Category Archives: Party Planning

Party Like a Toddler

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His Majesty had a Halloween Party at play school yesterday, which gave me the opportunity to try out two new recipes that I pinned to my Halloween Board.

The first was a twist on our Valentine’s Day success: I call it “Monkey Munch”, but my husband, and the recipe that I used, call it “Puppy Chow”.  The other play school parents just called it “Really Good”.  The source of the recipe is a blog called Your cup of Cake, and it’s written by a college student at BYU.  She has tons of recipes for sweet treats, like this one for hot chocolate truffles.  Betcha Santa would take those over the same old chocolate chip cookies we leave him every year!

The recipe is very easy to follow.  The only thing I did differently was to mix the coated cereal and the powdered sugar in a (clean, unused) kitchen trash bag.  It’s bigger, so it’s easier to spoon the cereal into it, and there is more room to shake the cereal around and coat it evenly in the powdered sugar.  I just used one trash bag for the white chocolate mixture and one for the chocolate chip mixture.  I used about 2/3 of a big bag of Reese’s Pieces, but you could add M&Ms, candy corn, pretzels, whatever you want, to dress it up to your satisfaction.

The second recipe I tried was this pumpkin shaped cheese ball from Family Fresh Meals.  I served it with pretzels, crackers, bell pepper slices, and nacho chips.  It looked so pretty that people will think it takes you a lot of work to create it, but it doesn’t.  Not including the time it spent in the fridge overnight, it took me about 20 minutes, including time to cut up the peppers and set up the crackers on the platter.   It was a hit with the kids, and His Majesty tried to eat some of the leftovers with a spoon.

These two snacks went over very well with both adults and kids.  I still can’t get over how much toddlers eat, those little ones sat down around the table and gorged themselves to their little costumed hearts’ content.  Even so, these recipes make a lot of servings, so if you are watching your waistline, I’d definitely suggest that you have a plan for how to pawn the leftovers off on your friends generously gift the leftovers so that you aren’t tempted to overindulge.  These treats are can be dangerous!

Happy Halloween!

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One Obstacle After Another

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I took a week off from Blogville while my guys and I took a trip to the beach.  I’m happy to report that we had a great trip, and then it was back to reality, and the next big thing to tackle on our To Do List.

Task numero uno being hosting Christopher’s 12th Birthday Party.

Christopher is past the point where he wants a true themed party, like His Majesty’s Barnyard Bash, but he definitely still wants a party.  I remembered that someone in an online mother’s group had mentioned a few months back that she created a Nerf Gun Course for her tween-aged son, and that it had been a big hit, so I asked Christopher what he thought of that idea, and he said it sounded like fun.   It was right up my alley because being that his friends are in the 9-14 age range, I wanted to do the bulk of the party outdoors.  I found some cute ideas for a Nerf party invitation from a message board on Two Peas in a Bucket, and a great idea for a cake from Cake Central, but beyond that, it pretty quickly became clear that there was a big logistical issue that would make this Nerf party idea tricky for me to pull off.

The problem was that we don’t have trees in our back yard.  At all.  No trees= no hiding places, and furthermore, it means that hanging up targets would require a lot more thought/work.  I solicited one of my BFFs, my former work husband Don, who happens to participate in many firearms competitions, and I asked him for his help planning and putting on the event.  I envisioned something along the lines of a military inspired training course, with tires to run through and barriers to climb over and hide behind and things of that nature.  You know, like paintball, except that the goal is to hit stationary targets instead of each other.  Don tossed out some ideas, but again, the lack of barriers and trees seemed to the hold back.

So, I moved on to another plan.  Bringing in on site Laser Tag.  I didn’t even know that this existed, but they bring everything– guns, vests, obstacles, EVERYTHING– right to you, just for things like birthday parties and Senior Class Graduation Night and Family reunions and things like that.   But, alas, yet another obstacle in my way:  The company is located more than 2 hours away from our home, and after 20 miles, they charge by the mile and by the hour for the trip out, which would basically double the price.

But, I wasn’t ready to give up that easily.  I decided to look on Ebay, to see if I could buy some laser tag stuff.  And I learned that laser tag stuff is not cheap– not if you want it to actually work, that is.  Plus, it still wouldn’t solve the lack of trees/hiding spaces/etc in our back yard.  So, that idea got nixed as well.

Back to the drawing board, and naturally, I turned back to Pinterest.  I found a few things, but nothing that screamed out to me as being workable for the age range we would be hosting.

But then, I found this on Martha Stewart’s website.  It’s literally entitled “How to Throw an Obstacle Course Party”.

Jackpot.

The nine item list sparked memories in my head of Field Days in elementary school.  Did you guys have Field Day at your school when you were a kid?  It was a huge deal at my school, and it was awesome because not only did you get a day out of the classroom, but you also got to PLAY OUTSIDE.  Heck yeah, those were good times.  I presented my idea to Christopher and he sparked an ear to ear smile like you would not believe.

And so, just like that, we were throwing an Obstacle Course Birthday Party.  And let me tell you, it was AWESOME!!

Decorations were minimal.  I made him a birthday banner that we hung on the back wall of the house.  We decided to hang it indoors because there was a forecast for rain, which thankfully, held out until later on in the evening.

Fabric Pennant Birthday Banner made with the help of a great tutorial over at Martin Family Living.

I made a poster board up with simple rules.

The rules!

My husband made wooden stakes and stapled the station numbers and the goals for each station onto them.  Then we placed them throughout the yard in the designated locations.

I called on a few friends helping us with the set up, which took bout an hour and a half.  My friend Don, mentioned above, oversaw the “firing station”, my friend Elena took the photos, and her son Xavier helped out with all sorts of things.  Oh, and my friend Melissa’s son arrived two hours early because I wrote the wrong times on the invitation, so we put him to work helping with the course set up.  LOL, leave it to me to write the wrong time on an invitation!  Thank goodness it was just ONE invitation! During the course, I ran alongside the kids and kept score on a simple score sheet I made in Pages (the Mac version of MS Word), and my husband kept time on a stop watch.

Looking out at "the course".

We set up 13 different stations.   Before we began, the kids and I walked the course and went over the goals for each station.  The stations were all pretty simple.

Station #1:  The kids spun around 12 times with their foreheads on a baseball bat. 12 times for 12 years old! (Supplies:  A baseball bat)

Station 2:   They moved one rock at a into a box a few feet away until they’d moved 12 rocks.  They had to run them one at a time and place them into the box, they couldn’t throw them.  My friend’s husband called these “Suicides”.  (Supplies:  A box or container and objects to move– I used a cardboard box and  small golf ball sized rocks.)

Station 3:  Crossing a “balance beam”. (Supplies:  concrete blocks and two 8-feet-long 2×4’s screwed together)

Station 4:  Hopping from one hoop to another to the next station. (Supplies: small plastic hoops purchased from Oriental Trading Company)

Station 5: Digging through a bin of corn to find a hidden Easter Egg. .  You may recognize the bin from the sensory play scavenger hunt at His Majesty’s party last month.   I just used it, still full of farm toys, and buried a few plastic Easter Eggs within it.  Believe it or not, this is where the kids lost the most time.  It wasn’t easy to find at all! Once they’d found the egg, they had to pick up a hula hoop and roll it around a bunch of cones to the next station. (Supplies:  rubbermaid plastic storage bin, 2 large bags of feed corn, and a small object to search for.  You could also fill the bin with sand, dry beans, rice, bird seed… whatever you want! You’ll also need a hula hoop and construction cones.  I bought my small colorful cones at Oriental Trading Company.)

Station 6:  Ring toss, with time deducted for a “ringer”. (No photo) (Supplies:  we had a plastic ring toss set that came with an outdoor yard game set we bought years ago, but you could easily do this with wooden stakes and small plastic rings purchased at the dollar store, or change it up and use horse shoes.)

Station 7:  Crawling under a Streamer “tunnel” .(Supplies: this is so easy, it’s just a rectangular serving table with streamers taped over it.)

 

Station 8:  Walking with an egg on a spoon, with time added if the egg broke.  (No photo) (Supplies:  a tablespoon and some raw eggs.)

Station 9:  Jumping rope 12 times, counting out loud. (Supplies:  a jump rope.)

Station 10:  Bean Bag toss.  (Supplies: bean bags, or even small plastic or foam balls, and containers to toss them into.  I used empty containers of sour cream, oatmeal, and ice cream as the targets, and gave the  kids anywhere from 10-40 second deductions for getting the bean bag into a container.)

Station 11: Jumping Jacks, while counting out loud– 12 of them, of course! (Supplies: NONE!)

Station 12:  Using an air soft gun, the kids shot at empty pop cans (weighed down with dried beans and corn so that the wind didn’t knock them over).  Don and Xavier stayed at this station to make sure it was done safely, and they also refilled the “clips” in between rounds so that all the kids had to do was put on the safety goggles and take aim.  The kids got 5 seconds deducted from their time for each can that they hit.  (Supplies:  An air soft gun and appropriate plastic pellets, a table or stand to hold the weapon and ammo– we used a tall empty cardboard box– and a table to set the targets on.  Our targets were about a dozen empty Pepsi cans.)

Station 13:  Blow up a balloon, tie it, and make it pop.  Most of the kids sat on them to pop them, but some squeezed them, jumped on them, and one guy even BIT into one! (Supplies:  Balloons.)

After they’d completed station 13 by popping the balloon, they ran to the finish line, where they had to sit down in order for their time to officially stop.

The actual times ranged from 3 to 6 minutes, but most of the kids also earned deductions for their performance.  The winning time, after deductions, was 2 minutes and 14 seconds!

Afterwards, we fed them pizza and salad.  I ordered our pizzas online from our local Papa John’s, and was able to schedule delivery for right in the middle of the party.  I could even leave a “comment” for the delivery driver.  I took that opportunity to write “Please deliver to the back yard”, pretty much expecting that it would go unnoticed, but sure enough, right at the scheduled time, the driver appeared in the backyard, pizzas in hand!  It was so easy, I highly recommend it.   When everyone was enjoying their dinner, I presented the winner with his prize:  A $10 Cold Stone Gift Card.   I did it American Idol style, too, even taking a “commercial break” just before I announced the winner!  I had wayyyy too much fun with this party, can’t you tell?

We gave everyone some time to eat, and then the kids ran out for a little more time on the obstacle course before we called them in for cake and ice cream.   Christopher chose a “Cookie Dough Delirium” ice cream cake from Cold Stone. I thought it was just ok, but my favorite part of cake isn’t the cake, it’s the frosting, so don’t go by my opinion in that regard.  The kids and parents seemed to enjoy it.

We dished up the ice cream into cupcake liners a few hours before the party started, an idea pinned from Real Simple that saved a lot of time when it came time to actually serve the ice cream.  I bought peanut butter cup ice cream, too… in a suspicious turn of events, my husband claimed that he”forgot” to scoop some out for the party… and it just so happens to be his favorite flavor… so you do the math on that 😉

I also made  Oreo Pops for the kids to nosh on, an idea pinned from Hip Hip Hooray, a blog with dozens of ideas for kid’s parties.  I displayed them in a flat foam wreath ring wrapped in streamers.  

Lastly, the kids got to stuff goody bags with treats from the “Candy Bar”.  They’re a little old for goody bag “toys”, so we went with all edible stuff.  M&Ms, Sour Patch Kids, Gum Balls, Reese’s Cups, Skittles, and various candy bars.  This was a huge hit with the guys. They loved stuffing their bags.

It was a blast.  I got a chance to exercise my inner drill sergeant, and the kids got to run off some energy.  The kids and parents all told me that they had a good time, and we had great friends helping us out.  Not only that, but the weather couldn’t have been better, and every invited guest not only came, but RSVP’d!  High five for good manners!

But the best part was seeing my Christopher enjoy himself so much.

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!  May all your dreams come true.

 

 

 

Barnyard Birthday Banner

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Sitting on the couch watching Netflix the other night, I realized that I had forgotten to post about making the birthday banner for His Majesty’s birthday party.  The cow print and gingham theme of the Barnyard Bash was originally inspired by this pin from Shindig Diva.  Can any patterns convey a barnyard bash better than cow print and gingham?  I don’t think so.  But, I knew I wanted to do gingham tablecloth and gingham trimmed mason jars on the tables, so I decided to focus on cow print for a Happy Birthday Banner.   Enter this cow print fabric scored with a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby.  I bought 2 yards, which was about double what I needed, and that was on purpose, given that almost every sewing project I undertake involves at least one error.  Thankfully, though, this one did not involve any major errors, and I have quite a bit of cow fabric leftover for something else that comes along.

I started by checking out this awesome tutorial at Martin Family Living, which also includes a template, which you can find here.  I didn’t want to take the time to do a two sided banner though, which saved me several steps.  I printed out the template on regular old printer paper (because my husband wasn’t home, and I didn’t know how to print on card stock), and traced my triangle pennants on the back side of the fabric in pencil.  I did a pennant for every letter, and I even cut out a few extra, just in case.

Then I sewed a 1 inch gingham ribbon along the back of each triangle, leaving about a foot on either end.  I did a separate banner with Happy, one with Birthday, and one with His Majesty’s name, which allowed me the flexibility of hanging them vertically or horizontally, since I didn’t know exactly how it was going to look when I started out on this project.

Then I went to work on the letters.  I made templates and traced them, backwards, in washable marker on the back of a sheet of white felt. (That way, if anything funky were to show from the markers, it wouldn’t be on the “good” side of the letters.) 

Then, I cut the letters out, and traced around the white letters, this time tracing them onto red felt.

I did this because I wanted a little bit of red to show around the white letters, to play on the gingham ribbon.  I just freehanded the tracing.  See how I went all the way up to the edge on the felt here?  It saved a little bit of space. Low stress.

Then I cut those out, too. See how the letters look together? I stuck them in the sink with some dish soap and rinsed the marker out of them and then let them dry on my counter overnight.

Then I sewed the letters on to the triangle pennants, in red thread.  I just did the best I could to follow the curves of the letters.

After that, I used hot glue to adhere these cute little wooden animals to the end of the banners.  They are 67 cents at Hobby Lobby, and they come in all different themes: farm animals, rocket ships, dinosaurs, sports, all sorts of possibilities.  I used a chicken, a rooster, a cow, and a sheep.  They didn’t have a pig, which bummed me out, but I made do.  A pig would have really gone with the theme, though.

I had my husband hang it across the windows along the back wall of our family room, so it could be seen from the front door, when guests entered for the party.

 

I was pretty proud of this thing, and if I’m being honest, I left it up for 2 weeks after the party. It jazzed the place up a bit, made me smile every time I walked in the door.

It was simple enough to make, and good thing, because Christopher’s birthday is in a few weeks, and he has mentioned that I never made *HIM* a birthday banner (in a very dramatic, jealous, almost-twelve-year-old kind of tone), so now I’m on the hook to make one for him, too.  The sewing took about an hour, and the real time was tracing and cutting out the pennants and the letters.  I could reuse it if I wanted to throw another Barnyard Party, but I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to do that, so I’ll try to find someone to give it to, you know, to share the love.

Here’s what I used for this project:

1 yard of fabric for the pennants

fabric banner template from Martin Family Living

5 yards of 1 inch ribbon

2- 12×12 felt sheets for your letters  (my letters are 3.5 inches tall, and I put them end to end, fitting 9 letters to a sheet)

4- 12×12 felt sheets for the accent color behind your letters (you have to space these out more, which is why you need more felt)

Thread in coordinating color

washable marker or pencil

scissors

sewing machine (optional, but it sure will save you some time)

wooden accent animals or figures to go with your theme (optional)

hot glue gun (optional, for use if you want to use the wooden accent figures)

Using my 40% off coupon, and getting the ribbon on sale for 50% off, I spent about $12 on this project.  Some fabric birthday banners go for $35 on Etsy, and they don’t look much different from this one that I made myself in a few hours in the evening– especially not from a few feet away!

Have you made anything great lately?  Tell me about it!

Photo Wall Collage

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Taping photos on a wall?  Easy.

Taping photos on a wall in the shape of a recognizable number?  Not so easy.  The pinspiration made it look so perfect.  I checked out the source, Persnickety Prints, and learned that they are a professional photo lab and studio, offering everything from prints to photo gifts.  Competitive pricing, too.  They also offer some great free tips on photo editing.

But, alas.  There was no tutorial for how to make a photo collage on your wall in the shape of a number.

I did what I always do when I first encounter a problem, which is to say I thought about it for a moment, and then I pouted.  You see, in a moment of sheer brilliance and planning, I had printed SEVENTY photos to use in creating this collage– before ever checking to see if there was a tutorial.  Within a few photo placements, it became clear to me that making the shape was not going to be as easy as I’d banked on it being.

Enter my problem solving husband, who took a look at the pinspiration, looked at the wall, and, while I was swearing taping photos to the wall in the shape of a haphazard “2”, he disappeared into the kitchen for all of 3 minutes and came back with this.

A piece of cardboard with a “2” cut out of it, and a flashlight.  Not being a problem solver myself, I must have given him a look like I thought he was losing it.  Until I looked at the wall.

When he backed up and shined the flashlight through the cutout, it lit up a giant “2” on the wall, like a stencil.  With him standing behind me, I placed the photos using the lit shape as my guide.  MUCH easier.  I ended up with this:

I widened the shape all around, mostly because, well, seventy photos was about twice as many photos as I actually needed, and I could only narrow down the selection by so much.  And trust me, this shape looks 10x better than it would have looked if I had free handed it.

Something as simply as a shadow puppet, and I didn’t think of it.  And like the source suggested, you can do this for any birthday, anniversary, whatever.  What a great reason to print some of the images that are living in your computer!

What would I do without my husband to help me follow my pinspirations?

2nd Birthday Pin-sanity!

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(This is my first time entering The Pinterest Challenge!  Be sure to check out the talented hostesses, Sherry at Young House Love, Katie at Bower Power, Cassie of Hi Sugarplum, and Erin at The Great Indoors, and go scope out their great Pinspirations!)

Oh. My. Gosh.

I had so much fun this weekend.  Scratch that. I’ve had so much fun over the past FEW WEEKS, planning His Majesty’s 2nd Birthday party.

My party planning board is one of my favorites, because it not only gives me ideas for parties, but it makes me want to throw parties.  Lots of parties.  When I started pinning, the party board was the first board that I got going on, and the barnyard theme stuck out immediately as a great idea for His Majesty’s birthday.  And barnyard/farm is such a popular toddler theme that you can definitely reach information overload, trying to filter through ideas, so it was nice for me to have a place to keep all of the great ideas that I wanted to try in one place, to refer back to.

March is a tough time to plan a party with an outdoor theme.  Some might say it is a bad time to try to plan a party with an outdoor theme.  But the truth is, where I live, it could be 75 degrees in March, or it could snow.  And while it would suck to play an outdoor party and have it snow, it would suck to stick with an indoor party because you were afraid, only to wake up to a perfect Carolina blue sky and 75 degree temps.  NC springs are glorious (minus the thick coating of pollen, but hey, that’s what Elderberry syrup is for), and I wanted His Majesty wanted a petting zoo.

So, I planned a party with outdoor themed elements, mainly a traveling petting zoo, but I figured we’d spend some time indoors, too, playing games and such.  As luck would have it, rain was forecast the entire day of the party.  My friends started giving me sympathetic looks about mid week, when it became clear that I was going to have to do something with the party plan.  I realized that I had to suck up the idea that farm animals were going to end up in my garage, and as much as that horrified me in theory, it wasn’t too bad when it became a reality.  It actually didn’t rain the entire time of the party, but it was wet out from rain all that morning, so we put the large animals in the garage, just in case the sky opened up.  The smaller animals were penned in on the grass, and it worked out perfectly.  Turns out, these mobile petting zoos know what they are doing like “whoa”.  They put down a little outdoor carpet in the garage, and kept a big brooms handy, plus, they cleaned up everything.  Seriously, when they were gone, I couldn’t tell they’d ever even been here.  Very professional people. I was so pleased.

So, crisis averted, thanks be to God, and the show went on.

Want to see what we ended up with?

Invitation:

I loved this invitation from Zazzle, because it allowed me to stick my kid in a cow costume that was originally his big brother's, but that likely won't fit him come Halloween, plus it was customizable, so I could add the cheesy rhyme, AND, it was two sided, so the fun little tag line was on the front, and there was plenty of room for the specifics of the party (date/time/etc) on the back. There's always a coupon code online for Zazzle, so be sure to check if you ever want to order.

Theme/Decor:

Gingham tablecloth made by stitching the cut edges of a 36 inch by 80 inch piece of fabric; Mason jars decorated with gingham ribbon, filled with crayons and flowers; free farm animal coloring pages; dollar store wicker baskets with gingham ribbon hot-glued for accent; Metal pails from Hobby Lobby filled with apples; Barn Door wall decor from Oriental trading company. Folding chairs rented for something ridiculously cheap like $1 each/day.

Cow print fabric and gingham ribbon banner, with felt letters; Accented with wooden farm animal accents from Hobby Lobby.

"2" Photo collage, done with the help and awesome innovation of my super smart husband. Just wait until I show you how he helped me do this. The man is a problem solver.

Streamers and string of balloons hung by my adorable (and previously mentioned) husband.

Another angle of the streamers and balloons.

Table covered with fabric leftover from making the tablecloths; Lollipops covered in barns/farm animals made from cardstock in mason jars filled with popcorn kernels; Barn themed gift boxes from Hobby Lobby filled with farm animal stickers and tattoos from Oriental Trading Company, and farm themed activity book from Hobby Lobby;

Menu:

Barn cake and cupcakes made by a lovely woman who donates the proceeds of her cakes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Talk about a noble cause.

Veggie platter with tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, carrots, and celery with hummus and french onion dip; Fruit platter with grapes, blueberries, cantaloupe, and oranges; Bite sized pigs in a blanket.

Sandwich Ring from our grocery store deli with Dukes Mayo and Comeback Sauce; PBJ and sandwich thins;

Cow print cake pops and white chocolate covered marshmallows. Cake pops, YUM. White chocolate covered marshmallows... marshmallow-y... I guess I forgot that I really don't like marshmallows, and as it turns out, neither do my kids.

Games/Fun

Pink "Pig" Pom Pom Poppers and "pig pen"

"Pig Pong"

Coloring break!

Sensory play "scavenger hunt"-- I had no idea that even the big kids would enjoy this so much!

Ribbon pull bar pinata from The Paper Factory.

And, my favorite part of the day, playing with the animals!  They had traditional farm animals, like goats, a donkey and sheep, and then a lizard, a ferret, a duck, several bunnies, an Alpaca, guinea pigs, a tortoise, a pot bellied pig, and a few snakes, like this ball python.  They had a hedge hog, but he was sick, so they didn’t bring him.  Bummer.  Maybe next time.  The animals were all super friendly (two of the bunnies even tried to get extra friendly, if you know what I mean), and the kids were able to handle them and pick them up at will.

The pig was my personal favorite.

Whew!  There was certainly a lot of pinning going on for His Majesty’s barnyard bash.  Take a look at some of the ideas that inspired this Pinsanity:

The Invitations, decorations and Table-scape were (p)inspired by:

Shin Dig Diva (pin and pin)

Hostess Blog (pin)

The Celebration Shoppe (pin)

Live Smile Celebrate (pin)

Sara’s Party Perfect (pin)

The photo collage (p)inspiration was from Persnickety Prints

The Cake/cupcake (p)inspiration was from Disney Family Fun

The farm animal lollipops were (p)inspired by this pin and this pin and also this pin

The Pom Pom Poppers were (p)inspired by Fish Out of Water (pin) and Come Together Kids (pin)

Pig Pong was (p)inspired by Pen n’ Paper Flowers

Covered Marshmallow “Moo Pops” were (p)inspired by Catch My Party

The Farm Play Sensory Scavenger Hunt was (p)inspired by Counting Coconuts

The fabric birthday banner was (p)inspired by many of the blogs that helped me choose the decoration and tablescape, , but the tutorial that helped me lay out my plans is from Martin Family Living (pin)

And the Petting Zoo was hosted by Kiddie Kritterz out of Pilot Mountain, NC.  They are the nicest folks we’ve met in a long time, they arrived on time, cleaned up EVERYTHING, and were a joy to work with.  I highly recommend you give them a call if you’re looking for a mobile petting zoo or pony rides.

I’d also highly recommend you have awesome friends attending who will help you move the party along and keep track of all of the kids in various stages of activity throughout the event.  My friends are so amazing. If we happen to have the same friends, you know how lucky you are.

And that’s the story on how a whole lot of pins became one super fun 2nd birthday party!

What are some of the fun party themes you’ve been pinning?