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Last year, Juliet’s birthday party started out with the perfect birthday dress.  See here.  This year, her birthday party was inspired by Meri Meri paper products that I found during a random clearance sale.  Here is just a sampling:

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meri meri napkins

I adored the color combination, unisex animal theme and the amazing deal …. so much so that I didn’t care that her next birthday wasn’t for another 6 months.   Yes I realize that that officially makes me THAT crazy party planning mom.  But what do you expect?  I loved planning parties as part of my Public Relations and Marketing profession pre-baby.  So I’m bound to plan events with the same passion for my daughter.  Besides she is way cuter than my previous clients (Samsung, Saks Fifth Avenue, Toys R Us etc).  Plus it’s always so much more meaningful when it’s all about family and your daughter’s BFFs.

Too bad the budget isn’t the same.  Oh well, that’s why I have Pinterest boards full of DIY ideas.  In addition to the Meri Meri paper products that I bought, I complimented them with customized handmade items.  This post will concentrate on some of the DIY party projects that I had fun glue gunning, spraying, and sticking:

  • party animals
  • animal-themed wall decor
  • themed water bottles, Gogo Squeezes, and Applesauce
  • backdrop board and risers
  • banners
  • milk bottles
  • birthday hats

The party animals were done 3 months ahead of time and involved buying (wholesale from Amazon) the plastic animal figurines and then gluing random items on them to make them fit into the party animal theme.

IMG_3128 party animals

The presents on the larger animals’ backs were made from old jewelry boxes and Nerd candy boxes!  I just wrapped them in coordinating papers that I bought on sale from Michaels and added washi tape or pom pom trim.  Hats were made from anything from paper to pom pom balls to buttons and ribbon.  I just used whatever broken jewelry, leftover craft supplies and ribbon I had.

IMG_6319 animal figurines

And I painted the nails of some of the animals which made my husband label them the “gayest animals he has ever seen.”  True as that may be, they were pretty fabulous.

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I’m selling these party animals as a package to anyone who can pick up from NYC.  Message me if interested!  They made for great centerpieces at our party but can also serve as fun displays in your kids rooms.

To make our venue more in line with our theme, I decorated the walls with animal themed photos of Juliet and also decorated the pillars – one with a pin the tail on the elephant game and one with art that Juliet created.

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baby photos

little maestros

The musical entertainers performed in front of that photo wall singing songs with animal lyrics and leading an animal parade around the room.

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As I always am with snack stations and dessert bars, I want all my food displays to match.  Choosing items within the color theme are a must for me and when things don’t exactly match, I sticker them!dessert bar

Juliet-8935Everything from the GoGo Squeezes,  to the toddler-friendly mango applesauces, water bottles and favor bags were stickered in my so-called free time (without a nanny) and made to coordinate with the theme.  Michelle, from That Party Chick who I worked with on Juliet’s 1st birthday party was kind enough to partner up with me again on this project.  Check out her shop!  She is super creative and lightning fast with her graphics.  I’ll have more pictures of the dessert bar in my next post but here’s a sneak peak.

dessert bar

The backdrop is something I’ve been wanting to craft ever since I saw some online how-tos during my research and Pinterest round-up.  It took some time but was a cheaper alternative than having a customized graphic designed and printed large-scale.  Basically, I taped together foam board pieces, added fabric with spray adhesive, then taped on a banner.  And now I can store and re-use the foam core board for other future events!

dessert bar

The riser in the middle is simply tissue boxes covered in blue giraffe print fabric, something you can easily find and DIY at home.  See how I used it prior to this event during my Disney sponsored princess party here.   I also covered a diaper box with plastic tablecloth and pom pom trim to create a last minute riser for one of the kids tables shown here (last minute RSVPs!)

DIY

The birthday hats, milk bottles and banners were all made with leftover paper and fabric.

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milk bottles

I’m excited to show you how the whole party animal theme came to life through the themed outfits, food, entertainment and the rest of the decor!  Stay tuned for a continued blog post coming soon!

The pictures from this post are a mix of mine and those from www.Hammjackk.net

 

 

 

 

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We’ve jokingly called Juliet a party animal ever since she was born because she has been a night owl going to bed anywhere between 10pm (nowadays) to as late as midnight during her first year of life.  So it was only fitting (and such a cute unisex party theme) to make “party animal” her 2nd birthday theme.  Get inspired as this post shows you how to incorporate the party animal theme into everything from the fashions to the decor to the entertainment to the food!

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Let’s start with the fashion.  Juliet wore a bear necklace and (sometimes) wore / carried her lion backpack (perfect since her birthday invite introduced her as “Leo the lion”.  I wore my party animal necklaces from Mustard Dandelion’s cute Etsy shop with my leopard Banana Republic heels.

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The birthday invite (from Paperless Post) encouraged guests to come dressed in their wildest fashions.

animal inviteJuliet’s fashionable friends did NOT disappoint!

animal party ideas

We were happy to see lots of animal print, fur, animal faces, and bunny ears!  My friends are always up for a fun fashion challenge and luckily, they’re as crazy committed to themed parties as I am.  I find that it just adds another level of excitement, enthusiasm and involvement into a party.  How cute are they all?!!

animal themed party

The decor which you can see consisted of a consisted yellow, orange and baby blue theme.  And animals were incorporated wherever possible.  Here’s the gift table that sat conveniently right next to the entrance’s coat check-in.

favor bags

Those 3 teddy bears are actually bears from my own childhood.  I just added the ribbon and party hats to align them more with the theme. I used them at Juliet’s 1st birthday party too and love that they represent daddy, mommy and Juliet.

Underneath the table, we stored all of Juliet’s presents.  And on top of the table, we featured the favor bags which included:  stickered go go squeezes, organic gummy bunnies, stickered Ziploc full of animal crackers and goldfish, a rubber duck, a book about animals and animal stickers.  Additionally, each child went home with one of the giant, yellow balloons featured at the kids table.

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dessert bar

The framed sign and favor bag stickers were custom created with my direction by That Party Chick , the silk flowers were bought on sale at Michaels, the riser was a diaper box that I covered in fabric and ribbon and the white topper is a shower curtain that I only use for special events.  If you follow my blog, you’ve seen it re-purposed in 3 other events.  And the yellow tulle fabric is just taped directly onto the table’s perimeter.

animal themed party

Every kids’ birthday should feature some photos.  I incorporated photos of Juliet holding different stuffed animals and/or costumed as an animal herself and created a consistent look and feel by printing them all the same size, posting them to card stock and adding a label to each one to continue the animal theme across the mirrored wall.   birthday partyThe food station was split into the sweets and snacks tables.  The sweets table included:

  • a macaron tower from The Macaron Cafe
  • frosted animal cookies from Elinis
  • organic animal cookies
  • bunny chocolates
  • organic bunny gummy pouches
  • vanilla cupcakes
  • candy balls
  • animal shaped suckers with “happy birthday Juliet!” stickered on the back
  • yellow gummy bears
  • stickered applesauces (which OK should be on the snack side but there was more room here)

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The snack side of the table featured:

  • snake sub (with olive eyes and red Twizzler tongue)
  • safari salad
  • monkey food (bananas)
  • hungry hippo hummus and veggies
  • bear nutella sandwiches
  • coffees teas, waters and jungle juices
  • parrot pineapples

IMG_5892 animal themed food IMG_5889

menu

And the entertainment consisted of:

  • musical performers singing animal themed songs (Think “in the jungle”, “itsy bitsy spider”)
  • Pin the Tail on the Elephant
  • stuffed animals, animal books and puzzles and animals that you could ride on

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And the animal decor included animal masks for the kids, plastic animal centerpieces (which you can read more about in my earlier post), and animal chair covers which were a big hit.

animal parade

animal parade masks

It was a lively party that kids and adults all enjoyed.  Juliet was so happy to celebrate with all her little friends.  It was the first year she really understood what it meant to have a birthday.  I’ll always remember her cute voice saying, “I’m TWO! Happy birthday!!”

kids birthday party ideas Juliet-9168 Juliet-9219IMG_5902

 

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100 days old

Koreans mark the 100th day, 1st birthday and the 60th as momentous occasions similar to how we Americans might celebrate a sweet 16 or bar mitzvah.  Above are some shots from when Juliet was just 100 days old.  Both of us are in our hanboks (Korean traditional dresses).  And it seems like just yesterday when we took these shots and she could barely sit on her own.  Yet here we are months afterwards, celebrating her first year.  Click here and here for the details on her birthday party’s decor and all the DIY details.  This Fab Fete post will focus more on the traditional Korean ceremony, the doljabi.

Both hanboks that you see featured on little Juliet were rented from Little Seouls Party for $45 (half the price of buying one and then never wearing it again).   They are the only English online store that rents Hanboks -believe me I searched around!  And thankfully, they were great to work with, answering all my questions and guaranteeing my shipment by the requested date.

korean first birthday

“It’s my birthday and I can cry if I want.”  Teething sucks.

Luis Enrique Rivera Cuyar Luis Enrique Rivera Cuyar Every Korean first birthday features dol towers like these.  Traditional ones are made with black and cream colored beans but that didn’t match my decor so I took the liberty of making mine with pink and green candy (along with paper towel rolls, and a glue gun).  Gettin’ crafty here!  Before you know it, I’ll be scrapbooking and weaving baskets!  Also, I chose not to follow the usual tradition of placing these at the head table, or in my case, the dessert table and instead sat them next to the children’s art easel area so that section would tie into the rest of the party decor.

korean first birthday

That’s the easel and drawing station in the background there with the grandparents and Juliet in the foreground.  For more on the fun fact signs that you see besides the art station, see my earlier post.

first birthday party

Onto the main Korean cultural ceremony, the doljabi.  This is where the child is presented several items, all of which represent something for his/her future. Whatever the child picks up first is supposed to predict the future.  Traditional  items include rice which symbolizes an abundant life, yarn or string which symbolizes a long life, a book or pencil which symbolizes academic success, cash which represents wealth, and some sort of doctor and lawyer professional items.  I chose to modernize my doljabi by adding in career symbols that matched our careers (something in fashion and something in finance).  And for a fun touch, I played ‘gangnam style’ music in the background and had Psy as one of the items to choose from.  All other party background music had ‘baby’ in the lyrics.  ‘Rice Rice Baby’, a mock of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ was a perfect fit for this occasion.

korean dohl

doljabi

Guests fill in the raffle card with their name and place it by the item they think she’ll choose.  Juliet crawled over and with eyes glued to Psy, then freaked out when she heard everyone cheering for her and started melting down under pressure.  But on the 2nd try, she chose the crystal calculator symbolizing a career in finance (like daddy)!

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korean first birthday

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The cash was her 2nd choice.

Here are my roundup tips on how to make a first birthday affordable.  I did this all on a strict budget and you can too!

  1. Cut staffing.  Look around you and find talented friends and family to help you wherever you can.  For us, instead of hiring an event planner, I did my own doljabi research, found all the necesary items and prepared all the party decor myself.  Others may want to make their own food, have relatives bake, or have a talented friend take the photos/video.
  2. Skip the florals.  They’re a luxury at a first birthday party and totally unnecessary.
  3. Shop sales ahead of time.  You know the birth date  so plan ahead.  I covered that pool table in the middle of the room with a pink remnant cloth that I bought at an after-Christmas sale.  Anything from platters to birthday dresses can be found deeply discounted around holiday shopping periods.
  4. Re-purpose stuff around the house.  I took my husband’s extra tv stand box, covered it in patterned paper and used it as a riser for my dessert table.  A bed sheet and curtain set became my dessert bar backdrop.
  5. Shop the dollar store.  You can find everything from kid’s favors, to simple snacks and munchies, to art activity sets there.  I bought all my tissue paper (which I turned into fringe), plastic tablecloths,yarn and money for the doljabi and other small items there.
  6. Check out wholesalers online.  My balloons and candy were bought through an online wholesaler for example.

Finally, since every event has its mishaps, here’s my list of what went wrong:

  1. Someone accidentally tipped over an entire platter of kim bop, (the Korean sushi that I had at the snack bar). Luckily I was clueless to this fact until post-party when I disassembled the snack table only to find a mountain of uneaten kimbop on the floor, underneath the tablecloth.  What a waste! I’m just glad I didn’t see it happen .  Ignorance is bliss.
  2. The cake colors were off and it came out not like I wanted (topsy turvy is what I asked for) but I think this only bothered me.
  3. People had issues finding parking and therefore showed up late.  So even though I had purposely planned it for the only day of the week where NYC had free street parking, and reminded guests with an email asking them to allot extra time to find parking, some guests had a hard time and I felt bad about this.
  4. With all that was going on setting up 4 different areas, I forgot to lay out the champagne and water bottles til half the party was over!
  5. The 100 balloons which I had planned to be blown up and scattered all over the floor so kids could kick their way through a balloon lounge never got blown up.  This is thanks to me hiring my hubby as my event assistant.  Event planning newbies always under-estimate the time it takes to finish event planning tasks.
  6. Cake is not as irresistible as I had thought.  I ordered 1 slice for each person and could have fed my entire apartment complex because of it.  We had way too much cake.  For my (strange) guests, I learned I need only order for only 1/3 to 1/5 the amount of people who RSVP.  I was left hawking cake to the doormen, guests and anyone who looked hungry.

Here’s a shot of Juliet post-party enjoying her 2nd cake smash.  We added parts of her presents (the princesses) to the cake and used them as cake toppers.

cake smash

Happy Birthday Juliet!

Read on to see all the details of the rest of her party!

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pop champagne Food and beverage is such an important part of a successful party.  It helps your guests feel welcomed, cared for and comforted in a new setting.  It can be the most expensive part of a party budget though.  Most people balk at the per head cost venues charge for weddings for instance.  And though some celebrate the Korean first birthday as if it were part 2 to their wedding, (same guests, similar budget), I chose to celebrate on a budget and cut corners wherever I could.  It’s a baby’s birthday after all!

This meant lots of DIY (see earlier post), and this meant no sit-down meal.  Sorry peeps! I did price out a sit-down brunch in NYC at several mid-tier venues at the beginning of all this party planning but quickly learned we couldn’t afford it as they all ran around $60/head (yikes!)  We just finished a home renovation so the last thing we needed was to try and feed 70 guests a $60 per head meal -especially if that only covered simple items like pancakes and fruit!  So I timed the party mid-day, sort of in-between meals (2-4) and worded the invite in such a way that it hinted not to expect a full meal.   You would understand this to be the case if you received this invite, wouldn’t you?birthday invite My husband worried that despite this subtle warning, his side of the family would fast all day in anticipation of a party where they could feast for free.  I balked at the thought of this but resolved to have enough snacks to satiate hungry party go-ers anyways.  So in addition to the dessert bar where the birthday cake would be the star, I knew I had to have a separate table for snack-able, savory bites.

One rule presided over all the menu planning – no sauces, no dips, and small bites ONLY.  This was the rule at Saks Fifth Avenue where I worked as their Marketing /PR Director and planned 125 events a year for them.  And this was going to be the rule at my party too. It’s hard to be chic and elegant when you have sauce running down the side of your face.  Also, it’s not like we had seats for everyone, you were expected to walk around and mingle for the most part so the items had to be things you could eat on-the-go if you will.  The items also had to be tasty cold.  I wasn’t going to hire cater waiters to serve hot hors d’oeuvres for this 2hr party.  We aren’t that fancy.  And yes hubby, there’s a microwave in the party lounge but I’m not asking guests to microwave their cold dumplings.  We’re having kim bop instead darnit!first birthday party food To incorporate both cultures (he’s Chinese-American, I’m Korean-American) I mixed in American, Korean and Chinese snack/dessert items hoping guests might enjoy being adventurous and trying something new and also as a way to honor both heritages.  However, it seemed impossible to find any cold, Chinese hors d’oeuvres or snacks that my husband and I could agree on so at the snack and beverage bar, we offered:

  • bottled waters, stickered in the party’s theme and colors
  • Pop champagne (not pictured here but shown in the blog’s first photo)
  • pink lemonade (never had time to slice up the lime and add in like I wanted)
  • Korean kimbop
  • Korean shrimp chips
  • wasabi snow peas
  • Cosi finger sandwiches
  • alphabet cereal for the kids
  • fruit

bottled water

kim bop

shrimp chips

sandwiches

It’s important to make sure both kids and vegetarians have some healthy options.  And always, always, re-plate any items that come from an outside vendor.  Don’t leave the sandwiches in the Cosi tray with their branded napkins for instance.  Re-plate-ing and tying in your decor is an easy way to upgrade any store-bought item like shrimp chips.   Another tip- you’ll see that  the table runner, menu signs, toothpick flags and napkin holders are all made of the party’s patterned paper and help make all these random items look like they work together.  Yes, even food has to match.  It also helps that the party platters are the same neutral white.    In case you were wondering, all party platters that you see in this post can be bought at Crate and Barrel as well as Bed Bath and Beyond.    Not to be hyper-critical but I look at these photos and wish I had more time to finalize the presentation of this table.  But alas, I also had a dessert table and cake smash area to deal with before all the guests arrived.  FYI, we also had a coffee and hot chocolate station at the party which is not pictured here.

Here is Juliet racing around the room saying hi to all her guests while the adults mingled.

baby car

convertible cars

Onto the cake smash area which is the 2nd thing guests saw as they walked through the door.

cake smash

A lot of people nowadays are having cake smash photo shoots where the birthday baby is photographed eating (mostly smashing) a miniature birthday cake.  It makes for lots of messy but adorable photos and is usually done before a birthday party at a photographer’s studio.  I decided to incorporate it into the party as an event within an event.

teddy bears

I actually drew out this vignette and what I wanted it to look like as I was planning the party so it was exciting to finally see the vision come to life.  I knew I wanted her to sit in her high chair rather than sit on the floor as most cake smash’s are usually done because this way guests could see her better.  I knew I wanted to decorate her high chair and have giant balloons in the picture.  And I figured I would balance the photo opp out by having something sit at the bottom.  The teddy bears (which were actually mine as a child) seemed to be the perfect thing to place at her feet.  3 bears representing our little family and wearing the party hats I made added to the cuteness factor.  The oversized balloons which I bought on Amazon.com were tied with coordinating ribbon and garland made out of tissue paper that I cut.  The tutu skirt tutorial can be found here and is super simple to do (just need elastic and a roll of your favorite tulle).  The birthday banner (and all paper products that you see here was designed around the invite and dress by That Party Chick).

cake smash

Of course when you have kids as guests at your party, you can never count on your decor staying in position through the party.  Especially with balloons, you’re bound to have a burglar or two.  I’m not sure what happened to the balloons I had so artfully placed besides the high chair at symmetrical heights to one another but by the time we sang her happy birthday and the crowd was cheering her on while taking photos, the balloons were nowhere in this picture-perfect sight!  I was too enthralled by little Juliet’s brave reaction to all her paparazzi that I didn’t even care.

cake smash

Of course, little Juliet was simply happy to dig right in – balloon decor next to her or not.  Apparently the number 1 looked especially tasty since that was the first thing to go into her mouth.What was funny to me was how my Korean mom (who never saw nor apparently understood the point of a cake smash) whisked her away once she thought Juliet was making too much of a mess.  She didn’t want Juliet to ruin her outfit and decided on her own to rescue the fashion in exchange for extending this wildly funny photo shoot.  I guess I should have better briefed her on this new cultural tradition.

The dessert bar was my favorite thing to design and decorate because it brought me back to the days when at Saks I did this for our teen prom parties, or matched a new spring fashion collection to the colors of my dessert bar.  Of course back then, I had an assistant and an intern to do the busy work of wrapping chocolates and beverages but still, it was just as fun.

dessert bar pink blue

There was an ornate framed portrait of someone really random in this party lounge space, right where I envisioned the dessert bar to be placed so I had to cover it up by placing this handmade backdrop in front of it.  The frame is rented from Adorama for $12 and was super simple for my handy husband to assemble even though it came without instructions.  And the ruffly white, shabby chic looking fabric is actually a set of shower curtains from Target that I had never had the chance to use.  Little did I know though since I never took it out of its original packaging that it would be so sheer!  I had to do a last minute fix and add a white bed sheet behind it otherwise the whole thing would have been useless.

The dessert bar featured:

  • mini-chocolates
  • gummy bears
  • peanut butter filled mochi
  • black sesame mochi
  • green tea pocky sticks
  • cake
  • cookies

dessert bar

Does it bother you as much as it did me that the cake colors were off?  Also I had asked for the cake to be topsy turvy style but this is what I got.  There always seems to be something at every event that goes wrong, something completely out of your control comes out unlike your order and it throws a wrench in your plans.  As a professional planner, I’ve come to expect the unexpected.  But still, I find imperfect details like this disappointing.  You can tell me I’m crazy for being stuck on such small details and I know it seems silly but I can’t help but be bothered.  Also, is it me or is the cake asymmetrical and not perfectly straight?  argh

dessert bar

birthday cake

cookies

Here’s a before picture of the mini chocolates.  Little Juliet would have laugh attacks at the pile of chocolate before us when I had to organize the chocolates by type as step 1 of this wrapping process.  Her silly laughter helped pass the initial anxiety I had when I started wondering how I was going to finish all these DIY tasks with a baby around.

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hersheys

mr goodbar

hersheys mini chocolate

hershey's dark chocolate

mochi

These black sesame and peanut butter mochi are SO addicting!  And they’re super cute too.  The bite size portions and squishy texture remind you of squeezing and eating a baby’s cheeks (something I love doing to Juliet).  Can you blame me?  Just look at those cheeks!

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korean first birthday

She looks like a unicorn with her hat falling into her forehead here, doesn’t she? This photo cracks me up.  It also makes me giggle a little because I think instead of reading “Juliet’s 1st birthday” on the banner behind us, it should really say “we survived!”  Because isn’t that what all first time parents are really celebrating during their child’s first birthday?  Besides keeping her alive, we also survived 6 months of sleep deprivation, changed 2192 diapers and learned more than we ever wanted to about car seats, strollers and developmental toys.  It was a whirlwind year and we made it through happy and sound.

one year old

Here’s to the best birthday that she will never remember!

Keep on the lookout for my next continued birthday post about what went wrong, and the doljabi ceremony – more details and tips about party planning!  And if you haven’t already, see my earlier post about all the DIY items for this first birthday celebration.

For more tips on how to create a fabulous dessert bar click through to my earlier post here.

 

 

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If you’re looking for a fun Valentine’s party or wanting to make your next play date a little more special, think about getting wild with an animal-theme!

wild valentine

I wasn’t ready to tear down my wild for you decor from my pancakes and pajamas play date and decided to host another Wild For You Valentine making play date with 2 more of our favorite Valentines.

IMG_1120The kids wore matching bear-eared heart jumpsuits for some adorable photos and enjoyed crafting their own Valentine hearts and decorating heart-shaped cookies.

kids valentines party

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valentines party

Here are some close-ups! The beverage bottles were simply unstickered Starbucks coffee cups decorated with items from Target’s $1 bin.

valentine's decorating

Pigs in a blanket were a fun animal-themed toddler snack.

valentines party

Strawberry applesauce and fruits in festive dotted cups, animal crackers, organic cow shaped grahams, and panda sweets were also available for the kids.IMG_1072 IMG_1086 wild for you valentine making Be sure to continue the wild theme with animal prints (here seen on the duvet cover-turned linen), animal puzzles toys and books, and stuffed animals.

wild for you heart fashion

Each child brought home this favor bag stuffed with their Valentine’s creations and each mom went home with a heart-shaped box of Godiva Valentine’s chocolates.

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animal valentine theme

To see the 2nd birthday party where all these DIY decorated animal figurines originally came from, click here. 

And to see my 6 tips for hosting a pajamas and pancakes play date like this for under $10 click here. 

valentine kids event How are you and your kids celebrating with your Valentine’s this year?

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I try to celebrate the every day in style.  Even when it comes to hosting play dates, I like to elevate the experience by offering something a little more memorable than your average mommy and me meetup.  Here’s how I hosted a pajamas and pancake play date at my home for less than $10.  Hopefully, this will give you some inspiration for your next children’s gathering.

1).  Find a fun theme.  Themes get people brainstorming and anticipating the excitement that lies ahead.  And for a play date, they immediately make meetups special.  I had never held a breakfast play date before so I set this one up with a pajamas and pancake theme. (invite from Paperless Post)

paperless post

2).  Use what you have.  There’s no reason to spend a lot.  Search around the house and find items that may inspire you. I noticed for instance that Juliet had amassed a bunch of Play doh gifts so I hosted a Play doh themed playdate – same with Hello KittyClick on those earlier blog posts for more ideas!

This time around I was determined to use my leftover 2nd birthday decor.

party animals

I figured these plastic animal figurines that I bought wholesale and decorated for Juliet’s party animal themed birthday could easily turn into a fun ‘wild for you’ Valentine’s decoration. I just cut out letters freehand from scrapbook paper that I already had.   And even used coordinating tissues (yes as in travel-sized Kleenex) found at Target for $1 to make the ‘YOU’ cutout letters.

wild for youThe animal figurine display set the backdrop for the pajamas and pancake play date nicely.

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To continue the animal decor, I sat furry stuffed animals on each chair which helped welcome our sweet little guests, strung animal Valentine’s cards that I found for $1 at Target into a banner, and laid down a twin sized duvet cover that was a pink zebra print for the table linen.  (Think out of the box!)  And the melon rectangles that awaited the kids were stamped with bunny bento cutters that I already owned.

animal birthday

3).  Encourage pancake decorating! It’s not often you’re encouraged to play with your food but it sure is fun!  Our pancake decorating station included:  sprinkles in 6 colors, mini chocolate chips, blueberries, rasberries, whipped cream and syrup.

image13And I made the pancakes PINK to coordinate with the decor and add some Valentine’s fun.   Too cute! IMG_0927

pancake party To add to the menu, I made heart shaped omeletes (with mushroom, red pepper and cheese) as well as offering muffins and organic granola bars to the mix for variety.

pancakes and pajamas

4).  Elevate your play date style.  Kids meals, parties and play dates don’t have to mean primary colors and character paper plates.  For this get together, simple white paper plates were placed onto beautiful chargers.  Coordinating paper napkins were folded with kids silverware, and adult cake plates and platters added contrasting height to the arrangements.

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5).  Prepare toys within theme.  For this Wild For You Pajama and pancake play date, I made sure to bring out furry stuffed animals, animal puzzles, animal games and toys.  IMG_0948

Of course, sometimes the kids will find other toys just as fascinating and that’s ok.

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6).  Don’t forget the fashion.  Consider how you can incorporate the theme with fashion!  And don’t hesitate to get kitschy or a little wild.  It’s play time and whimsy should be encouraged!  For instance, at Juliet’s party animal themed 2nd birthday, we asked everyone to dress in their ‘wildest’ fashions which turned guests of all ages up in bunny ears, animal prints and darling animal heads all over their clothes. For this animal themed play date though, I actually styled the kids (meaning I bought and returned for the photo shoot) coordinating animal printed pajamas.

gap pajamasAnd I accessorized with furry hats that we already owned.  You can buy similar hats here.  Use my promo code 012BC82D8 for a FREE HAT (just pay s&h).  They have tons of cute styles for infants, toddlers and even adults!

fab kidsWhat do you think?

For more Fab Kids themed playdates, and special event invites, make sure to like facebook.com/fabkidsnyc and send me an email with your email, names and age of child!  If you’re in the NYC area you should join us for our upcoming Easter bunny brunch, Fab Fit Fun mommy meetups, red white and blue July 4th picnic, and white party in the summer!  Spread the word and tell a friend.

xoxo,

Stella

 

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Does your child hate to sit down for a meal?  Does he/she love veggies one day and then have no interest in them another day?  Does he/she stress you out with his/her picky eating?  If so, try these creative tips.

  1.  Cut out shapes.  A pancake, omelette, or sandwich for instance, can easily turn into a fun shape with the help of a cookie cutter.  I like to incorporate this idea into all my holiday meals.  (stars for fourth of July, hearts for Valentine’s, bears for an animal themed 2nd birthday). IMG_1966 toddler foodIf you have time to get more elaborate, you can even use a bento cutter like my bear face cutter (used below) and have your child help you draw a face (with edible markers). edible marker IMG_0746
  2. Slice and Skewer.  Has your toddler suddenly banned fruit or veggies? instagram.com_2015-07-02_22-21-52 party foodmeisterdishSkewers seem to magically disguise previously unwanted foods.  It has worked for me and maybe it will work for you.
  3. Choose fun dishes.  We use these fun Fred & Friends dishes – here are some examples of how you can decorate them with food.face dishfred and friendsThe melamine hairstyle versions featured above are the nonbreakable versions and what I’d recommend for babies and toddlers. Skiphop, Sanrio and Disney are all great bets too if your child has a favorite character like Mickey, or Hello Kitty.
  4. Enlist their help!  My daughter has had so much fun helping me mix ingredients together during our cooking and baking sessions that she now asks to sleep with her whisk she loves it so much!  Getting her involved with the process of cooking has interested her in tasting the final product even more.

In the end, if all else fails, and your picky toddler still won’t eat 3 sit-down meals, don’t fret.  Rest assured in knowing that pediatricians say that as long as they have 1 decent meal and are growing at a normal weight and height that you don’t have to pull your hair out worrying and stressing.  It’s true that some days, they’ll be good eaters and others they won’t but hopefully, these tips will add some fun and interest back into his/her eating habits.

What other tips would you add?

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I was selected as a host by Mom Select for Disney Side Celebrations and received a kit with decorations, party favors and other supplies to inspire me to plan an at home celebration.  I was asked to plan and execute party details on my own .   No monetary compensation was provided and the views and opinions are my own.

 

 

keep calm and sparkle on

This is all I could think when faced with the challenge of planning a princess party on minimal budget within 2 weeks for 8-10 2 year olds at my apartment.  I don’t have a nanny so all I could do was devote 30minutes each day to researching, planning, purchasing and setting up as soon as my #disneyside 20lb box of decor, and party favors arrived care of Disney and Mom Select Media.  (See earlier post about being a chosen blogger to host an at home celebration).  Somehow my prince charming of a husband put up with me and all the pink and purple that took over our house 2 weeks leading up to the celebration.  I swear you’d have thought Sophia The First’s castle had exploded in our living room… For that somewhat pressured (and I say pressured because I’m a perfectionist) period, my head spun as I designed the kids dining area, brainstormed ways to create varied elevation at the snack station, and played with various activity ideas for the kids.

Because I like to stay strictly within a party theme, I opted to exclude using the Mickey decor and baking items received in my package.  I’ll save those for another festive moment in my 2 year old’s life.  And there were several items I chose to break apart and give away in the goody bags like the big box of Disney Princess chapsticks/glosses and box of Disney Princess stickers.  Here is what I ended up giving away as party favors.  Additionally, each guest is still waiting to receive the Princess in Training tee shirts gifted from my one of my event sponsors too since they did not arrive in time.

goody bag

And here was the final bag.  I topped off each white bag (bought at the dollar store where a 70 year old man hit on me) with one of the Sophia the First tiaras because I knew my guests were all arriving with their own sparkly head pieces.  goody bag

In addition to preparing goody bags for each guest, a very special, overstuffed bag was created as a prize package for the best dressed mommy and me duo to encourage guests to dress up and show off their princess style.  Here were the contents (some from Disney, some from me and my other sponsors).

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goody bag

Though honestly, my fashionista mommy friends always seem to be up for a kitschy theme (gotta love that) and are girly enough to enjoy dressing-up so it didn’t take much persuasion power on my end.  I was so thrilled that they took the dressing up as seriously as I did because it really added to the party and made for fun conversation starters.   What a way to kick-off NY Fashion Week, huh?

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As you can imagine, their outfits made it extremely easy for my doorman to recognize who my guests were-see invite here.  Who else would dress this way in NYC on a normal day??

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Just my fab friends…  Aren’t they SO cute??  Winner was selected by popular vote and it was a tough call because all the duos were dazzling in their own way.  But in the end this is who took home the prize!  Totally deserving.

princesses

A Sophia the First coloring sheet (from my Disney package) that featured the Royal Academy and said “welcome” greeted guests at the front door as did a coat check.  Upon entering, guests heard music from Pandora’s “everyday princess” soundtrack in the background as they passed the hall of mirrors into the kids royal dining area.

princess partyDrinks were served and the princesses in training played politely, sharing the princess toys as we waited for all the guests to arrive.  Sophia the First’s movie played silently on the TV.

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princess party

princess IMG_5192 I didn’t have Disney princess toys to go along with the theme so had a friend share some of her Disney princess dolls and other collectible toys at the party.

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And I created an accessory station in my bedroom using some old costume jewelry and Juliet’s necklaces and tiaras.  That was a big hit!  I presented the jewels along a chaise that was the perfect height for them to gaze into a mirror and try on sparkly jewelry.

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It was like shopping without the pressure to buy!  What girl doesn’t enjoy THAT?DSC_2362 IMG_5172

I also brought out Juliet’s purses because you know, princesses all have a weakness for purses!

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My sweet daughter was so good about sharing all her fashions, accessories and toys.  Mommy was proud.

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In addition, primping was encouraged.  My vanity featured a princess mani station. Who can resist a chubby toddler hand made even cuter with bows??

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And one of the bathroom mirrors had a princess message written on it, “mirror mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all?”

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Once everyone had arrived, we tried (I emphasize TRIED) to take a group shot of all our princesses in training but that proved to be a bit of a challenge with squirmy 2 year olds…

princess party

toddlers in tiaras

So we had fun hamming it up for other shots..

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princess dress

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princess party kiss the frog  IMG_5184

After pictures (it’s always important to get the shots in before the kids start eating and ruining their outfits lol), the girls dined and sat on big girl thrones (kids chairs that I covered in white tees and tutus).    Surprisingly, the 2 year olds had no major mishaps.  They ate their tiara sandwiches, savory snacks and crown cupcakes in peace.  These princesses were on their BEST behavior!

disney princess partyHere you can see that I didn’t just lay the free Sophia the First plastic table cover down.  I first covered the table legs with a couple, never-used shower curtains that I keep for decorative event purposes like this (see the 1st birthday party that I threw), then I steamed, yes STEAMED the plastic tablecloth that Disney gave me because I’m anal like that, then I laid a ruffly, runner on top for my centerpiece desserts.  The layered additions gave the Sophia the First plastic cover a more elegant touch and elevated the look all together.

disneyside princess party

The mini-cupcakes were the perfect size for toddler hands (and appetites) and were simply bought at Whole Foods (along with the heart cookeis).  I was estatic to find the perfect pre-made shade of pink frosting and knew that all I had to do was add my fondant pre-made tiaras that I bought at Michaels for a customized, more couture look.  IMG_5276

My baby is an animal when it comes to devouring her cupcakes.  She was so good at obeying my orders to not touch the cupcakes until all her guests arrived that when it came time to eat, I let her have the requested 2 but then she just HAD to have the last one too….IMG_5316

You don’t have to spend a lot on a kids party.  Just use what you have and get crafty with dollar store finds.  The overhead garland above the dining table is actually just made up of 3 plastic tablecloths that I bought at the dollar store and then hand cut fringe on for instance.

princess in training  And the white lace hearts were leftover craft items I already had and I strung them on ribbons leftover from my wedding.

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The Princess in Training sign is just foam core board that I cut and wrote on and the two Sophia the First framed photos that sit beside it are pictures I found in a free poster album book that I picked up at Little Swappies for free.  I just made sure to find and cut pictures within the same pale pink and purple color theme.

Because I was simultaneously planning my daughter’s 2nd birthday (which was planned to be held 1 month after this party), I really really wanted to stick to a tight budget here. So I got creative.

dessert bar pink

I used pages out of that free Sophia the First poster book and created a backdrop by simply taping pages with coordinating colors on the wall.  I bought the posterboard that hangs in the middle on sale at Michaels for $5 then covered it in fabric and velcro taped the Princess tasks for certification list so it became the centerpiece of our Princess in Training snack station.princess in training

I chose to stick the stand alone decorative items that Disney gave me (the 2 small pieces below the foam core board) as wall decor instead of as table decor and placed their snack bowls right beside them on a riser that I created from scratch.

disneyside princess party

The center riser is just a diaper box covered in dollar store plastic tablecloth, tissue paper that I cut for my daughter’s first birthday, saved and re-used and extra pom pom trim -also leftover.  And the long narrow, riser in front is a bunch of Kleenex boxes glue-gunned together and wrapped.  You’d never know, right?  Both worked so well I think I’ll re-use them next month at my daughter’s 2nd birthday -just have to re-cover them in a different fabric for her color theme.DSC_2238

The “pretty in pink rice crackers” and “flower petals” are from my sponsor Happy Family, an organic food line, and the “princess pretzels”, well they are a toddler crowd pleaser.  IMG_5181

Savory snacks for the adults included truffled mac ‘n cheese bites, figs, nuts, veggie reduced fat chips, Stacy’s pita chips, purple/pink corn chips (yes I like my food to match the color theme!) and fruit, not shown here.

kids party

My friend couldn’t get over the cuteness of the miniature appetizer plates and forks.

appetizers

Mozerella cheese sticks for kids and kids at heart!IMG_5189IMG_1885I bought the purple glitter paper all on sale and used them to accent these cute cake risers (cut into a circle and saran wrapped here).  They were also used as a sparkly counter runner just to bring a little more color into the mix.  So the money I did spend was mainly on snacks and foods.  I got creative with decor and re-used things I had around the house and I think it turned out all right for being on a tight budget, don’t you?

snack station

The snacks which you can’t see up close also included:

  • healthy yogurt granola bars cut into halves and presented in cupcake liners
  • kids mini-sized yogurts perfectly coordinating in purple
  • cocounut macarons
  • prince charming cookies (with a prince emblazoned on each cookie)
  • sliced fruit

Here is the before picture of my Drink jars.

Starbucks jars

Frustratingly, this project cost me the most time.  Ever get inspired by Pinterest and then totally regret trying out that crazy idea?  Well, after I had downed a couple cases of this Starbucks mocha frappuccino stuff there really was no turning back.  Even if it did take me over a half an hour to scrub each of the bottle’s stickers off and even if I did lose layers of skin during the process, I was dead set on finishing my Pinterest project!

starbucks glasses

Thank you to Party Aww Sweet for supplying the purple and white straws!

While the little princesses were occupied and happily eating in their own royal dining area, I thought it would be fun for the grownups to get to know one another a little better with a little princess activity for ourselves.  So I dreamt up a little game of Princess truth or dare-only without the dares.  Here are some sample questions, (each mom pulled a question randomly and had to answer honestly).

This game and all the questions were made up by me so don’t laugh:

  • Princesses sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding their prince.  How many did you kiss (multiple choice with different number ranges were given)
  • Princesses own more than just one glass slipper.  How many shoes do you own?
  • Hi Beauty, Have you dated a beast  Why and tell us about it.
  • If you had a magical princess power what would it be and why?

disneyside partyKids are not the only ones who can play games at princess parties!

The party went overtime, a sure sign that the guests were having a good time and I was thrilled to see all the smiling faces and laughter.  In the end the clock struck past people’s dinner times and princesses had to rush off in their stroller carriages after receiving their official princess certificate which annointed them as an official princess. I printed these from a free online printable.  See my Pinterest board for more ideas and links to other free princess printables!

princess certificate

Here’s a couple shots of post-party Cinderella clean-up, dresses, tiaras and all.

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TIPS on making a kid’s party look more sophisticated:

  • Don’t rely on just the kiddie paper products.  Mix in elegant serverware, cake platters and risers.
  • Layer in real linens with the plastic tablecloths and napkins.
  • Feature unique hanging decor like garlands, tassel balls, coordinating ribbons, fringe..Balloons are popular with the kids but also expected.
  • Stick to your color theme and coordinate down to the very last detail.
  • Feature fresh florals – ooh fancy!

And that’s IT!  Read on to the next post where I show you how I transformed this decor into a Valentine’s backdrop and for a chance to win a supersized goody bag from this party!

 

Onto NY Fashion Week and then to furiously finish planning my daughter’s 2nd birthday!

 

 

Special thanks goes out to Disney and their associated sponsors, All, Wisk, Beyond Meat

And my event sponsors:

  • GoGo Squeez fruit squeezes for everyone
  • J and G handmade hair accessories for the prize package plus 20% off the shop for anyone entering promo code ‘princess’ and leaving a comment in this blog post.
  • Crunch Pak free Mickey ear snack packs for everyone
  • Catchick6 Creations princess potty training panties for the prize package and for the upcoming blog giveaway
  • Sweet Lil Bows  Sophia the First necklaces for everyone
  • Happy Family purple teething crackers and pink rice cakes
  • Party Aww Sweet party straws

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It was a wintery, snowy morning in NY when a fellow mommy friend and I trekked out to Brooklyn on a Little Swappies treasure hunt.  I rarely venture out to the outer Manhattan boroughs but the draw of kids fashion and the opportunity to trade-in some of Juliet’s gently worn items for a good cause compelled me to go.

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I’m so glad I did!  In addition to the sponsored goody bag filled with snacks and promotional discounts, I found 20 items (toys, books and fashion pieces) that were in great shape.  They must have increased the maximum take-home number because last time I went I only brought back 9 things.  Click here for that blog post which includes tips on what you should know before you go.

 

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I love a good deal and enjoy mixing high and low brands.  Well the same goes for baby fashion.  Juliet’s closet is a mix of high-end designer, consignment/thrift/hand me downs, and everyday brands.  The below outfit is a prime example.

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The designer, mini-melissa shoes which I bought during an online sample sale are mixed with the free tank top that I scored at Little Swappies and a Baby Masala bottom from their Little Swappies sponsor sample sale.   I mixed it in with accessories already in Juliet’s closet and boom, new summer outfit for just $5!

minifashionista

Also found at the same sample sale was this cute Baby Masala dress for $5 which I accessorized with a mustard scarf that I’m selling through my FB page, Fab kids and their stylish moms, Old Navy boots and a pair of sunglasses gifted from Love My Alannah whom I met at Kids Fashion Week.  (I wish I could remember the brand’s name so I could tag them here!)  The leather jacket is from Target’s sale and the rabbit, gifted from Kid Robot.

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Thinking of the same leather jacket, I bought this Baby Masala dress for $5.  The brand is all organic by the way!  The boots are from Target, the book was gifted and the glasses are on sale at Fab kids and their stylish moms FB page. The flower crown is from H&M and altered to fit J.  If you see an elastic accessory outside of the kids section, remember that it can easily be altered to fit the little one!chanel baby

This Carter’s cardi was found at the Little Swappies event and styled with items already in Juliet’s closet, a black knit skirt, (fake) kids Chanel purse, shoes bought at a sample sale and head piece from Aldo.  So sophisticated, huh?spring dress

This sweet Laura Ashley dress caught my eye because I’m a sucker for Peter Pan collars and smocking detail.  I was psyched to find this at the Little Swappies event and styled it at home with Juliet’s Mini Melissa rhino boots (bought on sale), my cell phone cover and a flower crown from Forever 21.baby outfit

Anyone that follows my Instagram account, @fabgabblog knows that I love dressing Juliet in androgynous looks.  I mix boys clothes and accessories with girly pieces for a cute mix of masculine/feminine.  The above is a prime example.  Tee was free from Little Swappies and the Carters romper and hat are from TJMaxx.  She’s a Maxxinista like me after all!  The purse is from Target and the sneakers are boys shoes from a second hand store that I bought for $2. cute baby clothes

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this classic, crisp white blouse at Little Swappies.  It was in perfect condition and featured the Peter Pan collar that I love so much!  It is such a versatile piece and I knew I could layer it and wear it a million different ways…oops I mean Juliet could.  I am living through her.  The mask is also a free find from there and it is paired with Baby Gap boots and raincoat along with a vintage short/bowtie set bought off of Etsy – one of my favorite sites for unique baby fashion.  Who says baby girls can’t wear bowties??how to style a tutu

This outfit would be so cute for a birthday party, wouldn’t it?  The hat is actually something Juliet wore on her first birthday.  Click here to find out how her birthday outfit inspired the entire party’s decor.

Right now is the season when Juliet’s social calendar gets crazy packed with birthday parties and I can totally imagine her bouncing around in this cute ensemble.  With this giant party hat though she might steal the spotlight…  Here, the monkey onesie was the freebie from LS and it is paired with a Zara cardigan also worn here, Joe Fresh tutu, scarf and socks that can be bought through me and my FB page. Shoes were from a sample sale and from a brand called Stella – gotta love that since that is my first name!catimini

The high-end Catimini fur vest and Tahari plum ruffled dress here is styled with a free flower crown from LS and Baby Gap boots.  The Harajuku – mini head is an applique from Etsy and the party animals are items I DIY-ed for Juliet’s upcoming party animal themed 2nd birthday.  Wait til you see the rest!

In addition to these fab fashion finds, I also picked up some books and a Mickey toy.  I think it’s safe to say that I SCORED!  Overall, it was a fun event and I even made some good contacts for my future party sponsor needs.  Did I tell you that I’m running sponsored kids events in Manhattan?  Like Fab Kids and their Stylish Moms on FB and follow @fab_kids on IG for invites and all the fun!

Thanks for reading!

 

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I’m a perfectionist but I’ve learned as a mother that achieving that sort of standard all the time is mission impossible.  Motherhood is far from perfect.  We moms may try to achieve some semblance of it in one way or another but something always happens to make us feel we’ve fallen short .  Sometimes we all out fail.  I’m not talking about the days you gave your child screen time so you could get some me time or the day you fed him/her processed food, I’m talking about epic fails like the below, real-life examples.

This morning I lost my house keys and my car. The good news is I found my house keys. They were in my car. I found my car parked at the train station cause I forgot I drove it there yesterday. Oh, and I just lost my wallet.”

“I made homemade cinnamon rolls for my husband’s birthday this year. It was so much work and I was so exhausted that I let my 2 year old eat them for breakfast, lunch, and you guessed it… Dinner too!”

“I bribe my older 2 with cash to play with the 2 yr old so I can get a break.”

mommy fail

Confession time.  I have two mommy fail moments that will never cease to amaze me.  I’ll start with the most disgusting one.  You know those mornings where you got such little sleep that even when you get out of bed, you were still half asleep?  Motherhood is filled with these type of mornings.  If you’re a mom, I know you know what I’m talking about.

I sleep-walked my way to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, half closing my eyes the entire time.  I brushed and brushed with determined vigor, remembering how the dentist instructed me that we should brush for at least 2 minutes each round.  As exhausted as I was, I conscientiously made sure to dig into all the crevices all the while never bothering to look up into the mirror, cuz you know, I was half asleep.  It wasn’t until I finished that I looked up to find there was no usual toothpaste lather and down to find that I had actually been brushing with diaper cream!

mommy fail

EWWW!  Who put that there?!? was my initial horrified reaction.  “Am I going to die?!” was my next.  After hurriedly spitting, gargling, rinsing and flossing, I had to call poison control cuz that’s what the tube scarily suggests if the product is ever ingested.  I’ll tell you, that woke me up pronto!  I felt like a fool having to explain my predicament to customer service but she calmly explained that I’d live (phew!) and that many other moms have done the same thing. (seriously???!)

My 2nd confession is the most mortifying epic fail.  I’m a nice person.  Really.  I rarely ever say anything negative about other people.  I look for the good in others. But this particular incident made me look, well not so nice. And I regret it to this day.  I was tasked with securing a babysitter to watch my child and one of her besties so us parents could enjoy a double date night out on the town.  Knowing that J’s friend had a penchant for pretty sitters, I asked the potential sitter for a picture during the final (phone) interview stages (and also cuz I was curious if I would recognize her since I know and see tons of nannies during the day as a SAHM).  She promptly and without hesitation sent me one and with bad judgement, I thought it would be amusing to forward it over to my friend who was waiting for sitter updates with a snarky comment that read, “not really a looker but seems nice otherwise.”  Ehem.  Except, I didn’t actually send the photo to my friend but rather (gulp) back to the sitter I was considering!!  ARGH!

It was as if all time had stopped moments after this dreadful realization.  My mind raced as to how I could salvage this texting error and possibly still book her (time was running out and I was out of better options).  Luckily, she was a forgiving soul, and my PR background helped me talk my way out of this PR crisis and soon enough she was at our doorstep, both of us ready to move forward from the awkward start.  Of course, as I’m getting the kids oriented with their new sitter and we’re sitting around playing with instruments to the music blaring on our loudspeakers, the next song sings, ‘if you’re BEAUTIFUL and you know it clap your hands!’ (since when did they start changing the lyrics to ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ and WHY?!?? oh WHY???” Double whammy.  I was screwed.  Our eyes met and I was so horrified that to this day, I don’t even remember if she clapped her hands.

#mommyfail.  What’s your story?

If you enjoyed this article and know a mom who could use some comic relief, please share with others!

And if you want to read about my real-life #daddyfail story, click here.

The below memes are found from dear baby.

mommy fails 24E22B9900000578-2920275-image-a-18_1421861240922 24E2191E00000578-0-image-m-58_1421856779591 24E2191600000578-2920275-Safe_zone_Ms_Showfety_realized_the_wasn_t_the_only_parent_who_wa-m-9_1421860549828 24E2192600000578-2920275-image-a-13_1421860686233 3549098_orig

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