Thursday, August 29, 2013

{Do It Yourself} Tulle and Doily Pom-poms

I am a lover of simple, easy, DIY projects that make a huge impact on a party. Pom-poms have become one of the most popular ways to decorate birthday parties, baby showers and weddings these days and for good reason. They can be big or small, one color or lots of colors, they are cheap to make and also pretty quick as well.

While tissue paper pom-poms are the most popular, today I wanted to show you how to make my two favorite lesser known versions: Doliy and Tulle pom-poms. Both are super girly and oh so, so pretty!

Tulle Pom-poms
Makes: 3
How long it will take: 1 hour
What you will need: 
- 36 yards of six-inch wide tulle
- ribbon (cut to length needed to hang the pom-poms)
- scissors
- 8” wide book (for wrapping)

Step 1: Cut three eight-inch strips of tulle and set aside for now. 

Step 2: Create a tulle jellyroll by wrapping tulle around the book 20-25 times. 

Step 3: Carefully slide the jellyroll off of the book, holding it so that it keeps its shape.

Step 4: Using the eight-inch strips of tulle made in Step 1, tie the jellyroll together in the middle (it should resemble a bow). Then take the ribbon and tie one end  on top of the tulle strip as tight as you can. The other end will be used to hang the pom-pom.

Step 5: A) Use scissors to cut apart the edges of the tulle so that they are now separate layers. B) Hold one side flat on a hard surface and trim the edges of the tulle so that it’s even. Repeat for the other side. 

Step 6: Pull the layers apart and fluff to create a full pom-pom. If needed, trim the edges some more until desired look is reached.

Tip: Based on the size of the tulle pom-pom you prefer, use a smaller or bigger book.

Doily Pom-pom
How long it will take: 1 hour
What you will need: 
- 36 eight-inch doilies
- ribbon
- scissors
- six brad fasteners

Step 1: Cut ribbon the length you will need to suspend them.

Step 2: Stack doilies into six groups of six.

Step 3: Hold one of the group of doilies in your hand and use tip of scissors to carefully puncture a small hole into the center of the stack. Insert a brad fastener into the hole and clamp down the ends. Repeat for additional groups.

Step 4: Gently cup the first doily into your hand and pull up so that it forms a flower. Repeat with next two layers. Turn the stack over and do the same with the other three doilies so that the doilies form two sides.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 with remaining groups.

Step 6: Hold two of the groups together side-by-side.Tie together in the center so that the ribbon adheres the two groups as one. In other words, you are tying them together side-by-side.

Step 7: Fluff the pom-pom up until desired look is reached.

To purchase the polka dot doilies shown, go to

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Top Rookie Mom Mistakes

I recently heard a story on the radio about a mom in England who mistook a boa constrictor for a banana in her toilet. She called her kids into the bathroom to ask who put it in there.  My first reaction: “You idiot!” My second reaction: “Let’s face it, everyone has had some not-so-great parenting moments."

A lot of the mistakes I’ve made in life seem to revolve around motherhood. While the failures may stack up there is nothing I try harder to get just right.  When I was pregnant with my first baby I used those long agonizing months of waiting very wisely.  I sought the advice of my mama friends. I researched products endlessly trying to find the ones that were best for teething, tummy time, walking, cognitive learning, etc. I read tons of books on how to raise self-confident, motivated, loving children who would be ready to take on the world. Years later I realized managing motherhood mostly requires a lot of on-the-job training.  Seriously, go figure.

As proof of my struggles through mommyhood thus far, I have composed a few of my all time Top Rookie Mom Mistakes. Some are more unforgivable than others... but here they are for the world to see.

Honesty is not always the best policy.
I read that it is better to tell your kids about medical procedures before they happen so that they are informed and therefore feel in control. Worst. Advice. Ever!  My daughter needed blood work when she was 4 years old and so we took her to Children's Hospital.  Following this “expert” advice I explained to her why we were there while in the waiting room.  It took her all of three seconds to process and then she climbed up on her chair and started yelling to all of the other kids in the room, “They want to take our blood! With needles! It is going to hurt! Don’t let them do it!”  For a brief moment I was one proud mama! Seeing her up on that chair, controlling the room like a well polished politician.  That promptly ended when all hell broke loose. The room turned into a scene from “Children of the Corn.” Kids were screaming and running towards the door. Some were even laying on the floor and kicking their parents. Everyone (including me) was trying without much success to console their crying babies.  Eyes were glaring in our direction. Needle-ss (yes, I went there) to say we were promptly asked to leave and reschedule over the phone. 

Movie ratings are put in place for a reason.
And that reason is to keep parents from making a big-time rookie mistake. OK, so this is actually something my husband did but since I went along with it, it still counts.  I came into the room to find my husband and 4 and 6 year olds watching “Arachnophobia”.  I asked my husband if he thought that was a good idea.  He said, “Yeah, look at them. They love it! It's rated PG-13 so they can watch it.” Skip to one o’clock in the morning after I, not my husband, had been trying for hours to soothe them to sleep.  It took my son two months before he would let us cover him with a blanket because he thought that spiders were in them.  My daughter was scared to pee sitting down on the toilet because she was convinced that is where they lived.  To this day the kids still ask us, “Remember that time you let us watch that scary spider movie?  Why did you do that?  You knew it was scary and we’re just little kids!”

Duct tape doesn’t always equate to child abuse.
I’m sure that all moms have horror poop stories to tell.  It is almost a badge of honor for parents.  A right of passage if you will.  Maybe some of yours could even trump mine (bring it on).... When my son was 15 months old he started the lets play with my poop game.  When he first started I researched and tried ways to get him to stop.  Turning his pjs backwards didn’t work because the little bugger figured out fast how to take them off.  Putting underwear over his diaper didn’t work because, duh, why would that work if he figured out how to take his pjs off? Finally the last suggestion I could find was to tape the diapers on him.  What!?!?  No way was I going to put tape anywhere near my baby!  What if it got on his skin?  Or worse.  What if he somehow got it off and it got on his face!  He could be smothered! So until he was potty trained each time my son took his late day nap he would take the entire poop out of his diaper and smear it on his bed and walls.  Sometimes he would even throw it like a caged monkey!  I tried to beat him to the punch by getting in his room right as he woke up  but he was like a poop ninja or something.  Quite until he was ready for me to see his masterpiece.  Looking back, after all those gross and wasted hours of cleaning poop up, if I had it to do all over again, I would totally tape that bleepin' diaper on!

Don't try to be the cool mom, it will only ruin your carpet.
While having an indoor play date with a friend her son found my large supply of bubbles and asked if he could play with them.  My friend, who with three kids all over the age of 8 was no rookie mom, said it was not a good idea.  I was all like, “I am the cool mom and if they want to play with the bubbles that is fine with me.”  And so they did.  For over an hour.  There were so many bubbles that after awhile they stopped popping and just cling to each other in a big sticky pile on my carpet.  Later I found that steam cleaning it only made it worse as the bubbles fought back and multiplied like a virus. After trying several other equally unsuccessful ways to unstiffen the carpet, in the end it had to replaced. Never will I try to be the cool mom again. I am totally fine with being the smart mean mom who says no to really bad kid ideas.

The coveted back room invite is not at all worth the risk.      
This is the one I am most ashamed of and put it last in hopes that most of you won't read this far.  (My confidence in blogging is overwhelming, isn't it? :) I was shopping at Gymboree with my son when the manager asked me if I wanted to go into the back room to look through their HUGE overstock of discounted clothes before they put it on the floor the next day. She offered to keep an eye on my son who was watching a cartoon since it wasn’t safe for him back there.  I was apprehensive at first but it didn’t take long for that logic to be overtaken by thoughts of, “Think of how proud Rob will be when I come home with an entire wardrobe of discounted clothes.” I agreed (please don't judge me) mainly because I had known the manager for many years through the store and she seemed responsible and normal.  About 10 minutes (OK, maybe it was 15) went by and I came out to check on my son only to find that he was nowhere to be seen! And instead of the manager behind the counter there was an elderly women.  I asked her where my son was?  She sweetly said, “Well, where did you leave him?” I explained to her that the manager offered to watch him.  She told me that the manager had an emergency and left a few minutes ago.  I yelled the first thing that popped into my head and the only thing that made sense at the time, “Oh my God! She took my son!!“  So embarrassing but what else was I supposed to think in my moment of panic? For all I knew this could have been some kind of Gymboree kid-stealing racket. I ran out of the store and looked left, and then right. Relief!  There he was with a security guard - not the manager as originally thought.  I collected my son and left without buying one damn thing from that back room.

At the end of the day though it all turned out just fine. I love my kids, I try my best, and I am human. So the next time you're beating yourself up because you lost your kid in a store, or let them play video games all day, or their rooms look like a disheveled mess: remember it will turn out just fine. And even if it doesn't, don't beat yourself up, because, at the very least, chances are you didn't mistake a boa constrictor for a banana.

{Me and my family and we are just fine.}

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weekly Party Planning Tips - The Kids Are Always Right

I think the number one question us party planners get asked is what our "very best"party planning tips are. While sometimes advice will vary based on the type of party or theme of the article being written (stress-free, on a budget, new trends, etc) there are a few tips that are applicable no matter what type of party you’re planning. So I thought I’d do a weekly blog with my best advice on how to wow your little ones. 

This week I wanted to focus on the cardinal rule of planning kids birthday parties: The Kids Are Always Right.  In my experience, if you listen to the mini guest of honor it will make your job easier creatively and help them feel a part of their big day. 

Let the birthday child choose the theme(s).
The past few years my kids have generally known what their next birthday theme will be... the day after their last party. I haven’t always been given such a clear vision though. In the past when my kids ideas stall out, I sit down with them and start listing the things that interest and make them happy.  They could respond with something as simple as a favorite color, activity, animal, character, object, flower, etc. But you will be surprised how many ideas start flowing once you get a few things on paper. 

Also, kids define themselves by their likes and dislikes so don’t be afraid to mix and match themes. For instance, my daughter wanted a teddy bear theme for her 5th birthday but wanted a Little Mermaid cake. Or, your child may want a princess party but rather than a pretty dress would prefer to wear her favorite t-shirt on the big day. So let her. There’s no need to stick to any rules or try to create the ultimate cohesive theme. It’s her day after all, so encourage her to express herself by taking her thoughts and ideas, no matter how much they stray from the original theme, and incorporate them into the party.

Keep the kids involved during the planning.
My kids love to be involved with all aspects of their party planning. In fact, I often joke that I may be the lowest paid professional on the planet as months before the big day I become my daughter’s very own personal party planner. I don’t mind working for smiles, though, and she has wonderful ideas that only a child’s imagination can conjure. 

For my daughter's seventh birthday party she wanted an owl themed sleepover party. She decided that we should make an owl pillow for each guest and I was crazy enough to agree. I have to admit that I felt more that just a little overwhelmed when 16 kids RSVP'd (um... yes 16!). Even though I spent 3 weeks working every waking minute on the pillows, it was without a doubt one of the best parties I have ever had the pleasure of creating.  Moments that I will cherish forever are working on the pillows with my daughter and giggling as we came up with a poem for each owl. One of my best proud mom moments was watching her learn a blanket stitch in ten minutes flat (the girl is a crafting natural)!  


Let the birthday child create their very own signature dish.
It’s no surprise why kid’s love of baking starts early. The kitchen is a place where they can make a huge mess and get a sugar fix! Serving kid-approved dishes are a must so I have always let my kids approve the menu and create their own signature dishes.  For my son's Diggin' for Dino's party he came up with a recipe that we properly named "Gavin's Diggin' Dessert."  We layered pudding with crushed Oreo cookies, gummy worms, and candy bones in Mason jars.  YUM! He worked for hours on the treats and made a point to show all of his guests the creations.

Oh, and on the big day he also had the brilliant idea to stack the "stegosaurus burgers" like a dinosaur (cute!).

Determine how many kids to invite based on your child's personality.
I’ve read that the best number of kids to invite is determined simply by adding one to your child’s age. I don't necessarily agree with this theory but it is one to consider. Let me offer a few thoughts. On your child’s big day he or she may notice that certain close friends are not there. As an example, the year my son turned three he already had five “besties” from his pre-school that did everything together. They even came up with the theme for his party together. Let me tell you, I would not have had a happy birthday boy if I’d told him he had to choose between them. On the flip side, if your child tends to get overwhelmed in large groups, then a smaller party would be the better option. Parties take any anxiety your child may already have and magnify it by ten. Bottom line is this: As a parent you know your child better than anyone and only you can be the judge of how many partygoers would make the perfect celebration.

Give them complete control over the mulla!  
You are probably thinking right about now that I can not be serious. Oh, but I am!  I’ve found that birthday parties are a great way to teach kids a valuable life lesson—how to set a budget and stick to it. {This method works best with kids who have a basic understanding of math.} Before you make any plans for the event discuss the budget with your child. Go through your child’s wish list and then add realistic costs next to each one. Add it up, and if you’re over the set budget ask your child what he would like to change or cut.

A few places that you can easily save on the budget:

  • Find your nearest dollar store! They offer great prices on tableware (plates, cups, napkins, etc.)
  • Invest in party essentials when you find good deals. These are items that can be reused such as cake stands, cake molds, candy jars, etc.
  • Keep in mind that products displaying licensed characters usually cost more than generic ones. If your kids are set on SpongeBob tableware you can compromise and mix and match with generic ones.
  • Professionally made cakes are a big budget busters. If you need to cut costs that would be the first place to start. 
  • Rather than serve a meal consider hosting a cake and ice cream party.  If you do though don’t hold the party during meal times when guests will assume something hearty will be served and state on the invitation that it is a “Dessert Party.”
  • Prepare and cut food, such as fruit and vegetables, yourself.
  • Rather than buying bottles of water or juice, consider buying by the gallon.


What are YOUR favorite party planning or home entertaining tips? Are there any tips or tricks you find yourself relying on time and again that might be helpful to others?