August 5th, 2009 |

Back-to-School Kid-Friendly Bash

Back to school bash (small)Summer is going to end before we know it and soon you will be back into your school year schedule.  Host one last backyard bash before school starts to celebrate the end of summer with your kids.  The kids will be thrilled with just a table full of goodies and a yard to run around in.  So while the kids are occupied, entertain the parents with a casual dinner.

Use the back-to-school theme and run with it!  Cover your table with a long piece of black butcher block paper, and draw on placemats with a white pencil or paint pen.  Or cut out individual placemats from the black paper.  It will look like a chalkboard!  And if you add in each person’s name….it will double as your placecard, too.  Keep your centerpiece simple, line the center of the table with simple flowers such as daisies and tulips.  Use different types of vases – bowls, small vases, even glass mason jars, or glass milk bottles – to keep the look casual.

If you are looking for ideas for a menu – try a bread salad with tomatoes, lemon and cucumbers, buttermilk fried chicken, grilled corn-on-the-cob, and an old-fashioned latticed cherry pie.

Back to school bash food
Set up a kids table using the same black paper as a topper.  Instead of drawing on placemats, draw out ruled lines and letters to make it look like a handwriting lesson.  Provide the kids with plenty of easy-to-eat snacks….something they can grab on the run.  My vote would be for mini hot dogs, pb & j sandwiches (cut out in a cute shape, of course), cookies and rice crispy treats.

Casual, cheery, and fun for all….this back-to-school backyard bash is the perfect send-off to summer!

Images: kids (ba-reps.com), table (realsimple.com), cookies and rice crispy treats (inmagine.com), mini hot dogs (horchow.com)

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August 5th, 2009 |

Playdate Playdough

playdate playdough

Playdate activities….it’s always an endless search for something new and exciting that will keep the children occupied long enough for the mothers to enjoy a cup of coffee!

Playdough.  It’s an activity that all kids enjoy.  But spice it up a bit.  Make playdough cookies!

Same concept: make a batch of dough, dye it different colors, and let the kids build shapes with it.  The only difference, is that you bake the shapes and voila!  Not only did the kids have fun, but you have colorful cookies to enjoy as a treat!

This would make a great activity for a child’s birthday party, too!

Play Dough Cookies

The original recipe proposes cookies in lollipop form, but have your kids get creative and create cookies in all different shapes. Just be careful to bake similar sized cookies at a time. Besides their super cute looks, these really delivered tastewise – they are sugar cookies after all, with a pleasent crumbly texture from the cream cheese.

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • assorted colors of paste food coloring
  • 24 lollipop sticks (optional)

  1. In the electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until  light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir till soft dough forms. Divide dough into fourths. Tint each with a different food color. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Working with half of each color, shape dough into 3/4 inch balls and for each cookie place 1 pink, 1 green, 1 blue and 1 orange (I used red, yellow, blue and green) ball together to make 1 large ball. Shape into a 12 inch long roll (like a snake), starting at one end, coil roll to make a 2 3/4 inch round cookie. Place cookies 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Carefully insert lollipop sticks into bottoms of cookies.
  4. Bake cookies for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Recipe via The Cookieshop in English

Back to School at The Land of Nod

July 28th, 2009 |

Tee Off! Children’s Birthday Party

Tee Off Boys Party (small)

Kids are natural pros when it comes to mini golf!

Part skill, part luck, and a whole lot of fun makes it the perfect activity for a child’s birthday party.

Invite your guests with an invitation far above par from Tiny Prints.  Create an obstacle course for your mini-golf course.  Martha Stewart has created a plan to transform your backyard into a one-of-a-kind putt-putt course (with no damage to the lawn):

Tools and Materials

Baking sheet and play sand: Makes a fine sand trap
Two-by-fours: Erect barriers for runaway balls with painted two-by-fours (see diagram below for placement).
Cardboard: Used is the foundation for the gopher and windmill
Acrylic paint and Mylar pinwheels: To dress up gopher and windmill (You can also even out a bumpy lawn or make a ramp to a hole by placing cardboard under the turf.)
Electrical tape: To create trimmings, like the flags on the croquet wickets
Colorful golf balls and kid-size clubs: Available online, they double as party favors
Golf tees: Get plenty, and use some to secure the turf edges
A xylophone: This instrument forms part of an obstacle.
Artificial turf: We used 200 square feet of this turf for the greens, and simply cut out rounds for the “holes.”
Plaid fabric and dowel: To make flags, photocopy plaid fabric, cut out, tape to a dowel, and affix a number sticker.

Backyard Nine-Hole Course Ideas (you may want to make fewer holes for younger children)

We laid out the greens (all artificial turf) as shown in the diagram (click here for printable version); they are each between 5 and 10 feet long.
No place like gnome: A wily creature tries his best to block a shot.
Picnic area: The table is both an obstacle and a spot to wait for a turn — just keep feet clear of balls in play!
Sand trap: In a piece of artificial turf, cut a rectangle slightly smaller than a rimmed baking sheet. Fill pan with sand; position rectangle over it.
Waterfall: It’s not exactly a water hazard, but a sprinkler will leave the turf nice and slippery.
Perfect pitch: Golfers can hammer out a tune as they try for the hole (a roll of tape) up a ramp to a xylophone set between two angled two-by-fours.
Sitting pretty: Two folding chairs form a tunnel and provide another comfy spot for a break.
Pinwheel windmill: To make, cut an arch in two sides of a cardboard box and trim the edges with electrical tape. Insert plastic pinwheels into the top of box. Secure handles underneath with duct tape. Affix more pinwheels to the front with tape.
Ruff!: It takes nerves of steel to tap a ball straight through the croquet wickets — they’re embellished with electrical-tape flags — and into the doghouse.
Gopher the gold: Create a cardboard gofer to greet players at the final challenge. Try taping him to a box with a hole cut out of the bottom for catching golf balls.

Carry the traditional golf theme thru your food, decorations and party favors.  Set up a food table using metal buckets as a centerpiece.  Fill these buckets with treats for the kids, such as popcorn balls, powdered-sugar donut holes, and white chocolate malt balls.  Serve juice boxes and sandwiches for lunch….wrap sandwiches in plaid paper for a decorative touch!

Send the kids home with a plaid box of golf-themed goodies.  A TY Beanie Baby – CHARITEE the PGA Golf Bear, a Mini Golf Play Set, and chocolate golf ball candy.  I found these great green, plaid boxes at Plum Party Supplies.

Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), grass centerpiece (hostessblog.com), golf ball cookies (whippedbakeshop.com)

July 24th, 2009 |

Children’s Birthday Party: Decorate with Candy!

Candy Party (small)

If you ask a child what their favorite food is….my bet is that 90% of them say “Candy!”  So why not spoil your child rotten on their birthday and host a party decorated to the nines with candy?!  Invite your child’s friends with this adorable invitation from Tiny Prints.

Take your color inspiration straight from the source – candy brights, such as hot pink, turquoise blue, yellow, orange and lime green.  Use solid colored plates and napkins, maybe throw in a stripe here and there…..simple enough!  Use real candy for your decorations.  Buy life savers in bulk and string together on ribbon or wire.  You can drape them along the sides of tables, on a fireplace mantel, around a doorway, etc.  Another easy idea is to dress up your napkins with a lollipop.  Cute, colorful and the kids get an extra treat to bring home with them!

If you are planning this party for an older child, or even for adults – you may want to present a candy buffet.  Check out this past post for inspiration.

I have two really cute activities for you for younger children….

  • Fill up a large bowl with gumballs (you can buy them in bulk at Candy Warehouse) and ask the kids to guess how many gumballs are in there.  Have a couple of prizes for the kids that come the closest to the actual number.
  • Instead of a purchasing a decorated birthday cake, bake a large sheet cake and cover in plain white frosting.  Provide the kids with bowls of candy and let them go to town decorating it!

Send your guests home with this charming mini gumball machine as a party favor from Beau-Coup.  You can attach a personalized tag that says “Thanks for coming to my party! Love, Bella”.  It’s the perfect reminder of an afternoon full of sweets and treats!

Images: table (via A Passion for Parties by Carolyne Roehm), invitation (tinyprints.com), napkins with suckers (familycircle.com), gumball machine party favor (beau-coup.com), cupcake, party decorations and candy (inmagine.com)

July 21st, 2009 |

Sailboat Cupcakes

Sailboat Cupcakes

We celebrated my sister’s boyfriend’s birthday Saturday night by cruising around Chicago on a boat.  Since the party had a boating theme, the sailboat cupcake seemed to be the perfect dessert!  They turned out so cute, I just had to share them with you!

These would be perfect for the Sail Away children’s birthday party theme I posted a couple of weeks ago!

If anyone is interested in the template for the sails, send me over an e-mail and I will happily give it to you!

July 16th, 2009 |

Rubber Ducky Baby Shower

Rubber Ducky Baby Shower

“Rubber Ducky, you’re the one….you make our baby shower lots of fun!”

I had a reader write to me asking for ideas for a gender-neutral baby shower.  The first thing I thought of was the color yellow, and quickly came up with the idea for a rubber ducky theme party.  Playful, and easy to do – this baby shower is sure to bring smiles and giggles from all of your guests!

Invite your guests with this darling invitation from Minted.  Carry the yellow color into your party decorations and accent it with blue and orange.  Creative a bright and cheery tablescape with blue placemats, yellow plates and a diaper cake centerpiece.  Take basic, blue place cards and dress them up by giving them a scalloped edge with a pair of scissors.  The rounded edges remind me of bubbles….perfect for our bath-time theme!

Instead of serving cake as dessert, set up a dessert and candy buffet.  Find all different types of yellow candy, such as lemon heads, jelly beans, lemon bars, etc. and use different size vases, apothecary jars and cake plates to set up your display.  Add personalized labels to each container – try these labels from Paper Source (there is even a template on-line to help you print on them!)

Send your guests home with a rubber ducky candle from Beau-Coup to remember the event!

Images: rubber ducky candle (beau-coup.com), rubber duck invitation (minted.com), place setting (hostessblog.com), placecards (theknot.com), candy buffet (projectwedding.com), baby shower image (inmagine.com)

July 15th, 2009 |

Flower Power Girl’s Birthday Party

Flower Birthday Party (small)

When it comes to planning a little girl’s birthday party, you can’t go wrong with pink and flowers.  Explode this idea into a festive party full sassy cheer!

Invite your guests with this darling invitation from Tiny Prints.  It’s colorful, full of flowers and exclaims the most important part….Party time!  Create a fun and girly table setting by using grass place mats, and a vase full of gerber daisies in shades of pink.  Your little guests will be in awe when they walk into the party and see a whole garden set up on the table!

Keep your food simple and stylish – serve pb & j sandwiches, but make them extra special by using a cookie cutter to cut them into flower shapes.  Use a smaller flower cookie cutter to make a flower-shaped fruit salad (mix in some melon balls for a playful look).  Serve the little girls pink lemonade to drink and cupcakes for dessert!  I love the polka dot design on these….but stay tuned for a darling, and easy-to-do cupcake idea!

After a day full of flowers, send your guests home with a bloom of their own.  Fill a small pail full of candy, stickers, and a lollipop flower.   (Cut out a paper daisy from solid color paper and poke a lollipop through its center.)

Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), floral party dress (bodenusa.com), flower lollipop party favor (skiptomylou.com), cupcakes (amyatlas.com)

July 1st, 2009 |

Sail Away: A Nautical Children’s Birthday Party

Sail Away (small)

Keeping with the red, white & blue theme this week in celebration of the 4th of July, here is an adorable party idea for your favorite little sailor.  Create a nautical theme birthday party full of stripes and sailboats!

I found this adorable party invitation and party favor bags from a company called Imprintables – preppy, but with a touch of modern charm!  It set the tone for the rest of the party….a color scheme of red, white and blue, bold stripes and modern sailboat silhouettes.

Decorate with nautical flags (I found the perfect ones at Land of Nod) and striped tablecloths.  Use grosgrain ribbon to accent all of your details – stripe napkin rings, and tie ribbon around bowls of food.  Use small wooden boats clustered together as a centerpiece.  Instead of serving a traditional birthday cake, serve sailboat-themed cupcakes, cookies or rice crispy treats.

If you are looking for a fun activity for the children at the party, fill up a large baby pool outside.  Buy a bunch of small, plastic boats and write numbers on the bottom of a few of them.  Buy prizes to correspond to the numbers on the boats.  Float the boats in the pool, and have the children take turns picking a boat.  If they choose a boat with a number, they win a prize!

Images: nautical flag decoration (landofnod.com), ahoy sailboat gift and party favor (imprintables.blogspot.com), stripe napkin rings and bowl of strawberries (socialcouture.com), tiered cookie stand (instyleweddings.com)

June 24th, 2009 |

4th of July BBQ

4th of July BBQ

4th of July is right around the corner!  Have you started planning your holiday weekend yet?!  A lot of times we forget about the little guests at parties – so today I am going to focus on tailoring your BBQ to make the kids happy!  The 4th is all about stars, stripes, flags and fireworks – so let’s talk about how to incorporate these into your BBQ.

Set up an area especially for the kids – a picnic table with kid-friendly dishes and paper napkins, and a play area with lounge chairs and umbrellas to provide some sun relief.  Pottery Barn Kids has these darling umbrellas – available in different colors and patterns, they are the perfect thing to provide a little shade and a whole lot of style in your backyard.  Put out a couple of small pools and a sprinkler for the kids to play in – but don’t forget a stack of towels!

Add a little fun to your food – take a basic pb & j sandwich, but cut out stars with a cookie cutter to add a bit of patriotic fun.  Serving cheeseburgers to your adult guests?  Make smaller versions (otherwise known as sliders) for the kids, and stick  in an American flag.  The food doesn’t have to be complicated – a little creativity will go a long way and the kids are sure to have fun!

Images: star sandwiches (bhg.com), drink bucket (inmagine.com), burgers (southernliving.com), kids on the dock (pbkids.com), picnic table (potterybarn.com)

June 17th, 2009 |

Playdate Pizzazz

Snack Table with Pizzazz

Whether you are the hostess of a child’s birthday party or just trying to out-do yourself for your next play date, I have the perfect idea for you from Parent’s Magazine!

Make your snack table come alive with a few simple steps (and delicious treats)! Cover a table with butcher paper and paint it into the cutest buffet ever. Plan out your masterpiece according to your bowls and platters. Pizzas make great wheels, silicone cupcake liners work perfectly as caterpillar cookie stands, carrot sticks are colorful for sun rays.  You get the idea…..get creative and plan your “landscape” and menu together!

The Land of Nod Summer Sale!

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