The Coolest Party in Town

…Is a FROZEN birthday party of course.

Sometimes I look back at the things I do and say, “Yup, I’m kind of crazy”. I’ve told myself time and again to give myself a break especially with birthday parties - kids appreciate store bought items just as much as homemade and it’s a lot less stressful and time consuming. But once my mind gets going and an idea starts branching out, I just can’t “let it go”.

I was 36 weeks pregnant when I threw Myla her third birthday party. I chose to hold it a few weeks early because Maddox was scheduled to arrive the day before her actual birthday, not leaving much wriggle room. As I mentioned in my last post, he had other plans and arrived early, which made me that much more thankful we chose to hold the party when we did. 

This year, I let Myla choose her party theme (as compared to the trains and owls I chose for the last two). It’s no surprise she chose the ever popular Frozen theme. What I should have done, being 9 months pregnant, was to buy all the Frozen theme decor at the party store and buy a cake. But do I allow myself to do this? Nope, of course not. After all, I enjoy doing this stuff. But seriously, I probably should have been relaxing with my feet up. 

I did, however, allow myself to consult Pinterest to fill in the gaps where my fatigued pregnant brain couldn’t. And, as much as I love Elsa and Anna - I didn’t want the party to focus on princesses. There was going to be three times as many boys than girls at her party and I know that Olaf would be the most popular character among all the kids. In addition to Olaf, a general "frozen/snowy" theme was my focus.

Unlike previous birthday party posts, I’ve put EVERYTHING into a single post, so it’s long. For easier searching, here’s what I’ll be sharing below: Activities, Favors, Food & Drink, Dessert, as well as the Invite and Thank You card designs.

Activities

Three is probably the earliest age kids look for, or maybe can handle, organized activities in a party setting. Two may work as well, but you’d probably end up with a lot of kids looking dumbfounded or refusing to participate - or maybe that was just my child. So, I figured I would plan just enough to have some organized fun before I let them run rampant from the sugar overload they were about to receive.

I planned two crafts and a slightly free-for-all snowball toss with Olaf. The first craft is the ever-popular “Build a Snowman” with marshmallows (jumbo, regular and mini), mini pretzels, caramel candy corn (I think these look more like carrots than the regular ones), and chocolate chips. I supplied edible markers and candy eyes to complete the face and made up bags of Royal Icing (aka gingerbread house frosting) to glue the snowmen together. This way it was completely edible. Even though the kids received some guidance on how to assemble them, they really used their own creativity to come up with some of the best (and funniest) looking snowmen I’ve seen - check ‘em out. Then, they got to devour their little creations.

The second craft actually came completely from my pregnant brain (I even impressed myself). Since Christmas was soon to follow, I thought making a snowflake ornament would be a fun project that most of the kids would be able to admire on their tree the following month. I put together bags with the following art supplies: popsicle sticks, pom poms, ribbon, and snowflake felt stickers. The kids then assembled them using Tacky Glue (this glue works much better than regular Elmers or glue sticks). 

And finally, I created a “Snowball Toss with Olaf” game. I had some leftover plywood (from the fabric-backed bookshelf I made) and used that to paint a huge Olaf. My original plan was to do Marshmallow instead - you know, the mean snowman Elsa created at the North Mountain - but he’s kind of scary and not so much fun for 3 year olds. I cut out the large circle for the balls to pass through and secured the board on a stand made from scrap wood. I bought a bag of styrofoam balls to be used as the snowballs - they were light weight, looked like snow, and I figured could always be recycled into a future project. We let this game kind of be a free-for-all and let the kids play with it as they saw fit. It turned out to be quite popular - after all, what three year old doesn’t like to throw things?

Favors

This year we didn’t take on such a large project like the wood trains Justin built last year… but this year’s favor was still pretty time consuming as a lot of experimenting went into it. Frozen Glitter Slime!!!! I tried a bunch of different recipes I found online and even messed with some of those to find something I liked. My only regret is that it didn’t last as long as the one experiment I did using regular white Elmer’s glue (instead of the clear), but the clear glue gave me the effect I was looking for. Unfortunately some batches got stickier/runnier than others within a few weeks. All that’s needed to fix it and bring back it’s perfect consistency is a little Borax and water solution - see recipe for ratio

Anyways, I found the clear 8oz PET jars and lids at the best price from Nature’s Garden. I created my own circular Olaf 'labels', cut them out and used Mod Podge to glue them and coat them on the lids.

In addition to the Frozen Glitter Slime, I assembled little bags of Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses since Olaf loves hugs… and the kisses (Cookies 'n' Cream flavor) came in the perfect blue wrapping. I also created the Thank You tags which I tied onto each baggie.

Food & Drink

At the party we served lunch which allowed us to tie the theme right into the menu - this is where I used Pinterest for some of the menu item names. For the kids’ sandwiches, I used a snowflake cookie cutter (kept it simple for the kids with a choice of cheese or peanut butter & jelly). You can also view the recipes for the Frozen Waters Punch aka "Tiffany Punch" (please excuse the photoshopped picture below, I forgot to snap a photo with punch in it - also, instead of a 1:1 ratio, I used less lemonade to keep it bluer) and the Troll Stones, which were Lentil ‘Meat’balls served in a mushroom thyme gravy which everyone couldn’t get enough of. (Tasted like Thanksgiving - yum!). I also made water bottle labels to carry the theme through.

Dessert

Hello sugar overload!!! I might have gone a little crazy here. To start, I made a “smash cake” of sorts decorated with sugar snowflakes found on Amazon. I also made cupcakes which I find easier to serve to a large group than having to slice and plate cake. I also made Jello Jigglers for Kristoff’s Ice, chocolate dipped strawberries for Frozen Hearts, and chocolate dipped pretzel rods for the Frozen Wands. For the dipping chocolate, I used Candy Melts, available at Michaels, Jo-Ann, party stores and I believe even Walmart. They already come pre-colored - just pick your sprinkles to decorate. I found using the microwave to melt them was extremely easy. I suggest using a tall pint glass for melting the chocolate and dipping the pretzels. (A shallow bowl worked better for the strawberries.) After dipping the pretzels and decorating with sprinkles, just lay on wax paper. Once cooled, package them in sealed plastic bags until ready to serve. As for the strawberries, store them in the fridge.

Invite and Thank You

I kept the invite simple sticking with a snowflake theme. Simply printed it on white cardstock, and used colored cardstock on the back. For the Thank You card, I kept it even simpler (no colored card stock) and made it like a notecard without a fold.

And finally…

In addition to some of the store bought decorations I did buy, I drew an Olaf to put by our fireplace where we stacked the birthday gifts. Maybe my “fire” looks a little cheesy, but Myla loved it as well as the rest of her “frozens birthday”, as she said. And that’s all that really matters. Overall, I was so happy to see Myla enjoying her party and her friends… and so happy that Maddox decided to wait another few weeks before making his appearance. I got a little bit of time to rest after all that work. 

Later that evening... Queen Myla got her cake.

Easter Egg Carton Craft

There’s no better time to make egg carton crafts than at Easter. If you’re like me, (and the hubby insists there are going to be eggs in the house), I usually buy organic, certified humane, brown eggs - which always seem to come in clear plastic egg cartons - which aren’t very craft friendly. And since brown eggs aren’t as easy to dye for Easter, this is probably the only time of year that we would probably opt for the regular white eggs which usually come in the perfectly craft-able, cardboard egg carton.

I don’t know what it is about creating projects from recyclable materials like egg cartons and paper towel rolls that’s so much fun. Perhaps it’s just knowing the materials are laying around the house somewhere - as was all the other materials I used for this fun toddler craft with Myla. 

Some staple kid craft supplies I keep on hand (and suggest to others) are: googly eyes, pipe cleaners, beads, pom poms, feathers, construction paper, glue, popsicle sticks, and paints. So, I went into the craft cabinet and pulled out a few of those items. I most certainly didn’t want to go overboard with these and wanted to only use materials I already had. Plus, Myla’s attention span for crafts is still somewhere in the 10 minute range.

We did this project in different stages in order to hold her attention. Before we even got started and she was busy playing, I cut out the egg carton cups. Here is where I learned that not all egg cartons are created equal. They actually come in different shapes and usable cup depths. So, while the carton I had wasn’t the best, I was still determined to make it work. After all, I need to get over my perfectionism - this was just a toddler craft project and I’m sure Myla wasn’t going to notice the difference.

While I cut out all the little feet, wings, ears, teeth, and beaks, I let Myla chop away with her safety scissors at the same color construction paper I was working with. She got in some good scissor practice while also feeling like she was helping with those pieces. 

Then we took a break while I set up for the next step: painting! We worked with one color at a time and I made sure to find big brushes which would easily help her cover the entire cup. In the end, I still had to touch them up as her attention went from painting the cups to painting the large piece of cardboard we used as our work surface. I can’t blame her - just look at that big beautiful empty canvas. By the way, acrylic craft paint is non-toxic and pretty easy to clean up from hands and tables - so let them have fun!

We took another long break while we let those dry and played outside for a bit. During that time, Gramma decided to stop by for a visit and we reeled her into the assembly part.  We used a tiny strip of paper to connect the top and bottom by gluing it to the inside. Then we started by gluing on the feet, all the other paper pieces, pom poms, and finished up with the eyes. I love how by simply placing the eyes, beaks or teeth in slightly different positions, you get such funny expressions on each one.

Myla loved holding the “little chicks and bunnies” gently in her hands. She thinks they are super cute. Perhaps on Easter morning, I’ll fill them with white and yellow mini cadbury eggs and leave them out on the breakfast table as a little surprise as I don’t plan on putting any candy in her easter basket. I’m sure she’s going to get her fill from the grandparents in that department.

A Mug for Dad

I’ve mentioned it in previous posts: Myla is a very sensory seeking toddler. She also loves arts & crafts. Combine the two and you can get a pretty decent mess on your hands… or more like HER hands… and arms and clothes and face and hair and whatever is around her. So when I found some “paint your own mug” kits on sale, why did I even think it was a good idea to try to get her handprints on some?

Yes, it’s true that I wasn’t even the least bit successful… but she did have fun dipping all her fingers in the paint and covering the mug - every last bit of white covered in paint. And what do you get when you mix red, blue, green and yellow? A lovely shade of brown, or pretty close to it. Honestly, it’s kind of ugly. Ok, ok… it’s really ugly. Not that her artwork was ugly, she did a beautiful job, but the colors just mixed together too easily and her determination to cover the entire mug made for lots and lots of mixing.

We still had a few more mugs that hung out in the craft closet for months. Every once in awhile she would spot them and want to paint one - another lovely shade of brown. When we had one kit left, I decided to hide it. I remembered that I had some transparent glass/porcelain paints that probably wouldn’t mix into brown. And, since she likes to completely cover each mug the way she did her first I wanted to think of something to make it a little more interesting. That’s when I thought we could add a custom stencil/mask. I used the last mug from the kit and the extra stars I drew on the stencil paper from the Table & Chair Set I painted as a test sample. I let her paint away and it turned out just like I had hoped.

So from there, I took Myla to Target to pick out a special white mug for Daddy. I then drew two designs: “Dad” (with a heart) and “Jj” (which isn’t Justin’s initials, but figured since we are working on upper and lower case letters right now - that it would be a cute reminder of her age).

Once I drew and cut out the stencil/mask, I applied it to the cup (after it was cleaned with rubbing alcohol) and let Myla have a go at it with the paints. And just as I predicted, she covered the whole mug. I had to clean a bit around the top and inside, but after that I just let it dry for a day or so. Then I used an X-acto knife to cut around the ENTIRE stencil/mask and peeled it off. Please note, that since the paint isn’t cured until it is baked or air dried for 21 days, it will peel off like plastic so you need to cut around the ENTIRE stencil/mask as I doubt the stencil material can go in the oven. Then I baked it per the directions and now Daddy has a mug, made with love, by Myla. And I’m keeping the test sample mug for myself.

Easy Handprint Ornament

For Myla’s first Christmas in 2011 she was only 1 month old. We received one of those Handprint Kits with plaster and a mold. It seemed like a great idea and easy enough to do. Just take her hand and place it in the plaster, right? Wrong, so wrong. We tried quite a few times - having to tap the mold on the table to get the plaster to level out again and again, and clean off her hand again and again. Each time her hand hit the plaster, she curled her fingers grabbing a wad of plaster along the way. After several failed attempts, we decided to try her foot… since she couldn’t curl her foot quite like her hand, we got something that we felt was “good enough” after a few tries.

During that next year, we discovered Myla is a very sensory-seeking child. There is no way we could possibly try something like that again. Or… any of those ideas that included handprints with paint or plaster-type material. I know exactly where all the paint and plaster would end up… all over her and me and quite possibly the walls and dogs. (I’m not complaining… she’s just like me - I used to squish spaghetti through my hair at her age… so I get it - but I also didn't feel like trying to clean her and everything around her.) But alas, I had to come up with another idea as I really wanted to make a homemade ornament with her.

I still had some Model Magic Clay from the Clay Owls I created for the Baby Shower Centerpiece and figured I'd try that. What I thought was neat about this stuff, is that it’s lightweight. I don’t know about you, but heavy ornaments kind of annoy me. Even if they’re pretty, they pull the branches down so much that they can leave a bare space... and ultimately more work trying to figure out how to camouflage that area. Anyways, once I tested the clay and knew it would work, I decided to make an ornament for each set of grandparents. I used a mini quiche pan as a "cookie cutter" for a snowflake type shape. And, surprisingly, Myla was happy to have me squish her hand into the clay… and even REPEAT it three times. I made a hole for the silver ribbon which I knotted in back and covered with a heart-shaped piece of clay. After letting it sit out to dry for a few days, I used a Silver Sharpie marker to write her name and the year. Relatively quick and easy - and most definitely cute!

I ran out of white clay when it came to making our own, so I used some of the light brown clay and the remaining white clay to make little snowflakes which I cut out with an X-ACTO blade (a favorite tool of mine). I wrote with the Silver Sharpie on the back for ours and used red curling ribbon to hang it.