Summer Party/Game Ideas

August 24, 2013 in Fun, Kids, Parties

Summer Party/Game Ideas
Ok everyone, I know the last days of July are sliding past us, but summer isn’t over yet.  There is still plenty of time for fun outside with family and friends.  So I challenge you to have one more big party before school gets back in, and I have to games to make your party a hit.
Every year Amy M and her family have a 24th of July party.  What is the 24th of July, you ask?  It’s Pioneer day in Utah, the day this state was founded.  Another excuse to eat, celebrate and set off fireworks.  She has a great view of the professional kind from her yard so she has the party, and then everyone gets to watch the fireworks at the end.  It’s super fun.  But what’s a party without food…


and FUN?!

Check out the cute signage Amy made…everything was labeled.  Drinks (to include specifying who can drink what…very important for under 21-ers), cupcakes, deserts…everything!  She just googled “4th of July printables” and then photo shopped them.

 Not to mention the sugar rimmed, chevron striped straws and mason jars for the drinks.  See them on the left?

The blue jug is full of home made root beer and how about the added detail of home popped popcorn in pre-made bags for watching the fireworks.  Adorable and delicious!

But I ask you, what’s a party without games?  Every year Amy and her very cool husband, Kelly, set up an enormous slip-n-slide on the enormous hill beside their house.  All it is is a long sheet of plastic you buy at Home Depot, a sprinkler at the top, a few well placed tent stakes and dish soap.  You heard me, dish soap.  The kids played on this for hours.  The plastic sheeting is about $20 but they rinse it off every year, fold it up and its good to go for the next year to come.  Classic.

Bounce house?  Um, yes.

This game was a blast, and the kids “ate it up”.  All you need are some paper plates, bubble gum, and a whole lot of whipped cream.  Every kid gets a plate.  Put an unwrapped piece of bubble gum on it and then cover that puppy as high as it will go with whipped cream.  Now they have to find the gum, with no hands!  Yes, we did prizes, the winner got a 4 pack of bubble gum, of course!

Here’s an idea to keep kids busy…buy a pack of water balloons with the nozzle that you hook up to the facet in the backyard and let the kids go crazy.  The kids all took turns working to fill up balloons for an epic battle for later in the night.  I bought special grenade water balloons for a classic balloon toss.  Everyone gets a partner and stands across from their partner and take turns tossing the balloon back and forth taking a step back every time they pass. You play until only one team has a balloon left.  Easy, fun, classic.

Next we played my favorite game to make and the play.  It was balloon darts and punch board.  Wanna learn to make your very own balloon dart board, click here.  How about the punch board, click here.
I loved these two games because it took a little longer, and everyone got a prize. 
Each balloon had a number in it….

 The kids threw darts until they popped a balloon and got their number…

 The numbers coordinated with numbers on these punch boards…

 They punch their number and get the prize inside.

Don’t worry, we’re not even close to being done yet.  The next game was easy.  You need a long pole, string, and doughnuts.  Tie a doughnut to a sting and then tie the string to the pole.  Have two adults hold the pole up limbo style.  Now, ready, set, GO!  The kids race to see who finishes their doughnut first…USING NO HANDS!  
photo-284 photo-286
Hey, that kid is cheating! :)
Now, because you can only fit so many bodies under a pole you may have to do this one in waves.  Then you take the winner of each wave and they have a marshmallow-play off.  Parent lines up with kid and the parent has 1 minute to toss as many marshmallows into the kids mouth as he can.  Have someone count for each team.  At the end of the minute, the person who caught the most marshmallows in their mouths is the winner!
Finally, at the end of the night everyone got glow sticks and they took their water balloon arsenal and had their epic water balloon battle in the dark.

A big thanks to Amy M and her husband Kelly for yet another fantastic 24th!

<3, SharlaWant to make he punch board and/or balloon dark board?
Click PUNCH BOARD or BALLOON DARTS to visit the tutorial.


Punch Board Tutorial

Kids Birthday Party/Mario Party

August 3, 2013 in Guest Blogger

Cassie Walker Throws a Party!

 So, I have some pretty cool friends around here, and they do some pretty amazing things.  Cassie Walker is one of those amazing people.  She’s a good friend to me and a great supporter.  Well, she’s also crazy talented, so I bullied her into doing a guest blog spot for me (I’m sure this won’t be the only one).  So, without further adieu, here is Cassie and her amazing parties.

Birthdays are HUGE in our family.  My kids know that one day a year, the world is theirs.  They each have a ‘yes’ day. (inspired by the book, YES DAY!)  My kids start planning their ‘yes day’ months in advance, knowing that some things require a little more orchestration than a simple, “Can I watch TV all day?”  Along with this comes their parties and cakes. I love to bake and my kids love to design their cakes.  They get inspiration from books, cartoons, the internet, and sometimes they just draw something up and bring it to me as a custom order (like my son did this year with his Mario Cake).  I’m hardly a gourmet and my artistic skills max out at copying.  But with the internet as my ally, I’ve been able to create some pretty fun cakes.  Some of them are downright not awesome. But to my kid, at that time, they were perfect. Enjoy!

1st year  Heart Carrot Cake: This was my first child’s first birthday cake.  While I don’t still have the recipe, I know exactly where it came from… What to Expect the first Year. That book was my baby bible. This cake is filled with vegetables and has no sugar-not kidding.  I make the letter ‘D’ out of grapes.  My son freaked out when everyone sang him happy birthday so he never even really tried the cake.  I did later and it was alright. It is a pretty sweet, simple first year cake. 

Airplane Runway:  This was from my son’s imagination. It’s a box cake with a watch tower made out of an ice cream cone. I used canned frosting that I dyed with Wilton Icing colors (concentrated paste).  The planes were actual di-cast toys that he got to keep. They cost about the same as the cheap cake decorations but lasted longer.  As you’ll soon see, I’m a fan of putting real toys on cakes instead of cheap, plastic decorations. For the words, I put the frosting in a quart sized bag (the sandwich ones are too flimsy), cut a small hole…practiced to make sure I liked the size (always start with a small cut) and then piped on the words.

I used to get the Kraft magazine in the mail a while back and one time, just before my two boys’ birthdays (which are both in the summer), they featured this cake.  They were sold the minute they saw it.  The actual cake however, sacrifices taste in favor of looking more authentic (black licorice tracks, really?)  So, we improved on the cake (Kit Kat tracks) and added train cars filled with my kids favorite candies.  My oldest son had a Spiderman themed party that year, so Spiderman got to ride on the train as well (this time it was a candle, not a toy).  I even covered the cardboard with foil this time!

This was an ambitious effort.  It was my first attempt at fondant.  I used a box cake mix and played around with different sized round pans in my kitchen until I thought the dimensions were right. I ended up using ramekins for the ears. I used a marshmallow fondant recipe.  It was really easy to work with. I used Wilton concentrated paste for the dye and just played around  with shapes and cutouts until it looked like I wanted.  I cut all the shapes with these cookie cutters.  I did first frost the cake with canned frosting, and also used the frosting as glue to hold on my shapes.   Toddles toys were really expensive at the time, so the topper is an actual cake topper. (This was 3 years ago, and I actually can’t find the topper online anymore. 

This was a lazy year (new house, new baby).  Both my sons got cupcakes.  For the second birthday my mom brought a cupcake stand, to add a little something extra.  My kids chose their flavor and toppings.  The first chose rings so that everyone could have a prize in their cupcake.  The second chose his favorite candy, M&M’s and chocolate covered pretzels. 

My daughter only specified Tinkerbell, so I got to use my own creative juices for this one (meaning, the internet).  I just did a google image search and designed a cake around the things that I saw that I liked the most-that looked within my skill set.  The cake is a boxed cake (shocker!) made in a bundt pan.  Why? I don’t know, except I thought that seemed fancy.  It’s frosted with canned frosting and then covered with leaves made from marshmallow fondant. Again, I used Wilton Concentrated paste for the dye. Then I played around and made some dots and flowers.  The flowers actually looked quite awful themselves, but on the cake they sort of blended in.  And when they didn’t, I stuck a fairy on them (actual toys).  Then I made a bunch of chocolate dipped strawberries and filled the bundt cake with them and added them around the edges, since my daughter loves them.

For this cake I did actually buy the cake pan.  My son wanted a volcano cake the next month, so I figured I could justify it. I used a 40% off coupon from Joann’s.   I didn’t, however, want to buy the weird little half dolls that they sell in the cake aisle to go with it. They creeped me out for some reason.  So I just used a real doll (Tinkerbell), and jammed her legs in the cake.  A little messy, but she cleaned up just fine. Of course I washed her thoroughly before jamming her into the cake.  I used a strawberry flavored boxed cake and canned vanilla icing dyed pink.  No fancy details, just big loping swirls that I thought made her dress look ‘billowy.’  It also looks better to be messy on purpose than to try to be all nice and smooth and only sort of accomplish it.  For the top I just put frosting in a quart sized bag (sandwich bags are too flimsy) and swirled on the frosting until she was fully clothed.  I piped a belt, name, and detailing along the bottom and topped each with a raspberry.  Then I surrounded her with lots of fruits.  She’s a fruit fairy after all. (No, she’s a tinker fairy, come on, Cassie.  Just kidding, this is from Sharla).

This cake came straight from  Nick Jr.  I made the cake just like the directions stated and if I did it again, I would just buy a pre-made pound cake.  Box mix for pound cake isn’t as moist or as good as just buying it already made.  Even the way they have you shape the cake I think would be easier to accomplish by cutting a rectangular pound cake.  Mine was uneven and as a result a little unstable.  I melted the frosting, but was worried because it was a little hot that day and I worried about the frosting being too runny, so as a result my finished boat wasn’t the smoothest.  I wanted the wonder pets to ride on the boat, so instead of the paper sail I just disassembled the fly boat toy my daughter got for her birthday and added the pets and the toy sail to the cake. I also couldn’t find the purple ring candy, so I cut my leftover donuts I used for the wheels into the relative shape and then frosted them. This cake was pretty cute, but none of the kids actually liked eating more than the frosting and the little sweet tart balls 

For the wonder pets party each child was given a cape and hopped in the fly boat. I made the capes following the pattern here.  With the leftover material we made capes for the animals they ‘rescued.’ (small stuffed animals my older kids “donated” to the party.) We hid them in the yard and they got to keep the animal they found.  We used craft glue and it was messy and didn’t dry quickly.  Perhaps an instant spray glue would have been better…

I could not get a picture cute enough to do this cake justice. It really was the cutest cake I have ever made.  For Mother’s Day, my mom gave me the book, “Cupcakes, Cookies and Pie, Oh My!” I usually don’t like books because the internet has everything, but this book is chock full of brilliant cake ideas. Even if the actual cakes don’t float your boat, the tips, tricks, and recipes are extremely versatile.  The author’s website has tips and tutorials also.  This is the only cake I’m not going to lay out step by step. Although the instructions weren’t hard, it was 4 pages long. And I do believe in giving credit where credit is due. The book is newish, so if you don’t want to buy it, the library would probably have it for full details.

Here’s the gist:

He was made from one 1 lb. frozen pound cake (most stores sell the smaller one, so I had to search several stores before I found it. Of course it was Walmart).  The frosting is canned vanilla and chocolate, melted and then poured to look smooth. This is an incredible trick!  Melted vanilla tinted yellow is also how I made the dog bowls, which are mini strawberry shortcake bowls.  The ‘water’ is blue tinted frosting melted and poured in.  The dog food is cocoa puffs.   The dog was assembled and held in place using straws and toothpicks and his feet are brownie bites.

When making a cake like this, it can get incredibly expensive to buy all the little parts (I needed one gum drop for his nose, for instance).  This is where the bulk bins at Winco are your best friend.  Saved me a ton!  For the fur to look like fur I scooped frosting into quart sized bags and then piped on little vertical lines in brown and white.  The last trick is the ears.  They are marshmallows cut diagonally.  Dip the sticky inside in sprinkles, secure with toothpicks, frost and voila! 

This cake was awesome and gross. I used my strawberry shortcake recipe for this cake.  I have the best strawberry shortcake recipe EVER for 2 simple reasons. It’s the easiest thing ever to make and it tastes better than anything else I’ve tried.  Obviously there’s a little bit of subjectivity here, so you can try it for yourselves.

Cassie’s Strawberry Short Cake:

1 box store brand yellow cake

Fresh Strawberries (Costco is always the winner here in terms of taste and price)

Heavy Whipping Cream




Make the cake according to package directions. While cooling, cut and sugar your strawberries to your preference.  Once done, whip up a batch of homemade whipped cream. Easiest thing ever and always a HUGE hit.  Everyone always makes these gourmet, homemade, hard as rock shortcakes and then just gets whipped cream in a tub or can.  That is backwards!  Cheat on the cake, people!, not the topping.  Makes all the difference.

Back to the volcano cake.  I used the same cake pan as I did for the fruit fairy cake because it turns out princess skirts look a lot like volcanoes.  I used the whipped cream for the snow and pureed the strawberries for the lava.  Some kids wouldn’t even touch it, it looked so gross.  Those who did were rewarded for their bravery.

Here are the extras for the landscape:  Canned vanilla frosting tinted green with concentrated food paste.  Spread over entire pan and then going over the entire surface lay your knife down and quickly pull up to create the grass.  I used candy rocks from the bulk bins, blue tinted frosting for the lake, crushed up graham crackers for the beach, and at the last minute, lots of tiny Pokemon figures got stuck everywhere.

This wouldn’t be a complete post if we didn’t give you set-by-step instructions of pulling off a magnificent party, so here it is, the Mario party to end all Mario parties…


Mario Cake instructions:  

I doctored a box cake (funfetti) by substituting buttermilk for the water and using 4 eggs instead of whatever the box said. (recipe from the most awesome cake book EVER: Cupcakes, cookies and pie, oh, my!) I used 3 different size cake pans borrowed from the lovely Amy M., and then baked me up some cakes.  The layers are two eight inch rounds, two 5 ½ inch rounds, and 1 ramekin.  The key to getting the cakes to fall out of the pans is to line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper to fit and then to spray it all with nonstick cooking spray.  Cool in pan for 15 minutes, invert and lift pan off cake.

Frosting: From a  can, colored blue. 

Vines and Clouds: Made from Candy Clay:

-one 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips, melted in microwave). 

-1/3 cup light corn syrup added and stirred until well combined.  

Wrap in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature.  It needs at least 3 hours to firm up and can be made up to 4 days in advance.  When ready to use, knead until smooth, add coloring and knead to blend in.  Then shape into whatever.

Bottom Stripe: Fruit Leather

Sprinkles: Included with the funfetti frosting


Mario Party Ideas:

I ordered the invitations from here and it was the best $7 I spent.  I worked with the seller to customize it and she very timely sent me the JPEG file that I then printed myself at Costco.  So cute and so worth it!

We set up Mario Kart on the Wii for the kids to play as they arrived.

There was also a table set up of Mario pictures to color to decorate their bags.   The kids then used the bags to collect “Star Coins” (I couldn’t actually find star coins, so I used these)

 We had the kids perform an obstacle course that they collected star coins at. Some of the stations were Mario related, others had nothing to do with Mario. The kids didn’t mind one bit. The stations were:

1.       1-grab a balloon and carry it through a tunnel. 

2.       Then walk on a balance beam while ducking under _______ (enter the name of your favorite flying Mario villain here). 

3.       Jump on the balloon to pop and collect the coin that was inside the balloon (getting them in there was tricky, but doable).

4.       Climb a vine to collect the star coin on the ceiling

5.       Throw a ring to knock over a water bottle and collect the coin under the water bottle

 6.       Find a star coin buried under every pillow and blanket in our house that were all piled into the spare room

7.       Scale the over sized Love Sac and then dig for a star coin in a bucket of balls on the other side.

 Once they had all their coins, they could redeem them for prizes at the Mario Store, which included:

·         Nerds Ropes

·         Wii-mote crayons, ordered from Etsy These were SUPER CUTE, but the kids didn’t really dig them.  They’re obviously not that practical and most of the kids wanted something else and not these. 

·         Toad’s Trail Mix (made from Swedish fish, chocolate molded stars, pretzels and whoppers). Huge hit.

·         Mario Galaxy Glitter Play dough.  The recipe came from here and I just put them in little jars with a Mario Sticker on them.  AWESOME!!! The play dough feels like the real deal and 3 months later, it’s JUST AS SOFT!

·         Glow sticks

 We also set out a big table with all of our play dough supplies and let the kids go crazy.  And to top it off, we build plastic cup towers that the kids shot down with Nerf guns.  Again, not related to anything, but a huge hit that was FREE J

 As an aside, our son also got Mario related items for his birthday and we were very pleased with all of them so I thought I’d pass them along. Click on the item and the link will take you to where we bought them from.

Mario Blanket-cute little thing that my son loves

Yoshi-He’s smallish, but we’ve been pleased

Wall Decals-This is the real winner and on his wall, it looks awesome. It took 3 weeks to get here however, so plan accordingly (shipped from Israel). My son has very dark paint on his walls and it still looked fantastic.


And there you have it.  Cassie, you are really and truly amazing.  Your cakes are fabulous but the love you poured into them is really what is inspirational.  Big thanks for this amazing post.  We here at All Things Fabulous know that you, my friend, are FABULOUS!

<3, Sharla

Oh, the Places You’ll Go Party

August 2, 2013 in Kids, Parties

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
So, my brother-in-law just got his college degree (congrats, Ryan!) so, naturally a party has to follow the ceremony.  And what better theme is there for a graduation party than the one and only Dr. Seuss?!  I have to give 100% of the credit for this one to my mom, Merrilee and my sister, Ashli.  You see, my mom really knows how to through a party. :)
The picture of the “hot air balloon” (above) was the perfect way to enter the party.  The over sized basket and huge bunch of balloons tied to it is totally “Seussical”.  Include a copy of the book to really hit the theme home.
Lorax Trees
I think the Lorax trees were my favorite part.  So, cute and easy.
 All you need is:
  •  PVC pipe cut 6′-8′ long
  • Tissue Flowers (Merrilee ordered these online or can find them at a party store like Zurcher’s)
  • Yellow Fabric (Merrilee made 9 trees and used about 6 yards of fabric)
  • Hot Glue or Double sided tape
  • Wire
  • Butter Knives (What?!  The point is you need the weight and length of he knife to anchor the pom pom into the pole, so either make peace with using a kitchen knife or run to the local thrift store and buy a few for $1)
  • Rebar
Start with covering the PVC pipe.  When you buy it (it’s about a 25 cents a foot) have them cut it to the size you want if you don’t have PVC cutters at home.  So take your fabric (Merrilee used yellow, but my pic shows brown) and tear it into 2″ wide strips all the way down the length of the fabric.  You’re going to cover the pole by securing the fabric with double sided tape or hot glue or whatever floats you boat, to one end and then wind the strip all the way up barber pole style.  The frayed edges give it personality, so make sure to get the cheapest fabric on the shelf!  It might also be fun to cover the whole thing in yellow and then wind a strip of black up it to give the pole a striped look.
For the pom pom flowers fluff them up and now you want to get them to stick into the pole without falling off. So you have to give them a knife handle that fits down into the PVC pipe.  This gives them stability and weight.  Merrilee accomplished this simply by using double sided tape and a butter knife.  She put tape on the blade part of the knife and put it up into the flower.  
Easy peasy 1, 2, 3sy. 
Now for the final step of securing it to the PVC.  Merrilee drilled two small holes into the top of the pipe to wind wire through to secure the pom pom.  Again, this is something the nice people at the hardware store can usually do for you if you don’t have a drill at home.  PVC is super soft and easy to drill.  I suppose you could use some heavy duty tape instead but I don’t think the result will be as secure.
And lastly, you need to plant them!  The simple solution is to contact your local Boy Scouts of America troop and ask to borrow their rebar for the day.  Every troop has flags and rebar they put out on holidays in people’s yards.  Most would be pretty cool about you borrowing a few pieces and the driver they use to hammer it into the ground.  Then simply stick the tree down over the rebar, and TA DA!  You’ve planted a Seuss forest!
The tables were so cute!  Merrilee bought cute frames from Hobby Lobby, fitted them with polka dotted paper and then printed quotes from the books off and put them inside.  It was so simple and cute!
The first quote is, “Congratulations, today is your day!  You’re off to great places, you’re off and away!”
For the table cloths she used cheap and simple plastic solid colors and then made easy table runners for them.  She got two runners from 2 yards of fabric by cutting the fabric down the center long ways and making each 2 yards long.  Either finish the edges by sewing them under or just sew a straight line about 1/2″ all the way around and allow them to fray.  So easy and cute! 
“On and on you’ll hike, and I know you’ll hike far.  And face up your problems, whatever they are.”
Add some Gerber Daisies in cute little buckets (these buckets came from Zurcher’s for $1) and the tables are cute and ready to go!
“And will you succeed?  Yes!  Yes, you will indeed! (98 and three quarters percent, guaranteed)”
 Food and drinks?  Of Course!  The food table was set up just like the eating tables, with color plastic cloth and then a runner.  Add to it a picture stand with the book and flower for decoration and you’re ready to roll.
Merrilee is way into old stuff (she calls it vintage).  So the weathered wheel barrel full of ice and sodas was quite a charming touch.
The drink table was simple and cute with another framed quote, plastic cups that matched the colors of the party, flower and cute water stand, and there’s something for everyone.
 Remember how Merrilee likes “vintage” stuff?  What’s more vintage than a rusty old bike with flowers in the basket and a balloon for extra festiveness?  Actually, it looked really charming in the front yard and was a good signal that people were at the right house.  
I think that bike was around when Dr. Seuss was still writing Green Eggs and Ham!
 Here’s a nice little planting tip, keep the flowers in the containers you bought them in and set them in the places you want them.  That way when the party is over you can put them other places.  It also protects them from being planted too early and freezing.
Merrilee got all of her Gerber Daisies from Costco.  She insists that you can use any old thing and make it cute with the right touch.  The box is just an old milk crate with the flowers set in it and pete moss to fill in the holes.
Congrats Ryan and Ashli!
 <3, Sharla
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