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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Make Your Own Doilies


WHY would you want to make your own doilies?  You are probably thinking I will just buy some paper ones, they are good enough.


I always want some to match my theme.  So, when my friend Nancy came to visit last summer, she got me hooked on hole punches for craft projects.  I took the idea one step further and bought the following:

It is a FISKARS 4X-Large Lever Punch, Pretty Scallop that cuts a 3.5 inch circle.

Since the Margaritaville party is always centered around a nautical theme, I wanted
blue and white stripes to cut the cardstock doilies onto.

So I made the above sheet in 8.5" x 11."  I printed it.  I folded it in half length-wise and
cut it.  I put each side through the slot with THE ORANGE CLEAR DOOR OPEN.  It still punches with the door open.  This way I could see where the paper was, and I could press the lever from the back (instead of pressing the lever on the top).  I got three circles from each side-or six in total.
photo of doily on white background

Because the office parties are quite large (200-400 clients/staff), I serve bite-sized desserts.  These small doilies are the perfect size. I could even laminate them, as they are cardstock, and use them to match my parties at home for coasters.  Even though this is a short post, I will link it to the actually party post in September so that you can see the results.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Moana Party

Moana Party

The Moana boat I built from two cardboard boxes.  The sail is a post I bought at Michael's 
and two large sheets of white fun foam glued together. I started the boat by cutting off
the two long flaps of the rectangular boat for the larger canoe.  I cut the end pieces off to create triangles.  I used the side flaps by scoring them and cutting them to fit under the triangles. I cut off any excess and masking taped them together.  I used two pieces of scrap cardboard to make the top triangles and taped them on also.  I did the same thing to a longer and shorter box for the outrigger. I used a smaller, lower, wider box for the middle piece. I cut slits where it connected once placed on the "canoe.

I printed out the wood pattern above and tacky glued it on all sides of everything. My box might be a little high, but as a cupcake server it made a big impact.  Where did I get the bamboo?  You can buy bamboo fencing at Home Depot.  It is fairly easy to snip and cut down to any size you want.  I had these pieces wrapped around jars from a jungle party, so I simply reinvented them. I had thought about using Lincoln Logs and wiring them together.  You could also use dowels wired together.  I use E6000 glue from Michael's for anything I want to REALLY stick together for projects.  It takes 24 hours to set, but boy does it hold.

Here it is with Moana's pig and chicken.  I bought the standup Moana and Maui cardboard figures from AMAZON.  Yes, Amazon.  The little girls liked having their picture taken with the plastic tablecloth headbands.  If you want those directions go here: 
                                Moana headbands

The bottom left photo is the birthday girl with her headband.  If you see the top right photo, that is the Maui standup with one half of my cornhole game.  I bought a dozen stuffed fish from Amazon, then I cut open the bottoms, took out most of the stuffing, and replaced it with dried beans.  After sewing them back up, they were perfect for helping Maui go fishing.  This game was VERY popular with the smaller kids.  The older kids used the other half of the game with the bean bags that came with it.

The middle photo above shows the Shiny Things Whiffleball game: Go here for directions

We also played Elimination Bingo with the Moana characters.  You can see the bingo directions here

The fourth game we played used a large tall box which I covered in green card stock cut
to resemble hills.  I glued coconut Kakamora warriors to it and some palm trees I printed.
There is a shallow box taped to the open top of the box.  (I used a LOT of masking tape).
I order SNOWBALL THROWERS for people to use as launchers.  I search for themed small bean bags to launch for parties.  Amazon just happens to have the Kakamora coconut characters. I now have a large collection of bean bags that fit into these launchers.  They are fun for ALL ages (seriously).

Of course, two of my palm trees were at the party.  They use plumbing pvc pieces.  Hobby Lobby has the best palm leaves in our area.  The birthday girl, her mom, and her grandma (my friend) loved all of this.  She was one happy little girl, and that made all of my work worth every minute I spent on it.  Of course, if you know me, I will reuse lots of the game pieces.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Moana Flowered Headband

Moana's Flowered Headband
My good sported daughter modeling headband made from a plastic tablecloth

Sparkly sticker flowers from Michaels

One green plastic tablecloth cut lengthwise into 4" wide strips

Paper flowers from Michaels

Three different sizes of flowers sorted

The three sizes of flowers glued together sorted into bags of eight
I usually have the photos inserted between paragraphs, but I wanted you to see all of
the supplies first.  I also bought 5mm elastic string in the bead section, along with large  needles that would work with the string. I precut the tablecloth into 12 strips and folded each one, so that they would all fit into a gallon sized plastic bag.  Since I pre-glued the flowers, each child will go to the craft station we set up for this and receive a bag of flowers with the stickers in it.  There will be an adult measuring their heads for the string, then doubling it to go through the needle.  I think four adults would work great at this station.  The adults will gather the strips right down the middle going lengthwise.  Once it is the correct circumference for the child's head, the can tie of the ends with a knot.  The kids then staple the flowers onto the center of the bands and put on a sticker to cover the staple.  That's it folks.  Done.  No tons of leaves to cut.  No flowers to cut or color.  I will include photos from the party to update.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Moana's Target Throw

Moana Party Target Throw
Shiny Things
If you want to see the post with the Moana Stand-up Bingo, go here:
I am reusing the frame and tripod from previous events for the Disney themed Moana party.  My hubby cut holes in the backboard for me for our holiday party.  It was very popular with the adults, so I thought future first graders would enjoy it also.  I printed out shiny clipart objects and taped them next to each hole.  I enlarged the crab character for the top.  I am using koosh balls and launcher I got on Amazon.  EVERY SINGLE -party, someone begs me for the launchers, which I give away.  I have to stop doing this.
Angry Birds Star Wars - Han Solo Koosh Ball Launcher
It works like a highly technical slingshot, but you just pull the handle back and release it.
The balls shoot out of it quickly, so the trick is in the aiming.
I will use a marker to assign the point value for each of the holes on the target.  I will use low numbers the kids can add up easily.  They will earn a prize ticket for getting 20 total points.  I will most likely use lots of the number 5.  Below I have included the shiny things cards and crab for you to print.  Just right click and save or print.

The clipart is copyrighted to Disney.
Do you know that when using Photoshop, you can print as a pdf file?  Once saved, a box comes up with the print icon.  If you click on it, the POSTER option opens and you can
print any size you want.  You have to trim and glue the pages together, but it is a great option for enlarging.  The other option is to save images, j-pegs to a thumb drive and take them over to your Office Depot.  They will enlarge them to any size you want. 
Above are the Maui tickets to print out on cardstock if you like.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Moana Bingo

   If you want to see the post about the Moana's Shiny Things Target Game go here:
I am helping a friend with her granddaughter's sixth birthday with a MOANA theme. It was planned to be an outdoor pool/yard party with about 15 kids from her kindergarten class and neighborhood.  It is calling for thunderstorms on the day of the party.  So, I needed a simple-to-set-up game for inside.  I have played ELIMINATION BINGO with my own children and elementary classes for many years.  It works better for a big group when a sit-down bingo can't be played.  I made 25 laminated cards with characters and clipart from Disney's movie. 

Usually I will provide clipart for you to print, but because it is Disney's (and they are generous to share for free if you use it for yourself) I am only taking a photo of the game board.

How to play: Up to 25 kids could play, but since we are having 15, I would review who each of the characters are to the group.  They will be more spread out than in the
photo above.  I will ask each child to stand on a square.  I love finding spinning and dice apps online or at the app store.  I downloaded one called  DECIDE NOW!. It lets you create a spinning wheel with any number of spaces. So I built one with the following 25 categories:

Moana, Maui, Baby Moana, Father, Mother, Grandmother,
Village Kids, Pig, Hei Hei, Tahiti, Hawk, Crab, Boat, Sharkhead, Tattooes, Island, Horned Hat Coconut, Straw Hat Coconut, Fish Head Coconut, Conch Hat Coconut,
Necklace, Heart of Tahiti, Spike Hat Coconut, Villagers and Wave.

The object of the game:  to be the last one standing

As a  spinners category comes up (it is actually highlighted in the app), if you are
standing on that square, you must sit down.  You are not out unless the category you are sitting on comes up again.

As children begin moving off the board when their character is called twice, empty boxes become available.  There is a rule that you may change to any other box between spins. This adds an extra level of fun to the game.  Of course, you may always stay put on your original square.

Pretty soon, there are only a few kids left on the board.  You can decide at any point to award prizes.  I like to give out 1-5 prizes if I have a time constraint.

I will update this post after the party to let you know how it went.  I will be posting later with photos from the party and other ideas and games.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Polar Bear Party


THEME: We have a large group BEACH party in Delaware, Maryland every year for my daughter's friends and family.  I have posts about previous ones, including the Minions one.  I alwayspick a theme.  Because it is usually a group of 16 people, I make placemats to match the theme.  If you are interested in doing this, go to:
Above are two of the characters I added to the mats, along with ice bergs, ships, buoys, etc.
DRESS:  I asked everyone to bring an all white outfit. I ordered white knit hats from Amazon, along with white pompoms and bear noses.  I sewed the pompoms on the hats and glued the eyes onto the hats at the beach.
This is the birthday girl front and center.

I even bought two large plush polar bears, which we used as footstools all week.

I like to have a craft of some sort every year.  Last year the group made Minions cup cakes. It was like I had asked them to jump off a bridge.  Using a decorating bag seemed to be like using a foreign tool.  But those cupcakes turned out ADORABLE.  Search Minions on this blog to see the results.  So this year, they were better prepared.  If you look closely at the last picture above, you will see the placemats.
A few years back, I bought miniature beach chairs from Amazon that are meant to hold
American Girl dolls.  They held plush polar bears for the centerpieces. Any toddlers coming usually get to take the plush animals home.
One of the couples from the South have started making a low country boil for the birthday dinner. It consists of sausage, shrimp, corn, potatoes.  Once cooked, it is dumped on brown bags covering the table and is eaten with your fingers.
Over the years, I have assigned cooking each night to couples or groups, since after-all it IS my beach vacation.  I always bring chili supplies, though, just in case the group wants
to go out on the town one night.
So, are thirty-somethings too old for themed parties?  No, they tell me.  They are
anxiously awaiting how I am carrying out the OWL theme this year.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lumberjack Chili Contest

THEME:  In choosing a theme, I have to consider what props I have stored and
             which ones I would have to purchase new. 
             For example, when planning my annual office Margaritaville,  the themes
             all include a beach and palm trees, as those are my stock props I've
             gathered over the years. 
             The chili contest themes are usually designed around cows, since I have
              a large collection of standup cardboard cows. 
           But, this is not always the case.  Since cowboys have been associated with
           eating chili around campfires, I branched out years back and
           had a western state fair theme and a wild west theme. 
                         For this year's party, I figured lumberjacks
                              would eat chili, and it worked. 

PROPS:  We have a new GIANT holiday tree and a nice sized one from previous years.
             I asked the office staff to not take them to the party shed we rent because
             I wanted to use them (undecorated) for the chili Lumberjack theme.  I brought
             my two artificial trees to the office to add to the "foresty" look of the main
             lobby.  I own two 5' metal birdfeeders.  I filled one of them with sytrofoam and
            added artificial forest greenery to them.  I bought birch logs and branched on
            Amazon.  I drilled holes in the logs and glued the branches into the holes to
            make miniature trees.  See photo below.



I also have two manzanita trees.  I placed a couple of soft owls in theme for centerpieces.
Add some red checked vinyl cloth (Amazon) which I get on big bolts. 
MURALS:  For each party, I design window murals to fit the theme.  I create these in
               Photoshop in a 14" x 27" blank page.  This allows me to enlarge them to a
              36" x 72" format at either Office Depot or an office printer we use.  For years,
              people have enjoyed them as background, but this year clients actually were
              competing to get one.  I create my own "people" for them from bits and pieces
              of clipart. The guy below was expecially popular.



GAMES:  The clients and staff, especially after the State Fair theme, like a couple
                games.  I made this photo larger in order for you to see the stuffed trees
             on the shelf on the upper right.  I bought 3 bean bag axes on Etsy.  The
             object was to simple knock over the 3 trees to earn a raffle ticket.   
             Sounds easy?  It wasn't.  The fun of a game is to make it look easy, but   
             it actually isn't.  This also gave clients a chance to win cash even if
             they didn't bring a chili.


Lumberjacks need to get their lumber to the river.  So I polyeurathened four slices of wood from Michael's.  I ordered the ax from Etsy.  I already owned the
 wagon prop, the small trees, and the river runner.  The object was to use
the edge of the axe to slideall of the wood slices under the wagon and into the river.  Looks easy?  The table in the photo is deceiving.  It was four tables long.  That's about 20'.  I've learned to be one step ahead of all of these young architects at work.
I spend a LOT of time on how to vote each year.  I finally came up last year with most likely the fairest way.  Each client gets a cardstock half page with nine
ballots.  They are pre-cut between each one to make tearing off easier. The office manager came up with the idea of using lidded soup cups with slots cut in the
tops for the ballots.   There were only three categories this year, plus best over-all.
So, as you can see below, quite a few people got to win this year.  I made
three mini lego cabins on bases, I gave out 2 axes,  and 4 axe pizza cutters along with
cash prizes.  I also asked everyone to come to the party wearing PLAID.


There's ALWAYS a live band at each party. This is "Justin Trawick and the Common Good."

DESSERTS:  I have find that small bite sized desserts work the best.  My "forest dessert bar" had artificial turf, small trees, log trays and small furry animals.  I made my apple pies even smaller, black forest cherry cheesecakes, a log roll, cake pops, and owl cookies.


Don't let mama bear scare you.  Or mama fox.  I have a collection of life-sized animals
I love to fit into various themes.  There are 3 baby bears, a baby fox, mama skunk, 3 baby skunks, and various others.  Below are small versions of all eight panels.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Boom Town Presentation


Boom Town Presentation

How do you even start a presentation on a Boom Town?  I have been doing these with
the first graders at a local school for over four years now.  I researched extensively in the presentation, but there really wasn't a lot of information out there.  So, what I did find, I had to put on an elementary level.  Below is the BASIC list of topics that I cover.

Before the teachers and I even plan the day, we must reserve a space big enough to hold at least two classes.  We usually use a classroom.  The evening before, we push all of the desks together in the middle of the room and cover them with large pieces of brown paper.  We use blue posterboard/paper  to make a big lake and rivers.  We scrunch up
more brown paper for hills or one major mountain.  We have decided ahead of time, what the natural resource is for this year.  We have had mining and brick making a few times.
The read brick building in the photo above is that year's brick factory.

Talking Points


If you notice the green posterboard spaces on the maps, we decide where our open spaces and parks go at the town meeting, before any buildings are added.

Town Planning

This Boom Town was built the entire length of the school's gym.

Because transportation into a town is so important, the teachers and I agreed that
our towns would always have a railroad.  They introduce the idea of Boom Town to the classes by reading "Boom Town."  It is a story about a little girl who starts a pie business in a mining town.  The town booms up around her business.  The railroad tracks are always
a VERY EXCITING addition to the beginning.  One group years ago had their tracks go right
over the lake.  We've subsequently discussed the pros and cons of this every year.
Using Cereal/Food containers is just the right scale for Matchbox cars.

Real Life Examples

Again, before building I use two major examples of real towns with major differences in layouts.  CHARLESTOWN, SC  has a lot of residential buildings along their waterfront.
I tell them about visiting it and the carriage rides.  They have made their milk carton houses and a very eager to place them.  But they must wait until the green space is added.  The other city is Wilmington, NC.  It has major businesses along the water.  We talk more about tourism and how important to a town it might be.

INDUSTRIAL:  the main source of income to the town, after train stations and airports have been established, is the industry that supports the town.  This usually becomes a heated debate (lol) but they usually decide it should be on the outside of town near the railroad.  Seriously, first graders can understand this.

The students make their businesses as a homework project.  This is a wonderful idea, mostly because the parents help make the buildings with them and the creativity is awesome.  The teachers discuss ahead of time what businesses are ESSENTIAL to a town, and which ones are for entertainment.  Last year we had a CIRCUS for the first time.