Halloween is right around the corner and if you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids, this easy DIY ghost garland is a perfect activity to get everyone in the spooky spirit. It’s simple to make and you just need a few materials that you probably already have. It’s perfect for little helpers who are getting excited for Halloween and it’s a fun way to kick off decorating for October 31. All you need is some tissue paper, glue, and twine and a little bit of glitter if you like a bit of sparkle.
white tissue paper
styrofoam balls (I used 1 1/2″ ones)
1. Place 2- 3 sheets of tissue on top of each other. With about 8″ on all sides, put a dab of glue between the sheets of tissue paper (since Ari helped we just used a glue stick but a glue gun would work as well), plus one on the top sheet for the styrofoam ball.
2. Place the styrofoam ball on the glue and wrap the tissue paper over it.
3. Cut or tear the tissue paper about 6- 8″ around the ball. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, it just adds to the look of the ghost.
4. Use a permanent marker to give the ghost a face.
5. If you want a bit of sparkle, dab some glue on the ghost’s face and sprinkle with glitter. Tap to remove excess.
6. Repeat to create as many ghosts as you want and tape some twine or string to the backs of the ghost’s heads. Hang & enjoy!
HOW are we at the end of another year??? 2016 seemed to fly by and now that Christmas is behind us, it’s time to start thinking about NYE & welcoming in the new year. I’m not sure if you’ll agree, but I feel like we get so caught up with Christmas (and rightfully so, it’s a special time of year), we don’t think about new years until after the turkey has been packed up in Tupperware and we recover from our eggnog hangovers. In the space of a week you have to pull something together, and whether you like to go all- out or keep it simple, there isn’t much time to get things organized.
I got together with some party partners in crime to share ideas to help you pull off the perfect NYE celebration, complete with some simple food & cocktail ideas that will have your guests excited to ring in the new year without leaving you stressed out with the prep. Just pick up some fun decor like balloons, a banner, maybe some photo props and you’ve got it made. Full details below along with links to the food & cocktail recipes we included.
While planning this, my friend Janette from Ave to Zoe mentioned she had a great appie idea: ravioli pops topped with cherry tomatoes. Done! I think with parties like this finger food is a great idea, and there are plenty of quick/ simple recipes plus pre- made options if you don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen before the party. I also picked up some spring rolls from the grocery store for another easy savoury option, plating them with cocktail skewars for easy party noshing. You just have to pop in the oven for a few minutes and they’re party- ready (if only our outfits were that easy to organize! 😉 ).
For drinks we whipped up a tasty white wine sangria and poured pretty pink bubbly from Evolve Cellars into DIY gold glitter flutes (sangria recipe & how- to to come later this week!). As a fun finishing touch we popped in gold star swizzle sticks and topped the bubbly with some cotton candy from Cloud Nine (tip: if you do this, try to place the cotton candy on the rim of the glasses instead of touching the champagne, as it’ll dissolve really quick once it touches liquid). As another pretty detail we tied some little black tassels to the wine glasses- if you get different colours this would be a great idea so guests know which glass is theirs.
For sweet treats- because you can’t ring in the new year without treating yourself!- we had jars of cotton candy in a variety of flavours and mini doughnuts from Cloud Nine, whiskey flavoured gourmet marshmallows from Marsh&Mallow, and champagne cupcakes baked & decorated by Janette (link for that recipe coming soon!). We topped them with pretty gold ‘2017’ & ‘cheers’ toppers from Paper + Parties and arranged them on a tray for a pretty display.
And what party would be complete without decorations? Michelle from Paper + Parties had all the details covered, from the ‘It’s About To Go Down’ banner, new years party balloons, and finishing touches like the swizzle sticks and cupcake toppers. She also makes a variety of photo props, which are perfect to have fun with as you count down to midnight. I had these left over from my ugly sweater Christmas party and they’re perfect for pretty much any occasion when you want to goof around.
Ringing in the new year is supposed to be fun, and I hope these ideas help you plan the perfect NYE party without the stress/ panic that often goes with the territory. Everything we included is quick and simple to track down, whether for NYE or any other special occasion/ party throughout the year. I hope everyone enjoys the last few days of 2016 and that 2017 is an AMAZING year for you!
See the recipe for the ravioli bites & champagne cupcakes over on Ava to Zoe:
There are some pretty amazing photo prop/ backdrop ideas out there. For my recent Valentine’s Day photo collab with Creative Wife & Joyful Worker and The Cheerio Diaries, we each pitched in to create a pretty & delicate party for 3 very cute little ladies and I offered to create a backdrop we would use for some of the photos (check out these sugar cookies by The Cheerio Diaries and this tassel garland cake topper by Creative Wife & Joyful Worker that they made for the shoot). After scrolling through trusty old Pinterest for inspiration, I decided on one made with dip- dyed coffee filters & streamers. Since this was a girly Valentine’s photo shoot, the obvious choice was pink, but I’ve seen other versions in different colours that are equally beautiful. This backdrop would be great for weddings, parties- pretty much any excuse you have to take photos. It costs only a few dollars to make and you can make it as full or spread- out as you like. All you have to do is run out to the dollar store for a few supplies and you’re good to go. My only tip is to give yourself a little bit of time when it comes to stringing this together- maybe pop in your favourite movie or Netflix so the process doesn’t get too repetitive. See the how- to (and some of the cute photos from our shoot!) below.
Coffee filters (I just used a pack of 100, use more for a fuller look)
Cool glue gun
Wooden dowel or wrapping paper tube
1. Start by separating your coffee filters into four groups; keep one pile aside that will stay white
2. Fill 3 separate bowls with approx. 2 cups of water. Add increasing amounts of food colouring to each bowl to achieve the vibrancy of colour you’d like (I used 15 drops, 10 drops, and 5 drops)
3. Take the coffee filters in groups of 3- 5 and fold them into a fan shape
4. Dip the coffee filters into the dyed water about half way, holding them in the water for a few seconds so they can absorb the colour. Set aside as you dye the others. Repeat the process with the other two batches of coffee filters and allow to dry overnight
6. When dry, begin making the coffee filters into cones. First fold them in half…
7. … Then fold in each side to create a cone
8. Staple to hold in place (you could also use a dot of glue or use double- sided tape so you don’t see the seam as easily)
9. Continue this process until all of the coffee filters have been shaped into cones (see why I suggested the movie/ Netflix? 😉 ). Then measure out pieces of fishing twine approx. 10 feet long and string on the cones from lightest to darkest to create an ombre effect; secure them on the twine by pinching the top of the cones with a dot of glue (this is why it’s best to use a cool glue gun, so you don’t burn your fingers). Vary the spacing, grouping some closer together and spreading others farther apart
10. At this point, you could simply use the strings of cones and hang them in front of a wall to create your backdrop. But if you’d like a solid backdrop where you can’t see what’s behind it (such as in front of a door, or to cover a non- photogenic wall), see the following steps
11. Attach a plain shower curtain to a cardboard tube or wooden dowel and then tape varying lengths of streamers to create a pretty layered effect (start with longer pieces, then add shorter pieces on top)
12. Once you’re happy with the streamers, layer on the strings of coffee filters, spacing them out based on how full you’d like it
12. Secure your backdrop where you want to use it (make sure the lighting is good/ away from shadows), find some cute models to pose & snap away!
Decorating is one of my favourite- and I mean FAVOURITE- things about the holidays. Whether you’re all about the sentimental or are OCD about your tree (or are a combination of both), how you deck the halls is a reflection of you and your family. I had the chance to style the tree and decor at De Dutch Cloverdale this year and had a lot of fun doing it. Working with some of the existing ornaments and decorations I went with a gold and white theme with red accents and lots of DIY and handmade ornaments. You don’t have to have a large budget to make an impact or have fun decorating and I hope this shows that. Plus the DIY ornaments I made are all made with easy to find, kid- friendly items that would make for a fun holiday project. See below for sources.
If you haven’t already started decorating for Christmas, chances are you will be soon. It can be hard to decide what my favourite thing is about this time of year, but the festive atmosphere is definitely up there on my list. I love coming up with fun ideas each year for the holidays, and this year I’m collaborating with Karameller Candy Shop to add some sweet touches to the holiday season. Candy doesn’t have to equal a constant sugar rush (and it’s not just for kids!) and there’s more to the season than candy canes and chocolate coins. It can also be a colourful and cheerful addition to your Christmas festivities. I’ve got ideas for everything from the classic gingerbread house to party favours, and so much more. Read on for 7 ideas to have fun with candy this holiday season.
We’re all familiar with the popcorn garland but for a fun and colourful twist on a classic swap in candy instead. Use twine, ribbon, or string and a needle to make a pretty garland with festive gummy candy. Lay out your pattern before stringing it so you’re happy with the design. You can make a solid garland or space the candy out. You can also use a glue gun to add gingerbread cookies or salt dough decorations to the mix (you’ll want to glue the cookies since they could crumble if you try to use a needle); colour- coordinated beads are also pretty to use. These are beautiful hung on the tree (I loved how mine looked on our mini live tree), from a mantle, or from branches grouped in a vase for a splash of colour. Tip: Use gummy ribbons to make pretty loops (see below).
Stocking Stuffer Shapes
This is a cute way to include some sweets in your kid’s stockings without them getting a major sugar rush. Simply trace out a festive shape on 2 light- medium weight pieces of paper large enough to hold a hand full of candy (you’ll want it to be strong enough to fill with candy without tearing). Cut out the shapes and use a glue gun to glue around the edges, leaving about a 2″ gap to fill with candy. Once filled, glue the rest of the edge so candy can’t spill out (this would also make for a cute gift tag idea, just use a hole punch so you can thread through some ribbon).
How pretty are these??? Another simple & sweet treat idea for holiday parties, these also make cute gifts & stocking stuffers. Simply pop a large marshmallow (I used two of Karameller’s for each) on a straw and dip in some melted chocolate (pick colours to match your colour scheme- I went with white, mint & pink). Twirl & tap the marshmallows so the extra chocolate drips off and dip in something fun for a pretty treat (I used sprinkles and shredded coconut for mine). Allow to dry flat side down then pop in a pretty vase or wrap a bunch on cellophane for a marshmallow pop bouquet. I love how the white sprinkles pop on pink/ mint coloured chocolate.
You can’t talk about candy at Christmas without a gingerbread house! The possibilities really are endless, but I love going with a theme. This is a classic Christmas activity to do with the kids, but why not grab some wine and make a date night out of making and decorating one? They’re a beautiful addition to your Christmas decor and easily customized to suit your style. Another fun idea is to have a gingerbread house party & set up everything guests (big or little!) need to decorate their own: graham crackers or gingerbread cookies, icing, and candy. Set up on a long table covered in craft paper for a cute decorating station and to make clean up super easy.
Send your guests home with a sweet treat! These candy cones are festive and so simple to make. Simply cut a piece of wrapping paper into 8.5 * 11″ and roll it up, securing with a dot of hot glue, washi tape, or a sticker. You can fold over the top and decorate with some ribbon or leave open so your guests can choose their own sweet filler. They’re beautiful when grouped together in coordinating papers and your guests will love the sweet token to enjoy after the party.
Candy’s not just for the kids! How cute would one of these be with a Christmas cocktail? Swap out a swizzle stick and add one of these instead. Or serve up some sweet treats at your holiday party and include these on your dessert table. Display in pretty jars or vases & let guests pick their favourite. All you need are some cocktail picks & a variety of gummy candy. Wrap in cellophane or pop in Chinese takeout containers as a sweet party favour or stocking stuffer (just make sure to stick a candy on the sharp end!).
A big thank you to Karameller candy for collaborating on this post & providing the candy for all of the projects included! Their jars of candy make beautiful gifts and are great to give as hostess gifts.
Karameller is located in the Yaletown neighbourhood of Vancouver, inspired by owner Louise’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in Sweden. Each week she would bike to the local candy shop to splurge her weekly allowance on ‘lördagsgodis’, Swedish for ‘Saturday sweets’. Bringing this tradition to Vancouver, Louise stocks her shop with candy imported from Scandinavia, made from high- quality ingredients, and free of GMOs, trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup; there are even sugar- free and gluten- free options. Buy the candy by the bag or jar (great for gifting!), it’s perfect to stock your candy buffet or in pre- measured bags. Karameller also offers weekly office subscriptions and will put together candy bags curated around party themes- a perfect time saver for busy parents when planning kid’s birthdays. If you’re in the area, Karameller is worth the visit- you’ve never tasted candy like this!- and you can also purchase certain varieties on their website.
I really love party planning but I’m definitely guilty of biting off more than I can chew. Having Ari and now Liam has taught me to lower my expectations and accept that I might not get everything done the way I want it, and the same goes for planning parties (does anyone else feel like planning kid’s parties is almost like planning a mini wedding with everything that can be involved???). I’ve learnt one trick that has saved my bacon many times: start in advance and give yourself lots of time. That way you won’t get as stressed if something goes amiss. This year that really paid off since Ari was sick the week leading up to her party and if I hadn’t organized everything the week before and enlisted two of my talented friends (Brownyn from Mama B’s Treats & Jena from Pacific North Photography), the day would have gone very differently.
We had the party on a Saturday and by the Friday before I was exhausted from running my little lady to doctor’s appointments all week. I did most of the set- up the night before the party and only left the food set up for the day- of. It was a busy week, but I was looking forward to the party all week and was glad that Ari had recovered enough by Friday to not cancel the party (last year I had to re- schedule her party because she was sick and it’s becoming a bit of a running joke that her birthday parties may be jinxed). Thankfully my Mum helped out a lot with prep the night before and day- of and wrangled the 2 kids while I set everything up. But even with Grandma available for extra snuggles Ari was clingy and still a bit cranky the day of her party. Instead of getting photos of her with all of her friends I felt like a mama koala bear toting the birthday girl with me everywhere and only got a handful of my own photos. Ah, the many mishaps that come along with birthday parties ;). Thankfully Jena did an amazing job capturing shots from the day and I can’t thank her enough. Despite the chaos leading up to party, it was all worth it and I’m sharing about Ari’s mermaid/ under the sea themed party below.
The Cake & Food
Even though Ari has been gluten/ dairy free for a while I didn’t want to tackle the cake myself. Thankfully one of my close friends also has these dietary restrictions and just so happens to have a little baking business (see her Facebook page here). I scoured Pinterest and sent her a few ideas around the mermaid/ under the sea theme (she also made cookies & the cake pops for the goodie bags). I was so happy with the results.
In addition to the sweet treats I also served up fruits & veggies and Will grilled up some salmon. There was also some popcorn and ‘pet fish’ jello for the kiddos and parents to nosh on.
Before Target closed up here (who else misses Target???) I stocked up on party decor including bunting, lanterns, a cute table cloth, and a few other things. I repurposed some of the decorations from Ari’s birthday party last year (see that post here) and made the food table the centre of attention with the decorations. Ari and I also had some DIY fun making a salt dough starfish garland for the table and a splatter- paint treasure chest (made from 2 diaper boxes + paper mache) for the goodie bags.
When planning the party I wanted to make sure there were things for the kids to do inside or out, in case the weather wasn’t the greatest. Thankfully we had a beautiful sunny day to let the kids run around outside. We put out little pools, a playhouse, and a sensory play tub for the kids to play with. Yay for fresh air & sunshine! The kids were all sent home with little prizes like hair accessories, a wooden beaded necklace from Coral and Cloud, bath toys from Bag O’ Swag , and stickers (originally I was going to set up a fishing game, but with Ari being clingy I didn’t get a chance to set it up, but they seemed more than happy just to play with the sensory tub and the toys in it).
To make the sensory play tub uber bubbly I mixed:
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup dish soap
1 tbsp cornstarch
bath dye tablets
I then filled the tub with water and added the bubbly foam mixture.
For the sensory items I went through our house and collected things that have an interesting shape and/ or texture. I used some of Ari’s old baby toys, a loofah, and a squishy ball to name a few.
The Goodie Bags
I love thinking of ideas for goodie bags and putting them together. Making some or all of the items can help save moola and doesn’t have to take a lot of time to put together (check out this post for great DIY crayons). But if you’re strapped for time or ideas you can also buy the goodies or pre made goodie bags online (check out Bag O’ Swag for some great goodie bags for kids of different ages- I really love their selection of goodies that you can add to bags or custom make your own).
This year I kept the goodie bags simple since I also gave little prizes to the kiddos that were supposed to be for the fishing game.
Each goodie bag contained:
A homemade colouring sheet
A cake pop from Mama B’s Treats
Photos: K Petrunia
Each little guest also got to take home a mystery prize:
My Tips for Stress- Free Party Planning This year proved that taking the pressure off and planning in advance can really pay off. See below for my other party- planning tips.
– Give yourself lots of time (I started even earlier than usual- 2 months before- since I didn’t want to leave all of the planning for after Liam was born). That way if you’ve got lots of time to organize things without getting stressed out.
– Pick up things like decorations & paper cups/ plates when you see them, that way you don’t have to stock up on everything at once.
– On that note, use paper cups/ plates to save yourself doing dishes. Simple tip I know, but one worth noting. I like paper over styrofoam so they can be recycled.
– Be inspired by Pinterest, Instagram, etc, but don’t be too tough on yourself/ expect everything to be perfect. Pick a few things that you’ll focus on and then relax about the other things. Decorations and DIY projects are two passions of mine, so I enjoy putting time into them, but I picked just a few projects and then kept the rest simple.
– Outsource the things you don’t enjoy/ have time for. Whether you have friends/ family who can help or you hire/ buy, you’ve got plenty of options for everything from the decorations to the food. Baking a gluten free/ dairy free cake was not something I wanted to tackle this year and was so grateful that Mama B’s Treats could take care of that and the other baked goodies for me. Another great time saver is to get pre- made goodie bags; check out Bag O’ Swag for their great bags and goodies. The other thing that I wish I had done was pick up pre- made veggie and fruit trays. I spent a lot of time the night before with my Mum prepping everything and I could have used that time on other things.
No matter how the food and decorations turned out, what was really important was celebrating my little lady turning two and I’m so glad to have shared the day with some of our closest friends and family. Even with the stress of the week leading up to the party, I was so happy everything worked out. Now to go track down a good glass of wine and unwind… 😉
I am going to be honest: this post was intended to tell you all about how to plan a birthday party (or any special event, really) that was both stress- free and as cute as those photos you covet on Pinterest and Instagram. I’d be lying if I told you planning Ari’s first birthday was stress- free, but as this post hopefully shows, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to have a great party.
Overall, everything worked out and I was happy that my hard work paid off, but there were a few bumps in the road on the way (the hubby and I totally ended up fighting as we juggled all the day- of prep for the family party). For any Mom planning a birthday party, or celebration- or for any lady who has a shower, wedding, or other special event to plan, I hope this gives you an honest & realistic idea of what is involved.
Proceed With Caution!
Like so many friends I know, it started with Pinterest. I pinned ideas that I loved and before long had more than a few ideas about what I wanted to do, a theme, and how all the little touches would make it perfect (this process very much reminded me of planning my wedding, and how easy it is to get carried away with ideas). It isn’t hard to get excited- and overwhelmed- by all of the cute and beautiful ideas out there for special occasions. But I have learned that like so many things, you have to prioritize. It’s easy to get carried away!
Break Up the Celebrations
I am very lucky to have some wonderful friends that I wanted to share the occasion with, and knew that it would be best to split up the celebrations into a friends party and a family party (the family party alone would be around 20 people!). I decided to go with pink and gold, with Minnie- Mouse inspired polka dots and decor.
And now for the fun!
The Decorations Tip:Save money by making some or all of your decorations. Get creative with dollar store staples such as streamers, tissue paper & ribbon- the options are endless! (I made tissue tassels & streamer curtains that made a big impact without dropping a lot of money). Keep decorations that can be re- used for other parties & celebrations (like multiple birthday parties!)
I carried the pink, gold, & polka dots throughout both parties, re-using some of the decorations for both. A fun bonus was the Minnie Mouse balloon sculpture courtesy of Coco Globo balloons- it was the perfect fun finishing touch I was looking for.
The Family Party
The Friends Party
Thank you to Coco Globo for the Minnie Mouse balloon sculpture!
The Goodie Bags Tip: Keep these fun favours budget friendly by combining some homemade goodies with 1 or 2 larger items.
I did slightly different bags for the lil ladies & gents (but all had some sugary treats for the parents, including some homemade candy skewers!)
For the lil gents:
Bow tie from Cutie Pie Boutique
Candy skewer & lollipop (for Mom & Dad!)
For the lil ladies:
Clippie set from Cutie Pie Boutique
Candy skewer & lollipop (for Mom & Dad!)
The Food Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for some help with the menu! I was fortunate to have my Mom and Mother In Law help with the family party and one of my girlfriends contributed beautiful homemade cupcakes for the friends party to help offset the cost & work.
The cakes lovingly made by my mama in law! (I LOVED the smash cake!)
And the gorgeous cupcakes my friend made for the friends party- eek those bows!
The freebie cake from our local Thrifty’s (you get a free cake when your lil one turns one!)
Even though these ideas show girly colours, you can easily swap them to suit the colours of your theme. I hope some of these ideas inspire you for your next special event- whether it’s a birthday party, shower, or wedding! oxox TPB
I want to say how grateful I am to Cutie Pie Boutique and Coco Globo for helping me make these celebrations extra special. See below for info.
Cutie Pie Boutique- adorable hair accessories & rompers for your little lady! Etsy Store Facebook
Coco Globo- amazing balloon sculptures for all your special events needs! Website Facebook