Monday, February 17, 2014

A 7th Birthday Puppy Paw-ty

For Mia's 7th birthday party, she requested a puppy theme. This sweet and simple party was one of my favorites to plan, and it was a big hit with the guests and the birthday girl alike. The colors were primarily brown and white with touches of red and black. I made everything myself, and it was very inexpensive to pull together. Outside of food, I don't think I spent more than $10!

My favorite part was that in lieu of gifts, we asked for donations to the local Human Society.  Despite it being quite snowy on that particular Saturday, several friends turned out with doggie-friendly donations. This seemed to go over well, and now we have a large stash of items to deliver when the weather gets better.

{Friends brought donations for the Humane Society.}

The Invitations:
Being a planner, I made these invitations and sent them out about 3 weeks prior to the party.

{Puppy Paw-ty Invitations}

The Food:
I did not serve a full meal. (Go, me! Way to keep it "simple" -- at least for me!) For snacks, we had a bowl of "pupcorn," which was just air-popped popcorn. I did add some melted butter and salt, but that was not enough to tempt people when "puppy chow" was an alternative snack. (Note: I was running low on powdered sugar after making the cake, so I just made a half batch, and that was the perfect amount.) To round it out with some slightly healthier choices, I made up a tray with crackers, cheese, carrots, and cucumbers. At about 5 minutes to party time, I decided these looked bare and needed to be dressed up, so I grabbed some left over kraft paper and rubber stamps and made little placards that read "pupcorn," "puppy chow," and "bone appetit." (Yes, I know that "bone" is spelled incorrectly, but you know what I'm going for, right?). We also had the stamped napkins, good ole IKEA plates and bowls, and Capri Sun juice pouches. (I typically come up with a themed drink with an appropriately themed name, but I just didn't have anything for this one, so I made it easy on myself.)

{Simple Puppy Paw-ty Food}

The Decorations:
{Easy Centerpiece}
I made a table runner out of kraft paper and hand-stamped it with a homemade paw print stamp. (Directions can be found here, but I later discovered that Dollar Tree carries a roll of wrapping paper that is pretty doggone similar, if you're not into DIY projects!) Also for the dining room, I made these adorable puppy balloons, which I taped to the chandelier. For a quick and simple centerpiece, I just filled a canning jar with dog biscuits -- two items I already had on hand for everyday life.
{Paw-ty Decor}
To welcome guests, I made this front door decoration, again using the homemade paw print stamp on kraft paper. After cutting out each paw print, I "laminated" them all between two pieces of clear contact paper. For the wording, I typed "The Paw-ty is Here!" in Microsoft Word using the free Puppy Bellies font. Then, I cut out each word, affixed it to kraft paper, and "laminated" them all with contact paper. I taped all the pieces to the outside of the front door with clear tape.

{Front Door Decor for a Puppy Paw-ty}

The Cake:
The cake that was served for this party with friends was actually the third batch of puppy-themed baked goods that I made. Mia requested a white dog, to look somewhat like our dog, Ritzy. (My first attempts were these kind of complicated chocolate "pupcakes" that I served at the family shindig. After that, I simplified and went with these paw print cupcakes for school.) This puppy cake was not actually the way I had envisioned it due to what could have been a cake catastrophe when one of my rounds broke apart as I tried to get it out of the pan. I was planning on making a cake similar to the Care Bear cake from last year, but I think this turned out even better than I previously imagined! My brilliant husband suggested that the broken round pieces could still be used for something so they turned into floppy ears.

{The cake turned out cute!}

To make this cake, I did a double batch of my favorite white cake and a batch of my favorite buttercream frosting. I made two round, one that was 7" and one that was 8" (the one that broke apart), plus a half dozen cupcakes. The small round became the face and the broken round was trimmed to make the ears, which were attached with frosting. Then, I frosted it all with my angled spatula. For one cupcake, I removed the wrapper, frosted it all, and stuck it to the face. The nose is a mini peanut butter cup and the "freckles" are brown mini M&Ms. The eyes are brown Reeses Pieces and the eyebrows and mouth are piped with black decorating gel.

At this point, it was looking somewhat like a deranged Easter bunny and very little like a dog. Then, two cupcakes were frosted and bumped up against the bottom of the face to make paws. To show definition of toes, I just piped some lined with black decorating gel. The remaining cupcakes were decorated with paw prints made from mini peanut butters cups and brown mini M&Ms. This started to help make it look like a puppy. Then, I realized that I had a red bow left over from Christmas that might look right, and fortunately, it really helped. The addition of the bow made it look more and more like a dog, or at least not like a weird looking lop-eared rabbit.

One final addition did the trick. The tongue is cut from a strawberry Fruit Roll-Up. This last touch was what truly made it look like a puppy. I am thankful to my little man for asking, "Where's the tongue?" on the morning of the party!

{The bow hides the indentation -- bye-bye rabbit ears!}

In case you're wondering, my cake board is just a scrap of cardboard. I covered it with my roll of kraft paper and taped it to the back. In the past I've used aluminum foil for this, which doesn't show grease as much, but the brown went with the party colors better. Plus, it covered easily without having to use multiple pieces.

The Games and Activities:
I had other ideas, but decided to keep it fairly low-key this go-round. We had the dog house photo prop which worked overtime as decor, party activity, and souvenir photo included in the thank you cards.

{Inside of the Thank You Card}

The only game I did was Puppy Bingo. (The rest of the time, they played, so this was just fine.) I created 6 Bingo cards on white card stock. I made the blank template myself in Microsoft Word, but in retrospect I probably could have found one online and saved myself some time! For the pictures, I found various clipart on the Internet, pasted it into Word, printed 7 copies, and cut them all out. (Tip: A paper trimmer saves you time.) One set I kept in a baggie to the the calling cards. The rest, I glued onto the cards, making each one different. There were a few extra images, so I just omitted different puppies from each card. I "laminated" all of the Bingo cards between two pieces of clear contact paper. The Bingo markers were just squares of kraft paper that I made with a 1" square craft punch. We played for fun, so there were no prizes awarded. (I figured they already got enough sweets and they were getting these homemade puppy ears as a take-home gift -- simple!)

{Homemade Puppy Bingo Game}

Extra Credit Points:
Oh, and just for fun, Brett wore his Snoopy costume (without my even asking him to). This was, of course, cute and sweet. What a good daddy!

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