In my previous post I discussed the planning of our first family camping trip. I tried to plan everything to perfection so the kids would have the best time ever and be excited about any and all future trips and I'm proud to say that, even with a few mishaps, it was a successful trip! So, here's the recap!
The drive there was super pretty and uneventful. We followed along the side of the Arkansas River for the majority of the drive which made for some nice scenery. When we arrived the weather was nice and we got right to work setting up camp. The first snaffoo was realizing that the air pump for our air mattress needed D batteries that I did not have. So, Derek went to a the nearest town (20 minutes) to purchase some along with some alcohol for us to enjoy later by the fire. He wasn't excited about it but I have scoliosis and was unwilling to compromise with no mattress. Mere moments after his departure Arthur was trying to rinse his hands in the river and FELL IN! Luckily it is the Arkansas River Headwaters so the river is not as huge as it gets further south but he was pretty upset and the water was very cold. Luckily, the tent was set up so we got him in some dry clothes and he was all better.
When Derek returned we finished setting up our bed and had a dinner of chili cheese fries, hotdogs and s'mores. Everyone had a blast. Then it was bedtime. I purchased a tent heater to ensure that we had a good night's sleep however, I did not purchase a winterized tent. FAIL. The tent has a roof that is made entirely of mesh with an optional cover for rain. So, all of the heat our bodies and the heater produced went straight out of the top of the tent. We were all freezing for the entire night. It was terrible.
So, the next morning I have the ingenious idea to duct tape emergency blankets to the entire ceiling of the tent. I was quite proud of myself. I looked like we were inside of a a UFO and was a bit noisy but I'll take a little noise over freezing to death any day. The rest of the day was nice and relaxing. I made fire cooked blueberry french toast for breakfast which was bomb. We hung out, went for a hike, read books, the kids took advantage of all of the crafting supplies that I brough and I worked on some cross-stitching. For dinner I made us chicken teriyaki vegetables with rice which was also amaze-balls and we had some more s'mores. Then the wind came. It was so very, very windy. We had to extinguish the fire for fear of catching our tent on fire and we sent the kids into the tent to watch t.v. on my phone to distract them from the fact that Derek was outside literally holding the tent down. Oh, and the emergency blanket ceiling was soooooo loud with that wind ripping through it you could barely hear inside the tent. But, it did hold up and only had to be re-taped in a few places. And, once the wind calmed down we all slept great because the emergency blankets worked! I actually got sweaty even though it was colder the second night than it was the first.
The next morning the wind was still insane so we couldn't have a fire for breakfast but we did have a camp stove so we managed to eat some eggs and sausage. After packing up we headed to the nearby town of Buena Vista which is super picturesque. We enjoyed some well-deserved doughnuts and bougie coffee and even found an adorable bookstore to peruse for a bit. Then it was back home!
So, was it the picture perfect trip I had planned? No. But, it was very memorable and included a lot of family time. Plus, the kids had a blast despite the sleeping woes and are ready to go back. However, I don't think I will plan another fall camping trip. We'll go for a summer trip next time and hopefully avoid all of the trouble we experienced on this trip. If you're interested in any of the fun activities, planners and recipes that I used on my trip you can find them all for free in the my Mommy Camp: Camping download found on the post linked below.
Since moving to Colorado we have been loving the ability to be outdoors! No mosquitos?! Count me in! So, after acclimating our kids to hiking and general outdoorsiness, we've decided it's time to take them on a legit camping trip! But, I want it to be perfect so they love it and we can do it all the time without whining. (Hiking took a bit before they stopped whining about going.) So, I'm planning everything down to the last detail. I don't know if you've picked up on this yet but I have never been a chill person. I'm very extra in just about everything.
After spending hours researching tents, sleeping bags and everything else I could possible need, spending way too much on Amazon. Justifying the amount spent by rationalizing that if the world ends we'll be prepared and scouring the internet for suggestions that I may not have thought of (like cracking eggs before hand and storing them in a container...genius). I think we're ready to go. And, what kind of insane, OCD, extra mom would I be if I didn't make a special binder full of the plans, recipes, lists and kid activities to go along with us?! So, enjoy my Mommy Camp: Camping Guide which you can download by clicking the photo below and be sure to check back to see if all of my planning paid off or if we ended up in a hotel.
Every year for the past 8 years or so I have created a summer mommy camp. This year has been different. I usually work on it in my classroom at school over the course of several weeks when I have a little free time. I have not been in my classroom due to Covid-19 and have instead been at home with my three kids unable to go anywhere with them. It's been a lot. But, after struggling through the acceptance that this is the way it'll be for the forseeable future, I was able to get over my upset and get to work.
My 6 year old just finished Kindergarten and still struggles to read so I've been working with him to become a reader. My 3 year old doesn't know much of anything so I've been working with him on his alphabet. My 9 year old loves reading and is one of those kids you would view as a natural learner. She loves learning new things and devours any book given to her. She is actually Mommy Camp's biggest fan and was sad when she thought we wouldn't have one this year. When deciding on the theme I chose reading to help encourage my boys and continue with the hard work that we've already put into the cause. So, this summer's theme is "Let's Read!" I've created 8 weeks of lessons using "The Magic Treehouse" book series as the foundation. Each week we will read one of the books starting with the first in the series and continuing in order. If you have never heard of this series you will love it! They are about two kids who travel back in time and have an adventure so, they teach history along with the story. Just like all of my previous MC's I have included sensory, art, math, science and dramatic play activities but for this one have put a lot of focus on the reading portion. Because my three kids have very different levels of understanding, I have broken down the reading activities into three categories: Pre-Reader, Beginning Reader and Experienced Reader. My plan is to do the sensory, art, math and science activities together and then differentiate during the reading by giving them each different activities catered to their level. I will probably do this one-on-one so they can have my full attention and help.
I will try to post updates each week as we move through the plans so you can see what we've done. In the plans, I have given so many resources and activities that it is unlikely that we will do every activity each week. But, we aren't doing anything else so we might actually manage it! It's organized in a pick and choose format so you can select the activities that best fit your children and time allotment.
I hope you enjoy the lessons and that you are doing well during these terrible times.
You can download the PDF by clicking the image below.
My middle child just turned 6 and we celebrated with his current obsession, Pokemon! Check out the activities and party decor below!
The weather cooperated and was warm enough to have activities outside. So, I set up the food table on our back porch. I purchased the backdrop on Amazon and used a cheap plastic table cloth for the table. I made the cake with a gluten free box mix and died vanilla icing yellow. I also made the pikachu cake head and tail with yellow scrapbooking paper and markers. For food, I made labels using Canva and served pokeball fruit, jigglypuff puffs, pikachu peeps, caterpie gummies, and pikachu pizza (not pictured) which was just homemade pizza, nothing fancy. For drinks we had mana and health kool-aids.
I made the boys matching Pokemon trainer shirts. Lillian didn't want that so she just had the blank shirt. I made myself a Pokemom shirt and used my silhouette to do all of them by making a stencil and painting with acrylic paint. My husband could have dressed up in his costume from Halloween but wasn't feeling it so he donned a Psyduck sticker instead. But, I've shared what he could have worn if he was cooler above along with a link to our Halloween costume post here.
I planned TONS of activities to keep the kids entertained since it was at our home and not a jumpy place like most parties nowadays. We had a pokeball toss game, pin the tail on Pikachu, hatch a pokemon, pokemon trainer certificates, create a pokeball, catch all the pokemon stickers balloon pop and a pokemon scavenger hunt! You can download all the things I made for the party by clicking the button below!
We also made fizzing pokemon eggs using baking soda and water paste with food coloring. We made little eggs with a tiny pokemon inside and provided eyedroppers and vinegar for kids to "hatch" their pokemon. It was BY FAR the most popular activity.
For party favors I found huge red and clear plastic ball containers at Walmart and filled them with some colorful tissue paper, a pokemon card, some tiny pokemon figures, a bouncy ball, a pokemon character mask, and some pokemon gummies. To make them look like pokeballs I used black electrical tape and a center circle that I simply printed out and cut. They looked really cool and the kids thought they were awesome!
I hope you enjoyed taking a look at our party! We had fun and it went pretty smoothly. I was even able to be fully dressed and make-up and hair done BEFORE guests arrived which almost never happens. So, I call that a win!
Thanks for visiting!
It's almost Valentine's Day and I've pulled together a valentine themed Mommy Camp for you guys! There are a ton of fun, cheap and easy to set up activities that are sure to keep your little ones entertained and maybe give you the opportunity to do a few chores or even read a book! So, grab the free printable by clicking the image below and enjoy!
As usual, we didn't get to everything in the MC but, that's the beauty of Mommy Camp! You don't have to do it all! You can see all of the fun we had by checking out our pictures below!
We started with painting and the heart stamp from tp rolls activity. They thought that was very entertaining. We quickly moved on to the symmetry heart art. Arthur decided he wanted to just paint his whole heart and ended up with a very pretty heart.
Then we moved on to the heart hand tree art and instead of cutting a bunch of paper hearts and glueing them (which I thought would take a bit and that they would lose interest quickly) we decided to make finger print flowers on our trees which they of course loved.
After painting, we made some Valentine themed headbands with stickers and paper and then headed to the kitchen for some love potion science. I ended up kind of mixing two activities together because I realized that I forgot to buy baby oil and couldn't do one of the science activities I planned. So, good ole' baking soda, vinegar and food coloring to the rescue. This activity never fails to keep them busy for at least 30 minutes and I use it often. It's great for their dexterity skills because they use a medicine dropper or syringe to suck up the vinegar and squirt it on the baking soda. I find that hiding little doo dads and a few drops of food coloring under the baking soda so they get a bubbly surprise.
After they were done with their bubbly science, we pulled out some pink and red paper cups and stacked them so we could knock them down. Again, this activity is a favorite and keeps them entertained forever. I actually took a shower and did my hair and makeup while they were happily playing with paper cups for 45 minutes. If you haven't done this with your kids you should. You can extra fun by throwing in a nerf gun or ball for the destruction element.
I hope you and your children find joy with this MC like we did! Have a happy Valentine's Day and thanks for visiting!
I am sure you know how difficult travelling with kids can be. However, I truly feel that it is worth all of the stress and hard work and science backs me up on this. According to this article, taking your kids on vacation can enhance their executive functions and overall intelligence, help support their exploratory urge and can essentially refuel your family's affection for one another!
So, now that we've discussed how it can benefit your kids, let's talk about ways to make it not be a total shit show for you! Because, let's face it, going anywhere with kids can be a nightmare.
When I begin to plan a trip the biggest thing I can recommend is RESEARCH! Go to the internet and ask it some questions. Here are a few of the ones I always check on.
-What restaurants are kid friendly, offer kid discounts or even have a play area?
-What activities should you do? How much do they cost? What are the operating hours? Are there discount days?
-What is the driving distance from your hotel to the various activities you plan on doing?
After doing some preliminary research I begin to form my plan. First, I plan the trip there. We have not taken a trip requiring a flight with ours yet (mostly due to the extreme cost that involves) so, I have to do a good amount of planning for the drive.
Kids can't sit in the car for too long without a stop for play or pee or whatever. I usually use this site to find the halfway point between my start and end locations. Once I've found it, I will try to pick a good spot for us to stop somewhere around that spot, preferably a place that gives kids the opportunity to play.
For example, we recently went on a quick weekend trip to Huntsville, AL to visit the Space and Rocket Center. We live in Jonesboro, AR so halfway was a pretty small town. I started looking at a larger area not too far off and found a great indoor play center with a Red Robin close by! Winning! So, we ate and then played for a few hours. The play place was super cute AND offered free coffee for parents. They even had a giant ball pit that ALL of us enjoyed.
They were all really worn out and slept for the majority of the remaining 3 hour drive. The key is not to be in a rush. Take your time getting to your destination. It makes the drive there PART of the vacation! Also, this is important for the return trip too. You can repeat the same activities you did the first time or mix it up but, unless you are driving through the night, you should probably plan to have a fun stop in the middle.
Once I've planned the driving, I pick the hotel. I am very picky about hotels and generally want a suite that has a separate bedroom but, I'm also cheap AF. I am a Hilton Honors member which gets me some perks and discounts so, I generally stay at one of the Hilton affiliated hotels. I really like Homewood Suites. They have a free breakfast that is yummy, the hotels are usually very updated if not new and their suites include a full kitchen. Also, they usually have a pool. You should choose what your priorities are and go from there. I like to look at reviews and customer images on Tripadvisor when deciding between hotels.
After picking the hotel I get into all the details and actually create an itinerary for each day. Now, just because I have a plan does not mean that I stick to it hell or highwater. I leave it as an option but change based on how the day goes. I will often put some alternative activities or options on my list for the day just in case things don't go as planned.
I know it sounds super OCD of me to have it all planned but, with kids, it really does make it SOOO much better. When we went on our first family trip with an itinerary my husband scoffed and thought I was crazy but, because it was so informative (time to get from hotel to restaurant, addresses, business hours and cost) it made it easier for us to make decisions about our day and unplanned events didn't throw us for a loop.
For example, when we went to St. Louis for a week last summer, the first night we were there my son began to complain of a pain in his leg. Upon inspection, we found that it was hot, hard and red. Not good. So, we dosed him with some tylenol. (You should ALWAYS bring tylenol/motrin you'd be surprised how often you need it.) Then, the first thing the next morning we took him to an urgent care clinic nearby. Because I had planned so well and we knew what our plan was supposed to be along with hours and distance, it didn't mess with our day at all. He got treated and we went about our day.
Now, how do I keep up with all of this info? If you are picturing a jumbled up mess of papers and post-its to keep up with all of this info you'd be wrong. I created a doc to edit and use with each trip. It is graphically pleasing, well-organized and FREE for you to download! Just click one of the images below to download the free file!
I hope that my tips are helpful and give you the tools you need to plan an awesome family trip! Let me know how it goes and if you have any tips for me! I'm always eager to learn something new!
Thanks for visiting!
I'm planning another bday party! This time I'm taking a bit of a break by having it at a local gymnastics place. I won't be able to use the outside since it's February and I don't think I can handle a bunch of 4-5 year olds running around my house even if I plan the heck out of the thing. So, as you can see above, I've still done quite a bit of planning as is my way. I also created a bunch of printables including id badges, food signs, goody bag labels and photo props. You can check out my Pinterest inspirations here and download the printables by clicking the party planning image above!
My plan involves no activities for kids which is a first for me! I figure they will be much more interested in the giant foam pit, trampoline and other gymnastics stuff than crafts and games. I do have plans for fun goody bags, food and custom shirts for the family.
I used my favorite digital everything maker site, Canva, to make the invite. The coolest thing is that now they print your creations AND the prices are great! So, for about $30 I ordered 50 invites with envelopes and they look perfect!
I'm excited about this party and can't wait to get it all put together! Be sure to check back to see the party photos!
As you might already know, I am a high school teacher. This week we had parent-teacher conferences on Tuesday and then had Wednesday off so, while sitting in my classroom between parent meetings I worked on a little plan for entertaining my kids and keeping my sanity during our day off together. As always, we didn't finish everything but, we did have a lot of fun that was pretty low effort on my part and extremely inexpensive too! You can print out my plan at the end of this post!
We started the morning with some indoor fun because it was a bit chilly outside. So, I set up an invitation to play with play dough by giving them some spider rings, plastic eyeballs, gems, silk flowers and orange play dough and asked them to make me a monster. You can give them any doo dads you think they might like. I hit up the halloween aisle at Wal-Mart to have a few spooky things like the rings and eyeballs.
After the play dough fun, we headed outside for a little bit of messier play. I set up a container with colored water and googly eyes and placed a few large spoons next to it for them to create an eyeball stew. I also had a pumpkin painting station, pumpkin washing station and a pumpkin hammering station. For the washing station I just filled a container with soapy water and for the hammering station I provided a few small hammers and golf tees. They all enjoyed various areas more than others and they were all entertained for almost two hours!
We also made some boo hand print art and were going to make a monster wreath but, Arthur wasn't interested and wanted to play with play dough more and Lillian didn't want to make a monster wreath. Instead, she made a "pretty" wreath using ribbon and glue. They were happy so I was happy. If we end up with some free time before Halloween I will try to do the activities we didn't have time for and I'll post about it if I do. There are several fun science ones that I couldn't do because I didn't have any vinegar! So be sure to check out the document for those!
We ended the day with a trip to chikfila and I have to say, it was a pretty great day!
Download my very basic but serviceable plan below and enjoy!
I have another great guest post from Education.com! This time they've provided a free worksheet and answer key!
Let your child float through practicing subtraction with this fun Under-the-Sea Worksheet. Find more subtraction resources from Education.com.
You can get the free worksheets by clicking each image.
I've finally finished all of the planning for my Mommy Camp Summer 2017 lessons and activities!! It took a lot of work but I know my kids and I will be excited all summer long and they'll learn a ton and create some great memories. You can download the lessons and materials for each week by clicking the images below. Each document contains everything you need including worksheets, lesson plans, dramatic play printable and set-up ideas, directions and even pictures to help guide you AND it's all for FREE!
I will be posting every week so you can follow along and see how I put it all together! I hope you decided to join us on this very exciting summer of learning!
Just click on each image to download the documents for that week!
I've become disillusioned with vinyl t-shirt creating. No matter what I do, they never look as good as I imagine they will. They take a lot of effort and don't end up costing much less than if I'd just purchased it already made. So, when I decided to create some shirts for Earth Day I went with a new method: Freezer Paper Stencils! And, let me tell you, I AM IN LOVE! Why do you ask? Well, it was cheaper, faster and way, way, way easier! Let me tell you all about it!
You will need:
- freezer paper (You cannot sub wax paper. Freezer paper is only waxed on one side unlike wax paper.)
- exacto blade and/or cutting machine (I used my silhouette machine but, technically you could get extra artsy and use a cutting tool and free hand it. I would never dedicate that time but, to each his own.)
- acrylic paint colors of your choice
- paint brush
- pre-washed t-shirt
1. Design your stencil. I used my silhouette machine and designed the shirts using it's software. You could design it on a piece of paper or in powerpoint, print it out, and then trace over your design on the wax paper to cut it out.
2. Send your design through the machine. Place the freezer paper shiny side down on your cutting mat. The settings will depend on how detailed your design is and how sharp your blade is but for me, the settings that worked best were:
I did modify for different designs by changing the thickness or speed one or two depending. But, the blade remained at 1.
3. Weed your design and make adjustments if necessary. There were a few times where it didn't cut quite right and I ended up modifying it with scissors. You couldn't even tell when it was all done so don't stress if it's not perfect.
4. Position your paper on your shirt and apply heat with the iron. This creates a seal on the shirt with the waxy side of the paper but is easily removed with no damage making it great for painting!
5. Paint with desired colors using a paint dobber brush. I really liked the weathered look that was created by using just enough paint and not applying it evenly to all letters. I think it made the shirts look more professionally created. So, imperfection is rewarded here. Don't overdo the paint and don't stress that some letters get more than others. Yay!
6. Allow to dry.
7. Remove freezer paper stencil.
I couldn't be more pleased with how my shirts turned out and after washing they look as good or even better! I'm excited to make a ton more and am so glad that I don't have to mess with the frustration or cost of vinyl anymore! I hope you're inspired by this post and if you like my shirts you can download the silhouette files below!
My son was born in October and I have only recently finished his nursery. I figured I didn't need to rush since he is still sleeping in a bassinet beside me. Plus, we waited to find out what we were having and let it be a surprise on the big day! So, I didn't want to decorate until I knew the gender. Once I began planning, I decided on a mountain theme and am really pleased with how it turned out!
To begin I turned to Pinterest for inspiration, of course, and decided the mountain theme would be perfect. Originally I planned on painting a mountain mural similar to the ones below but, my husband was not a fan of the idea and, after painting the bedroom gray along with two other bedrooms and a bathroom, I was kind of over painting.
I went on a painting spree in our new home and took both of the boys bedrooms (they share a bath jack and jill style) from a seriously bright turquoise hue to a much more subdued and versatile gray from Sherwin Williams called "Evening Shadow". It has a tendency to lean toward the blue end of the gray scale but, from my experience, works well with any colors you throw at it. I also painted my office this color. It is almost complete and I will post about it soon! In addition to painting those three rooms, I also painted the jack and jill bathrooms, taking them from flamingo pink (I know right?! All THREE of our bathrooms were painted this color when we moved in!) to a blue gray from Sherwin Williams called "Rarified Air" and my daughter's bedroom went from boring taupe to a lovely light (almost white) purple shade called "Silver Peony".
So instead, I decided to create faux wallpaper using my silhouette machine and white vinyl. I found a few mountain shaped silhouettes and paired them with various triangle shapes, sent them through my machine and then applied them randomly on the main nursery wall. It took very little time and I love the result! In fact, if you want to create your own faux wallpaper using vinyl and a silhouette machine, you can download my file! Sweet!
After applying the vinyl, I made the name sign for above the crib by purchasing the blank sign at Hobby Lobby for $20 and painting the tops to look like snow covered mountains. Then I created a stencil using letters printed out from my computer and then cut and traced on top of the wood. It was also a quick project but makes a big impact. To finish the room, I added a gray and white striped teepee from Hobby Lobby for $45 (I used the 40% off coupon) and white faux fur rug. The crib is the same one from my other two children but I added white teething covers to lighten it and to cover the destruction left behind from my first son. I hung gray room darkening curtains on a white arrow shaped curtain rod from Ikea. The rocking chair is also a hand me down from the other two kids and the pillow cover was also a clearance Hobby Lobby find for $3. The dresser is a vintage piece from my grandfather. I found an awesome LED moon light on super clearance at Target for $15 and created the national park prints by sending free original images, found online here, to Walgreens for printing and then framed them in $5 frames from Hobby Lobby where I also found the wall vinyl tree. It has the ability to hang hooks on the branches but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
I only have one remaining project to complete for the room which is a mobile. I plan on making a mountain and tree one like the ones below. I've purchased all of the materials but haven't had the time to get it made. I'll definitely post about it when it's complete. I'm also on the lookout for a cool lamp but haven't found one I like yet. I'm sure there will be a few changes and additions once Alan gets moved into his new room but for now it is a lovely place to sit and relax while rocking him.
If you're interested in checking out my inspiration board on Pinterest, you can see it here!
If you loved my DIY Easy-Change Gallery Wall I thought you might like to see what changes I've made for the Christmas season. (I changed pics and art for Thanksgiving too but didn't post about it.) I decided that a Christmas countdown would be fun and started brainstorming ways to incorporate that into my gallery wall. I decided to buy a chalkboard from Hobby Lobby for 14.99 (I used the 40% off coupon though and got it for about $9!) Then I switched the chalkboard for the framed art that I had anchoring the wall display. I sketched a tree shape out of numbers inside boxes and it was done! I also swapped photos and art for ones with a Christmas theme using some free printables I found on Pinterest and family photos from years past. I love it and still love my easy-change gallery wall. It's so fun to change it with each season!
We lucked out and in our new neighborhood there are a bunch of kids our kids ages. We are especially lucky that directly across the street lives one of my daughter's best friends! But, sometimes it can be a struggle when either mine or theirs wants to play when the parents may have other plans. So, my friend/the mom across the street mentioned having door signs so the kids know not to knock/ring the doorbell and cause a meltdown to occur because they can't play. I thought it was a great idea and quickly whipped up these adorable and useful door signs!
Their easy to make and will definitely save us some heartache!
1. Download and print the free printable.
2. Glue the two sides together.
3. Cut the sign out.
4. Laminate (if possible) to enhance durability
5. Hole punch on the white dot and tie a ribbon/string through the hole.
6. Hang on your door!
Cute and functional!
We had a fun but busy weekend filled with birthday celebration! We held Lillian's 6th birthday party at our house and I think it was a great success! Check out all of the adorableness and visit the other blog posts to see how some of the items were made and to find some free printables!
We planned for an outside party but the weather was very iffy all week long. On Friday evening the forecast predicted an 80% chance of thunderstorms at 10am, the time the party was to begin. So, we cleaned up the garage (Remember, we just moved into our new house a month ago.) which was no small task and set up tables, chairs and activity areas inside it. We set up the food table, gifts and party favor areas inside in the dining room and entryway of the house. But, by 9:00 am the next day it was clear that the weather would cooperate and we enjoyed blue skies and not too hot temperatures! So, we moved the tables and activity areas outside and set up the water sprinkler for extra watery fun.
As far as other activities, I left the photo area in the garage and we set up a water table filled with soapy blue and green bubbles and a sign stating "Sea Foam Sensory Play". I also hid a bunch of seashells under the bubbles for kids to find and collect. It was a big hit and rather entertaining to see the kids with their handfuls of shells. We also had a face painting table where kids could get mermaid scales or sharks, an arts and crafts table where they could make a paper bag mermaid or shark puppet as well as color mermaid crowns and I had several games planned. But, we only managed one because the kids were so happy with the other activities and just playing with each other.
I created labels (You can download the labels at the end of the post.) for the food but went with easy and quick to prepare items to keep my sanity. I ordered cupcakes from my favorite local bakery in strawberry, s'mores and lemon blackberry flavors with blue icing and fondant mermaid tails, shark fins, clam shells and life preservers. They turned out really cute and were delicious. The riskiest food I went with was a watermelon shark. I hacked away at a watermelon to make a shark and then stuck some googly eyes on it. I had directions but they were way too time intensive and with only 20 minutes before guests were to arrive and still unshowered, I decided to wing it. We also had shells and cheese, skewered grapes or "seaweed", pretzel sticks or "driftwood", baby carrots or "crab legs", a knock-off sonic ocean water, sunbutter and jelly sandwiches shaped like stars for "starfish" and turkey and cheese croissant crabs with googly eyes. It was all completely devoured and looked pretty adorable. For the backdrop I taped a blue tablecloth to the wall and then taped green cellophane cut into wiggly strips on top to create the illusion of seaweed. I topped it off with some clear and pale turquoise balloons and a birthday banner I made with my silhouette machine. I sprinkled the table with some golden confetti strips and seashells. The table was covered with three different colors of blue table cloth to create an ombre that I quickly cut scallops out of the base of each cloth. I did that at a very late hour the night before and wasn't too particular about making it perfect. I didn't even get on my knees but simply bent over and hoped for the best and it turned out fine so don't stress about perfect scallops. It isn't worth the worry.
For party favors, kids got a shark fin or mermaid tail handmade by moi and on their way out grabbed a bopper balloon toy. The tails and fins were big hits and I had several moms tell me that their kids refused to take them off long after the party had ended. You can see how I made them in this post.
I had a few other small decorations including seaweed and fish taped to the base of the walls inside and I made wreath for the front door using only cardboard, tissue paper and craft paper that turned out really cute and was basically $1! It was made around 11:30 the night before and I completely forgot to take pictures of the process but I can lay it out for you pretty simply.
1. Take some cardboard and cut a donut shape out of it in the size of a wreath. My circle was by no means perfect but it doesn't matter as long as it is close.
2. Make some tissue paper flowers in the colors of your choosing. You can use this tutorial from Pinterest. I went with varying colors of blue.
3. Hot glue the flowers to the cardboard donut shape.
4. I created a few embellishments using glitter card stock and my silhouette machine and simply hot glued them on top of a few of the flowers.
5. Hang and admire!
The final touch to the party was the photo area. I always like to have a photo area and I was especially proud of this one because I free-handed the shark and was really impressed with myself. To create the photo area I taped a blue table cloth to the wall and then added a few fish leftover from the seaweed/fish wall decor. Then I grabbed a big piece of cardboard and drew and painted the shark after cutting out his mouth. To create the clam shells I drew two clam shells onto two pieces of poster board and then painted them and added sharpie for the detail. Since I set it up in the garage I realized the floor was somewhat dirty and grabbed a blue rug we had in the playroom and layed it down in front. I also created a few fun signs and hung them above the photo area. (You can download my signs at the bottom of this post.)
For my final act of craftiness I made iron-on cut outs with my silhouette machine to create custom t-shirts for me and Lillian. I was going to create ones for all four of us and then I found the "jawsome" shirt for $3 on Amazon for Arthur and the cool button up shark one for Derek so I didn't make theirs. I also managed to reuse Lillians fish scale leggings from last year's Ariel halloween costume. If you're curious about how I made our awesome Ariel and Ursula costumes from last year check them out here and here!
I hope my party ideas spark some inspiration for you and that you enjoyed reading about our adventure under the sea. If you want to download the printables I created for the party you can find them below! Thanks for visiting!
Download the pdf of the signs shown above by clicking the pdf file below.
Download the pdf below to get the food labels, mermaid crowns and gift tags.
Rachel is a mother of three, elementary Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.