Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Egyptian Spa Party Sneak Peek!

Eek!  I can't wait to share the details of our little "Jewel of the Nile's" 8th birthday!  We celebrated Egyptian style!

Here's a peek!

Here's a little glimpse of the 'ancient' scroll invitations.  Graphic design work by Anders Ruff Custom Designs.

Cleopatra's in the making.
Cleopatra's friends.

Our little guest of honor!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

DIY: Cookie Jar Tutorial

Today I am sharing with you a simple tutorial for making your own cookie jar party favors as seen here in my recent 'Vintage Milk & Cookies' party.

{I adore AR's party printables which provided the inspiration for the cookie jars!}

I think I can safely say that creative & fun party favors are a 'must' at any party. I am always trying to think of something unique and memorable that I can send home with my guests as an extension of the party theme. After all, I want guests to be thinking of my event long after the party is over. Finding something premade that coordinates with your theme and/or colors is not always an option. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. I am discovering that DIY party favors are fun and can even be economical.

You may remember the adorable gumball machines Adria and Maureen made for their dessert table styled for Universal Studio's Hop DVD release at Target last year. The basic concept for the cookie jar favors is similar.

Here is what you need to recreate the cookie jar favors:

  • Glass bowl (I found the small favor sized bowls at the Dollar Tree for $1 each. For the larger dessert bar size, a fish bowl would work well.)
  • Terra cotta base to use as the cookie jar lid (get the appropriate size to fit the top of your glass bowl)-- I purchased mine at Michaels for less than a $1 a piece + used 40-50% off coupons on each one
  • Wooden ball (flat bottomed)-- (I purchased mine at JoAnns with a coupon in an economy pack.)
  • Vinyl lettering spelling out 'Cookies'-- Amy of A&E Design Works recreated the adorable text from the Vintage Milk & Cookies package to coordinate perfectly.
  • Spray paint (choose a color to coordinate with your event). *Note: I tried brushing on acrylic paint and strongly advise against it. Spray paint is best for a quick, even coat.
  • Permanent glue (I used a glue gun)
  • Mini cookies (We picked up Famous Amos brand at the Dollar Tree. 4 pkgs/$1) Mini Chips Ahoy also work well.
Before starting, be sure to remove any labels/price tags and thoroughly clean all items with hot, soapy water. Dry completely.
1. Spray paint the terra cotta base and wooden ball. It will take a few coats. (Note: Do not spray paint what will be the inside of the cookie jar lid.)
2. Once the painted pieces are dry, glue the wooden ball to the center top of the terra cotta lid using the glue gun.
3. Carefully rub the vinyl with your finger (or a wooden craft stick) and peel vinyl off of it's sticker backing.
4. Eyeball (or measure) a good 'center' location for your vinyl lettering on the glass jar. Carefully begin transferring it to the glass bowl. (Vinyl is very forgiving, so if it needs fixing, slowly peel it up and adjust.
5. Fill with your favorite mini cookies! Replace the lid, and voilà, a custom cookie jar favor!

 Visit the full Vintage Milk and Cookies party shoot here for more fun ideas!

Jen Carver, Banner Events
Anders Ruff Custom Designs Vintage Milk & Cookies printable package
inyl Lettering: A&E Designworks

Friday, April 19, 2013

Now Launching: An Angry Bird-Day Party


Jen Carver, of Banner Events, here to share a fun new "Angry Bird-day" party theme launched recently in honor of two of my sons' birthdays! Feathers were flying at the Carver "birdhouse" as we were busy prepping for 20 guests to come "crash" the party.

December is a busy enough month as is, but add birthdays for two children to the mix and you've got downright chaos. To simplify things this year, we decided to host a combined birthday party for my son Jacob (turning 11) and my son Landon (turning 5). Since they are both huge gamers, we knew this theme would be perfect! I hope you enjoy the colorful photographs, captured by the amazing Karina Rigtrup of A Fresh Take Photography.


Guests each received these clever invitations designed by the talented Anders Ruff Custom Designs. Maureen did a fabulous job incorporating some fun gaming elements as well as child-specific highlights to the invitations. (I LOVE how the highscore/score reflect my children's new birthday ages! Notice how guests were invited to 'RSVP' to play? So fun!)

No Angry Bird-day party could possibly be complete without kids dressing the part! Party goers were divided into birds vs. pigs and each received a custom shirt designed and sewn by the talented team over at Create Sew Embellish. Shirts were personalized with a little Anders Ruff hang tag for easy distribution.

Inspired by the popular game, I chose bright colors (red, lime green, yellow & blue) which I carried throughout the styling. I wanted to make the party atmosphere colorful & fun, but also help guests feel like they'd been flung into the game, so we used a variety of materials to bring in some of those natural elements reminiscent from their game playing. You will see artificial grass, bird nests, wooden building blocks used as shelves, wood slingshots, raffia, twine, etc...

My favorite part of the decor was the dessert table designed to look like a screenshot of the game. Notice the play, pause & high/low score buttons designed by Anders Ruff. Cloud paper served as the background, and the table runner was artificial grass. The addition of the wood stands, built to resemble the wood structures that get knocked over by the birds in the game, really helped to bring the table to life! They were perfect for displaying gorgeous sweet "tweets" from some of our favorite dessert artists.

The kids loved the TNT favor boxes filled with popcorn (Anders Ruff), the gorgeous sugar cookies from Sweet Surrender Cookie Co., , the chocolate donuts dressed up with polka dotted treat sticks (SmashCake Studio) and party flags, & the unbelievable fondant topped cupcakes and mint chocolate push up pops from Lynlee's Petite Cakes & Edible Details . Plates were filled and re-filled with these treats!

The focal point of the dessert table, was definitely the incredibly delicious two-tiered cake with molded chocolate & fondant scenery designs by 4 Kids Cakes, and 3-D fondant birds and game elements by Lynlee's Petite Cakes.


Some of the same dessert table design elements carried over to the dining tables, successfully tying the tables together. Highlights from the dining tables included bird nests at each place setting which housed beverages with colorful custom beverage wrappers & fun striped paper straws & party flags. I added a few DIY details (the beaks on the birds & the crowns on the pigs) for a fun 3-D element. Colorful plates from SmashCake Studio were paired with licensed plates for a fun pop of color, and a slingshot added a bit of foreshadowing for the fun to come!

Planning a party that will appeal to both 4/5 yr. olds and 11/12 yr. olds can pose a challenge for any parent. I put my thinking cap on and also adapted a few ideas I found while searching the web. Here is our line-up of Angry Birds inspired games.

Slingshot Lane: I knew from the start that a "live" action game would definitely be a must. My husband and I decided creating a life size structure including faux wood structures made out of painted moving boxes, pigs, a flying bird and a working slingshot would be the highlight of the party...and it was! I put my handy husband to work on an original design for a 6 ft. portable slingshot using heavy duty PVC pipe, surgical tubing, cement, a ceramic pot & wood base for support. It worked amazingly well! While he was working on the slingshot, I got to work painting boxes I picked up inexpensively from Walmart (about $0.64 each for the square ones) and ordered from ULINE (about $0.81 each for the long narrow ones--6"x6"x36"). We added a handful of plush pigs picked up on clearance at our local grocery store, made a few more pigs using green playground balls from Walmart (only $1.50 each) and this tutorial and purchased a licensed character bird playground ball from Walmart. Voilà! One incredibly fun live action game complete! (P.S. Don't the jumbo balloons add so much colorful fun? Smash Cake Studio carries them in their shop!)

Pig Bowling: This DIY game is not only inexpensive, but also easy. Using a variety of craft punches & scissors, I put together some pig faces using scrapbook paper and laminated them for durability. Simply tape them to rinsed & dried out green 2-Liter bottles to make your pig pins! Using the same tutorial as linked above, I created a red bird bowling ball using a ball purchased from Walmart for $1.50. The younger crowd especially loved this game. They giggled in delight as the pig pins went flying! (Serves those lil' piggies right for stealing the eggs!)

Pig Pop: A classic carnival game, balloon darts are always popular with older kids. We added some pig faces to lime green balloons and created a fun 'pig pop'. You can purchase a cheap set of steel tipped darts (less than $5) from Walmart.

Capture the Eggs: If you've ever played Angry Birds, you know that those bad little piggies stole the eggs from the birds' nests causing them to become angry! In our game, the kids got to capture the eggs back, saving them from being eaten by the pigs! We divided up into mixed teams and hosted a relay race. Contestants rode scooters, rescuing one egg at a time in their sacks. The team with the most rescued eggs at the end of the time, won! Each child was given an embellished egg carton (purchase these darling mini egg cartons from Shop Sweet Lulu) to hold 6 golden Angy Bird eggs (Sunny Bunny Easter Eggs) filled with various candy. These were added to their favors to take home at the end of the party.

Bird-O ('Bingo'): Another classic party game, Bingo, received a makeover for our Angry Bird-day celebration. Custom blank 'Bird-O' boards were designed for me by Anders Ruff. I added a variety of character stickers and numbers, filled colorful polka dot baking cups from Shop Sweet Lulu with red & green M&Ms to serve as markers, & we were set! Both age groups enjoyed playing this game. Prizes were licensed Angry Birds sticker sheets.

Puzzles/Coloring Activity Station: I always like to have a "self-start" activity center established that gets party goers busy in the celebration from the moment they walk in. A coloring and puzzle station works perfectly. It's easy enough that kids can help themselves while you are still trying to welcome guests, check coats & collect gifts. The Dollar Tree had these licensed puzzles, and the coloring books were found in the dollar spot at Target!

Guests definitely had to be thanked for 'crashing' my boys' bird-day party, and they certainly didn't leave empty handed. A colorful favor table was set up with a smorgasbord of fun items to take home. In addition to the fun shirts from Create Sew Embellish, guests received green favor baskets filled with many licensed and inspired bird items. (Many of the purchased items were found at the Dollar Tree, including the puzzles and the hand sanitizer. The older boys took home bird houses to sand and paint from JoAnns (only $0.50 each with coupon) and the younger boys took home coloring books. Fruit snacks and crackers helped fill the baskets with some snacks for later. Each guest also got to take home some 'bird droppings'--adorable gumball tubes from Shop Sweet Lulu, filled with shimmer gumballs from Smash Cake Studio & embellished with custom printables & ribbon. With so many birds flying around, there was bound to be a few 'droppings'. Gourmet marshmallows were created custom by the talented The Marshmallow Studio. The kids were excited to select their favorite bird and add it to their favor basket. And finally, all birds need a little 'bird food'--worms! Little cellophane bags of gummy worms were individually packaged up for each friend. I love the treat bag toppers that were made to coordinate!

Vendor Credits:
Jen Carver, Banner Events: Complete Event Styling
Josh Carver: DIY sling shot
Karina Rigtrup, A Fresh Take Photography: Photography
Anders Ruff Custom Designs: Printable Graphic designs
Birds Video Game Invitation/Printables: here
Create Sew Embellish: custom appliqué bird & pig shirts
Shop Sweet Lulu: 1/2 dozen sized egg cartons, gumball favor tubes, polka dot & striped baking cups
Smash Cake Studio: shimmer gumballs, striped paper straws, polka dot candy sticks, 36" balloons, rugby stripe paper sacks
The Marshmallow Studio: custom marshmallow pops
Lynlee's Petite Cakes: custom edible fondant cupcake & cake toppers
Edible Details: custom edible fondant push up pop toppers
4 Kids Cakes: custom cake
Sweet Surrender Cookie Co.: custom cookie favors
Sunny Bunny Easter Eggs: gold plastic Easter eggs

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Glamorous Breakfast with Tiffany Diaper Shower

When you have a gorgeous and glamorous friend named Tiffany who just so happens to be expecting a baby boy, hosting a "Breakfast With Tiffany" baby shower is a no-brainer. (This theme is so versatile! Think: bridal shower, baby shower, birthday and more! Substitute any special mom or bride-to-be's name for equally as much fun!)

Inspired by the 1961 film by a similar name, starring the beautiful Audrey Hepburn, my friend Vivian and I wanted to create a pretty breakfast setting with pops of glitz and glamour. We recruited some of the best in the graphic design, event planning, baking, clothing & accessory businesses to help us with this special celebration. (Be sure to check out the amazing vendor list below to recreate our look!) A big "thank you" to our talented friend, Rochelle Pettingill for capturing the fun of the day with her photography.

Invitation Suite:

Guests received gorgeous invitations designed by Maureen of Anders Ruff Custom Designs inviting them to come join us for "Breakfast with Tiffany". I love the vintage pram style baby buggy logo used throughout the designs. Because our guest of honor requested a diaper shower, Maureen created a darling enclosure card (in lieu of baby registry info) with a little poem inviting guests to help Tiffany stock her diaper & wipe supply. The invitation suite, including the custom address wrap were so classy with the Moroccan design, decorative frame, flourishes & formal script.

Guests were greeted with this beautiful vinyl "Breakfast at Tiffany's sign when they entered (Ten23 Designs). Such a fun way to set the stage for a themed event.

Breakfast was served from a buffet counter, covered in coordinating tablecloths and accented with a lovely tissue fringe garland (One Stylish Party) & fresh flower arrangements.

We added some fun special touches, such as vinyl baby buggy accents on the vases and utensil holders (Ten23 Designs). Some of my favorite details were the napkins wrapped in gorgeous ribbon with little silver carriage charms. A yummy white chocolate baby pop accompanied each one! (Something Chic did an amazing job on those details!)

A variety of beverage options were available from our beverage station.

One of my favorite DIY ideas from this event was the circle garland we created by punching out several circle sizes from coordinating cardstock and stitching them together with a sewing machine. It added some bling and interest to the large sliding glass window overlooking a very cloudy day. Notice the cute printable bunting? It's part of the coordinating printable package from Anders Ruff Custom Designs.

Apothecary jars were dressed up with rhinestone studded ribbon & party printables and filled with coordinating shimmer gumballs from SmashCake Studio. (Gumballs are a great way to tie in party colors & can also serve as a take home favor.) Along with another darling printable banner and perfect little blue satin bow wrapped boxes, the mantle was decorated with the most adorable baby buggy favors custom made by Piggy Bank Parties. (We filled these with coordinating wrapped mini chocolate bars for guests to take home.) The focal point of our mantle was a custom designed platter with vinyl lettering & coordinating baby buggy (Creative Designs by Toni ).

Throughout the event space, we carried the diaper shower concept. A diaper shaped bunting hung from a sofa table. A beautiful 3-tiered custom diaper cake was the centerpiece at the welcome table. Simply Shontay Diaper & Towel Cakes did a stunning job on this diaper cake with coordinating blankets, wash cloths & a pretty silver rattle neatly packaged for our mom to be. We love how Shontay added delicate details like pearl accents & anemone flowers to tie in with the rest of our event. A custom crafted diaper bag, designed by SookEe Designs was filled with beautiful newborn essentials and accessories from talented vendors ( Mainely Applique, A Piece of Crochet, & Baybloom. From minkie blankets, to appliqued onesies and burp cloths to a tie/bow tie combo and a hand crocheted diaper cover & bow tie.

Our decor even carried over to the guest of honor's children. Custom hair accessories were made for the beautiful daughters of the expectant mother by Giddy Up & Grow. It was fun to have a few photos taken of our sweet friend and her daughters. Doesn't the confetti balloon and tassel garland add such an element of fun to their photo? (One Stylish Party)

We hung a beautiful wreath in our event color palette, hand-crafted by the talented Valerie of Greyson Design.

Food & Drink:
With a guest list of over 60, our greatest challenge with this event was coming up with a breakfast menu that was A.) palate pleasing B.) affordable and C.) manageable. After all, we wanted to be able to 'enjoy' breakfast with Tiffany too. I think you will find our menu fit these perameters nicely.

Petite pancake stacks with mint leaf & blueberry garnish & syrup drizzle accessorized with printable party flags & pearl accents

French toast sticks with syrup sauce served in petite glasses accented with 1" monogram circle accents

Bacon skewers (kept warm in a chafing dish)
Sausage links (kept warm in a chafing dish)
Mini Quiche served in tasting spoons

Fresh fruit cups served in accessorized individual portion cups. Aren't the scallop labels cute? You can find them in Anders Ruff's printable package.

Mini Yogurt granola parfaits served in dessert parfait glasses & embellished with ribbon & 1" circle monograms from AR's printable pkg.

Homemade muffins (banana, blueberry and cinnamon) served in polka dot muffin cups

Cinnamon Roll 'Rattles' (created with Glitterstix from Desserts & Designs).

Powdered sugar donut towers (an easy but impressive DIY project)

Bagels with flavored cream cheese (served in individual ramekins from Pier 1).

Beverages included: 1% milk, orange juice, apple juice, white grape juice and mango juice. Beverage glasses were dressed up with coordinating labels with fun striped straws accented by blinged out party flags.

Dessert Table:

If you want to excite guests, be sure to have a take away dessert table. Because our shower was an open house style brunch, we wanted a beautiful display of desserts that guests could nibble on during the shower, but could also take to go. We created the beautiful background using our DIY PVC pipe backdrop stand (see tutorial here) and some inexpensive curtain panels from IKEA. An old picture frame received a makeover with a coat of silver spray paint and was a perfect focal point for our 16 x20 welcome sign (printed for a few dollars at Office Depot).

Most of the decor and serving trays were gathered from things I had on hand. The tiered stands were an inexpensive DIY project using 3 different sizes of centerpiece mirrors from Wholesale Event Solutions. I simply attached the mirrors to glass candlesticks from the Dollar Tree. They were so easy to put together and worked perfectly to hold beautiful custom desserts made by Cakealicious by Reem, Evie and Mallow, Fondant Flinger & Edible Details

Another tiered stand held shiny silver chargers from Wholesale Event Solutions, filled with additional sweet treats from Flour Child and others previously mentioned. Notice the exquisite blossom & petite cups that the meringues, truffles and cake balls were displayed in (Via Blossom).

Silver trays were home to beautiful baby onesie cookies baked and decorated by Flour Child. And of course, the beautiful cake by 4 Kids Cakes was the main attraction. It was as equally delicious as it was beautiful with delicate sugar flowers and beautiful fondant detailing. The cake was almost entirely edible from top to bottom.

Shower Activity:
Most of our guests prefer socializing over organized shower games. Our open house style shower allowed plenty of time for eating & gabbing. However, we did want to leave our guest of honor with a fun remembrance of her special day.

Guests were invited to leave a sweet message for the mom-to-be and baby on these adorable diaper notes made by Anders Ruff. At the end of the shower, we drew 2 diaper notes to receive a door prize-- these darling little black purse manicure sets from Wholesale Event Solutions .


Guests certainly didn't leave empty handed. Beautiful favor boxes contributed by Val at Greyson Design housed scrumptious cupcakes baked by 4Kids Cakes & embellished with satin ribbon and custom thank you tags. Guests also had the option to fill the adorable baby buggy favor boxes (Piggy Bank Parties)with treats from the dessert table.
Breakfast with Tiffany was enjoyed by all!

Vendor Credits:
Event Concept & Styling: Jen Carver, Banner Events
Assistant Event Stylist: Vivian Kerr, Kerr Kreations
Photographer: Rochelle Pettingill
Graphic Design Suite & Invitation: Anders Ruff Custom Designs
Invitation: here
Coordinating printable suite : here
Centerpiece mirrors, little black purse manicure sets, high heel cake server, glass vases, black baroque frames/placecard holders, silver chargers, : Wholesale Event Solutions
Baby buggy party favor boxes: Piggy Bank Parties
Crocheted diaper cover & bow tie: A Piece of Crochet
Diaper cake: Simply Shontay Diaper & Towel Cakes
Onesie sugar cookies: Flour Child
Cake & cupcakes: 4 Kids Cakes
Fondant cupcake toppers (gift boxes with bows): Edible Details
Fondant cupcake toppers (rattle, baby buggy, bottle): Fondant Flinger
Napkins w/ ribbon wraps & carriage charms. White chocolate baby suckers. Lidded white oatmeal/fruit cups & wooden spoons: Something Chic
Blue cupcake boxes. Custom created door wreath: Greyson Design
Decorative platter with vinyl baby buggy logo: Creative Designs by Toni
Jumbo confetti balloon & tissue garland: One Stylish Party
Custom cupcake wrappers: A Little Lollipop Tree
Custom vinyl decor for archway, vases, etc: Ten23 Designs
Custom diaper bag, minkie blanket, burp cloths: SookEe Designs
Polka dot blossom dessert cups, silver petite cups, petite glasses, striped straws: Via Blossom
Custom appliqued onesies & burpcloths: Mainely Applique
Silver & blue glitterstix: Desserts & Designs
Gourmet cake balls: Evie and Mallow
Shimmer gumballs (white & blue): SmashCake Studio
Custom Tiffany inspired hair bows: Giddy Up & Grow
Gourmet desserts (sparkled sugar cookies, coconut macaroons, meringues, cake truffles, clear lollipops, marshmallows: Cakealicious by Reem
Custom handmade bow ties & ties: Baybloom