Browsing Category: parties

Free Printables: Goonies Themed Birthday Party

Scroll down to the end of this post to download the Goonies party printables: Hey You Guys banner, cupcake toppers, water bottle labels, and movie quote signs. 

Despite trying/wanting/praying to get my life organized and start off 2017 with grace and efficiency, I stumbled into February in a state of panic because Valentine’s Day parties and treats and crafts for 3 kids AND all 3 kids’ birthdays within a 5 day period on the middle of February. 😫 Somehow, I managed to pull it all off without DYING or killing anyone, although once all the madness was over, I did spend an entire day on the couch watching mindless television (AKA Law and Order marathon).

So with 2 boys turning 8 and a little girl turning 5, trying to think of a theme that would appease all 3 kids was my first challenge. The boys are all about Legos and Star Wars and the Avengers, while my daughter is obsessed with My Little Pony and (unfortunately) Shopkins. However, they miraculously agreed on a Goonies themed party because GOOOOONIES!!! That, and my daughter adores Cyndi Lauper (because who doesn’t), and she loves the Good Enough music video at the end of the movie. 😉

As with all birthday parties, invitations are key! They get (kids and parents) excited for the party, and they set the stage for what’s to come. A couple years ago with the boys’ 6th birthday party, the lightsaber invitations were such a huge hit with the kids. Several of the kids brought their lightsaber invitations to the party with them.

I would have loved to create a rolled up treasure map for the invitation, but that would have been difficult to send out in the mail. Luckily, the design of the treasure map used in the movie is actually meant to be folded, so here’s what I put together:

These fit perfectly in a 5×7 invitation envelope, so it was ideal for mailing. I would have loved to add some music notes to the top of the back of the map, but with irregular shape of the map, I thought it would be too much work to figure out the placement for double sided printing. My handy dandy Silhouette Cameo cut the invitations to shape so I didn’t have to sit and hand-cut each of them like I did back in the day with the lightsaber invitations.

With the invitations sent out, I had several weeks to plan the party, but in the meantime, I also had to make 3 Valentine’s mailboxes, 78 classroom Valentine’s cards/goodies, plus the usual 592 loads of laundry/week and the CONSTANT EATING!!! (It really does feel like meal prep is an endless cycle in this house!)

So pretty much the week before Valentine’s Day and birthday party, I had a panic attack and had to crank out all the decorations, the party favors, and the treats. We kept food and party activity simple by calling it a “movie night” party and popping in the blu-ray to (hopefully) appease the children, and serving up hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. Luckily, my brother-in-law is our resident grill master, and he had no problems with manning the grill during the party.

As a side note, I rewatched Goonies a few weeks ago to get some inspiration for the party, and I was worried that there was too much cursing and general inappropriateness for 5 and 8 year olds, but my husband told me I was overthinking (as per usual). He insisted that pretty much every parent had seen the movie as a kid, and if they didn’t think the movie was appropriate, they wouldn’t let their kid come anyway, so I didn’t need to worry. And (as per usual), he was right. No one said a thing, and parents were so engrossed in the movie themselves that I think they may have forgotten that they had even brought their kids to the party! By the end of the evening as the movie ended, the parents and my boys were pretty much the only people still staring at the TV. Most of the other kids had run off to play, which was fine–as long as everyone had a good time!

Here’s how the party worked out:

I just happened to have a few decorative skulls laying around from an unfinished craft project, so those worked perfectly for decor. I cut an eyepatch out of black felt for One-Eyed Willie and threw on a kid’s pirate costume hat. For other table decor items, I used some copper Moscow Mule mugs that I already had and some silver wine goblets that I picked up at Salvation Army for $2. I also purchased some beads from Oriental Trading Company, but I should have just gone to Dollar Tree because I found better beads for way cheaper ($1). Lesson learned. I also happened to have a copper pot (Chester Copperpot, get it? Get it? Hahaha!) that I put on the table as well.

Also, with this party, I decided to save some money by not ordering a cake. I was spoiled when we lived in Korea because there were some amazingly talented bakers/cake decorators/military spouses who baked out of their homes and offered beautiful artistic creations for very affordable prices. As I discovered, the same in not the case anymore! A single-layer half sheet cake with some plastic pirate decorations was going to run me at least $45, and quite honestly, I don’t think I would have been happy after the amazing cakes the kids had in Korea. My solution was to bake a billion cupcakes! It worked out for us because each of the kids wanted different flavors, and as a parent, I actually prefer cupcakes because they’re small. Cupcakes are exceedingly easy to bake and decorate, especially if you use cupcake toppers, so that worked out well for me. I baked all the cupcakes the night before the party, then whipped up the icing and decorated them just before the party started.

I recently discovered a recipe for a whipped cream cheese icing, and being a lover of cream cheese icing in general, I had to try it out. It is simply DIVINE. It whipped up beautifully, and despite being a bit concerned that the icing wouldn’t hold its shape if it sat at room temperature for too long, the heavy whipping cream did its job.

Since we didn’t have a cake, I purchased 3 small cake stands from Target so each of the kids could have their own little stand of cupcakes. When it cake time to sing them happy birthday, the kids each had their own stand with the appropriate number of candles to blow out. Also, as party favors, I made each of the kids a One-Eyed Willie t-shirt that they received when they arrived. Most of the party-goers were excited about their pirate shirts. There were a couple of hold-outs, but it was pretty cute to see all the kids running around with the same shirt on.

In addition to the cupcakes, I made Rocky Road treats (just marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate, then dipped in crushed walnuts), and I had some Baby Ruth bars, Hershey’s Gold Nuggets, and chocolate gold coins to round out the treat table.

I had also intended to make pirate ships with food boats filled with popcorn for the movie night portion of the party, but I had some logistical issues with getting the sails to stand upright in the food boat. The night before the party, I figured it would take far more time than I had to make each individual boat, so sadly I had to let go of that one.

And that just about wraps up the decorative elements of the party! Oh wait… I also decorated myself! 😉 HEY YOU GUYS!!!

Oh, and last, but certainly not least–thank you cards–because GOONIES ALWAYS SAY THANK YOU!

Various printables are available here to download and print for free for your PERSONAL USE ONLY. Click on the thumbnail to open the high resolution image. Right-click the high-res image to download.

PRINTING TIPS:

  • Use 110lb card stock for signs, banners, cupcake toppers, and thank you cards.
  • For the water bottle labels, regular printer paper or everyday quality photo paper will work. However, it’s best to not pre-chill your water bottles or the condensation from the bottles being set at room temperature will ruin the ink and paper.
  • For the water cup stickers, use sticker paper.
  • Set your printer to “Letter Borderless” and Best Quality. Images should print at 100% scale.
  • For best results, use a 2 inch circle punch for the Rocky Road toppers and the Goonies Never Say Die toppers. Use a 2.5 inch circle punch for the It’s Wet Ain’t It stickers. A paper trimmer is recommended for the straight edges of the banner, the quote signs, and the thank you card.

 

Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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jkwdesigns.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Free Printable: Star Wars Chocolate Treat Bag Tags

IMG_0960I’ve recently received several messages from people asking about the chocolate favor tags that were used during my boys’ Star Wars birthday party. I don’t know why I didn’t include that as a free download in my original post, so here it is!

I’ve removed the names of the chocolate truffles that I made for the party so the tags are more generic and can be used for any type of chocolate. Just click on the link to download the PDF. Enjoy!

Star Wars Chocolate Tags

 

Star Wars Ad

Free Printables: Star Wars Themed Birthday Party

February is a short, crazy month in the jkwdesigns household. Now that my big boys are in school, I have Valentine’s Day crafts, 100th day of school crafts, and the birthdays of all 3 of my children to celebrate. All within a week of each other. 🙁 I feel like I’m juggling 30 crystal wine glasses while doing the river dance.

When my boys asked begged me for a bowling party, I have to admit that I was a little sad. As a party planner, I had grand plans for a Jedi Academy themed party, complete with Jedi robes, lightsabers, training course and certificates of completion. Two minutes later, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief because I wouldn’t have to worry about prepping all the activities and planning the menu. Feeling about 10 lbs lighter, I vowed to throw all my efforts into the invitations and party favors and got started.

And here’s what happened!

INVITATIONS HOW-TO:

Inspired by other lightsaber invitations I saw on Pinterest, but absolutely unwilling to cut out individual lightsaber pieces and construct, I decided to go with a more realistic approach. Plus, hunting down card stock in various colors here in Seoul seemed like a waste of time. (I really, really miss Michael’s and AC Moore!) I did some research on lightsaber hilts and found that Yoda’s lightsaber would work best. It’s fairly uniform in width from top to bottom, so it would provide the width I needed to be able to slide a blue or green ray of light/paper in and out of the hilt. Using an image of Yoda’s lightsaber hilt, I adjusted the size to widen it without making it look disproportionate.

Lightsaber Invitations

Materials:
Card stock in white to print lightsaber hilts
Card stock in color of lightsaber blade
Printer
Scissors
Sookwang double sided tape (1/4 inch wide)

The lightsaber hilts are approximately 2 inches across, which leaves about 1.5 inches to work with on the inside once the pockets are constructed.

You can download the PDF file containing the adjusted lightsaber hilts (3 per page) here: Lightsaber Invitation

Print on card stock and cut the lightsabers out. You will also need to create a stencil of the cut piece in order to create the “pocket.” If you’re handy with the Silhouette cutter, then you could easily import the image and have your Silhouette do all the cutting for you.

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The most tedious part of the invitation is creating the pockets for the blade. I used Sookwang tape or Scor-Tape, which is an amazing double-sided adhesive. I placed the adhesive along the edges of the lightsaber hilt (approx. 1/8 inch) and cut the excess adhesive off. This allowed me to make the pocket as wide as possible since I had very little room to work with.

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For the blade portion of the invitation, I designed a long, narrow invitation strip and printed half in blue and half in green (because I have twins who insist). And the result was an absolute hit. The kids–mine and the recipients–were thrilled with the invitations, and many of them went so far as to bring their lightsaber invitations to the party.

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FOOD:

Our local bowling alley is all set up for parties; however, as part of the party package, the only food that you’re allowed to bring in is a birthday cake. Everything else must be purchased from the bowling alley. And the options are very limited. As in what toppings would you like on your pizza limited. So pizza and fruit punch it is.

ACTIVITIES:

The rental is for a 2 hour party: one hour of bowling followed by one hour of food and cake. We’d been to enough parties at the bowling alley to be familiar with the set-up, and the bowling portion of the party is enough to kids occupied, so there really was no need for planning any other activities.

I did, however, create an activity placemat for the tables, just so it wouldn’t be so bare. It contains a blueprint-type coloring page of the Millennium Falcon and a personalized word search that includes my boys’ names. There are some great word search generators online–here’s one of my favorites from The Teachers Corner.

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DECORATIONS:

It’s no secret that I like simple, bold design, and since this party was for MY kids and not for a client, I was able to go with my very own personal style. Luckily, my boys don’t really have opinions on this sort of thing, and they were just so excited that everything was Star Wars-related that I received no complaints. 😉

So as my design style goes, I stuck with black, white and gray with a splash of yellow. Since I couldn’t bring in my own food, it limited my party styling. I kept the cake table pretty clear because I definitely wanted the cake itself to be the center of attention. The cake was made by an incredibly talented friend of mine who will be in Seoul for the next few months, so if you’re looking for a cake designer, let me know and I’ll pass along her information!

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Almost all of my decorations were made with the help of my trusty Silhouette Cameo. I cut Jedi Order symbol stickers (in white) and applied them to black paper cups. I cut white star stickers and applied them to a black plastic tablecloth which was hung on the wall for the backdrop. I cut additional Jedi Order and Rebel Alliance symbols from black poster board and placed them on the yellow napkins on tables. The “Welcome Young Jedi” sign was also made from sticker letters cut with the Silhouette. Seriously, I love my Silhouette.

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The only other decor item that I designed for the party is the birthday banner, which you can download here for free! This includes the Jedi Order symbols. Just print on card stock, cut, punch holes and string together!

Star Wars Birthday Banner

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PARTY FAVORS:

Since I had decided early on that I was going to put all my efforts into party favors, I knew that I wanted to make personalized t-shirts for my boys’ guests. However, I knew that many of them would be coming with younger siblings. Then, I got to thinking about the people I really wanted to thank for coming, and that was PARENTS! So here’s what went into the party favors:

For the Jedi Masters:

Each of the guests received a personalized t-shirt, which was created using heat transfer paper. I’ve worked with heat transfer paper before in the past, and I don’t love it. The finished product doesn’t typically hold up very well in the wash. The image cracks, and the colors fade. However, on the bright side, if you’re going for a vintage look, it’s perfect! 😉

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For Younglings:

Younger siblings received a glow stick/lightsaber favor, which actually ended up being super popular with ALL OF THE KIDS. Luckily, I had so many glow sticks left over from our Valentine’s Day project that I’d made extras so there were enough glow sticks for everyone.

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You can download the lightsaber cards here: Lightsaber Party Favor Card

For the Jedi Council:

Last, but certainly not least, I made gourmet chocolates for the parents! I had so much fun with this, and I’d actually been preparing to make these for quite some time, experimenting with recipes (particularly the raspberry ganache recipe) until I came up with one I liked. My husband and I ate A LOT of chocolate during the experimenting process. A LOT. But I think the end results were well worth it! And of course, the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper molds were perfect for the dark and white chocolates. The molds are available on Amazon.

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**EDIT 1/28/2016 – The Star Wars chocolate favor tags are available for free here**

May the Force be with you!

 

Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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jkwdesigns.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Star Wars Ad

Alice in Wonderland Dress

When a friend asked me to help her with her daughter’s Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party, I jumped at the chance! Alice in Wonderland is such a fantastically open-to-interpretation film that the possibilities are endless. We quickly decided on a general theme for the decor (which you can see over on the delightful. website), and I loved putting it all together, but there was something special that I just couldn’t wait to see the birthday girl dressed up in–an Alice in Wonderland dress!

I scoured the internet for other Alice in Wonderland dresses/costumes, but either they would take way more time than I had to make or they simply weren’t true to the Disney version of the dress. Mostly, my issue was with the shape of the straps on the white apron.

alice_in_wonderland49 Disney-ALICE-IN-WONDERLAND_663BB0F6 CBED66B6

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alice’s apron doesn’t have “straps” OR ruffles…

Alice-PNG-alice-in-wonderland-33922018-444-800The straps simply get wider as they get closer to the shoulder. And even though it’s a cartoon, and I know things translate differently in real life, I just love the simplicity of the Disney version of Alice’s dress. So… I had to draft my own pattern. Luckily, the birthday girl is the same size as my Penny, so I grabbed one of my daughter’s dresses and made a quick pattern for a dress.

I didn’t have too much time to work on the dress, so I really tried to keep it as simple as possible. One of the ways I toned down the complexity was to not add a waistband or shaping to the dress. It was going to be tied off at the waist anyway with the apron, so I didn’t need to create a bodice or any shaping around the midsection. For the sleeves, I hemmed the fabric while leaving enough room in the folded over fabric for 1/4 inch elastic. I made a simple Peter Pan collar for the dress, and rather than fiddling with a zipper or buttons, I just put an eye and hook closure at the back of the neckline.

IMG_8621Once the dress was finished, it was very simple to draft a pattern for the apron, especially since I could use my daughter to get the correct measurements. I simply drew the shape on a piece of paper, cut the fabric and got sewing! I searched for images of the back of Alice’s apron, but I couldn’t find anything from the back, the top of the apron is hidden by Alice’s hair. I just extended the straps and sewed the two pieces together at the back.

IMG_8622Here’s a photo of my reluctant daughter modeling the dress. She’s definitely got my-mom-sews-and-makes-me-try-on-everything-syndrome, and she hates trying stuff on for me. It usually involves tears and quite a bit of bribery. >_<

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Finally, to fill the bottom portion of the dress, I made a simple tulle skirt to be worn under the dress.

And here’s the beautiful birthday girl in all her Alice glory!

SONY DSCVisit delightful. to see more about the Alice in Wonderland party!

 

 

More about delightful.

A few weeks ago, I announced the start of a new adventure for me–delightful. event designs by julia, and it has taken off beautifully! I’ve worked on a couple parties in the past few weeks, and I have several more lined up in the next couple months. Thank you so much to everyone for the support!

Here’s a little peek at what I’ve been doing over at delightful.

Alice untitled

If you’d like to see more about my event planning packages, visit me at delightful.’s new website and Facebook page!

 

An Exciting New Endeavor

My blogging silence over the past couple of weeks is due to an exciting new business endeavor that I’ve decided to take on. It’s something that I absolutely love to do, and even before my official “announcement,” I’ve already got clients lined up and work to keep me busy over the next couple months (mostly because of my amazing friends, the power of word-of-mouth, and the wonderful community that I am blessed to be a part of here in Seoul).

So here goes… I’m super excited to announce delightful. event designs by julia (that’s me!).

Delightful Design

I am now offering event design services, focusing on creative and fun parties for kids although I would also be thrilled to design, plan, and style cocktail parties, wine tasting parties, dinner parties, and maybe even someday… The ultimate party–weddings! However, my focus is on smaller celebrations where I can really tailor the design and the experience for specific groups of people, whether it’s something like the Rainbow War Party for young children or an intimate cocktail party for close friends.

For the time being, my services are limited to Seoul, South Korea, but my Party-in-a-box options will be available for shipping throughout Korea very soon. Links to come for a new website and Facebook page!

And don’t worry! 😉 I’ll still be here…somewhere between the stitches… Blogging about my adventures in Seoul, all my crafty endeavors, and, of course, the fabulous parties that I have the privilege of designing! <3

A Midsummer Night’s Cocktail Party in Seoul

If there’s something I love as much as crafting, it’s throwing parties. I love having friends over for the great conversation and memories, but for someone who is very detail-oriented, there’s something about putting together a party that gets me super excited and into full-on work mode! After all the fuss and planning of the Rainbow War Party for kids, I really wanted to do something for and with my own grown-up friends, and what’s more grown up than a fancy cocktail party???

My husband–the former bartender–and I put together a simple, summery cocktail menu. We wanted a bit of variety, but we also wanted to keep things relatively simple so he wouldn’t spend the entire evening mixing drinks. We settled on three drinks that were contemporary twists on classic cocktails:

Cocktail MenuWith all three drinks, we prepared and mixed as much as possible, so when it came to actually pouring the drinks, there was very little to do. In addition to the cocktail menu, I prepared take-home recipe cards of the drinks we served for our guests.

Cocktail Recipe CardsAll three of the drinks we prepared contained mint, which (to me at least) is a quintessential summer herb. I love the smell of mint, and having recently taken a trip to Vietnam with my husband where fresh herbs like mint, cilantro and basil are at the center of their cuisine, I decided to have an Asian-inspired food menu: fried spring rolls, fresh summer rolls, soba noodle salad with wasabi and lemon vinaigrette and Asian meatballs with a sweet sesame sauce.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Cha Gia, or Vietnamese spring rolls, are just delicious. The ingredients are simple, but making them is a labor of love. I made the rolls the night before the party and deep fried them, then fried them again slightly just before the party. My deep fryer could only handle 7 rolls at a time, so it took a while… The spring rolls were served with nuoc cham, or seasoned Vietnamese fish sauce.

Summer Rolls

Summer rolls are one of my favorite foods ever. They are, as their name suggests, the perfect summer food. Plus, they’re filling and quite pretty to look at! 😉 The summer rolls were served with a homemade spicy peanut sauce.

Soba Noodle Salad

 

The soba noodle salad is simple yet flavorful salad that’s perfect for parties where you guests may or may not have eaten dinner before coming. Although this particular party was a cocktail party, and I didn’t plan to have a full dinner spread, I knew that some of my guests may not have had dinner before arriving since the party kicked off at 7pm. Soba noodles are quite filling, and since the noodles are served cold, it’s an easy dish to throw together just minutes before guests arrive.

Sweet Sesame MeatballsMeatballs are a perfect bite-sized appetizer for parties, but they’re not too exciting. So I added some delicious peanut and soy sauce based sauce, sprinkle some sesame seeds on it them, and voila! They’re sweet and savory and sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

After a fun two hours at our place, we ventured out to Perfl, a local cocktail performance bar. If you’re in Seoul and would like to see some impressive bottle tossing and twirling, flaming shots, and bar tricks, definitely check this place out! They regularly perform around 10pm (sometimes later), and the staff is amazing.

I spent the day after our cocktail party in full-on recovery mode, but a wasted Sunday was well worth the previous evening’s fun.

P.S. Stay tuned for recipes for all the edible goodies from the party!

 

 

 

DIY Rainbow War Party for Kids!

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy (thus my absence from the blogiverse lately). We have a 17 year old relative visiting from the States–and OMG is having a teenager in the house a lot of work! During his 14 day stay, we’ve managed to: visit the National Museum of Korea, Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Korean War Memorial and Musem, have our feet chewed on by little fish in Myeongdong, see the Jump! show at Kyunghyang Art Hill, play mini-golf, and eat all kinds of food our small-town, middle American teenager had never even heard of before. On top of that, I’ve been knee-deep in planning for a kids’ color war party, and despite feeling overwhelmed by all the things… The teenager is flying out tomorrow full of new experiences and wonderful memories (hopefully!), and the color war party was a huge success!

The party was inspired by a very talented photographer and friend, Zayda Barros. She wanted to photograph a color war, but since she doesn’t have kids (yet!), she asked me to help throw a party of EPIC proportions. 😉 And because I love planning parties, I ran with it and this is what happened:

color war

 

Since I knew that a professional was snapping away, I didn’t take very many photos… And I’m much too impatient to wait until her photos are ready to post to write this post, so apologies for my crap photos and I’ll have some beautiful ones to share soon!

UPDATE: Thank you to the very talented Zayda Barros for these beautiful photos!

Here what planning our Rainbow War Party entailed and some tips for planning your very own color war party!

Location:

Obviously, this is an outdoor activity! We planned our party for a public picnic area that was somewhat secluded, giving kids enough room to run around and throw colors without attracting too much attention. Also, access to water is important! Our picnic area came with a water faucet so kids could wash off before heading home/smearing colors all over the inside of mom’s car.

Guest List:

As with all parties, the fun begins with the guest list! We had a tough time keeping our guest list under 30 children, but we had to keep our group somewhat manageable. The color war is most appropriate for kids aged 4 and up. Our list consisted of 25 kids ranging in age from 2-9. As with all invitations for activity-based parties, be sure to thoroughly explain to parents what the party entails and be prepared to answer a host of questions! We explained: how kids should be dressed (plain white t-shirts that could be ruined during the party), what they should bring for their own child(ren) (towel and change of clothes), age-appropriateness, how long the color war would last, and how parents could help with supplies.

Activities:

Because of the toddlers and also because the color war only lasts about 20-30 minutes (depending on how much color powder you’ve prepared), we prepared other activities to keep the kids busy. Finger painting and play dough are great, colorful activities to keep kids happy and occupied as they eagerly await the beginning of the color war! I purchased finger paints, but made my own play dough (scroll down for the very simple DIY recipe!).

Finger Painting

Because I didn’t have immediate access to rolls of art paper, I just taped large sheets of white paper down to the picnic tables. Rolls of paper would definitely have worked better, but you do what you can…

Food:

Our menu consisted of pasta salad, rainbow bread sandwiches, fruit and veggie platters, M&Ms, Skittles, rainbow cupcakes and beverages–simple and colorful!

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The bread was easy but time consuming to make. There are many different ways to make rainbow bread–just do a quick Pinterest search and there are plenty of different recipes. However, I’m not much of a baker and with a million other things going on at the jkwdesigns house, I needed to make things easier for myself, not harder! So I went with pre made dough. Pilsbury French Loaf dough to be exact. 😉 I was inspired by the recipe for the Rainbow Sandwich Loaf, but I took quite a few liberties with the recipe in order to make it less labor intensive. My changes resulted in a bread that wasn’t quite as colorful as the recipe suggests, but it worked out, I saved some time, and made less of a mess. Win, win, win!

Rainbow fruit and veggie platters Rainbow treats

Decorations:

I kept decorations relatively simple since the focus was on turning our adorable little kids into colorful works of art! I made a “Taste the Rainbow” sign for the food table and individual food signs. I would have preferred white tablecloth for the tables, but supplies at my local shop were limited so I had to go with light purple. I also would have liked to hang white tablecloth as a backdrop for the color fight area, but I wasn’t able to do that either. Oh, the injustice of shopping for party supplies in a country that doesn’t really sell party supplies… 😉

Taste the Rainbow Sign

 

Also, I made water bottle labels for our Rainbow Warriors as well as juice box labels, but a friend brought them in a cooler with ice so my paper labels clearly weren’t going to work. My friend is clearly more thoughtful of the children that I am because I would have served the kids room temperature juice boxes for the purpose of aesthetics! 😉

Rainbow Warrior Water Bottles

 

The files for FREE printables can be accessed here:

Taste the Rainbow
Food Signs
Water Bottle Labels

And just for fun, I added some colored streamers around the picnic area, which ended up being more fun for the kids as we began clean-up.

Streamers

Rainbow War:

Because this party was for a photo session rather than for someone’s birthday, we asked that parents contribute color powder for the fight. They had the option of either purchasing a pack of holi powder from Amazon or making their own. I found numerous recipes for DIY color powder for color wars, but none of them worked quite as well as I had hoped. The flour-based mixtures took ages to dry (Korean summers are just too humid), and very few of us owned coffee grinders. In the end, I did quite a bit of experimenting and came up with an EASY, NO-MESS solution! (Scroll down for Color Powder Recipe!)

For the rainbow war, we pre-filled cups with a small amount of color powder. As the color war began, kids were each given one cup, then instructed to return to the table to have their cups refilled when they ran out of color. This definitely helped the battle last longer!

Color Powder

The only instructions that we gave the kids were:

1) No throwing colors directly at someone’s face.

2) If someone asks you to stop, you must stop.

All the kids were a bit shy at first, but once they got the hang of things, it was a raging battle of colors–complete with laughter and shrieks of delight! And a few tears. 😉 It was impossible to keep the little ones (2 year olds) out of the battle, so we gave in and let them make their own messes, but my daughter decided halfway through the battle that she’d had enough and just wanted me to hold her. You win some, you lose some…

If you’re planning your own color war, just keep in mind that the color and consistency of the store-bought holi powder is far superior to the DIY powder. The colors are spectacular, and the consistency is dust-like. Here’s a link to the one we purchased: Holi Powder. On the other hand, the kids couldn’t have cared less! They were just as happy with the mom-made color powder as they were with the rather pricey holi powder a couple of us ordered from Amazon. If your goal is to take photos of bright clouds of color, invest in the store-bought powder, or perhaps use the holi powder for the first round/photographs, then move on to the DIY powder to save money.

Finally, the best way to end a color war is with water because…no one doesn’t like water play on a hot summer day.

Water Balloons

 

DIY Play Dough Recipe (for 4 different colors):

Play Dough

Materials:

4 cups of flour
1 and 1/2 cups of salt
1 cup of hot water
6 teaspoons of vegetable oil
Food coloring

1. Thoroughly combine the 4 cups of flour and 1 and 1/2 cups of salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Place 1/4 cup of hot water in 4 individual bowls. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and the appropriate amount of food coloring to each bowl. If you’re using liquid food coloring, you’ll probably want about 30 drops of each color to make a nice dark shade. If you’re using gel food coloring, use approximately 1/2 teaspoon of each color.

3. Add 1 and 1/4 cup of the flour/salt mixture to each bowl. Mix ingredients together as thoroughly as possible with a spoon (no need to get your hands dirty!). You may still have clumps and unmixed portions of the mixture.

4. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on a cutting board or other dry surface and dump the contents of one bowl onto your work surface. Kneed and combine until the play dough is no longer sticky/tacky. Repeat this step with the remaining bowls of play dough.

NOTE: Store play dough in ziplock bags or an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

DIY Recipe for Color Powder

Materials:
3 heaping tablespoons of corn starch
Small amount of water
Food coloring

Additional materials:
Aluminum foil or saran wrap
Ziplock bags
Rolling pin

1. Place 3 heaping tablespoons of corn starch in a bowl. Add a small amount of water (approximately 4 tablespoons) and mix. The corn starch will have a strange, difficult to mix consistency. It will seem like it’s halfway between a liquid and a solid. If you’re having trouble mixing it, add a little more water.

2. Once the water/corn starch is thoroughly combined, add food coloring. As the mixture dries, the color will lighten slightly so be liberal with the food coloring! I used 30 drops of food coloring in each batch, and the colors weren’t quite as dark as I would have liked.

3. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or saran wrap and pour the mixture onto the cookie sheet. For faster drying, pour the mixture into small globs. The bigger the glob, the longer it will take to dry. Being a rather impatient person, I poured my mixture in thin lines. Dried super fast!

4. Allow the mixture to sit for as long as it takes to DRY COMPLETELY. It will become brittle and break into pieces when it is completely dry. In our humid, non-air conditioned apartment, it took about 2 hours.

Color Powder 1

5. Break the dried mixture into pieces and place in a ziplock bag. I just picked up the edges of the aluminum foil and poured the pieces into the bag. Press most of the air out of the bag and begin rolling over the mixture with a rolling pin to break it back into a powder. Voila! Color powder!

Color Powder 2

NOTE: If you make the color powder in advance, I would recommend storing it in bowls or containers WITHOUT a lid. If the container is sealed, condensation will begin to form and the powder will become mushy. Not the look you’re going for. 😉

 

Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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jkwdesigns.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Easter Party for Little Ones w/ Free Printable!

easter party

I love throwing parties, and I never really need an excuse, but I especially love holidays because they’re the perfect reason to invite friends over for food and fun! We regularly host play dates at our house, but with Easter approaching, and a limited number of Easter activities on post (the military base), I decided to host our own little Easter party and egg hunt for my children and their friends. Generally, because holiday activities are so limited here, attendance is high, and the Easter egg hunt on post isn’t terribly toddler/preschooler friendly. The little ones are usually a little too overwhelmed, and the eager big kids make it a bit difficult for the little ones to search for eggs.

My plan for the party:

  • Coffee and pastries for the moms (keeping it simple!)
  • 2 no/little mess craft activities (with 14 kids aged 21 months – 5 year, I didn’t want to risk having my house absolutely destroyed!)
  • Easter bingo (a FREE downloadable printable from artsyfartsymama.com)
  • Treat bags
  • Easter egg hunt

I asked the moms to bring some decorated eggs and basket(s) for their child(ren).

No-mess Craft Activities:

Last week, I prepared a craft activity for my kids’ Friday morning play group by cutting out about a billion eggs from card stock to make this beautiful paper egg–well, only 14, but it felt like a billion! 😉

IMG_7197The craft was actually a big hit with the moms… And I loved my kids’ creations so much that they’re now framed and sitting on the console table in our entryway as our official Easter decor! This is definitely a craft that’s hard to mess up.

easter decor

I used the large egg template found here, and since last week’s craft only called for the “frame” of the egg cutout, I had 14 egg cut-outs that hadn’t been used. I had a large bowl full of colorful craft buttons, so egg cut-outs + buttons + glue and voila! The easiest craft ever!

easy paper easter egg craft

The toddlers especially had a great time sticking the buttons on the paper egg shapes, and most of them needed very little help–win-win!

For the preschool bunch (ages 4-5), I pre-cut bunny ears, paper plates and whiskers, so all the kids had to do was assemble the pieces. If our group had been slightly smaller, I would have let the kids cut the bunny ears out on their own, but with so many kids and toddlers in the house, scissors–even safety scissors–didn’t seem like the good idea.

paper plate bunny mask

I used a free template/printable for the ears that are actually for bunny ear headbands, but this worked well since two sets of ears printed on a single page. Also, I’ve tried lots of different shaped ears for various crafts over the years, and these work the best. The taller the ears, the less likely they’ll actually stand up. In fact, most templates for bunny ears WON’T stand unless you use cardboard or foam core. For these ears, card stock works, but you’ll want to double up on the paper plate, especially if you’re using the super-cheap, flimsy kind. 😉

The bunny whiskers are approximately 7 inches long and 1/2 inch thick strips of construction paper. Simply curl the ends by using a butter knife and curl just as you would curling ribbon.

All the kids have to do is glue the pieces together and tape a popsicle stick on the bottom back. It’s basically a quick, easy, instant-gratification craft for the kids. And really, who doesn’t want to see a bunch of little bunnies hopping around?

Easter Bingo

The very talented Artsy Fartsy Mama created these adorable Bingo cards and game pieces that my kids ADORE:

Easter Bingo

 

We’ve played this at home, at play group, and now at our Easter party, and it’s always a success. The best part is, the game can continue until each and every child has had a chance to yell out “BINGO!” and all is right with the world for preschoolers. It can be downloaded and printed from here, and you can also find loads of other amazing printables on her site.

Easter Party Decor

Since my kids were “hosting” their very first Easter party and egg hunt, I needed to make up some special party decorations and treat bag tags!

Easter DecorSo I have a few free printables for you! A “Happy Easter” sign, a “welcome to our party” sign, treat bag covers, and a sign for the treats–Easter egg seeds!

All of the printables are designed to be printed on 8.5×11 on the BORDERLESS setting. The treat bag covers work best with card stock, but it can be printed on regular paper as well. There are 4 bag covers per page. Just cut them into strips, wrap around a little baggie filled with jelly beans or other little egg-shaped candy, and staple closed at the top!

Click here to download easter printables pack

easter eggs

And what’s an Easter egg hunt without Easter eggs??? If you’re interested in the eggs I decorated for the party, click here to read about it.

The night before the party, as I was wrapping up the prep work, I realized that I forgot to buy my kids Easter baskets. While I understand that it’s not the end of the world and my kids would have been perfectly happy to run around with plastic shopping bags, they were the HOSTS of the party! So I scrambled to find *something* I could turn into an Easter basket. Fast. So I made these:

Personalized easter baskets

Out of tampon boxes! I just covered them with pretty scrapbooking paper, punched holes in the sides, made handles with yarn, and glued on the kids’ initials. My babies were thrilled to have personalized Easter baskets. 🙂 Now, I just need to figure out what to do with the piles of tampons I dumped on my bathroom floor…

Easter egg hunt

The egg hunt was a huge success! If you’re thinking of hosting an egg hunt for small children (toddlers and preschoolers), here are a few tips:

  • Keep it small. We limited the space the kids could search in and hid quite a few eggs in a relatively small space. This kind of forced the kids to be aware of their surroundings and “share” with other kids–always important lessons!
  • Hide approximately 12 eggs per 3-5 year old and 6 eggs per 0-2 year old. May seem like a lot, but kids (I should say “humans”) are competitive! This allows the older ones to find enough to satisfy and for the younger ones to also find a few.
  • Like most things kids do, they needed some simples rules: no running and no snatching eggs away from the babies. Easy to remember, easy to follow.
  • Another random tip about Easter egg hunts–smaller baskets make for happier children! Kids with large baskets who found 10 eggs wanted to find more. There’s so much more room in their massive baskets! But the kids with smaller baskets who found the same number of eggs and had overflowing baskets their baskets were THRILLED with their loot!

egg hunt

Happy Easter!

 

DIY Firefighter Themed Birthday Party

One of my two little guys is absolutely obsessed with firetrucks and firefighters. He wants to be a “firefighter/artist/builder” when he grows up (note that “firefighter” comes first!). At the military post we live near in Seoul, the birthday party location options are limited–there’s a bowling alley, Burger King, a small food court area at the hotel, and rooms with tables that can be rented at the community center. However, when I discovered that the fire station allows kiddos to have birthday parties there… Well, there was really no point in entertaining the idea of any other location!

Luckily, my boys are pretty easy-going, and it was fairly easy to convince the other boy that even though he doesn’t want to be a firefighter when he’s a Big Boy, we can have their party there. I booked the fire station more than 2 months in advance–I couldn’t run the risk of the place not being available–and I started planning. The only downside to the firehouse is that the space where the party can be held is very small, so I had to keep the guest list short and activities pretty low-key. Also, winters are COLD here in Korea, so everything needed to be indoors. On the bright side, the kids are allowed on the firetrucks, and they’re even allowed to try on REAL firefighter gear.

I scoured Pinterest for birthday card designs, and even though my husband thought I should just order pre-made ones and not create more work for myself… Well, I have trouble listening! I wanted a card (and ultimately a theme) that reflected the city of Seoul. I found the perfect silhouette of the city here (which can be purchased for very reasonable price), and got to work!

birthday invitation generic

Once the invitation was designed… Then came everything else! Food and drink signs, a silhouette/backdrop, a birthday banner, and everything else! The only thing I didn’t do myself this year was the birthday cake because A) my oven here in Korea is about 1/4 the size of an American oven and I nearly lost my mind last year baking everything for my daughter’s first birthday party, and B) my boys picked out a cake that was far, far beyond my skill set! Luckily, the amazing baker behind Cooks Cakes created a cake and cupcakes that not only looked amazing, but were so, so tasty! Unfortunately, she’s leaving Korea soon, but hopefully, she will be whipping up wonderful things for clients at her next destination!

IMG_0279One of the things I purchased rather than making myself for this DIY party were printable photo props from PaperBuiltShop on Etsy. (I highly recommend them! They have lots of super-cute printables including invitations, banners, party packages, and of course, photo props.) The digital file comes with detailed instructions for printing at home or at a professional print shop if you prefer. I printed mine at home on card stock (only because I wasn’t able to get high-quality matte photo paper on short notice), then laminated them before hot gluing them onto bamboo skewers (sharp end at the top!). Kids and parents loved the photo booth, which I set up with my iPad using a great app called PocketBooth. The photos come out in photo booth-style: a strip of 4 pics, and I was later able to email the photos to parents.

Other activities that I had set up in our tiny little space were cookie decorating and drawing thank you pictures for the firefighters. I purchased the R & M Fire Truck 5 Piece Cookie Cutter Set
from Amazon (so cute!), made the cookies a couple days in advance and just purchased cookie icing that came in a tube, ready-to-use. For the thank you coloring/drawing sheets, I just designed and printed them (download available below) and set up a little table with a bunch of crayons. Easy peasy!

party favorAnd finally… For party favors, I purchased the I Want To Be A Firefighter book from Amazon as well the Fun with Fire Trucks Stencils (Dover Stencils), tied them together with yarn, and added a thank you note that listed some firefighter-related online resources for kids and parents to enjoy together!

Stuff I Made:

Firefighter applique T-shirts:

firefighter tshirtsMaterials: white t-shirt, scrap fabrics (in red, black and yellow–old t-shirts work great!), stencils for florian cross and number, iron-on adhesive/fusible web (I used Thermoweb Heat n’ Bond Lite, which requires you to sew over the fabric, but Thermoweb also makes a no-sew version that works very well if you don’t want to sew), sewing machine (optional if you use the no-sew iron-on adhesive)

I purchased the t-shirts several months ago when they were on clearance for $2/each, and I had plans to stencil/paint Mr. T on them… But I’m glad I didn’t get that far because the white shirts with the black collar were perfect for their firefighter shirts. I used scrap fabric that I had on hand for the suspenders and the florian cross and yellow felt for the number 5. The suspenders were just long strips approximately an inch wide and cut to match the length of the t-shirt. I cut and ironed on all the pieces, then sewed around all of the appliquéd pieces to secure them in place.

Buildings on Fire Backdrop:

buildings on fire backdropMaterials: black foam board, black construction paper, yellow construction paper, ruler, exacto knife, paper trimmer (not necessary, but makes life much easier!), hot glue, and glue stick

I used foam board that conveniently had a black side. I cut the silhouette out with an exacto knife, but the edges of the foam board revealed the white “foam” in the center, so I cut narrow strips of black construction paper and hot glued it down (be careful not to get the hot tip of the hot glue gun too close to the foam. It will melt the foam!). The windows were made with squares of yellow construction paper and glued down with a glue stick (great for gluing paper because the paper doesn’t ripple). The “fire” was made with a simple cutout of flames printed on card stock and hot glued on.

Cupcake Tower of Fire:

cupcake towerMaterials: black foam board, 3-4 cans, household items useful for tracing circles, black card stock, black ribbon, crepe paper streamers, wooden chopstick, and hot glue

I used various mixing bowls from my kitchen to trace circles on foam board, then I cut the circles out with an exacto knife. The bottom/base layer of cans were two tuna cans duck taped together, and the middle and top were diced tomato cans (one can per layer). I covered the cans with black card stock, and hot glued the cans to the foam board. Then, I hid the white foam center of the foam board with black ribbon–more hot glue! I added some yellow, orange and red crepe streamers to cover the cans/pillars (also great for hiding any mistakes you may have made–the cans not being exactly centered or having to rip the hot glued cans off the foam board because you accidentally glued them to the wrong side of the foam board…). And to top it all off, I broke a wooden chopstick in half, covered it with crepe streamers, then glued on another flame cutout. Voila! A cupcake tower of fire!

IMG_6569

Signs, banners, badges, coloring pages, thank you cards galore!

printables

FREE PRINTABLES–OH MY!

Although all of my items were based on the Seoul city skyline, I’ve made a “generic” set of printables for your firefighter loving kids’ pleasure! I printed everything at home with my trusty little HP printer, and despite the massive amounts of black ink that I used, I still saved a bundle by not having everything professionally printed. A nice thick card stock worked just fine for the paper (only the water bottle labels were printed on regular paper). Other DIY-ers suggest using glossy photo paper to print labels for water bottles because of the moisture/condensation, but since I didn’t have to worry about it–it’s cold and dry here in February–I just used regular paper and it worked out just fine.

**All of the files are in PDF format. A few of the files can be opened in your choice of image editing software or even just Microsoft Word to add personalized text. I’ve added details about fonts that I used where applicable!**

**If you are printing at home, be sure to set your printer page settings to BORDERLESS 8.5×11 letter size or the edges will not print!**

Invitation:

birthday invitationYou can add personalized text to the invitation. I used RocknRoll Typo font (free download) for the heading text in my version of the invitation and Andrea Karime font (free download) for the party details (date, location, rsvp information).

Download birthday invitation

Birthday Banner:

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 11.05.25 PM

The Birthday Banner is a 14 page PDF file with one letter per page. You can simply cut the letters out and string them with ribbon (or yarn if you’re a yarn hoarder like myself!) or you can cut the letters out and glue them to colored paper before stringing them together for something extra fancy!

Download happy birthday banner

Signs:

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 11.13.03 PMSigns include: (download each file individually)

1) firefighter photo booth sign

2) firefighter food sign

3) fire extinguisher sign

4) please take one sign (for party favors)

5) blank sign (customizable using RocknRoll Typo font)

Junior Firefighter Badge:

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 11.16.39 PMI printed the junior firefighter badge on regular card stock, cut them out, then glued them to a sheet of red construction paper, cut them out again, laminated them and hot glued them to a brooch pin! Phew! It sounds a lot worse than it actually was.

Download junior firefighter badge

Other printables:

thank you coloring page

thank you card (2 cards per sheet)

water bottle labels (5 labels per sheet)

Photographs courtesy of Zayda Barros Photography