Monday, January 28, 2013

Lulu’s Book-Themed Baby Shower

Throwing a baby shower can be a lot of fun, whew, but it’s also quite the undertaking. Ms. E and I were thrilled to throw a shower for our dear friend, Lulu. We jumped at the chance and planned for months. Once the time came, though, I was especially super glad we were in it together. We decided early on to divide duties according to our interest and strengths. She managed all of the food and I got to decorate! The shindig was also being held at my place, so I cleaned up, but that’s less exciting. Neither of us were quite sure what to do about games and we were super excited and relieved when another friend of Lulu’s, and a fellow bridesmaid to her, wanted to be involved. We delegated games/activities to her and didn’t look back. I sent out invites and managed overall direction and coordination to be sure we were all in sync across our assignments. Happy to report all went off without a hitch, well, not any noticeable hitches. ;)

Beyond determining roles, next up was finding the perfect shower theme. Lulu let us know she wanted something with lots of color and that the nursery would loosely be themed around The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We didn’t want to focus the shower on just The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but thought that was a great place to start. After much research, we found it! The perfect theme to fit our friend and that we could all rally behind. Books! In my décor research I found a shower that was themed around a few different books and we were sold! From there we picked our books, largely on what we thought would fit a colorful décor scheme and based on which books we most enjoy reading to our sons. Our top five picks, in no particular order, were Curious George, The Little Blue Truck, Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, of course.

Once we landed on the theme and books, Ms. E and I met to brainstorm food. The final menu and Ms. E’s adorable names for each dish are below. It’s totally inspired.
 

The Food
As already noted, Ms. E managed all things food and it was wonderful! I’m so grateful I wasn’t in this shower thing alone, she loves tackling party food – as she reflected on in her recent blog post (http://lifetossedtogether.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-career-in-baby-shower-food.html) – and she’s totally awesome at it! She made everything! Even the adorable names for the dishes.

Curious George:
Curry-ous George Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
Man with the Yellow Hat Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Where the Wild Things Are:
Wild Rumpus Veggies and Dip
King of the Wild Things Fruit Salad

Good Night Moon:
Gouda Night Moon Cheese Plate

Little Blue Truck:
Read to Pop-Corn

The Very Hungry Caterpillar:
Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes


 
 

The Décor
I love decorating! It’s fun and parties are a unique opportunity to explore since the decoration is meant to be short lived. We included copies of each book as part of the table décor, and I tried to have a decoration for each book as well. Thanks to our sons, we had a lot of the books already and were even able to use some of their toys for decoration. Resourceful, why, yes, we are, thank you. ;) The décor items and books mostly accompanied the adorable food that Ms. E prepared. In addition, I tried to bring in a lot of color since that was specifically requested. Lulu, our mama-to-be, already knows my place and I was hoping she would walk in and feel like the home was remade to suit the shower. So, I took down curtains and family photos to make room for decorations and hung lots of plastic tablecloths to bring in bright pops of color above windows and over the food. It took a bit of time, but the cut tablecloths that hung over the food might have been my favorite. I found the idea somewhere along the way while researching, but can’t seem to find the source blog now. Sad. Regardless, I love how it came out and it was an inexpensive way to bring in color, color, color!

My other favorite décor item and labor of love was the diaper cake. It seems like baby showers these days require a multi-tiered “cake” made of diapers, and we wanted to be sure ours was up to the fun as well as serving the functional need of providing our mama-to-be with diapers for her coming little guy. Since we knew Lulu was going for The Very Hungry Caterpillar in the nursery, I played it safe here and got a Hungry Caterpillar toy as the cake topper and decorated around that color scheme. The cake was “frosted” with blue and green plaid (I love plaid!) receiving blankets and the top of each layer was covered in red crinkle paper to hide the diapers below. I hid a few functional surprises within the center of each tier too for Lulu to find as she dismantles the cake to use those precious diapers. It might seem silly, but the cake is a fun centerpiece for a shower and dismantling the cake from my shower provided us with quite a few much-needed diapers! So, I was glad to share the joy of diapers and pass it along.

 
 
 
 
Ultimately, the shower came together well and Lulu seemed to enjoy it. Our only real glitch, I think, was that we weren’t quite ready when Lulu, her mom and mother-in-law arrived. Woops. Ms. E and I had been juggling prep with taking care of our little ones, Lil’ O and Lil’ Sir, plus my new puppy. (More to come on life with little pup in a future post.) Thank God my mom was with us to help us juggle – she pitched in taking care of the little guys, watching pup and generally helping us with some of the prep tasks. She was so helpful! Once the shower actually started and Ms. E and I came down from our prep frenzy, I think all went well. Lulu at least seemed pleased, and at the end of the day it’s all about the mama-to-be. :)

Love you, Lulu.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Baby Shower Prep & Planning

This week has been all about baby shower prep as I and few fellow gal pals gear up to throw the ultimate shower for our dear friend Lulu. As we all push into overdrive, I’ve been so grateful for the planning that’s already been done and is now bringing all of our elements together. We considered a few themes and did much research. So, while there will of course be pictures of Lulu’s baby shower, below are some of the themes and inspiration that we looked at while on the planning journey. I’m looking forward to seeing everything come together, but planning can be such fun as you try on all sorts of possibilities to see if each is a fit for the unique event you have in mind. And, if more than one is a fit, then determine how to mesh different things together to create a one-of-a-kind, signature party. Below are some of my favorite party themes that we encountered. Enjoy!

Curious George Party

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Baby Shower

"In Full Bloom" French Garden Party Baby Shower

Nautical Birthday Party

Which is your favorite? Or, even better, what are your favorite places for party inspiration? I'd love to learn of some new sites and blogs for great party ideas. 

Cheers!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christmas Grace & Resolution

Well, December has come and gone and I’m still catching my breath. I came to the realization this year that I put a lot of pressure on myself, especially around the holidays, and so want everything – the house, décor, food, Lil O’s first Christmas, party apparel, and so on – to be perfect. Clearly that’s not possible and I struggled all month to let things go and have grace with myself. Sometimes I did well, other times not so much. It was a narrow miss, but I did manage to avoid the dreaded “mom meltdown” that one friend confessed has become an annual Christmas tradition in her home. Sadly, I avoided the meltdown by not doing a lot of traditional things such as going out to see lights, taking an official family Christmas photo or sending out Christmas cards. Sigh, maybe next year.

To prove we still had a wonderful holiday, though, I’m peppering this post with images of our family’s Christmas joy from this past December. Think of it as your belated Christmas card. ;)



 


 



And, to help streamline the holiday season next year, especially all that comes with Christmas, below are some ideas I’ve heard from others and hope to implement, plus a few that worked well this year. Since it’s now January, I’m thinking of this as a sort of resolution and way to make next December less hectic and more enjoyable.


Early Brainstorming and Listing: An area where I fell behind this year was pulling together or even brainstorming wish lists and gift giving ideas early. I was down to the wire trying to think of a gift for Husby and my old-fashioned email wish list nearly caused a miscommunication among different family branches leading to the dreaded double gift. Next year all wish lists will be shared via Amazon, where I can post content from all over the web and it’s treated like a registry, making it near-impossible for family to unknowingly purchase the same toy for Lil’ O. Though, double toys, just mean a bigger stash at G’ma and G’dad’s place.

Online Shopping: Nearly all of our shopping is done online. It’s so much easier to browse and find good deals from my home without the headache of mall parking and traffic. Plus, free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime is simply amazing. Even last-minute gifts easily come in time and that quick shipping is free. Glorious.

The Rule of Three (Gifts): Jesus received all of three gifts, not a heaping pile of toys under the Christmas tree. To help keep Christmas gifting in check and teach the Christmas story, a family at our church gives their kiddos one gift from Santa – whatever they ask for while on Santa’s lap – and an additional three gifts from them, representing the three gifts Jesus received from the wise men. I love the idea that this can help kids (and parents) reflect on the Christmas story and keep us as parents from going overboard. We stayed in check this year since we knew Lil’ O wouldn’t know the difference and would be overwhelmed by it all, but I’ll be coming back to this one next year.

Wardrobe Refresh: Instead of rushing out to the chaotic mall to get new clothes for holiday parties, I really tried this year to refresh what’s already in my closet with new accessories. Especially since a fun new accessory can much more easily be purchased online (no dressing room needed!), this saved a lot of time and headache. This strategy worked especially well this year as I’m rediscovering my pre-maternity wardrobe. Hopefully avoiding last-minute party apparel shopping can become a new tradition.

Christmas Cards: We’re now into January and resolutions that we’ll hopefully keep. Next Christmas I resolve to get a family photo I’m proud of and send Christmas photo cards. And, if there’s no family photo, then a great shot of Lil’ O will do. Regardless, I’ve come to the realization that pictures are the way to go and what folks are most interested in receiving. In tandem with this resolution, I further aim to request addresses early, maybe mid-November, so when I finally sit down to address envelopes I’m not stumped and frustrated.


Do you have additional ideas or tips that help you streamline the hustle and bustle of the holidays? I’d love to hear them and learn! Please leave a comment and share.