Perfection Is My Enemy

A Chrisitan mom & crafter shares what's worked for her.

Luke’s Lego Birthday Party August 10, 2011

Filed under: Birthday Parties!,Frugal,Gluten Free,Kids — Perfection Is My Enemy @ 2:26 pm
Picture I took to use on his birthday invitations.

Luke chose a Lego theme for his 9th birthday party. He’s happiest with just a few close friends, so we had 4 young guests and a handful of adult ones (who seemed to enjoy the party at least as much as the children did).

My husband built a ramp with some leftover flooring. As the children arrived at the party, they worked on building Lego cars to race down the ramp.

Kids racing their Lego cars.
 
I picked up some ribbons in the clearance section of Michaels and added these little blue circles.
 
Award Ribbons
 
Since Luke has Celiac Disease (which means he has to eat a completely gluten-free diet), I use Betty Crocker gluten-free mix for the cake.
 
Gluten-free, dye-free Lego cakes.
And because he has such bad reactions to artificial colors, I used beet juice to color the cake.  This was my first ever experience with fondant and I think it turned out pretty good. I’ll do another post dedicated to my fondant experience (what worked, and what I would do different next time).
 

Luke eating the marshmallow off the top of the cake.

 I made a Lego pinata (again, it had to be gluten-free, so it’s made with corn starch instead of flour). I filled it with some all natural suckers and some silly straws from the dollar store.
 

Lego pinata.

 
Instead of putting a lot of junk that gets broken and thrown away in the pinata, I put in crazy straws. I went to Michael’s and got a bunch of toys from the $1-2 section. I laid them out on a table and then drew Legos out of a jar. When I pulled out a yellow Lego, the kids with the yellow straws got to pick a prize off the table. It worked really well. There was no fighting or whining and everyone got a little nicer toy because it didn’t have to survive a beating with a bat.
 

Whacking the Lego pinata.

 
 
 
 

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Sam & Joshua’s Superhero 5th Birthday Party June 20, 2011

Filed under: Birthday Parties!,Frugal,Gluten Free,Kids — Perfection Is My Enemy @ 10:46 pm

First, a little background. During my pregnancy with Sam, my friend Margie was also pregnant. We went to OB appointments  together and both had boys just 10 days apart. Sam & Joshua have had their birthday parties together since they were 2, and their 5th birthday was no different. What was different is that it is probably the last party the boys will have together. Joshua and his family are moving to South Korea next month and won’t be back for a few years. And, after my husband graduates from college next year, we will likely be moving away from where we currently live for him to find work. So, since this is probably the last combined party, I went a little nuts.

The Birthday Boys ~ Joshua & Sam

We chose a generic superhero theme. I had a hundred yards of white muslin fabric (leftover from our wedding 11 years ago) so I found out each kid’s favorite color and made them each a superhero cape to decorate with colored sharpies.  They did a great job and were all very creative. I love to start parties with a craft because it gives the kids something to do while we wait for everyone to arrive.

Cape Decorating

I also got some facepaint and we painted superhero masks on the kids’ faces.

Sam enjoying the facepainting

Then, we played a game. I volunteered 4 of the dads (we invite the parents to stay and enjoy the party too) to be the villains. Then I divided the kids into 4 teams. Each team got a roll of toilet paper (4 for a dollar at the dollar store) and they had a race to see who could use up their roll of toilet paper first by tying up the bad guys.

 

Tying up the bad guys!

After the game we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ dinner.

Mmmmmmmmmm

 

The weather did not cooperate well at all, so we moved some of the party into the garage and some of the dads set up some tents outside. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.

To decorate the cupcakes, I got a package of primary colored card stock at Michaels (about $4) and printed out these little signs on my printer. I used hot glue to glue the toothpicks on and just stuck them in the cupcakes.

 

The cupcakes & photobooth

Joshua’s dad did a great job of setting up an obstacle course in their backyard. Between downpours, the kids had a blast running around with their capes on.

 

Lined up and ready to start the obstacle course.

Also between downpours we did a photoshoot. I used a couple of big cardboard boxes to paint a cityscape and painted some boxes to look like buildings to create a bit of a 3D effect. I did buy some paint and posterboard to complete this, but I had a lot of stuff on hand already (so I spent about $10). Once the kids got into it, we had a blast.

Girl Power

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Boy Power!

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The whole superhero gang

When the rain started again, we headed back inside the garage to whack the piñata. I made the piñata using cornstarch instead of flour because our oldest son has Celiac Disease and can’t have even the smallest amount of gluten. It worked great, but next time I won’t do quite as many layers as it was hard to break open (we used a hard rubber bat to whack it, but a wooden bat would have worked well, I just worry about the kids getting whacked in the noggen). I filled the piñata with toys, pencils, etc. from the dollar store and all natural suckers from the health food store (about $10).

 

Sam having a whack at the pinata

Then the boys opened their presents, we said our thank you’s and goodbyes, and it was time to head home. It was a great party and the kids, all 15 of them, (and parents)  had so much fun.

Presents!!!

 
 
 
I couldn’t resist sharing more great pictures from the party, so here’s a slideshow:
 

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Gluten-Free Paper Mache June 2, 2011

Filed under: Birthday Parties!,Frugal,Gluten Free — Perfection Is My Enemy @ 9:00 pm

If no one in your family is gluten-free it may not have occurred to you that even things like paper mache aren’t allowed. Each year, for their birthday parties, I make the boys a pinata. Since Luke was diagnosed with Celiac Disease last year, anything with gluten is out (regular flour is full of gluten). This is a problem for 2 reasons:

One, just the dust from the flour getting on anything that Luke might put in his mouth is enough gluten to make him sick. Don’t think flour causes much dust, just try to scoop a spoonful out of your flour jar in some direct sunlight. It’s amazing how much dust it creates.

And two, I couldn’t put any candy or whistles or silly straws in the pinata because they would come in contact with the flour and then in contact with Luke’s mouth and make him sick.

So, I did a little research and discovered you can make paper mache with corn starch and water. Who knew? It also makes great paste.

To make it, just combine 1 part corn starch to 10 parts water (I just used our smallest little measuring cup, 1/8 cup I think). Heat on medium until it boils. Continue to boil for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally, then let cool. It worked great and I can’t wait to post pictures of the finished product.

Here’s a picture of a tire pinata I did a couple of years ago. I forgot to take a picture of it before the kids started whacking on it, but you get the idea: