How to have a Carnival Party!

With some easy games and set up.

Step 1:  Order some bags and many chocolate and plastic coins from Oriental Trading Company, or similar place.

Step 2.  Collect an insane number of cans and paint them for the game.
Step 3: Set up knock the cans game down with coins, bean bags, and stack of cans.

Step 4:  Set up “basketball” or ball toss game.  You could also just cut holes in a cardboard box and decorate it.  Since we already had this, we used it.

Step 5: Set up catapult game with bowl of coins and rolled up sock ammunition.  If you don’t have a catapult, Family Fun has instructions for one.
Step 6: Set up “gimme game” of hopscotch, a guarantee of getting a coin.

Step 7: Set up, “Find the coin” game.

Step 8: Color bags.

Step 9: Play games and have fun.

How to host an adventure party

I mean, how to host a World of Warcraft party, but for sake of simplicity let’s call it an adventure.
Step 0.  At least a month before the party start saving your milk carton handles for shield handles.
1.  Order enough swords for all of the attendees.  Then take tissue paper and wrap it around the swords for scabbards.  It ends up looking very cool.

2.  Paint your treasure box.  Yes, it would have looked a lot prettier if I had taken control and painted it all myself, but then my kids wouldn’t have gotten to take part in the process.  Sometimes it’s about the process, not the product.


3.  Decorate your cake.  In case you were wondering 6 year old boys do not make for a very fancy and decorated cake.  There is however a lot of frosting involved.

4.  Clean the beaters.  This is a very important step.

5.  Get cardboard or foam core board and cut into a shield shape.  For sake of ease I just cut rectangles, all the kids cared was they got shields.

6.  Get out your hot glue gun and glue the milk carton handles on.  This is not a very strong glue, so they will break, but it works just fine for playing with, and they’re easily repaired.

7.  Now eagerly wait for your guests to hand them their swords.


8.  Practice your combat.  Make sure everyone knows the rules.

9.  Now comes the quest giver.  She came with the sad story of what was happening.  We had about 4 quests (5 if you include training).
A.  Rescue the villagers from the bandits.
B.  Retrieve the stolen medicine by ambushing the bandits.
C.  Get the secret weapon to defeat the bandit king.
D.  Defeat the bandit king.

Going left to right, top to bottom:
1.  Cowering villagers
2.  First fight
3.  Receiving medicine that we retrieved.
4.  Looking for the secret weapon by crossing the dangerous river.
5.  Turning in a quest.
6.  A dead bandit, don’t worry they keep coming back.
7.  Fighting the bandit king.


1.  Don’t have all of the older kids as bandits, the little kids don’t always herd well.
2.  Have a plan and stick with it.
3.  Our quests worked very well, that was a good plan, think through how you will move from quest to quest.
4.  Have simpler rules.  We tried a 3 times and you’re down rule for the bandits.  We should have gone with one hit.  Nothing to keep track of.
5.  Make sure everyone knows all of the rules, that went pretty well over all.
6.  Account for the weather.  We had originally planned for some of the bandits to be magicians and throw construction paper fireballs, but it was too windy for that.
7.  Plan in a water/snack break.

All in all it was a wildly successful party.  Every report I’ve heard was that the kids really enjoyed it, including the 20 year old who was just dropping off some of the kids.  He said it was the most fun he’s had in a while.  That’s saying something.

I’ll probably do a birthday memories post later this week, but I know some of you were curious about how the party went.  It was a blast, and I was SOOOOO tired afterwards.

Princess turned 4 and boy what a party it was

022As you saw in my earlier post, Princess had a My Little Pony party, and it was a lot of fun to get ready.


Everyone had fun coloring their pony homes, which I neglected to mention make up into a bag.


All of the kids had a blast playing outside for a while after they found their ponies (or cowboys and Indians for the boys).


Well, all that is except Princess.


Who for some unknown reason decided to sit there and pout.  Really, she had all of her favorite people there and she decided to pout.






We ate pizza, opened presents, ate cake.  All in all it was a wonderful birthday party.

How to host a My Little Pony Party


1.  Create a way too cute pony cake.


2.  Buy everyone a couple of ponies from the dollar store (score when you find little ponies that are 2 for $1, now you have Mommy and Baby).

Reagan coloring

3.  Cut out 18 inch squares of canvas using pinking shears (so it won’t fray).  Cut slits all around and string ribbon through the slits.  Have kids color their “pony house” as they arrive so the ponies they’re about to get will have a home.


0254.    Send the mob of little kids out to find their ponies.  One Mommy and baby pony for each kid.





5.  Create a way too cute house full of My Little Ponies bought off Craigslist and ebay for your Pony crazy little girl.

Thanks to Jackie over at Blessings Overflowing for sharing her version and the link to the tutorial.  I enlarged the pattern slightly to make it big enough to fit the ponies.  It’s overwhelmingly pink, but it’s been carried around nonstop stuffed full of stuff since she got it.


Now, I’m trying to think if I feel up to making one for each of the boys……..


Stay tuned later today for how the party actually went.

I’m going to link this up to Show and Tell.

My birthday weekend!

Okay, I just wanted to put some of these pictures up because they’re way too cute!  And how else will I remember these important things, without pictures?
We started off the weekend with Tara keeping the kids for the night.  SCORE!  Jeff and I attempted to see a movie, but ended up getting dinner and heading home for a movie there.

The next morning we got to watch the movie from the night before, and had a blast!  Then we picked the kids up and Tara came over and we watched movies and had chocolate fondue (that’s the picture).

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Okay, those are just because I’m so happy we finally got a chance to use it (though realistically we need more people for it to make sense for the use of materials).

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And on my birthday we went swimming.  My request for my birthday was, I don’t want to cook at all.  So, Jeff came up with a plan of going to Olive Garden, going swimming, and I got breakfast in bed.

All in all, I’d say I scored for my birthday!

Mommy pictures of my boys’ birthday

Yesterday I posted a quick tutorial of how to host a pirate party.  Now I give you my memories of the day, or I should say days.  We started out their celebration on their birthday on Thursday and it lasted until Saturday.

003 Poor Superman was sick on his birthday, so we spent the day at home with a nice warm fire, that wasn’t really neccessary, but it made him feel better.

While poor Superman lounged on the couch and produced copious amounts of laundry for me to do, Batman and Princess came over and made a mess helped me with the cake.



And of course Batman licked the bowl clean afterwards.  I didn’t quite trust his cleaning skills, so it still went in the dishwasher.


Princess kindly iced the cake.  I took one of the cakes I made that day over to small group, and the other one stayed home with us.


I just think this picture looks cool.

And yes, Batman is wearing his collared shirt backwards.  Sigh, what can you do?



We could tell Superman still wasn’t feeling one hundred percent because he didn’t even eat the cake.  It was really rather sad.

The next day they opened presents.  I have a hard enough time getting the boy to stay laying down when he’s sick, if I’d added in any presents the boy would have been jumping off the walls.  We also went to the grape place, also known as Olive Garden, and Superman happily ate his Daddy soup.  I think it was the first solid food he’d eaten in over a day.


Princess sleeping at Olive Garden.  She’ll do this.  She’ll insist she doesn’t need a nap, and go and go and go, and then she’ll fall asleep in the car, and not wake up.


Can you guess what the boys got that night?  We found some cool wind up flashlights at Academy, no worrying about batteries wearing down.


So, the party…..  It was a blast.  As always I wasn’t quite as organized as I’d like to be, but I just need to realize organization is not my strong suit.

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The treasure hunt was an unmitigated success.  The pinata afterwards was more or less successful, but it did take them a while to whack it down.  But, man they did have fun.  We did have to do a lot of herding the cats, I mean kids.  It’s a lot like herding cats.  Apparently preschoolers have this secret death wish to be hit by a wooden stick…….


057In real life that  yellow looked a lot more like sand.  The island was made by taking the part you cut off when you’re leveling the cake (from one of the earlier cakes) and putting it on top of the blue frosting.  It was a WILD success!







085They happily tore through their presents and were barely restrained from opening them right then and there.  Family stayed after and we had a fun night of eating fondue, with lots and lots of fondue pots.  At the end I had 3 very tired kids…..

And a tired Daddy…….

And hopefully I’ll get a chance to write the rest of my posts for this week sometime soon.  I hate the weeks where my schedule is thrown off and I’m writing it all piecemeal like this.  I feel rather harried and scattered.  Oh well, small price to pay for fun memories like this.

How to host a pirate party

This year for the boy’s birthday we gently guided them a pirate party theme.  Mainly because I found some super cute pirate invitations clearanced.  And, I had some fun party game ideas.
Party favors I made:
I only made scarves for them.  Very simple, I took some nice shiny knit fabric (that I’m guessing was swimwear, I mainly noticed it was $2 a yard), and cut it into squares and rectangles.  I figured out that 24” square was a little big for preschoolers, but the 18” square was a little too small.
Party favors purchased.
Pirate eye patches    Pirate rings      I also purchased a piece of eight necklace, which is apparently discontinued.
Other potential party favors: swords (we did this last year), bag of treasures, treasure map
I do realize I could very easily have made the eye patches by cutting a piece of felt in a circle and sewing a piece of 1/4” elastic to it, but this was quick and easy, and they patches were a good price.

All of the accessories were tied up in the scarf and when each kid got there they were outfitted as a pirate, so they’d be ready for the treasure hunt.
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Sadly, the picture of the last two kids, I just noticed has the camera cord in front.
Next, the games, or rather game.  I’ve figured out for this age, one game is about the limits of their focus.  We had a treasure hunt!

Clues were written on pieces of canvas.  We were quite thankful to “our neighbor” for reading the clues, and helping figure it all out.  Here’s a sampling of clues we used:
Walk forward 20 steps.
Look up for the key.
Cross the red stones.
Find the pile of red stones.

Can you tell they’re crossing the path of red stones to find the gate?
We hid the key to the padlock up in the tree, and they had to search to find the key, and then use it to get in the backyard.


Eventually the hunt led them to the treasure chest up in the tree.  We had filled it with bags of chocolate coins and some little pirate toys I’d found at a party store.

Other games you could play: guess the number of coins in the treasure chest (for older kids); dress like a pirate relay race (using adult sized clothing), these can be really fun; Pin the parrot on the pirate.

In case you can’t tell I like party themes that aren’t as tied to a cartoon character, because there is more opportunity for interesting party favors and games.  While my kids may love the parties where they get lots of little favors, I personally don’t like them as much, because I know those will be played with for a little while, and then I’ll find them in little pieces later on.  I’d rather spend a little more and do one big nicer party favor.  So far our party favors have been: swords and shields, capes, and tutus.  Sadly, the closest there is to a tutorial for the shields is the boy’s birthday post linked above.

I linked this up to Mom Tried It’s Try and Tell Tuesday.

Creating a wonderful tea party

I figured I’d post the background information, and then give you the fun party pictures.



1. Make tutu party favors. Here’s how:

a. Cut a piece of 1/2 inch elastic about 1 inch larger than the waist of the recipient. All of the girls got one that would fit Princess. Sew the elastic together with the sewing machine in a loop.

b. Get about a half yard of tulle per tutu (more makes a fuller tutu). And, ummm….. don’t make my mistake of accidentally buying nylon netting, that’s scratchy. Cut it into 24 inch length about 1-2 inch width (I think 1 inch would be just about perfect). Great time to use your rotary cutter, makes it MUCH faster.

c. tie the strips onto your elastic. I did the old double it up and slip the tulle through itself knot (does that make sense?).

Most of this can and was done while watching TV.


2. Make capes for the boys to attend.

a. Find a knit fabric, so you don’t have to worry about fraying (a fat quarter works great for this, but they don’t make those in knits). Cut out a rectangle that is 18 by 24 inches. Then trim the long sides slightly to make a trapezoid.

b. Cut a piece of ribbon that is less than a foot long (my best guess 9 inches?). I cut mine too long in my opinion, but I was making it up as I went along. Also cut a piece of velcro about 2 inches long.

c. Fold over one end of the ribbon and sew that to the corner of the fabric on the narrow end. Fold over the other end of the ribbon and sew on the soft side of the velcro.

d. Sew the hook part of the velcro to the other corner of the narrow end of the fabric.

Voila you have your cape. Total time for 3 capes: maybe 15 minutes.


3. Cut out crowns. Super simple you can get I think 4 to a piece of poster board. You cut out a rectangle down the long direction of the poster board, and roughly in the middle of the rectangle cut a zig zag pattern. Also gather crayons, markers, and stickers.

4. Collect your food. We had cheese, scones, earl grey cookies, crackers, apples, and tea.

As a side not, that’s kind of funny, every time I make those two recipes I end up searching my blog to find the recipe again because I keep losing my hard copy of the recipe. Really silly, isn’t it? That, and my scones never look anywhere near as pretty as the ones you buy.


5. For a party game we bowled. I got the idea from Shannon over at Mommy’s Wise Little Bookworms. I only filled my water bottles a little, but I wonder if it might have worked better if I’d filled them more. Oh, and grandparents are very destructive to pumpkin bowling balls…….

And a preview of a later post (how to make the dress and where to buy the doll pattern):


Birthday was a huge success

Or, at least that’s my opinion. We had a knight themed party, we didn’t decorate, just let the kids have a blast running around and playing together. The only really themed part of it was the party favors and the cakes………

As each guest came in they were given a shield to decorate with markers and stickers. After they’d decorated it sufficiently they brought it to me and I hot glued a milk carton handle to the back. Once everyone was mostly done with their shields we gathered everyone around and Superman and Batman got their super special birthday present we’d worked on the weekend before: their very own swords and armor. Then everyone else got a foam sword, and the fun ensued. Everyone had a blast whacking each other with swords.

It was lots of fun to watch my kids running around and playing with kids of all ages, our youngest attendee that participated turns 2 later this month, and the oldest was 9 (I think). There were no lasting bruises, a few bumps, but no cuts. So, I think we did good.

Superman and Neighbor Girl fighting

Batman and friend fighting

Batman and Superman open their armor as Princess watches.

We have amazingly generous friends and the boys had such a blast opening presents. Now I’m slowly letting them each open one a day so I’m not suddenly inundated with new toys. It’s somewhat working…..

They have really loved all of the presents they’ve opened, and I can tell you that their favorites so far are: Batcave (that was a no brainer), the castle, their hoppers, and the Batsubs….. I think once they open the squirt guns and the caterpillar water toy that will also be a favorite. That’s my guess based off of how much they love playing in the water.

Well, I’d write more about the party, but I set a 30 minute time limit for myself on the computer so I’d achieve something while the kids are sleeping.