5 Tips for Planning a Baby Shower (or Sprinkle) Stress Free

LLandLoL worked with Kneaders Scottsdale, NothingBuntCakes Scottsdale and Oriental Trading to facilitate this post.  Some items where provided free of charge but as always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

How to plan a baby shower or baby sprinkle

I love planning and hosting parties, so much so, that when my sister in law was pregnant with baby number 3 and wasn’t sure about having a baby shower, I convinced her she needed to let me do SOMETHING.  Yes, yes, I know all about etiquette and 2nd and 3rd babies….but my kids and I had just finished looking through  photographs of their baby shower/sprinkle and their excitement of seeing who was there and them growing in my belly made me feel we needed to do something to celebrate my new nieces upcoming arrival.

sprinkleinvitecropped

My sister in law agreed and I started planning a casual baby ‘sprinkle’.  A sprinkle is meant for the second, third or even fourth baby.  Instead of showering new parents with gifts, we sprinkle them with love (and some gifts, too) and celebrate the newest addition to the family.  Just because it isn’t their first doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate, right?!

I am a mom to boys (and my teenage stepdaughter would never consider herself ‘girly’, but her love of makeup and boys has me internally rolling my eyes when she says that).  So the thought of throwing a party for a girl was exciting.  If you know me or you’ve been around LLandLoL for a while, you know I love a theme.  For this party, I threw the traditional idea of a theme out and focused on the theme PINK.  All shades of pink.  I figured it’s make it easy and less expensive to decorate; which brings me to some other tips for planning and hosting a baby shower (or sprinkle) on a budget and stress free.

 

Baby Shower Decor on a Budget

1. Look before you theme.

If the mother-to-be doesn’t have a specific theme in mind take a look at Pinterest for some inspiration.  Before settling on a theme, check out local or online party stores like Oriental Trading to see if there are any particular themes that are budget friendly (ie on sale!).  I scored many of the decor from Oriental Trading and the different shades of pink hanging fan decorations were at a huge discount.

Pink Rosette Cake

2. Plan Early

It’s always a tip I give for people on a budget.  If you plan in advance you can save money (or at least not pay a ton all at once) by utilizing local deals and sale and checking out one of my favorites; Groupon.  A couple of months before the party, I started scoping out Groupon (who am I kidding, I am always checking out Groupon for great local deals) and saw an amazing deal on a cake from a local bakery.  It also happen to be a time that Groupon was offering a % off local deals (they do this pretty regularly lately!).  I snatched up the Groupon at a fabulous price and quickly ordered, to be sure there was availability on the date of the party.  It was easy and very budget friendly.  Plus, the cake was a HUGE hit.

 

3.  Figure out food

Some parties don’t necessarily need a full meal and even though our party time started at a non-meal time, I knew, with this group a pretty full spread would be a expected (and appreciated).  I wavered for a while between ordering meats by the pound from a local BBQ place or putting my husband to work and having him grill up classic hamburgers and hot dogs.  I almost went with ordering the food (with temps reaching 110 here in Phoenix I didn’t want my husband outside grilling all day) but a great deal from Schwans sealed the deal and my poor husband was put to work.  I had him grill the food early on the day of so he wasn’t stuck outside during the party, and kept things warm in tinfoil. The sides and ‘fixings’ were easy, chips, potato salad and beans accompanied the burgers and dogs.  I got the potato salad (and some of the best chicken salad I’ve ever had) at Honeybaked Ham.  The price was comparable to my grocery store and I thought loaded baked potato salad was just a bit nicer than what was in the deli case around the corner.

Mini Pastries from Kneaders

I knew for this party I wanted more than just a cake.  I wanted a dessert table.  I had recently tried Kneaders Scottsdale for the first time and fell in love with the amazing food and especially the pastries.  Kneaders Scottsdale offers catering and platters and I knew mini pastries would be perfect for the dessert table.  I put them on a three tiered serving platter from Oriental Trading and they really looked (and tasted) fantastic.  I may have eaten four tarts….they are my favorite.  Watching the kids eat the eclairs and canolies was adorable.  Such fancy little children we all have.

Nothing Bunt Cake Scottsdale

The dessert table didn’t stop there! Nothing Bunt Cakes Scottsdale is just down the road and I stopped in the adorable shop to pick up some buntinis (mini bunt cakes).  I had heard such great things about this little cakes and I was so excited to include an assortment of flavors on the dessert table.  Adults and kids alike loved these and it was so sweet to see the kids sit there deciding which flavor to choose (I don’t blame them for being indecisive, they all looked so good!).

Cheap Baby Shower Favors

To finish the dessert table off I added lollipops from Oriental Trading (in pink rice thanks to some food coloring) and a plate of good old fashion Oreos.  You can’t go wrong with double stuffed Oreos.  Really, I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to some of these fancier treats so I figured Oreos was ‘safe’.  Little did I know, the kids would not only be interested in the special desserts, they would LOVE them.  Score all around!

 

4. Take Time

Don’t try to clean and put up decorations all on the day of.  I have attempted that in the past, it always turns out badly.  My kids are older now and I was able to explain to them why the pink decor was going up and tell them my expectations (no touching) the week before the party.  We picked the date of the party to be close to her due date but after school had started up.  This gave me some time to settle into our school routine but also devote some time to cleaning.  I picked a room each day leading up to the party and cleaned- I knew the bedrooms would be full of common area furniture and let it go…I didn’t really clean the bedrooms at all (which is funny because the kids all ended up in our messy master bedroom anyway).  The night before the party, we sent our kiddos off to have a sleep over at GiGi and Pop Pop’s house (thanks!) and moved the furniture and set up the tables.  Avoiding the day-of-rush helped alleviate stress and allowed for me to actually get ready for the party, too (though, I still didn’t have time to dry my hair)!

Girl Baby Shower

5.  Enjoy the moment

You are probably hosting the party because you love the parents and their growing family, right?  So try to enjoy the moment.  I started to worry when 30 minutes after the start time no one had arrived but realized the party would start when it started.  No need to stress.  I took the time to snap photos of my hard work (and cute kids) and did last minute things (like making sure the games were set and ready, that I had the prizes someplace I could get to easily etc).  Guests arrived and we had fun.  Kids played, people ate, photos were taken and games were won.  We celebrated the newest member of the family and showed the growing family some love.  That’s what it is all about.

15 DIY Ideas For Your 4th Of July Party

DIY 4th of July

The 4th of July is a great time for celebrating and hosting a party, big or small.  Check out these DIY Ideas for the 4th of July!

Repurposed Dynamite Stick Patriotic Party Favors from DIY Inspired

DIY Mod Podge Tea Lights from DIY Inspired

Glow Stick Fourth of July Party Favor Printable from DIY Inspired

Firecracker Candles from Mod Podge Rocks!

Patriotic Star Shaped Coasters from Mod Podge Rocks!

Easy DIY Patriotic Votives from Mod Podge Rocks!

Recycled Patriotic Utensil Holder from Crafts by Amanda

Americana Napkin Rings from It Happens in a Blink

Americana Punched Tin Cans from It Happens in a Blink

Recycled Fourth of July Table Lanterns from Creative Green Living

Patriotic Recycled Tin Can Wind Chimes from Creative Green Living

Patriotic Shooting Star Napkin Rings from homework

All-American Upcycled Food Container from Organized 31

Paper Bag Utensil Holders from Typically Simple

Aluminum Can Barn Star Wreath from Condo Blues

Inside Out Chocolate Strawberry

We eat a lot of strawberries when they go on sale!  We eat them all day for snacks, sides to meals and even dessert.  I dip them in chocolate for an extra special dessert treat.

Chocolate Strawberries

My kids make a huge mess with chocolate dipped strawberries- they hold onto them too long making the chocolate melt in their hot little hands.  I thought of filling the strawberries with the chocolate in an attempt to avoid the outrageous chocolately mess.

First I cut the top off my strawberries and then I used a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the middle of the top.

Strawberries and Chocolate

I washed the strawberries and let them dry.  While they were drying I took some chocolate chips and melted them in the microwave.

I took the same spoon and filled the holes with melted chocolate.  I wasn’t sure how to keep them upright and then I had a light bulb moment!  I used a mini muffin tin (a regular muffin tin will work; just put two in each and prop them up).  They stayed upright and kept the chocolate in place!

Strawberry Recipe

These present well, too, and would be great for a party. You can even top them with coconut, almonds, chocolate sprinkles or whatever you can come up with!

Back Yard Update; Outdoor Living Space Decor

I am so excited!  Hubs and I decided to update our pool area and add a patio and we are almost done!  This wasn’t a DIY project, except when it comes to decor and furniture.  The budget for the actual renovation ended up going over a bit so the decor and furniture budget got a bit smaller.  No problem! If there is one thing I am good at, it’s finding deals on stuff I want!  Check out what we have purchased so far to make our pool area inviting and an extra living space, just outdoors.

Backyard Update

We added a concrete space to make the pool deck and living space bigger.  A wall was added, as well, to hide a dirt/rock area and add a place for drinks and even seating.  The pool pump was hidden by a tall wall and the last step was to redo the deck.  After much debate, we picked the color ‘suede’ and had a ‘flagstone’ pattern done.  The budget didn’t allow for pool repairs; we’ll need to fix the tiles at a later date and get the pool light working (it’s not just a new bulb, a whole new instillation is needed).  I think we may attempt a DIY pool tile fix.  We shall see! Basically, the actual pool was ignored (other than having it drained and cleaned).

 

patiogazebo

The main goal was to add space AND get some shade.  So a gazebo was a must.  The grand plan was having a custom gazebo for space.  It is a weird shape so a custom one would be idea to get more shade.  Of course, that wasn’t in the cards, the budget just didn’t allow for it.  We got a great, highly rated, budget friendly gazebo online.

 

patiofire

I have been wanting a fire pit for a while now.  I have visions of s’mores with the kids and curling up next to my husband.  The fire pit was actually one of the first purchases I made once we started this process.  It was less than $60 and a good size for occasional use.

What are some must have items for your outdoor space? Tell me below and be sure to check back for the big reveal and part 2 of this backyard update!

 

Red Ranger Power Ranger Birthday Party

Oriental Trading provided products for review.  As always, my opinions are my own.

My oldest (birth) child turned 6 recently.  Yes, SIX (insert hyperventilating here).  Birthdays are a big deal around here.  We have five kids currently in our home, so birthdays are each kiddos’ special day.  Now, that doesn’t mean I shell out tons of money and I have learned throughout the years that I don’t have to stress about every detail.

kaden6bday

The kids and I discuss the kind of party they want and the theme.  If I am being honest, the kids have ‘plans’ for years worth of future birthdays…it is fun to think of themes with them.  The boys love Power Rangers and K’s favorite is always the Red Ranger (red is his favorite color, of course).  A party at a local karate dojo was the perfect venue for this birthday party theme!  I plan in advance and because of that, I was able to get an amazing deal for a party on Groupon.  The expiration could have presented a problem (I seriously plan THAT far in advance sometimes) but a quick call to the company confirms the party just had to be BOOKED by the expiration.  Easy enough!redrangerimage

 

I was a bit concerned, because, I worried there would be a lack of Red Ranger/Power Ranger items in the market; and getting crafty was wasn’t in the cards.  Luckily, my old friend, Oriental Trading, came to the rescue.  There were more than enough specific themed items and some of the suggestions the site showed worked perfectly, too.  For example, the ninja warriors and red lollipops worked as great additions to the goody bags.

redrangerfavors

The biggest hit was, by far, the Red Power Ranger Stand Up.  It didn’t hurt that, at the end of the party, the Red Ranger visited the birthday group, either (included in the party package!).  Yes, the ‘Power Ranger’ visit was a bit hokey and could have been way better executed (the female instructors painted nails were a dead giveaway), but the kids seems to like it, regardless.  Later, in the car, K told me he knew the ‘Power Ranger’ was the main instructor.  When I asked him how he knew, he responded with a huge smile, “Well, Mom, she left for a long time.  Then the Red Ranger showed up while she was gone.  I think we both know what happened”.  So this is six…

redranger1

Happy Birthday to me smart, sweet, amazing boy!

Play Dates Made Easy (with Cascade Platinum + A Giveaway!)

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Cascade. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.
Cascade Platinum

My kids love play dates with their friends.  I love chatting with other moms and grownup time while the kiddos play and exhaust themselves for nap time (or bedtime depending on the play date time).  Even though I seemingly love everything about play dates….I don’t.  I really hate the pressure of hosting them.  That’s not really fair to my friends or the parents of my kiddos so every once in a blue moon, I suck it up, and host a couple of moms and their kiddos.  I always have a blast and it’s never as big a deal as I make out of  it but there’s still some added clean up, cooking and entertaining to be done being the host of one of these shindigs.

Party Food

I find this Extra Creamy Mac & Cheese recipe is a crowd please for both kids and adults and it is fairly simple to whip up.  I invited a couple friends over to try it and check out my new secret cleaning weapon; Cascade Platinum.  With Cascade, clean up is much easier and makes the idea of dishes far less cumbersome.  This means I might be more inclined to invite people over (if only Cascade could clean my whole house before and after said play date!).  I fully expected to have to bribe guests to come to my play date with the products sent to me by Cascade but instead I had an overwhelming response to come play and hang out.  Perhaps it was my offer of food?  Or maybe just my winning personality.  Cascade Platinum

I packaged up the Cascade Rinse Aid and Cascade Platinum packets with a ribbon and a homemade ‘Thank You” tag using alphabet stickers.  I added a lollipop for the kids that were leftover from a recent birthday party we had for my youngest son.  I would like to say that, usually, for play dates, we don’t hand out goodies or gifts, but this was a special occasion.  We were testing Cascade Platinum!

Cascade

I made brownies the night before and let the pan just sit.  I resisted the urge to soak it or wash it immediately.  Cascade boasts that it actually works better without pre-washing- something science-y about the enzymes latch onto that food and break it down so it can wash away.   I wanted that well-known hard crust that happens after you bake something.  I made the Mac & Cheese while guests were arriving and when I was done I loaded up my dishwasher with the pot and pan used for the mac and cheese AND that gross brownie pan that had just been sitting on my counter.  I put the Cascade Platinum products in and started the cycle.  We played, ate, visited and laughed while my dishwasher did the work.

Cascade Platinum

Before everyone left I showed off my clean dishes and handed out my little gifts.  Everyone was impressed and rightfully so!  Check out the Cascade Platinum reviews (and if you have used it; leave your own using #cascadeshiningreviews)!

Cascade Works

 

Enter to win your own special Cascade Prize Pack!

The Prize Pack includes:
·       Cascade Platinum
·       Cascade Platinum Rinse Aid
·       Whisk
·       Spatula
·       Cheese grater
·       Oven mitts

 

Have an opinion to share? Head to the Cascade website to leave a short review of Cascade Platinum (http://www.cascadeclean.com/us/cascade/review) including #CascadeShiningReviews. One reviewer will win a Kitchen Aid Dishwasher!

Baby G Turns THREE! Carnival Themed Party in Scottsdale, AZ

Summer is over and we are right back into the swing of our school year schedule!  So time has passed but I didn’t want to miss the chance to share details about our youngest child’s 3rd birthday party.  Baby G was still young enough when I started planning his party that I was able to pick the theme (though he and the other kids LOVED it, but he may not have picked it for himself).  If you have been following me for some time you know I love a theme!  When we booked our party location they offered face painting and from that the Carnival/Fair/Circus theme emerged!Ticket Invitation The party location in Scottsdale Arizona we decided on for Baby G’s party was Daydreams Drop In Childcare.  I was really excited when I found out they offered parties.  When I was pregnant with Baby G, my older son occasionally went to this location (called something else but still the same owner) when I couldn’t find someone to watch him but had to go to the doctor.  He referred to it as ‘The Play Place”, as in, “Mommy, I go to Play Place today?! Please?”.  They are typically a drop in childcare facility that charges only for the time your child is there, not rounding up to the hour but prorating to the minute.  They now offer bulk minute discounts which is a great option to save some money and there are no membership fees.  I knew it’s be the perfect place for all ages and love that they offered a private party before opening.Carnival Birthday Party Let me say now, before you continue reading, choosing this place was the best decision I could have made.  The staff went above and beyond and took care of everything so I could enjoy the party too.  Usually, I am running around refilling snack bowls, cutting and passing out cake, rounding up kids for singing and trying to make sure every kid leaves with a goodie bag…they did it all and more.  The icing on the cake, for me, was when they announced it was photo time and got all our kid guests together for pictures.  Plus, they encouraged us to take family photos, too.  It’s so nice to have a couple shots that I am in too (I know I am not the only one who can relate to always being behind the camera)! Carnival Party Decor I got most of the supplies, decor and favors from Oriental Trading.  The carnival games were a fun addition and a way to really bring the theme to all aspects of the party.  The food was simple and classic carnival or fair food.  The staff set up the food table with all the items I brought it; cotton candy, popcorn and circus lollipops.  I wasn’t sure how to display the lollipops and the staff had just the thing!  An adorable box with foam for easy display.  I loved the way it turned out.  The tables were set with some animal crackers and carnival candy packs- the party venue had already put table clothes on the little tables for the kids.  The party favors were from a treasure box that included 50 items (and again, the staff rocked and put favors in bags and passed them out so no child left without one!) that reminded me of the kinds of items you might win at a school carnival. Carnival Cake I used a giant cupcake pan to make the carnival/circus tent cake.  The homemade butter cream frosting started getting too warm while I was decorating but I had left it until the last minute and didn’t have time to let it sit in the fridge a bit more.  No one seemed to notice the sloppy decorating and everyone was impressed (and it was so easy).  I also made a simple birthday banner using 8×8 inch pieces of paper.  I cut them into triangles (in half diagonal) and used a stencil to spell out a message.  I loved the added touch above the food table and it took less than 20 minutes.  Balloon animals where around the tables as decor and given to any kids who wanted one as they left.  They were fun to make (I made them the night before) and an inexpensive way to add more to the theme. Scottsdale AZ Birthday Party The party was amazing and I have been raving about the location and staff for over a month now. With the party package we got 2 free hours of drop-in care for the birthday boy, which will certainly come in handy some day soon!  Plus, he keeps asking to visit the ‘ birthday play place’.  It will certainly be hard to top this party!  I love planning parties, especially birthday parties, and luckily, with 4 kids, I get the chance often! Birthday Party in Arizona

Watermelon Refresher Recipe (With or Without the Booze)

It’s summer time which means tons and tons of watermelon in our house.  The kids eat it constantly and I encourage it because it’s cheap and good for them!

This is a great treat for kids (or Momma, especially with a bit o’ booze!) because it’s refreshing with a bit of sweetness.

Watermelon Refresher

You will need:

1 cup watermelon cut

1 cup coconut water

1 cup ice

1 tablespoon sugar

(Optional: make it a ‘grown up’ drink with a shot of vodka!)

Blend those ingredients up and pour into glass.  It’ll be a water/juice consistency, which is really refreshing but if you’d like a thicker more ‘smoothie’ type consistency add ice and more watermelon, as needed.   Garnish with a wedge of watermelon if you are getting fancy or sharing with company.  ENJOY!

A Disney Party Showing Off Our #DisneySide

Who doesn’t love Mickey Mouse and all his friends?  I know around these parts; Mickey, Minnie and Donald are favorites and often Disney Jr. is the kids’ pick when it’s TV time.  When I found out I’d been selected to host a #DisneySide @ Home Celebration my mind was racing with different themes; there are SO MANY options!  If you follow on Instagram (or Twitter) you may have seen some of the party and planning process; if you don’t follow, you should (I share fun stuff and do giveaways)!

Disney Party

We received a fabulous host pack with tons of goodies (and a beautiful piece of luggage from American Tourister; a company I am already in love with!  Check out my post on Travel Tips: Packing for Vacation).  After checking out the host pack and realizing my nephew’s birthday was coming up we settled on a general Mickey Mouse themed party.  We knew some of his guest have food allergies so we really wanted to focus on making everyone feel included so we check on the exact allergies and worked hard to make sure the kids could eat all the food available (and help parents relax and not have to worry their kiddo might get a hold of something that could hurt them).

disneysideparty

My nephew’s 5th birthday party was casual and low key; perfect for showing off our #DisneySide and love for all things Disney.  Unfortunately, on the day of the party my oldest son was in the hospital (he is completely fine; we went in for stomach pain/possible appendicitis and they wanted to keep him there so we stayed for two days)!  So we missed the actual party but my handsome dude was showing his #DisneySide in his hospital bed. We were lucky enough to celebrate when we got out with cupcakes, oranges and a little playdate.

disneyparty

Have you hosted or been a guest at a Disney themed party?  Share your experience with me below!  If you know me, you know I love a theme and my youngest son is turning 3 this summer!

Impress With These Easy Cocktail Recipes

***Disclaimer: Epic Vodka sent me the bottles used to create these recipes.  As always, opinions are my own.  No other compensation was provided.  I just really like these! Yum.

Epic Vodka has tons of flavors to choose from and here are some easy cocktail recipes you can use to impress company!

Mama Juice

 Mama Juice

1 oz Epic Vodka Cherry

3 oz Pomegranate Juice

1oz water (flat or sparkling)

Splash of lemon juice

Sugar the rim of you glass and fill with ice.  Shake your ingredients (or stir ’em) and pour into glass; garnish with lemon slice!

 Mojito

 Vodka Faux Mojito

Fresh mint (5 sprigs or so)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 lime wedge

1.5 oz Epic Vodka

3 oz Lemon Lime Soda

Muddle lime wedge and mint in your glass(I used the back of a ice cream scoop- I wish I was cool enough to have an actual bar set with a muddler, but alas, I don’t).  Add sugar to the bit of liquid you created by muddling.  Add ice to glass and with lemon-lime soda and top with vodka.

 Mojito Vodka