homemade strawberry cupcakes (with toppers from thepaperplayground)
Here's one thing I pulled off recently, however. My daugher's fourth birthday party. She loves strawberries, and decided she wanted a "Strawberry Party". Not a Strawberry Shortcake-character party, mind you - just a Strawberry party. And, of course, how can I resist? I do love having a good theme to work with.
For the first time ever, rather than making my own invitations, I had someone else do it. Primarily because as I was searching Etsy for all things strawberry, I found a set by Etsy seller thepaperplayground that were perfect. I asked myself, "Self, when you're seven months preggo and someone's already created exactly what you're looking for, why recreate the wheel?" Kristen (of thepaperplayground) created this whole suite of hand-stamped invitations, thank-you cards, cupcake toppers, and paper favors (with a sweet message and candy inside), all with my strawberry theme. And she was super-nice and helpful to boot. What more can a girl ask for?
I decided on a palette of red, pink, and lime green. I wanted to make sure to include the lime green so that it didn't look too much like a Valentine's party. That being said, it didn't hurt that her birthday was just a few weeks before V-day - there were so many things in the right colors available for decor, and especially for favors - so it worked out perfectly.
A tiny disclaimer: my husband took every single one of these photos for me (thanks babe!)...however, he had two things working against him: 1) a new camera, on which he is still trying to figure out the best settings, etc. 2) the inability to read my mind. (I was busy running around until the very last minute - wait, running is a slight exageration...waddling is more like it - and didn't have time to give specific instructions as to what I would like to have photographed. So, what you see is what I got.)
We decided on a menu that was entirely strawberry. Peanut butter and strawberry-jelly sandwiches, strawberry lemonade, chocolate-covered strawberries, and strawberry cupcakes. I used a cookie cutter to make heart-shaped sandwiches (and ate the crusts as I went along).
The favors were so fun (and inexpensive!) to put together. I got the baskets at the Dollar Tree - two for a dollar - and almost everything else came from the dollar section at Target. Ohmyword I LOVE the dollar section at Target! They really came through for me on this one. Little Strawberry Shortcake pens and pencils, bracelets, and stamps. I would spend a dollar and get a package of six items (I had six little girls, so that was perfect) and split them between the baskets. They even had tiny grow kits - I'm not kidding - a tiny terra cotta pot with soil and - wait for it - strawberry plant seeds. I threw in a handful of strawberry candies from the dollar store, and the cutest little handmade favors - paper strawberries with a message on the outside and strawberry candy on the inside - also by thepaperplayground, and voila! We also had plenty of extra balloons, so we sent one of those home with each girl as well. I figured that each loaded favor basket cost a total of maybe $3 altogether. I was loving life.
I also provided two crafts for the girls to work on. Target (again) had these little picture frame sets in the dollar section that I bought for the girls to personalize with stickers, glitter, and stick-on jewels. Next, they put together some jewelry. I found these bead kits on after-Christmas clearance at Michael's and the girls made bracelets, necklaces, and key-rings. That ended up being fairly labor-intensive for the mommies, but I think the girls really enjoyed it. (And what wouldn't we do for our kids?!)
I wrapped a clear glass vase in pink tulle ribbon, and put in a bouquet of berries that I think are used mostly for filler - but ya know, they resemble tiny strawberries! So no boring old roses for us - we chose the berries (from Costco, butofcourse) for a charming little detail that probably no one else noticed or appreciated but ourselves. But hey - a good party is all in the details - whether they're noticed or not!
I found these adorable little truffles in the right colors - some even had little strawberries on top - that were actually tiny candles. Supposed to be Valentine's decor, but they worked great for a strawberry party, too.
Candy in jars is always a good standby when you'd like to carry a color theme around a room. Here's the shrine to my daughter - a couple of photos of her, plus candy. Of course!
Strawberry Dreams tutu by Etsy seller tiarastutus
I made a banner for the mantle, although I'm bummed that I can't show you a close-up (I don't have one). I found these paper doilies at the dollar store - a package of 24 for a dollar! I bought some oval ones and some rectangular ones. They were the perfect size for cutting letters and strawberries out of scrapbook paper, pasting them on the doilies, and then stringing it along the front of the mantel. You can't tell, but I even glittered the strawberries. I don't have a lot of patience for small crafty things these days, so I was pretty proud of myself for that one.
Strawberry Dreams tutu by Etsy seller tiarastutus
And lastly, a most important question. What should the Party Girl wear? After much (enjoyable) browsing again on Etsy, I discovered this amazing Strawberry Dreams Tutu by tiarastutus that I had custom-made in my daughter's size and preferred length. It had plenty of pink tulle, with little bits of green tulle like strawberry leaves and black rhinestones on the skirt to simulate strawberry seeds. It even had a matching hairbow with strawberry on it! Oh my. How could I not buy it?
But the cherry (strawberry?) on top of this whole thing was my daughter's reaction. (She just turned four, mind you.) She was so genuinely grateful and excited about each and every element of the decor and the party that it made it all more than worth it. At one point, when she saw my handmade banner, she said, "Oh, it's so beautiful! I might cry because I'm so happy!" And it was totally genuine and not melodramatic (if you can believe it!). She really was so thankful for everything, that I found myself trying to freeze those moments in my memory forever...while simultaneously praying that she'll never change and will always have that grateful spirit. So, it wasn't easy to pull off in my large and grumpy state, but it was MORE than worth it. Man, I love that kid.