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 (it 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.
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…
Liza D. says
Aww, it’s all so beautiful! Makes me want a lil girl just so I can plan birthday party themes. My two boys are too “grown” for them, so they tell me lol. Clara is adorable and so grown up….how time flies! Sigh…
HAHA you linked to strongbad. I saw the consummate Vs comment and was like, no they didn’t, haha yes you did. That made my morning. :)
Happy 3rd birthday Clara, it looks like it was awesome!
Cutest party ever ever ever!!!! I don’t know how, but you always seem to think of everything. :)
What an awesome theme! Would it be lame to throw a dragon party for a 31st birthday? I’m, um, asking for a friend.
Haha, you’re never too old for dragons!
Where did you find the pink and yellow lanterns? I’m planning my daughter’s first birthday and those would be perfect.
Those are from the Target dollar spot! They sell them in packs of 2-3!
How did you hang the lanterns?
They’re just hung with white string from my sewing box (taped to the windowsill above).
I already loved you but the consummate v’s reference took me back to high school and strong bad emails…love it!
That video is so adorable and touching, Clara’s little voice is so cute and her dance moves are hilarious! Great job John!
Lydia K says
I love how in your world this is a “low key” party! The attention to detail and the execution of the theme is amazing. As always, you guys are the cutest family and such an inspiration! Happy Birthday, Clara!
Sam Frank says
Love the party decor, and how easy-breezy the whole she-bang seemed! And I ESPECIALLY love the Homestar reference! That really brings me back to the early aughts, haha!
Love, love, love! Thank you for sharing pictures and the video! I feel like we’re all watching Clara grow up together! I get totally inspired by your creativity :) She is one lucky lady to have such amazing parents! She seems happy, well-rounded, and pretty much awesome so… GOOD JOB! <3
I think your flowers are actually gerbera daisies (my absolute favorite flower). I would have probably never known their name if I hadn’t worked in a florist shop in college. They always come in such bright, happy colors!
And if my post ends up being a repeat of someone else’s, sorry about that!
Really?! They were so big and had those thick stems like sunflowers (and I think the sign said sunflowers too). They appeared to be dyed though! But maybe they were daisies in disguise :)
I work at a flower store and those are definetly sunflowers. Gerberas look much different. Both are beautiful though!! :-)
“So here’s her last year in less than eight minutes.”
It actually lasts around six and a half minutes, and after that it’s another minute and a half of black silent screen. Otherwise it’s very charming as all of your videos :)
Oh yeah, no idea what that is! John thinks since the song track was still there on mute it made the video longer!
Diane @ Vintage Zest says
Man, this is super cute! I love the fire on the wall, the dragon egg hunt, and so much of this party. Are you sure that you don’t have a side job as a party planner?
PS: Here in the UK “fanny” means vajayjay and not butt . . . just thought you might like to know . . .
Thanks Bethie! Someone else said that too! I think you guys say bum? That’s what we meant ;)
Linda Bernstein says
I may or may not have gotten completely teary-eyed at that video. Clara is growing up to be such an awesome person! It’s really cool to be able to take that journey with you guys and watch her grow. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLARA!
Oh my God, Strongbad reference FTW!!!
Cara @ Chic meets Healthy says
Happy Birthday Clara!!
I feel like I was just following along with her worm themed birthday yesterday! She knows how to pick the perfect theme and you guys are awesome at pulling it off! I can’t wait to see what’s in store next year!
claire Murray says
Your Trogdor reference just made my day! Party looked great!!
Aww, I love this! And you’re right – she’s growing up so fast! Thanks for sharing her with all of us readers over here. Happy birthday Clara!!
“be happy! there’s pizza!” My new favorite saying!! HA!!
Adorable party ~ great family photo.
Would you be totally offended if I edited the cookie picture in photoshop? Like color corrected of and such? It’s such an awesome shot and would do really well with some tweaks. If you want to email me the bigger file of it I can edit that.
Ooh I’d love that! It’s on John’s computer so we’ll try to email it to you a little later :)
The Trogdor reference is pretty much the best thing ever. :)
I gotta say…your idea of a “low-key” party beats the pants off my “go all out” version! It was all so adorable and creative. Love it! Good job!
Aw thanks Angie! You’re so sweet.
Great party!!! So creative!!!
Happy Birthday Clara! I have a little Taurus and they are so alike with their unique interests. :)
You guys always do such an awesome job with birthday parties; what a lucky little girl you have! They grow up so fast, enjoy these moments!
Christina @ Homemade Ocean says
It just blows my mind that she is three….what the heck. Where did these three years go? Slow it down Clara!
I love that y’all put together a really fun party with several cute details and involved Clara in the planning, but still kept it low key. In the age of Pinterest, I think that is very admirable. :)
I cant remember if i have ever commented before, but i follow your blog religiously and I am truly, truly impressed w/ your creativity and budget saving wows. I’d like to borrow that dragon fire wall idea for a future birthday :) What a great birthday!
I love how your parties are always so fun and beautiful, but simple too. You make me feel brave enough to throw a birthday party for my kids ;)
PS: I do think some of those adult fire pics should be posted, hehe.
Haha! They swore me to secrecy!
You guys are awesome parents. Not that there was ever any doubt, but so many people make parenthood look hard (and I’m sure it is), but you guys also make it look REALLY FUN!
Happy birthday, Clara.
Kati Howell says
Thanks for that. I live in Oklahoma City, and things have been pretty dreary. This isn’t the first time Clara has put a HUGE smile on my face, or made me laugh until I’m about to cry, but today I needed more than usual! Thank you for sharing. Happy birthday, Clara!
Oh Kati, we’re sending you guys so much love! Hope you and your loved ones are safe.
So cute! Perfect room for a party! Love that you went with the theme she wanted. We had an art party for my 6 yr old this year because she wants to be an art teacher when she grows up.
That’s so sweet! I wanted to be an art teacher when I was a kid too!
Erin Rose says
Just a random comment—I think John looks similar to Lee Pace, the actor who plays Ned on Pushing Daisies :)
No way! We love that show! Never thought about it…
aww, the clara birthday videos are always my favorite! so sweet. love watching her grow up, hope you guys don’t mind she has lots of virtual “aunts and uncles” cheering her on!
Ana from Portugal says
It’s just fabulous to watch Clara as she grows into such a sweet and happy girl!
Congrats to you, and a big bear hug for Clara!
Love from Portugal!
amazing like always! I look forward to the birthday party posts every year. My son in turning 3 next week and will be having a truck/construction party.
Can’t wait to see how the new parties come together in your new house!!
Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms says
Hmm maybe I will have a dragon birthday party myself! How awesome! I love how you keep it low key but also in theme. Adorable! Great video too!
Amelia R. says
I’m really impressed by the way you work with a theme but don’t end up with your party being too theme-y. I mean, you didn’t run out to the party supply store and spend a ton buying every dragon-themed balloon, plate, cup, or tablecloth in the place, and yet, it’s obviously a dragon party. Very classy.
Jennifer S says
My FAVORITE princess book of all time is The Paper Bag Princess…and a dragon is one of the main characters. It is a light hearted book, but it actually has some very valuable life lessons in it…
Off to check it out!
Very cool theme…loved the video. You two have created such a cool life, I agree with the earlier comment, Clara is one lucky girl!!!
I’m not even done reading this post, I just got so excited at the “consummate V’s” reference I had to comment. Because you KNOW I read it in the Strong Bad voice. That website was my jam back in the day!
Haha, I’m comforted that you did the voice.
Thanks for the homestarrunner reference! Haven’t seen that in YEARS!!!
Sarah from a fine line says
This is the perfect kid party. It’s adorable and thematic enough for the kids to get really into it, over the top adorable without breaking the bank (im guessing). I love it so much. I’m planning my soon to be 3 year old’s PURPLE southern style bbq party and feeling very inspired by Clara’s. Please please please share where Clara’s dress came from. I’m looking for exactly that, only in purple of course.
That was from Old Navy a while back! Hope it helps!
So lovely the party!
You should have posted this yesterday! (it was my daughter 2nd birthday)…
But what I loved the most on this post was the video! really! So sweet… Maybe I’ll try to do one for my girl! Any tips on that?
Happy Birth day Clara (it was on 14th may, right?)! And Congratulations for the parents that are doing a great job!
We used to use iMovie to edit those (it comes free with a Mac) but now we use Final Cut Pro. They’re both pretty simple to use once you get the hang of them. They take some time to splice everything together (music + photos + video) but John loves making them each year! I’d just set aside a nice long chunk of time to try to learn how to use the program and then hopefully it’ll come together as you go :)
OMG — “I said consummate Vs!” Haven’t seen that vid in wayyyy too long. Love you guys!
How fun! My daughter who just turned 3 also had a Dragon party this past April. It must be a trend :)
Oh my gosh. So I’m pregnant, and it seems like I get a new batch of hormones delivered every week. That video just did me in. Tears, snot, the works. Clara’s such a beautiful, special girl!
The party looked so cute — I think the dragon spikes on the cupcakes are my favorite. It looks like you guys did a great job, even with the rain!
Aw you’re so sweet Cori!
Love the video! That picture of Clara eating the cookie is great! The party looked like fun too. My daughter was born in Richmond (22 yrs ago…my how time flys) and Ukrops was a favorite place. Remember my husband stopping in to buy half cakes and other goodies almost nightly while my mom came up to help out with our 3 year old and new baby. All the weight mom was working off chasing my son around was put back on right away but it was soooo yummy!! Really miss that store.
Mmm, their cupcakes are the best! They actually got bought out by Martins but RVA folks rioted and Martin’s agreed to always have a Ukrops bakery to keep selling the cupcakes and cookies and cakes :)
Clara is so on trend with the Dragons, very Khaleesi of her.
Haha! Except less nudity. This was the G-rated version of Game Of Thrones. Also no creepy crows with one eye…