Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Lil' Critter Woodland Baby Shower

About three weeks after I found out I was pregnant, one of my besties Jessi found out she was too. Double the hormones, double the ice cream & taco bell, and, of course, double the baby showers. Jessi had been instrumental in throwing my own baby shower and there was no doubt I'd be throwing hers as well. And, I'll tell ya, I thought it would be a real struggle planning this while super pregnant, but in real life everyone loves helping preg chicks and it really wasn't too bad after all.

(Planning a client's wedding while pregnant and then putting it on after baby is born, with baby in tow, however--that's a bad time. I don't recommend that. Post on that coming soon.)

Jessi wanted a woodland theme and because I had already put together this Elegant Woodland Wedding, I already had much of the decor on-hand. Additionally, because I had just helped to put on my own baby shower--I just recycled some of the general ideas to use again at this shower.


Let's start with this cake. A member of Jessi's church's youth group made this cake and the coordinating owl and mushroom cupcakes. She's only 14 ya'll. Whaaat? All I did was decorate the space around them and add a little paper bunting to the main cake.


The ladies of Jessi's church volunteered to bring food. I am accustomed to being an overachiever and therefore like to be realistic with my expectations of other people. I expected them to bring "normal" lite fare: cookies, mini sandwiches, that sort of thing. Sure, there was some of that, BUT I was blown away but how creative the bulk of their food choices were. They really went with the theme and got everyone involved. Like I said, I didn't create any of this food so I don't have tutorials for you, but where I can I'll link to similar tutorials on Pinterest.

Porcupine cheese balls.

Strawberry owls in nests.

Deviled egg Owls.

Hot dog snakes.

Hedgehog cookies.

Ants on a log celery sticks & caterpillar fruit kabobs.

Dirt cake.

Teddy grahams. Lulz this never would have occurred to me but duh! What a simple and applicable idea.

Strawberry rose garden dirt pie. OMG ARE YOU SERIOUS? I don't know who made this but it was truly edible art.

I created the Lil Critter banner by using a Paper Source woodland animal mask kit as a template and plopped the letters on paper acorns that I hand cut.

Flowers, Favors, Decor, and Fun

Flowers were carnations, button mums, and hydrangeas that I arranged myself in milk glass vases.

Party favors were little bags of chocolate kisses and vanilla wafer acorns with paper squirrels attached to them. I hand drew a template for the squirrel and traced and cut the rest of them.

Paper hedgehogs were from a Paper Source kit.

I designed the "Jessi's Lil Critter Bingo" for guests to fill in gifts they thought Jessi would receive. Blank squirrels were provided for guests to decorate and fill out with new mom advice and were then used for a rousing game of Pin the Squirrel on the Tree. I somehow managed to forget to photograph the Tree for this game, but it can be seen on the wall behind the happy couple in the photo below.

The gift table was decorated with old window frames I pulled from a house I lived in during my brief residency in Georgia. At one point the house had been the town's funeral home.

PS The abstract woodland wrapping paper here was purchased from Ikea.

I've already planned Rowan's first birthday (yes, I know, it isn't until March) and because it will be a woodland/gnome theme I'll be able to re-use much of this yet again. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Russian Doll Baby Shower

The good news about being a freelance party planner is that I'm always ready for a party. The bad news is that when it came time for my friends to throw me a party, they become terrified and consumed with "this isn't going to be good enough" and "she's going to hate this." The reality was that I was shocked and honored that my friends wanted to throw me a shower at all. But I could see where they were coming from... and their feelings of anxiety led to my feelings of guilt. And in the end I tried to do as much as I possibly could to take the burden off of their shoulders. Am I an annoying control freak who does too much? Probably. Were they happy to have my help? Probably. Will I ever know which one of the above facts is more true? Probably not. Do I want to know? Nah.

Anyway, between my step-mom Terri, Jessi, Jamie, and Jessica (yes I will only be your friend if your name starts with a J) and some party supplies and ideas I'd been squirreling away for a long time for this specific theme, the shower turned out wonderfully.


I saw a Pinterest post for Babushka swing cards and, while I didn't use that tutorial, I thought the same concept could be applied to baby shower invitations. Jamie, Jessi, and I spent hours using a Silhouette to cut the pieces for these bad boys and then used a Silhouette sketch pen to pen the details onto the backs of them and the doll faces on the front. This took a VERY long time. So long, in fact, that when we noticed a typo in the text a good way into the production we decided "eff it" and kept chugging along with the typo because it would take too long to re-do them. 

Get it? Nesting dolls? "AJ is Nesting!" Zing!

Despite how long these took, I think they turned out amazing. I don't know that I'd do this again, but I was glad we did it this time and were too far in to turn back when it turned into a major project. 


For a Russian Doll themed event, using Russian dolls is a pretty obvious choice. What's probably not very obvious, but tied in perfectly, was Fiesta/Cinco de Mayo decor. Blended in with all the Russian dolls, the Mexican decor looked suddenly rather Russian. Bonus: it could all be reused for future Cinco de Mayo soirees (or I already had some of it from previous fiestas). 

Russian Dolls

I hand painted these Russian dolls for my stop-motion gender reveal video

These Russian dolls are salt and pepper shakers I already owned.

Vintage Russian dolls from my own collection (and one set from Jessica's aunt) were scattered throughout. 


Tables were covered in colorful swatches of fabrics I'd bought in giant rolls from an estate sale long ago. Centerpieces consisted of round, red placemats from Ikea's Christmas collection or blue ikat cloth napkins from HomeGoods, pieces from two sets of Russian doll measuring cups I already owned (and that can be bought from Amazon for under $10 here), inexpensive grocery store florals in milk glass vases and turquoise vessels I already had lying around the house, and blue goblets filled with markers and glitter pens for decorating paper dolls. 


Mexican Goes Russian

The striped table cover and the half circle pennants were from Oriental Trading's fiesta supplies. The plates were also from Oriental Trading and the napkins were from Ikea.

This doorframe cover was also from Oriental Trading. The red paper poms were added from my existing collection to tie into the rest of the colors better.

...and Luau goes Russian too. These large paper flowers were holdovers from my sister's 11th birthday luau I threw the previous summer. The chair was covered in extra fabric from the swatches we used on the tables. 

The gift table was covered in a blue ikat tablecloth from HomeGoods that matched the napkins we used under the centerpieces. 

BONUS--I've been re-using this tablecloth and some of the centerpiece decor and serving pieces for Rowan's birth announcement and monthly watch-me-grow photos. 

...and a good bit of this was re-used fro this year's Cinco de Mayo festivities as well. 


As much as I like decorating parties, I kind of hate thinking about the food. I like EATING the food, I don't like planning out the food. The big exception here: cake and other desserts. 

Cake, Cupcakes, & Macarons

Cupcakes were purchased from Giant and topped with paper Russian dolls that I'd bought in a kit years ago and little gum paste dolls that were painted with edible paint markers. 

The cake was made almost entirely by my husband. And no, he's not a baker. I just told him what I was thinking, baked the cake, gave him the supplies, and away he went. I mostly just added the finishing touches. Neither of us had ever done anything with fondant before so man was this a chore. 

I tried to tackle the cake by myself and did a trial run a few weeks prior. I realize the final cake is by no means perfect, but please--take a gander at my original attempt and rejoice with me in the vast improvement. 

LOL--still laughing over how bad this was.

Macarons were made for me by my friend Cassie. She had never made matryoshka shaped macarons before but agreed to try it out for me. They were so cute and tasty!

Food Spread

This Russian doll veggie platter was another Pin-spired creation.  

My wonderful friends handled all the rest of the food so I didn't need to think about it at all. I supplied melamine dishes picked up from Wal-Mart that coordinated with the rest of the event.

Fun & Favors

I really went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to open gifts at the shower. On one hand, I feel awkward about receiving gifts and about being overly materialistic. On the other hand--this is a shower and in the end I decided that people came there expecting me to open those gifts in front of them, so awkward or not I was gonna do it.

Baby Shower Bingo

In an attempt to divert some attention away from my awkwardness, Jessi made Russian doll bingo for guests to fill in with things they thought I'd receive. Winners received gift cards. Also waiting at each seat for guests were blank Russian dolls to decorate and fill in with parenting words of wisdom. Markers, glitter pens, and rhinestones were supplies in blue goblets to decorate them. 

Pin the Baby on the Babushka

The blank paper dolls for mom advice also doubled as babies for the Pin the Baby on the Babushka game that we handmade from paper and poster board. 

My own advice to myself: "Don't shake the baby." Best advice I've ever given myself.

Life-size Matryoshka Photo Cutout Props

I saw something similar on (shocker) Pinterest and my husband was kind enough to break out the big kid tools and cut these for me from plywood. He used two by four pieces (I think?) to prop them in up the back. I hand painted them. Want to rent these and live in the Anne Arundel County, MD area? I still have them. Email me.

Popcorn Ball Favors

Jessi and Jessica created these and they turned out so cute!

Rowan was born in March, it's June now, and this shower was back in December and I'm STILL blown away by how great my friends and family were and are. I couldn't be more grateful.