Thursday, May 17, 2018

{Party Bee} Pinterest-worthy Party Tables on a Budget

Pinterest-worthy party tables are all the rage these days and it is no question that I love myself a fun theme that I can go crazy with the decorations and treats! I am fortunate to be able to design and create a party almost entirely on my own. However, most people cannot do that nor do they have the luxury to hire a party stylist or baker to take care of their party and baking needs….that of course gets expensive. Furthermore, many people are unaware of the amount of time, energy, and money that can go into a table, or perhaps they do not want to spend that kind of time and money on a party, but would like to have a similar look without all the cost.  Well I am here to tell you that there are ways you can achieve a similar aesthetic on a budget! Though it is important to have realistic expectations of what your table will look like based on your budget, as every budget will produce different results (the party tables I have created are most likely on the higher side than the typical party budget, but every budget can generate at least a cute and basic table). Still, you too can create a lovely party table that will receive many compliments! All it takes is a little resourcefulness, creativity, and just the ability to think outside of the box. 

1        Size Matters!

Tables, that is. Before you start planning and decorating, you need to know the table you want to fill. If you are on a very tight budget, keep your table small….filling a large table will only become very costly and if you do not fill a large table enough, it just looks odd (and a little sad). Great tables to use are buffet tables, console/sofa/entryway tables, or a basic 4-foot folding table. Once you know the size of your table, you can determine how you want to fill it!

2        Know Your Strengths

It is good to know what you are good at and what you enjoy doing! This will determine the areas that you can really contribute to the table and will hopefully lessen the need to hire anybody to assist you, which ultimately saves you money! So, think about the following; are you good at baking, are you a whiz on the computer, do you scrapbook, are you crafty? These are all helpful when putting together a table, but being able to do just one of these can be of great assistance.

3        Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and be Resourceful

It is important to know that not everything on your table has to be edible! Using toys and decorations from around your house, that work with the theme not only help with the décor, but also add to the festivity….and will save you money! I also like to reuse when I can….I have reused tablecloths, table runners, and paper for my backdrops. Kraft paper from the dollar store has been very helpful!  I used it for my children’s Western themed party, painted it with chalkboard paint for my daughter’s Minnie’s Bow-tique party, and recently for my kids’ Mario party where I covered a canvas I had in my home and painted it with spray paint and glued paper decorations to make it look like the setting of the video game. Kraft paper is easy to work with and is incredibly inexpensive! Also, do not count out kraft paper lunch sacks….they can be decorated in numerous ways and have many uses!

      Piece of Cake

Baked goods are quite lovely, but can get pricey if you are having a professional make you a custom-tiered cake or decorated cookies. I love the way they look on a table, but are not always necessary. However, if you are going to splurge on one thing, cakes or cookies are the way to go because they are not easy to replicate yourself and can add to your theme and décor entirely on their own. Because I am not a cake decorator and cannot even begin to think of how to replicate a tiered fondant cake, ordering gorgeous cakes is where I like to splurge! Nevertheless, there are also alternatives to those glorious tiered cakes. For example, finding a simple frosted cake from a grocery store and adding small toys, paper toppers or decorated cookies can be just as cute! If you want to cut costs entirely, bake cupcakes yourself or purchase them from a grocery store. Adding small toys, candies, and/or paper toppers work just as well for a fraction of the cost!

5        Party Décor that Pack a Punch for Pennies

Phew, say that 3 times! When I design my table, not only do I like to fill it with toys, goodies and a splurge item, but I also like to determine the things I can use that are very inexpensive but still make an impact on the table. My go-to item is always water bottles! It is very easy and cost effective to purchase water bottles and wrap them with coordinating paper labels. You can also use duck tape, stickers, googly eyes, etc. depending on what you have around the house and what works with your theme. Another item that adds to your table on the cheap are latex balloons! They come in a variety of sizes and patterns….you can even add stickers, construction paper, or mark them with sharpies to draw on faces, numbers, letters, etc. And never forget the power of the dollar store….they can provide you with so many great decorations, craft supplies, and party favors that will help cut costs and fill your table with really cute stuff!
6        Pretty Papers

Purchasing printables on Etsy is an easy way to decorate your table with paper decorations, however if you don’t want to spend the time cutting and assembling paper printables, head on over to Party City, Target, or Walmart and take a look at their party aisle. These stores are very accessible and have so many similar banners, tags, and toppers to choose from that are adorable, inexpensive, and will do the trick! If you happen to be a whiz on the computer, try creating some paper decorations on your own. Even more, if you are a scrapbooker and have
the time, this is the perfect opportunity to create some lovely paper decorations for your table using your existing paper and supplies!

7        Just Buy It!

If crafting isn’t your thing, identify any items you may want to splurge on….if you are on a very tight budget and can’t afford to splurge, no worries, go store bought all the way! The secret to this method of decorating is presentation and packaging! Pull out your platters, cake stands, mason jars, etc. and just present your treats nicely. If you find candies on clearance from a previous holiday (which I absolutely love to do if I can make them work with the theme or color scheme) place them into a treat bag and tie it with a ribbon or paper label and ta-da….perfect party treats ready for display!

Ultimately, the key to putting together these tables on a budget is just being creative, working with what you have around the house, knowing your strengths, and calling reinforcements to assist with the areas that you need help with (i.e. bakeries, dollar store, grocery store, and party store). Remember to have realistic expectations based upon your budget ($100 will not get you a full-blown party table, but you can still create something small and cute) and lastly, have fun with it because in the end parties should be fun and everyone is going to love what you do!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

{Sugar Bee} ASU Graduation Cap Sugar Cookies

It is graduation season and students from all Universities are completing their degrees and entering the real world! And what a better way to celebrate graduation than with sugar cookies! A sweet mama thought just that so she ordered her daughter who graduated from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU with cute graduation caps in their school colors. Hooray to the new ASU graduate!
It is no question that mothers help their children grow and bloom. So this year for Mother's Day instead of actual flowers, I wanted to create cookies to symbolize the growth and blooming of a Mother's love! Thus, I created mason jars with sweet pearl hearts with "Mom" written on them and bouquets of  bright and colorful flowers.These mason jar and floral bouquet sugar cookies are the perfect combination of sweet treat and floral arrangement for the amazing mamas who plant seeds of love that help their children bloom forever! 
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, past, present, soon-to-be moms, and honorary moms. May your day be filled with love, joy, and laughter! Your child{ren} are blessed to have you in their lives. Enjoy your day, you deserve it!

{Sugar Bee} Nurses Have Heart Cookie Collection

This year I decided to offer Nurse Appreciation Cookies as a flash sale. It was so last minute for me, but I thought that nurses should be celebrated as well, so I took to baking and decorating and came up with my Nurses Have Heart Cookie Collection. Nursing is definitely a work of heart, so I incorporated quite a few hearts throughout the collection. You see it on the band-aid, the scrub top, the heart beat cookie, and then subtly the pearl sheen on the nurses hat. I didn't realize when I made them how popular they would be, so don't year I will prepare earlier and offer them to more customers!

Happy Nurse Appreciation Week to all those wonderful and caring nurses who do so much and give so much of themselves to their patients...we are so grateful for you!

{Sugar Bee} Snack Attack: Teacher Appreciation Cookies

This year for teacher appreciation week, I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary. It is pretty common for teachers to receive items that are very traditional and school related (which I love), but this year I thought out of the box and went for a quirky approach. Thus, I created my Snack Attack Collection. This assortment of cookies consisted of nachos, tacos, pizza, cupcakes, ice cream cones, popcorn, and of course an apple. The best part is the fun phrase on the coordinating tag.... "Nacho Average Teacher", "Here's the Scoop Teacher, You Rock", "Any Way You Slice it, You're the Best Teacher Ever", It's Been Sweet Having You as a Teacher", "Taco 'Bout a Fantastic Teacher", " For a very POPular Teacher".

It is so important for me to give even just a little something to my kids' teachers to show them how appreciated they are. I know I am grateful for the love, kindness, time, and energy that they show my kids everyday. Happy Teacher Appreciation Day to all you amazing teachers who are so dedicated to their students. Words just cannot express my gratitude!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

{Party Bee} A SUPER fun time at Jake and Ava's Super Mario Brother's Birthday Party

This year we put our game faces on and threw a joint birthday party for Jake and Ava's birthday! Both of my kiddos have become completely obsessed with the Mario Brothers after being introduced to Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart, and Super Mario it only seemed right to celebrate their birthdays together (and mom only has to do one party this year....bonus!).
When I was coming up with a vision for the party, I knew I wanted it to be bright and colorful so I chose the red and white polka dot pattern as my main source of color, then I used small accents of yellow/gold and green for added pops of color.  When I designed the printables I made sure that I didn't use a pattern that would complete with the table cloths and accents. Thus, I used a simple chalkboard background and added the characters and colorful font that would work well with the rest of the decorations and goodies!
A few months ago, I was looking on Target's online party decorations and came across yellow mystery box party boxes....I knew at that moment, I would have to get those for the kids party favors! They were just too cute and screamed Super Mario Brothers, plus they really unified the table with the backdrop and dessert table.
Again this year, I had to have a cake created by the talented Natalie Laskarides (as I have done for the past 2 years), but this year I wanted to have 2 for each of my kids. This was especially important because I wanted to give them both something that would make them feel so special and was representative of them and their personalities. Ava is my little princess and loves all of the princesses in the games, but especially loves Princess Peach (she even owns the costume), therefore her cake was inspired by Princess Peach's dress and crown. Jake has loved Mario since he was 4 years old....there was something about the character that he just gravitated towards. So his cake was inspired by the game itself and has a Mario hat on top (very much like the game Super Mario Odyssey). The detail work on this cake is just phenomenal and my son's jaw dropped to the floor when he saw his cake. The best part of these cakes.... not only are they beautiful, they are delicious! 
My best friend, Gabby, is always my right hand woman for all my parties, she assists me with anything I need before, during, and after the party. Each year she helps me with making the cake pops because she has got some mad baking skills and has a special talent for decorating them with such detail. This year she took on the challenge of making Boos (ghosts), Bob-ombs (bombs), and Goombas (brown mushrooms) since I really wanted to add some of the bad guy characters to the table too (she even threw in some stars and mystery boxes as a bonus!). They turned out cuter than I had imagined and they were quickly devoured!

In addition to the cake and cakepops, I always like to create cupcakes.....they are just so cute, easy to do, and kids just love them! This year, I created vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting and decorated them with a power star chocolate topper. It is just another simple way of adding fun and festive goodies to the dessert table.
Chocolate covered Oreos are always a staple at my parties and this year I knew I wanted to highlight the mustaches that are so indicative of the famous plumbers. So I created mustache chocolate covered Oreos in red and green to symbolize Mario and Luigi.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with sugar cookies! So when it comes to a birthday party, they are probably the first thing I think of when my kids tell me the theme they want. This year was no exception! As soon as they told me they wanted a Super Mario brother party, my mind went to brainstorming cookies.

I love to create cookies with the age that they are turning so it really personalizes them, so I created a number 8 cookie with the brick pattern that you see in the game (but I used a fancy gold/copper color for an added pop of gold) and included the bomb character. I also designed the number 6 cookie to resemble the pattern of the red and white mushroom (but used a fancy pearlized white) and decorated it with a power star. The other two cookies I created were the green 1Up Mushroom and the Fire Flower. I think they all worked so lovely together and the colors just unified the red and green from the Oreo platter.
When I saw that Pez offered Mario Brothers Pez dispensers, I knew I had to place those on the tables! Not only did they make great decorations, but they were fantastic party favors for the kids to take home!
Because a dessert table has so many different kinds of goodies, I like to offer to-go bags for my guests to take treats home with them. It also allows me to add to the decor with themed paper bags. The best part is that they are so easy and inexpensive to make! I just used red, green, and pink colored bags from Michael's Crafts Store and glued some printables that were designed to look like Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach's outfits.
A party isn't a party without a traditional party game! I love to do a twist on pin the tail on the donkey game. It really only seemed appropriate to pin the mustache on Mario!
My beverage station consisted of my homemade lemonade where the guests could "power up"! Let me tell you, there isn't anything like homemade is so fresh and refreshing!
My Super Jake and Princess Ava are very loved and they were so happy to be celebrating their birthday with family and friends. I just feel so blessed!
The Game Truck was the activity that my kids and all their friends had been counting down the hours to do! Let me just say, this trailer is the plays up to 20 kids at once, it is air conditioned, and has an employee inside to assist the party goers with starting and operating their games and answering gaming questions. Before the children entered the truck, I provided each gamer with a VIP badge that had their name on it. This not only allowed the kids to feel important like VIP members, but it also helped the guy managing the game truck keep all the kids' names straight.
As you can see from their smiling and silly faces, these kids had a blast playing games on the game truck!
Pin the mustache on Mario and the pinata were two fun games played at the party that really added to entertainment and to the theme! Of course the pinata is a highlight for the kids because there is candy inside!
Cake time and blowing out the candles is always a special time for us as everyone gathers around to sing and wish them a happy birthday! These two definitely had a SUPER fun filled birthday party!

Happy 6th and 8th birthday my sweet Jake and Ava! 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

{Sugar Bee} Carrot Cupcakes this Easter Sunday

Carrot cake is a classic dessert for Easter, so I knew I wanted to make a more traditional cupcake to go alongside my non-traditional cupcakes (aka my coconut macaroon cupcakes). So I created a carrot cake cupcake and topped it with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting and added a cute little white chocolate carrot for decoration. I am pretty sure that these carrots are vegetables that my children will be asking to eat! They are a little healthy right? I mean, surely this must count as a serving of vegetables. At least that is what I am going to tell myself today while I am celebrating! " I carrot wait to eat them"! Hope my guests enjoy eating them as much as I enjoyed creating them!
May you and your family have a blessed and Happy Easter!