“A Cat Had A Birthday…”


November 15, 2012 by Decorum DIYer

Or, more to the point, a girl had a birthday and her mom couldn’t think of a post title.  Sorry, I had no idea what to title this post about birthday party planning.  Then, I remembered one of my all time favorite Sesame Street children’s songs that I used for my tiniest dancers when I was teaching.  So, sorry if it is an obscure reference, it is how my brain works.  I think in song and dance, always have.

Okay, I couldn’t resist.  Dance party break!

Today’s post is all about how I party plan.  Well, really I don’t plan, I just sort of let my mood and budget guide me.  My daughter’s third birthday is fast approaching.  She has a December birthday, like me, so I try to keep it simple; since our birthdays fall during the busiest time of year.

To make my life easier, I have started the tradition of incorporating a Christmas theme (since we celebrate Christmas here at our abode) to coordinate the holiday trimmings in our home.  Now, a bit of back story on this tradition.  When I was a child, my mother refrained from any Christmas decorating until December 11th, as my birthday is December 10th.  Growing up, my mother made sure that my birthday was an event all its own.  This is something that I have always appreciated.  Perhaps that is why I get so annoyed with holiday music and decorating before Thanksgiving?  For some reason, I have taken an opposite approach and use my daughter’s December birthday as a way to heighten the festivities of the season.  Also, it helps me and the husband get our house decorated before our daughter’s birthday party, therefore before Christmas Eve.  Another side note, growing up, my mother and her family never decorated until Christmas Eve.  It was family lore that Santa himself brought the decorations, in addition to the gifts.

So, now you know the background, let’s get down to party planning.  Keeping with the Christmas theme, I have decided upon a gingerbread house theme.  I actually decided this the day of Clairisse’s second birthday party, which was a “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (mostly because both Rudolph’s girlfriend, Clarice, and my daughter, Clairisse, share the same name).  If you are wondering, my daughter’s first birthday party theme was “The Nutcracker” of course, after all, I am a dancer at heart.  🙂

I know I want the following things for Clairisse’s 3rd birthday party:

  1. Christmas theme of Gingerbread houses and gingerbread men persons
  2. aqua and red as the color theme
  3. craft of gingerbread houses, either real (edible) or decorative for hanging on a Christmas tree
  4. serve brunch
  5. have a party favor to hand out

In addition to the above criteria, I need to operate within a very tight budget (which means hosting at our home, for me) and be practical about my resources.

Once I have a theme and a loose idea of what to incorporate, I choose a date for the event that is at least one month out.  I love stationary and insist upon sending a formal, paper invite, as well as sending a save the date via facebook, e-mail, or e-vite.  I try to keep this guideline in mind, but sometimes life gets in the way.  Before sending invitations, I scour the internet for invites that I like and deals, coupon codes, etc….  I also use free printable invitations sometimes, if I find a design that is perfect and I have time to print, cut, and make. I generally need between 10 and 15 invites.  My children are still relatively young, so only my adult friends and their children, and of course, our family are invited.  Also, since I am hosting in my modestly-sized home, I try to keep the event small.  This year, I received notification of a ‘get 10 free holiday cards free’ promotion via Tiny Prints.  Here Is what I chose:

(Click image for link to this product via Tiny Prints)

Cute, huh?  Yes, I realize that the invite states “Cookie Swap”, but the beauty about tiny prints is that you can customize almost anything for no additional charge.  I ordered the above after changing the banner to “Clairisse is three!”.  The free invite promotion code also included customization of the invite back with three photos of Clairisse.  I added Claire’s birth announcement photo, her first birthday cake smash, and her second birthday candle blow-out. So, I paid the $10 shipping cost and received 10 free holiday invites with tons of customizations.

I really like sending formal invites, as they set the tone for the party.  The above invite is cute and juvenile, just like Claire! But seriously, for a child’s gingerbread house party, they are perfect!  I realize that the invite colors are pink and red, but I think that still works with a little girl’s party theme that is aqua and red.  I did find a free, printable download gingerbread house invite that I wished I could have used, but I just didn’t have the time (also below).  Speaking of ‘aqua and red’, here are  the Pinterest  results for ‘aqua and red party’, just to give me (and you) some inspiration.  To keep costs down, but still have a personalized party, I search both Pinterest and the general web for free printables.  Here are some I found:

  1. By Wilma – free swallow themed (aqua and red) party printables 
  2. Titatoni – free aqua and pink/red party hat (I think the blog is in German?)
  3. The TomKat Studio – free, chevron, party circles
  4. Oh Happy Day – free pinwheel printable and tutorial
  5. Chickabug Blog – free banner/bunting (multiple sizes and easily customized)
  6. Jolly Allsorts – free mini banner/bunting
  7. Lil Blue Boo – free mini ‘happy birthday’ banner/bunting in aqua and red
  8. The TomKat Studio (again) – gingerbread house party printables
  9. One Charming Party – wonderful, free gingerbread house printable invite (thank you cards or favors perhaps?)
  10. MissyBallance – free food lables

Okay, you get the idea.  Of course, I will not end up using all of the above, but it is nice to have options.  I like to combine various resources to make my own, customized party.  Also, how much of the above I use depends upon how much free time I can squeeze out between now and the party.

I’ll keep everyone posted, as I plan further.  I use Pinterst as a place to keep my ideas.  I have found it really helpful.  In the days before Pinterest, I would save individual websites to my favorites menu and save inspiration photographs in my iPhoto program. Of course, in the days before then, I’d tear out of magazines and file it away in a folder or binder.

Well, that wraps up my party planning thus far.  What about you, how do you party?

Oh, forgot to mention.  Bonus points to you, if you know the song I referenced in the post.  And, EXTRA, bonus points, if you can sing (well, type) the next line!

What do you win?  Well, nothing really, except my love and admiration of your complete dorky-ness! 😛


16 thoughts on ““A Cat Had A Birthday…”

  1. floridaysmom says:

    Oh how I can relate. Colin’s birthday is the 21st of December. Its so tough. Mine is Jan 7th so I as I kid I used it to fill in the blanks of gifts I didn’t get on my xmas list. I wish my little guy’s is on the 21st, but asll we can do is embrace it. I love that you are having a full-blown Christmas Birthday for Clairisse, maybe we’ll do that one year.

    The first two years we did something special ON his birthday to make sure it was a big deal for our family (zoo year 1st year, and SeaWorld last year) and had smaller friend/family gatherings to celebrate..stacking all his Birthday gifts under the obvious Christmas tree of course.

    This year I feel like he really understand things more (also his 3rd!!!) so we are planning an actual birthday party and doing it on the 15th so there is a little break before the big holiday.

    I just got some cute invites on Zazzle.com, they were running a 50% off special and I got to have a lot of flexibility in the design. I ended up getting them printed and shipped for less than a $1 each! We decided on a construction-truck theme party and I’ve been using Pinterest’s new “secret boards” as to not give away all the details (so silly..like anyone but ME cares that much LOL)

    I can’t wait to see how Clairisse’s birthday all comes together!!

    • Wow, that is a great deal via Zazzle! Well, in all honesty, I am usually up all night for several nights leading up to the party. I also usually don’t mingle, but spend my time at the party doing party related things. Cleaning my house is a huge struggle too. Again, I usually stay up all night to get that done. Husband and kids are out of the way.

      I think I will continue the tradition of a holiday themed party until Claire is old enough to demand something else. That said, I am somewhat anti-character theme.

  2. Can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

  3. Thanks for linking up to my bunting template! : )

  4. Love how thrifty you are when it comes to party planning! And your theme, colors, and ideas all sound fantabulous. Your daughter is so blessed to have a Mama who puts so much t.l.c. into her party planning. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

    (And I can totally relate to thinking in terms of song…for me, songs from musical theatre are always swimming in my head.)

    And you totally had my head bopping while sitting in bed, procrastinating sleep. Would have LOVED to see your little ones dance to that number (and probably would have joined them).

  5. Suzz says:

    My friend Rebecca’s oven is broken … long story short, she hosted a Feliz Navidad Christmas Dinner – no oven required. Perhaps this is a theme for a future holiday/birthday party. Good luck & have fun!

  6. janemaccubbinphotography says:

    That video clip is my FAVORITE clip from Sesame Street ever. I corrupted my boys into being cat lovers too!

  7. janemaccubbinphotography says:

    My boys birthdays are in February and May – right by holidays but not near any major holidays (like my birthday – gobble gobble). My boys are so creative though – so I try to let them dictate at least some of the party – generally – it comes down to theme. (I also do this for Halloween which has proven exhausting!!).

    Once they’ve picked the theme – I get working on a date. For my older son – his birthday is in February and quite frankly – I don’t want a bunch of 6 year olds in my house when I can’t open the door and let them outside – so we often have a party outside of the home for him. (This year we are doing something much smaller – he wants a sleepover and to watch scary movies).

    For the younger – his birthday is always on or around Memorial Day – so we host a cookout.

    Birthday parties are so expensive – but they’re so much fun, too. I try to limit the junk I buy and focus on building a theme. If we do a character theme – I let myself buy 1 package of plates and napkins in that theme for the kids. Everything else is a plain color – color coordinated to the theme. Generally- these are 1/3 (or less!) of the price and no one really notices anyway.

  8. […] mentioned in a previous post, my daughter will be three on Friday and we are hosting a ‘Gingerbread House’ birthday […]

  9. […] to my trusty printer, standard household and craft supplies, and the wonderful world of free printables, I am decorating Claire’s “Gingerbread House” party for zero […]

  10. […] theme for Claire’s parties.  Makes my life so much easier for reasons I explained in a previous post. I added in the paper gingerbread men as garland to the fireplace and sprinkled paper gingerbread […]

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