Thursday, 22 February 2018

Party Prize Punches

Several years ago, I created a simple DIY party prize punch. My goal was to create a fun way to distribute hockey cards at my son's birthday party, so I headed to the dollar store and purchased some supplies. I made a fantastic prize punch with: a piece of foam core, plastic cups, tissue paper, and a glue gun. Since my first creation, I have made many different versions for all my boys' subsequent parties. Today, I am sharing everything you need to know to make your own prize punch... and trust me... if you can work a glue gun, you can totally make this DIY party game.

To make a party prize punch:
1) Fill plastic cups with prizes. 
2) Cut squares of tissue paper slightly larger than a plastic cup.
3) Use a glue gun to make a ring around the top edge of the cup, and quickly seal the tissue paper over the top of the cup. Repeat for all the cups.
4) Use hot glue to attach the base of the cups to a piece of foam core.

The best thing about prize punches is that you can fill them with whatever you want. My first prize punch was filled with hockey cards. I've also used mini chocolate bars, coins, candy, and dollar store trinkets.

You can also make prize punches in different shapes and designs. I made a pumpkin for Halloween and a heart for Valentine's Day. You could also make a Shamrock for St.Patrick's Day, an egg for Easter or a tree for Christmas.

You can also make them coordinate with any party colour scheme. I've also coordinated them with sports team colours and made them to match NERF gun bullets.

Usually the party guests just poke through the tissue paper, but you can be creative. For our carnival party kids threw bouncy balls, and at our NERF party guests had to shoot through the tissue paper.

Party prize punches really are easy and inexpensive to make, they add a custom detail to a DIY party, and they are a lot of fun. Give one a try at your next party. I guarantee that if you can work a glue gun, you can successfully create one using my step-by-step tutorial.

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Party FOOD ideas

Let's face it... good food is the cornerstone of a great party -- it's something that everyone will talk about and remember long after the guest have gone home. Setting up a fantastic food table isn't difficult. In fact, with a little effort, party food can easily be pleasing to the eyes AND the tastebuds. Today, I am sharing some tips and tricks for creating the perfect party food presentation for any party theme

CARS party food - Create a "Grand Stand Snack Bar" that is sure to be a rip roaring hit with party guests. Use dollar store foam core and decals, duct tape, and letter stickers to create signage. Then, fill the table with fun snacks named after characters from the movie "Cars". Luigi's Tires (chocolate cookies), Mater's Diptsticks (chocolate covered lady fingers), McQueen Sandwiches (sandwiches cut out with a car shaped cookie cutter), Grand Stand Popcorn, Fillmore's Fuel (juice), Sally's Specialities (fruit, cheese, and crackers), Finn's Finest (licorice), and Doc's Pops (marshmallow pops dipped in red chocolate with black and white sprinkles). You'll also want to serve a simple race car cake for dessert.

Carnival party food - Create a "Concession Stand" backdrop using a dollar store cardboard tri-fold, a sign printed on the computer, and some red duct tape. Then, add some pizza, popcorn, chips, cotton candy, and other candy treats... and don't forget a fun cake!

Harry Potter party food - Every Harry Potter fan knows that "Honeydukes" sweet shop has the most magical food. Set up your own DIY sweet shop by making a sign from a piece of dollar store foam core, some colourful duct tape, and some letters printed on a computer. Then, serve treats like: Bott's Every Flavour Beans (no name gourmet jelly beans), Ollivander's Edible Wands (black liquorice), Fizzing Whizbees (popping candy), Mad Eye Moody's Eyeball Gum (eyeball gumballs), Chocolate Frogs (chocolate frogs made from frog shaped chocolate molds), Remus' Werewolf Fangs (candy corn), and Golden Snitches (made by hot gluing feathers onto gold foil wrapped chocolates). You'll also want to serve a simple Harry Potter themed cake... a crest or a Quidditch cake.

Hockey party food - Every hockey party needs a fully stocked "canteen". A simple backdrop can be made with a piece of dollar store foam core, hockey tape (around the edges of the sign), a team log, and a computer printout. You'll also want to stock the canteen with rink chips, hockey pucks (chocolate cookies), playoff pizza, and Olympic hockey gold coins (chocolate gold coins). And don't forget the hockey rink cake!

LEGO party food - Fun food options provide the building blocks for a successful LEGO party. Set the stage with a backdrop of giant LEGO men made from coloured paper taped to dollar store foam core sheets.  A LEGO cookie decorating station is another fun option. Rectangle cookies, coloured icing, and coloured candy can be put together to make fun and simple LEGO cookies. And chocolate LEGO bricks make yummy treats and wonderful cupcake toppers. And, of course, you'll also need some fun and simple LEGO cakes.

Movie party - Movie parties are ALL about the snacks. To create a fun concession stand, make a simple backdrop using a piece of dollar store foam core or a dollar store tablecloth to match your colour scheme. You'll also want to serve traditional movie treats like popcorn, chocolate, candy, juice, and pop. Make sure you have plenty of treats that guests can easily grab and enjoy in their seats during the show!

Pirate party food - There are lots of great options for pirate party food. "Fish" sandwiches can be made by using a fish shaped cookie cutter to cut out peanut butter sandwiches... just add a chocolate chip eyeball. You can also serve: pixie sticks (filled with Tinkerbell's pixie dust), fish and chips (chips and goldfish), gummy sharks, and (chocolate) gold coin necklaces. Simple pirate cakes can be served too!

Pool party food - Set a party food table with a blue table cloth and a beach/pool themed backdrop. Use pool noodles, beach balls, and dollar store foam core decorated to match the theme. Then, serve food like: chips in (new and clean) beach buckets, gummy sharks, goldfish, fish and chips (chips mixed with goldfish), pool noodles (liquorice), and pool water (blue juice). You can also serve simple pool party cakes made with blue icing, sand (graham cracker crumbs), gummy candies, and drink umbrellas.

Star Wars party food - Pinterest is full of fun Star Wars party food ideas, but my favourite idea is to serve cookies with a "Come to the dark side... we have cookies" sign. It's easy to make with some computer printouts, tape, and a piece of foam core from the dollar store. Serving cupcakes topped with Star Wars rings or trinkets is also fun... and they make perfect party favours too. And don't forget the cake! A simple Star Wars cake can be made by topping a simple sheet cake with Star Wars toys, and the birthday boy/girl will love the extra present.

ANY PARTY THEME - Here are some ideas that work for any party theme:

  • Serve treats in a variety of colours or in just one or two colours that match the party theme/decor. Playing with colour creates a wonderful visual impact.
  • Use fun containers to serve treats (fancy glasses, dollar store candy dishes, bowls in colours that the match the party theme/decor, etc...
  • Use cake stands, boxes, books, etc... to create different levels of food/treats.
  • Serve some foods in individual containers so that guests can grab them easily. It also allows you to buy in bulk and control serving portions.

The food you serve at a gathering can really can make or break a party. Make sure there is plenty of food, add some DIY details, and display the food in a fun and deliberate way. And... don't forget to have fun!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)


Sunday, 28 January 2018

HOLIDAY CELEBRATION tips, tricks, recipes and ideas

DIY details make holiday celebrations special and memorable. I love all things EASY and INEXPENSIVE, so today, I am sharing some of my best tips, tricks, recipes, and ideas for simple and fun holiday celebrations.

Click the links (below) for celebration info, activities, ideas, and recipes. (I've sorted everything by when the events occur in a calendar year.)

What is your favourite holiday? Don't forget to bookmark this post... or "pin" your favourite ideas so that you can find them easily when you are ready for your seasonal celebration!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Friday, 19 January 2018


Every party needs a theme to tie everything together, don't you think? When picking a party theme, you need to consider why you are having the party, and if there is a guest of honour, you can select a theme based on his/her interests. Today, I am sharing some of my favourite party themes... and links to many EASY and INEXPENSIVE DIY party plans and details.

Check out the fun party themes below (in alphabetical order):

Cars party - Little kids love cars and trucks, and this simple cars party doesn't disappoint. The race track cake is simple and adorable, and the DIY details make the party really special. The checkered duct tape decor is my favourite.

Carnival party - What could be more fun than a carnival party packed with simple games and sugary treats? I love the FREE printable red and white signs that tie everything together.

Circus party - Clowns, games, and treats are plentiful at this circus party. I love the bright colours and the simple carousel cake. 

Harry Potter party - This is the perfect party for a Harry Potter fan. This party is packed with unique details that will delight all the party guests. I'm loving the 9 3/4 magical entrance, magic wands made from dowels, Honeyduke's sweet shop, free printable spell books and quills, and simple DIY cakes.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates party - Everyone loves pirates and treasure hunts, and this party is full of magical DIY details that will transport party guests to Neverland and beyond. The pixie dust, party signage, pirate hooks, and impressive cakes are perfection!

Hockey party - Hockey moms (and any sport parent) will love this simple hockey party. The cakes are awesome, and the simple DIY decor and themed party food are sure to impress.

Ice cream party - Summer is the perfect occasion to plan a simple ice cream party... but kids will love this party any time of year. I adore the simple decor and unique homemade ice cream treat ideas. 

LEGO party - This is the ultimate party for LEGO lovers. The decor is colourful, fun, and interactive... and there are wonderful games and activities. I love the cookie decorating station, the LEGO balloon tennis, and the simple cakes.

Monkey party - This is the perfect theme for a first birthday party. The yellow and red colour scheme is fun, the snacks are simple and suitable for pint-sized guests, the cake is adorable, and I can't get enough of the monkey party favours.

Movie party - Movie parties are wonderful for kids of all ages, and they are a great way to entertain a large number of guests. I love the idea of an outdoor movie, and the little containers of candy at the "concession stand" are brilliant!

Music party - A dance party filled with wonderful music and karaoke is perfect for kids. I love the backstage passes, the guitar cookie decorating station, and the drum cake topped with lollipops.

Olympic party - Transforming your yard into an Olympic colosseum is a great way to entertain active kids. Kids can play games, design their own medals, and feast on a simple Olympic themed cake. 

Pirate party - Pint-sized pirates will love this simple pirate party. Kids can design their own telescopes and make their own pirate jewels. The cake is pretty cute too!

Pool party - A pool party has never looked so cute! I love the themed games, prize punches, pool noodle decor, shark photo prop, and fun food ideas. 

Spy party - This is a wonderful theme for a party. The decor is simple and impressive, and the games are original and fun. I love the dynamite "hot potato" and the "pin the disguise on the spy" games. 

Star Wars party - Star Wars fans are plentiful, and the force is strong with this party. The pool noodle light sabres and death star piƱata are easy to make, and they are guaranteed to please your young Jedi guests. 

Super Hero party - This party invites guests to enrol in a super hero training academy and become a super hero. The homemade "no sew" capes and foam super hero masks could not be cuter!

Western party - Cowboy fans will love this simple western party. Guests can make their own Sheriff badges and create their own "most wanted" posters. 

The DIY details make these parties expensive, and they are all easy and inexpensive. Is there a party theme you would like to see that is missing from my list? Share it below, and maybe I'll create something fun to share with you soon!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

Friday, 12 January 2018

DIY CAKES For Every Party Theme

I am not a professional cake decorator, but I enjoy making simple DIY cakes for my family celebrations. I love when my homemade cakes match perfectly with my party theme, don't you? So, today I am sharing more than 20 easy-to-make cakes that are sure to impress party guests and add an element of fun to your next party.

You are going to be shocked at how simple these cakes are to bake and decorate. Many of them use basic cake mixes and store bought icing!

Click the links below to get the step-by-step instructions:

Bowling Party Cake - These cakes are super cute, and they allow you to have two different flavours of cake for party guests. Carve a bowling pin from a rectangular cake and a bowling ball from a round cake. Apply a crumb coat, refrigerate until the crumb coat is firm, frost with white and chocolate icing, and add embellishments (m&ms and red icing). 

Cars Party Cake - Start with two 8" round cakes. Then, create a track using chocolate icing tinted with black food colouring. Fill in the "grass" with green icing, and add some yellow jelly beans for the lines in the road. Finish with two race car "dinkies" and a small checkered flag taped to the top of a toothpick.

Circus Party Cake - Bake and frost a regular, round (double layer) cake. Then, use straws, a paper carousal top, and some animal cracker cookies to create a simple carousel cake.  

Easter Party Cake - This cake is super-simple! Bake and frost a regular, double-layer cake. Then, use candy-covered chocolate mini eggs to trim the cake, and add a chocolate bunny to the top.

Father's Day Cake - Transform a simple sheet cake with a little imagination and 4 boxes of Reeses Pieces. The kids can help with the decorating too!

Generic Skittles Cake For any Party Theme - To make number cakes, start with basic cakes (round or square... depending on the number you are making). Then, carve the cakes, cover with icing, and decorate with Skittles. It's a time-consuming process, but the result is stunning!

Halloween Party Cake - Start with a cake mix and bake for 70 minutes (at 350 degrees) in a greased, oven-safe glass mixing bowl. (Check it after 45 minutes, and then increase the cooking time by increments of 10 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean.) Then, let the cake cool, frost it with pre-made white icing, create an eyeball with blue icing, and use black decorating gel to make the pupil of the eyeball. Finish with red decorating gel "veins and blood".

Harry Potter Party Cakes - To make a quidditch cake: Make a regular cake, and add goal posts made from straws, electrical tape, and pipe cleaners. Finish with a golden snitch made from a chocolate wrapped in gold foil with wax paper wings. (And for a touch of colour, you can finish by adding some "every flavour beans" to the bottom of the cake. To make a crest cake: Start with a basic rectangular sheet cake, and carve it into the shape of a crest. Do a crumb coat, cover the cake with yellow icing, pipe on some red trim, and then I added some fun "Harry Potter" items -- a fruit roll-up scar, a foil wrapped golden snitch, some every flavour beans, and a chocolate frog.

Hockey Party Cakes - Start with a basic 9X13 slab cake, and add hockey players. They can be purchased, or you can use toys that have on hand. A simple jersey cake is fun too!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party Cakes - This pirate ship cake is easier to make than it looks.

Start by constructing the boat using the photos below and the tutorial you can find here.

Then, to decorate the boat: frost the cake with chocolate icing, use a knife to carve "planks" into the cake, trim the boat with yellow icing, and add a red lifesaver steering wheel and yellow lifesaver windows. Finish the  boat by adding a paper sail on a dowel and some little plastic toys.

You can also create an "island cake". Decorate half of a round (double layer) cake with blue icing, and use graham cracker crumbs to add "sand" to the other side. Finish with little plastic toys.

LEGO Cakes - To make a LEGO Ninjago Cake: Start with a double layer round cake, frost the cake with red icing (not too smooth so it looks like cloth wrapped around his head), pipe on a yellow face, and I add some black "ninja" eyes (with black gel icing). To make a simple LEGO brick cake: Start with a rectangular cake, frost the cake with blue icing, and add six (double stacked) Oreo cookies covered with blue icing.

Monkey Party Cake - Start this simple monkey cake with a round cake and two cupcakes (for the ears). Frost the cake with chocolate icing, and add additional details with a piping bag.

Music Party Cakes - To make a drum cake: start with a basic round, frosted (double layer) cake. Decorate the sides with Smarties and Ovation (mint and chocolate) sticks, and top the cake with two lollipop "drum sticks".

To make a guitar cake: follow the tutorial you can find here.

NERF Party Cupcakes - Decorate cupcakes with yellow, blue, and orange icing. Then, arrange the cupcakes on a try to resemble a NERF target. Embellish with some black icing and clean NERF bullets.

Olympics Party Cake - Print Olympic rings onto a piece of card stock, attach to paper straws, and insert into the top of a plain cake. Finish by adding colourful candies to the base of the cake.

Pirate Party Cake - Use the tutorial you can find here.

Pool Party Cake - Start with a simple, round (double layer) cake. Frost have the cake with blue icing, and cover the other have with graham cracker "sand". Decorate with fruit leather towels, candy ring floaties, candy sharks, drink umbrellas, and teddy bear cracker/cookies.

Spy Party Cake - To make a "007" spy cake: start with dense cakes that will be easy to carve. (I used Duncan Hines Cake mixes, but I used 2 tbsp less water and half the oil called for in the recipe in order to make the cake more dense and easy to work with.)  Then, carefully carve out the numbers, cover them in a crumb coat, and stick them in the refrigerator. When the icing is firm, add a finishing coat of frosting. Then, decorate the cakes with dollar store magnifying glasses, sunglasses, and black icing footprints.

Star Wars Party Cake - Transform a plain, homemade slab cake into a Star Wars cake by adding new toys to the top. The birthday boy/girl will love the cake... and the extra gift!

Super Hero Party Cakes - A simple round layer cake can be easily transformed into a super-fun Super Hero cake. Frost the cake with red icing, use black icing to draw a web, and add new Spiderman toys to the top.

Valentine's Day Party Cake - Simple Valentine's Day cupcake parfaits can be a wonderful way to celebrate someone you love. Put some candies in the bottom of a glass, and insert an adorable decorated cupcake.

A heart cake made from one square cake and one round cake can also be fun. Find the full tutorial here.

I have never taken a cake decorating class, so I guarantee you don't have to be a pro to make these cakes. 

Homemade cakes are a wonderful way to show someone how much you care, don't you think? Just remember: it's not about perfection... it's about making an effort for someone you love.

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)