July 30, 2012

A different kind of decorating

I decided to take on a different kind of decorating for a change. I wanted to do something special for my son Nicholas' fourth birthday. We were not having a huge party, but rather inviting in-town family to join us for dinner and a little celebration of sorts. At first I came up with a pool/water theme, since Nico took swimming lessons for the first time this spring, and has already become a braver swimmer. But, having a pool party when you don't actually have a... hmm... POOL {other than a kiddy pool and sprinkler}, is sort of boring. Although I had scrambled together some neat ideas to carry the pool party theme without a lot of literal swimming, I kept searching for ideas before "diving" into it {ha ha ha!}.

Then, it hit me: what is the single type of toy that my son can never get enough of? TOOLS! He is never prouder than when he can carry a tool hooked on his belt or stashed in his pocket, you know, for any spontaneous drilling emergencies that may arise. I already knew he would be getting more tools for his birthday, so why not go with that as an entire theme. I hit the wonderful and inspiring pages of Pinterest, typed in "construction party ideas" and WOW! I found a bunch of inspiration!

My goal was to decorate with a theme, but also to create the decorations myself and keep it all on a tight budget. I love decorating with a theme, but I'd rather make decorations myself than to simply buy them. I feel that it is more personal to put a little bit of effort into it!

For my theme, my colors were bright orange, sunny yellow and a touch of black. I did buy colored plates, napkins, tablecloths and balloons, but the rest I wanted to do myself.

Here was my material list:
-yellow and orange paper
-paper trimmer {borrowed from work}
-brown craft paper

Using a word processing program {I used Microsoft Word}, I created little construction signs with squares, letters and arrows. And it only took a few minutes to complete. I was able to create the following:

Custom construction sign pennant:

I printed the letters with a diamond shape around each on orange paper. When I trimmed them, I left about 3/4" around the shape. I cut my yellow paper a bit larger and glued the orange paper to the yellow paper. Then, I simply affixed them to a long piece of ribbon using tape. Voilà! Huge impact with a tiny price tag, and it really set the theme for the entire decor.

Party hats:

Ok, I did cheat a bit by using a ready-made construction hat for the birthday boy, but I did make the sign. As for the crowns, I thought of this as an alternative to the usual cone-shaped party hats with that painful elastic string, which no kid, or adult for that matter, likes to wear. I simply cut my sheets of orange paper into strips and made little happy face construction signs for the "jewel". Plus my nieces are super girly, so I figured they would appreciate a crown! Mind you no one wore theirs for very long.


I wanted to do more than just hang balloons here and there, and I also did not want to bother getting them filled with helium. So, how do you decorate with regular air filled balloons? How about a balloon initial over the food station:

And what about a cluster of balloons attached to a dump truck:

Wrapping paper:

This idea first came about because I forgot to buy wrapping paper when I was at the party store, but then I wanted paper that would match the theme. I thought "what better way to incorporate a construction theme than with construction PAPER!" I bought a roll of craft paper for about $2. Then, I cut up my little DIY traffic signs and glued them on randomly. Cute and personal!

From plain craft...

To just plain CRAFTY!

Cupcake cake:

I opted to order the cupcake cake because: a) I wanted to save myself some hassle / time / stress {we are in the middle of unpacking after all},  b) they are fun for the kids {and adults} to decorate themselves, c) you can request half of the cupcakes in chocolate and the other half in vanilla, and d) our local grocer does a really good job and they are  super delicious! I did decorate it myself using the tools. I also added a little touch of the theme by serving Nico's cupcake in a dump truck!


Finally, while surfing Pinterest for party ideas, I noticed that a lot of decors included color coordinated snacks and beverages. How easy is that? You have to provide food anyway, why not pick some that matches!? Cue the orange cheese sticks and yellow cheddar popcorn! Throw in some colored gummies and candies, some orange colored mango juice and yellow colored peach juice, and you've good color coordinated food! LOVE it!

Then it was just a matter of throwing it all together. I did not want to clutter the dining table with a ton of stuff, so I opted to just place a tractor and a plate with extra napkins weighed down by a smaller tractor as the centerpiece.

Because there were 8 kids, I set up a separate table for them. I placed the birthday boy's hat and the crowns on that table, and added the little dump truck with balloons. Finally, I placed the gifts from Jon and I on the sideboard behind the table as a backdrop. {I know, we don't have our countertops yet. They've been ordered...Stay tuned for that.)

All in all, everything was great! I decorated the night before when Nico was being babysat at the cottage with my parents, so he came home to this decorated party just for him! The party went well, everyone was happy, and I didn't feel sad about tearing down the decorations because I hadn't spent a fortune on them.

But most importantly, this is what made me happy:
Happy 4th birthday to my Big Boy Nicholas!


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