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Carnival Party – Part 1: Games and Prizes

I recently put together a total DIY carnival party for my daughter’s 3rd birthday and had a great time doing it!  This type of party takes a little bit of planning, but with so many fun carnival ideas and details to work with, you can really exercise your creative mind and have lots of fun putting it all together.

I had signs in the front yard, directing guests to enter through the side gate.  On the side gate, I hung personalized admission tickets which had each of the child’s name on it.  The tickets were later collected and entered into a “Door Prize” drawing.

We had around sixteen kids at the party,  most of whom were between the ages of  3 and 7.  I had a variety of carnival games set up including the basket toss, duck pond, ring toss, can toss, fish bowls, fishing and dinosaur dig.  I wasn’t sure how some of the younger kids would do with the games,  but as it turned out, all the kids had a fun time at every booth.  The great thing about these games is that they can easily be modified to make it easier or more challenging, depending on the age of the child.

For the Dinosaur Dig, I filled 20 plastic eggs with toy dinosaurs and left about 40 empty, then buried as many as I could under the sand.  The object was to have the kids dig in the sand to find the eggs which contained the dinosaurs.  For the Duck Pond, the kids had to find the one duck with the star marked on the bottom.  And for the fishing game, the kids had to reel in all the yellow, red or blue fishes, which ever color they preferred.

Tickets were handed out at each booth, and so long as the child played, they were given a ticket.  The tickets were later traded in at the prize table for goodies such as glow in the dark wands, Pez dispensers, wind-up toys, bubble necklaces, tattoos and more…..

Personalized bags were handed out to each child before they started collecting all their prizes.

It was fun just to watch both the older and younger kids collect their tickets and exchange them in for their prizes! I had a friend man the prize table just to ensure each child received one of every prize available.

Besides the carnival games, I also put out some potato sacks and hula hoops.

Overall, the games and activities were a hit with the kids.  We were so fortunate to have nice, sunny weather that day — perfect for a little girl’s carnival birthday party.

Stay tuned for part 2 — cake, cookies and more….

Cool Treats – Honey Dew Popsicles

My kids love popsicles and although they’re one of the easiest things to make, we used to never make them because of the time it’d take to wait for them to freeze.  I don’t know about your kids, but it’s all about instant gratification with mine!  So when I saw the Zoku Quick Pop Maker last summer, I had to give it a try.

We’ve had the Zoku for two summers now and my kids and I are still lovin’ it.  The popsicle below was inspired by the “Summer Morning” recipe from the Zoku Quick Pop book.  The recipe called for honeydew, lime juice, basil leaves and sugar, but since I didn’t have any basil on hand, we made ours using honeydew, lime juice and some mint leaves — it was a fantastic and refreshing treat.

My two favorite things about the Zoku:  1.)  I don’t have to make the kids wait half a day to eat a popsicle they’re craving to have “now” (the pops are frozen and ready in about 10 minutes) and 2.) I love that I can use freshly blended fruits and make the popsicles as sweet as I want (or in my case, don’t want).

Below is another popsicle I  made a while back using pureed watermelon, lemon juice, pureed honeydew and a few little chocolate chips.  I love all the different types of pops you can make with the Zoku and the kids love watching it freeze right before their eyes!

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

If you don’t have an ice cream maker (or don’t want the extra chore of pulling one out), then this will be perfect for you!  It only requires that you have a food processor or blender, and that you have frozen strawberries and some heavy cream on hand.  The best part? It only takes 5 minutes to make (maybe 10 minutes if you include clean up time)!  How great is that????

I printed this recipe from the internet a year or two ago and just tried it for the very first time the other day.   I wish I’d tried it earlier because it was bursting with strawberry flavor and was delicious, not to mention it was a breeze to make.

5 Minute Strawberry Ice Cream

10 oz frozen strawberries

2/3 C heavy cream

1/4 C sugar*

Directions:  Add the sugar, half  the cream and half the strawberries into the blender or processor and process until it’s roughly chopped.  Add the remaining strawberries and cream and continue to process until it’s smooth.  You can enjoy it immediately or pop it into the freezer for a bit (that is, if you have the discipline to wait).

* The original recipe called for 1/2 C sugar, but I find that most recipes are too sweet and always end up reducing the sugar when I’m making it for my family.

My daughters love helping me make this and can barely wait to eat it all up afterwards!  Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as they do!

Recipe adapted from Pamela Euless-Barker

A “Fairy” Adorable Cake

My friend Jill (The Uncommon Cake)  made this lovely cake for her daughter’s birthday.  It was so cute I had to share it with you!  Unfortunately, I only had my iPhone on me so the photo doesn’t do it much justice.  Everything on the cake was simply adorable, including the sparkly fairy dress and wings.  And if you could’ve tasted it…..mmmmm….. the top tier was a lemon raspberry cake and the bottom was a carrot cake.  I couldn’t resist and had to give both a try — both were delicious!!!

Party: Flower Themed Luncheon

Here are some images from a “Welcome Home Baby” luncheon I recently put together.

What’s not to like about finger sandwiches and sweet little treats?

For party favors, I stayed with the flower theme and purchased some sweet-smelling Alyssum.  I transferred them to small terracotta pots and presented them in 2″ boxes which were jazzed up using printed polk-a-dot paper, twine and a simple tag.  They were great as both table decor and party favors!

Bye-bye Sharpies!  These little matching cup labels were a much nicer way to help guests identify their drinks.

And of course, here’s the invitation I designed that got things rolling…..

Shark Attack Bento

I don’t always have the time to make fun snack boxes for my kids, but when I do, I love to pull out my cookie cutters and see what I can come up with!  So far, this is one of my favorite creations so I thought I would share it with you…. isn’t he the cutest shark you’ve ever seen?  (And in case you’re wondering, he’s made out of a purple potato!)

Watermelon Aqua Fresca

Since summer officially started last week, I thought I would share a recipe for a nice and refreshing summer drink with you.  What I like about this drink is that it’s not too sweet (unlike most other juices) and because watermelon is full of water,  it actually quenches your thirst.  I typically don’t like juices, but this blended watermelon drink is one I definitely enjoy having on a hot summer day.

Watermelon Aqua Fresca

5 cups watermelon, cubed

1 cup strawberries, hulled

juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 cup water

1 TBSP agave or honey  (optional)

Put everything into a blender and process until smooth.  For the most refreshing taste, make sure it is well chilled before you serve it.

This is a great drink for kids and adults and is perfect for any luncheon, party or barbecue.

An Apple for the Teacher

No, not your typical apple, but a chocolate apple….

I saw these apples at Purdy’s Chocolates and thought I would use them to show how you can take a simple, store-bought item and easily turn it into a more personalized gift.

By placing the apple inside a wooden basket and adding items such as raffia, colored twine and a matching card,  I was able to add some interest and create a fun little presentation.

Since my oldest daughter had so many teachers this year, I ended up putting a couple of these baskets together (along with the galvanized buckets I had done from the previous post) for year-end gifts.   I joined in with a couple of wonderful moms from her class and the final product included the apple, some cookies, and a gift card to Starbucks — it  was adorable!