Monday, March 29, 2010

Guess I'm Your Party Man ... er, Woman

Okay, so first of all, as soon as I realized we were writing about parties and party planning this song started up in my head.

I've never seen this movie, so can't vouch for its praiseworthy-ness. But the song? Well, it's Peter Gabriel. Enough said, right?

Now that we have that out of the way, I should say I'm the laziest party planner ever. It didn't used to be this way. When I was in college, any excuse was a good excuse to get people together, and I would spend the weeks before thinking about it - how and who to invite, what decorations would go up and where, food, what to wear - oh, my goodness, what to wear! I've had successes (the masquerade party, where my ex-boyfriend came in drag and my future husband arrived as a giant red necktie ... that necktie still makes me smile, oh how I love that man!) and massive failures (but we're not here to discuss those, are we? ;)

These days, with two little ones in tow, things are both more complicated and a whole lot simpler. Complicated because it's not easy anymore to get a party together for just any old reason. Simpler because, well, I've made it that way.

I think one of my best investments since having kids has been a bunch of colorful picnic-type plastic plates and cups. I don't ever have to shop for paper plates and cups anymore, and it's easy clean-up to just toss them in the dishwasher.

The next best investment has been to make a bunch of bunting garlands. We use them at every birthday. They're quick and easy, and a great scrap-buster for when my fabric stash gets a little overwhelming.

Sometimes we'll have a theme for birthday parties, but I like to keep it simple and easy. We play the same old party games, but change the names and the props, for instance. We don't get too caught up in the details, which keeps it fun.

This was our summer-time backyard birthday party for my daughter's 4th. We loosely themed it on Alice in Wonderland. The castle was a TV box I transformed when she was 18 months, the canopy we bought at IKEA and usually hangs over her bed. The pom-poms in the trees were a rare Martha Stewart success.

I'm not sure you can get much simpler than sprinkles and printed-out toothpick tags.

This was one of my favorite ways ever of using up old scrapbook paper.

We used paper bowls attached to paper plates to make "mad hats". We let the kids go crazy with tissue paper and foam stickers. (That's my lovely sister modeling.)
We also played "Button Button, Who's Got the Button?" but we called it "Who Stole the Tarts?"

Again, easy peasy. Just wrap the candy bar in scrapbook paper and glue on a label.

For parties that aren't birthdays, we do the same sort of thing. We had a Halloween party last year with, again, basic party games (pin the tail on the black cat, etc.), cupcakes and the kids got to dress up. It was a blast.

White and orange frosting, a tube of black icing from the grocery store, and a free printable. (I'm sorry I can't remember who designed these, but I found them via One Pretty Thing - best site for crafty ideas ever!)

Some other fun ideas I happen to have photos of:

My sister made her daughter this really big rainbow cupcake for her birthday, using white cake and food coloring.

My daughter's friend's 5th birthday party featured these adorable kabobs. They were a big hit with the kids and the adults, and I'm told the birthday girl had a blast making them with her mom.

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