My little girl's third birthday party has been such a fun event for me to plan. I decided from the start that I didn't want to go a traditional route. I also knew that I didn't want people to bring gifts this year. Instead, we asked people to bring something we could donate to a local charity rather than rack up more toys than we know what to do with. The idea actually started there. My husband was concerned about Elena not understanding giving away the toys brought to her party, so we settled on a book donation. That lead us to think of some classic children's stories and since the celebration was for her third party, I tried to think of stories with the number three. We narrowed it down to "The Three Little Pigs" or "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." Since she has the prettiest blond locks, Goldilocks was our final decision.
Now came the color choices. My grandmother had given me an entire roll of green gingham fabric so this was my starting point. I also had a good bit of red fabric with tiny white dots left over from some previous sewing projects. I added what I call "Pepto Pink" to the mix and the color & fabric choices were complete. I was inspired by the colors and some design elements for this woodland fairy party. From there, I got the idea for her invitation. I used simple shapes to create the trees and took a picture of Elena with three stuffed bears to complete the personalization. I also made business card inserts asking for new children's books instead of gifts.
My favorite design element of the party was the three-bear design. I used this element many times including: cupcake toppers, address labels, book request cards, and the birthday dress. The birthday dress was inspired by some of the creations at this adorable etsy shop. Her dress turned out a little different since I did not use a pattern, but I was extremely pleased with the result. I also made the matching party hat with corkscrew ribbon to top it off.
The food choices were pretty easy. To go along with the Goldilocks theme, we had a brunch and served oatmeal with toppings for porridge, a fresh fruit salad with a honey-lime dressing, pigs in a blanket, and mini cheese souffles.
A birthday is never complete without cake so I made strawberry and vanilla cupcakes. I found the perfect cupcake wrappers in the valentines section of Hobby Lobby. I frosted the cupcakes with pink and white icing then sprinkled red, white, and pink sprinkles on the top. Each cupcake was then topped with a cupcake topper that I made using my 2" scalloped-circle punch, Avery 2.5" stickers and candy sticks.
I used the same punch to make labels for the cups. Each guest wrote their name on the cup for identification. I served coffee, milk, orange juice, apple juice, and sparkling strawberry-limade (I plan to post our recipe for this one later since it was such a hit).
I found the cutest idea for kid drinks at this Goldilocks party. I purchased honey bear containers for less than $0.50 each and made them into sippy cups by cutting pieces of flexible tubing ($2 for 10' in the plumbing section of Home Depot) and threading it through the opening of the lid. I labeled each child's cup with their name. The kids got to take these home with them as one of their favors.
I also used the punch to make the napkin rings for the cutlery sets:
The cupcakes and food were served on dollar store serving creations. I hung the green gingham fabric as a backdrop for the table and used solid red and pink paper products. A few white daisies completed the cottage-type feel for the buffet table.
For decorations, I used white daisies in canning jars with red ribbon and balloons in red and pink throughout the house. I made several banners from the gingham, red polka-dot and pink fabrics to hang in various locations in the house. I also saw an adorable mantel decoration (I don't remember the site) and kind of made it my own. Each year Elena (and now Kate) get an animal from the Precious Moments train for their birthdays and I put a picture of Elena 0-3 in a frame with the animals in front. I then used the letters of her name to go in between the frames and hung a strand of the flag banner below.
My next concern was the activities. We knew we wanted to have the party at home, and with a bunch of three-year-olds, there needs to be some structured activities for the kids. Playing in the playroom and opening a bunch of presents was fine when she was one and two, but we definitely wanted something more to occupy their time; especially since we were not asking for gifts. I thought of going the traditional puppet show route, or doing some type of craft but I knew those things were not necessarily exciting for young kids (and wouldn't hold their attention for long) We had all the kids go to our play room and have free-play time until all of our guests arrived. Once everyone was there, we said the blessing and sang Happy Birthday to Elena. The kids then sat down at the kids' tables while the moms got their food ready. I made coloring books that told the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" using coloring pages from Coloring Pages 24. I used the same design from her invitation for the covers and covered the crayon boxes with green gingham paper that I printed from my computer.
After eating, I had all of the kids move into our living room where we showed a short Goldilocks and the Three bears movie I found here on Youtube. We connected our computer to the TV and surround sound to view it. The parents were able to grab a bite while the short video held their attention.
After receiving a build-a-bear kit from Elena's Aunt Therese for Christmas, I had the perfect idea for the main activity. Each child could build their own bear! I purchased bears through a wholesale dealer for about $2 each. I removed the stuffing from the bodies of each bear and put the stuffing in individual ziplock bags. I sewed small stuffed hearts out of some scrap red fabric for each bear. I purchased some white, newborn-sized onsies (5-packs on sale for about $7) and made an iron on transfer (using transfer scraps that I already had on hand) for each child's bear that said "I heart (child's name)." I also made a small red bow to match and typed up a Birth Certificate for each bear.
It turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day, so after the bears were complete, everyone took their new friends outside to play on our newly landscaped play set (complete with the trampoline that was her birthday present from Mommy and Daddy).
To continue our magnet tradition, I used the picture from her invitation to create the "Thank-You" magnets.
Each family received one of these as they left. We also passed out a little Teddy Graham Smore trail mix to each guest as they left. Elena enjoyed helping me put the bags together and we topped them with a simple card-stock "thank-you" note.
The day turned out to be just perfect! My girl felt very loved by all who came and I think everyone had a great time. It was nice having the bulk of the day left when the party was over to get the house back in order, and rest a bit before the time change. Thanks to all who came and helped to make our girl's special day even more special!