Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Building a Great Party!

Big birthday parties are something that I never really thought I'd be doing as a mom. When I was a child, my birthday parties consisted of my immediate family, my dad's favorite meal (since we share a birthday) made by my mom, and a chocolate meringue pie. I was thrilled with that, so I assumed that I would do the same for my kids when they had birthdays. 

However, after waiting so long to become parents, I found myself wanting to celebrate my kids in a big way with all of our loved ones. The children love having friends and family over for their birthdays, and I love hosting a party! I also enjoy all the party planning and decorating, so our parties end up being much larger than I ever anticipated. They aren't huge or overly fancy by any means, but they are more than I thought we'd do before we had kiddos. 

With all of our kids having February birthdays, a combined party just makes the most sense for us and for our friends and family. Last year I really struggled with finding a theme that worked for everyone, but this year was much simpler because the kids actually asked for a Lego themed birthday party. And, it really ended up being the perfect theme! They ALL love Legos, the colors are bright and fun, and it was easy to find a ton of free printable decor for the party. 

This was our first birthday party in our new house, so I had to figure out how I wanted to decorate everything. The first decorated area was in the entryway where my hope chest sits. 

I found these adorable free printable signs online and framed them in white frames that I already had. I thought they really added a fun touch to the party decor!

For party favors, we wrapped little chocolate candies in a Lego wrapper (a free printable) and put them in bags with this fun top (also a free printable).

I saw this cute idea online and knew I wanted to replicate it . . . our Lego minifigures held candles that spelled out Happy Birthday. Of course, we never lit the candles :-).

Also in our entryway is this little shelf that hold nick-knacks. I replaced all of the things on the shelf with Lego sets we already owned. 

Chris and I had a lot of fun one evening building all of our Lego sets to use for party decor!

In our living room, we have a sofa table that typically holds some photos, a lamp, and a few other trinkets. I replaced all of those things with fun Lego decor. 

Another printed sign . . . 

I made the invitation for our party - and although it wasn't perfect - I was happy with how it turned out. As part of the sofa table decor, I framed the invite. This was the first year that we only sent out a few paper invitations as I invited most of our guests with an electronic invitation. That's not nearly as fun in my opinion, but it's easier and cheaper :-).

I have lots of glass vases, so I used a few that have a more contemporary look by filling them with Lego pieces. I thought the minifig heads added a fun touch!

I love having a mini-banners at my parties and will use them in several different places throughout our house. I was pumped when I found this free printable mini banner online. I liked that it was simple and colorful!

We've never had a mantle to decorate before moving to this house, so I've really been enjoying all the options that come along with a mantle! I kept it pretty simple for the party, but I was pleased with how it looked! The large, colorful "Lego pieces" are boxes of various sizes that are wrapped in plain colored wrapping paper with circles drawn on with black sharpie. I wasn't sure about how it would work out, but I feel like they were the look I was going for!

It may be hard to see in the photo above, but I lined the mantle with minifigs as a little extra touch.

This banner was yet another free printable I found online. I loved how it looked!

A few weeks before the party, we had checked this book out from the library. The kids were insistent on using it as a coffee table book for our gathering. This year, they really got into helping me decorate and brainstorm ideas. That added a new dimension of enjoyment to the party planning!

A small pop of color lined our staircase.

Originally, I had a different idea for our mantle that included this colorful circle garland I purchased from Etsy. However, when it came in I didn't like how it looked (and I had since found the Happy Birthday banner that I liked much better). I wanted to use the circle garland since I had spent money on it, so Chris hung it across our picture windows in our living room. I'm not sure it added much to the decor, but I'm glad we used it anyhow.

Some people think this is a little strange, but I like to add just a little decoration to the main bathroom for parties. I just think it's festive to carry the theme into a room that many of our guests visit! I have found that the mini-banner is perfect for this!

We have a large bar that runs between our kitchen and living room. I didn't want it cluttered up with a bunch of stuff, but I did want a few things on it. Another framed printable for the win!

As well as a few more little Lego sets . . . 

Our food table was fun to decorate this year because we used primary colors which made shopping for things simple. Solid, primary colors are always easy to find! The Happy Birthday banner on this table was purchased from Wal-mart, along with Lego napkins. Also, I find that a few bunches of balloons here and there always livens up the decor when it's a birthday celebration!

We purchased the cupcakes from Sam's Club and topped them with little Lego candies I bought from a party store. 

I was also able to find candies wrapped in solid primary colors at Wal-mart. After adding the minifig heads, they were a great addition to our table.

As I mentioned above, Chris and I had way too much fun building things for this party. We wanted festive utensil holders, so Chris built them out of our Lego stash. Can't get much more festive than that, right?

I may have gotten just a bit carried away with the Lego stuff, but I love a good theme! I even had my sister make a Lego themed shirt for each of us to wear, and they turned out just perfect! 

Our kids were so excited for their party and for all the guests to start arriving. Last year, Brecklyn had a good bit of anxiety on birthday party day, but she did much better this year. 

Brenson, Brecklyn, Brooke, Brianna

We adore our February babies!

The themed shirts may be a little cheesy, but aren't they fun?!?

Even though we have a larger and more functional space for hosting a crowd now, we still wanted the majority of the party to be outside. I just think it's so much nicer for everyone if the children can run and scream outdoors instead of in :-). Our playhouse and swing set definitely make it nice to host outdoor parties, but we decided to also rent a bounce house again this year. It was such a hit last year with ALL the kids, and our kids asked several times to have one again. Knowing we only throw one joint party a year makes it easy to say yes to things like this!

I printed these fun coloring sheets (that we put in the playhouse) for our guests to color. 

Hosting an outdoor party in February is always a risk, but we've been fortunate to have perfect weather pretty much every year. This year, it was very overcast and a bit cool the morning of our party, but ended up clearing off some and warming up a lot as the day went on. Almost all of our party guests hung out outside during the entire party, so it worked out just like we wanted it to!

Antha, Ryann, and Raelyn

G-Jo and Brooke

Sneaking kisses while having a snack :-)

We have two of these small picnic tables that we had set up for the children. They did great taking turns using them!

Chloe Jo, Caroline, Brenson, and Brianna

Jack, Kendall holding Annie, and Julia

Chloe Jo and Lisa

Brecklyn didn't care too much about socializing or eating . . . she just wanted to play! Papa pushed her in her swing for about half the party!

Jack also enjoyed the swings!

Wes and Chris pushing Jack and Sadie on the swings

Sadie loves our playhouse!

The kids would bounce for a while, grab some food, play in the playhouse, swing, then go back to bouncing. They did this for several hours!

Brenson, Caroline, Julia, Jack, and Brooke

Caroline, Julia, Brenson, Jack, and Brooke

Brooke loved the bounce house!

Raelyn, Brianna, Caroline, and Brenson

Zeke and Chloe Jo coming off the slide

Raelyn, Brianna, Abby, and Caroline

Zeke, Brooke, Caroline, Brianna, and Abby

Brianna, Abby, and Julia

Chloe Jo

Brianna, Abby, and Caroline

I'm not sure Brianna ever really left the bounce house. It's the perfect activity for our spunky girl!

Brecklyn finally decided to pause the swinging to get some food. 

Is this an ornery face or whaaaat?!?

Brianna, Brooke, and Russ in the background

Even though several of my friends don't have children yet, they are always so good to come to our parties and celebrate with us. I was so thankful Angie was able to join us for a bit!

Chloe Jo and Brianna . . . cousin BFFs!

After everyone had gotten some food and the children had played for a good bit, we all gathered on our patio to sing Happy Birthday and eat cupcakes. 

Caroline, Brecklyn, Julia, and Brenson

Papa, Zeke, Cassie, Abby, Joe, and Chris

It didn't take the kiddos long to finish off their cupcakes so they could get back to playing!


Caroline and Julia

Caroline and Julia

Julia taking the slide head first!


Brecklyn and Brooke


Chelley and Annie

This was our first birthday party where Grandpa was not present, and that was kind of hard. We're sad that our kids will have very few - if any - memories of Grandpa. We were very thankful that Grandma was able to be there, though. 

Brenson, Brecklyn, Brianna, Grandma, and Brooke
(This was taken after most of the guests had gone home . . . that's why the children are looking a bit disheveled!)

Grandma and Brooke

Grampy also wasn't able to be with us this year, but we were very grateful for G-Jo's presence. She's always SO much help to me during parties, and the kids just adore her!

Brenson, Brecklyn, G-Jo Brooke, and Brianna

For the last several years, we have chosen to not do gifts at our parties as we don't want gifts to be the focus for our kids. We want them to enjoy and appreciate spending time with their friends and family without the distraction of presents. In fact, I encourage our guests to not even bring gifts at all, but of course they are welcome to if they want. This year, a few friends did bring something for the kids to open, and they received presents from family members, as well. After many of our guests left, we had the kids open their packages.

Fishing poles and tackle for everyone!

One of our sweet friends gifted each child a Lego set, and they were a big hit!

Some other friends gave us a couple of movies to share. I thought that was a great idea for a group gift!

We are always so exhausted after a party, but we absolutely love hosting them! Celebrating our four amazing kids with friends and family is a huge blessing, and it's a privilege not lost on us. THANK YOU to everyone who was able to share the day with us, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my four favorite babies!

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