Awesome Birthday Parties

Last Minute DIY BEEMO Costume

Last Minute DIY BEEMO Costume

It was the Friday before Halloween and we were busily working on our costumes to wear for Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland that Monday, when Mason (our nine year-old) decided that he wanted to be BEEMO (from Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time) for his “actual” Halloween costume. I was already inundated with all the costume and prop prep for our “Steampunk Robot Skeleton” -themed costumes, so I said, “you’ll have to ask Daddy if he’ll make it for you”…which wouldn’t have been a problem, IF he wasn’t asking to have it THAT night to wear to his cousin’s school Monster Mash. Everyone in my family is extremely creative and artistically talented…plus design, DIY and craft-saavy, so I didn’t have any doubts that BMO would materialize due to our costume-making prowess (we take costume making very seriously around these parts).  The real question was how we could pull it together in just a few hours? My husband and I work well under pressure and we always meet our deadlines, but we both had our “regular” work to do…and we didn’t have any of the materials we would need to make the BMO costume (well, besides gaffers tape, glue gun and label paper). So, being the awesome Dad that he is, and not wanting to turn down a costume design challenge, Aaron agreed (after Mason badgered and begged all through breakfast) to create the BMO costume in time for that night’s Monster Mash. And so the countdown to Operation BMO began. Once the boys were off to school, Aaron had some conference calls to do and I was tasked with shopping for materials after a morning of my own client meetings.  I ran a few errands for client projects, then found myself at Walmart on a mission to find the rest of the supplies for our Steampunk costumes and hopefully pick up everything Aaron would need for BMO.  I had no idea going in that I would find anything that would work. Here’s my text thread with Aaron while we tried to source materials. I arrived back at the house around 1:45 p.m., dropped off the materials I picked up from Walmart (totaling about $30) so Aaron could get started while I was teaching art in Isaac’s class. Here are the materials used: When the kids and I got home from school (3:30 p.m.), this is what Aaron had done.  Mason was super excited. After spray-painting the box, he began preparing the buttons (a mailing tube lid was used for the large red circular button and the rest were made from cardboard and colored paper) and cutting the extra aqua shirt (I bought two because I wasn’t sure which size would fit Mason best) to stretch over the opening to make BMO’s screen. Originally, he was going to have me paint BMO’s screen face onto a separate piece of poster board that was layered behind and cut holes for Mason to see out of. But he found that if a shirt was stretched taut, you could actually see through it. And the shirt was the perfect color.  The shirt was stretched and affixed to inside of the box using gaffers tape. After the paint was dry, he used more gaffers tape to finish the edges/seams.  Everything else was label paper. Inside the box, Aaron attached suspenders to help Mason keep the costume at the right height for the arm holes, and to help stabilize the box. A few hours later, the costume looked like this. He ran out of time to finish the buttons, but this was enough to get Mason to the...

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Turning FORTY and You’re Invited…

Turning FORTY and You’re Invited…

…to my IMAGINARY party (or how I would have planned my birthday if I was indeed having a party this year). So, welcome to my virtual soirée…or a glimpse at my “dream party” mood boards. Indeed, on November 18th, I’m leaving my thirties behind and entering my FORTIES! * Gasp * Ugh * Sigh * Although I’m not exactly thrilled about the notion that I will be 40 years-old…I am so very grateful to be alive, to be healthy and strong, and to have this opportunity to enjoy everything that I’ve been blessed with in my life – an amazing husband and our two wonderful boys (these three are my whole world); a close and loving family (my sisters and our extended family are the raddest people EVER); terrific and supportive friends; my artistic passions; and the work that I love. But… I don’t FEEL 40!!! (I hope) I don’t LOOK 40!!! I don’t want to ACT 40 (if there is a “standard” for this age group)!!! If I had to give myself an age to match how I feel, (think I) look and act…I would say (er, wish) 30? Go ahead, you can tell me that too, I’ll let ya (wink-wink). No, really…PUH-LEEZ tell me that, it would be the best present ever! If I can figure out how to work 40 like some of my favorite style icons (Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Rachel Weisz, etc.), then I’ll gladly join the club…because those beautiful, intelligent, talented, awesome ladies ROCK, hard! But until then, I’m not really cool with this whole aging thing yet…and I’m trying to fight it every step of the way. My husband had his 40th birthday in August…and with my birthday just three months later, we thought it would be fun to possibly combine our birthdays and have one big party. I really, really, REALLY wanted to have a big, celebratory bash. I seriously LOVE parties…the planning and styling, color schemes and themes, over-the-top invitations (but, of course), amazing food-drinks-sweets, loud music and activities…but most importantly, seeing my friends and family having a good time. It just makes me happy to see my vision come together as I enjoy a night to remember with my favorite people. And with a milestone birthday like the BIG FOUR-O, I felt a huge celebration was in order. Earlier on in the Summer (when this party was still a possibility and we were starting to plan it), I was brainstorming party themes with my sister, Julie, who suggested that I do a “Forties” theme for our 40th Birthday Soirée. THAT WAS IT! No need to toss around other ideas. I LOVED it! Envisioning 1940’s Hollywood glamour, an elegant affair with everyone dressed to the nines and dancing cheek-to-cheek, sipping champagne while Big Band/Swing music played in the background…yeah, I could totally get into that. Especially if it meant that I would be all dolled-up and looking fabulous like a silver-screen siren, with my dapper leading man by my side. I’ve always been into the retro-vintage vibe and especially love pinup girl and Hollywood starlet style of the 1940s, as evidenced by the look I was going for in these two photos (the one on top from a company Christmas party when I was in my mid-twenties…and the one on the bottom from a “boudoir” shoot a few years ago when I was 37, photographed by the talented, Desiree Hayes). My current color crush is BLACK and GOLD, with a pop of CORAL. Lately, everything I’ve been pinning shows my obsession with this color scheme. You can check out my Pinterest board...

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Vintage Carnival

Vintage Carnival

This Vintage Carnival themed party celebrating my sons’ 7th and 5th birthdays was, without a doubt, my favorite to date. With its timeless theme, festive color scheme, classic games and fun prizes…this party was my ultimate “awesome birthday party” and will be a tough one to top. I dreamed of having my own carnival party when I was a kid, and I’ve always loved the vintage circus theme…so this party was (almost) as much for me, as it was for my kids. Oh, who am I kidding…I was probably more into it (ahem, obsessed) than anyone else! I really enjoyed planning this party, especially creating the details that would bring my vision to life. I won’t lie, it was A TON of work and I probably did a lot of things that no one really noticed..but it was what I imagined for the carnival party of my dreams, and I wanted to make it happen. Combining my boys’ birthdays into one party gave me a little more time to focus on the things I wanted to incorporate. And since I was doing one big party instead of two separate ones with different themes, it meant that I could pool the two budgets and spend a little more than I normally would for one party. With the help of my usual “dream team” of family and friends, we pulled off a spectacular party, making almost everything ourselves and not going any crazier cost-wise than we would have if there were two separate parties. Everyone, little kids and big kids alike, had a magnificent time and it was truly an awesome birthday party! There are simply too many elements to share in just one blog post (and since I tend to write way too much and use lots of pictures), I’ve broken it up by category…just click on a photo below to get all the details. All the fantastic photos of the party were taken by my sister, Julie of Lot116 Photography (unedited shots), and our friend, Hughes of H3 Photography (vintage edit). So, step right up,  and enjoy a good ol’ fashioned vintage carnival of awesome proportions…...

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Vintage Carnival – The Sweet Shoppe

Vintage Carnival – The Sweet Shoppe

Candy buffets and dessert tables seem to be standard at every birthday party, shower or wedding these days. I’ve seen my share of them at the amazing weddings I’ve worked and everyone loves a good candy buffet. They are always a hit and it’s nice to take home a little bag of sweets to enjoy later. A lot of sugary treats were already planned for The Gaines Bros. Vintage Carnival, but a candy buffet was a still a must for my boys’ party! So after loading kids up with cotton candy, sweet tea, cupcakes, etc…we sent them home with bags of candy, just two weeks before Halloween. Sorry, Parents!!! I should point out that just as many “big kids” filled up treat bags as “little kids”…and we did not have any leftover candy after the party. 🙂 The Gaines Bros. “Good Old-Fashioned Sweet Shoppe” was set up with glass containers from Walmart; tiered trays made from glue-gunned silver platters and plastic cups from Dollar Tree; cookie jars borrowed from my sister, Julie; gum ball machines from the 99 Cents Store and some borrowed from my sister, Mary; and striped paper ribbon from Paper Mart. We chose classic candies that would go with the vintage theme (Salt Water Taffy, Good & Plenty, Red Vines, Jelly Belly, Bit ‘O Honey, Smarties, Butterscotch, Spice Drops, Cherry Slices), and my boys’ favorites: Ginger Snaps and their daddy’s homemade Salted Butter Caramels (each painstakingly cut and hand-wrapped by Nana Sue). Love Paper Paint created coordinating custom tags and signs for each item, a hand-cut “Sweet Shoppe” pennant banner, as well as labels for the bags. All the fantastic photos of the party were taken by my sister, Julie of Lot116 Photography (unedited shots), and our friend, Hughes of H3 Photography (vintage edit). Our friends, Jenny and Cho, helped set up the candy buffet while I scrambled to get ready for the...

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Vintage Carnival – The Entertainment

Vintage Carnival – The Entertainment

A carnival simply would not be a carnival without fun games and prizes!  For my boys, having game booths and prizes at their Vintage Carnival party was what they were most excited about. And when my sister, Mary, suggested a ping pong ball toss to win a real goldfish…they could not contain their excitement and had to tell all their friends before the invitations even went out!  My family brainstormed ideas for all the games and narrowed it down to activities that would be easy and financially feasible to put together. We originally thought of a bounce house, magician and juggler and maybe even a ride of some sort (Aaron, my husband, even devised a plan for a super slip ‘n slide that he would construct utilizing the steep hill leading down to the park gazebo). But we had a budget to stick to and a limited amount of time allotted on the park use permit. So, we definitely had to reign in the ideas and stay practical. Aaron did a great job of constructing inexpensive make-shift game booths out of sprayed painted pvc pipe, rebar stakes, kraft paper and rope. We borrowed tables and other equipment for the game booths from our neighbors, The Hadleys. And our friends, The Schvimmers, let us borrow their very nice wooden bean bag toss game. Aaron downloaded some old-fashioned calliope music to play during the party, which added to the the vintage carnival vibe. Many of our teenaged neighbors and family/friends volunteered to help run the booths and the kids had a blast winning tickets to trade in at the well-stocked prize booth. The face painting and balloon sculpting by the family team of Nichols Party Productions was INCREDIBLE!  The artistry of Teri and her children, Alan (14) and Ashley (11) at the time, is AMAZING…the kids loved them and I was blown away by their talent and professionalism (11 year-old Ashley’s face painting skills put mine to shame)! Thanks to the help of our awesome family, friends and neighbors, the party was a huge success…all the kids had a blast, and everyone left with a bag of prizes AND a pet goldfish.  All the fantastic photos of the party were taken by my sister, Julie of Lot116 Photography (unedited shots), and our friend, Hughes of H3 Photography (vintage edit). Scroll down for photos of the fun…here’s a list/description of all the entertainment at The Gaines Bros. Vintage Carnival: Ping-Pong Ball Goldfish Bowl Toss (glass bowls from Dollar Tree, ping pong balls from Walmart, goldfish purchased in bulk from Petco. My nephew, Tyan filled little ziplock bags with fish food for kids to take home with their new pets) Ring Toss (rings from Party City, 2 liter bottles of soda) Bean Bag Toss (borrowed from The Schvimmers, bean bags from Oriental Trading Company that were purchased years ago for another party) Knock Down Coffee Cans (Metal coffee cans, filled with beans, bean bags from Oriental Trading Company that were purchased years ago for another party) Basketball Toss (mini basketballs from Walmart, plastic baskets from Dollar Tree) Lollipop Tree (pegboard from Home Depot, painted with tree, lollipops stamped with red dot by Isaac) Spinner Wheel (borrowed from The Hadleys) Face Painting/Balloon Sculpting (Nichols Party Productions) Craft Station, Three Activities: 1. Decorate a Frame for photo booth photo, 2. Make a Top Hat, 3. Make a Mustache or Masquerade Mask (mat board frame inserts from Dollar Tree; glue, glitter, art supplies from our craft cabinet; collected toilet paper cardboard rolls, pre-punched black card stock circles; mustaches and masquerade masks printed out to color, wooden craft sticks, string, ribbon) Potato Sack Relay (burlap sacks from Oriental...

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