Garrett turned four years old on February 1st. We celebrated with rocket ship themed party on Super Bowl Sunday, the 5th. I’m SO excited to show y’all all the details of this fun party theme.
We had about 12 kids plus their parents and other family here at our house that day. I never got a complete headcount but there were a whole lot of folks here! February birthday parties are a little bit challenging because they have to be held indoors. There are never any guarantees about the weather during the first of February, even in Alabama. This year the skies cooperated with 65 degrees of sunny perfection. We couldn’t have asked for a better party day.
I decided to have a home party this year because Garrett wanted to have all of his friends over and play. We haven’t had a party at home since his first birthday, so it was really fun for me to go all out with a theme and decorate the house. The home parties that we’ve attended lately have been a lot of fun for the kids so I wanted to give him something that was out of this world! Pun totally intended there, folks.
So here we go! Let’s get down to the details!
Here is the invitation that I sent out to everyone in his class along with our family and friends.
I designed them myself in Photoshop, saved the file as a jpeg and uploaded it to the Costco photo center as a 5×7 card. Costco rocks because you get 50 prints with nice thick envelopes for just $15.00! It’s kind of a steal of a deal, actually. I buy my Christmas cards there and they always turn out crisp and beautiful. I highly recommend going that route if you want some nice but inexpensive invitations in a large quantity.
Some of the decor was kept simple, like this rocket ship pinata hanging from a suction cup on the front door. It was a gift from Nana and Papa, and it definitely let everyone know that they had come to the right place for the party!
To save a little time and energy I focused on three different zones of my house for decorations. When guests walked through the back door (our “main” entrance) they were greeted by the food in the kitchen.
My husband helped me hang the blue and green japanese lanterns and get the “Happy Birthday Garrett” pennant banner hung from the light fixtures. I made the banner using scrap booking paper cut into triangles with the Cricut letter cutouts glued on top of every other pennant.
Another use for the Cricut- giving the food and drink space-themed labels. Capri-Suns turned around backwards with a new label became instant Rocket Fuel. The kids tore these things up.
I tried to stick with three major colors for this party- lime green, royal blue and Barney Purple. There were a few other colors mixed in, but for the most part I kept it consistent with this color scheme. I found these pretty polka-dot plates at Hobby Lobby that kind of reminded me of alien pox, so I snagged them for the food table.
There isn’t a lot of walking space in my kitchen so I have to plan ahead for that many folks to fix plates of food without a big traffic jam. All the food was placed on the kitchen island with the sofa table underneath it for an added serving level. The sofa table worked well because it was narrow and fit into the tight space pretty well, leaving plenty of walking room. I covered it with a base layer of an old green tab-top curtain that I had in my fabric stash. It’s so wrinkled! I guess I should have taken the time to iron that sucker, huh? I always notice stuff like that in pictures more than in person. On top of the curtain I put a yard of fabric that I bought at Hobby Lobby to go with the color scheme. I love decorating with colorful fabric instead of boring plastic table cloths.
I tried to keep it simple with the food and focused most of my efforts on the cake and cupcakes. The menu included cold chicken salad kept on ice during the party and hot BBQ meatballs (aka “Meteorites”) in a crock pot.
Skewers of grapes, strawberries, banana and a pointed pineapple on the end became “Rocket Kabobs”.
I used layers of Berry Blue, Lime (mixed with whipped cream) and Grape Jello to make a jiggly Martian Trifle. Jello is super cheap and pretty funky looking when it’s layered in a trifle bowl. The thing is, unless you’re at a fraternity party and there is lotsavodka inside, not many people enjoy slurping down Jello in front of others at parties. Only one person even touched it, but it did make a really good inexpensive table decoration!
I have to give credit where credit is due for the names of the menu items. I was not feeling creative at all so the night before the party I polled my http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6470670969424105139#editor/target=post;postID=7823212073188591424best friends for ideas on what spacey names I could give the stuff on my menu. Thanks to my friend Kent for coming up with the majority of these cute names for the food! I had “Moon Crater Dip” which was just Knorr spinach dip in a bread bowl with jagged edges. Orange slices were “Crescent Moons” while Bugles and Chex mix became “Space Junk”. Rice Krispie treats cut out in star shapes were “Shooting Stars”. I only cut out a few star shapes because it was so time consuming and also the star shape was leaving behind a bunch of leftover pieces. Finally I gave up and cut them in rectangles and threw the stars on top. Garrett gobbled them down before the party started, so that plate of food made absolutely no sense. Eh well.
I made the cakes and the cupcakes myself, which is always both a blessing and a curse. Here’s the deal. I’ve taken two Wilton Cake Decorating classes at Hobby Lobby, so I have all this arsenal of cake decorating paraphernalia sitting on my shelf taunting me every time I go into my laundry room. I hate spending money on cake because I know I can DIY it myself. When you really think about it, it’s just flour, sugar, eggs. Cheap, right? Plus, I don’t like the taste of grocery store bakery cake. I like expensive fru-fru bakery cakes, but those suckers always = $$$$. So I always think to myself, Self, you should make a cake and save money! So I get all gung-ho and decide to go for it. But then, five hours into the labor intensive process I begin to remember WHY cakes cost so dang much money. My time is worth more than the cost of flour, sugar and eggs. But still I do love the taste of my homemade cake so I chug along to the end.
I was happy with the way his cake turned out, even though it seriously had me sweating about 2 hours before the party started when I hurriedly slapped on the last sloppy, swirly edge. The rocket ship cake topper was an old curtain tieback that I had tossed into a giveaway pile, believe it or not. My father-in-law drilled a hole in it for me and screwed the #4 candle into it. I cut out a piece of wax paper underneath it and secured it on top with a dollop of icing. Easy peasy.
The cake recipe I used was really incredible. I found the best white wedding cupcake recipe on Pinterest a few days before the party and knew immediately I would be using it for G’s birthday cake. It did not disappoint at all. It’s more of a Cake Doctor type recipe using a boxed mix with added ingredients, but you’d never know by the taste of it. I made homemade buttercream icing and added Watkins Vanilla Nut extract to enhance the flavor even further. Everyone raved about the taste of the cake. It was really really good. HOWEVER. The time and effort it takes to make a cake like that always makes me wish I’d just gone down to the bakery and dropped $50 on a cake and called it a day. It’s just so time consuming, especially mixing different colored icing and such. I only have about one of these cakes in me every few years. The last one I made was the topsy turvy Mardi Gras themed cake for my friend’s wedding shower in 2007, so yeah… about once every half-decade you’ll see me forget what an ordeal they are and a homemade Beth cake will appear.
Maybe I’ll make G another one when he turns 10.
In the mean time… cupcakes!
I made these for the kids, since they usually prefer a cupcake over a slice of cake. I wrapped some foam board in aluminum foil to create wings off the sides of the three tiered plate stand to resemble a rocket ship.
I also made all the cupcake picks on my Cricut. Lots of rubber cement and time went into those things!
My favorite cupcake pick was the one I made to look like Earth. Garrett is in love with Google Earth on my iPhone, so I wanted to make him one that looked like our pretty planet.
I’d like to send a huge shout out to my sister for snapping most of the photos of this day with my camera. We were able to get a family pic right before he blew out the candle, which is a big deal for us. So thanks, sister, for making the magic happen.
Garrett blew out the candle on the big cake after we sang Happy Birthday to him, then we handed out cupcakes to the kids and carved up the big cake for the adults. There wasn’t much cake left, so that’s always a good sign! I’m telling you, go try out that recipe! It’s delicious.
I kept the table decor to a minimum since there were so many kids crowded around it. I flipped a black bucket upside down and draped it with silver fabric, then plopped one of G’s space shuttle toys on top. I gave Garrett the mission of decorating the space sticker album for the table. He used every sticker! It made for a quick and easy space aged centerpiece.
The second major decor zone I focused on was in the corner where my stairs turn.
I set up a space shuttle launch pad with a cardboard box cutout in the shape of a rocket for a photo booth. The kids LOVED the photo booth. I stacked two cardboard boxes together and covered them in blue tablecloth vinyl with spray adhesive. Then I attached a foamboard cutout of my hand sketched rocket ship to the front. I adorned the rocket with some basic shapes of paper and cardboard and some aliens that I found at the Dollar Tree, then cut a hole in the center where the kids to stick their heads through and pretend to be astronauts.
Around the edges I stuck a bunch of little glittery foam stickers in the shape of stars, planets and space ships that I found at Hobby Lobby. I used a green pinwheel as the “rocket booster” on the bottom. The finishing touch was to cut an X with a razor blade for a bunch of small holes in the cardboard. Then I poked individual lights from a strand of white Christmas lights through the holes to create a starry sky effect all around the outside of the box.
The kids went crazy over this thing! It was a huge hit. I’m so glad I did it.
Here is a view of the inside. The Christmas lights didn’t get hot enough to hurt anything, but with all the electrical and wiring I would wait until the kids are at least 3 or 4 and older to do this for safety’s sake.
Over the top of it I hung a banner that I found at my local Dollar Tree and a bunch of homemade “planets” which were really just cardboard cake circles covered in bright paper and aluminum foil. We moved Garrett’s Uncle Milton Moon in My Room down from his room to the wall behind the launchpad to add to the ambiance. I also splurged on the inflatable beach ball globe since I have been wanting to get him a globe anyway. The beach ball part will be fun in the pool this summer.
I used a package of small plastic slinkies to hang the planets and other balloons off my staircase spindles and the balcony above. There was something very spacey about the swirl of the slinky. Yet another great idea I gleaned from Pinterest.
There were balloons draped all the way down the balcony so they showed from both above and below. More slinkies helped create a cute and easy high-impact arrangement that could be seen from the front door and all parts of the living room and balcony.
I spent a lot of nights at my Cricut machine churning out G’s and 4′s for this party. These were attached to foam circles that I found at Hobby Lobby in the fabric department.
I really should have played up that whole “G-Fource” thing, now that I think about it!
Another big hit with the kids–J got creative with more cardboard and made this CUTE little personal rocketship for the kids to sit in and pretend to fly. He cut out the wings from a cardboard box and spraypainted the whole thing. Then he added a control panel inside with buttons made from electrical cap thingies and a steering wheel from an old towel ring. My man is SO creative! I loved this, and so did the kids.
The third and final zone that I really spent time decorating was the “Alien Creation Station” that was set up on a folding table on the upstairs balcony. I used another one of the Dollar Tree pre-made goal banners for the sign. I really hit a gold mine when I found that cute pre-made space stuff for just a dollar! The alien wall boarder matched it perfectly. I got a package of 8 alien strips for just a buck. Amazing. Always check the dollar store first when decorating for a party. Our dollar stores have a teacher / classroom section where you can find some really cute stuff for cheap.
So, if you’re wondering what kind of aliens we created, let me show you. If you have kids and watch any shows on The Hub or other cartoonish channels then you’ve probably seen an ad for the Build-a-Bear knockoffs called Wuggle Pets. Garrett became and As Seen On TV junkie right before Christmas, screaming “I WANT THAT!” at the TV every time any commercial came on with anything remotely toy related in it. Wuggle Pets were at the top of G’s Christmas Wish List for Santa, and he got a box of them for Christmas. They are regularly $19.99 for a box of two pets that you can stuff at home (stuffing equipment is included). So, one day after Christmas J saw where CVS had a huge sale on Wuggle Pets on a local money saving blog. He told me about it, and we both agreed that it would be a great party favor for Garrett’s birthday. So off he ran to CVS one night in January to buy some Wuggles. He came home with BOXES of these things. And get this– they were 75% off, so we paid approximately $2.50 per Wuggle. I figured that instead of stuffing a favor bag full of cheap Oriental Trading crap this year we would just do Wuggle Pets instead. It was a great decision.
I recruited some parent helpers to assist the kids in making their Wuggle Pets.
Since most of the kids are in his class at preschool they were used to sitting around a table together and following instructions from their teacher. I stood at the head of the table and gave them simple step-by-step instructions on how to operate their Wuggle Pet making machines and put the stuffing and magic dust inside. They all did great! Those little girls are expert Wuggle makers now. They were all thrilled to be making Wuggle Pets to take home. When we went to school on Monday they all had them strapped to their backpacks! This was such a fun activity to break up the party and give the kids something fun to do together.
Another plus– they were a hit with both the four year old crowd and the nine year old crowd, so it turned out perfectly. Yep, definitely would do another Wuggle Pet party favor again. The girls couldn’t stop talking about them. G loved it too.
After all the Wuggle creations and cupcake eating and playroom excitement, it was time to get down to the gift opening! Watching a bunch of four year olds crowd around and enthusiastically tell another four year old which gift they brought him is HILARIOUS. They were so excited that they backed me right into the corner and I couldn’t escape. If you’ve never had the honor of being in that kind of frenzy of energy I highly recommend it. You can see the fear excitement in my face!
I love it. It was perfection for this fun party. G loved it too!
As the kids all left the party they got these bobble head aliens full of candy that I found at The Dollar Tree. This was their final favor in addition to the Wuggle Pet.
Invitations: Costco Photo Center
Green, purple and blue polka dot paper plates and napkins: Hobby Lobby Spring aisle
Most crafty things like foam glitter stickers, beach ball globe, cardboard and foam shapes for planets, japanese lanterns, blue dotted box the cake sat on, cupcake pick stuff, foam board, scrapbook paper and fabric for table decor: Hobby Lobby
Wuggle Pets: CVS after Christmas sale!
Slinkies, Robot bobbleheads, premade space themed banners and alien wall decor: The Dollar Tree
Birthday shirt: Peachy Keen Designs
Thanks so much for sticking around through this looooong entry about G’s party. I hope you got some good ideas for your next kid’s party.