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

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‘You Are My Sunshine’ Birthday – DIY ‘You Are My Sunshine’ Photo Birthday Banner

DIY You Are My Sunshine Photo Birthday Banner

Our daughter turned TWO on Sunday. She is fun, sweet and joyful – full of curiosity, and quirky humor. She is a delight to be around and we are blessed by her every single day.

Before she was born, I bought her a sign for her wall that said “You Are My Sunshine” for her bedroom wall. And it is so true! She brightens up every room, and every face in it.

Even though she’s only two, I wanted to honor her by creating a few decorations. If you know her, you’ll agree that ‘You Are My Sunshine’ is a fitting theme for the girl who truly is…our sunshine.

I am convinced that every child (and adult) needs is a birthday banner in their honor. It is a simple and inexpensive, yet personal touch for their special day. The couple’s shower banner, simple birthday banner and dinosaur party banners I’ve shared in the past have been created using patterned paper and stenciled letters.

But this time I wanted to do something a little different.

I am one of those annoying moms who is always chasing their children with the camera…so with the hundreds (no, let’s be honest, thousands) of photos from the past year, I had plenty to choose from to make a photo banner. I wanted to pick one picture for each month of the past year. This way we can display some of our favorite memories of Adelyn and highlight how she has changed as she grew from one to two.

The biggest problem? Picking just one photo per month!

Pictures were selected that captured various facial expressions, and could be printed in black and white. Photos were printed on white cardstock using our home printer (P.S. remember to select grayscale printing if you don’t want to drain every ink cartridge on your printer), then cut to 8×8″.

The words to “You Are My Sunshine” were typed out using PicMonkey online photo editor (easy to use and free) using ‘Animatic Small Caps’ font (one of my favorites). I took some liberty modifying the rhyme to suit a birthday theme (just imagine singing it to the melody of the song):

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy…when skies are gray. You’ll never know, child, how much we love you. Happy Birthday, to you, today.

You Are My Sunshine Banner Flags

The text was divided between 8 flags to hang between the photos and was also printed on white cardstock.

At first, the white flags and black and white photos were hung using plain clothes pins. Excited to see it, I was disappointed by it’s lackluster and drab appearance…not exactly what I was going for with a sunshine theme.

So, I decided to use some patterned scrapbook paper to brighten things up. First, I made patterned paper covered clothes pins. Since I was short on time, my helpful mom cut the flags and lined them wtih patterned paper. We used Scotch tape for a quick application. She then labeled each photo with the month the photo was taken in. The labels were printed on scrapbook paper and glued onto the photos using a glue stick.

Pretty soon, the once coloress banner looked bright and sunshine-worthy.

Labels

The labeled photos and modified flags were re-hung on twine using the newly decorated clothes pins. 3M Command hooks were used to suspend the banner across our kitchen.

There were two very excited children when they came down for breakfast on Wednesday. They noticed it immediately.

Giggles, and a half jumping, half running-in-place ‘happy dance‘ ensued (hysterical, and has been repeated several times now).

Many of our friends have said there is no need to decorate for a 2-year-old’s birthday. And, they’re right…she wouldn’t miss the decorations…But the joy on both our son’s and daughter’s faces was worth every effort and would have been missed by me.

Completed banner

Happy Birthday Adelyn Joy. We love you!

‘You Are My Sunshine’ Birthday – DIY Quick and Easy Patterned Paper Covered Clothes Pins

Sunshine Birthday DIY Quick and Easy Patterned Paper Covered Clothes Pins

I recently made a photo banner for our daughter’s ‘You Are My Sunshine’ birthday party. I wanted to hang the photos using clothes pins, but after hanging them up, I found the black and white photos and tan clothes pins looked a little drab.

I decided to use some of the bright-colored paper used on the banner to decorate the clothes pins.

This was a quick, inexpensive project using materials I already had on hand. The finished clothes pins provide a much-needed pop of color and can be used long after the banner is taken down. With a little focus, I made 21 of these in under 15 minutes.

Materials:

Steps:

  1. Trace a clothes pin onto the back of the patterned paper
  2. Measure theLxW and draw the pattern on the back of the patterned paper(s) for as many clothes pins as you have
    • I decorated only one side. If choosing to decorate both sides of the clothes pins, make twice as many strips
  3. Cut the strips and set aside
  4. Working quickly, use a paint brush to coat the flat side of a clothes pin withModgePodge, and apply the paper strip
    • Apply liberally since the wood is porous and will soak up some of the Modge Podge
    • Align the paper before applying, as it does not slide easily once applied
  5. Press firmly to
    1. If any glue squished out, simply wipe off with your finger or a rag
  6. Continue, coating and applying paper. I did 2 or 3 pins at a time without the Modge Podge drying
  7. Allow to dry 1 hour
  8. Use a paint brush to apply a thin layer ofModgePodge on the top of the paper (dries clear)
    • Use the brush to smooth out any wrinkles
  9. Allow to dry 1 hour

DIY Dinosaur Birthday Party Decorations

Dinosaurs.

The perfect theme for a 4-year-old boy’s first-ever birthday party with his little friends.

A gold mine of birthday decor ideas.

My ideas, combined with those gathered on my Birthday Boy Pinterest board, and I was soon a little overwhelmed!

Limited by both time and budget, I couldn’t do it all…so I picked four decorations I could make myself using common and inexpensive materials that, for the most part, I already had on hand. The party was a big hit with both kids and parents.

Today’s post is all about decorations you can make yourself, with materials you probably already have. Using simple materials like paper, tape, string, markers, stencils, and chalk, your house can be Dino-party ready!

Each of the following ideas were completed during nap time, and each took an hour or less. Here is a little tour of the decorations people saw as they arrived for the party. Best of all, when my son saw it all, he was just delighted. It made every effort completely worth it.

DIY Dinosaur Birthday Party Decor 

1. DIY Chalk Dinosaur Crossing Sign and Paper Footprints

DIY Chalk Dinosaur Crossing Sign and Paper Footprints

DIY Chalk Dinosaur Crossing Sign and Paper Footprints

  • We actually forgot to put these two decorations out before our party began – Whoops! I’m posting them anyway – since they were made in advance TO use!
  • Walking up to the house these construction paper dinosaur footprints would guide you to the front door and into the party
Dino Crossing Sign drawn with chalk

Dino Crossing Sign drawn with chalk

  • This Dino Crossing Chalk Sign was created on our Ikea Easel
    • A diamond with rounded corners was drawn, and a second border was traced
    • A dino-stencil was made by tracing a toy dinosaur onto paper and cutting it out
    • The stencil was placed in the center of the triangle and traced, then the rest of the inner diamond was filled in
    • Colored areas were blended with fingers to give a solid-looking finish
    • A diaper wipe and my pointer finger were used to remove chalk and ‘write’ black letters
      • After each stroke, a fresh piece of the wipe was used
      • Once the letters were dry, any smeary spots were ‘touched up’ with a wipe
      • Any letters that got too thick were colored in with fresh chalk
      • My kids smeared it right away – No problem! I just cleaned the smeary areas with a wipe and colored with chalk as necessary

2. “ROAR means Happy 4th Birthday in Dinosaur” Entryway Sign

Entryway "Roar means Happy Birthday in Dinosaur"

Entryway “Roar means Happy Birthday in Dinosaur”

  • When guests walked in the door, the paper footprints led them by this sign in our entryway. They placed gifts on the table below it
    • Inspiration for the wording of this sign was found here.
    • Pre-cut flags like these were bought on clearance at Target in the party section ($1.20 each for pack of 10 flags and string – I bought 1 blue, 1 green)
    • Lettering was done with these alphabet stencils that I already owned and a black sharpie
    • Flags were hung from 2 orange shoe strings I already had, and the white strings that came with the pre-cut flags
    • Banners were suspended from 3M command hooks to save the wall from pin holes
    • Additional lettering was created using one pack of vinyl wall alphabet decals from the dollar store ($1 for a pack containing 2 of each letter in the alphabet – I had to cut and ‘create’ one additional letter “N” from other letters to write these words on the wall)

3. Homemade Paper 2-Inch Circle Garland

Homemade 2-inch circle garland

Homemade 2-inch circle garland

  • Stung on a window and across two large walls, guests saw our 2-inch circle garland, made from bright construction paper
    • Using a 2 Inch Craft Lever Punch (Hobby Lobby – $6 on sale), holes were cut using several colors of construction paper (4 sheets at a time – different colors stacked in the order they’ll be strung)
    • Circles were strung using a needle and thread.
      • The needle was pushed up through the paper, then down and up again so they would lay FLAT on the string
      • Keep the thread attached to the spool until you’ve strung half of the punched holes
      • Then let out at least the same length from the spool and cut the thread
      • String the rest from the other side
    • Garland was suspended using 3m Command hooks
    • Three 8 to 10 foot long strings of garland took about 45 minutes total, which included punching them, stringing them and hanging them

4. “Happy 4th Birthday Aiden-a-saurus” Flag Banner

Happy Birthday Aiden-a-saurus Banner

Happy 4th Birthday Aiden-a-saurus Banner

  • This banner was the focal point of the main party area of our home
    • This banner was made using patterned 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper I already had
      • 12″x12″ sheets were cut in half. This sign used 14 pages to create 28 flags
      • A triangle was cut from bottom to create the flag shape; I used the first as the template for the rest
    • Tip: Buy scrapbook paper at a craft store when on sale or use standard solid color construction paper. Hobby Lobby runs a 50% off scrapbook supplies often. Something like this will work great; and with assorted patterns and 80 pages, you could make A BUNCH of banners for $7.
    • Letters were made on white medium weight art paper using these alphabet stencils that I already owned and a black sharpie
    • The flags were hung on a string; fold 1 inch over the string and secure with tape to the back of the flag
    • The banner was suspended on 3M command hooks over the entryway between our kitchen to dining room

Check out the dinosaur birthday party food and decorations in these posts:

Dinosaur Birthday Party Brunch & Dessert that will Please Both Kids and Parents

DIY Dinosaur Tails, Dinosaur Spike Party Hats and Favors

Joyful Hosting: Letting Someone Host At Your House Is A Cinch

Have you ever ‘hosted’ a party where all you had to do was provide your space?

If not, here’s why I highly recommend it, especially if you have small children:

  • who doesn’t like a party?
  • you lighten the load of the ‘host’ by providing a clean space
  • since you don’t have to do all the food, it makes your preparation a cinch
  • we believe that biblical stewardship of our home involves sharing what it with others
  • if you have small children:
    • they can nap, and play with their own things
    • you don’t have to pack a diaper bag, snacks, toys, and basically MOVE into someone else’s space for a few hours
    • you don’t have to worry about being somewhere on-time or deal with car-ride drama

One of the reasons we purchased our new home was the open floor plan; we wanted a space where people could gather, and we wouldn’t feel claustrophobic. The layout of this house is great for entertaining.

our house

That in mind, when my sister asked if we could celebrate my niece’s first birthday with family at our house, I was happy to offer the use of our home, even before she told me her plans.

Sharing your space is SO VERY EASY, especially when it is with people who are and laid-back (and who do most of the work). The planning is minimal.

All you really need to know is:

  • date and time
  • how you can help
  • what food they are bringing so you can plan ahead with serving dishes or possibly pre-heat an oven for them
  • how many people are coming (so you have adequate seating, etc.)
  • what you can do to help make the day special

We set a time and date that worked well for both of us. My sister’s family brought in all the food, the cake, and arranged for others bring side dishes. They even brought the plates, napkins and cups so I wasn’t left with a bunch of dishes to wash.

I offered to make a salad and provide the beverages and asked if it was OK to put up some simple decorations.

Allowing someone to host at your home leaves minimal work for you:

  • clean the house (which has to be done at some point anyway)
  • provide serving spoons and dishes
  • provide your kitchen to prep food, and help warm up food as needed
  • provide adequate seating (in our case, set up one extra table and some folding chairs)
  • decorations (if desired)
  • be willing to take direction from them on how you can HELP without taking over

For decorations, I just made a simple birthday banner (because ALL birthday girls need a banner in their honor) from scrapbook paper and twine, and hung a few paper lanterns in the windows.

Happy Birthday Banner

I was amazed with how easy my sister’s family made hosting here look.

If you are thinking of a food idea so you can host somewhere else, a taco bar is a great idea; easy to prepare, inexpensive, easily portable, and needs little prep to do on-site.

The Taco Bar Included:

  • ground beef, already cooked, seasoned and ready to heat on the stove
  • shredded lettuce
  • chopped tomato
  • diced onion
  • shredded cheese
  • chips and salsa
  • taco sauce
  • sour cream
  • corn and flour tortillas

Others brought:

  • bean side dish
  • simple mexican salad
  • watermelon

From the time they brought everything into the house, it took 15 minutes to prep to serve the meal.

Not only did they bring all the food, but they brought the cake.

And seriously… just LOOK. At. This. Cake!

The Cake

It was made by the Buttercream Bakery in St. Paul, MN.

It had edible glitter, and the best buttercream frosting you’ve ever had.

It was absolutely as delicious as it was stunning!

 

 

 

 

After watching my niece smash her cake to bits, clapping frosting all over her face, and watching my children ‘HELP’ her open her gifts (aka…in her face and doing it for her…her parents are very gracious), all that we were left with to clean-up were a few serving dishes, and some garbage bags to take to the garage.

(Oh, and some crumbs and stray blobs of frosting, which somehow only landed on the floor. My niece has impeccable aim).

So if someone asks you to share your home so they can host a party, say YES! By offering your home, you save the host from having to clean theirs, AND you get to enjoy the party at your house, where you can put your kids down for a nap or distract with their own toys when they get bored.

 

Happy hosting!

 

 

A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower

A Laid-Back Open House Couples Shower | www.thisgratefulmama.com

Together with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, I was privileged to host a couples wedding shower over Easter weekend.  The shower was for my niece, Brittni, and her fiancé, Justin – such a fun couple! It was our pleasure to celebrate with them as they prepare for their big day!

Justin had never met most of Brittni’s MN family and friends, and they flew in from the east coast for the shower. We wanted to ensure they had a chance to really talk to people who made the effort to come.  Also, since it was a holiday weekend, we decided to have an open-house shower so people had the freedom to come and go as their schedules allowed. The loose structure and flow of people in and out at different times allowed the couple to talk to everyone who came.

Invitations

Invitations for the shower were created using a free online wedding invitation template found on www.WeddingChicks.com.  All text in the template can be changed, so even though it was designed for a wedding, I was able to modify it for a shower. The invitations were printed on card-stock and mailed along with directions and an index card for guests to bring a favorite recipe to the shower.

A Laid-Back Open House Couples Shower | www.thisgratefulmama.com

Relationship timeline

Because some of the guests didn’t know a lot about the couple, we created a relationship timeline to help guests learn more.  Using white crayon, the timeline was written on black construction paper to create a chalkboard look and bordered by patterned scrapbook paper. The timeline included significant relationship events: how they met, first date, first “I love you, the proposal and wedding details. The timeline was posted on the wall throughout the main room where everyone gathered. As people mingled and ate, they read and learned more about the couple. A few of them are shown below.

Relationship Timeline - FIRST DATE | www.thisgratefulmama.com Relationship Timeline - First I LOVE YOU | www.thisgratefulmama.com Relationship Timeline - THE WEDDING | www.thisgratefulmama.com

What they love about each other

Lists of the things Brittni and Justin love about each other were displayed on the chalkboard sides of two IKEA easels.  They were set up near the entryway to draw people into the house as they arrived. How neat is it that they both listed that they love how the other loves the Lord?

What She Loves About Him | www.thisgratefulmama.com  What He Loves About Her | www.thisgratefulmama.com

Open-house friendly food

Food for the open house was intended to be easy for people to serve themselves, and for us as hosts to keep cold and fresh. We served fresh fruit, chicken salad with croissants, chips with salsa, spinach dip and guacamole, veggies and dip, deviled eggs, popcorn and an assortment of desserts. To keep things simple, we served ice water, unsweetened iced tea with fresh lemons and sugar cubes, lemonade, coffee, and sparkling water.

A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower - Beverages | www.thisgratefulmama.com A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower - Food | www.thisgratefulmama.com  A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower - Desserts | www.thisgratefulmama.com

Other special touches 

In the invitation, guests were asked to bring a favorite recipe. They dropped them off by the gift table. There were some ‘secret’ family recipes in the bunch so the couple got some special recipes. In the main room, there was a place for guests to leave a note of encouragement or advice for the couple to read later. A banner was hung across with their names made from the same patterned scrapbook paper as the relationship timeline. We also framed their Save the Date and Wedding Invitations to display them for guests.

A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower - Gift Table | www.thisgratefulmama.com A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower - Notes of Encouragement | www.thisgratefulmama.com

A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower - Banner | www.thisgratefulmama.com

Since the couple was from out of town, most gifts were small in size, making it easy for them to bring everything home on the plane. Some gave gift cards and money, and some wrapped a photo or description of larger gifts purchased from their gift registry and mailed.

Overall the shower was a success!

We had a great turn out, despite the holiday weekend. This couple is well-loved and people did not want to miss the chance to see them! The atmosphere was laid back and relaxing. Many guests stayed a most of time and were able to spend some quality time with the couple.

Hosting this shower was fun, and was such a blessing to me. Since we don’t live near the couple it was special to get the chance to celebrate before the big day. We had the privilege to finally meet Justin, see Brittni, and watch the respectful, joyful and loving way they interact.  The wedding will be in Maine this June so our family will taking a short vacation to attend. We are also excited that our son Aiden will be the ring bearer (aka. polar bear, if you ask him) in the wedding, so fun!

Congratulations, Brittni and Justin!

We cannot wait to celebrate with you on your wedding day this June.

 

Also check out A Couples Wedding Shower for more ideas.