Clara’s Dragon Themed Third Birthday Party

Who smells smoke? Don’t panic, that’s just Clara’s dragon party, rollin’ into town (er, the internet?). Note: you can’t really smell this party through your computer, so if you smell smoke, please look into it. This year’s party was lower key than our last two (here’s her first birthday party, and her worm party from last year) and even though it was rainy and wet outside, eight kiddos and twelve adults jammed out inside. It was fun. And Clara made me cry. She’s just so big and sweet and hilarious and I’m the luckiest mom in the world.

Plus, dragons. I mean if that’s not a trump card for a party, I’m not sure what is. After she picked worms for her party last year I wasn’t sure it got more fun than that, but when she told us she wanted dragons this year, well, we laughed and jumped right in. She even told the doctor at her three year appointment that dragons were coming to her party and I’m pretty sure he was hedging for an invite after she name dropped winged-fire-breathing-creatures.

Look at this kid of mine, holding her cousin’s hand and dragging him into the sunroom for pizza. A second after I snapped this shot, she turned to Emanuel and said “be happy! there’s pizza!”

My favorite part of the whole day was this little painting of fire that I made on foam core and taped to the wall at kid-mouth-height. Everyone could be a dragon and we snapped lots of photos of all the kids having fun with it.

Burger even got in on the action…

Some adults posed for a few pretty hilarious photos too (turns out kid mouth height is adult bum height so you can guess where I’m going).

Here’s the sunroom all decked out. No balloons and streamers this year, just a few packs of paper lanterns from the dollar spot at Target (they sell them in sets of 2 & 3). The paper tablecloth is also from Target (is has some pretty dragon-ish consummate Vs) which is also where we grabbed the plates and napkins. Then we just ordered pizza, heated up some dragon-shaped chicken nuggets (aka: dragon nuggets), sliced up some vegetables, and tossed some chips and popcorn into a few bowls.

Oh and the table is the one from the deck. We just dragged it into the sunroom and wiped it down (dang rain!) and it was all good.

Who knew sliced peppers could look so fire-like, eh? John. John knew. Apparently guys + fire = besties. And of course we had the castles that Clara painted in the background with little rubber dragons on them (snagged at Michael’s in a few tubes of 8, so they also ended up in the kids’ favors). And those flame-like sunflowers were a few bucks at Kroger (that’s a local grocery store for the non-locals). How awesome are they?! They’re like fire on a stick.

We kept the food super simple. In fact, except for baking some cookies with the birthday girl herself, we didn’t cook a thing. We really just wanted this to be an easy and casual gathering, so we didn’t go crazy cooking or decorating. Plus it’s a fun challenge to look at “party food” like chips, jelly beans, and popcorn to see if we could somehow make it dragon-ish. Here’s what we came up with:

We also played up the hot/fire-breathing thing and had some Hot Tamales and FireBalls (clearly labeled so no kiddos accidentally ate them and blew smoke out of their ears). They were a big hit with the grown ups. Meanwhile the kids rocked out with the rock candy. I thought they were fire-ish so I grabbed them at the register at Michaels (hello impulse buy).

Gratuitous sunflower shot. I love them. I hope they last a good long time so I can soak them up through the move (I’m the girl who will hold this vase on her lap in the car on moving day so they make it to the new house).

Clara’s favorites were the lanterns. She thought they were balloons and even said “I’m sad they’re going to get small” and I said “Yay! They’re paper lanterns! We can use them for every birthday for ever and ever!” Cheered her right up.

On the other side of the sunroom we temporarily removed the bike art (it was John’s idea… I couldn’t believe it!) to make a little drink station out of the expedit bookcase with Clara’s monthly photos taped up on the wall between some fire-ish bursts of tissue paper.

That’s also where I stuck the favors, which are always my favorite thing to throw together. This year I found some red tins at the dollar store that I filled with tissue paper that I cut to look like fire.

They were each filled with a pair of dragon socks that I found at Target for 99 cents, a pack of crayons, a glowing bracelet, a dollar store pinwheel (they were 3/$1) and a few of the aforementioned plastic dragons from Michael’s that also graced Clara’s painted castles on the table.

In the drink tin we had red and yellow Izze bottles for the grown ups (along with bottled water, juice boxes, and a few other beverage choices in a cooler nearby).

As for how I made the tissue paper poofs on the wall, I just smooshed them up and used one staple to hold them together in the back. One loop of painter’s tape held each of them in place between the Clara pics on the wall.

I also used a sharpie to draw a bunch of dragons on card stock and set them out on the coffee table in the sunroom with a bowl full of crayons.

Oh and we dragged out Clara’s train board, which ended up being a fun little kid zone while the parents chatted each other up.

We had planned on an outdoor “dragon egg hunt” (with a bunch of on-clearance plastic eggs that we got at Target after Easter with a few jelly beans in each one) but since it was too wet outside we hid them all over the dining room and the office. It was pretty cute watching the kids run around and grab as many as they could – especially when they were in such strange spots like under the chair cushions, behind the curtains, and even on our favorite concrete pet’s head…

As for desserts, we ordered 10 dragon cookies from Snickety Snacks (they’re like works of art – and they taste amazing!) along with making some homemade white chocolate chip cookies with Clara (we stamped them with “dinosaur footprints” right after they came out of the oven).

The cupcakes are local favorites from the grocery store (Ukrops) and I made those spikes in about ten minutes by cutting up airheads (yes, those crazy candies that look like long flat tongues). I just used a knife to cut them down the center to make two skinny strips and then cut little triangles from each row and shoved four of them into each cupcake in a spiny little line.

This picture is a small miracle. How I got the cookie in focus and caught her looking up at me, I’ll never know. Oh beansie, this makes me want to cry. How’d you get so big?!

As is the tradition, we did our best to grab a family photo. This was the best we could do, but I’ll take it.

When three of us were walking around wearing similar striped shirts, we had to snap a shot of that too. We’re practically triplets.

We also made a little Clara video like we did last year and the year before – not to show at the party, just to have so we can look back on it (and watch it with Clara, since she loves dancing along to the other two that we’ve made). So here’s her last year in less than eight minutes. My favorite parts are when she says “daddy, can I have a wipe please?” and proceeds to change Gee’s imaginary diaper. And all of the dancing parts are pretty cute too…

So Clara’s three and her dragon party was a fire-breathing good time. I can’t wait to see what she picks next year. Chickens? Ninjas? A Burger theme? Time will tell…


  1. Stefanie says

    What an adorable party! We’re having our sons birthday party at home for the first time ever this year (we’ve previously rented out places..The Little Gym, indoor soccer..etc) and I’m kind of stressing about how to keep the kids entertained and not spending a ton on decorations and such. This post was just what I needed to see to gain some confidence.

    Also, per your recommendation we tried Bottoms Up Pizza in Richmond for the first time this weekend and want to give you guys a big THANK YOU! It was delicious! After driving the wrong way down the one way street behind the building (whoops!) to find parking we sat down and enjoyed the amazing Goat in the Garden pizza. So delicious I got another medium pizza to take home with us!

    • Stefanie says

      We also hit up Diversity Thrift after seeing the truck pass us on the way from CMOR and MY GOD MAN is that place jam packed full of finds! Seriously. It was like the mother ship was calling me home. We tried to hit up Love of Jesus too but they closed at 5:00 on Saturday and we pulled in at 4:50. Boo. We did score a couple of finds at the huge thrift store across the street though.

  2. Sarah says

    Always love your party ideas! So cool to watch Clara grow up :)

    I think that the video is still marked as private on YouTube? Wouldn’t let me watch it!

  3. Jen. says

    Yay! Someone else who remembers consummate v’s! What an adorable party. Looks like tons of fun. Happy birthday, big C!

    • Lee-ann says

      That’s what popped out at me too. I loved the party theme – an awesome divergence from the typical princess theme for a young girl.

    • Anastasia says

      I know! I love Trogdor the Burninator! Home Star Runner site was a huge part of life in high school haha Teen Girl Squad is even my twitter handle <3

    • Megan says

      Yes! That’s exactly what I was coming on here to comment about! I love coming across a reference to another web-love :) Looks like a great party!

  4. says

    She has a knack for picking fun themes that are not over-done! No beach theme here… I like how everyting comes together but not in a “look there is a dragon on everything” kind of way. Looks like you guys had a great time! Happy birthday, Clara.

  5. prue says

    Oh nooo…. the video is blocked in Germany for copyright reasons! :-(
    And I was sooooo looking forward to watching it….

    • prue says

      Actually, it says the video contains contents owned by PEDL, Warner Chappell and UMG, and that one or several of these partners have blocked the video in my country for copyright reasons.
      Any ideas as to why? (sniff)

    • says

      Hmm, the only thing I can think of is that we used the song Superstar by Madonna (we usually use creative commons music) since YouTube now lets you use other songs as long as you credit them and then they toss a link up for people to buy the song from the artist. Maybe that song is blocked outside of the US? So sorry Prue!


    • prue says

      Yeees, that’ll be it….. There are differences between what’s allowed copyrightwise in the US. So far, often I’ve not been able to watch some of the TV clips or other videos (I think) that you sometimes link to, but not your own videos as, as you said, you usually use creative commons media.

      Well, never mind. Thanks for the dragony birthday report anyway :-D

    • says

      We’d love to upload a version without that song for you guys who can’t watch it! We’re at the new house today trying to finish up on painting the trim, but we’d love to get a new video up for you guys later if we have a moment!


  6. says

    I agree with Clara – love the lanterns! I really should stop by that Target $1 spot more often. Those lanterns are great for any age. You really are so creative – I love the photo opp “fire” and how you came up with dragon themed names for the food. You got some adorable photos, too!

  7. Liz E. says

    I don’t know where to start! You’re the best parents ever! Clara’s one lucky girl, and you two are lucky parents to have such an amazing kid :)

    The party looks like it was a blast! So creative and heartfelt. And I chuckled when I read your smoke disclaimer at the top. I can’t wait to exercise my creative muscles one day :)

  8. Kelsey says

    I said consummate V’s! CONSUMMATE! Geez, guy wouldn’t know majesty if it came up and bit him in the face.

    Clara’s party looks like it was very majestic, though. ;)

    • says

      Oh man, I’m a sobber at these things. And the fact that John makes them and edits them together makes me cry even harder. Love my girl and my sweet man. Sniffle… oh here I go!


  9. says

    Aw man, I’ve been craving rock candy for the past few months and those pics aren’t helping! The only place I know that sells the stuff is my hometown zoo three hours away. I’m about to break down and make me own, which I tried once as a child with disastrous results.

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