C’mon, Grab Your Friends…
This year, Myla decided she wanted her birthday party to be Adventure Time-themed…and I was TOTALLY down with that. Because I’m a pretty big fan of Adventure time. And all of the characters. And songs. And everything.
I always look forward to the cake, because even though I stink at cooking a meal, I can bake the heck out of a cake. And when I decorate, I pretend like I’m on Ace of Cakes or something, and do my best to make it special.
I started by sculpting these Marceline and Marshall Lee figures from Sculpey, and building a little cardboard ax guitar and bass for them, since Myla requested they be the centerpiece.
And although I know kids aren’t a huge fan on fondant, I had read that you could paint on it with food coloring, so I gave it a try…
I started by rolling out a little plate full to practice on, and gave Myla a plate full to let her try it, too. I had read that you can put food coloring onto a plate like paint, but instead of water (which makes fondant gummy), you can mix it with vodka (don’t worry–the alcohol evaporates!). So we gave it a try, and it was SO MUCH FUN. It wasn’t even a struggle–it was just like painting with paints!
Once I decided it was going to work out pretty well, I settled on that as the final decorating method for the cake.
The night before her party, I baked, iced and cooled the 2-story cake. I broke a chunk out of it, which thankfully I could piece back together and glue down with icing, since it’d be covered in fondant. And since I’m terrible at fondant, it was full of wonkiness and lumps, which I promptly covered up in more decorative icing. BOOM.
Next, I waited til the kid was in bed so I could reeeeeally focus (plus, I told her that the final cake should be a surprise), and got down with painting TONS of characters all over the cake, around the clay figures. (I realize cake pros would cringe that the centerpiece isn’t edible, but I’m an artist, and I do what I want.)
I had intended to color it all, but as I started working, I realized I really really liked it in just black outlines, so I went with that…
(I swear, I love SO many of the characters on this show, and they’re SO much fun to draw….)
So there it is!
We blew up some purple balloons, which I decorated with Sharpie markers to look like Lumpy Space Princess, and downloaded these fun Adventure Time character masks from HappilyAfter Designs on Etsy.
I got several little goodies for the take-home bags, like Adventure Time slap bracelets and figures from Ebay, little individually-wrapped burger gummies, and random dollar store things. I also got some blank wooden beads and painted very simple character faces on them, and tossed them in little snack bags with random handfuls of beads and necklace string so people could build their own necklaces.
The least expensive goody bags at the craft store were these blank white ones, so I kept up the plain character theme, and drew them again on each bag, in Sharpies.
And that was that! Along with a few helium big balloons we bought online that my husband filled at a flower shop and a plastic table cover, it made for a pretty good Adventure Time-themed party!
Myla chose to have her party at a gymnastics center, where they have trampolines and a huge foam block pit with a rope swing over it. The good thing there was that they gave the kids an hour to play, a half hour to eat cake & ice cream, and then they boot you all out of there! So cool. No big cleanup, no mess at home, no all-day event. And the kids get worn out! WOOHOOOOOO.
And the cake? Yeah, the cake was a hit. Yay!
And remember my birthday sewing story a few posts back? Well, I took the fox pattern I bought from DolphinWing and made Myla the little arctic fox character who wears an orange shirt that she’s drawn for awhile and created herself.
(I think the dog approved. I’m not sure.)
So aside from all the party planning and prep, the big news is that WE HAVE AN EIGHT-YEAR OLD ON OUR HANDS, PEOPLE. She’s still so sweet and kind, smart and creative. I couldn’t ask for a cooler kid.
She’s a funny little goofball who still loves to draw and create, and had the best birthday week ever! Happy birthday, Myla!
Felt Top Hats and a Wonderland Party
When my daughter was nearly two, she was VERY MUCH into the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. She also loved tea parties and hats. (See where I’m going with this?)
Since my husband was deployed, I decided to make a “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” for my daughter’s second birthday, and have a fun time of it with some friends. Keep in mind, deployment can make you a little cuckoo. I threw myself into it, but I didn’t need any additional stress, so I planned it WELL in advance, and although it seems like a ton of work, by the time party day came around, I just sort of got everything out & laid it nicely around the room. Easy peasy.
So I had this funny sketch I had done of my daughter intensely focused on her “tea” that was perfect for the invitations.
The idea was that kids could show up in hats & have some fun. My friends surprised me, and most had not only their kids in hats but themselves as well! One thing I’ve learned from homemade kid’s parties is to have something for kids to DO right off the bat, so there’s no awkward waiting-around-for-everyone phase (kids have been known to have short attention spans). So I got some inexpensive foam visors from the craft store, a few plain stickers, lots of foam stickers, and let the kids have at it. We didn’t even have chairs–I just laid tablecloths on the floor (which fit the “tea party” theme anyway) and let the kids play with the stickers & hats while the mamas talked.
I got plain ol’ cookies (I think they were pre-made grocery store ones), and decorated them with hearts and card symbols with a simple tube of icing.
I had little paper signs that said “eat me, ” “drink me,” “we’re all a little mad around here,” and “don’t step on the mome raths.”
I had splurged a little on a local bakery’s mini-cupcakes, and put store-bought little sugar roses (from the cake decorating section of stores) in them.
My neighbor, a crafty friend, had helped me sew some little bloomers and an apron for my daughter, to pull of a sort of “Alice” look.
The fancy footwork came with the cake. I had done a full-fondant cake for our daughter’s first birthday (more for me, just to see if I COULD), and didn’t really feel like taking that route again. But I did have my mom’s awesome buttercream recipe, and a ton of food coloring. I even made the cake batter rainbow swirl, as I had seen all over online. Fondant eyes, teeth & nose, 2-layer cake, and boom–the Cheshire Cat. (I even accidentally jacked up the top layer, and calmly just cut it out and drew his ears on the bottom.)
As one of the fun parts of the party, I had a few mini felt top hats for anyone who didn’t come with a hat and didn’t want to feel left out. (Also, they decorated the place nicely.) When I was researching some party ideas early on, I had seen an awesome tutorial online that was super easy and fun to do, and basically used felt and random embellishments.
I hot-glued everything together, and mostly used plain felt sturdied with cardboard (although the pre-made sturdy felt works best). I had seen some hot-glued to headbands before, but I wanted something a little sturdier, so I decided to hot glue the top side of hair clips to the underside of the hats, and it worked REALLY well. It allowed the hat to stay on through the whole party.
They were so fun to decorate and embellish with pennies, feathers, buttons, and whatever else I had lying around, and I even invited some guests to take them home as party favors.
All in all, a “fancy” birthday party that seems like a lot of work, but when done in little steps well in advance, wasn’t so bad at all. I had a great time with friends, the kids had fun, and the best part is I wasn’t stressed at all! Seems silly for a party she’ll never remember, but as I said, during a deployment, sometimes your friends are all you have to help you make things better. I was grateful for everyone that showed up, and I’m pretty sure everyone had fun!
The felt hats were especially fun. Might be a cool kid’s project to make a couple of hats up in advance, and let the kid decorate them…