Sunday, March 7, 2010

Baby Shower Decor

I actually made this as a gift for a friend's baby shower, but I'm listing it here because it would also make a really cute centerpiece for a serving table, or for a focal point at the party.  I like the idea of a diaper cake because it's an easy, cute way to showcase a very practical gift.  I found the specific directions for assembling the cake here (there's a how-to video about halfway down the page).  By the way, the site that the link above goes to is a great resource for all baby shower related items!  I only did a two-tier cake for this gift, but if I were throwing the party, I might make it three-tier or bigger since it would be a decoration.

For the cake, I used the kind of diapers that the parent-to-be had on their registry list.  It's best to roll them as tightly as possible and then tie the string around them tight as well so they stay rolled.  To decorate it, I assembled things that the new parent would need.  These could come from the registry list, but I happened to find things that went with the parents' theme that weren't on the registry.  I noticed that the registry had a lot of basketball and duck themed items (big surprise, since my group of friends are all huge Oregon Ducks fans!).  So, I sewed a little duckling toy to go on the top, got a rubber duckie bath thermometer and some baby wrist rattles for around the sides, and wrapped the cake in basketball ribbon to cover the strings.   To keep the decorations in place, I used short wooden dowels (you could also use craft sticks).  I taped them to the decorations, then slid the dowels in between the diapers to the middle of the cake.  You can't see the dowels, and the decorations don't fall off!

Variation:  A lot of the guests at the shower asked if the cake was made out of onesies or baby t-shirts.  This would be another great idea, as a new parent can never have too many of these.  You could decorate each of the onesies before rolling it up, or just leave them plain.  This could really be made out of anything that you could roll up (that would stand up and stay rolled).

A note about hosting Showers:  If possible, it's nice to be able to use things for decorations (or for games) that you can give to the Mom after the shower since she'll be able to use them very soon!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Something Old, Something New...

I hosted a bridal shower for a friend of mine, and I wanted something cute and fun for the favors.  I ended up making the boxes to save money, to buy tiny boxes was not only expensive, I also couldn't find any sources that didn't require me to buy a minimum of 50 or 100 of each size, and I only needed to make about 20 of these. 

How I did it:
1. Make the boxes.  Decide what size you want your finished boxes to be.  The bottom boxes of mine are 3.25"x3.25" and the top boxes are 2.5"x2.5".  Purchase regular cardstock (I used white, but they could be any color), and cut it down to the appropriate size.  For mine, this was 5.25"x5.25" and 4"x4" (the extra is for the sides of the boxes.  Draw lines 1" from each side for the bottom boxes and 3/4" for the top boxes (or however high you want your sides to be), and score along the lines.  (Scoring means that you're creasing the paper without cutting all the way through, it makes a nicer seam than folding.)  You can use anything with a pointed tip to score. I used a large nail and a ruler.  Make the lids to the boxes the same way.  If you make them just a smidge bigger than the bases, they'll slide together nicely.  Fold lightly along the score lines so you can see how tall the sides are for writing.
2. It's easiest to do the writing before assembling the boxes.  I wrote "Something" on two sides of the top box.  On the bottom box,  I wrote one word on each side - "Old", "New", "Borrowed" and "Blue".  I used a calligraphy pen, but I'm not a professional calligrapher or anything.  If you really have bad handwriting, you could get vellum and print the words on it from your computer, then cut it and glue it on.   Make sure to write the words on the lids of the boxes, not the bases.
3. Assemble the boxes.  Cut the flap where the sides come together to create a tab.  Fold the sides up along the score lines and fold the tabs in (as shown below).  Use glue to attach the flap from the end to the inside of the side.

4. Fill the boxes.  I filled the bottom box with Hershey kiss candies - it happened to be around Easter, so I found kisses wrapped in green foil, which matched the bride's wedding color.  In the top box, I had just enough room for 2 homemade truffles, drizzled with white chocolate icing colored in the same green color.  (If you use truffles or anything like that, make sure you line your box with waxed paper.) 
5. Tie ribbon around the boxes to hold them together.  Your ribbon will cover the two blank sides of the top box, and two of the words on the bottom box.  Vary which words show so your display looks better.  This is also a good way to hide it if you didn't do a perfect job on some of your calligraphy!
6. Display.  I used a cake pedestal and stacked all the favors, kind of like a Tiffany's display.

Island Themed Party

Ok, this one was wedding related too, but it was the rehearsal dinner so at least the theme was different!  I created an island theme - here's a couple of the details that I made.

Centerpieces: Sand Castles
How I did it:
I found the receipe for a permanent sand castle here.
I mixed up the appropriate amount of sand, and then my sister and I got to work!  It was fun remembering how to make castle components from our family beach trips as kids.  We made two castles, and adorned them with things I had laying around in my craft closet (shells, marbles etc).  Then I made little flags out of cardstock and toothpicks and drew our initials on them.  I put them on these cardboard bases - they are a little brittle when they're dry, so try not to have to move them much after you make them.  If you break a piece off, a hot glue gun works nicely to put it back together.  When I put them on the table, I covered the base with extra sand and added a few candles to the table.

Variation: What if you made a flat piece of sand, kind of roundish, fading out to thinner on the edges, then wrote something in the sand before it dried?  Like W+J=Love, or just a heart, or something else that's meaningful to you.  You could either display this flat, or try to prop it up (remember, it's not the most stable stuff so it probably wouldn't stand straight up unless you glued it to something or if it was really thick)

For the candles (which I didn't take pictures of) I bought regular votives in my colors (lime green and bright blue), and molded some of the sand mixture around the bottom half.  Then I pressed some shells into the sand and let it dry.  They turned out really cute.

Placecards: Treasure Chests
I thought I had saved one of these to take a picture of but I can't find it!
How I did it:
I bought these little cardboard treasure chests from Oriental Trading Company, which is an amazing resource for all DIY'ers.  (I also bought flower lei's and several other things here)
I painted the boxes with regular acrylic paint, watered down to try to make them look a little weathered.
I then painted each person's name on the front in my same bright blue color. (You don't have to be a professional calligrapher, just make it readable!)
I filled them with crinkle paper, which you can usually find in the craft or gift wrapping department.
Then I added things specific to each person, including mini liquor bottles, chocolate coins, etc.
When I put them on the table, I propped them open a bit so you could see both the name on the front, but also the goodies inside!


How I did it:
I designed my invites myself on MS Word.  I strongly recommend searching for new, fun fonts to make your design custom.  A great site for this is Urban Fonts.
As with my programs, I printed these out on regular paper, then took them to the local copy store to have them photocopied onto my cardstock (since my cardstock kept jamming in the printer).
Then I cut them apart and pasted them onto another color of cardstock.

Food Place Cards

I'm a big fan of telling people what they're looking at in a buffet.  So, I usually try to make little signs to go in front of each dish with a clever name (but not so clever that they can't figure out what it is).  (Side note: At a bridal shower that I threw, the bride was an active Weight Watchers participant, so I put the names of the dishes, and also how many "points" for each piece/serving.)
I printed these out on cardstock with my same font from the invitations, then cut them apart and used placecard holders to hold them up.
A note about food: If you're having a smaller party, try to find out if any of your guests have special food needs.  I had two guests at my rehearsal dinner who are allergic to gluten, which seems to be in almost EVERY food we eat.  I think most people who have major allergies like this are used to planning for themselves, but I created a menu with several options they could enjoy, which made them feel comfortable and able to eat with the rest of us, and I didn't have to sacrifice anything that I would have wanted (sometimes all you have to do is change the receipe a bit to avoid an allergy, and the taste stays the same).