Saturday, May 24, 2008

Circus/Carnival theme birthday party invitations

Here are the invitations I designed for my boys' birthday party, which is coming up next Saturday.

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: -- 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!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Fishy Party

As I mentioned in my previous post, the boys' third birthday party revolved around a fish theme. Above, you can see Colin on the left and Ethan on the right behind the first of their two birthday cakes (I have it on very good authority from an identical twin (who happens to be their godmother, Sarah) that it is de rigeur to have a cake for each child, even if they are so lucky to have a twin sibling).
The cakes were frosted with tinted buttercream and seaweed was piped onto the sides of the cake with a leaf tip. Crushed graham crackers stood in for the sandy sea bottom. The decorations were made of melted meltaways -- they're like white chocolate discs that you can melt in the microwave and then tint with candy food-coloring (you can't use regular food coloring). Then you can pipe shapes onto wax paper, which quickly cool into candy confections. I got this technique from a wonderful book called "The Whimsical Bakehouse: Fun-to-Make Cakes that Taste as Good as They Look!"
The decorations were great as I could make them far in advance and only have to worry about doing minor things to the cake the day of the party.
One of the games we had was fishing, of course. I got a ton of little foam fish from a party supply place and hot-glued washers on the backs. I got some bamboo from a friend for fishing poles, had my husband cut them down to size and drilled holes in one end for string and a magnet. The children were given little buckets and fishing poles and sent out to the backyard to go fishing, where fish galore lurked all over the yard. The smaller children got poles with shorter strings which made it easier to catch the fish.
Crepe paper streamers hung down from the ceiling to simulate the ocean and seaweed.
Since the boys' party, I've reused this basic invitation twice for friends' parties. One had a Finding Nemo theme and the other was a pool party. In all of these instances, the invitations were a huge hit and really helped set the stage for the entire party.
Have other ideas? Please comment! I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brave New World

Well, my friend, Wendy, has been doing this, so why not me? Of course, Wendy, while working full-time, spends all her evenings making baby booties for her etsy site, sending me email when she makes a sale (which seems quite often lately) and blogging on her own blog about baby booties.

So, I think: Why not me?

Following in her footsteps (and in our friend Kathy's, who has been selling her jewelry and crafts on the weekend market circuit for years now and is currently working on creating a lavender farm and festival at her place in Vernonia (which is fun to say for any reason: VERNONIA!)) I have ventured into the craft biz.

I've been making invitations for many, many years now. Only since having my kids, though, and having an excuse to spend exorbitant amounts of time on such a frivolous activity have I made my invitations interactive. The first really good one was for their second birthday, a fish-themed party. I made a card that featured fish swimming around, using one of those little brass brads that you used in first grade to make jointed figures.

Ah.... I loved those days!

But I digress.

Since that third birthday, I've been hooked. I got tons of rave reviews about the invitations from the various parents (the children didn't seem to care, of course). That same fish invitation was recycled a couple of times for other kids' parties -- once for a Finding Nemo birthday and once for a pool party.

Years later, I've posted the fish invitations for sale on my etsy site:

Check them out!