Party Ideas

I absolutely love homemade parties!  They can be as grand or as quaint as you'd like.  They are a lot of work but so worth it.  At least for me.  I really enjoy taking a theme and creating something with it.  My sons give me all kinds of fun ideas.  Here are just a few, complete with pictures:

Good Old Fashioned Sleepover:

This was one of the simplest of parties.  (If you call having a bunch of boys spend the night "simple.")  Personally, I loathe sleepovers's not my party.  The idea for theses cakes came from the Hello Cupcake! cook book.  Instead of cupcakes though, I used mini-loaves.  Also, Hello Cupcake! makes the blankets for the sleepers by microwaving taffy and then rolling it out flat.  I just used fruit roll-ups and cut them to size. 

The little sticks they are sleeping with are another personal touch.  My son wanted them to have light sabers...  They are pretzel sticks dipped in colored frosting that has been slightly warmed in the microwave.

 As a craft/activity they all painted a pillowcase.  I just got some cheapies at the Dollar Store if I remember correctly. 

Ice Party:
 I know...weird theme.  Especially in September in TX.  Our invites were on sheer blue paper I got at a craft store.  They were decorated with little blue and white rhinestones.  Guests were asked to bring any old coats or blankets that they might like to donate to those in need.  We got a big box and wrapped it in butcher paper and the birthday boy decorated with crayon drawings.  We put the donated coats and such in the box. 
 Decorations were simple.  All silver, white and ice blue.  I already had the snowflakes that I bought around Christmas time to hang in the boys play room.  The cloud is made of butcher paper.  It is actually a giant envelope filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts.  Basically you lay the paper on the floor and fold it in half.  Draw a cloud shape and cut it out.  Glue the top and sides of the cloud together but leave the bottom open.  Fill it with packing peanuts and then seal it closed with a line of paper clips all across the bottom.  Weave a piece of curling ribbon through the bottoms of the paper clips.  At some point in the party, gather the kids beneath the cloud.  Pull the ribbon and you have snow!
 The kids played in it for over 20 min.  They only stopped because we had another activity.  They knew exactly what to do, throwing it, making snow angels and burying each other in it!

 It was a huge hit and a huge mess!  My mother was wonderful and cleaned it all up while we took the kids outside for the main event.  A REAL SNOWBALL FIGHT!!  An ice sculptor brought in two ice chests of shaved ice, i.e. snow.  There were lines drawn, goggles and gloves adorned:
 Some of the adults even got into the game!  It was so fun.  Probably one of the priciest things I'd ever done at a party but it was so worth it!  The ice sculptor guy brought the coolers of snow (that were full to the brim), goggles, icicle boundary lines and then packed it all up when the battle was over!  P.S.  The cake for this party was ice cream cake.  Duh!

War Party:
You can fight it all you want but boys like soldiers!  If you don't buy them a toy gun or sword they will make their own.  Asking boys not to play "guns" is like asking little girls not to play "house."  So here is our War Party. 
 The invites were made out of silver card stock found at the craft store.  I used a stencil for the military writing and wrote back ward on the back of the paper, with a pencil, with a soft surface (like the carpet) behind the card.  This created that embossed look that dog tags have.  The little chains were found at the craft store.

My sons have plenty of toys and so my mom's gift to them every birthday is an amazing cake!  She buys them from some in-home cake decorator friend of hers.  I'll have to plug her info. in here.
 All guests were asked to wear camo and we provided the camo grease paint for all party goers to don.
 My husband bought MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) at an army surplus store. 
 The kids had fun trying them out!
 The best part of this party was our own Uncle Matt.  My brother-in-law is a former Marine.  Well, they say "Once a Marine, always a Marine" but...what I mean I guess is that he is no longer in service?  Anywhoo, he came dressed in his old fatigues (impressed they fit Matt!) and ran our guests through a boot camp.
 This is Matt and I demonstrating the obstacle course that we had set up in the backyard.  The camo netting was also purchased at the army surplus store.

 There were of course, water guns and water balloons.  It was a "blast!"

Cooking Party:
My youngest loves to cook.  One day he told me, "Mom, it's eat or be eaten."  After a good laugh I thought I would paint his "slogan" on an apron for him.  With my sister's help we made aprons for all of the party guests.  This was their party favor as well as their paper chef hats (found at a restaurant supply store) and rubber spatulas.  The spatulas had a thank you note attached that the birthday boy wrote himself.

Drew's Cooking School

I like to set out pictures of my birthday boy from when he was born to present.

This...was a bummer.  I tried to make a cake that looked like an oven.  The burners are licorice coils.  I made one cupcake that was supposed to be a pot on the stove top....Bllllll!  Maybe you could do better.  For activities we made and ate a fruit salad.  All the kids were given plastic knives to cut things like strawberries, bananas, grapes,etc. They really got into it!  I was pleasantly surprised.  Note: I had to borrow extra cutting boards from my neighbor.  They also made chocolate pudding that they took home in to-go containers that I got at the restaurant supply place.
Birthday Boy!
Mexican Chihuahua Fiesta!

Every fiesta has a pinata.  This is where you want to start because it's a process that takes several days.  To make Pedro, I blew up a large balloon (those kind with the rubber band attach for know?)  Next, at a 1:1 ratio, mix flour and water.  Take newspaper and tear strips.  Size does not matter as long as it is manageable once wet.  Mine were about 1-2 inches wide and 6 inches long.  Coat each strip in the mix and begin to cover the balloon, slightly overlapping each layer.  Remember to leave an opening at the top where you can pop the balloon but also for where you can insert the candy and toys that will fill the pinata.  To keep the balloon from rolling all over, I had it perched in a large bowl while I worked.  Wait for the top half to dry, then flip it upside down and cover the remaining areas of the balloon.  Allow that layer to dry.  Repeat until you have covered the balloon at least 3 times.  Be sure to allow each layer to dry before applying the next.  After you have 3-4 dry layers, you can pop the balloon.  Next I took squares of poster board and rolled them into a cone shape.  I taped to cones closed and then onto the orb, sort of at the top and sides like chihuahua ears.  For the snout, I took an empty milk carton and cut off the peaked part so that it was just an open cube.  This was then taped to the front-center of the pinata. 

Next find the tissue paper you want to use.  I could not find brown (thought I know craft stores have it) and instead used brown wrapping paper that was made from recycled paper bags.  Cut strips the length of the paper and about 5 inches wide.  Fold the strips in half.  Along the folded edge make small cuts about a 1/2 inch a part to make fringe.  (Clear as mud?)  Glue shut the open end of the strips.  Add glue to the back on the unfringed side and apply to the pinata.  Like this:

On poster board draw a mustache shape.  Prepare strips of fringed black tissue paper as you did with the brown paper.  Cover the 'stache.  I made the chihuahua nose pink to stand out from the black mustache.  I cut pink tissue fringe for the inside of the ears.  (If you want fast results, just paint it the whole thing!)  Pedro's eyes are circles cut from poster board.
He needed a sombrero to complete his look.  This was found at Hobby Lobby in the party supplies section.  Thanks Cinco de Mayo!
These little guys were found in my Hello Cupcake! cookbook.  (As are most of my cupcake designs.)  You can also find instructions at  Basically the snout is made from a large marshmallow, cut in half, M&M eyes, jelly bean nose.  The ears are chocolate cookie wafers (like Famous or you can use the unfrosted side of an Oreo.)
Puppy chow!  Recipe under the recipe tab.

Paper bags with labels glued on.  Labels made on Microsoft Word.
For games we had a HOWLapeno eating contest.  Winner awarded a box of Hot Tamales.  Chihuahua Toss: toss a stuffed chihuahua into a sombrero. Prize: mini-football.  And of course we busted the pinata.  (Youngest to Oldest on the pinata tries...)

"Love's a Gamble" Valentine Casino Night
Cocktail Party

This was an absolute and total blast!  The invites were attached to cookies that were attached double-hearts iced to look like dice.  We googled casino rentals and chose what would be best for our area.  It was a little spendy but well worth it!  Everyone enjoyed getting dressed up for a change.

Decorations I  made just from poster board.

All of our hordevours had a "love" or "gamble" theme such as Luck Be A Ladyfinger or something like that.  It just kept things fun, got our guests in the mood and creative with the plates they brought.
When we were planning this we were hanging out listening to Frank Sinatra to get us in the mood.  We were thinking Ocean's Eleven and the original Rat Pack.  From here our train of thought went to the cigarette girls at the casinos.  We thought that would be a fun way to offer treats to guest.  Our cigarette box only had the candied kind. ;)  It also holds a few Sugar Daddy's, shortbread cookies that we dipped in ganache, and various gambling themed candies.

The whole Rat Pack/cigarette girl thing got my wheels turning and I applied it to my dress for the evening.  I've always wanted to live in the '40's...

The night was a total WIN!

Spring Cleaning Party

Spring Cleaning starts in the liquor cabinet!  We invite our friends to bring a dish to share and their bottles of liquor that are nearly empty.  We chose the island in the kitchen for the drop of place for all of the "cleaning supplies."  All sorts of fun concoctions were discovered this year including, Pina Colada floats (pina colada with a scoop of vanilla ice cream added) and peach margaritas! 
The directions for these fun/cheap decorations can be found here.  Another fun decoration would be to hang various colored loofah poofs or disposable dusters.
For a little added fun I dressed up like a 1950's housewife complete with a strand of pearls and a Lucile Ball poodle hair-do.  Obviously this was a last minute decision, otherwise false eyelashes would be donned. ;)
There's a pirate party and a Star Wars party that I've missed.  I'm always throwing something together so there is more to come...