I’m a sucker for a good party. Always have been.
And just like most women out there, I enjoy perusing pinterest and looking at pretty things or seeing stuff that sparks my creativity. (You can find me here.)
What I’m not into is feeling pressured to perform. I’m sure you’re not either.
I’ve been seeing a lot online lately about rejecting the ideal of a pinterest-worthy fill-in-the-blank, and I totally get that. If we’re stuck in comparison and jealousy and drive to perform or compete then we are stuck in a special kind of hell. (I don’t recommend that for anyone.)
So moms, do your own thing when it comes to party planning for your kids’ birthdays. If your fun is to head to the park with a store bought cake and play freeze tag and open presents, then do it. Do it well and do it proudly. Your kid will love you for it. And if you’re like me and love the excuse to get out a glue gun, organize away, and have a bit of hoopla, then I say go for it. Just know why you’re doing it.
I’ve had such fun throwing my kids’ parties over the last couple of years – Levi’s first birthday sock monkey party and his second birthday cowboy party, and Judah’s first birthday circus party. I’m now gearing up for Judah’s second birthday dinosaur party. (Considering he turns two in a week and a half, maybe I should get cracking on that!)
But I really wanted to post about Levi’s rockstar birthday party before I move on to another… considering he turned three in January. (Yikes.)
You have to know that I enjoy this. I decorate and craft and whatever because I think it’s fun, not because I think I have to in order to be supermom.
You also have to know that I do this on a budget. I personally think it’s ridiculous to spend tons of money on kids birthday parties when they are just concerned with getting cake, inviting the right friends, and opening some fun presents. (Just my opinion for our own family.)
I hope these ideas will serve other moms in your own craftabulous party endeavour, without heaping on any more pressure to perform in a way that isn’t life-giving to you. I share because it’s something I enjoy and comes easily for me, so if others can copy and tweak that and make it a little easier on themselves, then awesome. Go for it and be blessed.
Now that we have that cleared up… on to the party:
For Levi’s third birthday we had a rockstar party and it was so. much. fun. (Plus, I got to dress up in my ridiculous shiny, snake skin printed skinnies and wear way too much jewelry and not feel like I needed to explain why this is ok for a 35-year-old woman. Score for mom.)
Levi has always been into music and so this seemed like the perfect fit. Here’s what I pulled together:
I’m so proud of this rockstar guitar cake! (Er, um bass guitar.) I am NOT a kitchen wizz, you have to understand. I actually made this from a box mix in a regular cake pan and then just cut it out to look like a guitar. I froze the cake before frosting it and let me tell you, this is the best trick everrrrrrr and made the cake so moist. (Dear facebook community: thank you. I will be forever grateful for your incredible why-didn’t-I-already-know-this Cake Baking 101 tip.) I will never not freeze a cake before frosting it ever again. It makes a regular old box cake taste amazing. And, of course, it made it much easier to frost without everything crumbling apart.
I made a simple but yummy cream cheese frosting (in my opinion, the only type of frosting… and the type that may or may not have compelled me to eat some with a spoon) and then I used licorish ropes for the strings and silver candy balls for a few little touches. I was really happy with how this cake turned out and it gave me confidence to keep at it in the future… even though I’d rather be doing almost anything but baking. (Totally not my thing. Except for the eating part.)
I made these little microphones by rolling rice crispy treat balls, sticking them into cones, and then rolling them in silver sprinkles. Easy peasy. (Honestly they didn’t taste amazing, but that’s more a reflection on Australian marshmallows. I get homesick for American marshmallows sometimes – don’t judge!)
I also served cheese and crackers (cheese cut into stars with a cookie cutter), apple and peanut butter stacks (thank you pinterest – why had I never thought of those before?), and a few veggies, grapes, and pretzels. Simple, easy, and totally kid-friendly.
I got a handful of records off of Freecycle (big fan!) and used them as placemats. We had a few bright plates, cups, and napkins and simple little name cards that I printed and colored with Levi. (Download a free printable PDF template for the kids rockstar party name cards here.)
For everything else, I just picked colors I liked and then repeated them throughout: red, orange, yellow, and blue. (And see that red table cloth? My go-to for everything: Christmas, Valentines, birthdays, you name it. I picked it up several years ago at an after Christmas sale. Such a great purchase.)
This was the cutest, cheapest, easiest backdrop! I had a few pieces of bright-colored paper that I cut into zigzags and then strung some balloons on a piece of thread. I’m not sure I’ll ever pine over helium balloons again – this is so easy and cheap. I’ll probably do the exact thing for Judah’s party later this month, only with different colors. The whole thing took me less than fifteen minutes.
We dressed up a little and made sure we had enough tattoos for all the kids. (Why is a toddler with tattoos just soooo cute? And why does my husband think putting a tie on his head transforms him into a rockstar? #lifesgreatmysteries)
When the kids first arrived we pointed them toward the tattoos and this little decorate-your-own-guitar craft station.
We set up the coffee table–I mean craft station–with crayons, puffy letters, stickers, and a few other things and let the kids go for it. For the guitars I just collected some discarded boxes from the back of a hardware store and cut out a few different shaped guitars for the kids to choose what they liked. (And no, I have no template for the shapes; I just eyeballed them using google images.)
This would be very cute to do with paint, but our littles were all three and under so I figured the simpler the better.
I set up a music station with every musical instrument we own (we happen to love music and so have a few). I also picked a few extras up at the thrift store and got the keyboard and microphone from another kind Freecycler. I also moved some pictures from other parts of the house to rock the scene a tiny bit. (This photo is from before the kids arrived – duh.)
Even the littlest of guests love making noise.
And let me tell you about the part of the fiesta where we got our groove on. The littles went bananas, in the cutest possible sense.
And a Booker family rockstar party wouldn’t be complete without my husband teaching all the kids his favorite move. We call this “the cockroach” and it never ceases to entertain.
And yo, my birthday boy knows how to bust a move. He’s got skills (and facial expressions) the rest of us only dream of.
After a few dance songs (I think we did two or three structured ones and then one free dance) we got out the instruments and let them bang away for another two songs. I warned the parents ahead of time that it was going to be loud and chaotic and we just went with it. (This actually looks pretty mellow compared to how it sounded.)
The kids had a blast and could have kept going… but we cut them off after the fifth or sixth song (always better to end on a high, right?!). Thank goodness for the allure of presents to entice those noisy instruments to the “backstage” area.
For party favors I compiled some of Levi’s favorite kids music and made mix CDs for the kids to take home. The CD jackets are just folded paper stapled together with labels I made on the computer, printed on regular paper, and glued on. (Download a free printable PDF template for the kids rockstar party CD labels here.) I also had some little cardboard star box thingies that I picked up at an after Christmas sale for $.25 each, spray painted them red, filled them with candy, and wrote the kids’ names on them. (I didn’t take a close-up photo of those, but you can sort-of see them in the guitar decorating station photo above.)
We’re trying to make it a point to get a family photo at every birthday – usually after everyone leaves when we’re not quite ready to quit partying and start cleaning up just yet. We balance the camera on a stack of books, turn on the self-timer, and hope for the best.
Sometimes we have amazing luck and everyone is actually looking and smiling at the camera. (Miracles do happen, friends.)
Most importantly, this little guy and his brother had a blast with us and with his friends. And you know what? Ryan and I had a great time too.
And just because: a little afterparty shot of Judah. (I’m @adrielbooker on instagram.) He’s the cutest little rocker in diapers, dontchya think?
Happy partying, friends.
Want more kids party ideas on a budget?
- Sock Monkey Party (Levi’s 1st birthday)
- Cowboy Party (Levi’s 2nd birthday)
- Circus Party (Judah’s 1st birthday)