I just HATE when I have a great party theme idea, and I cannot find what I'm looking for online as far as pre-made party decorations: plates, napkins, wall hangings, gift bags, party favors. Why does my brain always work against me to sabatoge my free time? I don't know, but it does.
When my son turned one, I had the great idea of putting on a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party, but there weren't decorations or invitations for it... so I made my own. Yes, I have the computer software to create anything (that's my everyday job - graphic design), I have a color laser printer, card stock, and a steady cutting hand. (See my custom invitations below)
It's a good thing too because when I decided to throw a surprise party (the first I've ever planned) for Katrin, my Au Pair, I had the greatest concept in mind, but there weren't the pre-made things available that matched what was in my mind's eye.
In a sneaky and subtle way, I asked her questions like "Who is your favorite Disney Princess and why?", "What are you favorite colors?", "What is your favorite meal that I've made so far?" All questions that would help me to plan the perfect party. (Although, since my husband was in on my plan, he didn't think my questions were very subtle.)
Regardless, the theme I wanted to execute flawlessly for my German Au Pair's 20th birthday was a princess party based on the Disney princess Ariel, but I wanted the theme to suit a 20-year old, not a 5-year-old little girl. Do you know how hard it is to find decor that fits that description? Um... it doesn't exist.
That's where my creative side had to be put to use. I based my designs around the napkins that I found on Amazon.com... I liked the silhouette and that it still expressed "Ariel/Disney princess", but it was also understated and classy. Problem was, the colors were wrong. Her favorite colors are mint and peach. The solution? Adobe Illustrator and my own design...
What did I do when I finally had a design theme? Well, I adjusted it to be put onto favor bags, the backs of clear plastic dinner and cake plates and wall decor. However, when I looked to Amazon for party favors that suited my Little Mermaid Theme, I was cursed with kitschy, cheap little girl-type party favors, and that would not do for my party as the guests were also in their early 20's.
I just don't understand buying party favors and wasting money on things that you know will get thrown away as soon as your guests get home... so.... I made up my own collection of baubles to suit my under the sea/Little Mermaid theme: seafoam green shelled picture frames (which were filled with a photo of all party guests that was taken at the party), clear glass tea light holders and water-scented candles, small tiaras that I did buy in bulk and were for little girls (but a tiara missing at a princess party is just not done), and chocolates (chocolate from Germany because that's where she's from).
Oh, and yes, I did Photoshop that gift bag to be the color I wished I could have purchased but wasn't available at Target. Other party decor and theming that my creative mind's eye just had to have were diamond table confetti, pearlized seafoam balloons, and plastic ball ornaments that were hung to represent bubbles (we were under the sea, remember?... in a mint and peach submarine!)
Now, to make the birthday girl's day special, and since she told me she loved Ariel so much that she had always dyed her hair red, I ordered her a red cosplay wig and a rhinestone princess crown so she would feel like Ariel for the day. And, to go even beyond crazy, I also designed a movie poster with her face on Ariel's body... and put my Au Pair's name as the starring actress...even though my husband thought it was "creepy"... (hey, it's the thought that counts!)
Yes, I do realize that I overdo everything, but once I get an idea into my head, I can't get it out. Was she surprised? Yes. Was it amazing and the princess party I knew I'd never get to throw for my two little boys? Yes. Was it worth all the planning, time, effort, and money? Yes it was.
Wait - how did that Little Mermaid background get behind my table onto my sliding doors? Hey, it actually didn't look as bad as I thought it would, and I ordered it from Amazon before I solidified the theme... Oh well... at least it looked good as a backdrop to the hanging bubbles from the chandelier.
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