Category Archives: Ideas and Inspiration

Crazy fun baby shower theme: Surfing Monkeys

surfboard-monkey-CPLeave it to our customers to come up with fun baby shower themes! Combine beach allure, surfer casual and energetic monkeys and you get a gnarly surfing monkeys theme. It’s mod, fun, unusual! (And we love a challenge!)

The hostesses plan is to add centerpieces around the umbrella poles over her tables. We recommended printing a theme wrapper to go around the pole, and add flowers. (Even dollar store flowers are fun if you pack them in tight enough.) She planned to use raffia and beach accessories to further decorate the tables. Here is what we came up with to support the theme.

plush monkeys from Oriental Trading
Add miniature diapers to these plush monkeys from Oriental Trading company and add them to beach and surf decor to tie in the monkey aspect.

Working with a color pallette of sand, orange and sky blue, we can set the base colors for table ware, table covers, signs and banner. Other beach brights added here and there for variety, such as beach towels over the buffet table and beach balls suspended from the ceiling. Accessorize with beach buckets and shovels, fondant surfboard decorations on the cake, scattered sea shells, and little umbrellas in the drinks. Add some small plush monkeys to the decor to incorporate the baby monkey. Tiny diapers added to them would add to the baby monkey aspect and get lots of “awwww!”s. Surfs up! Catch it, Dude!

Favors could be little beach pails filled with goodies, surfboard cookies, surf theme insulated cups, floral leis, or even beach towels.

Make a banner look like a giant surfboard, or use bright color papers to make pennants to “Welcome Baby” and hang it over the dessert table. We added some cute cake ideas to our beach baby shower pinterest page. Browse it for even more ideas.

We found these fun accessories at Party City and Oriental Trading Company. Check them out online by clicking the image. Get beach accessories in the spring or early summer at your local discount stores for best selection.

oriental trading company beach ballsOriental Trading CompayParty City Caribbean blue party ware

Accessorize Your Rock and Roll Party

Jubilee Shop Bake Rattle and Roll Cupcake KitThrowing a rock and roll theme birthday party or baby shower? This fun theme gives lots of play to musical props and edibles. You’ll want to include some of these goodies on your rock star dessert table or in with your party favors. Drum up some smiles with musical note lollipops, rock star cupcakes, guitar shaped chocolates and drum set cookies. Get some inspiration from all the wonderful ideas we found to add to our rock and roll theme party!

SweetNSmiles Note Pops

Cupcakes are workable for the amateur baker with a helpful kit like this one with wrappers and picks. More adventurous bakers can try creating fondant music notes, guitars, drums and miniature vinyl albums to decorate their cupcakes. Limit yourself to the color scheme you have chosen for your party for all your dessert table items and table items to coordinate with your decorations. Black and white with a bright color or two seems to work easily into a rock and roll look.

Party Supplies Delivered plastic microphonesNote Cutouts from Wallys Party FactoryCentury Novelty Guitar Mint Tins

Include chocolate music pops with your party favors, tied with coordinating ribbon colors. These can be found in the shapes of music notes and guitars from online favor or candy shops. For children’s favor bags, add a pack of Pop Rocks, a rock candy stick and a kazoo. Decorate colorful favor bags with black music notes for an easy tie-in.  Favors for grown-ups may include chocolate pops, dark sunglasses, and a toy microphone. The latter will likely be found in the hands of enthusiastic divas during the party.

rock and roll baby invitationmusic straw flagsFor your tables, top your table decorations with cutout black music notes and guitars. These can be used on the tables like confetti, or attached to tooth picks or longer sticks to add them to arrangements. Add some 1950’s rock-n-roll cafe fun by providing drinking straws that have been decorated with coordinated flags as well.

10 Things to Do When You are Home Sick from School

Cough. Cough. “Mom, I’m Sick!” You convince your parent that you need to stay home from school with a dramatic blend of discomfort and fatigue. Since Mom’s condition for this home recovery is a day without television, computer games and iPod, you know you need something to do or this day of quiet could go on forever. No friends. No outside play. No softball practice. Try these ideas to fill the day when you are not sleeping or catching up on homework:

  1. Organize your bookshelf alphabetically by author. This activity will likely get you reading things you forgot you had and help you find something you did not know you’d misplaced.
  2. Clean out a junk drawer or toy box. You’ll feel more organized, enjoy the sense of completion and probably spend more time playing with old toys than cleaning.
  3. Read your favorite childhood short stories. You may be amazed at how short they are now.
  4. Research a favorite subject, i.e. albino dolphins, and make a power point to show your parents. You get computer time for an educational project and get to play with a fun program.
  5. Make an interesting lunch. Assuming you can eat, try making your peanut butter and jelly sandwich jelly first, or try a cream cheese, cheddar and Parmesan cheese bagel. Then clean up your mess. Leaving a trail of crumbs and dishes does not make the day better after Mom gets home.
  6. Crafts. Do what you like. Clay, collage, drawing, painting or a sculpture from Popsicle sticks. Once again, clean up the mess.
  7. Find all the loose change in the house and count how much there is. (This does not make it your money! 🙂 How many states can you find on quarters? How many state parks on quarters? Any really old pennies?
  8. Draw a sketch of your dream home or dream bedroom. Write a story or explanation to go with it.
  9. Play with your hair style while no one can see. Try a new hairstyle, or comb it the other way.
  10. Write a blog article for your mom or dad. You know they are overworked and will appreciate it.

Enjoy your day off from your normal schedule and get well soon!

Vow Renewal Ceremony Ideas

Photo by Mary R. Vogt

While on vacation, we visited a Polynesian cultural center and learned about traditional Fiji weddings. The customs were complex, but the vows were very simple…the bride and groom promise to never leave one another. That’s it. Wedding vows, from a celtic hand-fasting to an lengthy wedding mass, are essentially saying the same thing. I promise to stay with you.

Recently we printed a vow renewal invitation for customers who chose to publicly renew their vows since they chose a simple civil ceremony years ago. This time they chose a church ceremony to stand up in front of their child, parents, friends and family and repeat their vows. It was a special gift to the bride from the groom to have the ceremony they had wanted. A celebration of love and family followed.

Your plans may include any traditions and ceremonies you wish, and special symbolism and messages unique to your relationship. After years together, this set of vows celebrates your history as a couple, the support and love you have shared and the future together.

Attire for your vow renewal ceremony can be as formal and public as you wish. Your vow renewal could be a private rite… just the two of you holding hands and stating your vows to each other on the beach. A small casual event may include a garden or chapel ceremony officiated by a family member or friend, followed by a luncheon gathering. A formal event may include a larger church service, formal attire, a photographer and a dinner dance. Unlike the traditional first marriage which often caters to the needs of the extended family, the canvas is blank. This event is yours to make it exactly as you wish.

Some ideas to include your history and personalities in your ceremony:

  • Write personal messages to each other that include a description of how you have grown together as a couple. These can be included within the vows or used for a toast during the celebration.
  • Include a thank you to the people who mentored or supported your marriage.
  • If you are having a vacation vow renewal, consider some of the local wedding customs to add meaning and color to your service.
  • Incorporate some cultural traditions your ancestors used to celebrate marriages, like a traditional folk dance, costume or music.
  • Make a ceremony of presenting your parents, or other relatives or friends, with a gift in thanks for their support of your marriage.
  • At the start of your ceremony, light a candle for each of your parents, or have your children light them.
  • During the exchange of vows, invite other couples to stand and repeat their vows to each other as well.
  • For the relatives just beginning their adult life, share short stories of how you weathered the good times and the bad, or a brief list of “why I would marry you all over again.”

If you are planning a vow renewal, perhaps to coincide with a milestone wedding anniversary, you may want to read our vow renewal planning article.

Whoa Lil’ Cowboy! Don’t miss these!

Horse-Chalkboard-Decal-L13713419Get carried away with your cowboy baby room! How cute would it be to have a large horse shaped chalkboard in the nursery? Kids and parent’s alike love chalkboards. This bold pony will also add a huge impact to your western-theme nursery, and work well into the elementary school years.

Babies love looking at dark contrasting edges, so this horse with it’s complicated edge will interest baby from the earliest days.

There are many cute bedding sets with a western theme. The boy versions seem to either be red and blue with brown, or baby blue with deep brown. If you prefer the bright tones, this crib set from Cassidy and Banjo is really fun. We found it on the Small In The Saddle site. The combination of red and blue paisley with warm tan instead of dark brown is very inviting, especially with the brick red walls shown in their photo. Another warm-tones bedding set which is very nicely designed is the Carson Baby Crib Bedding by Glenna Jean. We found it at and show some of the coordinating items below.

If you prefer the blue theme, there are many options for baby bedding and room themes.  One of my favorites is the lighthearted design from Trend Lab offered at The set is playful and interesting, all boy, and contrasts beautifully with dark furniture. The matching pieces are adorable.

Charming baby gifts for a cowboy baby shower will get ooohs and ahhhs at the shower and become part of the fun effect of the nursery. This horse security blanket is downright adorable. I found it at the site as well. Other fun gifts we found were rope wall art spelling baby’s name, burp cloth sets in western designs, diaper bags, and of course, western duds. Click any of these to see more!

cowboy theme baby shower invitations
Vector Files

Three Great Traditions for New Years Eve

New years eve is quickly becoming one of our favorite family traditions. A pattern is forming, and all ages look forward to it!

First: we do not treat New Year’s Eve as an expensive, adults-only event. Not only does this save babysitting costs, it also is tons of fun and pulls the family together. Our multi-age new year party tips:

Fun with the dress up box and duct tape guitars
  • Don’t start the party too early. 8:00 works for us. Setup begins at 5:00. Some close family comes early to help set up and enjoy an easy dinner together.
  • Offer special treats for all ages… from popcorn to baked brie. Make sure the snacks are self-serve for the children, and at their level. If everyone agrees to bring a snack and a bottle of bubbly, you will be well equipped.
  • Set up a beverage station that even children can handle. Stack towels near it and everyone can do their own cleanup when spills occur. Adult beverages should also be self-serve, but up higher. 🙂
  • Include a sparkling cider or juice in your midnight toast so that everyone can participate. Set the glasses onto large trays prior to the party so they are ready to fill. Choose a different color or style of glass for the non-alcoholic option.
  • Make a ruckus at midnight! Bang pots and pans or have the kids run in circles in the yard with sparklers.
  • Have a quiet place ready to lay children down. If they “Crash” early, you can move them to the quiet area complete with a nursery monitor so their parents can hear them if they awake.
  • Check out this wonderful blog article for fun new years party activities.

Second:Include an activity table. Yours could be anything from decorating a new-years mask, making a new year hat out of newspapers, or using fabric markers on blank shirts. If the craft table is set up in advance, families can make use of it as it suits them, have something to create together, and create conversation pieces. Try to choose a craft that takes less than an hour to complete, and is ready to take home at midnight.

Third: Create a tradition. A few years ago my hubby decided to attempt creme brulé for new years eve. Since the kitchen is THE natural gathering place for parties, he has lots of helpers, and an audience when he torches the yummy creations. The children deliver the ramekins to interested guests. Our kids now look forward to this every year.

Years before we started a tradition making new years masks out of plaster cast material. Messy but fun. Creativity abounded!

A third tradition is the opening of the dress-up box. Funny dress up hats, boas, etc. keep the mood light and keep the adults and children interacting.

No matter what your tradition is… just keep it going! You will be surprised how much the kids (and adults) remember and anticipate the tradition.

Ideas for your Butterfly Wedding Theme

Butterfly Invitation
Naptime’s Butterfly Love Invitation with butterflies

There are many reasons that the butterfly is a popular theme for weddings, quince años celebrations and other parties. A butterfly, besides being bright and beautiful, is a new beginning. It is youthful beauty. Joy. The bloom of summer.

Balloons Galore butterfly placecard holder
Placecard holders from

If you are planning your wedding or party with a butterfly theme, look no further! We have gathered together a list of butterfly decorations, picks, napkin rings and place card holders that will inspire you. has lots of butterfly options including these place card holders and the napkin rings below.

Create stunning effects quickly simply by adding artificial butterflies to the cake and centerpieces. Butterfly decorations are available from many websites, allowing you to find JUST what you were hoping for. Artificial butterflies typically are made of paper, painted feathers or nylon or silk material. Small painted feather butterflies are an inexpensive and colorful way to add color.

Butterfly napkin rings

You can get these on clips or wires and add them to almost anything. Butterfly garlands can be added to entrance ways. Loose butterflies can “fly” over the tables. Wired butterflies can flit about above the floral arrangements. Small butterflies can perch on your favor bags, stemware or plates, or even

on the tops of chair backs. We found interesting butterfly picks, garland, and all sizes and colors at, Balloons-Galore, and FloralTrims.

Nylon and silk butterflies, from simple to extravagant, are available in various sizes and colors. Some are painted with glitter or have rhinestones or pearls added. Some have multiple wing layers. You can add these more detailed butterflies to the cake, and suspend from the ceiling using transparent fishing line. ButterflyGrove offers large butterflies meant for hanging from the ceiling.

Butterfly Invitation
Butterfly Invitation from Naptime Productions shown with butterflies from
Butterfly Cake featured on Mis Quince Magazine
butterfly grove
From the
Monarch Butterflies made from various materials from the vendors listed in this article.

An Alternative Spring Bridal Shower

Spring Bridal ShowerWhy not capitalize on the spring fever of your guests as a theme for your bridal shower? Host your spring bridal shower at a local garden for a refreshing bridal shower alternative. New beginnings for both our yards and their relationship! Carry the spring theme through with these freshly sprouted options:

  • Serve a garden tea menu with tea and coffee, lemonade, small gourmet sandwiches, salad, fruit and pretty desserts.
  • Since your party will be outside, be sure to include “outdoor garden shower” on your shower invitation with “casual attire”. You may even want to include a rain date.
  • Set up a potting table to allow your guests to build their own container gardens favor. Have several planters pre-made made for these who don’t like to get their hands dirty.
  • Have a garden professional come to the shower to give a brief talk about planning a flower garden. Or, perhaps the speaker could demonstrate how to make the container garden. Set up chairs to that guests can choose to sit and listen if they wish, or mingle if they don’t.
  • Use name tags with different flowers and have each guest pick their flower.
  • Set up a gift display table so that guests do not have to sit and watch the gifts being opened. If you wish, you can indicate “display shower” on the invitation and let your guests know to only wrap their gift with a bow.
  • Set colorful seed packets out for guests to choose from as they leave the shower. Attach a note to each packet thanking them for attending the bridal shower.

Fabulous Confirmation Finds

Wow! From Sweets n Such on Flickr

If your confirmation celebration is approaching, don’t miss these three wonderful additions to your celebration!

The Sweetest Confirmation Cookies

Don’t miss these adorable cookies from when you are preparing for your child’s confirmation party. S-W-E-E-T! Who knew cookie artists could be so creative. They would be a hit for the children after the service, or as favors at your reception party after.

The traditional symbol of the holy spirit is the dove, and flames. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3-4) A descending dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit arriving from heaven. Also a symbol of peace, the Dove is a very popular symbol for Confirmation.

Silvia Sweet Delights

Edible Art by Gisha

A Unique Confirmation Gift

The wondrous gifts of the holy spirit prepare your child for a rich and rewarding life.  This special confirmation gift reminding them of these gifts of character would look great in any teen’s room and remind your child of the meaning of their confirmation.

Patron Saint Gifts

A gift to remind your child of their patron saint is an appropriate gift. The Catholic Company has inexpensive pocket tokens and other mementos for many saints. Check out their saint index to find items personalized with your child’s chosen saint.

Confirmation Blessings

Choose a special blessing to give at the confirmation celebration. If you are so inclined, choose a coordinating prayer card to pass out with a prayer from the service and your own blessing choice. Several sources for beautifully written blessings include: Irish Confirmation Blessings, some brief Confirmation Blessings and a wonderful article discussing the gifts of the holy spirit.
Enjoy this special day with your child!

Confirmation Invitation with traditional symbols

Five Cutest First Communion Cookies

Cookie Ladies has beautiful crosses and chalices

If you are planning a first communion celebration for your child or church, you will definitely want to see the inventive and delicious designs we found. A short trip on the internet provided these great ideas. Some can can be ordered online and others could be made locally by your favorite cookie artist.

From Flickr’s Andover Cookie Mama
From Silvia Sweet Delights
Cross Cookie from Dessert Works
From First Communion Supplies

There is an art to making lovely cookies. If you plan to take on a project to make such edible art, you may choose to watch read up on making perfect frosted cookies. Consider making them a couple days ahead and freezing or refrigerating them to keep them fresh.

Wrapped individually, cookies can be a much-loved communion party favor, or can dress up your dessert table.

Your child will be amazed at how wonderful these cookies are. They will taste wonderful and look even better. All of your child’s friends will be impressed by your amazing cookies! (It is so easy to win a child’s heart!) Don’t be surprised if you are asked to recreate your feat if you do make these little creations by yourself. All your friends will want you to make a batch for their party. Now there is a goal!

I wish I could bake.

Side note: The gorgeous cross cookies with leaves and a rose shown here are listed on the baker’s website as “our standard cross cookies.” I wish my standard cookies even looked edible.

First Communion Invitations