Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dawning of a New Age- The non-themed Birthday Party

My daughter's 13th birthday is not only a milestone of change for her, it is a marked change for me too.   Since my children's first birthdays, my wife and I have always tried to make them celebrations.  We've wanted them to be more than cake and ice cream socials or cartoon character homages.  They needed to be creative, outside the box events, memorable for them and fun for us to host.  The parties are an opportunity for us to thank and treat her friends for the joy they bring her and celebrate how precious she is to us.

If my daughter were over my shoulder right now, as I type, she would be able to recite the nicknames she's given every birthday party we've every had for her.  Endearing terms like Parisian Acrobat,  Rock Star Studio and Duo Luau come to my mind.  Yes, the parties had themes, but their execution was absent the typical big box decorations and out of the catalog cake.  We either have the parties at our home, in the backyard or in my studio.  The decorations are a combination of things we have, can make or buy on a budget.

My having a studio workshop filled with unusual props, store window display items, craft supplies and a seemingly endless supply of "this and that's" plays a huge part in this annual challenge.  A challenge of how to create memorable birthday parties utilizing the past years collection of stuff.  I find myself rummaging through my beloved miscellaneous in search of decoration ideas, things to sew, items to hot glue and embellish.   I dig out some of my eclectic lighting supplies from my retail display service and imagine how to repurpose them into theme majesty stretched across the walls or dangling out from out trees.

This year was no exception,  she wanted it to be fun and memorable, although it had one exemption, and I repeat...one exemption, "no theme". Enter sound effects of cars screeching to a halt...errrrrrr. WHAT...NO THEME?  As a wiser than adult, soon to be thirteen year old  (sarcasm obvious and inferred), my daughter wanted to just dress up.  She found a pretty dress, while out shopping with her Grandma and wanted a special occasion to wear it.  She would prefer not to have aerial acrobat lessons, flaming tikis or fairy wings, no spotlights and karaoke, just a cute dress.  I was devastated!  What am I to glue, to build, to hoist into the air, this can't be right, I'm themeless, creatively naked and obsolete.

Thankfully, when asked "What are you and your friends going to do while dressed up", my daughter cracked the door open, just a bit, letting in some creative wiggle room.  She said "I don't know, how about a sit down dinner."  Yes! we proclaimed, a sit down dinner it is!

So, without loosing a year of traditional rummaging the studio for party mecca, my wife and I came up with our backyard dining room, complete with chandelier and twelve foot long table.  Our inspiration was the pretty pink and black dress she bought.  We mixed in an accent of turquoise and her favorite print Zebra.

The table linens were sewn out of some pink velveteen yardage I had left over from a girl's room project, some black sateen from a halloween party, white butcher paper, an inexpensive but designer looking quatrefoil tablecloth and we borrowed the zebra drapery sheers from my daughter's room to use as a runner.
 I strung a wire across the lawn from neighboring trees to secure the outdoor chandelier from.  To adorn the chandelier and the wire, I used some miscellaneous pom poms, ribbon and beading I've been toting around for years.  We utilized wicked oil torches instead of candles, they are just wrapped in fuchsia parchment and damask paper.
I strung two paper lanterns down the supporting wire for additional light.
The place settings were fun mix ups of paper plates from the party store and monogrammed black damask napkins from a discounter store.
To transform a $5.00 white cardboard cupcake stand, I glittered the inner support with black, wrapped the tiers in damask scrapbooking paper and added ribbon.  The "C" on top was cut out from black core foam core and hot glued to the top.  Adding in some fresh florals from our yard and a few accessories from within the house and the cake table became a beautiful setting.

The beautiful hydrangeas, sea thistle, dahlias, fuchsias, dahlias, bells of Ireland and daturas are in full bloom right now, which made for a fragrant and color themed display.

Considering we had a small wind storm come through during set up, I had to double stick tape all the paper plates down to the table, so the party guests were treated to table-side service with sparking cider and hors devours.   The dinner went off without a hitch, candles were blown out and songs were sang.  What a wonderful evening we shared with her and her guests.  We got to be creative, craft our way into celebration and she got to dress up.   What her 14th birthday will behold, I'm not sure, but I hope it's as fun and memorable as the 13 years past.

Now, I have 12 months to accumulate some new goodies for a surprising themeless party next year. Thankfully,  I'll have an excuse to pick up and save every crazy bit of this and that for who knows what.

This and that for who knows what....I like it!

Pre-festivity hugs for Daddy, who's working up a sweat.  Payment in Full!  Love ya baby girl!

While Birthday parties are a fun addition to my life, I invite all of you over to my Facebook page where we share the fun we get to have designing kid's rooms, products and more.

Thanks for dropping by!


  1. Aaron, I didn't know our daughters are the same age. What an amazing soirre! She will remember this forever.

  2. Such a beautiful birthday girl.. and how sweet to just want to dress up for her party! You all pulled this one off perfectly! Happy Happy 13!!! Memories for a lifetime!

  3. beautiful party!!! so sweet and memorable for her. she's blessed to have a dad so thoughtful, talented AND creative!

  4. A memory maker for sure. Congrats on having such a beautiful family and enjoying the moments you have together. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Pretty awesome, maybe I'll invite you to my 50th. You'll have to work though : )

  6. Thanks for dropping by and for your kind words. Although I'm broken hearted my "Daddy's little Girl" is growing up, I'm loving the confident, sweet and intelligent young person she's becoming. I'm very thankful.

  7. Amazing job!! Found you via Kim over at Today's Creative Blog :) Look forward to following you! *hugs from Texas

  8. Love all the party photos! Wish I knew of her party sooner, this could of matched perfectly!


    Looking fwd to teen room makeover! Our daughter turned 12 this yr & wants a new look! Perhaps I can just have you visit & make the house over as well?!

  9. awesome! I found you through Today's Creative blog. You're very talented. And I know your daughter will ALWAYS cherish these times. :-)

  10. Hello there! Found you from Today's Creative Blog, I think I'm going to like your blog very much!! We have three girls, so I feel your "pain", lol!


  11. HI there, am also popping over from "Today's Creative Blog". Congrats to your girl on turning 13 and what a lovely party you put together for her!

  12. Hi, Kim's blog sent me! Glad to have found your blog!

  13. Your daughter is beautiful. She's very lucky to have such a wonderful Daddy. They all grow up - my baby is 30 and having her first baby! A little scary....but sweet.

    Kim, your old “aerobic instructor friend” sent me over here - I'm now an official "follower!" Welcome to blogging. I look forward to reading about your creativeness. :-) Martha

  14. I found you via Kim at Today's Creative Blog and had to say WOW! I am loving the creative and practical designs! Daddy's little girls over here are already planning their next party...thankfully mommy has great NEW friends with fabulous ideas like YOU!

  15. Good morning ... seems
    you've found a couple
    followers with daughters
    all about the same age...
    I'll include myself in
    that group ... mother of
    a 14-yr-old.

    Fabulous job and the theme
    and keeping to your
    daughter's wishes ... both
    of them ... wanting to have
    her "grown-up" party but
    maybe deep down still wanting
    those memorable events too.

    Keep creating and doing what
    you do best ... your family
    will forever have lasting
    memories! Popped over from
    TCB ... that Kim knows how
    to crack the whip! ~j.

  16. Found you from Today's Creative Blog (Kim, your old "aerobic instructor friend"), your daughter's party looks incredible! I can't wait to see your future entries

  17. Good Morning Aaron! Big hugs to Kim over at TCB for finally letting us get to know you! Looks like you have an amazing daughter. Beautiful and Im sure creative! She will be so grateful for all those themed parties one day. I ran into the no theme response from my 11yr old on her golden birthday. Naturally, I turned it into a Golden Extravaganza with everything 11! Love the themes too!!! Looking forward to reading your future blogs! Just FYI: ever cover an entire wall in a 13 yr old teens room with galvanized brushed metal?? It is amazing and entirely magnetic. All his stuff is stuck to the wall..so fun and reflects all his passions. (helps to have a friend in the roofing industry to get the stuff waaay cheaper) So nice to meet you Aaaron!

  18. Hi Aaron!

    Kim told us about you and I'm popping over to say, "Hi!" Looks like I'll need to come back and wander around your terrific ideas. Blessings!

  19. Wow! What a lucky girl! Taking the time to make her birthday so special really shows how thankful you are to have her in your life! I'm sure she will remember her birthdays forever.

  20. Sent over from Kim...LOVE the 'grown up' party! You are super talented! Thanks for sharing!

  21. hey aaron! i found you thru 'kim'! you are so talented and what a beautiful daughter! i absolutely LOVE the dentist office. omg. i guess i wouldnt mind going to the dentist, if his office looked like that!!! i am now your latest follower!

  22. Amazing as always! You are a genius and I stand in awe of you and your wife. Beautiful, talented, creative and inspiring day in and day out!

  23. Welcome TCB blog fans, I appreciate your stopping by for a visit! Kim's flashback to our old health club days barely scratched the surface. Although I do applaud her discretion....there are far too many stories to tell. wink...wink!

    Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, play safe and have fun!

  24. Hi Aaron! Kim from TCB sent me on over to check out your blog and I must say I am just so impressed - you really are as awesome, creative, and talented as she said you were! I have happily logged on to be among your followers (so no more "whining" - Kim's words, not mine, LOL). It seems you have the perfect life and are enjoying it to the hilt, something so many people dream of doing - BRAVO to you! Thanks for being an inspiration and a great role model for other dads and husbands (and by the way, your baby girl is simply beautiful)! Please stop by my blog if you have a moment and comment - I would be PROFUSELY flattered to have you stop by! Take care and God Bless!
    Malin (MomtheBomb)