A Frozen Party

Frozen Party Fun - Title

My niece, like most four-year-old girls lately, is deeply obsessed with the film “Frozen”. I know there’s an awful lot of hype surrounding this movie, and most of you feel a little (if not a LOT) fed up with the song “Let it Go”. . . but what four-year-old gets the concept of too-much-media-coverage? Not my niece, that’s for sure. So, when she had her Frozen Birthday Party, it was my job, as a lovingly obsessed aunt, to make sure the details were as wonderful as I could help make them.

Question 1: What to Wear?

The first question regarding any theme party is one of fashion, am I right? SO, with trepidation and a healthy hatred for mass-produced , overpriced, and poor-quality products, I set about sewing/making a dress fit for a (four-year-old) queen.

Frozen Dress - Details

The fabric is all courtesy of Joann Fabrics, and I used a soft t-shirt as the basis for the bodice , so that no itchy seams would bother my sensory-sensitive niece (nothing was sadder than the day she got a beautiful new Cinderella dress and had to take it off because “it hurts real bad”). I made sure the cape was detachable, and (since I was sewing it without my little model present) we used a fancy snowflake pin (thrift store find!) to bustle up the back.

Dress - Details - modeled by Bizz

It was by no means a work of art in couture, but it did the trick. Izzy was delighted. When I walked in and hung it in the front hall, she saw it and immediately exclaimed “MY DRESS!!!” with such joy, that it was worth any&all work involved. Izzy sees the dress

With a little assistance from her Mommy, her hair was tucked into an Elsa-appropriate braid, and the party could start, since the most beautiful princess of all time felt prepped and ready!Bizz's Dress - frozen party

Seriously, though? One more picture, because never has there been a mini-Elsa this adorable. Queen of her party - Bizz

Question 2: What to Eat?

A birthday is not a birthday without a cake. And D’Amici’s bakery knows how to make a phenomenal cake!

frozen cake

With the cake as a central element, I whipped up some colorfully-appropriate cake pops for those children who prefer all of their food on a stick (ahem: my nephew being one of them!).cake pops - frozen party

It was also deemed important to include some more-substantial/less-sweet snacks to balance out all that sugar. food - the spread

Question 3: What to do?

Having a movie-themed party kind of sets the mood for entertainment during the party right? I mean, it’s a given that you will watch the movie at some point. SO, what better idea than to provide cutely-themed popcorn? movie time - frozen entertainment After movie-watching either ends or loses it’s luster with 3-5 yr. old attention spans, its also nice to have some other potential entertainments. I drew/cut out a large Olaf-shaped snowman for a game of Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Snowman. no nose olaf Olaf also made for a nice decorative touch, chilling on the wall (yes, pun intended). It also turns out that my adorable niece loved the decor far more than the game, because she took one look at the wall, gasped, turned to me, and asked very seriously: “I . . . I marry him?” warm hugs - can I marry him While she is a bit young to get married, in my humble opinion, Olaf definitely fulfilled his quota on “warm hugs” for the day.  One other small activity we chose to include was a mini salon (staffed by yours truly) where all of my frozen-colored nail-polish could be displayed for the kiddos selection and subsequent nail-painting. This was fun, and the many small individuals in attendance loved it!nails by elsa

Question #4: What little treats will  enhance the day?

Well, there are certainly many of these ideas floating around to choose from.

It’s a great chance to check out printables available online (many for free!) that can add to the cute-factor. The Melted Snowman labels for water bottles was a nice touch, and as you can see, there are small olaf-stickers on the chocolate kisses! It’s also a great chance to tap into any stores of crystal or milk glass flatware and princess-costumery you have lying around.

Food Decor - setup and cuteness

Another fun detail that my sister pulled off beautifully was the sparkly gift-bags for kiddos who attended the party. These were full of everything from sweet treats to coloring books to tiaras to the little blue wands that you can see peeking out from the tops of the perfectly-chosen glittery gift bags!favors - frozen party

 

And that, friends, is all-questions-answered how we celebrated my niece’s 4th birthday . . .

Frozen Style!

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The Bridal Olympics

Everybody’s talking about the Olympics, and for good reason. They are the pinnacle of athletic excellence and the gold (medal) standard for achievement in the world of sports. So, I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised when my future sister-in-law’s maid of honor told me that the chosen theme for the impending Bridal Shower was

“The Bridal Olympics”


When I arrived home two days before my future relative’s bridal extravaganza, I discovered I was unexpectedly in charge of a few elements of the lovely (and impending) bridal shower.

The whirlwind preparations commenced with some flag-making!

Just call me a modern-day Betsy Ross.

Once I got over the fact that I had to make 10 flags out of paper, and that those flags were (tragically) not of the three-color variety, this was actually kind of fun. We made each table a different country that had some meaning or significance for the bride, and her maid of honor explained the significance as a way of tying the theme to our lovely bride-to-be…

Second Job? Thematic food.

With 54 RSVP-ed as coming, I realized we were going to need some more food at this shin-dig. My amazing mother whipped up some Spanakopita (Kind of reminiscent of greek lasagna, if you don’t know it! Think lots of filo dough, spinach and cheese. . . ), which was so good that I didn’t even get a picture of it before it was wolfed down! I will ask her to share her recipe someday, I’m sure. I also threw together a couscous salad with feta, onion, tomatoes, and a little olive oil, just to keep the filling-foods accounted for. My friend John put together this gorgeous salad while I was doing some dessert finishings. The Mostly-Greek food theme was freaking me out a little because a lot of people don’t love those strong flavors, SOOOO, we figured that Greek Salad is pretty tasty and straightforward, and we wound up using this great online recipe for greek dressing which was a nice touch.

I also bulk-bought Tortilla and Pita chips, and we put together some Olympic Ring Dips!

Here’s how we did it:

Blue: Sour Cream, Chives, a few drops of blue food coloring, and a pinch of onion or garlic powder (optional)

Black: (recipe found online) Black beans, red onion, tomato, cilantro, cumin, a little salt

Red: My Mom’s homemade salsa, which is just so good!

Yellow: Cheddar cheese and Beer . . . You just food process shredded cheddar and throw some beer (we just use whatever’s handy) in the mix until it’s at a good spreading consistency. . . It’s shocking how good this is, especially considering it’s so simple!

Green: Good old-fashioned guacamole (Avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, etc.)

If I had to do it over again, I think I would triple the amount of Guacamole, because that was the first one gone, and so tasty! But I would still make all the same dips. People just raved, and they were really quite easy.

Friends brought 5 different kinds of homemade hummus (and some baba ghanoush, I think) , cut veggies and Greek Dolmades (Grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs). The hummus was sensational, although I’m glad we had pita chips to go with it, and not just the veggies, they had some strong flavors, and the pita chips gave them a little balance, in addition to making the snacky-food a little heartier for our hungrier guests!

Our Olympic Torch Cupcakes were not too terribly tricky, although I wish I’d made the frosting a little more in advance! We made about 100 of these by cooking cake batter in store-bought ice cream cones. Once the chocolate cake was cooled, I set to work piping swirls of yellow frosting onto the top, which we then sprinkled with some red sprinkles to try to make them more “fire-like”. The piping took a little time, but these were very tasty, so worth the effort. I would probably do the piping on-site next time, since some of our icing got a little smushed in transit.

My Dad, being the wonderful, kind, giving, inventive genius that he is, drilled large holes into a box, which we then covered with tinfoil, so that these lovely cupcakes could stay upright as long as they did. (Although, I’m sure you notice the ones in front that were squished through a tragic punch-bowl maneuvering incident!)

The Gold-Medal Awards were actually quite simple, and probably more suited to the younger guests, but who can say no to blonde oreos (from Wegmans, no less) and fruit roll-ups? These were really tasty, and looked pretty cute, too!

Pool-Cake was fun to decorate! The idea is one that I saw on Pinterest, and did my best to copy from the creative blogger who made it, with the inadvertent variations that always happen when trying to emulate someone else’s creativity without their resources! You can put this decoration onto any cake that you bake in a square pan, but I used a 9″x13″ one. I used Cool whip, died blue, for the water, smarties (because we couldn’t find candy necklaces) for the lane-seperators, white chocolate for the diving boards, m&ms for the swimp caps, and little pretzel bits for arms and legs. The last touch was just adding the rescue buoys (using peach gummies with red frosting) and the flags, which you can’t see in this picture.  

The final sweet treat I added to the shower menu was chocolate covered pretzels! I love chocolate covered pretzels, and, to be honest, I think most people agree with me. So, since purchasing chocolate wafers of the right color was an option, it made sense to dip pretzels into them and create yet another Olympic Ring themed dessert. 

Job #3? Collecting Sage Council for the Bride-To-Be

The challenge? Make it look cute, and somehow connect to this Olympian theme.

The Solution? Making a cute little flag garland!

Guests each picked a triangle of colored paper and wrote their advice onto it. Then, while the games were afoot, an amazingly helpful friend attached the triangles to some grosgrain ribbon hanging from the windows for other guests (and the bride) to admire until the Bride took it home with her! I did my best to set it up in as user-friendly a way as possible:

Job #4: It was time for some Balloons!

We didn’t want anyone to miss the entrance, so these little floaters worked as eye-catchers, both on the road-side and the entrance to the building!

A Job for Somebody Else:

Favors!

My Mom bagged chocolate coins with a little note and some patriotic ribbon to send everyone home with a sweet little reminder of the wedding festivities to come!

A Job for Somebody Else:

Bridal Attire!

The Maid of Honor swathed her sister in a toga and an artsy sister-of-the-groom made the lovely grape-leaf wreath to go around the Bride’s head. My only contribution was the gauzy white ribbon hanging in streamers from the “laurel wreath”. . . because sometimes things just can’t be too bridal!

 

So, there you have it.

By no means perfection, but definitely a much feted, uniquely decorated, and immensely enjoyed Bridal Olympics!

Any other Olympic sized adventures out there? Unlikely theme-parties?

A Cake Worth 20,000 Leagues

Once upon a time, I bought an Octopus-Shaped Cake Pan

Why, you might ask? Well, because I was having a Sea Creature/Luau Theme-Party.

Because, well, why not?

So, one bright sunshiny day, I baked a cake that looked very little like an Octopus at first.

Then, using a whole slew of blue dye, I worked myself up some blue-ish frosting and some white frosting. I covered the octopus with blue-ish frosting, then made a little bed of white frosting around the cake.

Next, I sorted out blue and green mini m&ms to make the little tentacle suckers. I eyeballed the m&m placement to result in the best possible tentacles! I mostly just ate the rest, except for saving two brown ones for the octopus eyes.

By the time I was done making the tentacles beauteous, it was pretty easy to put the little white blobs of eye-ball frosting on the cake and then stick the brown m&ms into the right spot to complete the effect! I added googly-eyes to my octopi, of course.

After that, it was all just a matter of creating a swimmingly sugary ocean environment. I used a boatload of  sparkly blue sprinkles to form the depths of the big blue, then decorated it using swedish fish, gummy sharks, and some ocean-themed cake decorative sugary shapes (all from my your average local grocery store).

Finally, I stepped back and surveyed my handiwork…

I thought it looked pretty good, and my guests seemed to agree with me! I took a picture before we devoured it so I might have proof-positive that even a person of few cake-decorating talents can make a snazzy looking Octopus cake, given the right tools!

If I do this Ocean theme again, here are some other fun ideas I have stumbled onto. . .

Breaking Dawn: Party Like A Cullen

Mock me. Judge me. It won’t change a thing.

About three things I am absolutely positive. First, perhaps the Twilight Saga Series should not be taken too seriously as they are about teenagers and Vampires. Second, there is a part of me, and I don’t know how dominate that part might be, that is capable of seeing the ridiculousness inherent in obsession with a Young Adult Vampire Series. And third (perhaps most importantly), I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series.

Some might submit, “If you’re smart, you’ll stay away from this series.”

Well, Okay, let’s say (for argument’s sake) that I’m not smart.

So, since I have an abiding love for this series, it logically follows that my affinity for theme parties might take a little turn for the immortal, no?

Enter my sister’s thirtieth birthday, which from this point forward we will call the THIRSTY THIRTY party. While this might not have been the first Twilight-themed party I’ve ever thrown, it took things to a whole new level. As we near the Breaking Dawn (part 1) arrival to cinemas, I am also approaching the next installment of fantastical theme parties, which I plan with Alice-like enthusiasm and borderline-nauseating glee whenever the occasion presents itself. Now, it’s been a while since the last few parties, so this week I’m delving into my past parties to excavate recyclable ideas before innovating new ones. (It’s my version of going green.)  I believe I’ve boiled my Twilight party-planning-process down to some basic procedure steps.

Now, I must clarify. Even though I loved the books exponentially more than the movies and, I have to admit I have a lingering dislike of Kristin Stewart’s emotionless expressions, my parties are based on a melange of movie and book.

Step 1: Scatter relevant quotes, pictures and words strategically about the venue. 


Step 2: Use what you have lying around the house.

Part of the reason why so many people love the Twilight series is because of the character development. We love that which we can (even marginally) identify with. A positive side effect of this identification-factor is that those of us who have done some book obsessing tend to see references in everyday life. THUS, party decor becomes simpler the more creative (cough, obsessed, cough) you are! Case in point:  

Forks is both a town and an object. Anytime you can take something commonplace and transform it into a subtle or punny book reference, you’ve done your job correctly!

Since the Volturi have a tendency to show up at every party in the books, why not bring them strategically into our theme party. Check out this re-purposed graduation gown and a cardboard Marilyn Monroe cutout from college!

In lieu of a grand piano . . . we used the baby grand!

The bathroom door, with just a few words, can be surprisingly festive!

Simple book references = anything with apples.

Step 3: Make as many ridiculous references to the book as possible. 

Example #1 = The kitchen Island takes on a whole new dimension as ESME’s Island, popular vampire-human honeymoon destination. Rife with Feathers and an abundance of eggs, it’s put together to help you reminisce about the unique romantic getaway from book number 4!

Example #2: Re-creating that memorable moment from Eclipse when Jacob was dumb and Edward made a somewhat humorous veiled-hatred comment!

Example #3: Jasper Whitlock was in the army, a confederate soldier to be exact. So what better way to use that gigantic portrait of Abe Lincoln that hangs in the living-room?

Step #4: Plan a KILLER menu!

The nostalgia-food: Edward and Bella’s First Date

For some reason, there’s always one of these at the big parties. Might as well take a page from Rosalie’s book and be prepared!

People, for those unprincipled bloodsucking monstrous vampires to eat.

Animal Crackers, for those ethical Cullens.

Serving up “The Cold Ones” is never a bad call.

I use as much red and black as possible, using the book illustrations as a springboard for decor!

Brie Cheese gets CHANGED, developing a new temperature and a much harder skin. . . but lives a VERY short second life, because this is DELECTABLE! (Thus, re-enacting the short second life of Brie/Bree Tanner)

Film references enable us to eat Twizzlers. Which are always a good choice!

There you have it.

I am going to need to amp it up for this next party, so I’m hoping for an outpouring of ideas online. . . It’s time for some research and innovation! There will likely be a Wedding Entryway and a birthing room. With blood bags. And an obstetrics nurse. Who knows what else might happen? Pinned ImageI mean, vampire-human hybrids are the limit, right?