I think this was one of the funnest parties we’ve done so far! The weather was (almost) perfect, the décor turned out great, the food was good, and the kids had fun. What more can you ask for?
As usual, I started planning this one waaaaay in advance. I searched Pinterest for ideas and decided on a vintagey surfer theme; I searched EBay, Etsy, Party City, and Dollarama for party stuff; and I got some major clearance bargains at Michaels.
C’s actual birthday nearly always lands on the last day of school. This is a nightmare. You can’t plan the party any time in the month of June because it’s end-of-school-insanity, and you can’t plan it for the day after school ends because a surprising number of people start their going-away vacations immediately.
He turned 11 this past summer, and it’s taken me that many years to find a time that does work: the end of summer. Most people are back from their vacations, the weather is good, and everyone is eager for one last party before the drudgery of school begins!
My son picked the friends he wanted to invite near the end of the school year, and made sure he got their phone numbers and mailing addresses. Then, when the date was picked and all of the supplies were bought, we were able to send out the invitations.
I made the invitations with scrapbooking papers and cardstock, as usual. I had to borrow a friend’s letter stamps for the words, since I didn’t have any big enough! Inside was the usual info on what, when, where, etc. I think they turned out pretty good.
The morning of the party dawned beautiful and sunny, but there was a chance of rain in the forecast. Too bad for me! I knew it would take way too long to decorate and set up after we came home from swimming, so I would just have to hope for the best. Obviously I didn’t put any food out; but the table, “Surf Shack” sign, and paper lanterns were all ready to go when the guests arrived.
I bought the huge bamboos at Rona (The DH cut them to the right sizes for me), made the sign out of corrugated cardboard and spray paint, got the “grass” table skirt at Party City (most expensive part of the décor), bought the paper lanterns from Luna Bazaar, and I also made four surfboards out of cardboard and spray-painted them.
You can probably deduce from the photo above that it did end up raining. The sun was shining when we came home from swimming. . . to find everything soaking wet. Anything that had been spray-painted was completely fine, but the colour bled from the paper lanterns. . . onto the white tablecloth below. I had to wash that thing THREE TIMES afterward to get it completely white again!
But such is life, and the rain actually helped straighten out the paper “grass” skirt so that it hung more nicely. I was impressed that it didn’t rip! That’s some quality paper.
After drying a few things off, I was able to put the food out and just relax.
I’m so happy with how this whole set-up turned out! I’ve finally learned that you get the most impact by concentrating your decorations in a single spot, rather than spreading them around.
It should be apparent that the party colours were blue, green, orange, and white. I already had the white tablecloth (which I use for almost every single occasion), and I draped a fishnet decoration from Michaels (50% off coupon!) over it for more interest. You can see the surf boards I made in this pic, and I filled in any gaps in the table décor with both real and faux tropical plants; as well as coconuts, sea shells, and starfish; most of which I already had.
If I could change just one thing, I would have hung the lantern clusters on each end at the same height as the others, instead of just hooking them over the sign. I think that would have looked better (but of course I didn’t even notice it until I was going through the photos afterward).
On to the themed food!
Vintage sodas from a local grocery store. I think you can usually find them at convenience stores like 7-11 as well.
These were both a bit of a fail, IMHO. The “Clamwiches” were just mini PB & J’s cut out with a clamshell cookie cutter, but you couldn’t really tell what they were supposed to be shaped like. The boys obviously didn’t care and ate them anyway.
The shark gummies. . . disappeared! Seriously, they just melted right into the Jello. At least they left their outlines on the surface, and the boys really didn’t complain about the Jello, either. Down the hatch!
These are actually called Sand Cookies! It’s an incredibly delicious recipe that I got from my Mom, who got it from my Dad’s Mom (my Oma). I used a butter knife to lightly carve the design to the unbaked cookie dough, so that they would look more like Sand Dollars, and the boys devoured these. I think there was only one left at the end of the party!
Colourful Twizzlers. I’d never had them before, and they sure were yummy! Little A had at least five!
Hawkin’s Cheezies. The BEST.
It’s a Sharkmelon! The boys thought this was totally awesome, but I’m never doing one again. I found a YouTube tutorial, and it was actually quite easy, but. . . the mess.
I even used my good grooved cutting board, but this was one juicy watermelon. I was pretty ticked at how much time I had to spend wiping up all that sticky liquid from my kitchen counter, cupboards, and floor.
Of course you have to have some kind of cake at a birthday party! C’s favourite flavour is lemon, and I had finally found an excellent recipe for a very lemony Lemon Cake, after two years of trying. I also finally tried a two-tone swirled icing technique for the cupcakes, and I love how it turned out! The plastic surfboard toppers were an EBay find, and despite all of the awesomeness that went into these cupcakes. . . only one was eaten. By me. *sigh*
At least there were plenty of leftovers, right? I do love cake. . .
This was the drinks station, tucked in behind the “Jellyfish Juice.” I always offer water in addition to any other drinks that I serve. Add some chevron-striped straws in the party colours, and you’re all set!
We also had those little tropical umbrellas for making drinks look fancy, but they were all used up by the time I took this photo. Remember: paper cups are way better for the environment than styrofoam or plastic!
All of the food labels were made out of cardstock (because it’s sturdy enough to stay standing), and I printed the words out on “Real Sand” scrapbooking paper from Michaels. I don’t usually like thin papers for scrapbooking, but they sure are great for going through a printer! I really didn’t want to hand-stamp every single label, and I don’t like my own handwriting, so I use a computer and printer when I can.
When I first put out all the food, I thought to myself, “Well I sure went overboard. This is just way too much for three boys!”
Apparently 11 is the age at which boys start to eat a lot! Really the only leftovers that we had were the cupcakes and a bit of fruit. I was pretty surprised!
And that’s pretty much all we did! Just swimming at a local pool and then eating.
It was quite relaxing, and the boys just chatted and grooved to The Beach Boys music that I had playing in the background.
Because obviously you can’t have a vintagey surfer party without The Beach Boys! My favourite album of theirs is “20 Good Vibrations, The Greatest Hits Vol. 1” It doesn’t seem to be available on iTunes, which is a real shame.
I also bought a few single tracks on iTunes for our party mix; surfer classics like “Pipeline” and “Wipeout” by the Surf Heroes.
For a beachy spin on treat bags, I got these metal pails at Michaels. I’m not a big fan of chevron, but hey, that’s what was available in the clearance section!
Each guest got an inflatable beach ball (EBay), a non-girly sea shell necklace (Party City), a pair of surfboard and palm tree sugar cookies (homemade), and a themed gummy treat stick with things such as sharks, pineapples, and octopi (homemade). I also found some very cool body boards for just FIVE DOLLARS each at Michaels. Couldn’t believe it! They were about $30 everywhere else! It was too late in the season for us to bring them to the beach and try them out, but we’re sure looking forward to it this year.
At the end of the party, I made use of those sweet surfboard props to take some pics of my kids.
Little A was just not cooperating for her mini photo shoot. She kept on being silly and moving around, and then BAM!! Photo #7 was this total perfection of Surfer Girl Attitude. Love it! (Joe Fresh had the perfect “Surf Team” T-shirt).
The birthday boy himself! I got the Hawaiian shirt second-hand on EBay, and I told you the shell necklaces were non-girly. Also, C went without haircuts all summer just so that he would have a suitably beachy-surfer look for this party; and yes, he is too cool to smile (not really). That’s real beach hair too, since we had just gone swimming and let it air-dry.
Happy 11th Birthday, Son!