glow in the dark egg hunt

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

I love Easter egg hunts!

I remember hosting my first one many years ago…my oldest (who is now 19) was two years old at the time.  We invited her playgroup over for snacks and to hunt for eggs.  I thought I was being super organized and got up early to hide the eggs in our backyard.  That didn’t go well because, along with our dog, the other critters (squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks, etc.) in our yard began hunting them long before our little friends arrived!

Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a thing or two about hosting an egg hunt since then!  With my youngest daughter getting a bit older, I decided to make it a bit more intriguing this year with a GLOW IN THE DARK EGG HUNT!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

We started the evening with a craft project…decorating baskets to use for collecting those eggs.  These plastic baskets were perfect for tying strips of brightly-colored fabric in each of the cutout circles.  Each basket turned out very colorful and unique!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

Now about those eggs…

I purchased glow stick bracelets and large-sized plastic eggs…you need a bit of extra room to fit the glow bracelet inside the egg.  Simply bend the bracelet to activate the glow and place it inside the egg.  Wait until the very last minute to do this, so that they are still glowing while your guests are hunting.  And then hide those eggs!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

Now all we need is for it to be dark!

To keep everyone entertained until the sun set, we made glow in the dark slime (recipe for that is here).  I’m not sure if it really glowed, but they had a lot of fun making it!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

And a party wouldn’t be complete without some sweet treats…neon green cupcakes, hot pink marshmallow bunny peep and donut hole kabobs, pretzel popcorn chocolate mix with neon sprinkles, and pop rocks!

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

I was so excited to find glow in the dark plates, bowls, and cups!  We had fun turning off all the lights and turning on a black light to illuminate them before eating the fun snacks.

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

glow in the dark egg hunt | polka dots and picket fences

When it was finally dark outside, the girls ran around the yard hunting for the glow in the dark eggs.  Of course, the girls themselves were also glowing with light up rings, glow necklaces, and glow bracelets!

I think they had so much fun that we decided every party should have a glow in the dark theme!

 

fixer upper party…part ii

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

Yesterday, I shared the party decor for my daughter’s Fixer Upper theme birthday party…click here if you missed it.  My inspiration was the HGTV show, which my daughter loves to watch…I kept Joanna’s simple farmhouse style in mind throughout the party planning.

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

Because a kid’s birthday party is all about having fun, I planned a few activities for the birthday girl and her guests.

As the guests began to arrive, they were invited to make bookmarks out of paint chip samples.  They did this by cutting the paint chip into a 2 inch strip and adding alphabet stickers to spell their name.  They were laminated, hole-punched, and a ribbon was tied through the hole.

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

Once everyone was there, “Demo Day” began!  If you watch the show, you know that is Chip’s favorite day!  I truly think the girls thought we were crazy when we gave them safety goggles, construction hard hats (plastic ones), and hammers.  We led them outside where small sections of drywall were propped against the fence.  And you can probably guess what happened next…

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

I think the girls had so much fun doing this that the rest of the party was a disappointment!

After the “demolition” was complete, the girls took on the role of Joanna and decorated a house…a plain cardboard playhouse, using various art supplies.

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

And finally there was a good old-fashioned game of BINGO…with vintage BINGO boards and nuts, bolts, and screws as place covers during the game.

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

After all the fun and games, it was time for cake…and what a cake it was!  I really wanted to serve cupcakes like they do at the Magnolia bakery, but Claire insisted on a cake that looked just like Chip and Joanna’s house.  How adorable is that cake!

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

I’m pretty certain that Claire enjoyed turning double digits in the Fixer Upper style, just as much as I enjoyed planning the party!

fixer upper party

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

If you follow Polka Dots & Picket Fences on Instagram, you may have seen a few glimpses of my youngest daughter’s tenth birthday party a few months ago.  She turned 10 in November, and I can’t believe it has taken me this long to share the details of her party!  I was editing pictures from the party on our recent flight to South Carolina, and she even said “that was a loooong time ago.”

If you did see anything on Instagram, you may remember that Claire chose a FIXER UPPER theme party to celebrate her birthday.  I know that seems an odd theme for a party, but she absolutely loves the Fixer Upper TV show.  She even wanted me to invite Chip and Joanna to her party!

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

This theme definitely challenged me!  I kept in mind Joanna’s simple farmhouse style as I planned the decor for the party, and I mixed in some elements of building supplies.

In keeping with the Fixer Upper style, I created a sign out of shiplap (yes, shiplap!) saying “Magnolia” that greeted the guests when they arrived.  The sign was displayed on a rustic farmhouse table, along with some antique tools and a vintage metal dollhouse.  That dollhouse truly looked like a fixer upper!

fixer upper | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

My favorite part of decorating for the party had to be the table where the girls sat and enjoyed a lunch of mac ‘n cheese, mini Texas toast pizzas, BBQ pulled pork sliders, and fruit.  The farmhouse table was set with chalkboard placemats at each place setting, along with a small glass container of chalk that the girls used to draw while eating and chatting with their friends.  Gold chiavari chairs added an elegant touch to the rustic style.

I used blue ticking fabric for napkins, and I adorned them with sprigs of rosemary, vintage house keys, and antique cattle auction tags.  It was all tied around the napkins using jute string.  Plastic cups were accented with Texas star chalkboard labels, providing the girls another place to draw or write their names.

Place cards were created for each guest using vintage scrabble tiles to spell out their name.  These tiles were glued to wood trays, allowing the girls to take them home at the end of the party.

The centerpiece was a set of cylinder vases filled with cotton stems.  How simple and how very Joanna!

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

fixer upper party | polka dots and picket fences

While I enjoyed decorating for the Fixer Upper party, I had just as much fun coming up with ideas for activities…which I’ll be sharing tomorrow.  Be sure to check back on Thursday for details on Chip’s favorite day, Demo Day!

valentine waffle bar

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

Who loves waffles?!?

They are great for breakfast, or “breakfast for dinner” (which we do occasionally at our house).  Another fun option is to serve them at a valentine party, like I did at my daughter’s class party last year.

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

Start with the waffles…it is a WAFFLE bar, after all!  Heart-shaped waffles are very festive!  However if you don’t have a heart-shaped waffle maker, don’t worry…they will taste the same.

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

Now for the fun part…the toppings!  I used small metal tins to serve the toppings.  To help my daughter’s classmates know what was in each container, I clipped labels to each one with mini clothespins.

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

I also had chocolate sauce and syrup in squeeze bottles, as well as whipped cream for the kids to top off their waffles.

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

The valentine waffle bar was such a hit with my daughter’s class that I just may do it again this year!

polka dots and picket fences | waffle bar

Really…who wouldn’t be happy enjoying waffles with some fun toppings!

bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

Who remembers “Beaches”…the classic chick-flick from the late 80’s starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey?  What a tear-jerker it was, AND I wasn’t even a mother then!  Even though it always chokes me up every time I watch it, I love that movie.

So when I saw that they were doing a remake of it, I couldn’t wait to see it and see how they would portray the characters and the storyline.  And with it being a chick-flick, I decided to invite a few girlfriends over to watch the movie together.

Bubbly, Balloons & Beaches

If you know me, you know how I love to decorate for any event!  I had been wanting to try my hand at making a balloon garland for a while…there’s just something pretty and feminine about clusters of balloons decorating a table.

So for the Balloons…

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

I used the following supplies…chicken wire (I used a 5 foot section), string, glue dots, balloons in your color scheme (pinks, blues, gold, and white in this case), greenery, and scissors.

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

To start, I attached the end of the chicken wire to my curtain rod with string…I wanted the balloon garland to flow down the window onto my food table.

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

Then, I inflated balloons and began attaching them to the wire by tying them with the string.

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

I continued to add more and more balloons to fill in the spaces…

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

At a certain point, it became difficult to attach balloons to the wire BUT there was open space showing.  That’s where the glue dots came in handy!  I placed glue dots in various spots on balloons and placed the balloons in the open spaces.  The glue dots were strong enough to hold the balloons in place without tying them to the chicken wire AND the balloons filled in the open spaces.

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

Another great “filler” for those open spaces is some greenery…and it adds another element to the balloon garland, also.

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

And so after a few hours of inflating and tying balloons, I had a balloon garland…

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

And now for the Bubbly…

LaCroix, Prosecco, and raspberry martinis were on the drink menu, along with a few appetizers and some mini cupcakes!

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

polka dots and picket fences | bubbly, balloons & beaches

And then it was time for Beaches…

Did any of you watch the remake with Idina Menzel and Nia Long?  I’m usually not a fan of remakes and sequels…it’s never easy to live up the original.  A couple of my friends had not seen the first Beaches movie, so it was fun to see them experience it…although, they were not expecting it to be sad.  No worries…I had tissues on hand for the tears!

What a fun night it was with friends enjoying bubbly, balloons, and Beaches!

 

 

 

happy new year

Happy New Year!  I hope you enjoyed the holidays, and now you are ready to face the new year with a refreshed mind and body…I know I am!

We rang in the new year in Chicago by seeing the very popular musical, Hamilton.  It was amazing!  If you have the opportunity to see it, GO…RUN!

Now life is getting back to normal with my youngest starting back to school today, and my high schooler going back to class tomorrow.  My college daughter will be heading back to campus later today.  Aww, routines…love and hate them all at the same time!

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Like most people, I reflect back on the previous year and make “resolutions” for the coming one.  I use the word “resolution” lightly…I like to think of them as ways to improve my life.

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So I will be trying to do the following in order to IMPROVE my life…

  1. smile more
  2. eat healthier…more veggies and less sweets
  3. exercise more…at least 4 times per week
  4. learn some basic graphic design skills
  5. AND FINALLY, I’m going to begin a PARTY PLANNING BUSINESS

Yes, you read it here first!  I’ve talked about this for soooo long and I’m going to take the plunge in 2017!  It’s all in the beginning stages, but that’s okay…I have an entire year to “make it happen!”

Hope your new year is off to a great start, even if you didn’t make any “resolutions!”

Happy 2017!!!

 

 

50th birthday cake table

Yesterday I shared a simple decoration that I created for my husband’s surprise 50th birthday party…click here for the details on the big 5 0!

Since it was a birthday celebration, of course there was cake!  I had so much fun decorating the table and displaying the CAKES…yes, there was more than one cake.

I decided on a simple color scheme of black, white, and gold.  A few people asked if I did that because those were his college colors…no, it was just a coincidence.

I chose a black and white striped tablecloth.  I loved the look of a floor length tablecloth.  A banner of gold metallic triangles was attached to the front of the tablecloth, along with some shredded gold mylar.  Simple, but elegant!

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The “50” metallic gold mylar balloons were perfect centerpieces combined with black latex balloons and more of that shredded gold mylar, which helped to hide the balloon sticks inside the vase.

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The chandelier over the table was decorated with black, white, and gold poufs.  A fun touch to add more of those colors to the cake display!

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And those cakes…well, there were three different flavors that hopefully appealed to everyone.  Salted caramel, vanilla raspberry, and chocolate chocolate chip (especially for the chocolate-loving guest of honor)!

I was trying to find a cake stand large enough for the rectangular cake when a friend suggested using a black vintage suitcase.  It was a perfect cake display, and it gave the table a masculine touch.  Two round, black cake stands were used to display the other cakes.

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The decorated cake table added a festive touch to the party!

And those cakes…YUM!!!

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Happy 50th to my husband and thanks to our friends for helping him celebrate!

 

 

the big 5 0

I surprised (I think) my husband last month with a small party to celebrate his 50th birthday!

This event challenged me in two ways…

First, I usually plan parties for my children.  Planning a party for a grown man is a bit different…fluff and fru fru is not necessary or appropriate!

Second, I had limited time to set up and decorate.  My very gracious friend, Wendy, offered to have the party at her lovely home.  Since I didn’t want her family to have to go about their daily lives with party decor in the way, I didn’t start to decorate until the day before the party (sometimes I begin setting up for a party an entire week ahead)!

With those thoughts in mind, I decided to decorate with a big 5 and a big 0!

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On such a special birthday, it’s fun to look back at your life.  What better way to do that than through pictures!  A bonus is that it provides conversation for your friends as they look at pictures of the guest of honor over the years.

50th

I had black and white copies of photographs printed…childhood through present day.  It was hard to choose which ones I would use.  Too many memories!

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Then I drew a large 5 on thick artist paper (thicker than posterboard) and cut it out.  I started placing the photographs on top of the template.  Once I liked the arrangement, I adhered them with double-stick tape.

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I did the same thing again, only with a large 0.

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And there it is…a big 5 0!

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This was hanging over the bar area during the party.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that to share…I was too caught up in the celebrating to take one!

This simple decoration made a big impact, without much fluff or fru fru.

P.S.  I’ll be sharing more of the party decor in tomorrow’s blog post…the cake table.

 

charcuterie and cheese plate

The holidays are approaching…and at some point, most people will be entertaining friends and family in their homes!  It may be a seven course Thanksgiving dinner or a simple holiday cocktail party.  Whatever the occasion, it is always a good idea to serve a charcuterie and cheese plate to your guests as they mingle and socialize.

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I’m sharing some tips on one that I recently put together…but really there are no rules, just serve what looks and tastes good to you.

Just in case you want some advise, here’s mine…

  • Use a mixture of cured meats (salami, prosciutto, sausages, etc).
  • Make sure you have a variety of cheeses, both soft and hard (fresh mozzarella, baked parmesan, havarti, etc).  I actually left the Brie that I had purchased for this one off the plate…oops!
  • Add some fruit for sweetness (raspberries, grapes, blackberries).
  • Make sure you have a combination of flavors (sweet and salty) and textures (creamy and crunchy).
  • A colorful plate of food is appealing to the eye.
  • Garnish with some edible greens or herbs…I used sprigs of rosemary for this one.
  • Elevate some of the food by using tall, narrow bowls or candy dishes.

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cheese

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Once it’s put together, set it out for your guests.  They will choose the parts of it that appeal to them…and by the end of the evening, you will most likely have an empty plate!

sweet sixteen birthday bash (part ii)

My middle daughter, Grace, turned sixteen a few weeks ago…of course, we had a celebration for her!  Yesterday, I shared the decorations, the party props, and the table decor for the fun and eclectic event (click here in case you missed the post).

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Today, I’m sharing more about the entertainment and the food that was served at the party.

The guests were greeted by the adorable Bubble Tea bike from a local favorite, Balance Grille, as they entered the backyard.  There were two flavors of teas from which to choose…whatever and strawberry.  As it was a warm evening, the oh-so-trendy beverages were quite the hit!

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Balance Grille also catered some of the food…Pan-Asian favorites such as fried rice, brown rice, steamed vegetables, chicken, various sauces, and edamame.  The guests created their own concoctions and sat around the wood pallet table to eat, talk, and laugh.

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There was also a yogurt bar…the girls could fill coconuts that had been cracked in half with either Greek or regular vanilla yogurt, and then top them with fruit, granola, and honey.

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In between bites of food, the guests had henna tattoos applied by a henna artist.  It was interesting to see the different designs everyone chose.  There was also a table set up with supplies for anyone who wanted to apply more temporary tattoos…which they did!

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Grace did NOT want a cake for her birthday…instead, she wanted cotton candy!

It was the SWEET part of the sweet sixteen, and it made for some fun (if not sticky) pictures!!

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As the sun set, the guests settled in on blankets, pillows, rugs, and in those cute teepees to watch an outdoor movie…Sixteen Candles (very appropriate for the occasion, I thought).

One final treat included roasting marshmallows and making s’mores around the fire pit.  I know Grace said NO cake, but I created one with the supplies for the s’mores…marshmallows, chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and graham crackers.  Some candles were added, the birthday song was sung, and I think she liked this kind of “cake.”

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As I mentioned previously, the party was eclectic and had a bit of everything…but I think the most important element it had was FUN!

Such sweet memories of turning sixteen…