Celebrations, Parties

A Super Mario 5th Birthday

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My little guy’s love of all things Mario has not faded in the past few months, so when it came time to start planning his 5th birthday he was very confident in what he wanted for his party theme.  I grew up playing Mario on original NES and knew it was something I could have a lot of fun with so I was more then happy to go along with his request.

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The invite was a simple 5″X7″ single sided card that incorporated a picture of the birthday boy in his Mario costume and the bright graphics seen in the Super Mario video games.

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The party ended up being just 4 days after we returned from our Disneyland trip so I had to be organized and do a lot of the decorating and DIY projects before we left.

To try and keep costs down after the trip, we ended up hosting his party in our home this year.  I still wanted it to be special so I used it as my motivation to complete some of the half finished projects in the basement and create a fun space for the kids to play during the party.

One big project was the painting of the racetrack on the cement floor.  Our house is plenty big enough that we don’t need to finish the basement as another living area, but I did want to make it a fun spot for the kids.  I still have touch-ups to complete, but the painted floor makes the basement feel so much more inviting and finished.

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The kids each got a Plasma Car for Christmas and they just happened to be red and green so I decided to add on the red Mario “M” and a green “L” for Luigi so the kids could have Kart races during the party.  These work great on the cement floor and I will admit to even have taken one for a spin around the newly painted track.

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The basement walls were also a blank canvas so I also decided to paint two of them with blue and green and then cut some bush shapes and printed Mario themed figures out of paper to stick overtop.  The final additions were large white clouds cut from sheets of foam core and the Mario item boxes I constructed to hang on the wall.  It turned out better then I pictured and I love that our basement now looks like something straight out of a video game!

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The brick and item boxes on the wall read out “Camden is 5”.  These were built from foamcore and contained a fun activity and surprise for the party.  I made each box as a separate box with tissue paper access for our guests to punch through and their loot bag items to spill out of.

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The loot bag items included K’nex Mario figure mystery bags, Mario themed fruit snacks, chocolate coins, bubble gum tape, finger lasers and some other small Mario candies I found in the Valentine’s section at Dollar Tree.  I also gave each guest a card game set as they were leaving.

To collect all the items that spilled out of their punch box, the kids each received one of these mushroom bags I made by gluing a paper mushroom top and eyes to a small paper bag.

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For the food table, I used a pre-printed tablecloth and partyware ordered from Birthday Express.  The centerpiece block was created from foamcore and I made piranha plants by inserting cut-out paper images into flower pots I picked up at Ikea.

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The party started at 1pm so I wanted some light snacks, rather then a full meal.  I decided on pizza rolls, pigs in a blanket and other simple kid-friendly finger foods.

One of my favorite food details was the idea I came up with to turn the Babybel cheese into Mario hats.

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The firepower veggie platter was easy to put together and a fun way to get some veggies into the kids.  Mine included yellow bell pepper, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, celery, broccoli and cucumber.  Having now planned quite a few kids parties, I have learned that the cucumber always is the first to go and I make sure to include it in any kind of veggie platter I might be making for kids.

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The piranha plant fruit skewers were simple to make and went over well with the kids.  I filled my flower pot with honey dew melon balls to stick the skewers into and threaded the grapes and strawberries onto wooden coffee stir sticks so there were no sharp points for the kids to hurt themselves with.

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For sweet treats, I had originally intended to make star shaped sugar cookies, but the Rice Krispie treats were easier and still turned out pretty cute once I piped on melted chocolate eyes.

I have become obsessed with meringue cookies and included them on the food table for my last few parties.  They are easy to whip up with just a few ingredients and can be piped into a variety of shapes like the clouds I made here.

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Chocolate Cadbury Mini Eggs labelled as Yoshi Eggs and gummy bananas with a Donkey Kong label also made for some quick and easy Nintendo themed treats on the table.

For your own printable copy of my food labels, click here: mariopartyfoodlabels_dolledupdesign

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And, of course there was birthday cake!  For the cake, I decided to use my giant cupcake pan and try to make a mushroom.  I was intending to make the top red, but the birthday boy requested his favorite color green and I didn’t see any good reason to convince him otherwise.  To make the white spots on the mushroom top, I simply took my rolling pin to some large marshmallows.  It is not perfect, but I was pretty happy with the end result.

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One final fun detail were the Hawaiian Punch drink bottles I transformed into Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach with paper labels.  They were a hit sipped up through moustache and crown drinking straws.  To see more pictures and print your own free bottle labels, please visit my Mario Party Drinks guest post over on Moms and Munchkins.

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This was a fun party to plan and I love how excited my boy got over seeing all the small details.  I am afraid I am creating a bit of a party monster, though, because as we were food shopping for the party he began picking out items and telling me how I could transform them to fit the theme.  “Just add a Luigi hat and me and my friends can have these yogurt drinks at my party!”  I absolutely love his enthusiasm and it definitely makes all the planning, painting, crafting and baking worthwhile.

Happy Birthday Camden!

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Celebrations, Gift Ideas

Backpack! Backpack! Dora Themed Gift Wrap

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Over the past year, I have been lucky to meet some very lovely ladies and their adorable children through our playgroup.  I had been in other mommy groups and classes and haven’t really clicked with anyone so I am thankful to have found these ladies and get to spend time with them on a weekly basis.  Our friendship has grown outside of the regularly scheduled playgroup now and I am so excited that we have now started to be invited to some of the kids birthday parties.

The first party we have been invited to was a Dora themed party so I wanted to find the perfect gift.  There is a lot of cheap Dora themed stuff out there so I ended up settling on a cute Disney princess dress and tea party set.  I decided I could make it Dora themed through the wrapping, so I bought a roll of purple wrapping paper and set to work!

Part 1 – “Backpack” wrapping

This idea came from purple paper bag backpack themed treat bags I have seen on the internet.  The gift I bought was a nice rectangular shape so I decided to wrap it and make it look like backpack.  I simply started by wrapping the gift as normal with purple paper.  The pockets, top flap and back straps were just folded out of the same gift wrap and taped on.  The finishing touch was Backpack’s face which I found on the internet and printed on my home computer.  It was cut out and attached with double sided tape.

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The pockets on the backpack were stuffed with Dora fruit snacks and a Dora themed activity book I found from the dollar store.  When I showed the final backpack to my 3 year old, his first questions was “where’s Map?”  With all the other stuff I had for the pockets I didn’t even think to add him, but I am so glad my 3 year old suggested it!  To make Map, all I did was print the same face I used for backpack and rolled up the sheet of paper.

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Part 2 – Helium Balloon Star

If you have been “lucky” enough to have seen an episode of Dora, you have probably seen the happy faced stars floating around.  When looking for Dora gift ideas on the internet I came across pictures of these stars and they reminded me of the star shaped helium balloons I have seen at Dollar Tree.  I know how much my 3 year old loves helium balloons so I thought this would be a nice little addition to the gift.  Unfortunately my Dollar Tree was out of the big star shaped balloons so my idea to have stars floating above backpack had to be modified to be a small star shaped balloon coming out of Backpack’s pocket.

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The balloons are cute on their own, but I figured they could use an extra Dora touch by adding faces to them.  To do this, I simply painted eyes on in whiteout and used a sharpie to draw in the mouth and eyeballs.  And then I found cute “Happy Birthday” helium balloon with Dora on it at Dollarama so I was still able to have a balloon floating above backpack!

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I love the way it turned out and was so excited to give it to the birthday girl.  She didn’t even notice the gift inside wasn’t Dora related, and her mom tells me she was asking for a princess dress anyway, so it ended up being a perfect gift all around.

Now my problem will be to come up with something equally awesome for the next party!  I think I may have set the expectations a little high.

Friday Favorites, Recipes, Sweet

Friday Favorites: Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

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I decided to bake up some quick cupcakes earlier this week for the human members of our family to enjoy on the dog’s birthday.   They weren’t supposed to be anything spectacular, but they turned out so tasty I just had to share.

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For the cake part, I just used a Mrs.Fields boxed cupcake mix from Dollar Tree.  I absolutely love these mixes and try to keep one chocolate and one vanilla on hand at all times.  They make one dozen cupcakes versus the 24 cupcakes you usually get from a standard boxed cake mix – perfect for our family of four.  The liners and cupcake toppers were a kit I found at Dollarama and had sitting around in the pantry.  The multicolored sprinkles were my 3 year old son’s addition.

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Because we had just gone berry picking the day before and I had a bunch of fresh raspberries, I thought why not add them to the buttercream icing.  After a quick google search I came up with this frosting recipe from myrecipes.com.  It whipped up quickly and tasted amazing!  It was just the right amount of sweet and tart, with a pretty pink hue.  I enjoyed it so much I may just have to make it again for my birthday in a few weeks!

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Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (almond would be delicious too!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-oz.) package icing sugar

Directions

1. Beat butter, raspberries, vanilla and salt with electric mixer (medium) until smooth and creamy.

2. Gradually add the icing sugar, blending in slowly after each addition.

BONUS FAVORITE  Since we are on the topic of Dollar stores and cupcakes, I thought I would share one more favorite – these awesome cupcake carriers I have found at both Dollarama and Dollar Tree.  I always struggle to find a way to store my cupcakes at home or take them to events so these are perfect.  At only a couple dollars each they are a lot cheaper then a lot of other versions, and I feel like I could afford to lose or leave them behind without being too heartbroken.  I only wish they had them for mini cupcakes!

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(I was going to take a picture with cupcakes in it but by the time I thought of it, the cupcakes were long gone!  They were that good.)