Our family rule of only having a party on the odd-numbered birthdays have served us well in that I only have to plan and execute two birthday parties in a calendar year. However, Hosanna’s birthday happens to fall at the end of the year while her sister Gabi’s comes right in the first month of the next year. This means that I had to plan two birthday parties in two consecutive months, not to mention Christmas parties and New Year’s festivities. Also, take a good look at that gorgeous girl in the photo. She’s not really turning nine tomorrow, is she? It’s getting a little ridiculous, this whole getting older thing. If I could freeze time for just a little while, I’d do it now while she’s at this dreamy age of becoming a young woman and still being a little girl all at once.
Anyway, Gabi has had her birthday party theme picked since last year. Given her proclivity for crafting and drawing and sewing and doodling, it was no surprise that she wanted an art party. She and I sat down a few months ago to make a Pinterest board and fill it with ideas for the party, as I do for every party. We quickly found an overwhelming number of ideas on decorations for the party. Of course, Gabi had her own ideas, too. She wanted a dinner party so she could have her favorite food at the party – spaghetti.
So here’s how we threw our own art-themed dinner party, in case you ever want to do the same. We began by sending out invitations via evite – this is the one we used. Then we got started on making the decorations. I definitely enlisted Gabi’s help on these, and she was happy to oblige.
We made this welcome wreath for the door using a foam wreath form from the dollar store, coffee filters, paint, and a little construction paper. The idea for this wreath came from Ramblings from the Sunshine State.
I was at our local learning store a few weeks ago when I saw these colorful circle cut-outs in the clearance bin. I immediately knew we could find a way to incorporate them into the party decorations. I ended up writing “Happy Birthday, Gabi!” on some of them. I overlapped the circles and glued them with hot glue and then hung them up as banners. Since the “Gabi!” one was hanging in the doorway, I decorated the back of it with party images so it wouldn’t be a blank white blob. 🙂 I took the rest of the circles and glued them back-to-back, with a ribbon stuck in between. I wrote art inspiration words such as create and design on each side of the circles and hung them in the other doorway leading to the living room.
The paper chains in the dining room were all Gabi’s idea. I bought two packs of construction paper and settled down on Friday night to cut out inch-wide strips and staple them all together. This was a VERY time-consuming project – let’s just say that I was glad that I had started a couple of nights early and that I had a few seasons of Big Bang Theory to watch. Also, they turned out well, and the impact on the room was amazing.
We used the leftover paper strips to wrap around water bottles for our guests, which turned out to be fifteen girls in all. The girls all arrived, giggling and quite excited, at four’o’clock. After they ditched their coats and shoes in Gabi’s room, they came out to “sign the guestbook.” I made a Friendship Tree on thick card stock, and the girls signed it with their thumbprints.
It turned out so cute and will be a nice keepsake from the party. The party guests next went to the dining room to do the art project we had planned.
I had two tables set up for the project – they were covered in two plastic tablecloths and were geared with washable markers, watercolor paper, paint brushes, and plastic ice cube trays filled with water. Then I showed the girls the sample project I had made earlier and explained how to make their own tie-dye watercolor painting. I had a small table full of various die-cuts that the girls could choose from to use as stencils in their project. They traced the die-cuts with washable markers and then colored around the objects in various patterns with the markers. Then they painted over the marker with water to get the watercolor effect. (like the method I used in the watercolor snowflake art).
When they finished, I hung up their art on my art display wall to dry while the girls ran giggling into the living room to play some board games. I peeled off the top table cloth from each table and got them ready for dinner. I was privileged to have my best friend come to help with the dinner prep at the party. She and another mom (thanks girls!) prepared three kinds of pasta, marinara sauce, melted butter, cooked ground beef, and cheese so that each party guest could design her own pasta dish. This was Gabi’s dream come true, and it worked particularly well since we had quite a few party guests that could not have gluten. We simply had a gluten-free pasta option and made sure the sauce was gluten-free as well so everyone could have something.
For dessert, Gabi picked something simple – vanilla cupcakes. I found some tall sparkler candles at a local party store to stick in the cupcakes along with tiny paper flags. The party guests were delighted that each one of them had a sparkling candle to blow out after we all sang “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl.
Of course, right after the cupcake eating, we had to have present time. I have never seen such an excited group of girls eager to give their gifts and show off the cards they had made for Gabi. She got all sorts of craft kits and books and fun things to do. We are up to our ears in washi tape and pillow making and little craft pieces and I love it! By the time we got through all the presents, it was almost time for kid pick-up. I pulled out a bunch of art supplies and sent the girls back to the tables to be creative while they waited for their parents.
It was fantastically fun although I would say that having sixteen pre-teen girls in your house is not for the faint of heart! Gabi was thrilled with it and really that is all that matters.
And hey, we have some colorful paper chains to cheer up the house for a while and get us through these dreary winter months!