Parties & Holidays

A Pokemon Party

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Great Ideas for Party Activities and non-sugary foods to serve.

Last weekend we hosted Jason’s Pokemon Birthday Party. Prior to planning this party, I knew very little about Pokemon, but I think my research paid off and I pulled together the theme pretty well. Based solely on the fact that my daughter is now requesting a Pokemon party for her next birthday, I’m concluding that the party was a success by the kids’ measures as well. But that might have been the pinata envy talking.

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Great Ideas for Party Activities and non-sugary foods to serve.

Food & Drinks

We had a small group this year so I intentionally kept the menu simple. I saw lots of ideas for gumballs and other round candies used in Pokemon-themed foods, but since we also had a pinata (and cupcakes), I decided to opt for less sugary snacks.

I served the following:

  • Pokeball snack plate with white cheddar cheese and strawberries
  • Sea salt popcorn with chocolate Smarties sparingly mixed in
  • Adorable Pikachu and Pokeball cupcakes by Sugar Biscuit Cakery
  • Lemonade and water

Several of our party paper supplies, including Pokemon-themed accessories, paper straws, chevron treat cups and square blue trays, were graciously provided by Party Pail.

The Games

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.

While researching the party, I discovered “badges,” and these seemed like a perfect way to connect otherwise unrelated party games to the Pokemon theme (for example, a pinata becomes a way to earn a “Boulder Badge.”). You could easily make your own badges (or have your child make them) out of paper or clay. However, I found these on Etsy and decided they were too perfect to pass up.

If you end up incorporating badges into your games, I highly recommend committing the meaning of each badge to memory. I was a little fuzzy on which was which and it turned out the kids were too. I had planned on matching the badge’s meaning to the game (for example, guessing the correct number of Pokeballs in a container earns the Marsh/Psychic-type badge), but I ended up just letting the child choose the badge she/he wanted because no one seemed certain about what each represented.

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.
These first two games required a bit of prep work, but they were super inexpensive and very fun. Both used the same materials – about 140 ping pong balls, red spray paint, painters tape and black washi tape (or a Sharpie marker).  I purchased the ping pong balls here for less than $10 and, after taping the bottom halves, my husband spray painted them in a bright red color. Next, I wrapped thin washi tape (purchased at Michael’s) around the balls. I ran out of tape about 3/4th of the way through and used a Sharpie marker for the remaining balls. No one (except maybe me) seemed to mind.

Pokemon Psychic Challenge

For this challenge, I placed 70 of the balls in a large glass vase and, as each guest arrived, I asked them to write down their name and the number of Pokeballs in the container. The guesses were all over the map, ranging from 18 to 102. My daughter came the closest with a guess of 60. Psychic badge earned – or wait, that was the Earth badge. Or maybe not.

Gotta Catch ‘em All Pokeball Hunt

Once the guessing game was complete, my husband placed all 140 of the ping-pong-turned-pokeballs in our front yard and, soon after, we handed out bags and let the children run around our yard and ‘catch’ as many Pokeballs as they could. In the end, they had to count the balls they found to see who won – I think this may have been more of a challenge than the game itself!  Wow, this party had too much math!

Squirtle Water Balloon Blast

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.
If you don’t know what a Squirtle is, you can read more about this character here.

This game was a last-minute addition, and it turned out to be my favorite. I painted 3 Pokeballs (using watercolors on thick paint paper) and made 60 water balloons. Actually, I made about  30 and then my daughter was so jealous that she offered to take over for me and I was able to drink coffee while leisurely tying each balloon, which she hasn’t mastered yet. I was pretty impressed with her perseverance on this one.

For the game, each child was supposed to throw the balloons and hit the Pokeballs in order, from closest to farthest. My husband was in charge of setting up the game, and he placed the targets so far apart that I don’t think anyone successfully hit all three targets in the first round. It was still quite a bit of fun to try and, in the end, the bestowing of the Water Badge was a highly subjective call on my part.

Pokeball Pinata

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.

This was the first time we’ve had a pinata at one of our parties, and it was a highly anticipated event. Seriously, once the pinata arrived, I think we talked about it at least once a day.

We purchased the pinata here and it was very well made. Perhaps a bit too well made as each child probably had about 4 or 5 goes at it before it finally cracked under the swings of our neighborhood baseball champ.

Pokemon Character Portrait Studio

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.
I was hoping this activity would be the highlight of the party.  I hired a caricaturist (Amy Gorman), and I recreated simplified versions of my son’s favorite Pokemon cards. My plan was to have each child choose one of the large-scale (8 1/2 x 11) cards and have the caricature artist draw the child’s likeness as the portrait for that character (as illustrated above). Because what child hasn’t wanted to be a Charizard Mega EX? I’m pretty sure that’s a real character. Maybe not.

My plans were foiled when our local Fed-Ex/Kinkos store failed to open during their stated business hours on the day of the party. Collectively, my husband and my dad spent 2 1/2 hours outside of the Fed-Ex location in order to pick up the my portrait templates, but no one ever arrived to open the store. I was very disappointed, but in the end we just had standard caricature portraits made and I think we made the best of it. The portraits were very awesome despite not matching the theme as well as I had hoped.

pokemon-portraits

A Pokemon Birthday Party: Awesome Ideas for Pokemon-themed Games including Psychic Challenge, Squirtle Balloon Toss, Pokeball Hunt. and Character Portrait Studio.

Many thanks to all of the awesome shops, artists and suppliers I worked with:

For details on the trading card invitations, check out this post.

 

 

 

Pokemon Trading Card Invitation Templates

Create Pokemon Trading Card birthday invitations for your child's birthday. These templates (front and back) are fully editable in Photoshop so you can incorporate your own text and images.

Jason requested a Pokemon-themed birthday party this year. It’s a hard theme for me to get excited about, mostly because I know very little about the game and even after watching an episode of the cartoon series, I still feel largely uninformed and uninspired. I’m trying to roll with it though, and so far, he seems pretty happy with our party planning.

Last week, I finished the invitations which are based on the design of the character trading cards. I’ve decided to make these available as templates so that others planning a Pokemon party can create their own customized invitations.

The Templates

Create Pokemon Trading Card birthday invitations for your child's birthday. These templates (front and back) are fully editable in Photoshop so you can incorporate your own text and images.

There are 2 PSD (Photoshop) files:

If you would like to use the official Pokemon font, you can download it here. Also, I created yellow templates but the actual cards come in a variety of colors. If you would like to create cards in different colors, you can find more options here.

UPDATE: Looking for Pokemon party ideas? Check out our complete party post here.

Camp Cinderella: Part 2

Camp Cinderella: Activities for a Cinderella-Inspired Camping Party for Children

When Jenna first suggested a camping and Cinderella themed party, I immediately loved the idea. I wasn’t exactly sure how to pull it off, but I knew it would be fun to try. Jenna had a few requests – like wanting to dress up like princesses and wanting to make necklaces - so that was my starting point and I added on from there.

Here’s what a day at Camp Cinderella turned out to be:
Camp Cinderella activities
When guests arrived, they entered into the ‘costume area where they could gear up with all of the necessary clothing and equipment for the day (capes, tutus, sunglasses, tiaras, etc.).
Camp Cinderella: Activities for a Cinderella-Inspired Camping Party for Children
After getting dressed up, the guests moved out to the backyard where they could choose from our ‘camp activities.’

Camp Cinderella Activities

Camp activities included:

  • Archery – we had a couple of sets of the Brave archery bow and arrows and a hula hoop hanging from a tree to serve as the target.
  • Horse Riding – it doesn’t get much better than a pink pony with lots of sparkles galloping through your yard.
  • Necklace-Making
  • Sword Fighting
  • S’mores – see Part 1 for the camp menu
  • Tent “Clean-Up” – I purchased these castle tents and then decided at the last minute to add a few toy brooms so that the kids could clean their castles, just as Cinderella was required to do before going to the ball.
  • Camp Photos - I purchased a frame at Michaels, spray painted it Cinderella blue and suspended it from the ceiling using pink tulle. I added some tulle along the wall behind it for an easy photo opp set-up.

I think the highlight, at least for Jenna, was definitely the horse. There’s something pretty magical about a sparkly pink pony wandering around in your yard.

camp-horse

Camp Cinderella - Pink Horse

 

 

For details about the camp food, see Camp Cinderella: Part 1.

 

Camp Cinderella: Part 1

Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Birthday Party

My daughter requested a “Cinderella and Camping” party to celebrate her 6th birthday. It was an interesting mix of princess girliness with outdoorsy fun, and Jenna and I had a great time thinking up ways to combine the themes. In the end, our backyard was filled with girls in tutus, boys wielding swords, a bonfire and a glittery pink horse. I’m hoping we look back on this one as the year mom nailed it! Happy Birthday, Jenna!

Today I’m sharing our camp menu:

Enchanted Trail Mix
Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Party

We set up a create-your-own-trail-mix bar for party guests to assemble their own camping snack. The bar included:

  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Granola
  • Chocolate-covered almonds
  • Cranberries
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Cashews
  • Pink, blue and white M&Ms
Cinderella S’mores
Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Party

No camping adventure would be complete without s’mores! Despite 80 degrees temperatures, all of our campers were up for sitting around a camp fire, roasting pink and white marshmallows and making traditional s’mores. I purchased these extra long roasting skewers to keep everyone a good distance from the heat.

Cake and Princess Punch

Camp Cinderella: A Princess-Inspired Camping Party

After making a practice cake a few weeks ago and experimenting with marshmallow fondant and natural dyes, I ended up purchasing two cakes and decorating them myself with pre-made fondant. For drinks, we served strawberry lemonade (aka Princess Punch).

For more party details, see Camp Cinderella: Part 2

 

Birthday Inspiration: Camp Cinderella

 

Birthday Party inspiration for my daughter's "Cinderella Camping" themed party.

Jenna loves planning her birthday parties, and this year’s celebration of turning 6 is no exception. She suggested a “Cinderella Camping” party, and I’ve had a great time thinking up ways to merge two seemingly opposite ends of the party theme spectrum. I won’t go into detail now but the mood board above gives quite a few clues. Will there be a pink-maned horse? Yes, yes there will. More pics after the party!

Image sources: Garland / Toy binoculars / Tiara / Pink Bow and Arrow Set / Castle Tent / Tutu

Happy Easter

Despite lots of sickness in our family, we had a very nice holiday weekend. It was our first Easter in the new house, and the yard proved to be the perfect site for an egg hunt. Most years, Jason and Jenna quickly snatch up the eggs and count their bounty to see who won. This year, victory definitely went to the Easter bunny. J+J gave up after an extensive search of both the front and back yards, leaving at least 3 or 4 eggs to be found later in the day.

Here are a few more highlights from our weekend:

happy easter

All-Natural Gradient Cake

Make a gradient cake using fondant with all-natural dyes.

Jenna has requested a “Cinderella Camping” themed birthday party this year. That one loves to challenge her mama with theme mash-ups. Last year’s Hello Kitty Rainbow Flower party seems easy in comparison to this year’s combo. Luckily, I enjoy a good challenge.

In preparation for the upcoming festivities, I decided to experiment with natural food dyes to see if I could achieve a good ‘Cinderella blue.’ And while I clearly need more practice working with fondant, I was pretty happy with the colors resulting from my experimentation this weekend.

Make a gradient cake using fondant with all-natural food coloring

I used this recipe for marshmallow fondant. Dye-free marshmallows are surprisingly hard to come by, but I’ve discovered that Walmart brand marshmallows don’t contain the artificial blue dye found in most other brands. For the coloring, I used this all-natural blue food dye. The results are more muted than artificial dyes, but work well for the Cinderella palette I was going for.

Make a gradient cake using fondant with all-natural food coloring

Flower Seed Valentines

Yesterday, I finished making Jenna’s Valentine’s for her classroom party. I love the idea of giving flower seed packets instead of candy, so I was pretty excited about these. Jenna also seemed pretty happy with these little boxes, until she saw the Valentine’s I’m making for her brother. More on that later this week when I get done cutting, folding, gluing and filling 21 paper Minecraft treasure boxes.

flower seed valentines: give packets of flower seeds instead of candy for classroom valentines

Paper Ornament Garland

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

This weekend I made a really simple paper garland to serve as a backdrop for a cookie party.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

I started by creating a large batch of paper circles using a 3-inch paper punch.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

To make each paper ornament, I folded the circles in half and glued the halves together, using 5 circles for each ornament (4 to 6 circles work the best).

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

I left one side of the ornament unglued until all of the paper ornaments were created. Then, I attached the ornaments to twine by gluing the twine inside of the remaining two sides.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays

And once the garland was complete, I placed in along our kitchen windows, behind the table where I’ll set up the cookie display.

Create an easy paper ornament garland for the holidays