4th Birthday Party :: Lifeguard Theme

The party gods shined upon us once again! In the coastal parts of SoCal, June is kind of the worst month of the year. True story. (Ever heard of June Gloom? Well, it’s tooooooootally real!) Anyway, we somehow picked the ONE day out of the week that was semi-sunny and warm for this beach party. What luck! The party was honestly sandwiched between two of the grayest (even rainy!) days we’ve had. So thankful for that!If you read the last post with the invitations, you’ll remember that my goal for this party was to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid! I think my math teacher used to tell us that.) And I think we kiiiiiiiiiinda did. I had a bunch of other wacky ideas swirling about in this noggin that I nixed in favor of simplicity… but I think the party was a success even without the mega bells & whistles. (Well… we had whistles. So without the mega bells.) In fact, I think it might have been better without them. Personal growth here, I’m telling you! I’m kind of laughing when I tell you that “I” put this party together because that’s TOTALLY not true! This shindig would not have remotely taken place without my amazing dad who took EVERYTHING over train tracks and rocks down to the beach (this means 5 folding tables, tons of water bottles, juice boxes, food, decorations, etc…), my mom who made 75 cupcakes & insanely adorable cookies, my husband who was a pack animal himself, and my fabulous parents-in-law and aunt & uncle who along with the aforementioned group of peeps took everything back up the rock hill, over the train tracks and into the cars after the party just so that my ‘vision’ would be achieved. And what, you ask, was I doing? Sitting in a beach chair like a bratty beach queen pulling the 8+ month pregnancy card. What a total lame-o! But THANK YOU ALL!Okay – let’s get down to business. I guess I should mention that my son chose a lifeguard theme because he is… duh… obsessed with lifeguards. We’re down at the beach a ton and we have friends who are lifeguards so he’s pretty into them. In fact, he’s so into them that he actually thinks he IS one. He actually spent the last half of the party ‘guarding the tower.’ I loved his idea so we went with it! I painted his name and a lifeguard cross on a cheap red beach chair….… and my mom scored these nuggets of lifeguard props at Home Goods – a skim board and boogie board for under $10 each! Seriously? Done. Forgive the pics – they were taken before everything was really ‘ready’ but you get the idea. I painted more white crosses on clip on $5 red umbrellas from Walmart. I also painted a huge read beach umbrella the same way but never took a photo of that. Use your imagination. Or wait… just look at the photo above and blow it up in your mind. Got it? Good. I searched the WWW for an appropriate piñata but had no luck. My husband had just gone camping the weekend before so I stole the tent box and made a one that would keep my eyes happy. (For those interested, I taped it all together using an additional box, spray painted the whole thing red, then covered it in tissue paper that I cut to look fringe-y.) Normally I would say that this was the PITA* but it totally wasn’t. It was pretty fun to make. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with my language yet: PITA = Pain In The A**)Earlier this month, I had taken some photos of my birthday boy by a lifeguard tower. I got 99 cent plastic frames from Walmart and put a few of them in there. You get what you pay for and they wouldn’t stand up so I collected some beach rocks to prop them up. Sometimes things like that are blessings. So much cuter with the rocks holding the frames in place.The party was from 4-6pm so we just ordered pizza, got a chicken salad from Costco, some grapes and veggie trays along with the cupcakes and cookies and that was that. Water got dressed up for the occassion but it was the first party I think we’ve ever thrown without alcohol! I didn’t know we were capable of that! It’s illegal to drink on the beach – which helped us out in the K.I.S.S department. Less to bring down (not that that was my problem! Ha!) and no one seemed to mind. The birthday boy is actually kind of an artsy dude and he had one major request from Crafty Jan: Shark cookies. Good thing she can deliver. These sharks swam fast… right into the bellies of all the little lifeguards at the party.Crafty Jan also made the cupcakes… all one million of them! I swear there were so many and I was SO thankful for her help! See how little I did for this party? She used edible sugar paper for the crosses. How clever is that? She even made the new 4-year-old a super special big one. Since lifeguards HAVE To have red trunks, that was a no-brainer. All the boys in my family wore them. But we got Brooks a pint-sized lifeguard hat from Hobie and I ironed ‘his’ logo onto a white shirt so he would look legit.As favors we gave each kiddo a whistle. What. The. Hell. Was. I. Thinking? I swear! I’m pretty sure I made some parental enemies after that decision! “Hey kids! Come to a party, eat lots of sugar, and I will send you home with an ear-piercing whistle.” Awesome. I’m sure next time he goes to one of his friend’s houses he will come home with a drum set in retaliation. I was also set on giving out sunscreen – but if you’re a beach bum like we are – you know that this stuff isn’t cheap. Well… it is at the dollar store! How much? Uh… less than a dollar! (Though I wonder how potent dollar sunscreen is. It’s gotta be expired or something, right?) It was the idea I liked… I guess I didn’t really think about the fact that we may have sent everyone home with ear-drum ruptures and burnt skin. It pained me so that the sunscreen was orange and not red, but in my new desire to keep things on the less wacko side, I just put a “thanks for coming” sticker over the orangest part of the tube. (What is wrong with me? I was thisclose to getting out red nail polish and painting in the “SPF 30.”)So that was basically it as far as decor went – though what you’re not seeing are 3 cute kiddo tables and the big red umbrella. I haven’t really been myself this pregnancy as far as taking photos. Now onto the really cool part of the party! The lifeguards!We are fortunate to have really, really, reeeeeeally cool friends. Friends who do your kids really, really, reeeeeeally amazing favors. Friends who are current & ex-lifeguards who stop everything in their day to make your kid’s birthday the best day of his life. Yep. That’s the kind of people we know and we are BEYOND grateful, you have no idea. Our friend Alyssa is a current lifeguard and got the OK to give a ‘public ed’ for our party of lifeguard wanna-be’s. She drove her ATV down to our tower and let all the kiddos crawl all over it. Can you imagine how insanely cool you would feel as a kid doing something like that? Um… they did! Then she sat them all down and talked to them about what it takes to be a lifeguard. How cute is that?Our other incredible friend, Laurie, happens to a former lifeguard as well (and she was also a Jr. Lifeguard instructor which was perfection!) and the two of these gals basically ran the entire party for us. They had all the kiddos stretch and warm up for lifeguard training. Isn’t this the cutest? Then it was time to get down to business! After running around the lifeguard tower to get the blood flowing, Lifeguard Laurie had the kiddos do Watermelon Races around my husband. (Alyssa had to take the ATV back to HQ… how pro did that just sound?)These weren’t just ordinary watermelons though. They were lubed up with Vasoline to make them slippery. It was so cute to watch them trying to keep hold of these suckers!The watermelons were practice for if you had to pull a slippery person out of the water. Good training technique, don’t you think? Next we got out four hula hoops and the kids had to dive through them like they would dive under a wave. I don’t have photos of this because I was helping hold the hoops but it was also a hit.Alyssa left Laurie with some “beach flags” which are cut up pieces of hose and are used in Jr. Lifeguard training all the time. Laurie had all the kiddos lie on their tummies facing me, while she and Lifeguard Assistant Brett (my huz!) hid the beach flags all over the beach behind them. They had to jump up really quick and grab as many of the hoses as they could. (This is the 4-year-old version of this game. There is a more sophisticated version for older kids.)The crew ate it up! They loved it! And we loved the fact that they were getting so tired.As if it couldn’t get more legit, Alyssa left each kid with a lifeguard coloring book, bookmark, and tattoos. Isn’t that soooo awesome? I honestly have the best friends in the world. I am still so humbled that they would help me out like this. We took a break from the games for awhile but just when it was time for the piñata, a lifeguard in a jeep drove up. He was nice enough to let Brett use the PA system to call all the kids over to take a crack at it. I really love our town. Nicest people in the world, I swear.We grabbed two of the dads that were there to hold the strings of the piñata since there was no real place to tie it up, and note to self: tent boxes are pretty indestructible. We kind of ended up dumping out all of the candy after everyone got a good crack at it and the thing still wasn’t broken. I guess that’s why you don’t DIY.  I found red lunch sacks at Target for suuuuuuuper cheap (look in the ziploc bag section! They have navy blue too!) and just put a sticker on them that said “Brooks is Four” so kids could scoop up the candy. Didn’t really get a detail shot of those, but you get the idea.We had a big parachute that we were planning to use underneath it so that the candy wouldn’t be buried in the sand, but the littler kids thought we were going to play with it. Therefore, sandy candy for all! We nixed the parachute and I am sure we sent each kid home with a chocolate, sugar, and sand combo plate. I mentioned I tried to keep the party small in the last post… Well, above is what a small party looks like in my head. It was perfect – even if it was not necessarily small – and I love everyone in that photo. I just don’t do small well.This kiddo had the very best day in his entire life. We took him to the beach this weekend and he did NOT want to put on his blue trunks. He only wanted his lifeguard trunks. I have a feeling there will be holes in these red ones by summer’s end. Speaking of ‘the end,’ after all of the manual labor I forced upon my incredible family in getting all of our gear back to our cars, we stayed down at the beach with both sets of the grandparents and my aunt & uncle and roasted marshmallows (and may or may not have snuck some vino down there. Shh… Don’t tell the lifeguards!) It was the perfect way to end the day.And let’s face it… my boys needed another hour or so of running all that sugar off! Lifeguard Cakes signing off!

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Engagement Party :: Wild Safari Theme

We’re just wild about Kasey & Tom… so we threw them an engagement party. My best friend Kasey got herself a sweet little rock on her finger so my friends April, Susannah, and I (with the always over-the-top help of Crafty Jan) threw these two sexy beasts a party to celebrate.My parents graciously opened up their home for us to host the party there, and though it rained the day before and the day after, we lucked out famously since the sky was dry and the day was stunning, if not a little chilly. After walking through the from door, guests were greeted with a huge poster on an easel that we had printed at Walmart. (I know! The devil! But their prices are too good!) We gave this to Kasey & Tom afterward as something they could hang in their garage. I designed it using a vintage Disneyland Jungle Cruise poster as inspiration. Before heading in to the party, we had guests drop off their gifts in the dining room. We indicated on the invitation to “bring your favorite bottle of wine to stock up their Jungle Hut.” With that in mind, we turned the entire dining area as… well… a Jungle Hut!We had labels ready for each guest to write a note on and affix to the back of the bottle they brought. By the end of the night this room was overflowing with vino.After ditching their gift, everyone walked into the living room. I didn’t want to make my mom take down all of her beautiful fall decorations (um… we already invaded their house!) so we just left the mantle as is and added a big WILD banner. Pumpkins & Wild Themes totally mix!Where the kitchen nook table normally is, we set up a lounge area. All the leopard & zebra print fabric you’ll see throughout is from fabric.com which I find to be a great resource. My mom is crazier than I am and made pillows to match with the remnant tablecloth fabric. In the middle of the room we set up the cake table.We got that tent thing at Cost Plus and used it above the desserts. (I’ll get to those in a minute! Don’t you worry.) Hula skirts were used throughout the party to add to the safari-like vibe. We yanked my zebra rug from my house and replaced theirs with it. I wish I took a better photo of that but it looked cool.We repeated the safari vibe outside and had a total of 4 belly bars for people to gather around. Draped with painter’s cloth (you can get these at Lowe’s or Home Depot) then covered with leopard or zebra fabric, we added jungle animal figurines & large vases with monstera leaves to keep it funky yet chic.Here’s a few more views.The bar was set up outside as well. We added hula skirts to the top of the umbrella to make it seem more like a palapa. We served up beer, wine, water & specialty Jungle Juice. I don’t drink mixed drinks so I didn’t try it before serving it. Big mistake! I guess it was pretty potent. Next time I will leave the mixing to the experts… like my husband.Ready for a movie?To make things a little funky & unexpected, we set up the outdoor movie screen that my parents have. I rented a National Geographic African video from Netflix and had that on repeat throughout the party. (See the elephant up there?) It was pretty cool… even if things got a little weird during the mating portion of the movie. Using a leopard fitted sheet cut in half, my mom covered the lounge chairs so that people could watch the movie in style. (Not the best photo… but you get the idea!  Please ignore the hose!) Okay… let’s take a bathroom break…We couldn’t leave the restroom untouched. I always love to have a compliment on or near the mirror at the party. This time a “Well hello there you sexy beast you” sign was strung across the mirror to up your confidence level!So I guess you may be hungry about now! We did half the food ourselves and half the food using an amazing caterer friend of ours — Cassie from Anything But Ordinary Catering. She’s great.All of the really fancy looking stuff came from her. We did the veggies in individual cups, caprese skewers, meatballs, and Chinese Chicken Salads ready to go and served atop an elephant.Love that they make boxes that fit our theme so nicely!For dessert, we had The Crimson Cake make us the most adorable cakes ever. I am really becoming quite a fan of Alicia’s talent here. If you’re in Southern California, she is totally worth looking up!Check out these darling cakes!I sent her a photo of the bride & groom to be and this is what she came back with! Uncanny! Tom actually ate his own head at the end of the party. Cannibal.In addition to her lovely work (it pained me to cut these cakes!) we made brownie pops. They tasted great though they were obviously made with love and not expertise! Ha ha! I was trying to mimic the leopard & zebra patterns. Told you I wasn’t great in the kitchen! But by the time everyone took a bite, they were too hopped up on jungle juice to care what they looked like!Onto the props!On to the photo booth area! We hung a queen sized leopard sheet and had animal faces & cute messages in bubbles at the ready!How frickin’ adorable are Kasey & Tom!? She came decked out in a beautiful white dress which was perfect for the leopard ears & veil we made her! What a cute kitty!We hostesses all donned animal print – and I was super excited when so many of the guests did as well! Party people unite!The wild theme was actually pretty great because it reunited all of us UofA Wildcats. The best thing is that Kasey & Tom both went to UofA but didn’t meet until last year. Two wildcats that are wild about each other. Perfection!We moved a wire basket to the door filled with individually bagged chocolate-covered “elephant ears.” It was super smart to put them right by the door because they were all gone by the end of the party. I feel like sometimes people forget to take their favor so that was an accidental epiphany.
I think that’s about it! We’re sooooo wild about this couple and what a fun way to celebrate! Get ready for many more posts about Kasey & the parties we’ll be throwing for her until she gets hitched next summer! I have some really fun ideas up my sleeve for this beautiful friend of mine!