Sunday, March 26, 2017

1st Birthday Woodland Gnome Party

Somehow Rowan is already two and I'm only just now getting around to be blogging his 1st birthday... but. Here we are. If there was one thing Rowan's 1st birthday party taught me--it was that my Dad Jokes are on point, for a mom. My pun game knows gnome bounds. GNOME. BOUNDS.

Invitations & Thank You Cards

I designed the invitations myself using Eccentric, Goudy, and French Script fonts. I drew that little gnome myself in PowerPoint! In fact, as usual, I designed this entire invitation suite in PowerPoint. I used VistaPrint for printing. They honestly are not my favorite and had to have these sent twice before I felt the quality was acceptable (there was weird haziness around some areas the first go-round). But--I love their glossy finish and the site is easy to use and affordable and when I brought up the issue they sent a new set without a huge hassle.


Linens were plain white table cloths I invested in because it became clear I'd end up using them enough to justify the expense. Table runners were holdovers from the Pinwheel Carnival Wedding. Centerpieces were potted ferns from Home Depot. They were refreshingly inexpensive at $6 a pop. I hid little plastic gnomes from Oriental Trading in the pots. 

If ya don't gnome, now ya gnome! We held the party at a neighborhood clubhouse so tacks in the wall were a no-go. In order to hang these banners, I brought long strips of wood and used the table to hold them up against the wall with the banners tacked into those instead. In a perfect world I would have attached them the wall and hung them higher. I had Jamie at Lyon Cub Crafts (search FB for the private group) heat press the banner, which I loved the look of, but we'd never used this particular banner before and it curled up quite a bit. If I did this again I'd do this way in advance so I could stack a thousand pounds on top of them to try and uncurl them before the event. Megan at Xavi's Toesies appliquéd the gnome using a pattern I purchased from Rainy Day Applique on Etsy.

Red chalkboard, red & white cake stand, and pink & green gnomes: Target bargain section
Toadstool chalkboard: Streamline via Zulily
Paintable Gnome bank favors: Oriental Trading
Gnome Hats: Oriental Trading
Mushroom topper favors: Oriental Trading

Guests were greeted outside by Henri the Gnome. I made the highchair streamer banner myself from fabric scraps. The "ONE" banner is from Moonflower Nature Art on Etsy.

Moss & burlap ONE banner: MoonflowerNatureArt

The photo area was comprised of a burlap playroom tent, a felt mushroom and acorn banner by the same vendor who made the cake topper, wooden crates from a nearby Mexican restaurant, and toadstool stools. Currently the banner, tent, and toadstools all live in Rowan's playroom which is woodland themed because I never waste an opportunity to re-use. (AKA I AM A STYLISH HOARDER.)

Burlap Play Tent: Twelve Timbers on Rosenberry Rooms (but I found on Zulily)
Toadstools: Streamline via Amazon (but I found on Zulily)

Fun tip: beer maid costumes actually double as great Lady Gnome costumes! Slap on some leggings, boots, and a gnome hat and you can convert this sexy costume into 1st birthday-ready attire. Rowan's costume was bought from a reseller on Instagram but can also be found here

Cake & Cookies

One of my best money-saving tips is to purchase a plain white whipped icing cake from Giant. I order it ahead and ask that they not add any trim to the top or bottom of it. Then I really go in on the accessories. 

I'm such an obsessive planner that I commissioned this felt gnome cake topper from BestDayEverDesign on Etsy in September and this party wasn't until March. I was truly obsessed with how it turned out. The same vendor also made the acorn & mushroom felt garland draped in the photo area pictured above. 

The cupcakes were also from Giant. I ordered plain red whipped icing cupcakes in chocolate and vanilla and then stuck white chocolate chips in them upside down. I pilfered this idea from a 14 year old cake genius who made the cake for the Woodland Baby Shower I threw. 

Gnome and mushroom cookies were ordered from SweetArtSugarCookies on Etsy. I purchased the smooth felt bricks from Michaels and made the textured bricks by gluing felt sheets onto floral brick foam.

The polka-dotted "1" candle was from Party City, where I also purchased red polka dot plates and napkins.


Gnom-Gnoms! By buying mostly pre-made gnoms, I was able to really go over the top with food without investing too much time or energy.

I designed the food tags to match the invitation suite and laminated them with a little at-home laminator machine. The gnome placecard holders holding the food labels were a vintage find from SouthernTouches on Etsy.

Polka-dot napkins: Party City
Woodgrain utensils: Party Partners via Amazon (but I found on Zulily)
Scalloped woodgrain plates: Party Partners via Parkside (but I found on Zulily)
Gnome Salt & Pepper Shakers: Streamline via Walmart (but I found on Zulily)

Glass cloches were purchased from Home Goods. I made the "Marsh-Rooms" myself by sticking skewers into large marshmallows and then dipping them in melted red chocolate and sprinkling with large white sprinkles. I stuck them into floral foam bricks that I covered in sheets of moss and set them onto moss rounds, purchase from Michaels. 

These pies were actually from Whole Foods but that didn't sound as good on the label. 

Mozz' & 'Mato Mushrooms are string cheese cut in thirds with half of a cherry tomato on top--held together with a toothpick. Ladybel Bugs are Babybel cheese with the center wax 'strings' pulled and curled up. I added black dots with a Sharpie. I debated if that was okay on an edible item but figured no one eats the wax part so it's okay? 

Mac-a-Gnomey & Cheese was from Panera. SO GOOD!

Snail Sammies were ordered from Costco. These are also super good and you should def order them for your next party. To make them look like snails, I turned them on their sides and stuck them with pairs of white-balled picks from Amazon that I drew black dots on with Sharpie. 

I knew there would be quite a few babies in attendance so I wanted to provide an easy food choice for parents to share with them--so I labeled baby puffs as Organic Pixie Puffs and added them to the spread. I should have been more clear though that this was baby food. I noticed lots of adults eating this who probably thought this was just very bland dry cereal.

Plain beverages were made 'on-theme' by added the "Pour 1 Out for Your Gnomies" sign. The 1 was drawn to match the birthday cake candle.

Red polka dot paper cups: Walmart
Red polka dot paper straws: Amazon


I was originally a bit mystified as to what we should do for actual fun at a party for a one year old, so I was careful to remember that most of our guests would not be turning one. There'd be a lot of adults and a lot of 1-5 year old children. 

I purchased Gnome Bowling on Ebay and called it Rollin With Ma Gnomies Bowling. 

I found Gnome Easter Eggs on Oriental trading and filled them with random goodies--spinning tops, loose change, candy, stickers--and hid them throughout the party and setup this area with little baskets and chalk markers to mark off how many had been found. (Spoiler alert: no one marked this off.) The eggs aren't available anymore but basically they were Easter Eggs that looked like gnomes. 

Little bags with mushroom stickers served as both favor and pinata treat bags. Favors included little mushroom spinning tops and paintable gnome banks, both from Oriental Trading as well as the gnome and mushroom cookies.

For other fun activities, we had a piñata, a ball pit (the Pit of Gnome Return), and wooden gnomes to paint (Paint by Gnome-ber). Because we were renting the clubhouse space, we restricted the painting to adults only. Some people also got a headstart painting the party favor gnome banks here. We also brought a tree activity center that is slightly visible in the ball pit photo below for the super little humans. 

Pinata: Birthday in a Box (I bought the one pictured here from Wholesale Halloween Costumes, but they no longer carry it)

Paint Your Own Gnome: Works of Ahhh via Amazon (but I found on Zulily)

I don't gnome what else to say. Twas a good time, gnome mean? 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Vintage Carnival Wedding (with pinwheels!)

Rebecca & John found me via this very blog and were inquiring about renting odds and ends from the Circarnival Wedding I did previously. I was really into their vintage carnival wedding vision, so when all was said and done I'd convinced them to let me plan the whole affair.

That's the great news. The bad news is that I was juggling a pregnancy, followed by a newborn, followed by doctor visit after doctor visit (after doctor visit) wherein I was diagnosed with optic neuritis and then loosely diagnosed with MS (I am still trying to get diagnosed definitively one way or the other and it's been a year and a half now--but that's another story), a husband's drill schedule, returning to work full time, a baby who wouldn't sleep, and nursing around the clock. Did I take on too much? Yes, as usual. But! BUT! Wait 'til you see how cute this wedding turned out.

Side note: Yes, this wedding was last August. Yes, that's over a year ago. Please see above paragraph. Also, my husband has since been deployed. 2016, I hate you. Anyway. I know no one reads the copy on these blog posts but man do I feel better.

Moving on... let's talk about this wedding, eh?


Let's just put this out there: I hand-made over a thousand paper pinwheels for this wedding. I'm not complaining. I want to say I'm bragging, but I'm hesitant to brag about such a thing. Is this what I'll be remembered for when I die? Will people shoot pinwheels into the sky upon my passing?

This wedding took place at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St Leonard, MD. If you're looking for wedding venue, this one isn't a bad choice. Great scenery, good facility, and not terrible on the budget.

The venue did not allow for tacks, etc to be stuck into the trees, so pinwheels were attached with fishing line tied around the entire tree. 

I searched high and low for a sand ceremony shadow box for my couple, but could not for the life of me find a decent one for less than $60 and even for that price I wasn't finding one that wasn't an eyesore. (And one that matched the wedding? Definitely not.) I handmade this one with a standard white shadow box frame. My husband and I glued the back shut and drilled a hole in the top for sand. I then glued the smaller red frame (from the bargain area at Michael's) to the front. The total cost was less than $25.

How gorgeous and in love is this couple??

The bride DIYed her own bouquet. 


Guests were first greeted with a large popcorn balloon arch. For the Circarnival wedding, I had a balloon artist do this, but this time around the budget needed to be allocated elsewhere so my husband and I thought "How hard could it be?" Pretty hard, actually. But, obviously, do-able. My husband set this up himself with the assistance of the balloon column towers we made for my 10 year reunion. In order to get this done in a timely manner we blew up all the balloons the night before and brought them over in our trailer. The popcorn boxes were built by my husband for the Circarnival wedding so we were able to re-use those. 

Hand-lettered agenda chalkboard.

To bring cohesion to an otherwise light-hearted and fun theme, we stuck with a pretty rigid color palette of reds and sky blues and kept it simple in the barn venue with red banner flags and blue & red paper lanterns. 

This wagon is a Budweiser cart I found at a yard sale. We used it for cards and gifts and hung a sign I hand-painted with "Tokens for the Thompsons" on it to cover the giant Budweiser logo. 

Some of the wedding guests had serious flower allergies, so the couple opted for a flower-free reception. Centerpieces consisted of pinwheel "flowers" in popcorn box and milk glass vases. Bowls of peanuts and empty vessels for shells were strewn about for guests to munch on. 

Linens can get expensive. For this event, rather than shell out for "normal" linens, we instead cut fabric table runners from many yards of cloth. This look won't fly for all weddings, but the raw, casual hems worked for this theme in this space. 

For dinner service, we used the stage area of the venue for a Sweetheart table that we later moved out of the way for dancing. 

We made the Kissing Booth for a prior event and repurposed it here, with the addition of some coordinating pinwheels.


 The completed sand ceremony shadow box doubled as Sweetheart table decor.

 I made this XO Marquee myself. Learn how here. 


Cake and cupcakes were provided by Sweet Sue's Bake Shop, who also brought the large cupcake stand. All I had to do here was stick pinwheels in them. 

I hand-made the cake topper with tiny pinwheels, baker's twine, and dowels.  I found the cupcake ferris wheel on Zulily and already owned the smaller cake stands that I threaded with ribbon to match the event's decor.

After dinner guests snacked on popcorn and cotton candy. The "Step Right Up" art is fabric stretched over a canvas that I hand-lettered.


In keeping with the carnival vibe, dinner was BBQ and was catered by Smokey Joe's Restaurant & Pit BBQ


The couple's family graciously contributed some hand-made carnival games including Giant Jenga, Ring Toss, and Cornhole. Additional games (carnival fishing & mini bowling) were purchased from Oriental Trading.

It's possible I invented this next bit. Is a Wishing Willow a thing? Did I invent this? Please say yes. In lieu of a guest book, guests wrote well wishes on strips of carnival tickets that were then tied to the branches of this small tree, potted in a popcorn tin.

Paper photo props were supplied for Kissing Booth photo fun.

Favors were little carnival stuffed animals with tiny custom made stickers with the couples' names on them. Conveniently, they all came with little tags, so I just overlaid the stickers I designed on the tags. They were all attached with twisty ties to three-tier produce racks to resemble the towers of prizes at a carnival game booth. I made the banner using my Cricut. 

No wedding is complete without its own hashtag.

Despite having a breastfeeding infant with me as I tried to juggle logistics at this wedding, I was super pleased with the end result and working with the couple was a real dream. Excited for my husband to return from deployment so I can return to my true love of event planning!