Sunday, October 14, 2012

Whale-y Cute Birthday Party Details

I've been wanting to write this post forever! Even before the boys were born I was planning the first birthday celebration. Pinterest didn't only fueled the fire! Way too many cute pictures and ideas. I had a hard time picking a theme, and I couldn't come up with a twin related theme. I decided to save dogs or trucks or dinosaurs for when they were older and might have a real interest in them, so I picked whales. (Whale-y cute idea, right?)

It was so much fun looking for all the whale-related stuff. I found a lot of it at regular stores, and then a few things off Etsy provided the rest! I found the awesome whale boxes and little stuffed whales at Target, and the cute whale chalk at Walmart. (I had seen whale crayons and soap on Etsy that I loved, but it would have been WAY more to order those. So I was pretty excited to find the chalk, and I think it looked just as cute!) I found the whale fabric we used for a tablecloth at Walmart, too. I got the whale bubble gun at Toys R Us, the big stuffed whale from Babies R Us and a few things at Homegoods, like the plastic whale cups we put the straws and silverware in. (I figured we could reuse those pretty easily!) I also found a whale tote that we didn't end up using for the party, but that I store extra toys in now.

Blue and green was an easy color scheme. Once I'd picked the party pack off of Esty, that gave us the invites, waterbottle lables, cupcake toppers, and thank you tags. I loved the design so much; I found it here. I had to print stuff out, but that was easy enough at Office Depot. We got plates and napkins a few different places, and it was easy to find tablecloths in those colors. The cute stripe straws are from Shop Sweet Lulu. The pom poms were a kit from JoAnn's, although I'm sure I could have been more crafty and made my own! I made the banners by printing out the letters and using a circle cutter to make an extra layer behind the letters. I also made a "Guess the Twin" game with the circle cutter and different pictures of the boys together with the answers/names on the back. We hung that on the banister between the living room and kitchen. I was so proud of myself, and thought it looked so cute! (And of course, somehow we got no pictures of it! Boo. Guess I'll do it again next year!) Balloons completed the look, since the boys love to play with them! I printed out a big poster of their month-by-month pictures and had it in a frame for people to enjoy.

 For the kids' activities, we had the whale coloring pages (I just printed a free whale picture off the Internet and I already had plenty of crayons on hand) and the bubble gun (which was a huge hit but no one wanted to share!) I wanted to do more games, like pin the tale on the whale, but our guests were mostly so young this year, I decided to go easy on the activities this time. We had little buckets of goldfish sitting out, which was a hit. It was cute to see them carry around the little buckets and snack! I had bought a Step 2 climber/slide for the boys, so we had that, the wagon, and a few little trikes and push toys. It was such a pretty day, we didn't really need more than that for the kids to have fun! The other labor of love was the slideshow I made of the pictures from their first year. It's super long, but here's the link to it on YouTube. I used Windows Movie Maker, which was pretty easy to do. I had no clue what I was doing, so it probably took me longer than it should, but I think I'll be able to use it again next year and move a lot faster.

For the favor and candy table, we had blue and green M&Ms, gummy fish, the goldfish snack mix, and some homemade goodies. (I bought the glass jars and fishbowls at Hobby Lobby on sale. Hopefully we can reuse those for future parties, too.) My friend's mom makes candy and mint molds, so she did whales and sealife for us. And Alex's mom made the yummy chocolate pretzels that are always a hit! I had the whale boxes set up with the chalk, a little note pad, and a whale sticker and bookmark. Then we just had bags for people to fill with the candy of their choice! I think it looked pretty good.

Food was pretty simple. We cut up fruits and veggies, because that's always easy and kids usually love the fruit. We did pb 'n j sandwiches cut up for the kids, with a little goldfish on top. Alex made pulled pork for barbecue sandwiches. I used the recipe for the mac and cheese bites from here. I used sea shell pasta instead of macaroni noodles to make them "sandy sea shell bites." They were really tasty; I will definitely make them again sometime. The drinks we kept simple too, just sweet tea, lemonade, blue punch and water bottles. The blue whale punch we kind of made up since I lost the recipe, but it was a pack of blue koolaide, sugar, frozen lemonade, Sprite, and water. So we just threw it together, tasted it a few times, and I think it was a hit! My friend Laura found fish shaped ice cube trays at IKEA, so we even had ice fishies floating in the "ocean"! I made a goldfish snack mix that I thought turned out pretty good. I loosely followed this recipe, but doubled it and added some other chips and crackers. I used goldfish crackers (18 oz), Frito's corn chips (1 bag) and oyster crackers (1 bag) and 2 packets of ranch dressing mix, with 1 1/3 cups of vegetable oil. I used some other seasonings to taste, like the lemon pepper and garlic powder, but we thought it was pretty salty. So you might taste as you go and not use the whole packet of ranch. This was kind of a double batch, so I used two roasting pans to make it. It made a ton; I thought it was pretty good, but I love salty snacks! I talked about the whale cake and smash cake in my other post, but they were all homemade and turned out great! I made cupcakes in case anyone had to leave early so they could grab one. (And my brother had no problems taking home the leftovers. :)   
 So, there you have it! All the details of our whaley cute party. I had a great time thinking of all the little touches. I'm sure I could have done lots more (and most of my friends and family think I went way over the top), and I wish I had some better pictures of certain things. But I know I'll be able to reuse lots of stuff for their next party and I learned lots of skills I can use again, too! Can't wait to pick a theme for next year and get started... :)
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