Our safari animal baby shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

If you haven’t noticed from our other parties, we Expressionery.com girls love celebrating! We recently threw a baby shower for our own Corina Murray, and we wanted to share the fun with you.

Corina is expecting a baby girl this month, but she’s not a big fan of pink. Instead of sticking with the traditional pastel pink color palette, we thought it would be fun to spice things up with bright, bold colors. You can’t get much brighter than the animal suite:

Animal baby shower

Animal suite

The four designs are available as invitations, plates and more – plus printables we created for Corina’s shower. (Okay, so we snuck in a little pink here and there, but just as an accent color!)

For our safari animal baby shower, we made sure to include Corina’s favorite animal – giraffes – along with some other cute characters. Giraffe, elephant and crocodile cutouts were designed especially for her, along with a bold “Congrats” banner, and we’re sharing them with you as free printables!

Baby safari animal cutouts

Baby safari animal cutouts & "Congrats" banner

For the banner, just print out the PDF on card stock, then punch holes and tie the triangles together with ribbon.

To make the safari animals, grab some card stock or craft foam in the colors of your choice, print out the PDFs on everyday paper, cut them out and use them as stencils to trace the designs onto your card stock or foam.

Next, cut and glue on embellishments. (Hint: all the animals’ eyes, and the elephant’s toenails, can be created by using a hole punch, so don’t worry about trimming a perfect circle by hand!)

Finally, glue craft sticks onto the back and use your baby safari animals around the refreshment table, or tape them up to the wall.

We couldn’t resist throwing in these two “pregnant” animals we found at a local craft store:

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

Once we had enough animals, we tied the colorful shower theme together with tablecloths, place settings and ribbon. You might have noticed how we used green as the base color for the dessert table, then highlighted the animals with contrasting banners made by trimming vinyl tablecloths into strips.

We also found some zebra print ribbon at the craft store and tied it around the napkin holders and cake pop box. How simple and affordable is that?

Finally, we added to the safari theme by creating wild tissue-paper flowers. The blog craft team had a blast with these –

Elegant tissue paper flowers

Elegant tissue paper flowers

For your own party, you can use a single color of tissue paper for a natural look, or go wild by pairing several colors in one flower for a bright, bold safari theme like ours. You can find step-by-step instructions for these elegant flowers on Martha Stewart’s website.

Cake pops & gifts

Cake pops & gifts

Here are a few tips we learned along the way:

  • Pick 3 or 4 colors for your baby shower theme. Repeating several colors instead of just one makes the shower more fun and less frilly.
  • Not all your baby safari animals have to match. Throw in a set of these printables, then mix and match with ones you find at the store – like the adorable baby book Suzanne found (above).
  • Letting everyone in on the theme will help them select gifts that match too! Corina was thrilled that we followed her suggestion to have a giraffe and non-pink theme, since that’s how the nursery is being decorated. Now she has lots of safari themed décor – even a giraffe print diaper bag – which she’ll enjoy for months to come.
Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor

Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor - the stamp on the gift tag is available at Expressionery.com

Free safari animal shower printables

And now, for the best part – free printables for you! The “Congrats” banner, adorable baby animal cutouts, water bottle labels, place cards and hors d’oeuvre flags are yours to print and use at your own special occasion.

Pair them with the matching animal suite from Expressionery.com or mix and match with your own unique style – then don’t forget to share your creativity by posting a link in the comments!

Toddler birthday party ideas

Toddler birthday parties

Toddler birthday parties

There’s something magical about birthdays when you’re young. The decorations, the friends, the cake and the presents are details that so many kids look forward to all year long. I know my little man asks me when his birthday is at least once a week! Creating a special event for your toddler takes planning, but with a little effort can be easy, affordable and fun!

Location, location, location

If there’s a local pizza and game center or kids’ amusement park, they can host the whole party and plan food, activities and decorations for you. But remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune on kids’ birthday parties.

If your toddler has a summer birthday, take everyone to the park where the kids can run and play – maybe even feed some ducks – and your house will avoid being destroyed in the process. The park might be just as special to them as a formal event, and unless you plan to rent a shelter, it’s free!

Toddler party themes

Once you know where you’re having your party, deciding on a theme is the next step. Consider the details of the party through your toddler’s eyes. Keeping their favorite things in mind will help you tap into creativity and create a special event all the kids will enjoy.

  • What are his or her favorite foods?
  • What games or activities does your child enjoy most?
  • What are your child’s most treasured toys?
  • What are the books he or she reads over and over (and over)?
  • What TV shows or movies does your child love to watch?

If you’re planning a first birthday party and your child hasn’t developed an affinity for anything in particular, some continually popular kids party themes include princesses, fairies, trains, robots and cars. Mustache themed parties for boys and owl themed parties for girls have also grown over the last year.

Mustache party theme

Once you decide on a theme, set the tone for the birthday party with matching invitations. My youngest son turned one last year, and we threw him a Mini Man Mustache Bash with these adorable invitations:

Toddler mustache party

Handlebar Invitations from Expressionery.com

Birthday party food

Deciding on what foods to serve is the next easy step. The time of the party will determine the type of food you should serve. If the party is held during a meal time, plan on serving more substantial foods like build-your-own sandwiches or personal pizzas. If it’s before or after meal hours, simple snacks like fruit, veggies or Goldfish are more appropriate. (Try to take naptime and bedtime into consideration before you choose the time for the party!)

Of course, the feature food of the day will be the birthday cake! Coordinating the party theme into the design of the cake will make it even more special for the birthday boy or girl. Simple store-bought cupcakes with rings are popular and easy – or you can try your hand at a more elaborate cake.

Train birthday cake

Toby the Train Cake

You can get really creative with toddler birthday cakes – they’re so young they’ll love whatever you try, even if it’s not perfect. As long as there’s cake under there somewhere, you really can’t go wrong.

Since my son’s favorite food is bananas, we served banana flavored cupcakes decorated with mustaches and speech bubble picks. Not only did they appeal to the kids, they made for a terrific centerpiece. We also had a smaller mustache-shaped cake made just for the birthday boy. It was so funny to watch him try out his first licks of chocolate icing and handfuls of chocolate cake!

Banana cupcakes

Banana cupcakes at the mustache bash

Toddler birthday party decorations

Decorating your party space doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The toddlers will be happier with simple balloons they can play with than fancy decorations they’re not allowed to touch. Work with materials you have on hand, or hit up the party aisle at your local superstore or dollar store.

Grab plates, napkins and plasticware in the colors of your party for a simple, affordable way to give your party a cohesive look and feel. Banners are a terrific way to decorate your party space and add a special message about your birthday honoree!

For our party banner, I used photos of my son from birth through his first birthday, added a mustache to his little face with an online photo editing program and printed them at my local 1-hour photo processing center. Then I simply punched holes at the top and threaded them onto a length of tulle.

Toddler birthday banners

Voilà - a custom birthday banner!

Party favors are another element that add to your event’s theme and send your guests home with a piece of the fun! Dollar stores and party retailers offer a wide selections of favors. We sent the kids home with a DIY ‘stache-on-a-stick, candies and a Wooly Willy game. Bubbles and fruit snacks are inexpensive favors that are sure to be a huge hit with the kids.

Toddler birthday party activities

If you plan your event at a location that hosts the party, the activities will be taken care of for you. Let those kiddos run wild and play! If you are hosting the party in your home, there are a few things to consider.

  • Are you inviting mostly big kids, little babies or a combination of ages?
  • Do you have enough space for the activity?
  • Will you holding the party indoors or outdoors?
  • Will you conduct the activity or game, or will it be self-directed?

Thinking through each of these details will allow you to properly plan appropriate activities for the party. Because we invited a range of ages to our party, we offered limited structured activities allowing the kids to play with toys outside or inside as they chose. The one party game we did play was a revised version of Pin The Tail On The Donkey. We switched it up a bit to fit our Mustache Bash theme and played Stick the ‘Stache on the Birthday Boy!

Toddler party activities

Toddler party activities

Planning your next kid-friendly party can be a piece of cake! Share your ideas (and blogs) for kids’ birthday parties in the comments below.

Spring Tea Party Ideas

Spring Tea Party Ideas

Tea Party Ideas - photos by Corina Murray, Online Media Specialist for Expressionery.com

It’s never too early to start looking toward the sweet days of spring. While the weather outside might still seem frightful, the ideas for this Spring Sweet Tea Party will have you feeling quite delightful.

Your Expressionery.com gal pals from Texas have stirred up some fun for this atypical tea party. No raised pinkies or scones for this event! We’re serving up a variety of Texan favorites: sweet tea and Texas-sized cookies!

Set the tone for spring with these Sweet Tweet Invitations featuring blooming flowers, fluttering butterflies and birds in song.

Spring Sweet Tea Party

Spring Sweet Tea Party

Use personalized flat cards in a new way! Fold them in half to create a standing sign to label your food items and showcase the theme of your party.

Tea Party Decor

Tea Party Décor

We served lemon cake cookies, Very Berry Tea flavored with fresh raspberries and blackberries and Lemon Mint Tea garnished with bright yellow lemon slices and sprigs of fragrant mint. Mason jars replaced tea cups for our Tea Party and mini tart tins were the perfect serving dishes for chocolate candies in colors coordinating with the fresh flower centerpiece. The centerpiece vases were made using baby food jars wrapped in sheets of memo pad paper and secured with twine.

After you have checked everything off your To Do List, use a few pages from a Blushing Bird Memo Pad to create a one-of-a-kind decoration for your party. Simply adhere die-cut letters (or cut them yourself from scrapbook paper) to the center of each sheet of memo paper, punch holes at the top of the design and thread onto a length of ribbon for a custom banner highlighting the theme of your Sweet Tea Party!

Spring Party Banner

Spring Party Banner

Allow your guests to take home a piece of the fun with personalized recipe cards featuring the Spring Sweet Tea Party theme. Hand-write the recipe for one of the teas you’re serving and send your guests home with a favor they can use over and over again!

Sweet Party Favors

Sweet Party Favors

Finally, after the cookies have been eaten and the pitchers have been washed and put away, keep that sweet spring sentiment brewing with a note of thanks on a card that coordinates with your event’s invitations and sealed with a coordinating label.

Tea party notes

Tea party notes

Hosting and decorating for a tea party can be affordable and adorable! Simple materials used in new and unique ways create a memorable event for your guests. The spring season is just around the corner… who doesn’t need a fun excuse to be together with friends?

Valentine’s Day Card Crafts

Valentine's Day Card Crafts

Valentine's Day Card Crafts

These days it seems like parents buy those standard cardboard boxes of cartoon Valentines for their kids’ classmates. Why not do something different as a family this year? You don’t have to make Valentines from scratch to add that extra-special handmade touch.

Here’s a list of supplies you might want for your card crafts:

  • Cookie cutters to use as stencils
  • Crayons, markers or pens
  • Glitter
  • Felt or foam from the craft store
  • Ribbon
  • Rhinestones or sequins
  • Glue – hot glue or glue sticks work the fastest
  • Scissors – one pair of regular scissors, and maybe some specially shaped ones for edges
  • Personalized Valentine’s cards – Expressionery.com has lots of cute designs

Valentine Envelope Decorating

There are lots of ways to decorate envelopes – don’t try to be perfect, just try to be creative and have fun. If you like to doodle, draw fun designs on the envelopes. Smiley faces and stick figures can go a long way toward saying “I love you.” If you’re not feeling like much of an artist, trace around cookie cutters in different shades of pink, red and purple.

Another fun way to decorate envelopes is to go three-dimensional. Use your cookie cutters as templates to draw shapes on felt or foam, then cut them out and glue several layers together on top of your envelope.

Don’t forget, you can also have fun personalizing Valentines with your trusty custom stamp. Whether you use a heart stamp or something completely unique like a monogram or fun kids stamp, it will help your Valentine stand out.

Valentine Card Decorating

Personalized Valentine’s cards are easy to decorate – glue a ribbon bow on one corner of the card, or use your cookie cutters as stencils to trace light pink hearts all over the inside of the card (after you sign it). You can even buy special scissors from the craft store that have different edges – look in the scrapbooking section and trim the edges of your cards for a special handmade touch.

Valentine's Day Cards

Get creative with your Valentine cards!