November 28, 2014

Book Baby Shower

Theme:  Books

A big celebration was in order for a very special mommy-to-be that I work with.  The mommy-to-be is one of the most considerate people I know, and she has served as a mother/aunt figure in our department at work.  We were all so thrilled to find out she was expecting a baby girl, and we knew she would be an amazing mommy!  We wanted a very special shower to honor both her and her baby. 

I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but I am lucky to work with a lot of amazing women who are both career and family focused.  Somehow, they all have a little Martha Stewart in them, and it is so much fun to plan a party with them.  We were all excited when one of the very talented hostesses picked the perfect theme for the mommy-to-be:  a book shower.  The mommmy-to-be loves to read, and we knew she would appreciate having an instant library for her baby to be.    


One of the hostesses took the lead and purchased amazing children books for the centerpieces.  She wrapped them in cellophane and tied each bundle with pretty jewel toned ribbons.  We then stacked the books on top of cake platters to give them some more height.  We also placed some of them between bookends.  I then made little tiny book covers and decorated the utensil caddy with them.



Another hostesses was very generous and covered all of the catering.  She spared no expense and the food was a huge hit!  The party was during the early evening so we did a bunch of room temperature hour d'oeuvres, salads, and pastas that could fill everyone up as an early dinner.


We decided to do activities instead of games.  

We had bib decorating supplies.  We placed the bibs on clipboards so the guests could decorate them on their laps wherever they were sitting.  I have been to a lot of parties where you decorate onsies and although it provides an activity for guests, I hear that the onsies are not used often (or they are used as undershirts).  I thought bibs were a little more practical.  You can always use an extra bib, and it doesn't have to be fashionable.  It ends up covered in food in a matter of seconds.

We also had a "sign in book" where guests could leave wishes for the baby.  We glued the invitation to the shower (which was a library card) into the inside pocket of the book.

Finally, on the invitation, guests were asked to list their favorite children's books so that the mommy-to-be had lots of good recommendations.  We had a place to collect the cards, and then we gave them to the mommy-to-be.

A Very Special Gift for the Mommy-to-Be

The mommy-to-be always goes above and beyond for everyone in our department.  We really wanted to create a heartfelt gift from all of the hostesses to show her how much we appreciate her and how thrilled we were for her.  We decided to create an "emotion" book like this one for the baby, except instead of pictures of other babies, we would use pictures of our colleagues depicting the different emotions.  I printed out a list of emotions for ideas, and then I took pictures of each of our colleagues acting out a different emotion.  Some of the children of our colleagues also participated.  I photographed each colleague in front of one of three different wallpaper backdrops (I literally just taped wallpaper to a wall in my office and had them stand in front of the paper.  I took all shots from about the same distance so there was consistency when you flipped through the pages).   I then assembled the book using Shutterfly.  The book was hysterical!  Everyone got so into it.  We also figured it was win, win:  baby gets to learn emotions and all of our faces at the same time.  It was very well received, and I highly recommend this idea.  

I really wish I could post a copy of the book to share with you, but I want to respect everyone's privacy.  Instead, here is a list of the emotions we used:  happy, scared, disappointed, silly, elated, mad, sleepy, guilty, bored, suspicious, joyful, brave, hopeful, love, annoyed, calm, stunned, shocked, restful, content, ambivalent, upset, exhilarated, irritated, eager, helpless, enthusiastic, mischievous, surprised, outraged, delighted, grumpy, and optimistic. 

On the back cover we printed a special message thanking the mommy-to-be for always listening to our emotions and congratulating her on her baby.

J's Paw Patrol Birthday Paw-ty

Theme:  Paw Patrol

My son had his heart set on a shark party.  I had the whole thing planned in my head (and was excited to make shark fin centerpieces).  Then, just before I was about to start shopping for the party, a new show came along, and my son informed me that he had to have a "Paw Patrol" paw-ty.

The Decorations

We had the party at a play gym for kids, so I knew I would only have 15 minutes to set up the party, so I had to keep it as simple as possible.  I already had blue and red tablecloths (which I bought for my son's 2nd birthday party for the same price as a rental, and I've used them countless times since!).

I wanted to get some Paw Patrol characters to spread around the tables, but they did not sell any Paw Patrol merchandise at the time of my son's party because the show just came out.  Instead, I purchased dog food bowls in the colors of the party.  I found a great deal from the dollar store website.  I then printed out the Paw Patrol logo on high quality photo paper, and then cut them out and taped them onto the bowls.  I filled each of the bowls with a snack and used that as the centerpieces for the tables.  I also used them on the food table as bowls.

I really struggled with a way to add the actual Paw Patrol characters to the party.  Then, I found these amazing printables here on the Paw Patrol website.  There were so many fun designs to pick from.  I ended up printing the shield for each of the Paw Patrol characters, and I put a shield on each of the food labels.  I would have love to add some stuffed animals of the characters (that could also serve as souvenirs from the party for my son), but they weren't selling any yet.

The Food

I ordered pizzas for the kids because they would be easy to serve.  But I wanted good food for the adults, so I also got a variety of salads and breadsticks too.  I also made sure to have plenty of water, soda, juice, and milk.

I brought back the tiles I got for food signs (that I used for my daughter's 2nd birthday and my son's 3rd birthday).  I was worried a dried erase marker would rub off in transit (since I had to deliver all the decorations), and I knew I didn't have time to write everything when I got there.  I decided to print out the names of each dish, and I taped the printed paper to the tiles.  For the sauces and items in the dog bowls, I typed in the name of each item on the Paw Patrol sign.

The Entertainment

My son loves dogs!  He gets so excited every time we walk by a dog.  I found a place that brings puppies to parties.  They were amazing!  The puppies were so friendly and sweet.  It was a huge hit!  Everyone loved playing with all of the puppies!

My son also likes to pretend to be a puppy, so I made dog ears for the kids to wear.  I used these great templates from Martha Stewart.  I made ears to match each character:  For Marshall and Sky I used the Dalmatian template. For Chase and Rocky I used the Doberman template.  The ears were easy to make, but it helped that I had amazing nieces who came over and helped me make them all.  The kids loved running around and playing in their dog ears!  We still play with the extra ones left from the party.

Finally, for the kids who prefer to do arts and crafts, I had a station where the kids could make collars out of fruitloops.  It was a good idea in theory, but the kids spent most of the time playing and running around and enjoying the puppies that not a lot of kids made collars.  This would have been a better activity for a party at my home.

The Favors

I am not a huge fan of favors for a variety of reasons.  I really do not want to send my guests home with junk, but I can't justify spending a large part of my budget on favors either.  I always try to think of a favor that either extends the party or reminds the guest of the party.  My favorite favor is a CD of my son's favorite songs.  I made a CD for his 2nd birthday and so many of my friends told me how much they liked having good music, that I made another one for his 3rd birthday.  I also got great compliments on that CD, so I decided to do it again.  It was a huge hit.  People still tell me how much they enjoy listening to the CD.  At the party we played all the same music (together with the music from the previous CDs), so I think of it as an extension of the party - and a way to help create more good memories for our guests.  I love the idea that our friends and family are enjoying their drives listening to the music from the party.  CDs as party favors are starting to help me understand that favors can be a great thing!