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.
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.
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!
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 Alannahwhom 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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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??
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!
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!
I’m not too fab for a nice hand me down. My husband once freaked thinking I might be bringing home lice when I brought home amazing goodies at a kids consignment store. But really, once you wash them there should be nothing to worry about. I’ve happily welcomed hand me downs from friends too and have added to Juliet’s wardrobe on the cheap in this way.
So when I heard about this NYC event where it’s basically a giant mommy trading event, I had to check it out. Little Swappies granted me a press pass (thank you!) and today I excitedly trekked over there in hopes of a good scavenger hunt. The anticipation of a good deal and the adventure of heading out on my own for once, without baby and without husband was like adrenaline in this shopaholic’s body.
Photo credit: Sofia Lynn Photography
Here’s how it works. You bring in a minimum of 5 pieces of like-new, clean baby items 0-6years old or maternity clothes, kids toys or books. ( I went way over the minimum and brought in an entire shopping bag full of stuff and the other moms that I noticed did too). Pay a non-refundable $20 in advance or $25 at the door, check out the sponsor booths and enter raffles while they organize the drop-offs by size, then browse the selection and take whatever you need (they give you a tote bag to collect items and bring them home with you). Reception and organization is 10-11:15 and the doors to “shop” open until 12 noon.
Before attending, I worried that it would be like one of those infamous Filene’s Basement bridal sample sale rushes where you get stampeded in the process. It is NY after all. Much to my surprise though, the crowd was civilized … and this was basically a free for all. I’ve been to NY sample sales where the women clawed and jumped over their own kids to pay hundreds of dollars on the last designer item. I even have a sample sale battle wound as a result of the vulture-like craze near freebies can engender.
Perhaps it was the speech right before opening the doors that reminded us how the partner charity was benefiting from the event. Perhaps it was too early in the morning to get that feisty. Or perhaps it was because it was a holy Sunday. Nobody tripped anyone else, no one ran, and no one stole anything out of my hands. People were shockingly courteous from what I saw. Here’s a snapshot of one table area.
Here is the raffle table (everyone gets one raffle ticket and can enter to win a raffle of their choice). I entered to win a free baby photo shoot but there was really no chance in winning that since I didn’t stay til the end. I started feeling guilty for being out and leaving the babysitting duties to my hubby so I took off early.
They also offered free babysitting and stroller parking as well as a coat hanging area (leave all of the above at your own risk).
And then for those who really love freebies, there are sponsor tables that you can browse to pick up more items (as if the goody bag weren’t enough).
Here is what I came home with.
I was most excited about the items that were apparently never used and brand new. The blue summer smocked outfit, the red heart long sleeved shirt, the elephant toy and smaller blocks all had tags and or were in their original packaging. Score!!
So here are some of my Little Swappies tips:
Know before you go. Review your child’s closet to see what she has and what she needs. Make a mental list. I for instance, knew I needed outfits in the 18month -2 year range but would also take any cute shoes in the 12month+ range. Having also done my research on age-appropriate toys, I knew what the next developmental toys in Juliet’s collection should be. Search for blocks and see if there are any interesting board books to add to her collection. She loves to turn pages and I need them to be sturdy enough for her little hands not to rip.
Leave the kid(s) at home unless you are OK with leaving them with the free babysitting service. It’s too much hassle to lug around the extra weight for the two hours you are there or navigate narrow aisles with a stroller. And you don’t want anything to slow you down. The tables 6 months and up empty out pretty quickly so you have to look and act fast.
Skip the Starbucks stop on the way there, save yourself the money and just show up because they have free Starbucks waiting for you there! There are most likely also going to be some edible samples from the different companies that are trying to promote themselves too.
Leave the hubby behind. It isn’t fun to be surrounded by so much estrogen. Plus there aren’t many chairs in the waiting lounge area so he’ll either have to stand around wishing he was instead home in front of the TV or follow you around like a sad puppy. Give yourself some me time and relish in the girly hunt!
Enjoy the sponsor tables but make sure to head to the entrance doors around 20-30minutes before they open otherwise, you’ll be in a panic at the end of the line wondering if your sizes will have run out by the time you make it through the doors.
Most moms live in them already but just in case, wear comfy shoes. Standing on your 4′ heels is no fun when in line. And hello, this is a mommy swapping event. There is no need to dress to impress. Who are you kidding? We all know you live in leggings and flats everyday anyways!
Every Thanksgiving period is a time to reflect on the year and be grateful for all the blessings in your life, big and small – something we should strive to do everyday. Personally, I’m most thankful for my healthy, happy adorable little family who make me smile and laugh everyday.
Business-wise, I have a lot to be thankful for as well. This past year was the first year where I really made a concerted effort to monetize my blog and its affiliated social media and make a business out of my personal passion planning events. In doing so, I’m thankful for the partners, and sponsors who have collaborated along the way.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
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??
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.
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.
Drinks 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.
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.
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.
It was like shopping without the pressure to buy! What girl doesn’t enjoy THAT?
I also brought out Juliet’s purses because you know, princesses all have a weakness for purses!
My sweet daughter was so good about sharing all her fashions, accessories and toys. Mommy was proud.
In addition, primping was encouraged. My vanity featured a princess mani station. Who can resist a chubby toddler hand made even cuter with bows??
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?”
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…
So we had fun hamming it up for other shots..
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!
Here 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.
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.
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….
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.
And the white lace hearts were leftover craft items I already had and I strung them on ribbons leftover from my wedding.
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 Swappiesfor 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My friend couldn’t get over the cuteness of the miniature appetizer plates and forks.
Mozerella cheese sticks for kids and kids at heart!I 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?
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
prince charming cookies (with a prince emblazoned on each cookie)
Here is the before picture of my Drink 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!
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?
Kids 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!
Here’s a couple shots of post-party Cinderella clean-up, dresses, tiaras and all.
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
Getting the mail is so much more exciting nowadays with the advent of subscription box services. Suddenly in addition to the usual spam and bills, I pick up celebrity chef designed foods, kids toys and fashions. This blog post is a review of Sprouting Threads, the latest styling service geared to kids aged 2-8.
They send you a box full of clothes hand-picked for you based on the style profile you submitted online (a fun and easy pictorial Q&A).
It gives the members options of frequency, quantity & assortment to meet your needs. The $20 styling fee can be credited toward a purchase of two or more new items – keep what you want and return the rest for free (return label is included just in case). You can opt for monthly or seasonal deliveries and can receive between 2 and 5 outfits per delivery. Prices vary depending on what is kept. Appaman, Tea and Andy & Evan are just a few of the popular boutique brands that they work with. Below is a plaid “Blue Pony Vintage” Sprouting Threads dress that we styled with a H&M fur vest, Old Navy tights and Fab Kids fringe boots.
Juliet wore this outfit to her friend’s birthday party.
The service is a great way to introduce yourself to new brands that you may be unfamiliar with. The below “Go Gently Baby” mock turtleneck dress for instance was so cute paired with a blazer, sneakers, tights and a purse already in our closet.
Juliet looked extra studious wearing this getup to school.
One of the full outfits that we chose to keep included this plaid flannel blouse and cordoroy pant set from Tea. Here you see it paired with classic boots, a Gap ear headband and gifted sunglasses and stuffed animal.
This was her on the way to the candy shop – cool and always ready to pose for momarazzi.
Today for school, she sported the comfy fuschia leggings found in our subscription box. It’s by Tooby Doo. And here it’s paired with a Jcrew coat and First Impressions Baby tee.
Her smile here perfectly replicated mine when I received this fashionable box of goodies.
The unique feature with Sprouting Threads is how sustainable of a brand they are. They promote re-using and re-cycling of clothes, something I’m also an advocate of. When your child has outgrown an item, you can return it for 20% credit toward your next package. And you can also send in your gently used kids fashions (not originally sent by Sprouting Threads) in for a possible credit to their service. For more information, visit Sprouting Threads and receive 25% off your first box with code “STELLA25.” Let me know what you think!
Full disclosure. This post was sponsored by Sprouting Threads. I received a complimentary subscription box to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
5 dresses + 1 tutu+ 2 vests + 2 shirts+ 1 jacket+ 3 shoes = 23 outfits! See for yourself! It’s all about mixing it up with different accessories and layering in different ways. Here is what I packed for my 2 year old toddler’s first trip to Italy this Spring.
My mom gave Juliet this cute Ralph Lauren dress which I was so excited about because it perfectly matched her little blue bow shoes from Gymboree. Here it is styled with Madeline (the doll) as the muse. And below, is another way the dress was worn by Juliet while on the trip.
I found the adorable fanny pack at a local Italian store called Accessorize and let Juliet choose which snacks to carry in it. Isn’t it just the cutest fanny pack you’ve ever seen??
This blue dress is a vintage find from Lishyloo and styled two ways with different layers. It’s topped with a Gap raincoat on the left (which I’m selling by the way), and worn over a tutu on the right. Below she wears the dress without any layers and no socks for the 3rd look.
Going along with the red, blue, yellow color theme, this vintage dress is styled 2 different ways below and is also inspired by Juliet’s doll, Madeline. With vintage clothes, it’s always best to style with modern accessories and shoes to avoid looking too costume-y.
This long – sleeved dress, also another Lishyloovintage find, can be worn on colder days or night and is seen layered with a fur vest for extra warmth on the left, without it on the right.
And here is Juliet wearing the dress accessorized the 3rd way.
1 denim vest worn 3 ways. In the picture on the left, it’s worn over a white tutu dress and topped with a faux collar/tie that I bought off of Mabel’s Etsy store. On the right, it’s paired with the tutu skirt and a simple white blouse that I swapped at the last Swappiesevent.
On our second day in Rome, she wore it with the tutu dress and a yellow bow in her hair.
And here is another vest outfit with a mini gondola hat that I couldn’t resist buying when there. It was kinda love at first sight.
This white tutu dress with the sequin detailing on the top is so versatile. I find that I can style it numerous ways. In addition to the above examples, see below.
We ended up buying a lace dress in Venice under which I had Juliet wear this white dress because of how see through the dress was. It acted like a slip. The shoes were bought in Italy at the Zara there.
The red tutu that we packed was also styled 2 more different ways – shown below. You can see how the same pieces can look so fresh and new when paired with different items.
Here it is worn in Italy another way.
One of my tips when trying to pack light for a trip is to pick the shoes first (pick ones that can match lots of outfits!) Then work your outfits under the strict rule that they have to go with those shoes. For our 16 day trip, each of us packed just 3 shoes. Pack accessories and layers to change up your basics and you’ll look like you’re wearing a new outfit each day!