Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Party of Sports

A couple of weeks ago we threw a sporty event to celebrate our son Grant turning 2. Since a lot of our friends also have young children, we wanted a place suitable for mahem lots of energetic tots. And because we had such a good time at Benjamin's last b-day party, we decided on The Sports Academy again. With Grant having a April b-day (aka maybe-it-will-rain-maybe-it-won't-month), it worked well for us to hold indoors in their Gymnastics/Tumbling area.

This is the party room that came with the rental of the tumbling space. It was cool because on the left, it provided a space with bleachers (which I ever-so-cleverly disguised with my roll of table cloth) that overlooked the tumbling area below.

Here's an arial view of the tumbling area taken from the above party room. The gym coach set up this fun obstacle course for the kids (btw- we had a total of 14 kids ages 2-4 years), as well as a parachute circle and zip line. The kids + parents all had a BLAST!

Here's a shot of the snack + beverage table and goodie bag + present area. I blew up photos of Grant playing various sports and hung them up around the room in addition to bringing that go-with-anything-and-everything felt banner that has been used for every birthday since I bought it (Hobby Lobby). Drinks were Sports Pods (waterbottles that already come with a sports theme on their label, found at the grocery store), that I filled in bins (everyone should have 2 big plastic bins like these!), and popcorn buckets were steals of a deal from The Dollar Tree. The smaller popcorn containers were from Oriental Trading Co. in addition to those awesome football field tablecloths. I can't tell you how handy it was to have this stuff come by the roll. With just one roll I was able to cover 7 tables, plus the ugly back view of the bleachers and I still have some left over!

Close-up of some of the signage I made for the party room. Extra scrapbooking paper (those were the days....) and easy-peasy varsity stickers prove that you don't have to spend a lot of money or have a fancy printer. I also made one that said "G'S FAN CLUB UPSTAIRS" to help direct people to the party room when they first arrived.

Cake from Lee's local grocery store which came with our party package. The Sports Academy also provided the silverware, plates, napkins, ice cream, and latex balloons (I just had to buy the ball shaped mylar ones!).

Close-up of the goodie bags I put together (apologies for the dim lighting...these were done late at night in a room with not a lot of light). Goodie bags were something that our party package also included, but I really wanted to do something to go along with our sports theme and thanks again to good ol' Oriental Trading Company, I was able to fill very inexpensively with the below goods....

Each bag contained 1 set of sports-themed sweat bands, 1 football bouncy ball, strip of 3 stickers, and a fruit snack (who doesn't like a fruit snack?). Bags were something that I just knew I would find a use for (remember this shopping spree I had?), and the personalized letter pennants (representing the first name of every child at the party) couldn't have been easier thanks to Michael's pre-cut triangles and varsity letter stickers (all Recollections brand). Pennants were attached to the bag fronts with double-sided sticky squares by Herma

Backs of bags were sealed with stickers reading "You're On The Ball" featuring various sports balls.

Thank-you cards were hand-done by taking pre-cut white circles and simply drawing red stitching along the sides (I used the side curve of an extra circle as my guide), accented with baseball stamps (you know me and my matching stamp obsession!), and sealed with a sports ball sticker. 

All in all, I'm really glad we did this party. Since I'm currently preg-o, there was a part of me that wasn't sure if I should be taking on something extra but instead this party had the exact opposite effect. Having this on our calendar was a great distraction during my husband's last month of school and made the past couple of months go by faster (trust me, I know how slow time can go by while pregnant....) as well as provide a fun way to celebrate parenthood/kids/family with all of our friends and family. Plus, I'm one of those who likes a challenge and enjoys having a project to fuel some of my creative juices into. When it comes to party planning, here's some tips I've learned along the way to ensure things flow smoothly....

My Top 3 Party Planning Tips:

1. Pick a theme. Whenever I feel stumped about where to begin with planning a party, I think about possible themes. Once I decide on one, the rest seems to easily fall into place. I also find it much easier (and cheaper!) to select a theme with a really broad range such as teddy bears, monkeys, circus, under the sea, or sports, versus something really specific like Disney's Cars or Mickey Mouse. By staying away from the heavily branded stuff, I find that I have a lot more flexibility and freedom in finding all the coordinating details that I want to include. I plan to do this for as long as my kids will let me. ;)

2. Plan ahead. I know it seems daunting to plan for one day months in advance, but this is like my biggest secret to NOT getting stressed about throwing a party. I find by separating the party into little projects (ex: invites/thank-you's, party decor, goodie bags) and doing each one weekend at a time, it no longer becomes such a GINORMOUS endeavor. I also highly recommend making lists and doing as much set-up as possible on the day BEFORE the party because I promise you on the DAY OF the party, there will be soooo many other important things that come up and it always feels best when you can be done at least 15-20 minutes before guests arrive so that all the little details of your creation can be enjoyed, photographed, etc. and you can feel calm and ready to party! 

3. Don't Be Afraid to Outsource. I made cupcakes for a grand total of ONE time for a birthday party (my son's 1st). Sure it sounds nice to have a homemade something to share, but in reality baking for a large number of people is just too time consuming and messy. So just remember that the great thing about cake is that most people are just happy to have some! Ever since I came to that realization a standard sheet cake from the grocery store has always worked just fine. Lots of party venues may also include some food items, decor, and goodies in their party packages as well.


p.s. I have to give a shout-out to Google's photo tool, Picnik. It's found within Picasa and is soooo easy and handy! I use it for all of my photo editing and especially like the Creative Kit that allows me to photomark all my photos. Plus, it's free! ;)


  1. What a fun looking day! :) And YUM the cake looks so good.

  2. Both Blake and Nicole still wear those wrist bands all the time! And Blake still talks about doing gymnastics with Grant. What a fun party!