birthday party

A Backyard Birthday

A Backyard Birthday

To some, the thought of a backyard birthday party is terrifying. I will agree that it is so much easier taking your child’s party to Pump it Up or Chuck-e-Cheese! If my kids would ask for one of those parties, I would be more than happy to oblige. However, except for the movie theatre party last year, my three kids have always wanted their parties to be at home. I did the math recently and this means that I have planned and executed 29 kid birthday parties at our home. I guess that makes me an expert. But the fact is, you are never really an expert because each party is different. They all have their own vibe depending on the age of the kids, the amount of kids, the weather (of course) and the activities. The only truly predictable part about having a party at home is that things never go as planned. You have to be able to relax and let the party take you where it wants to go. You have to relinquish control and focus on just one thing… the birthday child. As long as they are smiling, your party is a success!

The birthday child rarely, if ever, cares about what your vision is for their party. They (and their friends) would be more than happy to just run around the house and swing on the swing set. Nonetheless, most of us moms are crazy enough that we plan for weeks to make the party as creative and pretty as possible.

You can find my Backyard Party To-do List here.

For party themes, game ideas, and arts + crafts, download this PDF to help you plan.

My free printable Treasure Hunt Party invitations can be found here.

My flubber and playdough recipes are always big hits at a party. Either at a table for those kids who want to be mellow, or as favors.

Speaking of favors, here is my post on the Art Kit party favors I did for this party.

You can hit my Pinterest boards for more kid + party ideas.

I hope these lists help you plan your next outdoor party. Just do it!

xo Bar

{photography by Alix Martinez}



A Birthday Party that Celebrates Giving

A Birthday Party that Celebrates Giving

Oh, the birthday parties! You plan and work hard to make the day unforgettable, and usually things go really well. Then everyone goes home and you are left with a pile of presents to open. This is the part that causes me angst. We have so much already! My house is filled to the brim and my kids do not need to get one more thing. I used to collect the gifts and put them in the “gift closet” when they weren’t looking, usually to take out on a rainy day or give to our local toy drive every Christmas (sound familiar?). Then I discovered ECHOage! The answer to my worries of over-abundance. I wrote about this impressive company last year, but I wanted to mention them again because I think every kid should have an ECHOage party!

Basically, EHOage sends your guest list an e-vite that includes a way to donate to the charity of your choice. There are over 200 charities to choose from. This year my son chose Blessings in a Backpack, a charity that provides food for needy kids on the weekends when they are not in school. This is the fourth year my son has done an ECHOage party, and he always choses a food related charity (the kid loves to eat!). Since age four, he has been able to thank his friends for helping him feed hungry kids. I can’t tell you what an impact this has had on him. He’s developed an understanding that not everyone is as privileged as him, and that it feels really good to help and to give. The genius of ECHOage is that they split the donation so that your child gets a check for half of the money, making it possible for them to chose a gift for themselves. This way, the giving is associated with a good feeling, versus sacrifice (it is their birthday, after all).

Founded by two moms, ECHOage is a brilliant and easy way to teach your kids a little bit about being socially responsible. (This is not a paid endorsement or anything, I just really love this concept!)

Have a happy weekend!

xo Bar

{The poster my son is holding was designed by me, but ECHOage does provide “awards” that you can print and hang up at your child’s party.}



Recycled Postcard Banner

Recycled Postcard Banner

My sweet neighbor, Georgy, turned 103 last week. Yep! She was born in 1909. We visited her in her house that she built with her husband in 1939. She lives alone, but is loved and taken care of by many. She still cleans her own house and takes walks up the street on nice days. She goes to bed at 5pm and reads, listens to the news and does crossword puzzles until 9 o’clock. She is not only wise and beautiful and inspiring…she is a legend.

We wanted to bring her something homemade. She didn’t want a fancy party or any “fuss”. The kids made her a pumpkin bread, and I thought I’d make her a colorful, happy banner. I decided to use my old holiday postcards. The idea was to use the colorful backside of the postcards for the front of the banner with the letters. And then, as a bonus, the back of the banner (which would have been the front of the postcards) would have the kids’ faces. A reversible banner!

Because I am an awful planner, I usually think of an idea the day of the event. I am then forced to use what I have, as I don’t have time to shop for any supplies. The upside to my disorganization is that most things that I make use materials that I have lying around. I do love the recycled aspect of crafts! Here’s how I made this banner:

Recycled Postcard Banner:

Recycled cards
Paper of some sort to cut out letters
Exacto knife
Tape or glue
Hole punch

Start by cutting out triangles for the flags. Make one triangle, then use that as a template.

Next, cut out letters. I drew mine freehand, but you can use stencils. You’ll have to use an exacto knife to cut out the insides of the letters.

Arrange the flags in a nice, colorful pattern. Tape or glue on the letters. Punch holes in the corners.

When stringing the flags, I went back through the holes twice. This is not necessary, but it does give it extra stability.

Voila! Not hard to make, it took me about 90 minutes.

An ECHOage Birthday

An ECHOage Birthday

To continue with my birthday theme this past week (streamers are still up), I wanted to share with you our secret to a happy birthday party.

For the past three years, we have celebrated the kids’ birthdays with ECHOage, an online birthday party service whereby your child choses a charity to donate to in lieu of gifts. When the e-vite goes out, guests RSVP and immediately can contribute to the charity that your child has chosen. At the end, when the party has been “closed out”, ECHOage sends half of the donated funds to the charity, and half to your child. Simple!

From my perspective, everyone wins! No more toys to unwrap (Lord knows we all have enough toys) or to buy, easy thank-you notes to write (you can have your child write one note, make copies, then just add in the givers name), your child learns the value of giving and receiving, we can help those in need, and…your child can go to the toy store (or Apple store, depending on age!) with money in hand and chose something they have always wanted.

I made this poster for the little guy for his party. We displayed it as a reminder of how much all of his friends helped.

Spread the love of ECHOage!


Flubber Recipe

Flubber Recipe

This past weekend was my son’s birthday. He turned six! We broke our own rules of 1) having birthday parties at home and 2) inviting no more than 10 guests. This year he wanted to invite all of the kids in Kindergarten (oy!), no one was to be left out. With so many invitees, we had to come up with a new plan. We decided to rent out the local movie theatre, and make a homemade party favor that wouldn’t cost too much. After some investigation, and many lengthy discussions, we decided to make flubber!

I researched and tried several variations on the recipe. We made 10 batches, each batch filling 4 containers. That’s 40 party favors! I designed a little label which I had printed on sticker paper at my local print shop, color coordinated, of course, and we were done. Moms were happy there was no candy, and my son was happy that he could share something he made himself.

Here is the simple recipe we used:


Mixture 1:

~ 1 1/2 cups very warm water

~ 2 cups white school glue (I used Elmer’s)

~ Food coloring

Combine in a small to medium bowl and stir with a clean spoon.

Mixture 2:

~ 3 teaspoons Borax (you can buy it on Amazon or at the grocery store)

~ 1 cup very warm water

Combine in a large bowl, stir until dissolved (or almost dissolved) with a clean spoon.

Pour mixture 1 into mixture 2. Because of the science behind this recipe, the borax combines with the PVA in the glue and makes a polymer. You could do nothing at this point and it would turn to flubber after a while. But what fun would that be? Your kids will want to stick their hands in immediately and start mixing. It will take about 10 minutes, but eventually all of the water will be absorbed, and you will have flubber!

Since I am an eco-mom, I did some research on Borax. (I had read on a few blogs that it was toxic which freaked me out). Borax (sodium borate) is a mined substance, just like salt is mined, and occurs naturally in the Mojave Desert, Chile and Tibet. Borax is only slightly more toxic than salt, and in some countries it is used as a salt substitute. Caffeine is 14 times more toxic than Borax! Flouride is more toxic, too. Breathing Borax powder is not a good idea, so don’t let your kids handle the powder. But once it is in it’s polymer form, it is completely safe.

Remind your kids that flubber is not a food! Also, just to be safe, have them wash their hands after playing with their flubber.

Tip: Keep your flubber in an airtight container, or a ziploc baggie. it’s shelf life is about 3 weeks. When throwing out your flubber, use the garbage not the sink.