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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day: Eco-friendly Party Tips

Last year in honor of Earth Day I wrote a post about eco-friendly gift wrap ideas. This year I'd like to discuss eco-friendly party tips.

  • use email invitations such as

  • Skip the disposable plates and cups - use reusable instead. Purchase a set in a color that you can use year after year. Also do this for tablecloths and napkins. White always works great or pink/blue for kids parties and baby showers. Stores such as HomeGoods, Target and Ikea are great resources.
  • For a tea party, shop Goodwill for an assortment of teacups so that each guest has a unique cup - send them home with the guests after the party (I got this idea from a friend's birthday party and I still have my special tea cup)
  • For a bridal shower purchase wine or martini glasses from a restaurant supply shop and have the guests decorate them with glass paints (available from craft stores) - serves both as their drink glass, craft project, and take home gift!
  • Use a party rental shop to rent plates, glasses, and tablecloths instead of purchasing disposable partyware. Some great local party rental shops include Party People, Andrews Party Rental
  • Use craft paper in place of a table cloth for a kids party and place crayons on the table for the little artists - recycle when the party is over.


  • Skip the individually wrapped snacks, water bottles and juice boxes
  • Purchase natural, organic and locally grown food when possible


  • Make your cake or party favors your table centerpiece instead of purchasing those paper and plastic themed centerpieces that will just be tossed after the party.
  • For kids parties, use toys that go along with your theme as decorations (either borrow from your kids collection or make the new toy part of their birthday gift)
  • For baby showers, purchase nursery decorations and use them for your party decor. You can also purchase some cute onsies and hang them from a clothesline, giving them to the mom-to-be as a gift after the shower.
  • Instead of balloons, use chinese lanterns or party pom poms which can be used for fun room decor later or reused for a future party

party favors & prizes

  • Skip the kid's goodie bag filled with small plastic toys - these don't usually work very well and got tossed right after the party. Instead give a gift that will be used long after the party - books, t-shirts, art supplies all would make great party favors.
  • Instead of cut flowers, use potted plants for room decor - these can be planted later or sent home with the guest of honor.
  • For prizes (for all those fun baby shower games) give gift certificates to a nail salon or coffee shop.
  • Edible party favors are always a hit
  • Skip the party favors and make a donation to a local charity in all of your guests names.

Not only are these tips eco-friendly but some save money and reduce clutter - all great things!!

Here's a few related articles I found:

Do you have an eco-friendly party tips to share?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Custom Party Invitation Using a Digital Scrapbook Kit: Tutorial

Knights and Dragons 4th Birthday Invitation

I've gotten a lot of questions about my invitations for my son's 4th birthday Knights and Dragons party so I decided to do a tutorial. If you know some basic digital scrapbooking skills or have experience with a photo editing program such as Photoshop it's a very easy and affordable way to create custom invitations and cards.

STEP 1: First you need to find a digital scrapbook kit to fit your party theme. My favorite shop is Sweet Shoppe Designs (the owner of this great site lives in Arizona). If they don't have what I want, than I just do a Google search such as "knight digital scrapbook kit". For the Knights and Dragons party I used "A Knights Tale" from ScrapMatters. The kits are also useful for creating party decorations and you can use it again to scrapbook your event.

STEP 2: Determine the size file you need for your invitation. Sometimes I use a 4 x 6 and print the invitation as a photo. You need to also purchase envelopes that are 4 x 6 - the ones I purchased were a little small so I end up having to trim a little bit off to get the invitations to fit in the envelopes. This year I used Costco's photo cards blank template for the 6 x 7 1/2 Photo Greeting Cards. $14.50 for a set of 50 cards and that includes envelopes! I didn't need 50 but saved a few for scrapbooking later and one to display at the party.

STEP 3: Open your favorite digital scrapbook program. Create a new file in the correct size for your invitation. Make sure when you are selecting your file size you are using inches instead of pixels. Set your resolution to 300 pixels/inch.

STEP 4: Design your invitation. Start with a background paper. Because the cards are smaller than a typical scrapbook page I like to reduce the size of the paper so the pattern is proportional to the invitation. Add some text, embellishments and even photos of the guest of honor.

STEP 5: Save the file as a .jpg

STEP 6: Follow the directions for the photo printing website you have selected (or print from home if you have a photo printer).

To use Costco's photo center: Upload your file to the Costco photo website. Create a greeting card project. Select "More Holiday", scroll to the bottom, and click on "Custom Template". Select horizontal or vertical. Select the correct photo from your album. Place your order and pick up your order in a few hours from your local Costco. Helpful hint: they even sell stamps at the photo center so don't forget to pick some up.

STEP 7: Put your invitations in the mail

Here are a few more examples of invitations I created for birthday parties (these were printed as 4 x 6 photos):

Brendan party invitation 2007 text removed

Dinosaur 3rd birthday invite for blog

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Knights and Dragons Party featured at The Creative Party Place

Check it out here

This is a great blog for party planning ideas - everything is organized by type of party (first birthdays), theme and boy verses girl ideas. You can also submit your party and you might end up featured!

Monday, February 22, 2010

REAL PARTIES: "Hear Ye, Hear Ye" Knights and Dragons Themed 4th Birthday Party

Dana Brown is the owner of Simply Sweets and Desert Parties Blog

This year my little boy turned 4 and the theme for his party was knights and dragons. He's been pretty set on this theme for awhile - since I work in the party business and he sees a lot of cakes, he loves to discuss the theme for his next party. He hasn't settled on a theme for his 5th birthday party yet but has discussed already pirates, transformers, monsters and star wars as possible themes - I'm hoping for pirates.

Knight Birthday Party Dessert Buffet party title

I created the invitations using a digital scrapbook kit and Photoshop and printed them at Costco - its a really easy and affordable way to create custom invitations.

Knights and Dragons 4th Birthday Invitation

I also used the digital scrapbook kit to also create a welcome sign, decorations for the pinata bags, straws and tags for the marshmallow pops party favors.

Knight Birthday party welcome sign

We rented a castle bouncer from Mr Bs Moonwalk (our second year with this company and once again great customer service). I ordered a dragon pinata from Arizona Pinatas - they create custom pinatas in any design, color and size (they even ship). I ordered the medium sized pinata and it was huge!

Knight Birthday Party Red Dragon Pinata

We planned 3 activities for the kids - the bounce house which is always a huge hit with the kids (and according to my son, it was his favorite part), a shield and crown craft project and a treasure hunt.

For the craft project I order shields and crowns from Oriental Trading company and we had jewels, stickers and markers for the kids to use for decorating. The shield shaped plates were scored at Target's Halloween clearance sale where I also picked up some candy for the pinata (I love to look for party supplies from the Halloween and Christmas clearance sales).

Paper Shields and Crowns Craft Project

The treasure hunt was a group activity - the reward was the cupcake and candy buffet hidden in the tent.

knight birthday  party dessert tent

Treasure hunt clues:

All knights need a quest. The King's gold has been stolen by the red dragon. He needs your help! Your first clue to find the treasure can be found where the birds build their nests. (clue was hidden in a tree)

You're one step closer towards reaching your goal. Your next clue is in Sir Brendan's house (clue hidden in play house)

Find the red dragon to get the treasure map (a treasure map taped to the inflatable red dragon that led them to the sand box where gold coins were hidden)

Once each child found a gold coin they were allowed enjoy their reward - dessert!

Knight Birthday Party collage

The dessert buffet (with everything done in blue, yellow and silver) included:

  • Cupcake tower topped with a 3D knights castle. The cupcakes were topped with shields, swords and monogram Bs (Simply Sweets)

  • dark and white chocolate dipped pretzels (Simply Sweets)

  • milk and white chocolate marshmallow pops (Simply Sweets)

  • dark and white chocolate dipped oreos (Simply Sweets)

  • milk chocolate dipped rice krispie treats (Simply Sweets)

  • milk chocolate castle suckers (Simply Sweets)

  • white chocolate dragon suckers (Simply Sweets)

  • hershey kisses - silver

  • Hershey's cookies and cream kisses - blue foil

  • blue M & Ms

Knights and Dragon cupcake tower dessert buffet

The kids were given knight and dragon tatoos and we also sent them home with Simply Sweets marshmallow pops party favors.

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