Spa Party Lunch

Food for the Spa

Spa Spread

For my daughter’s spa birthday party, we were taking a trip to a hot springs and I knew the girls would be hungry! Rather than plan a big meal or have pizza, we decided to go with the theme and make it a bit more….well… like. I took with us two picnic baskets full of goodies.

Sparkling cider was a hit! I bought plastic champagne glasses at Party City. They come in an 8 pack. Then for 4 girls I took two bottles of cider. They had so much fun with their flutes! On this one it’s better to have too much than not enough. Believe it or not 4 girls drank all of 2 bottles….well, maybe I had a little.

For the “meal” I had fancy cheeses, sausages, fruit, crackers, bread…..any finger food that they don’t normally get in their lunch at school if fancy. This really was the easy part. Pack a cutting board and some grocery bags from the local grocery cheese shop and I prepared it all on location. Oh my. Easy. Threw it all back in my bag after we left and we were set!

As kids get older, they do appreciate having a nice meal. Don’t cop out by just ordering pizza. Although, they sill love it. Make your child’s birthday party and especially a spa party special with some fancy food as well.

Truck Birthday Party Thank You Notes

Truck Party Thank You Notes

Truck Party Thank You Notes

For my son’s truck and car birthday party, I wanted to carry the theme though to the end. I think by that point, my creativity had run it’s course. I don’t know that I can say it enough. It’s so important for kids to write thank you notes. No matter what their age, they need to learn etiquette and the proper way to say thank you. In a time where they text and their friends get the message in a split second, slowing things down and getting something in the mail is a good thing! And I don’t know about your kids, but mine LOVE to get things in the mail.

The creative part to my endeavor was to help select the clip art for the cards. I know that a lot of you are savvy with your computers, but it just takes me too long to figure it all out sometimes. And for this one, I had my friend who owns Paper Rabbit Designs to create the thank you notes for me.

I’ve talked about in other posts what level of involvement your kids should have in the thank you not process based on age…..really it’s ability. I believe on these, I just had my son write his name and I wrote the rest. Don’t make this too difficult on you or them. Fighting them to write or say more than they are willing/able just makes the letter writing not fun. On a side note. I took this theory with my husband when writing our thank you notes for our wedding. I made him at least write the notes to his family and close friends. I remember we received some steak knives from a friend of his and he thanked them for the knives that we would be able to practice our knife throwing skills with. Whatever! They loved it and they knew that we received the present and all was good.

Have fun with thank you note writing! It doesn’t have to be a chore.

Cupcakes & Icing


If you like to give personal touches to a birthday party, making your own cupcakes is an excellent way to do it. The cake part is important that it tastes good. But I can’t stand a cupcake that has horrible icing. Now, I know that some cakes use fondant to have cool images and that they don’t all taste good. That isn’t what I’m talking about here. Sometimes you just can’t get away with using anything other than the rolled out icing. What I’m referring to is the icings that come on many of the store bought cupcakes and cakes.

I LOVE to make my own icing. I have posted the recipe before and you can find it under recipes. You’ll make way more than you need… problem. Put the rest in the fridge and it will keep for months! For my son’s outdoor birthday party, I made cupcakes out of a box. Yes, out of a box. It tastes just as good as home made vanilla cake does. I used these reusable cupcake cups. The jury is still out on these as it wasn’t the easiest thing to get the cupcakes out to each them……it just makes you feel good. Then I always, always use food coloring that is in a concentrate. It lasts forever! And you don’t have to mix forever to get the color you wish. If you are still using the liquid kind, switch! Concentrated food coloring is the way to go. I purchased this at Michaels, I believe, but you can get it in most grocery stores that carry cake decorating supplies.

Have fun and enjoy icing!

Providing a Healthy Snack

Healthy Snacks

Providing a healthy snack at a birthday party is a welcome sight to most moms. I know, I know, It’s a birthday party or a get together. But as your kids get older you will find that parents use any excuse to have a party for the kids and almost never are the snacks healthy! Snack after every sports game imaginable. Treat when you get out of the pool during a swim meet. Party when you loose. Party when you win…, party, party. Don’t get me wrong. I love to have fun but it gets a little much.

So! When you do have a gathering and you can help it, at least try and have healthy snacks. Especially at a birthday party when you know that there will be cake and/or ice cream involved.

Eating Healthy Snacks
Here, we simply had a bowl of watermelon out. When I cut watermellon, I try and cut the pieces thin and not too big. That way more of the fruit gets eaten and there is little waste. Everyone had already had lunch so I wasn’t even sure if it would draw attention. As it turned out only 5 kids ate an entire watermelon!

It’s fun to have special food but since this party wasn’t about that, I didn’t plan any. You just never know what appetite the kids will have so be prepared…..always.

Halloween Themed Birthday Parties

Halloween Birthday Party

Halloween Birthday Party

Kids LOVE to dress up!  It doesn’t matter if it’s a play date or a party, they will dress up any way and any how.  I’ll never forget the play date we had at our house with our 5 year old kids at the time.  I have a daughter and there were about 3 girls and 3 boys.  Well, all the dress up we had at the time was princess costumes.  Not only did the girls don themselves in full princess attire, but so did the boys from the crown to beads…. down to the shoes!  It was hilarious!

When it comes to birthday parties, you can always make it a dress up party and it will be a hit.  A Halloween Theme automatically lends it’self to dress up which all the kids did!  AND it was in December.  It didn’t matter that it wasn’t really Halloween, they thought it was for a few hours.

Planning a Halloween party is easy and hard at the same time.  Easy because there are an onslaught of ideas and hard because there are too many ideas.  Ha!  It’s hard to make yourself stop.  I would think of something else and say to myself…..Oh I can do that one more little thing………then, oh I can do that one more little thing……and after a while I had my work cut out for me.  But it was a blast.  I think I enjoyed it just as much as the kids did.

Take a look at the following posts to see what we did at my daughter’s Halloween Birthday party and have fun planning it!

Halloween Birthday Party Kid’s Food

Ghost Sandwiches

Ghost Sandwiches

Food for your child’s birthday party need not be elaborate! The kids don’t really care what the food is……as long as you feed them. Ha! I didn’t want anything like pizza in my house to get all over everything. So, I opted for sandwiches and fruit. You could have a couple of different kinds of sandwiches but really keeping it simple, makes it just simple. There is no time taken up by them making a decision. There are no hurt feelings if you run out of one type of sandwich. It’s just the way to go.

Easily Prepared Fruit for Parties

Easily Prepared Fruit for Parties

Halloween Birthday parties lend themselves to a great deal of creativity in all areas.  I decided to spice up the sandwiches a little by cutting them into ghosts. These are PB&Js. You’ll want to insure there are no nut allergic kids coming to the party before going this route. Luckily, we didn’t have any! They were made and cut and laid out on the platter first thing in the morning. With a little plastic wrap, done! There was a bit of waste so insure you don’t slather your peanut butter and jelly all over the bread but get a feel for where the cutter will be and cover that area only. AND it’s best to put on the peanut butter and jelly before cutting rather than after which will cause a mess and the ghosts won’t look near as cool. Then with the fruit, go ahead and cut them apart and have it ready to pop right into their mouths. I wanted the least amount of time to be taken eating and I didn’t want a mess of food trash. But if you ware trying to eat up time at the party, then by all means, let them peal their own tangerines and you could even have the kids slather their own sandwiches. Provide a number of cutters for them to select from and let them create their own sandwiches. Just depends on what your plans are for the party. But that would be fun for the kids to do. Just more time and messier.

All and all, you don’t need to stress over the food at a party. It is the least of your worries. And if there is a kid that doesn’t like what you are serving…..because there will be…..just move on and tell them there are no other options.

Halloween Ghost Template

Ghost Favor Tag


Click on the Template link below if you’d like to use our template for the glue ghosts we created.  Or, see how we made these at the following link.

Resources:  School Glue, Any kind of ribbon  you wish to use.  We used left over balloon tying ribbon left over from the balloons.

Directions for Project:  Making Glue Ghosts as Favor Tags

To See Template:  Halloween Glue Ghost Template



Eye Ball Template

Eye Ball Template

Use this template for anything.  We used it to make eye ball shirt favors for my daughters Halloween birthday party.  You don’t need to paint it perfectly.  But I would leave more of a seam allowance around the edge than shown here!

Directions for Project:  Halloween Spooky Eye Ball Shirt

To See Template:  Eye Ball Template

Skull & Crossbones Loot Bag Template

Use this Skull & Crossbones Decal on your loot bags.

Use this Skull & Crossbones Decal on your loot bags.

Easy to apply Skull & Crossbones decal. We used these on our loot bags for a birthday party but they can easily be used on anything. T-Shirts come to immediate mind but anything fabric would work. Feel free to use our Free Template for your personal use. Once you download it you will see that you’ll want to enlarge it on a copy machine to the size you require.

Resources: Avery T-Shirt Transfer paper found at most office supply stores.

More about my Project: Pirate Birthday Party Loot Bags

To See Template:

Skull & Crossbones Template

Pirate Birthday Party Food

Pirate's Booty

Pirate's Booty

What kind of pirate birthday party do you think you’ll have without a little Pirate Booty????? I’m sure that there are more snacks out there that include the word pirate. But this one is an all natural snack for your kids. And at a party, the kids will devour it!

Pirates in general didn’t have the best diet…..or I would imagine. All the photos I’ve ever seen their teeth are all gnarly, skin atrocious and overweight. Who knows, they may have been healthy guys but all the photos and drawings like to show awful portraits of the pesky fellows. But that doesn’t mean that your kids have to eat trash at your child’s pirate birthday party.

I’ve never bought Pirate Booty online. We have it here at our Trader Joes. If you don’t have a Trader Joes, there are tons of places online that sell the yummy snack. The full name is Roberts’s Gourmet Pirate’s Booty. Comes in cheddar, bbq, veggie and others. Just do a search for the name and you’ll get lots of results. Enjoy!

Pirate Birthday Party Captain

Pirate Party Captain

Pirate Party Captain

Let me hear you say “Arh.” These were common words to hear coming out of this captain’s mouth. At birthday parties, moms and dads are often busying around with the party and all the details that go with it and aren’t enjoying the party itself. Whether it’s a pirate party or another theme altogether, you are going to have the same experience.

Just like you might hire a caterer or servers for a dinner party, hire a party “captain.” This gal was part of a package that the birthday boy’s mom purchased at a local store that sells pirate garb. But even if you are having your party at home, you can still do this. Now, I’m not talking about an entertainer. I’m talking about a person who takes the planning that you have set into motion and carries it out. This leaves you to pay attention to the pirates or to other moms.

A college student would be perfect but really any responsible kid could carry it all out. My daughter “big kid helps” at my son’s preschool. She is only 7 and totally guides the little ones in the activities for the day. I don’t see why she wouldn’t be able to carry out the basic functions of a birthday party if she were allowed to be in charge.

Regardless or not if you have someone else run the party for you or it’s you yourself running the party….don your favorite pirate captain’s costume and it will make the party all that much more fun for the kids. And it helps you get into character as well!

Partly Preprinted Thank You Notes

Partly Pre Printed Thank You Note

Partly Pre Printed Thank You Note

These preprinted thank you notes were just perfect for this Kindergartener! Or any child who can write a little but writing out all the thank you notes would be just too awful….for you and your child. Ha! This just allows your child to feel like they are a part without being too overwhelming.

This card has the child’s name and a cute little image on the front and then this message reads as follows:


Thank you so much for the
That is just what I wished for.

I’d love to give the printer credit for the card but they didn’t put their information on the back!!! And knowing this family as I do, I know that they didn’t print them out themselves. I would imagine any of the small custom card printers out there would be more than willing to print the inside of the card like this for you!

Directions to your Party

Directions to your Birthday Party

Directions to your Birthday Party

If you are inviting new friends or you live in an out of the way place, it’s always thoughtful to assist your guests in finding the party location! I have to be completely honest, this is a detail I personally often forget.

It seemed like for so many years we were inviting friends to our parties who knew our neighborhood. Now, that my daughter is in first grade, we are inviting a whole new set of folks. It’s no longer the kids of my friends who are coming but her friends from school. And not very many of them live in our specific neighborhood so they get lost!!!

Really all it takes is a simple sign that your kids help to make. Or get a couple of extra balloons to tie to the front gate or a stop sign where they need to turn.

Another nice gesture is to put a copy of the directions in the invitation and not just an address. I’m so dependent on my IPhone to get me where I need to go that I forget not everyone has one or uses theirs in that way. This is really easy to do if it’s your home. Just type the directions in a word doc and size it small so you don’t have to resize all the time to print. Save the Directions Document for all the parties you throw.

So, no matter what kind of party you are giving or gathering, it’s helpful to assist your guests in arriving on time and with as little stress as possible!

Extra Towels for Party Guests

Towels for Party Guests

Towels for Party Guests

Are you planning an outdoor water type party? If you are having a summer party, it is just too much fun to have it at a water park, where you can turn on a sprinkler or even at a pool if the kids are old enough!

First off, it’s always good to either put on the invitation or on an insert that your guests should bring a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen. But I don’t care who it is or what age party it is…..someone…..will forget one or more of the required water enjoyment items. We’ve been to 3 water involved parties this summer and at the most recent one, another one of the little girl’s mom forgot to bring her swimsuit. Tragic! Luckily, I had taken my swim bag and it had an extra swimsuit in it! It was about 2 sizes too big but the kid didn’t care. All she wanted to do was play in the water.

So, as the hostess of a party that includes frolicking in the water it would be good to remember extra towels, sunscreen and a swimsuit or two. That is if you have extra you are willing to share. Forgetful moms and/or dads will be thankful!

Ghost Lantern Template

Ghost Lantern Template

Ghost Lantern Template

Looking for a creative idea to use for your kids Halloween Birthday Party? Here is a great idea for saying Happy Birthday. See a link to the full directions below.

Supplies You'll Need
Resources: Heavy Stock Scrap Booking Paper and glue stick found at craft stores like Michaels. Card shops carry velum for letters that can be cut down.

Directions for Project: Halloween Birthday Party Lantern Idea Directions

To See Template:

Ghost Template for Lantern Idea

Image taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.

When do you Open Presents at a Birthday Party?

Opening Presents

Opening Presents

To open presents or not to open presents……that is the question. And if you open them……when do you do it?

Honestly, this is a tough one. But here goes and these are just my personal thoughts based on going to many many birthday parties and hosting them myself.

For kids younger than Kindergarten age, I’m not sure that it’s necessary. For those kids it can take a really long time even if there are only a few. Most of the time, the kids don’t even know what present they brought and so it’s just not as effective. For those age kids, they can get a bit overwhelmed with even 2 presents but the first one may be something they want to sit down and play with right then. If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be much nicer to have the luxury of saying…..”no problem…..we’ll just open the rest of these later.” Plus, if you are trying to have a relatively short birthday party this can lengthen if unnecessarily. BUT, if there is a child who really wants to see your child open his or her present, by all means at the end of the party, pull that one out and open it up right then and there.

Now, for kids Kindergarten and older. Most parents have learned at this point that having a smaller party is better. I’m not one of those but my husband is pushing me towards it! So, let’s start with the small parties. I for sure think you need to open the presents at this age as the kids who come to the party are just as excited about this as your child will be and it can be built into the schedule of the party. If the party is a longer one, let that be an activity during a lul in the scheduled events. While pizza is cooking is the perfect time!

If you are nuts like I am and have a huge party, I couldn’t bear the thought of my daughter opening all her presents during the party. We had 26 kids to come. There were a few who asked when we were opening the presents and for those that were really interested in seeing her open the presents, we did it after most of the kids had gone home and they could sit down in a small group and enjoy it more.

The biggest thing to remember is to assign someone else besides yourself to be in charge of writing down who each present is from. I know Miss Manners says that if you open a present while the giver is sitting there with you, there is no need to send a thank you note. But I just think it’s nicer for the kids to start off early letting their friends know how much they appreciate them. So, no matter if you open the presents during the party or not, it’s good to have a record of who gave what. And it needs to be someone else who is in charge of the list since you will be busy doing other things!

Playdough Recipe

Kids Making Playdough

Kids Making Playdough

Making playdough can be a rewarding activity for kids of many ages no matter if it’s at home or during a party. I make playdough with my kids all the time. They love working with the dough. I just make sure to plan the activity on a day that I don’t care if my kitchen gets messed up!!!

Following are some recipes that I’ve accumulated. My favorite is recipe #1. I would recommend you try them all and see which one works best for you. All the recipes for the playdough are very similar. Only slight variations but as with baking, slight variations will make very different playdough.

Play Dough Recipe #1

Mix together dry ingredients:
2 Cups White Flour
1 Cup Salt
4 tsp Cream of Tarter

To 2 Cups of Boiling Water, add:
4 Tbsp Cooking Oil
1 tsp Food Coloring

Pour liquids into the dry ingredients and stir well. When slightly cooled, knead for a few minutes until smooth.

Hint: Use and electric mixer and it’s sooo easy. If you are doing it by hand and the kids are helping, you might choose to put the food coloring into the dough after it is kneaded. And the better or more concentrated the food coloring is, the brighter the color of play dough you will get.

Play Dough Recipe #2

Mix together:
1 Cup Salt
3 Cups Flour
4 tsp Cream of Tarter
2 Tbsp Cooking Oil
1 1/4 Cup Boiling Water
Food Coloring

Makes 4 small plastic containers of Play Dough

Play Dough Recipe #3

Mix Together in Saucepan,
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Salt
1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
3 tsp Cream of Tarter
2 1/4 Cups Water

Cook above over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes until batter is like mashed potatoes. Pull of stove and let cool. Add food coloring into the mixer or add later when the kids can knead it in.

Be sure and keep the playdough in an airtight container or a plastic storage bag and your playdough can last up to a month!

Being Courteous to your Guests

Greeting Guests

Greeting Guests

No matter what age of child you have it is never too early to start teaching them good party host/hostess manners. Please be courteous to your guests. They will feel more welcomed and the party will start off much better…..I promise. I know that it’s effort because you will be scrambling doing last minute prep things but as soon as those little guests arrive, it’s important to stop and greet them. AND if you can wrangle your child it’s more important for them to greet their own friends. After all the guests came to see the birthday girl or boy.
Saying Good Bye

Saying Good Bye

It’s equally important for your child to say thank you after receiving or opening gifts and to say good bye when guest are leaving and say thanks for coming. This may seem so trivial to some of you reading this but these little details are often either forgotten or allowed to be slipped under the rug. Don’t let these proper manners go by the wayside.

No matter if your child is 3 or if they are 15, it’s never a bad idea to take 30 seconds the morning of a party to go through guest etiquette.

Photo taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.

Princess Party Food

Princess Party Food

Princess Party Food

As you all know, kids with full tummies are happy kids. Or at least it is one of the elements to keeping them happy. So, the most important thing is to feed them things that they will and want to eat!

Mask any sandwich in an interesting design and kids will eat them. For a Princess Party, cut your sandwiches in a crown design. These were cut with a cookie cutter in the shape of a crown. There were two choices: a cheese sandwich and then a peanut butter sandwich.

In addition to the sandwiches, the Princess Hostess served platters of fruit and cut veggies. That always keeps the moms happy. And it’s very easy to cut up and have prepared ahead of time!

Resources: If you put in a google search “Princess Crown Cookie Cutter” you will come up with many results for the cookie cutter that was used here.

Photo taken by Amy Hall Photography, Portland, OR.

Flower Coloring Pages

A great way to start a birthday party is by providing an activity to start the party. This gets the kids comfortable doing something they LOVE to do and keeps them busy while other guests arrive. We have two coloring pages that have flowers on them for you to print off and make copies for your guests to color.

If these don’t strike your fancy, there is tons of free flower clip art online that you can look for to print off for the kids to color.

To See Templates:
Click below link through 2 screens.

Flower Clip Art 1

Flower Clip Art 2