Feb 3

Since I love to come up with creative ideas in the kitchen, I knew I was going to have to come up with something spectacular for Valentine’s day. I’m in charge of the snacks for my daughter’s kindergarten class this year, so this gives me a chance to finally use some of those cool cookie cutters I’ve had forever. We always use decorated sugar cookies in Halloween style for her birthday in October, so the cookies are out.

While shopping yesterday with a cake mix coupon, the idea hit me.  Heart shaped brownies with pink icing. It might not be the most creative, but I’m thinking it will get us some “brownie points”. Ha!

The mix I got looks like a moist cake, so I’ve got my fingers crossed this isn’t going to turn into a big mess. It also says to bake it in a 13×9, but I’m thinking if we use a bigger pan they’ll be a little less moist and easier to work with. Should they come out a little too thin, we may just make brownie sandwiches with the frosting in the middle.

This is probably one of those ideas we’ll try out directly after school the day before the party, just in case we need to run to the store for plan B.

Wish me luck!

Oct 8

After making the airplane cake a few months ago for my son’s birthday, my daughter something special for her birthday as well. Thankfully she chose the castle at the time, and has not changed her mind. This should be a whole lot easier than the airplane was.

I’ve looked at a few ideas from Family Fun, and should be able to come up with my own based on these. Today I ran to the store and picked up the cake mix, frosting, sprinkles, ice cream cones, and gummies. It should be all I need, but I have my doubts I’ll get off that easy. Most likely on Sunday I’ll be running to the store for a last minute decorating detail.

The thing I like the most about this particular idea is I can go anywhere with it. Should I decide just to make a square cake, that’s fine. If I want to stack them in the middle to make a slightly different design, that’s fine too. Bottom line is there should be very little cutting and shaping involved, unlike the last one.

I’m also a little more experienced, and know how to handle the decorating a little better. Let me share with you what I learned from the last disaster.

The cake must be completely cooled and actually cold to start. I’ll most likely make the cake early in the day on Saturday (the day before the party), and stick it in the fridge.

The frosting needs to be warmed up before you start, so it’s easier to frost corners and edges. Just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, repeating as you get further down into the container if need be. Just as long as the cake is cold and the frosting is hot, it won’t stick to the cake.

Use an idea that has few frosting colors, unless you are an extremely good artist. I am not, as we have learned in previous years. Most of the detailed decorations will be done with candy and cookies. Sticking something in the right place I can handle.

For the extra decorations that can be done with candy or any kind of writing, use the gel decorating stuff or food decorating markers, NOT the frosting decoration. It may be great for little flowers and suck, but not for drawing or writing names.

Something new I’m going to try this year is using cookie cutters as somewhat of a stencil. I’m hoping I can just press the cutter into the frosting ever so slightly, making a design that’s easy to trace. Again, I’ll use either food decorating markers or gel. That frosting decoration stuff is pure evil! (But I won’t deny it tastes good!)

If you are searching for cool cake ideas, I hope you find one that works for you!

Jul 21

We got an invitation the other day for a pool party at the local public pool. Nothing fancy, with “no gifts” printed right on the paper.  Now what was different about this particular birthday party is that it’s being celebrated a whole 2 months early.

You see, the soon-to-be 8yr old boy isn’t actually having a birthday until September. But he loves to swim, and loves to hang out with his friends. Since his birthday is clear at the end of September, it’s not as easy to have a pool party. So he came up with the idea to have the party now and not really celebrate later.

Mom and dad of course agree, because it’s  such a simple idea. I’m in love with it too, since instead of spending money on a gift I’m putting that money into a day pass at the pool for me and my kids. His parents get to allow him the chance to have a “big” party with lots of friends, without the hassle of having boatloads of kids running around the house (this idea has always scared the heck out of me!).

This idea got me thinking though - where else could you be doing parties like this? Clearly stating no gifts, but having parents pay into the party itself. I mean it might rub some parents the wrong way, but really if you think about it, it’s a lot better deal. Not that we don’t want to buy a gift for another kid other than our own, but we’d much rather give something to our own.

If you look around your own community you might be surprised what you find. Trips to the zoo, pool, and other community activities might be an option for a great birthday party location for your kids. ;)

Apr 24

A few weeks ago I was shopping at our local grocery store and saw these absolutely adorable cakes for sale. I mean really cool kids birthday cakes that got me thinking about my son’s birthday which is coming up in May. Since he doesn’t really need anything and has more toys than he EVER plays with, I thought about making the cake the main “gift”. Sounds cheap I know, but really I think he’s going to like a really cool cake more than anything.

The price on those cakes at the store were $45. I’m sorry I just can’t justify that cost for a cake when money is tight. Then I saw an article in a parenting magazine that gave instructions on how to MAKE those really cool kids birthday cakes. Awesome! I can do this!

So I went on a hunt the other day for the perfect cake. I’ve got a pretty picky kid who’s interests vary from day to day. I’m sure he would have thought anything was cool, but I was still being selective. There just had to be instructions for an easy to make cake that he would LOVE.

Well I found it. Since he just took a trip with his dad out of state and flew on an airplane, when I spotted this cake I knew it was perfect. It looks cool, and is super easy to do. I’m actually going to change the plans just a bit and use three 9×13 cakes cut in half long ways. Looking at the template you can see how that’s probably going to work out pretty well. Plus I’ll have 3 halves left over for a “regular” cake. See, my son originally said he wanted a strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla cake similar to the neapolitan ice cream, so that’s what I’m going to do with the other parts of the cake not used for the airplane.

Family Fun had some really cool kids birthday cakes too, and I almost went for one of those. Had it not been for the plane ride my son just went on I probably would have gone with one from that site.  That’s where I’ll be going for my daughters cake for her birthday in October.

I’ll be working all next weekend on this cake and will be sure to let you know how it turns out. I’d love to see some other cool cakes you’ve made in the past!

Mar 6

Planning birthday party ideas for adults isn’t always easy as it is for kids. But sometimes simple is best and most enjoyed by the guest of honor. Here are a few ideas pulled from Idea Queen’s page of Adult Birthday Party Ideas:

Surprise Birthday Parties
This can be pulled off several different ways. You could do a traditional surprise party where they know nothing about it, or you could plan the party with them, but throw in something special like an out of state guest. The point, of course, is to surprise them in some form.

Restaurant Parties
The best part about holding the party at a restaurant is you don’t have to clean up afterwards. Be clear about what you expect from your guests though - you don’t want anyone thinking you’ll be paying and then hand them the check.

Night on the Town
If you have a smaller group, you can always just take a night out on the town. Go see a movie, go dancing, hang out at the bar - whatever the guest of honor wants to do. Remember to include them in your plans!

Several more ideas for specific age groups can also be found at Idea Queen at the link above. Enjoy!

Feb 14

Usually kids are pretty good about being able to entertain themselves at a birthday party, but it’s also not a bad idea to have a few things planned ahead of time. Things to do in between presents and cake of course!

Play Games
What kid doesn’t want to play games at a birthday party? Since there’s usually quite a few kids at the party, you can play games that require large numbers of kids. Here’s one example that comes from our Party Games ebook:

Pass the Parcel
Wrap a bar of chocolate (or some other gift), in a layer of paper. Now wrap it in another layer and repeat until you have about 10 layers. Finally wrap it in gift paper (so it looks nice). Sit everyone in a circle and play a short snippet of music. When the music stops, the person holding the parcel removes ONE layer of wrapping. Repeat until the last layer of wrapping has been removed. The winner keeps the present.

Fun Activities
Even simple activities can keep lots of kids entertained. If the weather is nice, you can buy bottles of bubbles in bulk (say that three times fast!) or large containers of chalk for all the kids to play with. This works especially well with younger children.

If it’s a winter party, individual coloring books or activity books work nice as a semi-quiet activity. You can also spice this up by having coloring contests, or other types of contests. Usually you can find bulk packages of small boxes of crayons at the dollar store.

Another fun group activity with paper could include everyone making a piece of a hopscotch line, then putting them all together. Everyone would then take turns trying it out with all the different pieces.

Be sure to check other moms to see what they’ve done in the past for games and activities at their kids birthday parties! Sometimes the best resources are those who have seen/done different things to do.

Nov 13

I came across this today, and thought this would be a pretty neat idea. Regardless of where you decide to hold the birthday party (and if you need ideas for where or what, you can check the teen birthday party ideas page on Idea Queen)…..why not send the invitation by email? Almost all teens are connected in some way or another, so it only makes sense the invites go out where they spend the most time.

Visit AmericanGreetings.com for a wide selection of invites, eCards, and printable cards for every occasion. You may never need to search the store for cards again! Worth checking out their free trial at least for the teen birthday party. ;)

Nov 7

You may have noticed how few posts we make on party tips. There’s even less on birthday party ideas. Granted there is an entire section on Idea Queen just for Birthday Party Ideas, but they seem to lack here on the blog.

Why is that?

Well I guess I feel like what should be posted on the blog should be more “here and now” posts. Things we can relate to on any given day. I mean how often do we plan birthday parties? Depending on the number of kids you have and how many others you are responsible for, it’s usually not that many. Maybe 4-5 times a year at the very most. Planning milestone birthday parties happens even less for us (really - how many times in your life do you plan a 50th birthday party?).

So maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think daily readers are interested in seeing gobs of tips on party planning. Seriously though, DO you want to see more? Or is what’s on Idea Queen right now sufficient? I’ll let it be your call….so post some comments!

Oct 26

For kids parties, usually cake and ice cream are all they care about. But for adults, you may need something extra. Maybe a meal or just “snacks” to give the guests something to do other than chatting.

Now chances are you aren’t going to want a huge meal. If you want something more than just things to snack on, it’s got to be something simple. Chili, pizza, or other single dish items. If you want to make it a major dinner event, make it pot luck. No one person can cater a meal for large amounts of people.

For “snack” like food, you’ll still want something simple. If you have a bread machine, there are all kinds of different breads you can make. Meats and cheese are also a good option, since they are pretty simple to prepare (just slice and arrange!). Fruit is another option - such as apple slices, grapes, and non-messy items.

Chips of any kinds along with sandwiches are another option. They are not as healthy as the fruit, but usually a crowd favorite. Small sandwiches are perfect for smaller crowds.

The main idea is to keep it simple. You don’t want to spend your entire day in the kitchen or getting food ready. Make sure the focus is on the guest of honor!

Oct 17

A few days ago I mentioned Idea Queen has gone mobile. Meaning we’ve created a website specifically for mobile devices such as cell phones. It’s a website all on it’s own, and it’s purpose is to be used as a ‘check list’ while you are out running errands.

Part of this new mobile site includes a checklist for birthday party supplies. If you are about to rush out the door, first make note of this site: IdeaQueen.mobi.

For those of you just looking for an easy list to grab, let me give you the list. Granted this is the “short” version of the page, but I think it’s all most of you really need:

- Decorations
Balloons, stremers, table cloth, etc. All optional.

- Plates and Napkins
Paper plates, napkins, and anything else you need for cake and ice cream.

- Cake and Ice Cream
Half gallons usually do, but depending on the number of guest you’ll want more.

- Spoons and Forks
Plastic is good and makes for easy clean up. Get individual boxes, you don’t need plastic knives.

- Games
Crayons and coloring books work for little ones. Party games work for adults

- Gift Bags
Optional. Take a trip to the dollar store for this one.

Need the decorations? We recommend The Party Works!

PartyWorks Logo

« Previous Entries