Trying to keep it simple...

As a follow-up to my last post, I thought I'd share some pictures of Eamon's birthday party.  In the past I would spend way too much time planning, obsessing and crafting the kids' parties.  As I've gotten older/busier/more tired, I find myself paring back a bit, keeping it as simple, yet fun and affordable as I can. This is much easier said than done for me.

Last year (below), Eamon was all about Jake and the Neverland Pirates. This year it was 101 Dalmatians. Since neither of these were on the party store's radar, I had to get creative for both and found more inspiration at the craft store than at Party City.
 I did luck out and find this mammoth Pirate balloon last year.

 a homemade banner made with scrapbook paper and twine

The makings of a pirate party: a treasure chest hunt  to fill the goody bags and a pirate hat making station.The centerpiece was one of Eamon's birthday presents.

This year:
Having a party at home sounds like an affordable alternative to having one out at a kid-friendly place, but it can so easily snowball into an expensive and slippery slope when you start adding up all the little things and food.  This year, I really tried to be conscious of not overdoing it. Here are the kiddos coloring in Patch the dalmatian for their "Pin the tail on the Dalmatian" game. I literally drew the stuffed animal you see hovering in the background onto a sheet of oak tag about an hour before our guests arrived. An artist I am not. Can you say (dripping with sarcasm of course) Mother of the Year?

Some simple favor boxes for Eamon and his cousins to be filled with goodies from the pinata.
I made the paper chain out of scrapbook paper about an hour and a half before everyone arrived, because the console needed more red. There really is something wrong with me. It's like a nervous tic.

 A rather creepy looking, yet passable Patch cake. I used a Wilton pan that I already had and some pre-colored fondant that I picked up at Michael's. 

 The tablecloth is just from a roll of white butcher block paper, taped down with black and white packing tape that was in the clearance bin at Michael's.  The spots are from a roll of chalkboard sticker paper that I cut out with my Martha Stewart circle cutter.

 this year's scrapbook paper birthday banner

Eamon's birthday wreath. 
I made this for the first time last year.  It's just printed photos of Eamon on his birthday each year which I glued to more scrapbook paper and tied to a grapevine wreath I already had.  I love this little trip down memory lane each time I open the door.

I got all of the supplies for the party's decor at Michael's or our local 99 cents store. The pinata was the only thing I purchased from Party City.

Last year I was a bit of a nut with planning the details.  This year there was a lot less of that. 
What did I learn?
  • Lots of balloons go a long way: Eamon was thrilled at the sight of them.  
  • Kids don't care where their cake comes from, a box, the store or from scratch: if it's cake and it's for them, they are usually just fine.
  • A less is more approach makes it so much easier to enjoy the party: We always let the kids pick what food they want served at their party. Eamon picked pizza. I made a phone call and tossed a salad. Easy peasy. Once I let go of the notion of a more involved or refined menu, I realized how liberating it was!
  • Follow the kids' lead: We opened presents when Eamon wanted to, had spontaneous games of freeze dance and "hot dalmatian", and let the kids just play. Everyone had a blast  without me as a cruise director.
  • Most of the decorations end up in the trash at the end of the night:  It's a good perspective check. It can still be fun and tied together without breaking the bank or buying every character item in stock (I still have Thomas birthday plates from three years ago).  I have some leftover supplies from this party, but since they're generic craft supplies (i.e. scrapbook paper, balloons, tissue paper, etc.) I know they won't go to waste.
  • It's not about me: It can be really easy for me to get wrapped up and then overwhelmed by the details, which in the end, is more about my vision, than the kids'.  They will only be little once and right now, they are still incredibly easy to please and entertain. Soon enough they will want their parties out and they will have bigger guest lists.  This year, keeping it simple helped me to keep the focus on Eamon and what made him happy. 
Lesson learned. 
Although the idea of recreating  Melody's smoothie shop from the Freshbeat Band 
did float through my mind for Neve's birthday in May, 
I will try to remember that less is more.

How and what things do you try to keep simple?

Have a great day.


Linking to:
Somewhat Simple


  1. Personally, I'd love a piece of that birthday cake! :) ...sweets, my BIG weakness!

    I cracked up on your comment about adding the red paper chain as a nervous tic! :) :) ...so me, too!

    Happy Birthday Eamon! Have fun being 4! :)

  2. I love the parties! They are too cute! Great job!


    PS thanks for the sweet comment on my Easter egg wreath!!!

  3. Wow! You are o creative! Yes, it is hard not to get carried away "for the kids" but in the end they always remember the non-material things anyway!

  4. Super cute party! I had a pirate party for my oldest last year! Love seeing the parties!

  5. I love it! That table cloth is genius, so very cute! And excellent lessons learned. I always need to remind myself of that too. And we are in crazy Fresh Beat Band mode at our house too.

  6. Cute theme and all the little touches must have added perfectly to make this a fun party.

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  8. My and my girls love a good theme party and the older one happened to be next to me when I read this post and she was all like" Pirates?! and Dalmatians?!" She loved them both and said she wanted one. Since her birthday isn't for another 8 months...we'll see when we get there.

    1. My kids are the same way, Emily. They change their minds about parties and Halloween costumes about 50 times throughout the year. Thanks for stopping by!