Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sesame Street Party Ideas

I recently asked my awesome Facebook fans if they needed help with party ideas, as a way to show of my creative party planning services. I'm so thrilled Staci jumped forward with a Sesame Street Birthday Party she's throwing for her son (turning 4) and daughter (turning 2), selfishly because she already has so many fabulous ideas planned of which I'd love to see the pictures!  (Update:  See the pictures from this Sesame Street Party!)

At the Sesame Street party, Staci is featuring the characters Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch.  She knows she wants to have some games and use a candy buffet as the party's Sesame Street favors, and it sounded like these were the two areas where she could use a little help.  I'm thrilled with the ideas below because they're fun for the toddler set and easy to put together for a busy mom like Staci.

Sesame Street Party Games
  • How to Get to Sesame Street
    This is my "spin" on Pin the Tail on the Donkey without the pin part.  Print out a large Sesame Street Sign and attach it to a wall or post in your yard.  Blindfold and spin your guests, and then ask them "How to Get to Sesame Street".  They just have to feel their way to the sign.  While you play, sing along to the Sesame Street theme song. Download a 10.5 x 4.75 inch Sesame Street Sign template here.

  • Oscar the Grouch's Trash Toss
    Here's a fun and easy game you can create out of objects around your house.  Crumple up a few sheets of newspaper together to create balls with a little weight to them.  Then ask the kids to toss them into a trash can from different distances depending on their ages.  If you want a more Oscar-ish trash can, try this medium-sized Oscar the Grouch can on Amazon.com.  For added detail, attach a stuffed Oscar toy to the inside back of the can, so he's sticking out of the top.  No trash talk allowed!

 Sesame Street Party Favors: Candy Buffet

I just love beautifully displayed candy buffets as a way to let guests pick their own party favors, and you can have a lot of fun with a Sesame Street themed one in bright colors with both sweet and salty treats.  I've come up with a few ideas to integrate the Sesame Street characters into the display with age-appropriate snacks for the two- to four-year-old crowd.
  • Cookie Monster's Cookie Crisps
    Cookie Crisp cereal would be adorable in an apothecary jar, since it looks just like tiny chocolate-chip cookies.  Cookie Monster would definitely approve!

  • Dorothy Crackers for Elmo
    Elmo's beloved pet goldfish Dorothy can make an appearance in the form of Goldfish crackers, a toddler favorite. Display these in a fish bowl for added charm.

  • Ernie's Rubber Duckies
    Tis the season for yellow chickie Peeps, so stock up now on these "rubber duckies" for your Sesame Street candy buffet.  Place them in rows on a tray for a professionally styled look.

  • Big Bird Seed
    Staci inspired the idea for this, and I love it.  Sunflower seeds are exactly what Big Bird would stuff into his treat bag.
Best of luck with your Sesame Street Party, Staci! I'd love to hear how the party goes in May. (Update:  See the pictures from this Sesame Street Party!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Baileys Irish Cream + Chocolate =
The Best St. Patrick's Day Dessert Ever!

I have really out done myself on this delicious combo to create a St. Patrick's Day dessert masterpiece! These chocolate cupcakes with Baileys Irish Cream frosting are so good that it's hard to believe that they didn't come from a gourmet bakery. They look precious adorned with a little shamrock from my weeds (ha!) garden, too.

For Christmas, my friend Jessica, gave me the book Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. As a St. Patrick's Day treat, Martha combined the Baileys Irish Cream frosting with a brown sugar pound cake. I thought the pound cake was all wrong; it just didn't have the right consistency for a cupcake. It was so dry and hard. I think it would be delicious for a full-sized pound cake, but it was disappointing in cupcake form.

For round two, I combined my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe from the book Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans (can't believe it's on Amazon for $3.38 with free shipping!) with the frosting, and the result is a killer combo. I think the sour cream really makes this cupcake recipe work. It produces a delicately soft cake that is SO right.

Beware the smell of the frosting is a little intoxicating, but isn't that part of what St. Patrick's Day is all about?!  If you try these cupcakes, I'd love to know what you think.

Chocolate Cupcakes

350˚ for 15-20 minutes

    3        ounces unsweetened  chocolate, chopped
    1        cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    ½       teaspoon baking powder
    ½       teaspoon baking soda
    ¼       teaspoon salt
    ½       cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
    1 ¼    cups sugar
    2        large eggs
    1        teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½       cup sour cream
    ½       cup water

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, stir until smooth. Remove from water and set aside to cool slightly. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the melted chocolate.  On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended into the batter. Add the vanilla and beat until the mixture looks creamy and the color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute.  Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. Mix in the water.  Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.

Line muffin tins with paper liners and fill each with a generous amount of batter to about ⅛ inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.  Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Makes 18.
(Source Cupcakes! book by Elinor Klivans)

Baileys Irish Cream Frosting

1 ½     cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1     pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    3     tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
    ½    teaspoon pure vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth. Reduce speed to medium.  Add the confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 5 minutes total; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds (to aerate frosting).

Add Baileys and vanilla, and beat until combined and smooth. 

Use immediately, or refrigerate up to 5 days in an airtight container; bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth before using.

Makes enough for 24 cupcakes.

(Source Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yea!!! New Website Designs

I'm so excited to announce that the Belly Feathers Website and Party Blog got face lifts!  The new coordinating designs definitely fit my style so much better, and I hope it's easier for you to find party ideas and info on my products and party services, too.

For those of you that read these sites via email, RSS, or Facebook, please click through and check out the new looks.  I'd love to know what you think!

New Look Created by Tricia Nae Designs

Tricia of Tricia Nae Designs came up with the new website and blog designs and handled the full installation for me.  She has been such a joy to work with! Tricia was *fabulously patient* with me as we worked to get the looks exactly the way I wanted them, and I'm so grateful to have found herIf your blog needs a remodel, definitely check her out.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Cookies

St. Patrick's Day is such a fun holiday, and when I saw these cute little printable graphics on HowDoesShe.com, I couldn't wait to attach them to some St. Patrick's Day treats.

I just love this recipe for Mint Surprises...they're so rich, buttery, and absolutely irresistible!  The Andes Mints inside are a little green, so I think that makes them perfect for St. Patrick's Day...don't you?

Mint Surprises
375˚ for 9-11 minutes

1       cup butter, softened
1 ½   cups sugar
1        teaspoon baking soda
½       teaspoon salt
2        eggs
1        teaspoon vanilla
3        cups all-purpose flour
62      Andes mints

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda, and salt, and beat until combined.

Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the electric mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour.  Divide dough in half, and chill for 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Shape chilled dough into 1-inch balls.  Place 1 ball in each cup of a 1 ¾-inch mini-muffin pan.  Bake about 9-11 minutes until tops appear set.  For each cookie, break 1 Andes mint in half.  While cookies are still very hot, insert 2 candy halves, stacked together, vertically in the center of each cookie.  Cool 10 minutes in the muffin pan.  Loosen cookie edges with a thin spatula and remove from muffin pan.  Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Makes 62.
(Source Publix FamilyStyle magazine)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Race Car Party: Caleb's Disney Cars 3rd Birthday Party

Now Available - Cars Party Printables by Belly Feathers!
All You Can Print Party Items for one flat price!

I was thrilled to help with my little buddy Caleb's 3rd birthday party.  He's big into the Disney movie Cars. In fact, he never goes anywhere without his Lightning McQueen toy car (see pictures below).  So, a Disney Cars movie-themed race car party was a must.  Please enjoy the Cars birthday ideas below.

Disney Cars Party Invitations
These race car invitations featuring Lightning McQueen turned out awesome.  They looked just like race tickets!  Caleb's mommy ordered them on eBay from Magic Design Invitations.

Race Car Birthday Party Shirt
I love when the guest of honor is dressed to match the party's theme!  Caleb's cute checkered flag t-shirt came from I Spot You on Etsy.

Cars Party Food
Caleb's mommy Jessica wanted to serve snacks that you might find at a race track, such as popcorn and candy.  I had fun decorating the containers for the M&Ms and popcorn below, which were inspired by a race car party featured on Maddycakes Muse.  The personalized medallion on the popcorn highlights the birthday boy's age along with a Piston Cup from the movie.


Continuing the race party food theme, hamburgers and hot dogs were served for dinner shortly after guests arrived. I love the checkered fabric used to line the baskets for the hamburger and hot dog buns. 


Cars Party Decorations
I designed some cute pennant flag banners with checkered backgrounds, Piston Cups, and tire-tread borders to coordinate with the Cars party theme.  One featured Lightning McQueen's catchphrase, "I Am Speed", and the other read, "Happy Birthday Caleb".  


In addition to plain checked-flag pennant banners, balloon bouquets were placed around the room to add pops of color.  Caleb already had a ton of Cars toys, such as Hot Wheels, race tracks, play sets, and a pop-up tent.  These were affordable ways to add more Cars theme decorations to the party and provided a lot of entertainment for the guests.


Most of the Cars birthday party supplies were ordered from EZ Party Zone, which seemed to have great prices.

Race Party Games 
The absolute hit of the party was a bean bag toss game with an old tire! From the moment the party began until the very end, guests young and old had a blast trying to throw bean bags into the tire.  Some groups made up rules with under the leg tosses to add difficulty, and the toddlers enjoyed climbing inside the tire during breaks in the game. I declare this the best party game ever!!! As a result, I think I'll try to incorporate some kind of bean bag games into all of my parties, since it provided entertainment for both the kids and adults through the entire event.


Another hit game was "Guess Which Cone the Car Is Under".  A car was placed under one of three traffic cones, and Caleb's daddy swirled the cones around for a few minutes while the guests tried to keep their eyes on the cone with car underneath.  The toddlers were surprisingly good at this game. Everyone got a Disney Cars sticker to wear as a prize for playing. Giving out stickers or temporary tattoos is a great, inexpensive way to decorate your guests to match the party's theme.



Little boys love toy cars and vehicles.  Caleb's extensive Disney Cars collection of Hot Wheels and play sets made perfect decorations at the beginning of the birthday party, as well as an engaging activity as the event progressed.


This Disney Cars pinata provided a lot of excitement, too.  Jessica smartly had empty Cars treat bags on hand to help the kids collect their candy when the pinata popped.


Disney Cars Cupcakes
Jessica found some cupcake paper liners decorated with Lightning McQueen, which her baker gladly used on these cupcakes.  If you're looking for Cars birthday cake ideas, I highly suggest cupcakes because the little guests at this party really enjoyed helping themselves to cake after "Happy Birthday" was sung.

I made personalized cupcake toppers for the birthday boy that said, "Happy Birthday Caleb" or "Ka-Chow!", which is one of Lightning McQueen's catchphrases in the movie Cars.  Some also featured a number 3 with a Piston Cup.


Disney Cars Lollipop Stand
I had a lot of fun making this lollipop display for the dessert table.  I used black ribbon and yellow rick rack around the edges to mimic the design of a highway, so it fit great for the race theme party.  The personalized medallion featured Caleb's age and a Piston Cup from the Cars movie.  The little tags attached to the lollipops featured characters from the movie, such as Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater, Doc Hudson, Sally, and more, with the message "Thanks for Stopping by Caleb's 3rd Birthday" on the back.




Disney Cars Party Favors
When it was time to leave, guests were treated to Cars theme goodie bags filled with a variety of mini coloring pages of the Cars characters, crayons in Cars boxes found at the Dollar Tree, little bags of Cars graham crackers, candy, Cars stickers and temporary tattoos, and lollipops with personalized tags made by Belly Feathers just like the ones shown above.


It was so much fun to help with Caleb's party by designing decorations and sharing Cars birthday theme ideas.  Jessica's mommy of Albany, GA, did an excellent job of planning everything for the race party!  I was most impressed with the party games. They were super age appropriate for the birthday boy, while being fun for the older crowd, as well.

NEW! Cars Party Printables by Belly Feathers - All You Can Print Party Items for one flat fee!

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