Two years ago, one of my long-time clients asked me to design a Donuts and Pajamas party invite for her daughter’s birthday. I thought it was brilliant and am not surprised that they have exploded in popularity. However, my girls didn’t really see the appeal and despite begging and pleading from me, they insisted on Rapunzel, Hello Kitty and Princess Sofia. But this year, I was finally able to convince Evelyn, who was turning six, to go for it.
That was just the first obstacle. Where we are currently living, birthday parties operate a little differently than in the US. Here’s what I was up against. One - Parties are never in the morning! I scheduled it for 10am, assuming people would come around 11:00. I actually had a parent call me and ask if it was supposed to be 10pm! Two - People do not eat donuts for breakfast. There is only one donut shop in the city that is even open before 11:00am. Even though they open at 7:00, I had to beg and plead for the donuts to be ready by 9:00. Three - Pajamas? Really? Most girls get decked out for their birthday party. We are talking BIG, frilly dresses! I wasn’t sure if people would think pajamas at a party was too weird. Four - You simply cannot not have a cake. The cake cutting part of the party is a big deal. Donuts would not be a replacement for cake, I would still need to make one.
All that aside, the party ended up being fabulous, and one of my favorites! Every kid came in their pajamas and no one had issues with so much sugar, so early. Here are some pics of our donut bash.
Decorations - The donuts are pretty much decor of there own! I found these donut shaped balloons online and couldn’t resist. However, I was definitely disappointed when only 3 of the 6 were usable.
Craft - I love starting with a craft, cause it gives the kids something fun to do when they first arrive, but allows time for everyone to come in before we start the games. The kids made Donut Tic-Tac-To Boards. Here are a few more of my favorite party crafts, and why I like them more than games!
The Disappearing Donuts - I let the birthday girl do the honors of picking the first donut, and then in one minute flat, all of the choclatey, sprinkly, donuts had vanished, leaving only a handful of original and cinnamon for the stragglers.
Pass the Donut - Here’s Luke demonstrating pass the parcel - donut style! You’ve got to put your whole body through the inner tube, pass it on, and when the music stops on you, you’re out. By far my favorite moment of the party was 20 incredibly hyper kids rocking out to "All About That Bass."
The Cake - Since cake cutting is a must, I made a donut cake. I was originally planning to use this tutorial since I didn’t have a bundt pan, but I stumbled upon a clearanced one for $3 and decided it was worth it! The surrounding truffles were my attempt at cake balls. After getting frustrated by the dipping process, I gave up and mixed the cake, icing and chocolate all together in one bowl. They were delicious!
The Printables - Here are the printables I used for the party, which are all available in my shop. The Tic-Tac-To and Bingo are new additions. Just click on the pics for more info!
It really is the simplest things that sometimes click in your mind to inspire a great design! Yesterday I was walking down the road, past a house that I have seen hundreds of times. But on this particular day, I just happened to notice the window grates. Window grates are the metal bars that are common for bungalows or low-story flats where we live. They serve the noble task of keeping out intruders. But what I had never noticed is the unique geometric pattern on these grates. I guess I just always assumed they were all function and no form. It was like stained glass meets metal bars. I really, really wish I had taken a picture, but I didn't have my phone on me. I carefully noted in my head the pattern of triangles and lines, so that I could replicate it later. And here it is - the freshest new design in my Etsy Shop. It could be customized for pretty much any special occasion - bridal shower, birthday party, you name it! But in honor of my little inspiring moment, I did it up as a housewarming party invitation.
We have a lot of birthdays around this house! I celebrated mine last week, which means that little Marie's is just around the corner. Except she isn't so little anymore, she is turning FOUR! When we first moved overseas, Marie was just four months and my oldest was four years. I found out I was expecting Marie right after we made the decision to travel across the ocean, and it terrified me to think of adding a newborn baby to the mix. But she has been an absolute joy to our family and I am so glad God sometimes gives us good gifts that we didn't ask for or downright didn't want!
Now, the birthday rule in this house is that you get to pick whatever you want for your birthday cake. Since the only thing my girls really know to ask for is princesses, we have done Snow White, Rapunzel and are continuing the tradition for this party with Sofia the First. When I look into one-year-old Libby's eyes and see the adoration for her big sisters, I know that this will not be the last princess party.
I was determined to come up with a cute invitation for Marie's party that hinted Sofia the First, but that I could also actually sell in my Etsy shop. Don't get me started on all the licensing transgressions that are out there. I won't be a part of it! Here is the finished product! It is simple, graceful and can be color customized for any little girl's princess party. Check out the listing here, or contact me about making a custom invitation for your next even!
Up Close and Personal
By far, my favorite part of the whole thing was getting to touch the elephants. After the show, the trainers and elephants play with the crowds, giving out elephant hugs and kisses and tons of photo ops. You are expected to tip them for this, by giving the money to the elephant, who passes it to the trainer with his trunk. I was happy to pay a little extra for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Is it Ethical?
As much as I enjoyed seeing the elephants, I did wonder what goes on behind the scenes and worried that the elephants might not be treated fairly. I mean, is it really right to train them for all of these gimmicks and make them walk around all day with tourists on their backs? But then, is it any different than using other animals for labour? It is certainly preferable to some zoos where I have seen elephants chained by the ankles. I truly hope that the elephants are treated well when the customers aren't there. I came away from here with a greater appreciation for these amazing animals and I think that is worth something. However, if I wasn't traveling with my kid crew, I would probably prefer one of the less touristy elephant sanctuaries.
After the trip I was motivated to redesign my elephant baby shower invitation, especially after seeing the cute little six month old elephant at Maesa. You can check out these designs and more in my Etsy shop!
Wedding season is officially here! YAY! I can already see a steady increase of wedding orders in my Etsy shop. I am looking forward to the 2016 wedding season, because we will get to watch at least two special couples tie the knot, maybe a third - you know who you are - AND we will celebrate our own 10th wedding anniversary. A whole DECADE! That also means we have been married for one-third of our whole lives. Lord-willing, there will be many more years of goodness to come.
Now back to the present... with Luke gone, I've been trying to keep the kids out of the house as much as possible. It makes the time go by fast and there's less to clean later. But this week I plan to hunker down at home and get some new designs up, even if it means a little more TV time for them. It is so so so hot here, which inspired me to do something cool and refreshing. Here it is - the new Floral Watercolor Program. I have done up a few color samples, but am able to customize it with virtually any color or shade. You can click on the photos for a direct link to my Etsy shop.
For the past one year, my best selling wedding product has been my wedding mad libs set. Though there are a million listings on Etsy for mad libs, I think people like the variety of original stories that this set offers. It also comes with a key for the back, so that at the reception, guests can fill in the words without seeing the story.
As we head into wedding season, I decided to give the listing a little makeover. Taking this year's wedding trends into consideration, I redesigned the set with custom headings for each story. If you are a bride-to-be, or if you know someone who is tying the knot, this might be the perfect addition to the big day! You can purchase the set here.
I get questions now and then of whether I provide my mad libs as templates that can be downloaded and edited. The answer is no. You see, there is a lot of difference between "Liz and Tom" and "Jennifer and Jeremiah". This can mix up the layout of the stories quite a bit. I take great care with each set to make sure that the formatting is neat, clean and aligned well. You won't get that in a standardized template. So sit back and let me do the work for you! I can also customize it with any color combination, and deliver a beautiful print-ready file to your inbox within 24 hours of purchase.
A year ago, we were all very anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sixth member of our family. Now it is hard to imagine what it was like to be just 5! I'm not here to share all of my gushy emotions, although there are many! I just thought you might like to see some of the new birthday invitations I've been cooking up in her honor. The first one was inspired by this awesome cake from Martha Stewart which I plan to attempt. The second was inspired by the classic song "You are my Sunshine" which I sang along to Libby when she was a baby. This was also a fun project to try out some of the new fonts and textures I purchased from Creative Bloq last month. Both invites are newly available on my Etsy shop!
Lately I have had the itch to update my Etsy shop and create some new wedding and party designs. I usually prefer making new designs with a specific event or client in mind, but I don’t have any custom orders on the burner right now. To get my creative juices flowing I decided to try out some tutorials. Wow, I had forgotten how many functions there are in Illustrator that I never touch! Thank you to all of those talented out there who are willing to share their skills with the rest of us.
Tutorial One : Glitter
They say glitter and metallic textures will be trending this year for weddings. But I know a few little girls who love glitter too!
Tutorial Two : Lace
Now I love lace. And I don't think weddings and lace ever stop being a perfect union. I used the tutorial as a foundation and then designed my own modified pattern.
You can check out both designs in my Etsy Shop.
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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