store. Over the past few months, I've lost a little of the obsession of using my beautiful little Craft Robo, quite possibly my most fun and exciting craft purchase ever (and one whose cost I justified by pointing out the thousands I was going to make on etsy).
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
I don't know about other places, but pirates are big, really big, here in Portland, Oregon. We are the proud home of Captain Bogg and Salty, possibly the best pirate band ever.
We host the annual Portland Pirate Festival, which gave me complete sticker shock the first time we went and purchased tickets ($18 for each adult, at the time), but afterward, we decided that it was well worth it (so many items are free once you enter -- the kids can bounce through numerous inflatable kids bouncy slides, houses and obstacle courses at the Scupper Monkey Island (aka kid's corner), we got to see numerous shows (not least of whom, Captain Bogg and Salty, but also including a wonderful pirate parrot show, puppets shows and the like), we witnessed a sailing ship firing cannons upon pirates on the shore, watched numerous sword fights and played loads of fun kids games hosted by very authentically-dressed buccaneers.
Every time that we've attended, the boys were given some very cool pieces of eight (they seemed to be real metal, not pieces of cheap plastic) by a kindly old sea dog. They've also been given balloon animals, plastic pirate hats and other assorted booty, just for being there.
There seem to be numerous pirate-themed retails shops popping up here and there in the malls. You know when a trend hits the mall, it's definitely mainstream. One might argue that the trend has definitely jumped the shark at this point, but the pirates elsewhere are simply too darned cool for that.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
What made it totally worth it was getting this email from my customer, "I got the invitations yesterday!!!! They are awesome; you did a great job. Thanks for the extras and the fronts of the cards (from the mishap) - I will definitely put them all to use some way... we are all good!"
So very happy!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
A different clerk took my stack and after hearing me repeat several times that these were cards that folded (and were not postcards) and seeing the comp that I have created as a visual reference, took them away. When he returned, somehow, he had cut them so that they were not square -- when you folded the card, the back was quite obviously much wider than the front of the card, which was not at all a pleasant effect.
It seems really peculiar to me that the cutting machine wouldn't automatically default so that it would cut items on the square, that is, either perpendicular or parallel to a given side. But I don't really know how things work there, so I can't really try to guess what went wrong.
Finally, he got things cut so that the front met the back the way I thought that they should.
Meanwhile, the manager came over and apologized for the problems the previous night and offered to pay for three of my toner cartridges and a ream of the card stock I had used, which seemed quite fair to me (I used probably about exactly half of both of those for this project, so I was partially compensated for my time).
I actually saw the young man (slacker looking teenager with huge glossy black bushy sideburns) who made the fatal cut. He came over and apologized again for his mistake. I let him know how much I appreciated that (I really did). Mistakes happen and when someone has the integrity to own up to it, it makes all the difference in the world to me.
Okay, so they made everything right and you would think that I'm out of the woods, right?
I was babysitting for the neighbors on Friday night (my neighbor, Tricia, and I have a reciprocal arrangement that really works out wonderfully for our two families) and I planned to do all my folding after I got Grace to bed.
As soon as I started to fold the cards, I realized that things were still wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. While the cards did, indeed, get cut so that all the sides were squared with each other, THEY WEREN'T SQUARE WITH THE ACTUAL CARD ITSELF.
This time in order to make things almost foolproof, I added quite a bit of "bleed" all around the print. This is additional print area and it compensates for poor registration. When I cut items myself, I don't need much bleed as I can cut things exactly where I want the cut. In the case of something like this, it is possible/probable that there is some shift in how the image is positioned on the page because of the printer.
I also printed out a special guide sheet for the Kinkos guy so that it would be very apparent where I need the cut to go -- I made the lines very bright pink. If the machinery doesn't automatically create "square" cuts, then the lines should show him where the cuts go. Also, when you begin to cut pieces off, you'll naturally be cutting off your crop marks if you make the traditional type, without a guide like this. The Kinkos guy seemed to appreciate the guide sheet. I actually gave him two guide sheets and told him to split the stack into two, in case the number of sheets I was asking to print at one time was an issue.
I went to a different Kinkos this time and explained the situation to the guy. (I'm sure that if I went back to the original one, they would have made things right for me, but I just didn't want to have to tell them that things were messed up again -- they really were so nice about it the first time) He took a ruler and measured all around my piece to make sure that my piece was positioned square on the page (which would certainly have been a problem for the first two Kinkos employees if they were not). I told him that I'd added quite a bit of additonal bleed all around and, again, this seemed to be appreciated.
He was sympathetic about the issues I'd encountered already and I surrendered my stack of printouts to him with a little tiny prayer.
Anyway, long story short (too late, eh?), he cut them perfectly. Everything was square, the cards folded correctly and all looked great. He affirmed that I'd done everything correctly.
And, finally, on Saturday afternoon, after just about every mishap you can imagine, the cards finally got sent out. I used the half of the cards that had little printing on them as slip sheets (there's so much ink coverage on the piece that the black can rub off if pressed against something), so at least I put those cards to good use. I included the fronts of the cards in my package in case my customer could use them as postcards or whatnot.
Hopefully the cards will please my customer!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Anyway, the listing was for custom wedding thank you notes. She had specified a "whimsical" look and a love of Dr. Seuss (she included a quote).
Getting some rough ideas out was super easy. I pulled a number of comp images from iStockphoto and sent them to her.
Here are some of the samples (all these images may be purchased from iStockphoto, btw, which is an awesome service):
Long story short, she accepted my bid and this is the current comp (we're trying to hone in on her particular shade of blue that she used for her dress and trying a few other variations). We added the quote, flipped the laptop so that the man was viewing it and added her cat to the picture, to complete the family unit.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
We tried some different colors and she wanted to use a cute font that she'd used before. Also, we put in stripes, inspired by her daughter's bedding. It's fun to do something totally customized for someone.
Here's the piece when it's all opened up:
Lots of fun... I like the new brighter colors.
In any case, I think we're pretty close to the final product, just some minor tweaking now (she asked for thinner stripes, for instance).
Great fun! I can't wait to post a generic version of this polka dot theme invitation on etsy... I've seen so many wonderful ideas for this type of party online, including some cute ideas from Martha Stewart.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
The draft below is quite rough, but you can get a general idea for where I'm headed with it.
The card begins with a circle. You can see concentric circles die cut in the front, creating more circles.
The first circle swings away to reveal another message for the receiver.
The second panel swings away as well to show the last message, with the details about the party and rsvp information.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Earlier this week, someone convo'd me asking me about my fish invitations! Within a few days, we'd sealed the deal for twenty invitations, approved comps and today, I shipped them off with a kiss for good luck via priority mail at the post office. She should get them on Monday, well in time for her daughter's summer splash party towards the end of the month.
In between, I suffered major trauma when the printer suddenly broke down completely at an inopportune time, but despite setbacks, it was still manageable and I think I am making more than minimum wage and having fun with it all, so that is all positive.
Hooray! With this sale, as I told a coworker, I've lost my amateur status and am now a professional card designer!
Brand new printer, partially financed with my etsy sale, will be arriving next week!
Check out my friend Wendy's wonderful baby booties and gifts -- they're so adorable that they make my teeth ache... and she has been very encouraging to me.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Guests were greeted at the door and given a paper bracelet that read "Admit one • All games" on it. Tad's parents then offered them a balloon animal (they had practiced creating hats, swords and a basic animal shape -- they were quite good), then they were shown into the back yard to begin the fun.
(bracelet as shown on young party guest's wrist as she plays the duck lasso game)
I showed them their goodie bags, each marked with their names. I told them that this party was not one where they would simply be given goodie bags at the end, but that they would have to earn their prizes. As they did, they had a ready spot to stash their loot.
We had five games that the kids played to earn tickets with which to "purchase" prizes:
- Ring Toss (shown below), a lawn game that I picked up at Freddie's for 40% off. They got four tries and were given that many tickets.
- Duck Lasso, with floating ducks that kids tried to lasso out of a galvanized metal tub. When they got a duck, they turned that duck over to find a number (1 to 3) and were given that number of tickets.
- Clown Dunk. I hung a laminated clown face in a tipped over wastebasket and invited kids to try to bean him with a collection of water balloons that I'd spent party of the morning filling up.
- Go Fish. This was a magnetic fishing game I got for the boys at Target many years ago and which they never really played with much. My carnie counted to 30 while the children tried to get as many of the fish as they could.
- Bottle Splash. Party goers tried to knock over number of plastic drink bottles with super soakers.
I was very gratified to see how quickly the kids dived into the games and really got into the spirit of things. Of course, the big reason why they got jazzed so quickly over the games was that the tickets they earned could be redeemed for candy and toys at the concession stand, below.
My husband, Tad, manned the concession stand. You can see him spinning the cotton candy above (note: cotton candy does not keep well if you spin it and let it sit -- it attracts moisture and dissolves! You can save it in ziplock baggies, if you need to). Over the last few weeks, I picked up little things I thought kids would be interested in wherever I could find them cheap. Century Novelty was a good find. I got foam glider kits, body glitter, squirt guns, clown noses and other little things from them. At other spots, I picked up lip gloss, puzzle sets and a bunch of assorted candy. Some sparkley headbands with mylar flowers and technicolor feathers were a huge hit with the girls. Tad found some great party favors at Target and brought home wooden snakes and whoopie cushions. I sorted things into various baskets and marked them with tags that let the guests know how many tickets would be needed to redeem each item. Small pieces of candy were worth one ticket. The foam gliders and lip gloss were relatively luxurious and worth five tickets each.
Once kids got the idea, they dove into each game enthusiastically, quickly filling up their goodie bags (below).
Saturday, May 24, 2008
You spin the wheel on the left and as you do, a message about the upcoming party scrolls across the top while, cute images, including the faces of the boys (who are actually Colin and Ethan, but I changed the names for my etsy listing), circus animals and tasty treats, appear through the tent opening underneath.
For the party, I'll have carnival-type games, like a shooting gallery, a ring toss and something involving floating ducks (still have to work out exactly what happens with the ducks). My mother-in-law has gamely agreed to attempt to make balloon animals for the kids when they come in the door.
As kids play the games, they will earn tickets that they can redeem for concessions, which will include cotton candy (I picked up a cotton candy maker from Goodwill some months ago) and popcorn.
Fun little toys will be packed in popcorn bags for goody bags -- kids will "fish" for their goody bags.
In the past, I have used Oriental Trading (OTC) for the toys. This year, I decided to give their competition a try and have ordered a variety of toys from Century Novelty (there have been times when some of the items from Oriental Trading have been less than spectacular -- pretty much as described, however, I didn't read the print clearly enough and some items were disapppointingly tiny for instance (and, once, a set of paper kaleidescopes simply didn't work at all) -- they have a return policy, but I haven't taken advantage of it, so it's possible that they would have, in the end, made everything all right -- I just didn't have the time to deal with it in past years)
So, long story short, we'll see how their competition fares. One nice thing about Century Novelty is that you can order items by whatever quantity you wish, but at OTC, you must purchase by a set quantity (12, 8, 144, typically). This gave me more flexibility. We will only have nine guests and this will eliminate some waste. Also, among other toys, the boys will receive squirt guns and gliders and the girls will get body glitter and lip balm/gloss (which I'll purchase at a local store).
Other items in the goody bags: red foam clown noses, 3d tropical fish puzzles and candy (purchased from the dollar tree locally).
This card is on sale at my store on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=25788953 -- take a look!
Other circus party ideas (some of them quite elaborate!) can be found here.
And please leave comments -- I'd love to hear some feedback. If you have ideas for games, activities or other party-related topics, let me know! (particularly if you have them before this Saturday -- I'm getting close to crunch time!)