Celebrating the First Day of School

Planning a celebration for the first day of school is a wonderful idea... and it can be done VERY easily. All you need is a little DIY decor, a simple treat buffet, and an inexpensive party favor. Today, I'm sharing my best tips for celebrating the first day of school with a simple DIY party.

Simple decor - To decorate for a simple first day of school party, start with what you already have. Stacks of books, wooden alphabet blocks, a vase full of apples, and chalkboards are fantastic. You can also use apples to "paint stamp" a fun banner, or you decorate with balloons and printed signs.

Party food - Kids will love this simple DIY first day of school food buffet. The centre piece is a giant cookie made with my favourite soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe. Then, you can use dollar store jars, punny notes, and treats to create an array of goodies.  For example, you can include: sweet tarts (for a "sweet" start to the new year), gummy "book worms", teddy bear crackers (for a "beary good year"), and excel gum (for an "EXCEL"lent first day of school).

Party favors - No party is complete with a little gift / party favor for the guests. I love colourful dollar store party glasses for a first day of school party favor. They are super cute in a jar with a tag that says "LOOKing forward to a great school year!"

Cute ideas, right?!? To download the tags for the first day of school buffet and party favors: click on the photos below, right click, save them to your computer, and print them like regular 4x6 photos.

The first day of school can be pretty hectic, so a simple celebration is perfect for the occassion.

Important milestones deserve special celebrations, and I think this simple first day of school party is easy, inexpensive, and super-fun. Happy first day of school!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

You may also be interested in this "smart cookie" bar.

Simple DIY Golf Party

Parties don't need to be elaborate to be fun. The key to a unique and memorable party is including DIY details that pull the party together. Today, I am sharing the simple DIY golf party I hosted for my youngest son on his 11th birthday.

The best part about golf party is that the entertainment is included. For my son's party, we went to a mini golf course, and the kids had fun competing with each other.

After a round of golf, the kids came back to my van, and we had some snacks in the parking lot. I had my coolers stocked with freezies, juice boxes, and chips. The party guests also had fun claiming prizes from the prize punch I made. 

Prize punches are a staple at all our parties, and you can find the full DIY instructions (using dollar store supplies) here.

And what is a party without cake? These golf cupcakes couldn't be easier to make. I made my favourite cupcakes, frosted the cupcakes with green icing (using a tip that makes the icing look like grass), added a flag made from a toothpick and red electrical tape, and finished by adding a white gumball. Cute, right?!?

Finally, I made a practical and fun personalized water bottle "loot bag" for the party guests. They were useful while the boys were playing golf, and they were practical gifts to take home from the party.

I think a golf party is a great party theme, and the DIY details of this celebration were easy, inexpensive, and super-cute! 

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

11 EASY and AWESOME Ways to Celebrate Birthdays at Home

Celebrating at home is great for parties... but it's fantastic for intimate gatherings too. I have two birthdays in my house this summer, and with Covid restrictions in place, I'm guessing we will be celebrating with a small number of people. Today, I'm sharing some fun ways to celebrate birthdays at home.

1) Serve candy for breakfast - Can you think of a better way to start the day? My sister-in-law serves her kids a tray of candy in bed on their special day every year, and they love it. I think candy for breakfast is a super-fun birthday tradition.

2) Make birthday pancakes - Pancakes are the birthday breakfast of choice for my boys. I make birthday pancakes in the shape of their age, and I serve them with milk in a wine glass. It's a simple idea, but it starts the day in a special way.

3) Write a birthday letter - Every year, I write my boys letters on their birthdays. The letters are a "snapshot" of my boys' likes/dislikes/personalities. Writing birthday letters to my boys is my favorite birthday tradition. You can find an example here.

4) Decorate while the kids are asleep - Waking up to fun decorations on your birthday is an exciting way to start the day. Decorate a special chair, hang streamers, or fill a room with balloons. 

5) Pick a theme - Any size gathering can benefit from a party theme. A cohesive theme really pulls a party together, appeals to the interests of the guest of honor (and makes them feel special), and gives the gathering a professional feel. You can find some of my favourite DIY party themes here.

6) Make fun party food - Party food doesn't need to be complicated or fancy... but it should be fun. Buy and prepare the birthday boy/girl's favorites, and choose items that fits your party theme. You can find some of my favourite DIY food ideas here.

7) Make a fun cake - Making your own cake instead of buying one from a bakery is a great way to add a personal touch to a party and make the birthday boy/girl feel special. Cakes don't need to be fancy either. Check out my favourite simple DIY cake ideas here.

Another option is to let siblings make birthday cakes. They aren't fancy, but they are made with love.

Simple cupcake parfaits are another super-easy option.

8) Let the birthday boy/girl choose the meals - Picking the meals on their birthday is fun for kids. Kids can choose to get food from a restaurant or they might prefer to stay at home and enjoy their favorite homemade meal.

9) Have the birthday boy/girl wear a special birthday shirt - It's always fun to let the world know it's your birthday with a special birthday shirt. In the past, my boys have made their own shirts, and I have created shirts to go with their interests and the theme of their parties. 

10) Set up a birthday scavenger hunt - Instead of just giving the birthday boy/girl their birthday gift, send him/her on a scavenger hunt to find it. It's a simple idea, but it adds a little bit of anticipation and fun to the occasion.

11) Have a "yes" day - I've never been brave enough to do this, but I have read about parents that let their kids have a "yes day" on their birthdays. The idea is to say "yes" to everything the birthday boy/girl wants to do on his/her birthday. I think (with a few parameters in place), this could be a lot of fun!

Aren't these fantastic ways to celebrate birthdays at home? If you have a birthday celebration to plan, I hope some of my easy and inexpensive ideas inspired you!

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)

PS - Find more party planning ideas here.

"Simple" Harry Potter Movie Night

Sometimes simple "at home" celebrations are the best. In my house, we have "family movie night" every Friday night. We usually keep it simple, but every once in a while we have a extra special celebration. Today, I'm sharing our latest "at home" Harry Potter movie night. You are going to love the simple (yet fun) DIY details.

In my house, food plays a big part in our celebrations (which is not surprising given the fact that I am the mother to three growing boys). For our Harry Potter movie night, I set up a simple Honeydukes Sweet Shop. I used a sign (crafted from dollar store foam core) that I made for a Harry Party birthday party I hosted a few years ago. Then, I made some popcorn and a few special treats.

I put jelly beans in small condiment containers and displayed them on a stack of Harry Potter books with a sign I designed that says, "Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans".

I also made some "Nimbus 2000 Broomsticks". I put pretzels in little bags, inserted paper straws, and tied the tops of the bags with black yarn. Pretty cute, aren't they? 

I also made some chocolate frogs using melted chocolate wafers and inexpensive chocolate molds. They were easy to make, and they turned out super-cute!

To download and print the tags I designed: right-click on the photo below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8 1/2 x 11 photo.

I also made a Harry Potter cake and cupcakes... because what's a party without a cake?!?

Then... because a little DIY party decor is always fantastic, I hung this brick wall tablecloth I made using a sponge and red paint. Walking through Platform 9 3/4 to get to our living room movie theatre added an extra bit of fun.

Finally, with our food and decor ready, we hung a bedsheet in our living room, we strung up some Christmas lights, and we used our projector to watch the movie in our "home theatre".

Putting a little extra effort into watching a movie at home can turn a simple activity into something really special. We love our family movie nights... especially when we have themed food and decor to go with them.

What do you think of our Harry Potter movie night?

Gina Bell
(Mom and Amateur Party Planner)