Bug Birthday

Happy New Year!  The holidays are especially busy for us at the MamaMamaHoney house since we have a birthday in December before Xmas and one in January after Xmas.  So - all while I should be wrapping Xmas gift, I’m party planning, too.  The Destroyer chose to have a Bug Party this year since he *LOVES* bugs.  At first, I tried to get him to pick another theme because I wasn’t sure what to do with the Bug Theme, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was very doable - and it was!  Here’s the little Birthday Bug himself.  He’s wearing the Bug Hat from the adorable pop-up book Birthday Bugs.

The Birthday Bug

I had originally wanted to do his birthday at Insectropolis, the Bug Museum in Toms River, NJ, but I thought that many people would not come because it was over an hour away.  I remembered the great show we had seen Rizzo’s Reptiles do over the summer, so we decided to go with them, which turned out to be wonderful!  While the kids waited for Mr. Rizzo to set up, they made bug sticker scenes that I purchased from Oriental Trading.  Mr. Rizzo himself did the show and he is quite the character.  Not only did he entertain the children for an hour (and keeping the attention of 3 and 4 year olds for an hour is no joke!), but the adults, too.  He presented the animals to the children, allowed them to touch and explore them and told them facts that were easy for them to understand.  He goofed and joked with the kids and the parents along the way!

The first animal he brought out was a Hissing Cockroach.

Hissing Cockroach

 Next - a scorpion.  The Destroyer, surprisingly, wanted NOTHING to do with the bugs.  He was so hell-bent on a bug party, but seemed freaked out by the bugs.  Thankfully, there were only 2 and he warmed up much more to the other creatures.

Scorpion

 The tiny crab was a HUGE hit!  All the kids loved him.

Mini Crab

 The tomato frog was also cool.  He hopped around with the kids.

Tomato Frog

 As you can see, Mr. Rizzo is a funny guy!

Snake Glasses

 The mini turtles were another big hit.  These reminded me of the mini pets we see on the streets of Chinatown.  I just giggle every time I see the pictures of them.

Mini Turtle

 Next up was the big turtle - a box turtle, if I remember correctly.

The Big Turtle

 Finally, out came the snakes.  CheezWaster was the only volunteer brave enough to stick his hands into the snake bag.

Snake Bag

 Finally, was the GIANT snake.  It took 4 adults to hold this thing and it was STILL heavy!

The Giant Snake

 The kids loved the show and it was very reasonably priced.  Many of the parents commented on how they couldn’t believe how long their children sat quietly and attentively.

I was torn on what to do about a cake.  In the past, we’ve always had decorated bakery cakes and we wind up taking half of a cake home.  So, this year, we went with simple cupcakes.  I made CheezWaster a caterpillar for his candles.  I used the basic picture from Eric Carle’s The Very HungryCaterpillar.  It was simple and quick.  I used colored sugar on top of the icing and twizzlers/m&ms for the facial decorations.  I made all of the other cupcake different shades of green and inserted cupcake pics that I made from the printable rainbow bug party from Paper & Cake.  I also used this printable file to make a banner, a paper chain and bug signs for the party.

Cupcake Caterpillar

 I made bug cookies using Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, Wilton tube icing and the Wilton Bug Buddies Cookie Cutters.  We also served normal party food such as chips, animal crackers, veggies and fruit.  I purchased spider chip bowls on clearance after Halloween.

Bug Cookies

 We did a Bug Hunt for the kids.  We bought a ton of plastic bugs of all sizes (another great Halloween clearance bargain) and scattered them all over a room.  Each child was given a big plastic cup and could take home whatever they “captured”.

The Bug Hunt

 The favors for the party consisted of mini eye spy bags that the very awesome Greathouse Women made in bug fabrics, Bug Coloring Book sets from Oriental Trading, and a Battle of Nara Battle Bug that I got on an awesome deal from Woot.com.

 

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Have a Ball!

At the end of the school year, I wanted to give all of the kids in CheezWaster’s preschool class a little treat.  I put together these little bags that each contained a mini beach ball (still deflated in package-balls and bags came from Oriental Trading).  I made a little beach ball tag that read “Have a Ball this Summer!”.  I included the year in the white center portion and of course my son’s name.
 

Bag with Mini Beach Ball

 Now, I’ll be honest, making this tag was a project and a half for me.  I don’t have Photo Shop and even if I did, I probably wouldn’t know how to make anything like some of the fabulous printables that are out there on the internet.  So this is the poor man’s version:  I searched in Google Images for Beach Balls and found this PNG.  I saved it into Paint (how 80s, I know!) and added the text.  The real pain in the neck came when I noticed that the little spaces in the letters had white, rather than the colors of the beach ball.  I then had to find that precise, tiny space to click to get the color in.  478 clicks later, I finally got all of the letters colored in.  It worked, it looked nice and it was FREE!  I used a 2 inch circle punch and attached the tags with curling ribbon.

Bags of mini Beach Balls

 These would work great for a pool party or birthday party (I hope you had a ball at my party!) or a back to school party (Have a ball this year at school!).

Beach Ball PNG

Here is the PNG file I used for the Beach Ball.  Save away and go have a ball!

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Lego Party

For CheezWaster’s birthday, we decided to throw a Lego-themed party.  We again chose our church fellowship hall as the venue since it is so spacious.  For the invitation, I found a picture online of a construction scene that someone created with Legos and birthday candles.   I made the invitations on Snapfish with the picture using the title “We’re building a Birthday Party for Cheezwaster’s 5th Birthday”.  
I wanted to have some Lego type food, but I didn’t want to go crazy with attempting to make food look like Legos.  I found this Lego Man Cookie Cutter online and it was perfect and simple. 

Lego Man Cookie Cutter

 I had full intentions of making this Lego Cake.  However, Betty Crocker found a way to screw me the night before the party.  Despite greasing up that pan, my cake middle somehow stuck and I was left with this cake disaster.

When Betty Crocker Screws You, Make Cake Ball Pops!

 So, I decided to make Cake Ball Pops.  No use in throwing away a mostly good cake!  I had fully intended to make these all yellow and then use edible markers to draw on Lego man faces, however, I left them in the freezer too long and the chocolate froze on so fast, that the texture was not smooth enough.  So, I just made them in yellow, red and blue to match the standard Lego colors.

Cake Ball Pops

To decorate the Lego Man cookies, I used  these awesome Icing Writers.  They made decorating so easy and I didn’t have to mix up any icing.  Plus, they tasted great!  I tried to make different versions of Lego Men for variety and presentation.

Lego Man Cookies

After searching the many fabulous Lego themed items on Etsy, I decided on this banner as part of the decorations.  I also got 2 food flags and cupcake pics which you’ll see in pictures further down.  PARTYonBOUTIQUE put everything together for me, because let’s face it, I don’t have time to do the party pack myself.  However, if you have the time and are crafty, you have that option as well.  FYI - they have a ton of great party sets for other themes, too!

Lego Themed Banner

 We chose again to host the party in our church’s fellowship hall.  The room is quite spacious and allows the kids and adults some freedom.  I set the tables up with tablecloths in basic Lego colors - red, blue, yellow and green.  We purchased latex balloons in the same colors from the local Party City and supplemented with a few Lego foil balloons which I purchased online.

The Table Setups

 I used MegaBlocks to not only act as a centerpiece, but as the balloon holders as well.  We made a little structure on each table and tied on the balloons.

MegaBlocks as Centerpieces/Balloon Holders

I had saved some of my boys’ lego tubs which made great chip holders and added to the Lego themed decorations.  I also had a few small Lego posters from the Lego Club Magazines which I hung around the food tables.

Lego Tubs = Serving Bowls

In light of the aforementioned cake disaster, we served a cake from Costco, as well as the Cake Pops, the Lego Man Cookies and regular homemade cupcakes (from a cake mix) decorated with custom Lego Cake Picks.

The Sweets

 I used Blokz Candles, which look exactly like Legos, for the Costco Cake.

The Birthday Boy

The first activity we did was a Lego Hunt (no pictures - kids too fast - sorry).  We layed out and hid lego pieces in a room and gave each child a cup.  Whoever found the most pieces won a prize.  We also hid 2 lego treasure chests and whoever found those got a prize.  The kids loved this and had a ton of fun, though, it was over super fast.

Because I’ve decided that until my kids tell me this game is lame, I’m going to make a custom Pin the Whatever On game for each party.  For this one, I made a Lego Man and the kids had to pin on the Heads.  I simply printed out large versions of some Lego Head graphics I found in Google Images.

Pin the Head on the Lego Man

 Then, the kids moved onto building Lego cars.  This was the main activity of the party.  We purchased pieces from the Lego Brick Wall at the Lego Store and crafted a basic Lego car.  I then had buckets of random Lego pieces so the kids could customize their cars.

Building Our Lego Cars

 To help the kids with directions, I took individual pictures of each step, had them printed as 5 x 7 pictures and put them on a presentation board which I tacked to the cork board so everyone could see it at once.

Lego Building Instructions

 My husband crafted the most KICK-ASS car race ramp based on a design which we saw at a Lego promo event at Toys R Us.  The top had a hinged piece so the kids could line up their cars and then raise the piece so they would all go down at once.

The Race Ramp

 We used a Lego Font to make the Start and Finish signs on the ramp.  The letters looked like they were made from Lego Blocks.

The Finish Line

For the goodies bags, which I unfortunately don’t have a picture of, I used these yellow bags.  I used a sharpie and made a simple Lego Man Face on the outside (Sharpies ROCK!).  I included a Lego book which I purchased through Amazon’s 4 for 3 promotions, some Lego Block Candy which I purchased at a local candy shop, but it also available online here, a copy of the most current Lego club magazine, which Lego sent me for FREE (Call their customer service, they are SO nice!), and a Lego Truck or Airplane set from the Lego Favors pack(which I happened to get on sale, for half price, on the Lego website.  I’ve also seen these favor packs at my local Toys R Us.  The kids also got to take home the lego cars they built.

All in all, I think everyone had a great time - boys and girls……even the adults who decided to sit down and channel their inner child and play with Legos.

For more Lego party ideas to fit your needs, search the internet.  There are a wealth of great Lego party sites out there that helped contribute to making this the great party that it was!

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Coffeehouse for Grace

My latest project is working on a benefit concert for my good friends’ niece.  I, along with a host of other fantastic singers and musicians will be performing in a Coffeehouse concert that will benefit Grace’s Angels.

Coffeehouse for Grace

Saturday, March 5, 2011

7:00 pm

First Presbyterian Church of Roselle 111 W 5th Ave. (Corner of Chestnut), Roselle, NJ 07203 

$10 Adult, $5 Child (refreshments included)

For ticket info or to purchase tickets email: Gracesangels7@gmail.com

Seating is Limited No tickets will be sold at the door. ______________________________________________________________________

On May 7, 2009 Grace Doran was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. This aggressive cancer formed a 9 centimeter mass within her lymphatic system that is pressing against her heart, her lung and her aorta. Grace has been receiving chemotherapy since May 7, 2009. The supportive staff of St. Christopher’s Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and the family are still helping Grace fight. All proceeds of the coffeehouse will go directly to Grace’s Angels. Grace’s Angels is a donation fund created to help the family with medical costs.

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Arts & Crafts Birthday Party - St. Nickolaus Day

For The Destroyer’s 3rd Birthday, we threw him an Arts & Crafts party since he is our little Arteest!  He loves to color and draw.  Painting (and getting messy with paint) is also a favorite.  Since we invited kids of all ages (ages 1 - 7) we offered a variety of crafts, most of which came from Oriental Trading.  We again used our church fellowship hall for the party and placed a craft on each table.  Upon arriving, the first craft the kids did was to make a Craft Bag in which they could take home all of their crafts.  We used small, plain brown gift bags with handles.  I would have preferred white, but the white ones on Oriental Trading had such horrible reviews.  We let the kids decorate them with stickers, crayons, markers and stamps.  I purchased some nice foam stamps from Oriental Trading that were much larger than I expected.  However, the little kids had a blast with these and were able to handle them well.  The second craft they did was a Decorate Your Own Straw Cup.  Oriental Trading sells plastic cups with various color tops that include a paper insert which can be decorated.  Again, we let the kids decorate with crayons, markers and stickers.  The third craft was a “Decorate Your Own Winter Sticker Scene”.  Oriental Trading sells various sticker scene sets that come with a large paper scene and a set of stickers to decorate with.  Ours was a winter scene that could be decorated with snowmen, kids sledding and animals frolicking in the snow.  The fourth craft was a “Decorate Your Own Wooden Car” - again from Oriental Trading.  I also bought the wood markers from Oriental Trading as I wasn’t sure if normal markers would bleed or smudge off.  The kids could just color the wooden cars.  The great thing about these cars is that they fit on the Thomas the train wooden tracks.  My boys love playing with them AND their trains on the train table. 

Wooden Cars Craft

As you can see in the back of this picture, we decorated with some very inexpensive inflatable crayons that I found on Amazon.  Post-party these made great “swords”.  The last craft was a self adhesive foam frame that was a blue base with snowflake and snowmen face decorations (also from Oriental Trading).  This was a big hit with the adults, but also simple enough for the kids to do as all of the pieces were self-adhesive.  They even came with magnets, so you could make them into a nice holiday gift.  We also offered 2 free play tables.  One was a playdough table.  I scored a sweet deal on a 24 pack of playdough on Black Friday ($5.97 - Thank you TARGET!).  We put out several canisters of playdough and all of our playdough tools from the 25th anniversary tub.  The other free play table was a doodle table.  Using a doodle paper roll that I found at the Christmas Tree Shop, we covered a long table and let the kids run wild with crayons.  This was great for the younger set who loved scribbling with all of the colors.

Playdough Table

For the cake, I made an artist’s palette cake.  This was the first of 2 birthday cakes where I fully believe that Betty Crocker was out to get me.  I baked 2 9-inch round cakes.  I stacked and filled them with the Philadelphia Ready Made Cream Cheese Filling and fresh strawberries.  When I went to frost them, THIS disaster happened.  I never cut the domes off the cakes (BIG MISTAKE) and the weight of the frosting caused my cake to crack down the middle (I couldn’t get it to do this if I tried - though the more I thought, I think this would be awesome for a dinosaur cake to mimic the volcanic and seismic activity of the time periods).

Not Cutting off the Dome of your cake makes this happen!

With some quick assistance from my husband and A LOT of frosting, I managed to fill the cake crater and decorate it as an Artist’s Palette.  The brush is a chocolate Twizzler that I frayed at the end with scissors.  I also made cupcakes and topped them with crayon cupcake picks also found on Amazon.

Artist Palette Cake

The food for this party was nothing special.  I had the usual pretzel tray, sandwiches, chips, veggie tray, cake & cupcakes.  Unfortunately, there was only a small turn out due to the early December holiday frenzy.  But, even with only a few guests, this party was still a big hit!  Incidentally, The Destroyer is born on St. Nickolaus Day and being German, I LOVE THAT.  Every year, when he wakes up on his birthday, he finds some extra treats in his shoes!!!  Look at what he pulled out first this year - a chocolate Santa!

St. Nickolaus Day

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