My beautiful daughter turned three this last week. About two month prior to the big event,we were having our Friday family movie nights, and on this particular evening, we were watching Mary Poppins. My daughter is at that tender age where a gentle breeze will sway what theme of birthday party she wants, and so I seized on the opportunity to suggest Mary Poppins. And with constant reminders that she is *so excited* about having it, I took her lack of disagreement and ran.
Now I want to put out the disclaimer up front that I can be a little over the top with birthday parties. I claim it’s a hold over from my childhood in which birthday parties usually consisted of either a maniacal rat with pizza or a few friends spending the night. But the fact is, I just enjoy throwing the darn things. That being said, my new years resolution this year was to go “Roxanne 9.5″, meaning I would dial it down a notch on things like parties, handmade gifts, etc. Because, well, because I sometimes start to look like said maniacal rat after taking one too many things on.
So of course that means I need to hand make the invitations! (Hangs head in shame). Actually, I’ll be honest. If Loralee Lewis made a carpet bag invite, I would have snapped those puppies up instantly. Just go take a look at her work and TRY not to throw a party based off her paper goods! But while her Mary Poppins themed invite is gorgeous, I wanted something more “spoon full of sugar” than “jolly holiday”.
So I created an invite modeled after Mary’s tape measure, with a carpet bag holder to set the theme. And while it’s not LoraLee Lewis (’cause who could wear those shoes?), it turned out darling all the same.
Next came the decor. I scavenged the house, looking for anything and everything that even hinted at being British. Flag? Check. Tea pot? Check check. Mismatched sterling silver spoons? Hell ya…I mean, check.
Speaking of the spoons, I used them as the “stick” to my cake pops. They were perfect for a “spoon full of sugar” moment.
I also wanted to have a kite moment, so I made kite cupcake toppers with kabob skewers and a little bit of scrapbook paper. Easy!
The carpet bag was also another fun touch to add to the set up. I threw in a tea pot, medicine bottle, spoon, and lamp, just for good measure.
And it can’t be practically perfect until it’s properly measured.
The *other* lady of the hour would have it no other way.
Thanking our friends was simple. A little Target dollar bin find of prewrapped chalk meant all I needed to add was a thank you tag. Sweet!
It really was a fun, mellow, cheerful party. My littlest bean had a fabulous time with a handful of friends from daycare and an overload of suger-filled spoons. I can’t believe my tiny baby is three! How the time flies…
just like kites…
There are few things more wonderful than an invite to spend time with friends and family, and when said invite comes in the form of a note in the mail or an evite in your inbox, you’re left having to figure out at least two things; what to wear, and what to bring.
To that end, I’m constantly trying to find gifts to give, tokens of appreciation that my hosts can enjoy beyond the meal. And while a good bottle of bubbly will always do, something unique does better. And if it’s under $20, well, that’s just gravy.
To that end, I present you with 10 GIFTS UNDER $20!
1. These Agate Coasters are awesome on their own, but add a silver or gold rim (use a paint pen), and they’re smashing.
2. And while we’re on the subject of beverages, this set would be a chic addition to any bar.
3. Add a few homemade cookies, and this cookie jar becomes the gift that keeps on giving.
4. The perfect gift for your coffee lovin’ friends.
5. And for those who are more of the tea type.
6. This cheese slate will adequately glorify the love of the cheese connoisseur .
7. And this darling glass, etched in French with the words “a glass of friendship”, would be a wonderful gift with a few flowers.
8. For the writer…or parent, who is always losing their pencils (and minds) to their children.
9. And what would a list of hostess gifts be if it did not include one of the greats of entertaining.
10. Or great hosts. And yes, it counts, even if you’re paid to do it.
With a few good ideas in hand, you too can surprise your host with just the perfect thing. Or keep it for yourself. You choose…I won’t tell if you don’t.
Alice in Wonderland, by author Lewis Carroll, has enchanted both young and old for nearly 150 years. A timeless classic, it’s charm was not lost on my eldest daughter. She requested an Alice themed party, declaring that it should be “just like the tea cup ride at Disneyland”. And while there were no spinning saucers–or accompanying nausea–it was a smashing success. Using collected items, most from around the house, it is by far, my most favorite party of them all!
The plan started with lanterns. Per my daughter’s request, I found a collection of inexpensive lanterns at Oriental Trading Company, with a few larger ones from World Market (I love that place) to give a sense of whimsy to the group.
Next, I scoured my house for every piece of china I could find. It’s a tradition in our family to give a bride a teacup upon her engagement, so luckily I had a box full of teacups at the ready.
Most of the “linens” were sourced at thrift stores and are actually a mix-mash of old sheets and pillow cases. I laid them randomly and scattered about a deck of playing cards, a nod to the cards painting the roses red in the Queen of Hearts’ garden.
Speaking of the cards, I also sewed them together (don’t fret, my sewing challenged friends. All it required was a straight stitch and can be done similarly with fishing line and a needle) to create a garland that I hung over the dessert table.
And those “Eat Me” signs on the cake (which my husband found hilarious for his own obvious reason)? Simply printed on computer paper, trimmed, and then glued to kabob sticks.
The dessert table also included a few cookies for good measure. Incredibly simple, I put out some Pepperidge Farm “Chessmen” cookies and some bright pink strawberry wafer cookies which I fashioned into Cheshire cat tails with the addition of piped on purple candle melts and purple granulated sugar.
Speaking of food, we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters and a few other snacks, but the cutest item by far was the “tea pot” watermelon. Incredibly easy, all it requires is a watermelon cut in half, with the melon scooped out into balls, and a piece of rind trimmed to look like a handle. Insert a toothpick into each end of the rind and stick into the side of your melon. Make sure to slightly trim your designated bottom of the “cup” so that it doesn’t go rolling all over.
It wouldn’t be a mad tea party without a few quirky touches like stacked tea cups and pots. The children actually drank out of the tea cups (I know you moms are all thinking I’m crazy, but I’m a big believer in using what you’ve got. And not a one was broken!). There were several tea pots, and each held a different color “tea”(kool-aid. Don’t hate;), which made for a lot of ooing and ahhing when poured.
And of course we had a door mouse. Someone’s got to eat the crumbs left behind by the children.
My little Alice had an amazing time. Watching her enjoy her party with her friends, I was reminded of just how quickly they grow. The adage is true, “The days are long, but the years are short.” If I could slow down time I would. I would bottle it up and let her live in her own little wonderland forever. But in lieu of that, at the very least, I can give it to her for a day.
Ah, the home bar. The quintessential “prop” to a stylish home. I’ll admit, I really like the look of a well stocked bar, but the reality is that the only drinking regularly going down in my home revolves around me and a glass (or 3) of wine. That, however, changed recently when we began hosting a quarterly dinner with a wonderful group of friends. With guests, one wants them to feel at home, and sharing a bottle of wine that I may or may not have drunk directly from, is not the best of etiquette.
It became my mission to create a functioning, well-stocked bar. One that would not become a dust collector. One that others would look at and see a good time. One that would trump ALL OTHERS!
Unfortunately, I quickly found out that stocking said bar can be a pricey endeavor. In order to be able to mix a mean drink while not having to sip out of paper cups, I had to think strategically. I figured the best way to approach the issue of stocked-bar-meets-frugality was to have a few easily prepared drinks in my back pocket that used similar base alcohols and could easily be adjusted with items from my refrigerator.
After doing a bit of reading, I found two concoctions that would keep the party going with a minimum of liquor; the Manhattan, and the Kir Royal.
-3 oz Bourbon
-1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
-Dash of bitters
-Twist of orange peel
Stir bourbon, vermouth, and bitters together. Pour over rocks. Add cherry and twist orange peel over the cocktail.
Kir Royale (My personal favorite and a great substitute to mimosas)
-2 oz. Chambord
-Twist of lemon
Pour champagne into flute. Add Chambord. Add twist of lemon, dropping peel into the glass. Pretend your somewhere fabulous while enjoying it!