Lucky for me, both of my kids wanted a very similar theme for their birthday parties this year, so I got to re-use virtually all of the decorations and supplies. Way to help Mommy get major bang for her buck, kids! (Daddy appreciates it, too).
You can check out my son’s Surfer Boy Party in this other blog post, but this one is all about J’s girl version.
Poor J had to wait, once again, until after Christmas to have her friend birthday party. I had pretty much everything ready; we just couldn’t find a weekend that wasn’t busy! There were even days when I was about to make the invitations, only to have J bring one home from school, inviting her to a friend’s party on the exact date we had been planning to use. D’oh!
I used the same cardboard surfboards from C’s party, and spray-painted them in J’s party colours (while the weather was still nice last fall).
The faux tropical leaves in the tall white urchin vase were also used for both parties, as was the green side table. All I really had to buy were some leis, more beach balls, and more food!
Since J’s party was held in March, we had to do it inside. My hubby got the house toasty warm with a roaring fire in the wood stove, and I set up our living room like a beach resort.
The invitations! Each girl who was invited got a different background colour, but they all got identical seashell stickers. I used that same “Real Sand” scrapbooking paper to print the invitations on, and then just played around with different arrangements for the shell stickers until I found a look I liked.
You’ll notice that we were supposed to go swimming first, but that activity fell through at the last minute because. . . the pool was closed! It was a pretty major bummer at first, but I suggested to the girls that we put our swimsuits on anyway, and pretend that we were at the beach! They all thought that was a great idea, and soon we had beach towels spread across our living room floor, and everyone was happily chatting (as 9 year-old girls are prone to do) while I set the food out.
The “official” party colours were purple, pink, orange, and yellow; but I also added a bit of green and tropical blue here and there.
As you can see, I learned my lesson and hung the paper lanterns all at the same height this time. Yay! I was able to reuse the orange lanterns from C’s party by giving them a coat of diluted acrylic paint so that they looked new again. (Remember how they got rained on and bled most of their colour out?) I tied the lanterns in clusters of five with my favourite hemp twine, and then just looped them over the hooks of my pot rack, right above my kitchen counter. Easy-peasy!
The “ALOHA” sign is the backside of the “Surf Shack” sign, and I re-used the bamboo poles, though they had gotten unfortunately stained with mildew. Not sure how that happened, since Alberta isn’t known for its humidity! I cleaned them as best as I could.
I got these two little signs at the Dollar Tree, and hung one at each end of the ALOHA sign.
They weren’t exactly needed, but they were so cute and so cheap; I couldn’t resist.
The food table! Same tablecloth, fishing net, and seashells as for C’s Surfer Boy party, but this time I added a Bougainvillea garland and some faux Hibiscus. I got all of the faux florals for just 20% of their original price at Michaels! This is where it pays to plan parties way in advance: you can score some serious savings on seasonal merchandise.
I also got the inflatable palm tree cooler at Michaels, for 50% off. I really wouldn’t be able to afford to throw parties like this for my kids if I didn’t take advantage of those sales!
Same as last time: Twizzlers!
Hawkins Cheezies again. This time, I served them on a vintage clamshell-shaped plate that I rediscovered in my serveware stash shortly after C’s party. I have two from my Mother-in-Law, and I’m so glad I finally had the perfect occasion to use them!
I saw an awesome idea on Pinterest for a fruit platter that had, at its centre, a palm tree made out of stacked pineapples! I decided to take it easy this time though, especially after the Sharkmelon incident. Plus I already had a palm tree on the food table.
Goldfish crackers on the other clamshell plate.
This was the first major change in food from C’s party. Instead of “Clamwiches,” I made mini Hawaiian pizzas. I used PC Mini Naan Bread Rounds for the crusts; spread a bit of BBQ sauce on each; and then topped with with bacon (instead of ham), pineapple, and mozzarella cheese. I popped them in the oven until the cheese melted, and that was it! They were very fast to make, and very tasty.
Instead of “Sand Dollar” Cookies or “Shark Jello” like last time, we had three different flavours of tropical fruit sherbets, served in actual coconut shell bowls (Party City)! The girls really enjoyed these, and the palm tree cooler, full of ice, kept them from melting.
The “Hibiscus Nectar” was a blend of tropical fruit juices, plus some actual Hibiscus petals! They are sold dried, for making tea, and they really did add a nice taste to the juice. (I let it “steep” overnight for full flavour).
Of course we also had paper straws and umbrellas, as well as “Ocean Surf” water.
The “pièce de résistance” of the food table was this birthday cake! It was my first try at dyeing cake layers certain colours, as well as at making a “naked cake.” I’m pretty happy with how it turned out!
When I brought it out of the fridge, all of the girls gave a collective, “Oooooooooooo!”
From bottom to top: The cake stand is actually a salad bowl turned upside-down! It’s part of the acacia wood series of serveware sold at Superstore (along with the square wooden plates that I served most of the food on at this party).
I made the cake plate using pre-cut cardboard cake circles (They’re sold at Michaels in the cake decorating section, and also at Bulk Barn). I hot-glued five or six of them together in a stack, and then glued the sea shells (already had those) all around the edge. Easy, and reusable!
I wanted the cake itself to be in fitting tropical flavours, so I chose pineapple-coconut. I made my usual vanilla cake recipe, with two cans of crushed pineapple added (half a can per layer). Somehow the pineapple disappeared though, and you could hardly taste it! That was a shame, but the coconut whipped cream worked very well. I used brown sugar to imitate sand, sprinkling it all around the base of the cake, and a bit on top.
The Hibiscus flowers are made out of gum paste. They were, by far, the most labour-intensive part of the entire party. Very time-consuming! I enjoy making gum paste flowers though, and if you want to learn how to make them, I highly recommend that you take a course! Michaels offers several different cake classes, and big cities will have privately-taught classes as well.
Gum paste flowers are usually a one-time use thing, but I managed to save three out of the five that I made. Not too shabby!
Here’s the back-top view. You can see the purple cake layer a bit better in this photo!
Inside the cake. The one thing the pineapple did was make the cake very moist! I think I’ll keep experimenting though, to find a pineapple cake recipe with some real flavour.
And even though I used the brown sugar primarily as a decoration, it went very well with the cake flavours, and gave it a lovely little crunch.
Just in case you think I’m a totally amazing baker and do everything perfectly, I’m going to tell you that I also made a red layer for this cake, and it was to go between the purple and pink layers. I’m not sure how, but it completely failed to bake properly, and I had to throw it out. This was also the night before the party, and I didn’t have any more red dye left, nor the time and energy to re-bake that layer. The baking problem probably had to do with the fact that I was still getting used to my new oven (old one died suddenly), but see? Everyone makes mistakes, and you just have to make the best of things sometimes.
So that was the food table!
The girls basically just munched and talked and tossed the beach balls around for the whole 3 1/2 hours. It was nice!
Of course we listened to The Beach Boys again, as well as some of “Hawaii’s Greatest Ukulele Music” by The Hawaiian Beach Band, a CD I got from my local library. Another great surfer girl song is “Queen of the Waves” from that Barbie Mermaidia movie, and you can get it on iTunes.
We took photos with the surfboards again. This is the lovely birthday girl!
Silly A hid behind hers.
This was one of the more labour-intensive surfboards to paint, requiring the use of three different Hibiscus stencils (all of which I made).
If you want to spray paint your own surfboard decorations (or whatever), I recommend Rustoleum spray paint. It consistently performs significantly better than the Krylon ones I’ve tried; with faster, more even coverage; smoother consistency; and a much more comfortable nozzle to press and hold.
If you want to make your own stencils; use cardstock, poster paper, boxboard, or other stiff material. You’ll get a much neater, more crisp edge when spraying your designs.
Finally, never underestimate the size of the area you need to block off around your stencils! Overspray can be surprisingly extensive, and you don’t want to have to do a million touch-ups.
Can’t forget the treat buckets! Once again found in the clearance section of Michaels at the end of summer, I thought the girls would like the embossed floral design on these. They almost look like Hibiscuses. The downside to these was that they were about twice the size of the pails I used for the boys, so I had to fill them with a lot more stuff! The upside was that I still spent the same amount of money, because the girls didn’t get bodyboards (none left).
J isn’t a fan of cookies decorated with royal icing, because it makes them so sweet. If you still want to decorate your sugar cookies (because it’s prettier than just blank shapes), there is another way. . . Egg yolk paint!
Simply combine 1 egg yolk, 1/2 tsp. of water, and the food colouring of your choice in a very small bowl. Then paint your designs onto the cookies using paintbrushes that you only use for food items. The egg paint dries much more quickly than flooding-consistency royal icing, so I could do these the night before the party.
A few things to be aware of: 1) The yellow egg yolk does affect the colour of the paint. I dyed the clamshell paint pink, but it turned out more orangey. 2) Egg paint is translucent, so you will need to build up layers of colour. However, this can be used to your advantage, such as with the ombré effect I achieved on the conch shell cookies. I was also able to layer the second coat of paint on top of the first almost immediately.
Incidentally, you paint the cookies after they are baked and cooled, just as you would with royal icing.
In addition to the painted seashell & starfish sugar cookies (presented with brown sugar “sand” in their little raffia-tied baggies), the treat buckets contained (clockwise from the top): Hibiscus-topped pens (Superstore), flip-flop suckers (Party City), fancy French Sea Shell candies (Williams-Sonoma clearance find – those are normally some seriously expensive sweets!), Plumeria necklace & earring sets (EBay), watermelon-shaped chocolate lollipops (Shopper’s Drug Mart), and the same sort of ocean-creature-and-tropical-fruit gummy sticks as last time (homemade). Each girl also got a little package of Hibiscus temporary tattoos (EBay), a set of three seashell-shaped soaps at I made (but they were impossible to photograph, because I used clear glycerine soap), a beach ball, and a Lei.
Once again, J said it was a great party, and totally worth the wait. Another girl told me it was the best birthday party she’d ever been to! Those sorts of compliments make all of my work worthwhile. . . =)
If I could have spent just a bit more money on this party, I would have gotten some palm trees from the house plant section in Home Depot. I think that really would have made it feel even more like a tropical resort inside my house! I could even have kept them and put them on my “deck” all summer.
Maybe next time, because little A has told me that she definitely wants a Luau party next. Perhaps we can even go to a local beach!
I normally sell my decorations and extra party supplies on Kijiji after a party like this. It’s a great way to earn back some of the money I spent! But since I’ll be needing these, they have been packed away in my crawl space.