Holiday & Entertaining

A Few Leafy Fall Themed Baby Shower Ideas

Alternate punny title: Leaf it to me. Oh yeah, there’s nothing like a little corniness on a Tuesday afternoon. I blame it on being downright giddy to have power again. Ohthankgoodness. Anyway, this weekend before the chaos that was Irene I actually helped with a little bridal shower for our cousin Megan who is getting hitched this fall. John’s mom hosted the sweet informal gathering at her place, and each one of the daughters (and in this case, me the daughter-in-law) were asked to bring a few things. I was in charge of a bowl of candy, and a little bit of table decor. Nothing too crazy, just a few small touches to hopefully get people into the fall spirit (as inspired by Megan’s pretty fall-ish wedding invitations):

Of course I took it as an opportunity to get all craft-tastic (I tried to resist, but I was powerless against the draw of Michael’s). First I grabbed $2.50 worth of colored paper in a few pretty fall-ish colors. Then when I got home I googled “leaf pattern” and sketched out a few different leaf outlines onto a piece of white cardstock with a pen (I just free-handed them, but you probably could trace them right off the computer screen too). Were they perfect? Nah. Were they leaf-esque? Sure.

Then I cut them out. It didn’t take ten seconds, but it wasn’t too bad. Maybe five minutes for ten of them. I recommend watching Real Housewives Of NJ in the background to keep morale up.

Then I used each cardstock leaf as a template and traced it onto one of my colored craft papers with a black pen. I actually ended up tracing each one a few different times and crowded them in so I’d get as many leaves as possible from each sheet of paper. And yes, I did crack insanely bad jokes like “hey John, leaf me alone” as I went. He was not amused.

Then I stacked an extra sheet under the one that I traced my leaf shapes onto (so I could cut each leaf out once, but get two out of the deal – each in a different color thanks to the stacked paper). Then I did the rest of my sheets in the same way (tracing the shapes on the top page and stacking the paper so I could cut it once and get a few leaves out of it). Total time spent: an episode of Real Housewives. And surprisingly (because I half expected this crazy spurt of craftiness to be a total bust), the varied colors and shapes ended up being pretty darn cute.

I mean they’re not über upscale and spendy looking (Posh might not demand them at her next shindig), but they’re sweet and charming in that homemade full-of-love sort of way. Which seems to work when you’re casually gathering with family on a stormy day to celebrate love, love, and more love. I ended up sprinkling them down the middle of the table to make a little leaf runner of sorts.

Not bad for $2.50.

Then came my weird M&M project. I thought tracking down some sort of candy in fall tones could be sweet in a clear cylinder vase (of which we have many, leftover from our own wedding). So when I came across two bags of brown, red, and yellow peanut butter M&M’s at Target, I took the bait and bought them (for around $5 total). Then I sorted them by color in three bowls and stashed each tone in a different ziplock bag so I could bring them with me to the party already-sorted. Oh yeah, and wash your hands before you touch all the candy. In case you’re wondering, I watched last week’s Design Star during this part of the process (I’m hopelessly behind on that show – don’t ruin this week’s episode because we haven’t seen it yet).

Once I arrived at the party, my big M&M arranging finale took ten seconds. I just poured the pre-sorted brown ones into my big glass cylinder vase, followed by the pre-sorted red and yellow ones. Bing, bam, boom.

I probably can’t take any credit for the fact that everyone scarfed them down (peanut butter M&Ms are irrefutably addicting in their own right) but Megan and the other ladies seemed to enjoy the little layered look. Weird candy separating mission accomplished.

I also grabbed eight glasses from Target (sold for $2.99 for a set of four, so I spent under $6 total) and John’s mom just took a few clippings from two potted mums that she already had on the front porch to make eight mini bouquets to fill our glass “vases.” I loved the idea of using already-owned potted mum clippings because there are about a million blooms covering them, so it’s way more bang for the ol’ buck. We probably would have needed to buy at least four bouquets of flowers to fill the eight vases that our two mums easily covered with plenty of blooms to spare (we tried to clip from the perimeter/underside of them, so the remaining plants will still look nice and fresh out on the porch for a few more months).

So with the cups-turned-vases filled with mums and my little paper leaves spread down the center of the table like a festive little runner, it was time for one last touch. Oh yes I did buy six little glittery faux pinecones from Michael’s for 50 cents a pop. Guilty as charged. I can’t help it. I’m like a magpie when it comes to shiny things. Especially shiny fall-ish things in the golden color palette of the leaves from Megan’s wedding invitation. They conveniently came on a little wire (I think they’re made to be stuffed into bouquets or wreaths) so I just stuck them randomly into a few of the little mum vases (which we sent home with each guest as a small party favor).

It was a sweet little party. Even though it was rainy and gross outside, it was warm and happy inside. And I don’t mean to harp on odd things like glittery pinecones (I’m from Jersey, ok? Maybe that explains it), but they seemed to be quite the hit.

Oh and check out this cute thing John’s mom put together. We all played one of those how-well-do-you-know-the-bridge-and-groom games, and she hunted down fall-colored ribbons and tootsie pops to tie on top of each clipboard, which she also sent home with each guest. So yeah, come to our family’s showers if you want to leave with vases of flowers, glittered pinecones, ribbon slash tootsie pop riddled clipboards, and M&M hangovers. Do we know how to party or what?

My favorite part of the whole celebration was when Clara and her cousin Jake serenaded us. Once again proving that random is good. Bring on the paper leaves and faux pinecones! And don’t forget that baby solo to end things with a bang.

Oh and because you know I love a little budget breakdown, here are all the supplies I grabbed:

Not bad for eight flowering favors in little glass vases, a festive fall-inspired table runner o’ leaves, and a quirky color-coded dish of M&Ms. I just liked that it felt more Megan-specific to DIY a few things than run to party city and spend $20 on plastic tablecloths and crepe paper. But enough about my insane propensity for faux nature and glittered anything (why yes I did own a bedazzler in ninth grade). Have you guys whipped up any crafty little homemade-with-love party decor? Ever arranged candy by color? I think that takes a special kind of crazy. And I’m happy to wave my little yes-I-sorted-M&Ms-by-hand freak flag nice and high.

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Party Planning: Clara’s First Birthday

Clara’s big birthday shindig is tomorrow! Along with her actual birthday. It seems utterly insane to think that this time last year she was just arriving. Oy, how time flies. And since so many of you were asking for par-tay details I figured I’d toss up a quick little pre-party-prep post about all of my “supplies” for the bean’s big day. You’ll have to excuse me if you think I’m going overboard. I’m just a little obsessed with our girl and we’re so honored and excited to celebrate her first year here (more on the reasons for my über appreciative b-day behavior here).

First I made Martha’s ubiquitous paper poms with tissue paper and some string in our three main party colors (blue, green, and pink- just like her nursery).

You’ll probably remember those colors from her invite (which we made here). Those hues are based on her bedroom- she just loves blue, green, and a hint of pink. At least for now. She’ll probably go through a goth black-loving phase someday so I’ll take pink, blue, and green while I can.

Now we have a handy little numbered photo. Because we all know I like listing stuff. Explanations below.

  1. This is a cloth party hat that gets passed around our entire family for every child’s birthday. It was last worn in October by Clara’s older cousin Emanuel on his first birthday and she’s been eying it ever since.
  2. This is the birthday fabric that we designed on Spoonflower for Clara’s 52 week photo. We also plan to use that as a backdrop for a little photo station where everyone at the party can stand and hold those white pieces of paper with colored borders while they pose for a pic. We plan to take each photo and add the person’s name on the blank piece of paper in Photoshop and make a little album for Clara so she can start to learn and see names like “Granny” and “Nona” (her two grandmas) and look back to see everyone who came to celebrate her.
  3. Here are the fun patterned napkins and plates that we got from Party City on sale. Since our party’s “theme” is based vaguely on Clara’s weekly photos (which inspired her invitation) we thought the patterned napkins and plates looked like a background we would have chosen for one of her weekly shoots.
  4. Those are giant punch balloons that we grabbed from Target (I thought they’d look fun hanging from the trees on the patio if it doesn’t rain on my parade party).
  5. These are the two banners I’ve made (one a long time ago with paper, and one recently with my stubborn sewing machine) full of fun patterns and colors that also remind us of backdrops for those weekly pics.
  6. Here we have piles of pink, blue, and green balloons from Target that I’d love to blow up and make into huge balloon garlands to be swagged around outside (or inside if it rains).
  7. Those are two tablecloths in pink and blue. Just to cover things like odd outdoor tables that don’t match and to add more pops o’ color.
  8. This is a festive table runner that I made with some of Clara’s weekly fabrics (just like her quilt, but it was way faster and easier- I’ll post the detailed instructions for ya soon).
  9. Then we have some sidewalk chalk to entertain the kiddos out on the patio. And next to that are little containers of bubbles shaped like ice cream cones (from Target) that will serve as favors for our wee guests (I want to personalize them with each of their names).

I still have to make her smash cake and arrange for the rest of the food, but that shouldn’t be too hard (famous last words?). Oh and we’re going to make a little time capsule that guests can add stuff to for her to open when she’s 18. That should end up being hilarious. I hope.

Operation Start Blowing Up All Those Balloons is about to commence.

We also mentioned that we wanted to DIY a piñata a while back, but the jury is still out on whether it’s going to work. So far I made paper maché (mixing approximately two parts water to one part flour)…

… and blew up one of those punch balloons from Target that wasn’t in our color scheme (the orange one)…

… and cut a bunch of newspaper strips…

… which I paper machéd to the big balloon…

… which I then let dry a bit overnight and then hung outside this morning to hopefully speed up the drying process (since it was still soggy and looking a bit – uh – questionable). Might be a wop-wop project. We’ll have to see.

I still have to let it dry, pop the balloon, fill it with little toys or candy, and add ruffled tissue paper all over it so it doesn’t look like a big goiter (we actually want to make it a pull string piñata since that works well for smaller kids but we’ll have to see how it goes and post details if we get ‘er done).

But more nerveracking than my homemade piñata’s fledgling looks is the forecast. Boo. What’s the deal with the whole scattered t-storms thing?

Please for the love of balloons in trees and bubble yielding ice cream cones, let it be clear and sunny-ish for just two early afternoon hours. Then it can rain cats and dogs all night.

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