Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables)

Somehow, the baby turned ONE in May. To celebrate we did a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star party. Her decorations were very simple.

Lights

These Paper Star string lights were a simple addition to set a ‘twinkling’ mood for the party.

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Entryway Picture Wall

A picture wall welcomed guests in the entryway. It was fun to pick out our favorite 4×6 photos from the first year. To keep with the theme we added a few patterned scrapbook paper stars.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Birthday Photo Banner

Every birthday at our house includes a large photo banner strung across the main room. The banner includes one picture per month from the previous year intermixed with a birthday message – Audra Grace Is One. Clothes pins covered with pink sparkle washi tape gave the black and white banner a pop of color and ‘twinkle‘.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Cake

To make cake-smashing fun for the baby who cries when her hands are dirty (maybe she’ll be the cleanest child), we opted for a tri-color layer cake with simple white frosting between layers. It’s not fancy, but worked great (she didn’t really like touching squishy cake layers either so I am grateful for time saved by not frosting the whole thing!)

Paper Star string lights were a simple addition to help set the mood for the party.

Decorations

Now for some simple decorations you can print at home.

You guys, I am so excited to announce the first FREE printables from thisgratefulmama!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comThe images are centered on 8.5″x11″ paper so you can leave them as they are or trim them to be square. Just click on the links below and print the PDFs on white cardstock.

 

 FREE Printables

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comTwinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

How I Wonder What You Are

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comTwinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Up Above The World So High

Like A Diamond in the Sky

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

Do You Know How Loved You Are

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.comTwinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party (with FREE Printables) | thisgratefulmama.com

One is Sweet Take A Treat

She Twinkles Wherever She Goes

 

Happy Birthday little one!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Free Printables | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

A few weeks ago I shared the cake from our daughter’s Minnie Mouse 4th birthday party. Another day I’ll share the food.

Today is all about decorations.

When it comes to a kids party, my motto is ‘keep it simple‘ – it isn’t necessary to spend a lot of money or go all-out to please a 4-year-old. 

Most decorations for this party are homemade using paper. Many are printed at home and just taped up. They are inexpensive.  Most won’t take much time but will still have a big impact.

Paper decorations are more than enough to make our daughter feel special!

Art

For Disney-inspired decorations without breaking the bank, this free Waltograph font is a lifesaver. Once installed, it can be used in Microsoft Word – Disney decorations, literally, at your fingertips.

Our daughter loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. From watching it with the kids, I’m guessing you can also quickly rattle off these sayings:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Photo Birthday Banner

birthday photo banner is a personal touch with big sentimental impact. By far, this is my favorite decoration to make for bitthdays. I love spending time picking out each photo – one photo per month from the previous year.  It is pure joy to see our kids’ faces light up when they see it – they love feeling honored and celebrated.

Black and white photos were printed and intermixed with the message:

Happy Happy 4th Birthday Adelyn Joy

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Minnie Mouse Chandelier

Now I want to share something SO fun. Have you seen this DIY faux-capiz chandelier made using wax paper? This Pinterest project is on my someday list. For some reason I haven’t found the free-time yet.

Who has this elusive ‘free-time’ anyway?

OK, so I did NOT make a wax paper chandelier for this party. But I did make a paper Minnie Mouse chandelier to hang over the table. Admittedly, it was kind of (ok, extremelyputzy cutting out Minnie Mouse ears and bows, but there was nothing difficult about it.

Trust me, with some time and patience, YOU can do it.

All it took was time, tape, cardstock, clear bead-thread and two steel rings (12″ and 6″) from Hobby Lobby. Just think – you could create a chandelier like this for ANY party theme – endless possibilities. 

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Entryway Signs

Originally, I planned to put a ‘Come Inside, It’s Fun Inside‘ sign on the front door to welcome guests. But a Chalk Marker and poster-board sign can’t withstand a windy, rainy day, so it came inside.

In the entryway, a sign saying ‘Adelyn is 4‘ was created using a chalkboard banner, vinyl decal letters, and a cardboard cutout ‘4‘ decorated with crepe paper:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Balloons

What kid’s party is complete without balloons? The morning of the party, I asked my husband to go find and buy Minnie Mouse balloons.

That man, he’s a rockstar – he returned 20 minutes later with this bunch of balloons from Party City to an appreciative wife and a delighted 4 year old:

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy birthday sunshine girl.

Minnie Mouse 4th Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com

 

 

Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake

Minnie Mouse Cake

When my daughter told me she wanted a Princess Sofia birthday cake, I thought…uh oh. That sounds like a stretch. 

We’ve had trouble finding a nut-free bakery, so I have been making birthday cakes in recent years. So far, they’ve turned out fine, but Sophia is far beyond my limited skill set.

I was grateful a week later when she decided she wanted Minnie Mouse instead.

Minnie Mouse? Phew, I actually think I can do that.

My talented best friend made a Minnie Mouse cake last year for her daughter’s first birthday. She sent me pictures and it was so pretty! It was her cake-making skill and encouragement that gave me confidence to make this cake for our daughter’s Ballerina third birthday party. With a little practice under my belt, a Minnie Mouse cake seemed reasonable to attempt.

The process is pretty straight forward. Bake, freeze, assemble, and decorate. I carefully took a ton of photos while making it only to have my trusty camera memory card meet its untimely and frustrating death…along with those photos. Ugh. Such a bummer!  But, I think you’ll be able to figure it out from the description below and I’m happy to answer any questions.

The birthday girl couldn’t decide between Funfetti or Chocolate cake, so I made a two-layer cake. One layer Funfetti, one chocolate. I am so grateful to Rose Bakes for her Crusting Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe {Great for Decorating}. It is quick, easy to work with and tastes delicious.

You guys, you need to make this Buttercream. It’s fantastic.

One box of each cake mix was divided between one 10″ pan (head) and two 6″ pans (ears).  After cooling, each baked cake was wrapped in cling wrap and frozen overnight. Freezing makes them easy to handle. Cutting a semi-circle from each 6″ cake so they fit snugly against the 10″ cake was easy. The bottom layer was Funfetti, the top Chocolate.

A generous layer of frosting was used to secure the ears, head, and layers together. For a little extra flavor, Santa Cruz Seedless Red Raspberry Fruit Spread was added between layers with the frosting. Who would have thought a little jar from the jelly section of the grocery store could taste so decadent?

So far, so good.

Then I started to decorate the cake and things got a little messy. Literally, frosting was getting everywhere. The cake board is a mess (see those greasy spots?). Next time it will be covered while decorating since I’m apparently incapable of not making a mess.

That is when I began to panic. It had been a while since I piped frosting and I was quite rusty.

I decided this was going to be the ugliest cake attempt that ever was.

At that point, I may have asked, er…demanded that my husband remove the children from this house. He may be a saint because he patiently and kindly obliged, asking no questions and reassuring me it was going to look great as he swept them out the door. True story – he’s awesome.

20 minutes later in a silent house, I stood looking at a finished cake feeling foolish for freaking out.

My husband was right, the cake did turn out fine and was delicious.

In the coming weeks I’ll post the Minnie Mouse party decorations but in the meantime…

sunshine girl 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Sunshine Girl.

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations

In October, our oldest turned 6. A sports fan fanatic at heart, it was not surprising he wanted a football-themed birthday party.

We were a little behind in planning his party, so we were grateful he picked a low-maintenance theme we could actually deliver.

Invitations

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
Two weeks before the desired party date I scrambled to get invitations out and decided the fastest way was to just do email invitations. We live in a young neighborhood, so we invited his friends mainly from our street and their families. Email invitations were created quickly using PicMonkey.

Water Break Beverage Station

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
The Water Break sign and footballs were made with construction paper and a white paint pen. Easy-peasy.

Football Themed Photo Birthday Banner

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
My favorite part of any birthday at our house is making a photo birthday banner. This includes one photo from each month of the year. Picking the photos and putting this together is a sentimental joy.

Entry Way Sign and Banner

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
Black poster board and that same white paint pen and a few more paper footballs were all it took to make the sign. This Chalkboard Pendant Garland was purchased at Hobby Lobby. It was a gift from my mom, who knows me well, and she joked, ‘just think of how much paper you’ll save’. Ahem, true story. She was right,I use it all the time.

Football Themed Silverware Holders

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
The silverware were placed in glass cups covered with construction paper designs – football, playbook, football field and referee. You can make these using your children’s art supplies of paper, scissors and glue sticks :).  Gold napkins were used as ‘Penalty Flags’.

 

Goal Posts and Game

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
We played a little game of Pin the Football on the Uprights. Blindfold, and use painters tape to ‘pin’ paper footballs on the wall. The winner is right in the center. We had a few right on the line, so we put those footballs in a bowl and drew the name that won the prize (a mini Nerf football). 

Balloons, Additional Decorations

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
How can you have a birthday party without balloons? Our son’s favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings so these football balloons were a hit. For additional decorations, we printed the words, GO Vikings!, SKOL!, First Down! and Touchdown! on plain cardstock. Then we taped them over our existing framed pictures using painters tape. And finally, the table was covered with this plastic football field tablecloth from Party City.

Voila!

Most of the decorations were put up while our son was at school. When he came home, he was pretty excited (which is why the photo is blurry – he was literally jumping up and down).

Kids Football Themed Birthday Party Decorations | thisgratefulmama.com
Happy Birthday little man.

 

 

 

A Ballerina and Flamingo Bedroom

When getting ready to transition our daughter from a toddler bed to a big-girl bed, we asked her what she wanted in her room.

Unprompted, she confidently answered – Ballerinas and Flamingos.

Hmm. Interesting combination. That might be a tall order.

I’m not sure what I expected her response to be, but ballerinas and flamingos wasn’t it.

Not surprising since she loves to twirl, and stand on one leg. Ha. Plus, she wanted a ballerina birthday party and ballerina birthday cake.

I  was thrilled when I found these pictures of a gold-polka dot quilt with ballerina sheets from Pottery Barn Kids. She was equally thrilled. Unfortunately I soon found the quilt and accessories were no longer available. Then when I found out how much they had been selling for, I suffered sticker shock. The quilt and shams alone would have put us back around $250.

Yikes.

Wanting to give her what she wanted, but to also be a good steward of our money, I decided to see if we could do something similar for much less.

As for the flamingos, at first, I could only find these Martha Stewart sheets. But the price was still more than I wanted to spend for mostly white sheets for a potty training child.

Stumped, I went looking for alternatives and inspiration at Home Goods.

Bedding

Oh, Home Goods, you always come through for me.

There, in their tiny kid’s bedding aisle was a Nicole Miller gold-polka-dot bedding set for $40 (less than a quarter of the Pottery Barn quilt alone).

Next to the comforter? Lyla Rose Ballerina sheets for $15.

There I stood, surprised, pleased and cracking up by myself in the Home Goods aisle.

Yep, I’m totally that lady.

Then I made a mistake I won’t make again. Unsure of whether white bedding was a good idea for a 3-year-old, I decided to think about the comforter overnight and come back to buy it.

Bad idea.

It was gone the next day. Thankfully, after calling every Home Goods in the Twin Cities, I found the LAST one 30 minutes away.

After getting almost exactly what I was looking for at a fraction of the price, imagine my surprise when Target came out with their new Pillowfort bedding…including Flamingo sheets for $18 (bought for $15 using a 20% off coupon).

Perhaps a ballerina and flamingo bedroom isn’t such a tall order after all.

ART.jpg

I ordered some alphabet, ballerina and flamingo artwork on Etsy, and found a framed arrow picture on clearance at Gordmans. I  was able to display them in frames we already owned.

Ballerina and Flamingo Room

Inspired by this Pinterest Pin, I ordered gold polka-dot wall decals from Ebay for $16.Accessories.jpg

We kept the string of bird garland from her baby room, added one painted wooden “A” from Home Goods, and a scripture verse made by my mom (the one we wrote on the wood studs of her room while our house was being built).

Done. The bedding and decorations for just over $110. And we should be able to keep it the same for several years.

Now our little sunshine girl has a BIG girl room.

To say she is delighted by her room may be an understatement.

She did some ‘twirling’ to celebrate it.

 

A Ballerina Themed 3 Year Old Birthday – Ballerina Birthday Decorations

We celebrated our daughter’s third birthday last month. It was a lovely time with both sides of our family. By request, her party decorations were ballerina-themed.

The banner below was created using a chalkboard banner I received as a gift. You can find this similar product at JoAnn Fabrics. The ballerina image is a free downloadable vector designed by Freepik.com. The paper fan is one of a pack of 5 Paperchase Card Fans from Target used throughout the house for the party. They will later be used in our daughter’s ballerina and flamingo themed bedroom.

This cake was homemade and topped with cut-out ballerina figures using glittery scrapbook paper and wooden skewers. For the cake and frosting recipe, see here.

Happy Birthday Adelyn

A paper birthday photo banner was made using black and white photos printed on cardstock, hung using clothes pins and twine.

Birthday banner.jpg

The walls were decorated with 2 inch gold or pink glitter polka-dots and ballerinas made using the remaining glitter scrapbook paper from the cake toppers.

polka dots and ballerinas.jpg

Several strings of tissue paper tassel garland were made with 3 colors of tissue paper and twine. I followed this great tutorial from PIZZAZZERIE.com to make the garland. The tassels are easy to make. I love the look of them, but they were a little more ‘putzy’ than I prefer for quick decorations. I’m not sure I would be motivated enough to do it again.

Garland

A Ballerina 3 Year Old Birthday: A Homemade Ballerina Birthday Cake

Our 3 year old girl loves to twirl. I think she spends a quarter of her day spinning.

So, when she saw one video of a ballerina, she was hooked. This made it no surprise that she wanted a ballerina birthday cake.

Order one, right? Wrong. We have food allergies in our family and have trouble finding a bakery that guarantees a peanut and tree nut free cake.

This ballerina cake needed to be homemade – a tall order.

Baking is not my strong suit. But I’ve been making an effort to learn and develop the skill because baking safe birthday cakes will be my job for years to come.

After much research, I decided to make this chocolate cheesecake layer cake from Recipe Girl. The recipe was well written, easy to follow, and the cake is delicious!

The recipe was modified to fit our needs as follows:

  • Line the pan with Parchment Paper: After reading reviews of how to ensure each layer of cake releases easily from the pan, each pan was lined with parchment paper. Not only did it work well, it was less messy than greasing and flouring the pans.
    • To line with parchment paper, spray the pan with cooking spray (I used PAM), then trace and cut out a circle of parchment paper to place in the pan. Finally, spray the top of the paper with cooking spray.
  • Freeze all layers: Due to time constraints, all cake and cheesecake layers were baked 3 days in advance and frozen.
    • Once cool, wrap each layer individually in a double layer of plastic wrap followed by one layer of tin foil. Place them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to assemble the cake. NOTE: To avoid freezer burn, don’t freeze in a frost-free freezer (that heats and cools to remove frost). I used our chest freezer.
  • Use a decorator cream cheese frosting: Instead of the recipe’s chocolate sour cream frosting, this cake was decorated with this fantastic crusting cream cheese, butter cream frosting. With so much chocolate, the cake is plenty rich so skipping the chocolate was ok. Plus, decorating with sour cream frosting won’t work – the designs will just melt away. This cream cheese frosting is great for decorating a ‘girlie’ cake.
    • FYI – my hand mixer started smoking and died while mixing the frosting – it gets thick before it is thinned out! My off-brand mixer wasn’t a very good one. I sprung for the Kitchen Aid hand mixer because it happened to be 20% off and similar in price to the one I had before. I was amazed by how much better it worked. If you feel like YOU are doing all the work when mixing this stuff, I recommend borrowing or buying a better hand mixer (or use a stand mixer). Your arms will thank you and it will cut the prep time in half.
  • Assemble with frozen layers: Handling frozen layers is a cinch – they stack easily without crumbling, frosting is easy to spread, and the cake turns out super moist.
  • Decorate with rosettes: After watching this Cake Trend video, I was able to decorate the cake with rosettes. The process was really forgiving! When things don’t look perfect, you can cover the edges with the next rosette. And because this cake used only one color, it was easy to blend and fill any gaps after finishing.
    • This cake was assembled and decorated one day before the party and stored in an airtight container overnight in the fridge.

Rosette cake

Now, didn’t I say she asked for a ballerina cake? Well, drawing a ballerina with frosting is simply beyond my skill level, so I needed something to stick in the cake.

I bought two sheets of glittery cardstock from JoAnn Fabrics (one gold, one pink). Then I traced and cut out ballerina figures. Each figure was taped to a wood skewer and stuck in the cake the day of the party.

Approval.jpg

I think she liked it and it was delicious!

Trust me, if I can make it, so can you!