Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sneak Peek at our Party Photo Booth

As if all the DYI projects on food and styling for this party wasn't enough, I came up with the idea of having a makeshift "photo booth" for guests of all ages to have fun with :-)  I purchased a large piece of yellow chevron fabric and wrapped it around a coat rack for a nice backdrop.  The wooden frames are from Michael's, which I painted in fuchsia and white patina.
Most of the costume props I already had on hand from past Halloweens and "Carnavais". I made colored paper "mustaches & smiles" and glued them onto barbecue skewers.

The back of the "photo booth" also served as a rack for my sons' older costumes.  I added a few more feminine accessories, like fairy wings and princess tiaras for the ladies as well. Recognize the Elvis costume from Gabriel's 3rd birthday party?  He still wears it on occasion...
My mom had this wonderful idea of displaying some pictures taken at the "photo booth" to break the ice and motivate our guests to play along.  So I convinced my beloved family members to dress up with some of the outfits and took a few snapshots.  Then I "framed" them digitally to look as if they were taken by an old Polaroid instant camera.  
I arranged the pictures by pinning them to the curtain using the clothespins I decorated with assorted chevron washi tape (see previous post here.)
 This was probably the project that was the most fun to tackle!
These super cool downloadable polaroid frames were courtesy of Smaragd.
Thank you so much for sharing!

*Update: I just found these great tips on how to set up a DIY party photo booth like mine here.  

Have fun!!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Almost there! Working on my baby's "around the clock" & rainbow party

Phew!! Just a week away from my youngest's birthday party and I am almost done... Still need to take on the cake and sweets preparation, which is frightening... but I'm pretty confident that my critics (mostly infants to 5-year-olds) won't be so harsh on me :-) 

Here's the photo that became my inspiration for the birthday party:
I found it on Pottery Barn's website under baby shower suggestions.  I loved this tablescape, and was determined to figure out a way to incorporate this idea into my little man's first birthday celebration.  Actually, it was a no-brainer - I've had already been working on the concept "Time Flies" for his party, playing with the numbers 1 through 12 representing his age in months. I also wanted a very brightly-colored decoration (I needed to use up all the leftover paper straws, cups, plates and napkins from previous parties!) And finally, since I'd been looking for an excuse to use chevron/zigzag prints, I figure I could integrate those in the planning as well, creating an even happier atmosphere :-)
One of the first things I got to work on were the printed invitations.  I am slowly learning how to do basic tasks on Photoshop, and I have to say that I am very happy with the result.  The chevron border on the lower half of the inside page is a mix of digital papers from Great Graphics (thanks, Beth!)  I used 3 different fonts (which I will be using on all other printed materials for the party) and many, many colors. For the front cover I glued a circle I made with a green border and colored 1-12 numbers all around, representing a clock face.  On the center, the words "Time Flies..." setting the tone for the party. We asked guests to wear their favorite colors and to donate to the charity of their choice instead of bringing gifts.  Our little boy is so happy with the toys he inherited from his big brother, plus, his favorite playthings are our little family (including the dogs) and my kitchen utensils anyway.  So we thought our friends could "invest" their money on a cause that would benefit others more than us.
Now, a quick peak at some of the things I've been working on.  I've probably been bitten by some kind of DIY bug.  And as a side-effect, it has clearly taken me out of reality to come up with so many projects on already overfilled days :-)
Pastry stands made from upcycling thrift store candlesticks, painting them in various colors and then glueing on melamine plates (I used low-temperature glue gun since I wanted to be able to detach the plates afterwards, for easy storage and perhaps a new "life" in the future.
Dyed wooden skewers using food coloring.  So easy and fun!  Here's a quick tutorial:

Homemade playdough for the kids to take home.  I made two kinds: a more traditional recipe adding essential oils (still my favorite), and another one using flavored gelatin for color and scent (it's stickier and smells very artificial, not soothing at all to me...)
A little note on "aromatherapy playdough": a little oil goes a long way (just a few drops should be enough), and it releases a wonderful scent as it is manipulated and shaped by the kids.  You can also choose the oil to set the mood: lavender and chamomile soothes and calms; rose and ylang ylang inspire strength; sweet orange, grapefruit and lime energizes, promotes focus and uplifts; tea tree helps to boost the immune system; eucalyptus is great for taming a cold and stuffy noses...
dough made using commercial gelatin (Jell-O brand) in several colors & "flavors"
tags with the playdough recipe to be attached to each bag (both recipes are at the end of this post)
I was ecstatic when I found this vintage highchair at Thrift Town for just $7.99!!  That's exactly what I needed for one of my self-assignments: a table "skirt" made of ribbons and buttons I already had at home. Seriously, the only thing I had to buy for this project - besides the chair itself - was a double-sided heavy duty foam tape.  It really pays off to save all the nice ribbons from gift wrapping and scraps from past projects and parties!


whimsical party hats
And a special (and over-the-top) one for the birthday boy
food card holders made out of unfinished wood and (adorable little hand) metal clips
painted wood numbers; chevron paper buntings (flags)
number "1" being made out of tiny chevron buttons (or brads); party favor bags
cake or candy boxes to (fill and) take home
chevron washi tape-covered clothespins
 balloon wreath
I used a straw wreath (kept the plastic to avoid the shedding mess), and floral wire (picture "2") to attach the balloons all around the wreath.

colorful glass bottles for juice, labeled with the equivalent fruit :-)

inexpensive clocks that I intend to use as food trays
a couple of the different flavors of macarons I am baking: orange-nutella & pistachio-dark chocolate ganache.  Not perfect, but not bad either for my first macarons ever :-)
food cards;  rainbow cake layers for colorful cake truffles (also know as cake balls or cake pops)
Can you guess what I have in mind for these pictures?

PS: In the next post I'll show how to easily set up a fun photo booth!


Recipe 1. Basic Cooked Playdough
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar (optional, helps preserve the dough)
  • 1 tablespoon il
  • 2 cups water
  • food coloring, essential oils (optional)
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook until it forms a dough and releases from the bottom of the pan.  (If making just one color, mix the food coloring with the water before adding it to the remaining ingredients.  If not, divide the dough into as many pieces as colors being used and add during the kneading step.  Wearing gloves will help prevent stained hands during the initial kneading.) Transfer into a work area, and knead once it has cooled a bit.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe 2. Gelatin Playdough
  • 1 cup flour (plus about 1/2 cup more for kneading)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 3oz pack of gelatin 
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook until it forms a dough and releases from the bottom of the pan.  Transfer into a non-stick work area (a silicone mat works great or you can work on a floured surface) and let it cool for about 20-30 minutes. Knead adding more flour until it no longer sticks to your hands. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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