Sunday, December 29, 2013

1st Birthday Photo Ideas - Pirate Party

For my son's first birthday I threw a pirate themed party.  I took some fun pictures of the birthday boy, which you will see below.  To read about all of the details of the pirate party, check out my post titled, 1st Birthday - Pirate Party.


Hot Air Balloon

In order to create the "Hot Air Balloon" photo shoot, you will need several helium filled balloons, a long ribbon, and a large basket.  I used an old market basket that has handles on each side.  I tied the ribbon to the handles on the basket.  I then clipped the balloons to the ribbon using a laundry clip.  You will need at least six helium filled balloons in order to hold the ribbon in the air (especially on a windy day, if you are doing the photos outside).  Place your child in the basket and start snapping those pictures!

Number "1"

Before the Party!
Before my son's birthday party I got a photo of the wooden number 1 and all of the balloons.  After the party I tried to take a picture of my son with the wooden number 1.  He wasn't too into the photos at that point, and a lot of the balloons went home with children that were at the party.  Mental note - take photos of the birthday boy before the party!
After the Party!

Welcome Sign

We took some pictures of the birthday boy next to his welcome sign.  They will be cute to look back on when he's sixteen!

Annual Birthday Photo

 Every year on his birthday, I will be taking a picture of my son holding his newborn picture.  I created a little sign to place on the picture frame that contains he newborn picture which says "1 Year Ago Today."  I will update the number of "years ago" every year.


My little man loves to eat, but he was completely chill with his cake.  I love this picture of him!  He can't help but watch everyone who is watching him.  Gotta love his little pirate hat, too!

Monday, December 16, 2013

DIY: Ornaments Like Those On "Days of Our Lives!"

I have grown up watching Days of Our Lives just like my mom and grandma.  I still DVR it everyday!  If you watch the show then you know that every year at Christmastime the Horton family gets ready for Christmas by hanging their family ornaments.  Each year when I watched the show at Christmastime I would think how neat this tradition is and how I would like to start it with my family.  After my daughter was born, I started the tradition by getting my mom a set of Christmas ornaments with every one of our family member's names on them.


Creating the Ornaments: Purchase vs. DIY


Purchase the Ornaments

When I got the first set of ornaments, I found them on Etsy at a store called Personalize 4 You.  The shop owner created beautiful ornaments for me, as you can see in the pictures below.
When I ordered the ornaments from Personalize for You, I was able to chose colors and fonts.  The shop owner was great to work with!


DIY: Ornaments

As more babies were born into my family, I decided to try to make their Christmas ornaments on my own.  We also had one ornament break, so I recreated that one.  In order to create the ornaments you will need a cutting machine, like a Cricut, because you will need to cut vinyl.

Step 1: Find Ornaments

The most difficult part of making the ornaments was finding large, plain, glass ornaments.  After looking at many places, I found a set of 3" ornaments at Tuesday Morning.  I would recommend using ornaments that are 3" or larger. 

Step 2: Get Vinyl & Ribbon

You will need to decide what colors you would like to use for your ornaments.  Purchase vinyl and ribbon in coordinating colors.  Vinyl can be purchased in a roll from any craft store.  It is about $10 per roll, but one roll can be used for several projects.

Step 3: Cut the Vinyl

Chose a font that you would like to use for the name that will be on the ornament.  The letters that I used are approximately 1" tall.  Also, select some detail pieces to add to the ornament.  I used swirls, dots, and Christmas trees.  Once you have all of the letters and details prepped, use your cutting machine to cut them out.

Step 4: Apply the Vinyl & Attach Ribbons

Carefully place the vinyl on the Christmas ornaments.  Tie two ribbons in a knot to the top of the ornament.  It is finished!

Step 5: Have a Tree Trimming Party

Families are busy, I know!  It might be impossible to get everyone together to decorate the whole tree, but try to find a time when all of the family is available (even for a short visit), and have each person hang their Christmas ornaments on the tree.  It is a nice way to get the family together to share the joy of the holiday season!

Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Create a Mailbox and Letter for Your Elf on the Shelf

This year when the Elf on the Shelf arrived at our house, he brought with him a mailbox from the North Pole!  We didn't have a very good experience with the elf last year, when my daughter was two, so we tried to think of a better way to introduce it this year.  Last year, she was a little scared of the idea of an elf sitting around the house watching her all day.  This year we thought to get a mailbox to accompany the elf on the trip from the North Pole.  Inside of the mailbox was a carefully written letter from our elf, whom my daughter named Timmy.  The letter, which can be read below, explained that Timmy was sent by Santa to watch over the children, and he reports back to Santa each night.  The letter explained that if my daughter was a good girl, Timmy might bring something small back from the North Pole to put into her Christmas Stocking.  It also told my daughter that she could write letters to Timmy or to Santa and put them in the mailbox, and the elf would take the letters back to the North Pole during his nightly return trip. 
Follow the steps below to create a mailbox and letter for your Elf on the Shelf.

Steps to Create a Mailbox for Your Elf on the Shelf


Step 1: Get a Mailbox

I found the mailbox pictured below at Dollar General, and it only cost four dollars!  It is about 10"L x 6"H x 5"W.  The mailbox is made out of a sturdy cardboard and the door opens and the flag moves up and down.  It is really cute and perfect for Christmas!
You could use your mailbox as-is or enhance it a little bit like I did.  I wanted my mailbox to be up on a pedestal.  If you would like to make a stand for your mailbox, keep reading!  If not, skip ahead to "Step 6: Write the Letter."

Step 2: Get a Small Spindle

You can find a spindle like the one pictured below for about three dollars at Lowe's.  It is approximately 6"H x 2"W. 

Step 3: Get a Base

The base pictured below can be purchased at Lowe's for about six dollars.  It is approximately 6"L x 4 1/2"W x 3/4"H. 


Step 4: Glue, Nail, and Paint the Stand

Using wood glue attach the spindle to the center of the base.  My husband has a nail gun, so he put a few nails in the bottom of the base to hold it in place.  If you do not have a nail gun, drill a small hole in the bottom of the base then place a screw through the base and the bottom of the spindle to secure it. 
Paint the stand a color of your choice.


Step 5: Attach the Mailbox

In order to attach the mailbox to the stand you will need to drill a small hole through the bottom of the mailbox.  The spindle that I purchased had a screw attached to one end, so my husband was able to sit the mailbox on top of the screw then fasten it will a wingnut.  You might need to purchase a screw/nut to attach it depending on the type of spindle that you use.
The finished product should look similar to the picture below.


Step 6: Write the Letter

Have the "Elf" write a letter to your children explaining why he came to your house and the purpose of the mailbox.  Check out the example pictured below...


Step 7: Display The Mailbox and Elf

On the first morning, have your elf sitting next to the mailbox.  The next night you can then move the mailbox to a permanent location and the elf can start his adventure of finding silly places to sit around the house.  This way of introducing the Elf on the Shelf is sure to help your kiddos appreciate and understand the fun behind it!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

1st Birthday - Pirate Party

Do you want to have a pirate party that is not too hardcore "pirate-y?"  Look no further!  Here is everything that you need to plan, decorate, and pull off a great little boy's (or girl's) pirate party.  


I chose to create an invitation from scratch that featured my son's picture as a little pirate.  You can learn, step-by-step, how to create this invitation by reading my post titled, "Kids Pirate Party - DIY Photo Invitation."



I thought it would be cute to showcase how my son grew and changed during his first year by creating a banner that displayed 12 months worth of pictures.  The banner is made out of paper pennants.  Each pennant has a picture of my son and states his age at the time when the photo was taken. 

Follow these directions to create your own banner.  Get all of the 4X6 photos that you would like to use on the banner.  Cut large scrapbook paper into triangular pennant shapes.  Trim the 4X6 photos to fit within the confines of the pennant.  Cut out background scrapbook paper to place behind the photo to create a nice finished look (I used yellow paper).  Using a Cricut machine (which is what I used) or by hand, cut out the numbers and words that will go on the pennants.  I did this using a yellow scrapbook paper for the number/word and a blue scrapbook paper for the shadow background of the number/word.  Next, hole punch two holes at the very top of the each pennant.  Tie the pennants onto a cord using short, thin ribbons.  I tied the ribbons in knots rather than bows to keep the banner masculine looking.  I then hung the banner at the entryway of my house so that guests could check it out upon entering the party.


At parties you often have information to communicate to guests, like "don't forget to take a party favor!"  Most of the time you aren't standing planted next to the favors to make sure each guest takes one.  In this case, create a sign to direct your party guests! 

Blackboard signs are easy to create and can be used at any kind of party.  The signs below were created by painting a small art canvas with blackboard paint.  In order to infuse the pirate theme into the party I created tiny pennant banners and hung them on the signs.  In order to create the banners, I cut tiny triangles out of scrapbook paper.  I used patterns that are found in other decorations at the party.  I attached the triangles to a piece of twine using double stick tape.  I then taped the twine around the back of the blackboards. After your blackboards are prepared you can write messages on them with chalk.

Wooden #1 Welcome Sign

Make a statement at the entrance to your party by creating a door sign!  I created this sign by cutting the shape of a number one out of plywood.  I painted it blue then attached the letters and paper hat.  In order to create the words I glued small wooden letters onto the sign.  I then cut black and white striped scrapbook paper to cover the letters in order to incorporate a different pattern.  You can see the scrapbook paper in the picture below.
I wanted to make the number one "pirate-y" so I thought I'd add a pirate hat just like the one that I made for my son, as you will read about under the section titled, "Pirate Hat."  I cut the shape of a pirate hat out of red and white polka dot scrapbook paper.  I then double stick taped it onto the wooden number one, as shown below.  

3D Wooden #1

A wooden number one is a great decoration for your party and also an awesome photo backdrop!  My handy husband made this number one out of a piece of wood.  He sawed and sanded it, then attached it to the base at the bottom.  I painted it blue, and we were all set to display it at the party.  I tied a bunch of balloons to it and sat it in the house as a decoration at the party.  After the party I used the number one and the balloons as a background for photos of my son.


I cut some flowers out of my garden to use as d├ęcor around the house.  I made a few small pennant flags to stick in some of the food and in the flowers, as you can see in the picture below.  I cut small triangles from black and white striped and red and white polka dot scrapbook paper and attached them to wooden bar-b-que skewers.  They were cute accents!

In the picture below you will notice a picture frame containing a picture of my son.  In the picture my son is standing next to a picture of himself on the day that he was born.  I plan to repeat this picture every year to show how much he has grown! 

Watermelon Pirate Ship

A watermelon pirate ship is the perfect addition to any pirate party!  It is actually pretty easy to create.  Follow the directions on my post, titled, "How to Create a Watermelon Pirate Ship." Carve the watermelon then fill it up with fresh fruit.  You are sure to impress your guests! :) 


Pirate Hat

 I wanted to wear a birthday hat on my son while he ate his cake.  I didn't want to use the generic type of birthday hat, so I decided to make a comfy pirate hat for him.  In order to make the pirate hat you will need an old baseball cap adjusted to a size to fit your child.  You will cover the baseball cap with material, like the red and white polka dot material used above.  Leave one edge extra long to make the tails on the hat. Fold the material over the edge of the cap and pin it to secure it (do not pin the area near the tails).  You will then need to stitch the material to the hat (do not stitch the area near the tails).  Take the extra material where the tails are going to be and make a cut in it so that you have two long tails.  Tie the two tails into a knot to complete the pirate hat.

I cut a number one out using my Cricut machine and double stick taped it onto the front of the pirate hat.


I purchased the two cakes pictured above at Wegman's.  I got the tiny round cake for my son to dive into and the 1/4 sheet cake for all of our guests.  This cake was delicious!  I think it's the first party I've had where the cake was completely gone!

Here are some photos of the birthday boy eating his cake...

He didn't know what to think at first!

Then he got a taste of cake (and more importantly, icing)!


...and messy!

1st Birthday Photos

Check out my post titled, 1st Birthday Photo Ideas - Pirate Party, for some creative ways to take first birthday photos.