Making Birthdays Special

I love a good party, and birthdays in particular have always been special to me.  I am the youngest in my family, by a long shot.  Growing up, my older brothers and sisters used to make quite a fuss over me on my birthday.  I have a distinct memory of a particular birthday when my oldest brother and I put on a puppet show together for the rest of my family– and I loved every minute of it.

As I got older, I grew fond of Gene Kelly movies.  So each year we would rent Singin’ in the Rain or An American in Paris.  Mom would make my favorite dinner:  pork chops, applesauce, mashed potatoes, and corn, with angel food cake, whipped cream, and sliced strawberries for dessert.  We would sit in the living room, eat our dinner on TV trays, and watch the movie of my choice.  To be honest, it was less about the party, and more about the fact that all my older siblings, many of whom were out of the house already, would come home to celebrate together.  It made me feel so special.

And that’s what I think a birthday should do:  it should make a person feel special.

Our Social Butterfly is pretty special on her own.  And she happens to love, and I mean LOVE all things Sesame Street.

So I turned to Amanda Parker at my new go-to party planning source.

Amanda sells her fabulous themed party printables in her Etsy shop.

I cannot say enough about how wonderful this whole concept has been for me!  I used to visit our local party store and drop a bundle on all the pre-fab stuff they offer.  But the Martha inside of me always struggled with that approach.  I would take a hand-crafted, homemade look over a store-bought fabricated look any day of the week.  Amanda Parker makes that possible.  The above photo includes some die-cut Sesame Street characters that I purchased at my local crafts store.  But the large Cookie Monster is a printable from Amanda’s set.  I glued some floral foam to the bottom of the clear plastic paint can and surrounded the foam by shoving in that red crinkle paper from the gift wrapping aisle at the crafts store.  You know.  This stuff:

A little ribbon around the top of the can, and then arrange all the characters and the big cookie monster and voila!  It was two-sided, so no matter where you were seated at the table, it looked cute.  After the party was over, the kids had fun playing with it.

In the set, Amanda includes so many different decoration options.  Each page that you print out includes instructions and suggestions as to what to do with each element.  My personal favorite are the water bottle labels.  You print them on 8.5″ x 11″ label sheets and cut them out.  You adhere them to your water bottles after removing the original label.  So cute!  We’re not big on juice boxes or sugary drinks in our family, so I love making water bottles more fun!

I purchased this cupcake stand by Martha Stewart for Macy’s a couple of years ago and have used it quite a bit.

I find that making or buying cute cupcake toppers and baking cupcakes, allowing the children to decorate them after they’ve been thinly iced is the way to go.  I baked a couple of special cakes when Smarty Pants was a baby, and after my hand recovered from carpal tunnel, and the children recovered from neglect, I said, “Never again.”  Who knows, maybe someday I’ll go back to all that cake madness, but for now I’m enjoying the ease and wow factor of the cupcake tower.

The cupcake toppers are quite easy.  I used punches to cut out all the circles and then hot glued them to lollipop sticks from the candy/cake aisle at the crafts store.  Super easy, and definitely re-usable.

This particular kit included two “Happy Birthday” banners, one square, and one penant style.  Simply cut out the shapes — big brother and sister loved helping with this part — and then punch holes in the top corners and string up with ribbon.

For the favors, I purchased clear plastic bags and put a bag of goldfish crackers and a box of eight crayons in them, tied them with a red ribbon and attached this tag — again, included in the party kit:

We played ring around the rosy about fifteen times — Social Butterfly loved watching her 6’2″ daddy do the “all fall down” part.  We played with Model Magic, colored, and had a dance party to the “Sesame Street” channel on Pandora.  Pizza, cupcakes, and presents, and this little two year old birthday princess was tuckered out!  I just hope that she looks back on her birthdays like I do:  with fond memories of time spent with family and friends, just feeling special.

Happy Birthday, sweet, sweet daughter of ours.  We are so very grateful to God for the incredible gift of YOUR life.

 There has never been nor will there ever be another YOU.

Categories: Celebrating

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10 Responses to Making Birthdays Special

  1. Looks like a good party! I follow a couple of party blogs that have had some great ideas for kids’ parties and of course there is alway pinterest! I also like a more homespun party and I am ALL about the theme! I love birthday parties, especially planning them. I always tend to get pretty stressed out at one point or another but I still love it because I love to take that time to make each child feel extra special on their special day. I think its really important for each child to have that time in a largish family.

  2. […] I would like to say that I’m a die-hard “keep your Christmas decorations up until the Baptism of the Lord” type.  But we have been sick, sick, sick here at Casa del SMAM, and my beloved cleaning lady is coming tomorrow.  Today seems like a great day to put away the decorations and start fresh, clean, disinfected, and dust-free in the morning.  I will most definitely need to let go of how the decorations are stored, because really, this is the first day I’ve felt well enough to even get out of bed and help out with our morning routine since — I can’t remember.  I’m pregnant.  The point is, I’ve done my part and later today, the rest of the fam will have to do theirs while I sit on the couch, sip some chamomile tea with honey, and boss people around.  Then tomorrow, it’s a fresh start, a new day, and on to the next thing!  Our little Social Butterfly is turning three soon.  Stay tuned for all the details on her very small birthday celebration here at home.  If you care to see what we did last year, read this post. […]

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