Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Come One, Come All

(Names and locations have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent and the formatting got a little wonky when said changes were made. In real life, it's perfect. Of course.)

This was the invitation to the birthday extravaganza. I had them printed as 5' x 7's and rolled them up, tied them with a curly blue ribbon and put them in an animal cracker box with a clown nose. I was going to put a peanut in there but I forgot to get peanuts and then justified that by thinking of those with peanut allergies.
Then I put a label on front and $1.13 worth of postage. Have I mentioned how much I hate the fucking post office? That's highway robbery right there. For that price they shouldn't have been telling me that the boxes could get crushed.

When it was all said and done, the invites were NOT a bargain at almost $3 a piece, but they generated a lot of excitement. I love doing unique invitations so I think my happiness over them was worth every penny. Mr. Ashley was pretty impressed and didn't bitch about the cost too much. The Big Kid helped me assemble them and told me they were "so cool and weally beyooteedul".
We had the party at a local park. I can't even tell you how much shit I had to haul there. One SUV and one car load. I went over there early and started decorating (by myself, in the scorching heat), but I really needed half an hour more. It all worked out great though. I wanted those flag banners (available at Party City) to go all the way around and I was going to use red and white tablecloths as entrance curtains and drop the balloon bunches into popcorn boxes and I had more pinwheels, but whatever. It looked cute. I had the invitation blown up poster size and displayed it on an antique wooden folding chair with an elephant rocker in front of it.

The red, white and blue buckets I found at Target's $ spot and when the kids arrived I gave them one along with an animal shaped sippy cup (found at Walmart on clearance for 18 cents a piece) full of slushy lemonade and we'd send them to go play. We would then direct the parents to the refreshment table and offer them a margarita flavored snow cone.

Everyone loved the snow cones. We rented the machine and used it from Friday to Sunday. I want to own one. For the Margarita Snow Cones we bought the liquid mix in strawberry and original and poured a little out and poured a little tequila and triple sec in. It was more like a punch, you couldn't taste alcohol at all. We didn't want people getting trashed, it was just for the novelty of it. Besides, the park specifically said "No alcoholic beverages" but neglected to mention snow cones...so we were walking a fine line as it was.

Mr. Ashley's uncle is very dramatic and heavily involved in theater, so when he offered to help we recruited him to be a clown. He joked and played with the kids and acted as a sort of Master of Ceremonies. He did a great job. When everyone had arrived and settled in a little, we had him direct the kids to the games.

We had the Lollipop Tree. I bought mini tootsie pops (from Oriental Trading Company) and colored the bottoms blue or orange and I had two red ones. Then I painstakingly jammed each one into a topiary form I bought from a craft store. I put it in a pot that I wrapped with a popcorn bag and white and yellow ribbons and filled the pot with glass stones to weight it down.

I made the sign by printing the letters out really big, only 3 fit per legal sized page, and cutting them out to put on poster board. Use a glue stick so the paper doesn't wrinkle. I used double sided tape to stick the giant lollipop (that I got at Walgreens 3 for $1) to foam core board.

The kids chose a lollipop and then got to choose two prizes from the bag that corresponded with the dot on their stick. There were only two items in each bag and each bag had the same two items, so no matter what everyone got the same prizes. The kids who got the red dots got a gigantic lollipop. Everyone else got a big lollipop (Oriental Trading Company) and silly putty (2 for .88 at Walmart).

The Lucky Duck game. I got weighted ducks at OTC and once again drew colored dots on them. Pretty much the same concept as the lollipop tree. I was going to use a baby pool, but already had the tub and decided to use it in an attempt to be budget conscious. They won a monkey whistle and a monkey finger puppet from OTC.

The Tattoo Lady. This station was a big hit. The kids loved the temporary tattoos. They also got a slap bracelet for their prize bucket.

Twister Toss. I bought bean bags from OTC and thought I'd make Mr. Ashley paint some sort of thing with a hole in it to throw them threw. I sort of ran out of steam towards the end and remembered my trusty Twister board (Twister Queen of Key Largo 1997, thankyouverymuch) and made do with that. The kids threw the bean bags unti they got one on one of the dots and then they got crayons (bought from a back to school sale for 12 cents) and a kaleidoscope.

I got that display board for $1 from the dollar store, by the way. The dollar store should be your first stop. I got tablecloths, the take out boxes and prizes for the older kids' goodie boxes, display boards, candy, and cutlery there.

Go Fish. This board had fish glued all over it but the little bastards fell off. For this I just took clear cocktail cups and filled them with water and a fish and had the kids throw ping pong balls into them. They won an animal eraser (3 for $1 at Joanns) and Fish in a Bag soap, made by me.

These were a pain in the ass and once again, not budget friendly. If you decide to ever do this project, you'll need more soap than you think. I probably went through almost 8 lbs to make 20 soaps. They were really cute though and the kids were excited about them, so obsessing over each and every one of them and having my kitchen covered with soap for a week was worth it.

The Freak Show. This was definitely one of the highlights of the party. Mr. Ashley made the sign for me because I was sick of cutting things out. I don't have a good photo of it, but he did a great job. He used graffiti style lettering and wrote "World's Strongest Man" and "See the Bearded Lady" underneath. I had clown wigs, hats, dress up clothes, disguise glasses, sunglasses and the strong man bar and a mirror.

The strong man bar was the papier mache craft that traumatized the Big Kid. Honestly, it was more work than it needed to be and about halfway through I realized I should've tied two black balloons to a stick and called it a day. Originally I was going to buy those styrofoam balls but turns out they were like $9 a piece and that was just ridiculous. So I blew up balloons, tore newspaper into strips, dipped them into a flour/water paste and slapped them on there. Each layer had to completely dry before you could apply the next and it needed 3 layers. Then we popped the balloons and stuck the cardboard tube from wrapping paper in the holes, taped them up and papier mached that. PAIN IN THE ASS. Then Mr. Ashley and Mr. LK took it outside to paint it and were out there fucking around until I stomped out there and yelled at them. I do apologize to Mr. LK because he ended up being a great popcorn bag stuffer, but there is no denying the fact that there was screwing around going on and there was no time for screwing around. (They did indeed try to deny screwing around).

For food we had hotdogs, popcorn, peanuts, snow cones, and a veggie tray. Instead of a cake we had popcorn cupcakes:
I had to edit our last name out of the photo. I made the wrapper in photoshop. They will not stick to the cupcake wrappers, you have to glue them into rings and drop the cupcakes into the ring. The topping is miniature marshmallows cut in half and squeezed back together. I suggest that you recruit a very good friend for this project, just don't tell them how much it's going to suck beforehand.

I bought the cupcakes unfrosted and then added the frosting and marshmallows. I lured LK over and gave her some scissors and the opportunity to become a marshmallow cutting master. Cut them lengthwise, squeeze back together and put on top of cupcake. It takes FOREVER and the marshmallows get sticky and gross. Stick the marshmallows in the freezer and go test out the margarita snow cones and take a break when this happens. LK has definitely earned her place in BF heaven by helping with this monotonous task.

I rented a circus calliope CD from the library and had that on in the background, that was a super cute touch and it was FREE!

The goodie bags for the older kids were takeout boxes with a whoopee cushion, Nerds, a string of gumballs, wax bottles with liquid candy inside, a gummy hotdog and a ring pop.

The babies got buckets, alphabet tiles, a biter biscuit, a bath toy and a board book. The preschoolers got the prizes in their buckets.

The boys wore shirts I found from a seller on Etsy

I also did a time capsule for each boy. I found scrapbook paper that looked like popcorn and had guests write messages on that and put them in a popcorn box for each boy. I used popcorn boxes for centerpieces as well. I put floral foam in them and covered it with yellow tissue paper and then used floral picks to secure curled yellow and white ribbon to the foam so it spilled over the sides and top of the box. It looked really cute and luckily I had brought balloon weights for the bottom so they didn't blow away.

We played pin the nose on the clown and everyone got punchballs (those little bastards are CHEATERS) and then everyone just hung out and played.

Tabblo: Ashley Bros Circus 2007

I'm not sure of the etiquette on publishing photos of your guests online, so I've tried to limit myself to mostly pictures of guests in disguise. Damn the psychos that ruin it for us all!

A great time was had by all! Especially by those with Margarita snow cones. Even the little kid managed to go all day without fussing...it only takes a three ring circus and 50 people to entertain him apparently!
I hope you enjoyed the photos, I did this post how-to style because I have some friends that wanted step by step details and I know people are itching to make their own margarita snow cones. Feel free to steal any ideas and pass them off as your own.

I'm STILL tired from doing all of this shit. When I asked the Big Kid what his favorite part was...he said the monkey bars. Why, oh why, do I bother?


Monogram Momma said...

Just want you to know I have TEARS in my eyes I am so proud of this awesome party you pulled off! And the cupcakes? HOLY CRAP! They are fabulous!!! It will no doubt take you an entire week to recover from that. Or perhaps a new bag or shopping spree.

Sasha said...

Oh good Lord- no wonder you are tired! You are quite the master party planner- I am way jealous and your party rocked, but will also say up front that it will never happen for The Politician and The Wild Child, as I just don't have the patience or the creativity in me.

tommie said...

That is an amazing party! I bet you are still tired. The margarita machine looks like something I will add to my celebration when my husband gets home this winter!!

Unknown said...

You are freakin' amazing, Ashley..
That took some work... I am tired just reading about all of the stuff you had to do to pull that off..
Nice Job.
Mom of the week goes to you.

clemsongirlandthecoach said...

OK, when exactly are we going to live in the same town? Because we CLEARLY look at bday parties it the same way, it's a total competition for me and you would be the best competitor EVER!!! I demand an invite to the next one...
You are amazing!

Unknown said...

P-A-R-T-Y like it's your birthday!

Thank you for the wonderful inspiration. I can not live up to the standards you have set and now have one more thing to add to my list of why my kid deserves a better Mom. Oh well he doesn't know what he is missing AND YOU BETTER NOT TELL HIM!

Seriously that is a great party! Be proud of yourself and as someone else suggested get yourself a primo "goodie bag".

Unknown said...

P-A-R-T-Y like it's your birthday!

Thank you for the wonderful inspiration. I can not live up to the standards you have set and now have one more thing to add to my list of why my kid deserves a better Mom. Oh well he doesn't know what he is missing AND YOU BETTER NOT TELL HIM!

Seriously that is a great party! Be proud of yourself and as someone else suggested get yourself a primo "goodie bag".

Newportgirl said...

I LOVE your blog and have been lurking for a few weeks now. This had the best the best b-day bash EVER! Where or where did you find those green ducks used in the favor loot? My daughter LOVES ducks and is playing with about 75 of them as I read your blog :0). Can I pay you to come do my daughter's party? Whitney will be three in February. Are you free? Thanks for all of the amazing posts!!! If you are ever in NYC, let me know!
Beth Anne

Olivia: (mostly) Happy Homemaker said...

Oh my lord! What a great mom!! I'm worn out just reading about all these great details! Gorgeous!

Northern Michigan Mom said...

WOW!!! Your children are so lucky to have you as their MOM! Sure sounded like an awesome party. Love, Love, reading your blog!!

Sarahviz said...

You just put Martha to shame, girl. And tired me out just READING about it all.

Huh...and here I was all thinkin' that I was simply gonna buy a grocery store cake and rent a jumpy thing for Eldest's 6th b-day. Now I feel like a schmuck.

Anonymous said...

you are one talented lady I am really impressed

Unknown said...

Thanks so much ladies!!!!!

Beth Anne, the rubber duck came from Walmart, in the section with the .88 toys, I believe. Although, honestly, it doesn't sound as if you need more ducks. I am actually free the whole month of February so if you want to fly me to NYC, let's do it. I guess I'd even let you pay me to handle it all online, but I prefer a personal visit ;-)

Clemson, bring it girl. There's nothing I like more than some good old fashioned competition. You have an open invitation to all future parties and to move here to beautiful S. FL.

Unknown said...

Oh and MM, I thought of you many times during my planning. I knew you'd be proud and surprised by my hidden crafty streak! A-Ha! I have impressed someone who is going to be on Martha Stewart!!!!!

Basking in the glory, la, la, la la la

Deb said...

I am exhausted reading that, and I've already told you what a freak I am about events like this, so that is HUGE! I am humbled by your genius.

jennifer said...

Strong work! The party looks amazing!

Unknown said...

If I haven't expressed it already, I am in awe of your ability to not only plan, but execute a bash such as that. Especially considering that you're in FL in the middle of August. You are one heck of an amazing woman. I can't wait until Chawlapalooza 2008 when we can all put our heads together for the ultimate in parties. :)

Love you, girlie.

Lynda Kay said...

Since I was lucky enough to attend the circus I can say that all the kids & adults had ALOT of fun! Ashley got super creative and put alot of time & love into everything she did and it showed. Good Job Ashley!!! Can't wait to see what you're going to come up with for Emawee next year! (You did realize that was coming, didn't you??)
Love you always,
The marshmallow cutting master

Chrissy & Grace said...

I've been a lurker (stalker) here for a while too. But I love birthday parties as much as you obviously do, so this is clearly my cue to chime in... Your party was AWESOME! I'm so impressed and jealous of the craftiness of it all! And look here... http://www.potterybarnkids.com/gift/THMmbcarn/index.cfm?cm_src=birthdayparties... you could have spent SO much more on your party (like I know how much you really spent), and gotten so much less satisfaction if you would have bought everything. I love that you made it all!! OH... and I'm totally an invitation girl too... they're so important because they're what lure people to your party... and yours were amazing!!

Renee said...

This is the most impressive event I've ever witnessed. You are seriously creative and I think you might have a calling as a party planner. It looks like everyone had such a good time!! Imagine thinking that you're showing up for a regular ole birthday party and seeing all of those games and decorations. It was like a county fair or something! You rule.

-The Renee

Anonymous said...

You did such an AWESOME job! I thought my party for my son was great but my party seems like peanuts (pun intended) compared to the one you threw! You are such a great Mommy!! And so creative too!!

Cinnamon said...

Oh My Gosh! What an AWESOME party!!!! Can I hire you to do my next party? ;)

Cake said...

W!O!W! Now THAT is a soiree...I hope you take time to make a lovely montage of the pics...you know, so you can show him what an awesome Mom you are when he's 17 and a smart ass.

GREAT JOB! That looked like an amazing time!


Anonymous said...

(those little bastards are CHEATERS)

That made me spit out my soda all over the keyboard!

Looks like your boys had a great time at thier party! Thanks for sharing your ideas & pics. I love the fish soap idea. It's much better than buying real gold fish that will die if you look at them!