Monday, October 06, 2014

Come One, Come All... It's a Halloween Carnival!

Last year for my son's 4th birthday I was determined to host a Halloween Carnival, although I'll admit I'm not sure if it was more for him or me.  I mean seriously, who doesn't love Halloween AND Carnivals?!  So, I consulted my husband and started a budget... both said NO WAY! Did I let a little thing like a budget stop me?  Heck no, I threw that piece of paper out the window... Just kidding!  I actually threw my husband out...  Haha, just kidding again!!  But, I did have to get creative with my ideas so he didn't throw me out (probably not kidding).

The first thing was no tent (yes, I know there is a tent in the picture and we'll get to that), but I really did envision rows of carnival games, with lights strung around the backyard to illuminate them, and the warm glow of the campfire on a crisp fall night.  A girl can dream.  Next, I kept the food rather simple (well simple in my mind anyway).  Third, I decided to make all of the games and props by myself, and when I say by myself I mean with the help of my mom, step-dad, dad, uncle and aunt, and probably even a few others I forgot to mention.  Finally, I scavenged craigslist and friends for free supplies, sweet talked the guys at Home Depot for some freebies, and used every coupon I could find (thank God JoAnn's takes multiple & competitor coupons).

Once I had a plan, a new small (but workable) budget, some helpers and supplies we got to work on the props.  This was a fun weekend filled with laughs, painting, sawing, measuring, drilling and drinking.  Did I mention how crazy sore and exhausted we were after this little weekend adventure?!  

For the game backdrops I got the guys over at Home Depot to give me all of these huge door boxes that we cut and painted.  They even delivered them to my house for me FOC!!  My parent's neighbor had a ton of left over lumber from a recent deck teardown that we had free access to and I just happen to have a few gallons of black & white paint on hand.  From the boxes, lumber and paint we were able to make all 8 game backdrops.  Free-standing too, remember my vision from above?  We also made the ticket booth, spider swamp balance beam, the hungry ghost, all game signs, a directional sign, and all of the food & drink table backdrops.  If you're keeping tabs on my budget up until this point, we're still at $0.00.

I bought a ton of Halloween trinkets for prizes from Dollar Tree, Meijer, Walmart, and Target.  I scoured the $1.00 bins and didn't get toys or candy that cost more than $0.25 a piece.  I wanted a bunch of prizes so the kids could feel like they were at a real carnival, winning prizes for playing the games!

True to my original plan, I made every single one of the games (except for the tattoos and bounce house).  We had a spooky spider swamp, which I used the balance beam we made on our weekend adventure above and surrounded it with the filling from some old pillows friends were going to throw out and some giant paper mache spiders I made.

There was also a mystery bowls box, which we used noodles, jello, cauliflower and bags of warm soup to make the kiddie's imaginations squirm.  We had pumpkin bowling, made out of empty 2 liter bottles that I painted to look like ghosts and a pumpkin that we rolled at them (be sure to remove the stem first).  Witch hat ring toss was made by painting the paper witch hats I found at JoAnn's and tossing some embroidery circles I found at the thrift for almost free.  

For hungry ghost I used felt scraps I had and I made candy corn bean bags to toss into the hungry ghost's mouth.  We had a tattoo station and even a can knock down.  For this I just simply taped Halloween scrapbook paper around some used cans and added some balls I already had from a previous party.

In addition to the carnival games we had a bounce house (this was a gift to the birthday boy from his grandparents so my budget and husband were still happy) and a campfire.

For food I stuck with hot dogs and chips... simple, inexpensive and easy.  I did a sweets table with typical carnival and Halloween foods.  And for the drinks we had water, pop, and apple cider.

So that covers it!  You still wondering about the tent?  Well, we do live in Michigan and October is a very unpredictable month.  See the image below... we are the red dot!  It was very wet and cold that day, but the show must go on right?  We ordered the tent the night before and boy did we need it... it down poured all throughout set up and only stopped about 15 minutes before the party started.  Miraculously the sun came out and it cleared up for the entire party and only started raining again as the last family was pulling out of our driveway.  

We sure had fun despite all the work and the rain & cold.  Check out my Facebook page for more pictures.  And if you want to throw your own Halloween carnival be sure to check out the Halloween Carnival Collection available for Instant Download in my etsy shop!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lemonade.... $0.50!

When life gives you lemons you make lemonade.... and when you have a garage sale you have a Lemonade Stand, right?!  That's what we did anyway.

Of course being a party planner I couldn't just set up a table and give them a pitcher of lemonade, which would have been the easy way to go (considering I had an entire garage sale to set up too).  Nope, we put in a little extra effort on this one.

One of my thrifting crafts... this chalkboard was once a very ugly picture in a very cool frame.  I added a little chalkboard paint over the glass (thus covering up the picture, which was so old it was actually attached to the back of the glass) and now I have this!

I found this super cute (and tasty) lemonade bottle at our local HomeGoods.  It made a great prop for our display during the sale and then we used it to toast to the boys success after the sale was over.  That may have been the highlight for them.

Lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting... YUMMY!

I found this adorable FREE Printable set on Pinterest and thought it was perfect.  I used the yellow and grey from the set and added in some green to make it more neutral for my boys.  While I do love all of the pink lemonade sets out there, not so much for my little guys.

A bowl of lemons is inexpensive and a perfect prop for any lemonade stand.

Lemon cake pops... are you noticing a theme?  We also had chocolate dipped pretzels for those that just didn't want lemon.  Be sure to check out our pinterest board for more lemonade stand ideas.

I'd say all that extra effort paid off big time.  In the form of cash money for my little men.  I was so proud of the amazing sales skills these two developed after their first taste of a sale.  They were working it and ended up selling out of all their goodies the very first day!!!  Don't worry though, this proud mama stayed up and replenished their inventory for Day 2.

I mean seriously how could I resist these faces???

Happy Summer and don't forget to support a local lemonade stand and the entrepreneurs of the future!!  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beachside 4th of July!

I've always wanted to style a dessert table on the beach and last 4th of July I did just that!  Well, it sort of started with these cute little firecracker shots I found on pinterest and turned into a full on party with treats, favors and fireworks (especially after a few of those shots).

The beach view is amazing to begin with, but to top it off there was this awesome old wagon I just couldn't resist using.

 See what I mean?!  How perfect is that!

Since this was a small gathering I focused on treats that could be consumed while watching the fireworks around the fire pit, such as: water, firecracker shots, s'mores packs, popcorn, pretzels, and of course cake pops.  And YES, that is a cake on there... another pinterest find, but we'll get to that in a minute.

These individual s'mores packs were made using small clear bags... I filled them with a graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallows... then I used some of the scrapbooking paper I had and stapled it to the top.  Each kid got 2 packs, it was a great way to monitor how many s'mores they consumed and to make sure everyone got chocolate... my husband likes to sneak just the chocolate (sneaky, sneaky).   Please be kind to the environment though and make sure the plastic baggies don't end up in the fire... as Grandpa Jack always says, "No plastic in the fire!"

Patriotic pretzels & popcorn... so easy and so yummy!

Some patriotic scrapbook paper and packing tape is all I used to transform these boring old Costco water bottles into this.  You could also use duct tape, as I've seen it comes in an array of colors and patterns these days!

Did I mention how YUMMY those little firecracker shots were?!  I went to the local thrift store and bought various little shot glasses and that awesome silver tray to make mine a little more fun, but you could use the little plastic cups they sell at the party supply place too, if you're worried about glass.

And don't forget the goodies for the kiddos.  For this I used empty veggie cans (I didn't even paint or cover them, although you could if you have some extra time on your hands).  I filled them with various things I found at the dollar store (sparklers, glow jewelry, bead necklaces, mini flags, gum balls, etc.) and made sure each one was the same... you know how that goes!  

A little note about that glow jewelry...  I LOVE IT!!!  If you've ever hung out on the beach after dark, well it gets really, really dark.  And it's not always easy to locate your children when you literally can't see them, but give them some glow jewelry to wear and you'll always know where they are!!!  We do it all year round now... fun for them, peace of mind for mom... it's a win-win!

These patriotic gum ball packs were thrown together simply because I had all of the items on hand... pretzel bags, gum balls, and ribbon... can't get much easier than that!

Fill an old jar (this one is probably a mayonnaise or relish jar) with some sparklers so when the sun goes down everyone can grab one and light up the night.  Plus it helps to eliminate all of the packaging from ending up on the beach.  Just be careful to keep the sparks away from the jar or, well I'm sure you can guess where I'm going with that!

Ohhhh... back to the cake.  I originally wasn't going to do a cake for this, but I came across this awesome pin (of course) and just had to try it.  Oh My Goodness... it turned out so cute and everyone loved it!!!

I hope you all have a very Happy and Safe 4th of July this year.  If you're looking for more ideas check out this post from last year Fourth of July Favorites or visit my 4th of July Inspiration board on pinterest.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fourth of July favorites!

Fourth of July is just around the corner and I've been busy pinning ideas for my family's celebration.  I thought I'd share my Top 10 ideas with you (in no particular order).  Click on the picture to go to the pin source...

1. Let the sparks fly...

What a fun and festive way to hold all of the sparklers, without having all of those sparkler boxes blowing around.  Just be sure to keep any flames away from it or the sparks really will fly!

2. Patriotic Wands...

I have little ones and sparklers make me edgy.  These are a perfect way for kids to run and flail around without all the worry.  Plus they look easy and the kiddos can help make their own so it doubles as a fun craft, BONUS!

3. I scream, you scream...

...we all scream for patriotic cones! My kids will love these.  Oh who am I kidding, I'm going to love them too!!!

4. Layered (non-alcoholic) Drinks...

I tried these last year and they actually worked!  My kids loved them and they are a must for this year too.  Be sure to follow the directions though and pour very S-L-O-W-L-Y!!

5. Patriotic Popcorn...

This fun and easy treat would be perfect for munching on while watching the fireworks.

6. Fruit Flags...

I'm always looking for "healthy" treats for my kids to indulge in and I was so excited when I found these.  What a perfect idea for 4th of July!!

7. Edible Star Wands...

Here is another version of a ribbon wand, but this one is edible and super cute!

8. Stars & Stripes and paint chips...

I absolutely adore the paint chip letters... very patriotic and cheap!

9. Firecracker Shots...

Adult and kid versions... Need I say more?!

10. Lighted Garland...

What a great idea, and since it's made with plastic table clothes it's weatherproof and durable for repeated use!  Oh and the lights make it perfect all day long!!!

If you're looking for more inspiration be sure to check out my 4th of July board on pinterest!

Have a safe and happy holiday!!

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