Beauty and the Beast Birthday Party

My daughter turned four on New Year's Day while we were visiting family for the holidays and so we decided to throw her a birthday party with her cousins. She loves princesses, and her favorite is Belle. She asked for a  Belle Princess Dress from Santa for Christmas, and she was thrilled to wear her new dress and celebrate with family on her special day. Here is a glimpse at her birthday party...

Invitations, Party Favors, and Thank You Notes

We sent out a simple evite to family members to invite them to the party. I have seen many cute "Be our Guest" invitations as well. We used the "Be our Guest" theme for the party favors. We found favors at the party store and 99 cent store and made two sets of favors--favors for boys and favors for girls. The favors for the boys had a picture of The Beast, and the favors for the girls had a picture of Belle. They all said "Thank you for being my guest!" The most popular things in the party favor bags were ring pops. We also gave out pencils, mini notebooks, princess jewelry (girls), and monster finger puppets (boys).

After the party, we sent out Thank You's with a picture of my daughter at the party and the saying "Thank you for Being my Guest."


We continued the "Be our Guest" theme for the decorations. I printed a simple picture of Lumiere and added the text "Be our Guest" and framed the picture to use as a centerpiece. A yellow tablecloth and princess paper goods completed the simple set up.

The Cake and Cupcakes

I bought this Belle Doll as a gift for my daughter and also used her as the center of a doll cake. I made the cake by layering a bundt cake, another cake baked in a small round Pyrex bowl, and an over-sized cupcake. I removed the doll's skirt and wrapped her legs in plastic wrap and then inserted her in the center of the layered cakes. I then frosted with yellow frosting to make the cake look like a dress. You could also buy a doll dress pan if you want to simplify (Wilton Wonder Mold Kit ). But I found the layering worked just fine for my purposes.

I used extra cake batter to make cupcakes and I baked the cupcakes in these cute flower liners (Wilton Yellow Petal Baking Cups, 24 Count ).


When the guests arrived, we had a craft area set up for kids to bead necklaces and decorate crowns. I bought large foam beads here for the necklaces (Foam Beads 2-Lace Kit ). I picked up the cardboard crowns and stickers at the 99 cent store and party store.

We also played "pin the rose" on Belle--this was just like the classic "pin the tail on the donkey" game. I used this illustration as a model to draw a picture of Belle on a poster. I left the rose off of the stem and and printed out pictures of roses for the children to try to match up to the stem Belle was holding.

One final game we played was a cake-walk style game. I printed out large pictures of roses to create a "rose garden" and I numbered the roses. I then played music from Beauty and the Beast as the children danced around. I periodically stopped the music and called out a number (I used dice to decide the number, you could also create number cards to draw the number). Whoever was standing on the chosen number received a small prize. For prizes, I just used leftover items I had from putting together the party favor bags. No one felt sad in the end because after the final turn we handed out the party favors to everyone.

We also served lunch as part of the party--a simple lunch of my daughter's favorites (probably most other preschoolers' favorite foods, too)--pasta, grapes, carrot sticks, rolls, and lemonade.

It was a delightful party. My daughter was so adorable and excited. Best of all, we loved being with so many family members. We live away from most of the family, so it was a special treat to be able to celebrate with cousins!


Dinosaur Birthday Party

Recently my oldest son turned seven years old. He is passionate about dinosaurs and was so excited to have a "dinosaur expedition" in celebration of his seventh birthday. Below is a look at some of what we did to make this a fun day for him and a few of his friends.

Invitations, Decorations, and Favors

The invitations had a picture of my son in his paleontologist costume along with the phrase "Come join us for a Dinosaur Expedition" I used a watermark of dinosaur bones behind where I wrote the party details. We didn't decorate much--We just had a few balloons and a green tablecloth sprinkled with dinosaur confetti from Party City. The rest of the "decor" consisted of  dinosaur toys my son already had as well as the set-up of various activities (see below). I bought party favors from Party City and Amazon and we didn't pass them out all out once--kids had to collect their party favors by going to different stations on an "expedition."


The party was set up as a dinosaur expedition, so when guests arrived they received an empty party favor bag and a checklist of activities that read as follows:

Welcome Paleontologists!
Are you ready for a dinosaur expedition? Grab a dinosaur pencil and a brown bag to collect treasures in. Write your name on the bag--the pencil is yours to keep. Pick a dinosaur tattoo as your first prize for starting the expedition. Then follow the checklist on the bag to find more dinosaur treasures and fun.

•             Dig for a dinosaur in the sand
•             Excavate a dinosaur from ice
•             Fly like a Pterosaur in bounce house
•             Build a Lego dinosaur
•             Help some volcanoes explode
•             Help hatch baby dinosaurs
•             Don’t get burnt by the lava rock

The first activity was a dinosaur dig in our backyard sandbox. We simply buried some toy  Dinosaur Fossil Skeletons in the sand box and provided paintbrushes for the kids to brush away sand and look for a toy skeleton to keep.

Next, the kids excavated dinosaurs from ice. There are several versions of this activity that I found on Pinterest. I kept it simple and just froze some of these toy Mini Dinosaurs in water that I poured in large muffin tins. The muffin tins were a fast and easy way to freeze them though if you have more time, freezing them in water balloons can make them look more like they are in eggs. We provided small hammers and screw drivers to the kids and let them have fun chipping away at the ice. When they finally were able to extract toy dinosaurs, they could keep what they had excavated. Fortunately we live in southern California, so we could to this on our back patio. The 7-year-old boys were thrilled to be able to use hammers and fortunately no one got injured :) Definitely supervise this activity though!

Meanwhile, I had a Lego building station built inside where kids could try to build unique Lego Dinosaurs. Here are just a few of my son's favorite Lego dinosaurs he has built.

We also had a bounce house where the kids could pretend to fly like pterosaurs, and we served classic, easy party food--pizza, strawberries ("volcanoes"), salad, etc.

After lunch, we made our own "volcanoes" explode. First, we did classic baking soda and vinegar volcanoes. We built the volcano shapes with homemade playdough pressed around small water bottles. We let every child have a chance to "explode" a baking soda/vinegar volcano. And then for the grand finale, we did our favorite mentos/diet coke geysers (previously featured here and here in this blog).

Our last two activities came from this awesome dinosaur party. We did a "nesting ground relay" in which the kids had to race to "hatch" baby dinosaurs from balloon "eggs" (we used the same dinosaurs--Mini Dinosaurs (72 count)--we had used in the ice excavation for this activity. And we played the classic "hot potato" game but called it "hot lava rock" instead. To make it a little extra exciting, I heated up a red corn bag so our "lava rock" truly was hot. Prizes for the relay and the hot lava rock game were a mixture of candy, toy dinosaurs (leftover from the other activities), pencils, and dinosaur tattoos (Cool Dinosaur Tattoos )

 We finished the party with a volcano cake. I created the volcano with a round cake topped with a bundt cake. I frosted it with chocolate frosting, added a little red "lava" frosting and  green frosting for "plants" at the base, and then let my son decorate the rest himself with some miniature toy dinosaurs.

It was definitely an exciting party, with lots of laughter and fun for our seven-year-old and his friends. For more birthday party ideas check out our complete birthday party page here. Also, take a look at our "D is for Dinosaur" Preschool themes here and here!


Teacher Appreciation Week - Door Decorating Ideas!

Teacher appreciation week is coming up for our school, so I thought I'd post some darling door ideas that I have seen in the past.  Enjoy!

Thank goodness for amazing teachers!