party favor ideas

Here in my little town we have some amazing places to pick up dessert. We have a country roadside stop for soft-serve cones, we have this incredible European-style pastry shop, and finally, we have a cupcake bakery that sells the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. Yumm. Just thinking about it makes me want cupcakes for breakfast.
Incase you can’t tell, I’m a sucker for a pretty dessert. Especially a pretty cupcake. And though I love eating them, I also like giving them away. So a few months ago, I came up with a fun way to present a single cupcake, enthroned in all its sprinkled glory. It started when we realized these make the perfect dome over a cupcake.
I ordered a set of these deli containers, and flipped them upside down.

I pulled out the drill and made a single hole in the center on top.

Then I added a favorite drawer pull that I picked up, where else?, from Anthropologie. (Note: the knobs at Anthropologie are always long, so if you get one from there, you’ll need to either cut it down or replace it with a shorter screw. Some unscrew easier than others, so check before you buy.)
We discovered that a liner beneath the cupcake is the perfect place for a secret message. If you have a particularly buttery cupcake (the best kind) and are worried about grease spoiling your message, use a layer of glassine.
All that’s left to do is snap on the dome. And there you have it, a pretty cupcake, packaged and ready to send home with a guest or birthday girl, even with a handle for easy carrying. After finishing this project I decided that the next time we have a tea party over here,

we are definitely having a cupcake tree.


If you’re new here, you can check out my other tutorials here, or get some inspiration for other party favors on my blog, my gift inspiration board, or my pretty packaging inspiration board. Thanks for stopping by!


I love May. I’d love to spend the entire month outside. In honor of May I thought we’d do a project that is reminiscent of May poles and of frolicking in the spring sunshine. We put together some DIY ribbon sticks.

When I first saw these clear tubes from Garnish, I was giddy with the possibilities. So I ordered a few.

Then I pulled out some leftover craft supplies: a few jewelry fasteners, leftover ribbon, one-foot wooden dowels, and some tacks I found out in the shed.

I started putting it all together. Ribbons sewn to fasteners and fasteners nailed to dowels. (If you don’t want to sew, tying knots works just as well). My fasteners allowed for three ribbons on each stick, which I thought was just right.
We did some test frolicking. The best ribbons are definitely the light, silky ones. (And as a side note, I decided to do this tutorial during my all-things-wedding weeks, because I can’t help think that a bunch of little girls frolicking with ribbon sticks would totally add to the scenery of any wedding. Or picnic. Or backyard barbeque. Or school yard. Or anything.)

Then we packaged up our creations in our tubes and added some labels (available for free here). We’re excited to spread some May sunshine. We’re off to the post office to see how the mail clerk likes them, but more importantly, the little girls who will be receiving them in the mail.


and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



I think a fabric bloom is just the thing to give mom on Mother’s Day, don’t you? Something lovely for her to pin on to make her feel queenly. I’ve seen so many beautiful fabric flowers floating around that I thought I’d gather them here for a little inspiration in case you’d like to buy or DIY.

buy Heart of Light | Grosgrain tutorial | 100 Layer Cake tutorial

buy Emersonmade | Miss Priss tutorial | Prudent Baby tutorial

buy Twigs & Honey | buy Sarah Culleton (via here) | Ruffles and Stuff tutorial

Everyday Chaos tutorial | buy K. Autumn (via here) | Mama Monster tutorial

Salty Pineapple tutorial | Knit Picks tutorial | buy Tago Design


Clickin Moms

If you happen to be a budding photographer, you are going to love one of my new sponsors. More on Clickin Moms coming soon.


Here’s a quick little project I thought you might like to make for mom or grandma on Mother’s Day. It easy, and come on, aren’t the results fab? Put a few scraps of fabric on the table in front of your kids and see what lovely things they come up with.

You’ll need just a few supplies:
-A pair of scissors
-Scrap pieces of felt and patterned fabric
-Pipe cleaners
-A fun array of buttons

We  snipped out a few varying shapes and sizes of fabric. I liked the round felt with the scalloped pattern fabric. Layer them as you like and snip a single slit right in the middle.

With the pipe cleaner, make a loop big enough to fit as a ring in the back, and make a little twist to finish the loop.  Then poke both ends through the slit in the fabric, through the button holes, and give the pipe cleaner one more twist on the top to hold everything in place.

And there you have it. Something fabulous for grandma or mom to wear on her special day.

We also discovered that if you make a slightly bigger version you can make mom’s bike pretty too.

Happy snipping.


Ever since high school, I have always carried a blank notebook with me almost everywhere I go, for recording bits of inspiration as they strike. I also like carrying a black pen and a pencil. And only recently did it occur to me to have a pencil sharpener to carry around too. It’s the simplest but greatest thing. To have a sharpened pencil anytime I need it is such a joy. So we recently started giving pencil sharpeners to other people too (you may have noticed it in this post). We found it to be the perfect teacher gift, and with teacher appreciation day fast approaching (it’s May 4), I thought you might like the how-to.

I simply decided to buy wooden pencil sharpeners and follow the directions for making a scrabble tile pendant. Here’s what you’ll need:
—A wooden pencil sharpener
(I was turned on to KUM pencil sharpeners after reading this hearty endorsement)
—Modge podge
Diamond glaze
(can be hard to find, so shop around in advance, you can also use epoxy resin, which is more permanent and is water resistant, but you won’t want to use it around kids)
—A piece of artwork to add to the pencil sharpener

It’s true, KUM sharpeners are the best.

We’ve used a couple different kinds of artwork to apply to the pencil sharpener. I printed an initial for one, and my son drew a picture for his teacher for another sharpener. I took a photo of it and reduced its size.

I sanded off the paint from the sharpener.

I painted the surface of the sharpener with Modge Podge, then added my artwork and painted again with Modge Podge. I decided to give the sharpener a little extra time to dry.

I flipped over the sharpener and used a craft knife to trim the overhanging edges of the artwork.

Then I added the diamond glaze. This part can be a little tricky. I added a bead of glaze the size of a dime to the center, then tilted the sharpener until the glaze covered most of the surface. I used a straight pin to guide the glaze to the corners of the surface. And finally, I set up the sharpener on a bottle cap so the sharpener was perfectly level as the diamond glaze dried (which takes a few days, so be prepared to wait).

Once the glaze was dry, we had a personalized pencil sharpener ready to go.


This post is brought to you from Idaho! Our trip is going swimmingly, and I am snapping many pictures to share with you.

But first, I have to say how much I am loving your comments on my Ann Clark giveaway. The things you do with cookie cutters and the cookies you make and eat have me inspired. I am thinking of launching a full-on kitchen experiment to find a good chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It is going on my must-do list along with making this skirt, mussels, and artisan bread (I updated the post on making these magnificent loaves with a few details you may need if you’re missing the book). I’d better get busy.


But first, something I promised long ago. Remember when I shared every last thing in my gift and wrapping closet? I told you I like to keep $5 and $10 gifts on hand to mix and match as gift emergencies require. Well, here are a few favorites (with more to come). Do you have any favorite emergency gifts? I’d love to hear.

for twisting, and a good bookto show how.
(image from here)

A blank umbrellaor parasoland fabric markers.
(I know, the parasol is over $10, but still affordable, and I knew you’d love it.)

Gumballs and a vintage-looking machine.

A ball on a band. Kids will be busy outside for hours, making this a good gift for mom too.

The bilibo mini.

Bath crayons,for little ones whose best ideas come in the tub.

Lollipops! Really, if you’re going to eat pure sugar, isn’t this the way to do it?

A coloring page that goes forever.

A super classic top.

Binoculars. Of course.

A can of chalkboard paint,for doing something like this.

Brain food. Fun for hours.

And finally, crayon rocks. And maybe a fun handmade pouch for toting them everywhere.
(Pouch found via here.)


I am so pleased to tell you that our tea party was a smashing success. Really it couldn’t have been more of a delight.  The little ladies arrived in their pretty dresses ready to munch and chat, and fully determined to have a good time. They broke out into impromptu games of ring around the rosie, and they burst into cheers for each girl around the tea table, which may not have been polite tea talk, but it was perfectly lovely. And they all-around made the party worth all my trouble.

I did have one moment of doubt. Is this a good place to confess? About an hour before the party I still had flour all over the counter and hadn’t made it to the shower yet. Please tell me you’ve done this at least once when you’ve entertained. Somehow though, it all came together. I’m just glad I planned this over a week after our Mario party. That timing was just about right.

I’ve told you the invitations are my favorite part of any party. So of course we had to do something fun with them. We used glassine and my Divine Twine to make these. (Thanks for the inspiration, Sherry!)

We had three proper courses, and followed these guidelines to the letter as best we could. Of course our tea sandwiches had to have cucumbers to be legit. My daughter’s favorite part was going around the table, asking “one lump or two?” We did, however, also offered lollipops for stirring the tea, which make a colorful replacement for a sugar spoon.

Thank heaven for Krustez and Pilsbury. Without them there would have been no scones and no pretty sugar cookies to decorate.

Do you like the cake? I used this trick for making it smooth, and doodled on it using this trick. It turned out to be the easiest thing.

As the girls arrived, they each got to decorate their own pretty dress cookie. This turned out to be the perfect inexpensive craft. Plus it turns out that icing a cookie and designing your dream ball gown makes for a pretty good time.

I used this idea to make a cupcake with different color candies wrapped up inside. I made just one of these so we could use it for a game: I hung feathers from the ceiling that matched the colors of candy. Then we followed the rules for a cake walk. We played music, had it stop and had the girls run under a feather.  We found out who won by unwinding the surprise-ball cupcake (oh the suspense!) to reveal the next color of candy.

We decorated the front door, which doubled as our photo booth. The roof and walls of my patio are painted white, and I find I get pretty good lighting there. The shots turned pretty cute. It’s harder to get cuter than excited girls dressed up for a birthday party.

Do you like the chair favors? They’re my favorite touch. I got the idea from this version, which I saw online just days before the party or I would have considered buying them. Though these were pretty easy to put together.

We’ve had lots of our little guests tell us since that they’re just dying to have their own tea parties. Which I think is adorable, and which I figure makes for a good compliment. And truthfully I had a great time too, I think afternoon tea really could be addicting. So I think the next logical step is either to move to England or host my own afternoon tea for grown up ladies. Though I think I’d better give the husband a little break before I bring up either of these.


Our Mario birthday party was a hit, and I collected my pictures over the weekend to share with you. We had rain, so we gave up our plans for bike racing and stayed indoors to party. But it was pretty fun having five little Marios running around my house hunting for Yoshi eggs and dodging balloon bombs.

Invitations are my favorite part of planning a party. (Forget the party itself!) We included a gold coin and invited each Mario to come earn more. (I found the question block idea from here and here.)

Toad has got to be my favorite character, so we decided to make the cakes in his honor. Do you like the cloud garland? I’m pretty proud of myself for that touch.We had invincible Marios fighting our ghosts all party long. (I saw the idea here.)
I went a little crazy and made each boy a hat. I just couldn’t resist. I promise I kept it simple other than this.
In case you were wondering what a Mario hat pattern looks like, here you go. It took me a couple tries to figure out the right pattern, but once I did i was very happy with the result. This pattern also works for an artist’s beret if you leave off the bill. (UPDATE 7.26.10: I’ve added the pattern for you to download if you’re interested. Scroll to the bottom of the post and save each of the 5 pages)
Everyone wanted to give the pinata a Mario punch before we really got serious about picking up the stick and breaking it open. It was filled with, you guessed it, gold coins.
Despite the rain, I think all five Marios had a good time.

Now we’re hard at work pulling together a tea party. Stick around and hopefully I’ll have a few pictures to share. Somehow I get more nervous planning for little girls.

UPDATE 7.26.10: For those of you who requested the Mario hat pattern, here you go! Just click on the link below to download all five pages as a pdf. Or if you have troubles with that, you can right click on each of the five images and save the image.

I used red fleece and a small piece of plastic canvas (if you’ve never used plastic canvas, you can see a picture of it in my fabric mailbox tutorial, you can find it at any craft store) to make the bill firm in each hat.

To download, either right click on the images below to save them

Or click here to go to Scribd and download the pattern there.



Today marks day one of extended birthday bash mania here in our house. I love that my kids share a birthday week. It’s kind of like our combed-down version of carnival or mardi gras. Parties for days! The kids and I go craft crazy while Brent shakes his head at our ambitious plans, disappears with a book for a while, then comes back to try to help me rein in the mess.

Just last night we finished mario hats, a mario pinata, toad cakes, and tea party invites. We were focused! We may have gotten further but my girl came down with a little earache. And before all falling into bed exhausted, we also managed to make these, which my son is taking to preschool to hand out to all his friends on his big day.

We thought we’d do a twist on melted heart crayons by adding initials. Didn’t they turn out sweet? They’re so bright and pretty they left me wanting to make more, maybe with a message on them next time. And they were pretty simple. Here’s what we did:

1. Ravaged the crayon drawer for all the ugly crayons. Anything that was still pointy was safe. But all the dull, broken crayons came out for us to peel the label off and break into smaller pieces. Next time I will keep the same brands of crayons together. The crayolas melted much slower than our stash of crayons collected from restaurants.
2. Preheated the oven to 190 and arranged the crayons in a candy mold. I wanted to keep the temp low because the mold I used was meant for chocolate and isn’t too heat resistant.
3. Melted the whole batch for a good ten minutes, until they’d all melted.
4. Pulled them out of the oven and put them into the fridge for ten minutes.
5. Next we worked on the initials. We scratched the letters into the surface with a pencil. The wax was still a tad soft and it was super easy to get the letters just how we liked. Then we melted a black crayon in the microwave and painted over the letters with a small brush. We had to throw the wax back in once or twice, but it wasn’t too trickey.
6. We wanted the black to meld with the rest of the crayon, so we put each crayon back in the mold, letter side down, and popped them back in the oven for another four minutes, as long as it took for the letters to just begin to show signs of melting.

After they cooled, we were quite pleased with the result.

Scratching out the initials.

et viola!


Places to Doodle


Just looking at these is bringing on the doodling urge. Are you feeling it too?

on a shower curtain
(I am so doing this for a highschool grad)

on a toy boat

on your chair

on your rocket ship

on a garland

on matryoshkas

in a comic book

on a train

on your doll

on your keds

on a t shirt (via Design Mom)


One stack of rainbow sticky notes, all packaged up and ready to brighten the mailbox of my little sister (shh, don’t tell).

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details



NOTE: This is the second post in a series about photo gifts by my guest author and friend Rachelle.

Yesterday we talked photo albums, today we’ll talk photo gifts. Besides the calendar from Shutterfly, the mouse pad from Costco, the mug from Snapfish, there are handbags, ornaments, blankets,  playing cards, key chains, stickers, etc. , etc. but, since this is the giverslog (where gifts are taken to a whole NEW level), let’s think outside of the box…  I challenge you to look around for the inspiration that is all around you!

I thought I’d share few gifts I’ve done this past year with photographs in hopes of getting you thinking of the possiblilites:

1.cereal box covered with my kids photos and well wishes for my brother to open on Christmas morning as he was away from any family.

2. For my friend running a marathon, a small gift card holder covered with a black and white photograph of her shoes (it was entitled “26 miles to go”).  It was filled with Jelly Belly Sport beans.

3. A large storyboard type print for my cousin’s wedding gift with some of the photographs I took of her special day.

4. Birthday party invitations and thank you cards where photographs, which always makes them more fun and personal.

5. memory game for my kids and a set for their cousins with 52 playing cards (made with photographs, chipboard, scrapbook paper, mod podge, and lamination) from our last get-together.

6. “Grandparents day” cans covered with my kids picture and filled with a yummy treat.  This one is a fun one and super versatile.  You open the bottom of the can with a smooth edge, eat what’s inside, wash it out, and fill it with something yummy or fun!  Then you wrap the outside in a cute wrapper (with a photo is always a bonus) and tie a ribbon around the pop top to remind the receiver to open it!  I made these for birthdays, holidays, and any other excuse I could think of this year!

The possibilities are endless.  I hope these two days have gotten you thinking. What photographs can you make sure happen when you are together with your loved ones?  What ways can you incorporate photos into your gifts?  As you plan meaningful gifts to give that your loved one will treasure include a photo and I guarantee you’ll get a big smile!


First I have to say, thank you for your kind comments on my post yesterday. It was nice getting a little encouragement right when I need it. I so enjoy all your clever and thoughtful words.

I apologize if the blog is acting strange this week. The beautiful and talented Brooke is helping me with a tune up, and I think that if I hadn’t pitched in (oops) the job would be almost done. But we are close.

One last thing. I got the nice surprise of finding out I’d been nominated for the I Heart Design Award in the blog category. Would you stop by and vote for me? Only if you deem me worthy. I won’t prepare my acceptance speech yet. You can vote once per day. And if you leave a comment there you’ll be entered into the $50 giveaway.

And now, on to something I’ve been wanting to share with you.

In the middle of finishing Valentines last week my daughter and I came up with something fun. We call them salutation stickers. We printed off a page on label paper (the best deal I’ve found is these) for her to stick on her Valentines, and an extra page to use during the rest of the year. You know, for signing cards to her friends, sealing envelopes, sending off notes in the form of paper airplanes.

I thought this was a nice intro to the next couple of posts that are on their way, which are all about photo gifts. Remember last week I told you I’d introduce you to someone special? You’ll have the chance to meet her and pile your brain full of ideas for photo gifts. Doesn’t that sound nice? I can’t wait.


Sometimes I wish I had all day just to share ideas with you. There’s just so much brilliance going around and never enough time to share all I want to. Maybe if I stop folding laundry. Oh wait. I already did that this week.

This is a great idea Rikelle mentioned on the pre-Christmas post about giving a salad kit. Rikelle makes festive-shaped croutons to give friends during the holidays. Don’t you love that idea? I’m finally getting a chance to put this to work, for Valentines.

Alongside my bag of loving croutons will be a bag of candied pecans (just toasted in a hot pan with a spoonful of sugar) and a favorite dressing to make what may be the teacher’s most wholesome valentine this year. Below are Rikelle’s directions for making yummy crunchy croutons.

“I really do love making the croutons. I make them with a mixture of equal parts butter and olive oil, with garlic and parsley to taste. I cut out the shapes and then dip them in the oil mixture and toast them until crisp.”  (NOTE: I toasted mine at 350 for 20 min).

Thanks, Rikelle. The butter and oil combo is delish.

And since we’re on the topic, I have to tell you that my favorite croutons are those made from black bread. And I’m wondering, does anyone have a good recipe for black bread like you find in Germany? I’ve been relying on this bread mix but would really like to find a recipe of my own. I enjoyed Smitten Kitchen’s black bread recipe, but am looking for something firmer and without any rye flavor. I thought it was worth an ask.

If you’re looking for more teacher gift inspiration, I have a couple in previous posts here, or inspiration in my gift guides here.

I hope you’ll visit me at the SEI blog today, where you can meet this guy.

And one last thing. I hope you’ll stop by here and enter my giveaway. Select Registry is offering $100 to use at any of their almost 400 bed and breakfasts. Just stop by this post and
1. Mention an inn you like, or
2. Mention a favorite item from my gift or wrapping guides, or
3. Twitter about it, or
4. Post about it on your blog along with a favorite local shop or restaurant of yours.
Winner chosen on Friday.

Deb picked The Govorner’s House Inn as a B&B that she thought looked dreamy. I’d love to be there for afternoon tea.