I’ve been thinking a lot about parties lately. I’m actually in the process of writing an e-book about how to plan a party without losing your mind, and I’ve enjoyed looking back at the get-togethers I’ve hosted in the past few years.
Some of the most fun have been Annalyn’s birthday parties, so as I’m working through my book, I’m going to post some details about those events here on the ol’ blog. Even though I’ve posted pictures and plans for some of these parties before, my hope is that it will be helpful for you to see it all in one place.
Today I’m starting with Annalyn’s third birthday party. Our theme was Veggie Tales, and it was harder than I expected to find ideas and supplies. I’m going to spill all the details of our party here, in hopes that it saves the next mom planning a Veggie Tales party some frustration. (Also, I’ve noticed that VeggieTales.com is now selling more party supplies than they were last fall, so that will help, too!)
Planning a Veggie Tales Birthday Party
In our house, birthday party invites get tossed in the trash as soon as I can write the date on our calendar. What a waste! So when I send invitations to Annalyn’s birthday parties, I like to include a cute photo so it’s not quite as disposable. (I know, it’s possible that not everybody frames the photo or even sticks it on the fridge, but it makes me feel better about the time and money invested to think that a few people might keep it around longer than the time it takes to grab their planners off the desk.)
I happened to have a slew of photos to choose from, thanks to a red pepper photo shoot we did for my post about Garlic Chicken Pasta. I uploaded the pic to Picasa, added some text and printed several copies. Next, I opened a Word document found a label template that printed eight panels to a page. I uploaded a Veggie Tales graphic I found online and added party details and directions, printed a few copies and used my paper cutter to finish the job.
Then I bought a pack of brightly colored, folded cards (and white envelopes) for the actual card. I used double-sided tape to stick the photo to the front and did the same on the inside with the details and directions. The whole process took just a couple hours and cost less than $15 (plus postage).
Food and Drinks
Before you can send out an invitation, you have to decide a date, time and place for your party. For me, the time is totally dictated by what kind of food I want to serve. And that decision is often influenced by our party budget. For this party, I considered a full meal but ended up going with snack foods (and an afternoon start time).
To go with the veggie theme, I had a full veggie plate with carrots, celery, cucumbers and grape tomatoes. I also had a couple different veggie dips to choose from. In addition to the veggie tray, I also served fresh fruit (grapes, strawberries and bananas) and chips, and we had a cooler full of bottled water.
I love how vivid the colors are – and how well they matched the Veggie Tales colors! I really wish I’d made time for carving veggie bowls for the dip, though. Don’t worry! That sounds a lot fancier than it is! I simply wanted to scoop the seeds and gunk out of bell peppers and/or gourds and then serve the dip out of that. [Here’s a tutorial.] Wouldn’t that have been cute?
Also, looking back, it would have been fun – and not that labor-intensive – to make Veggie Tales labels for the bottled water. Just print a Veggie Tales graphic on strips of paper and secure to the bottle with double-sided tape or whatever adhesive you have on hand. However, if I did that, I would not have dumped the bottles in a cooler full of ice, because that would have ruined the labels.
Coming up with party decorations is my favorite part of any event! I inevitably have dozens of ideas and have to scale back to fit my budget, timeline and skill level, though. Even with those restraints, I was really happy with how this party came together.
We held our Veggie Tales birthday party in a local park, so I had five picnic tables and a shelter to work with. But before I went to work gussying up the park, I started a little closer to home. I bought Annalyn a shirt with Bob the Tomato on it, and I convinced Mark to wear a green shirt. (It takes no effort to convince myself to wear a coordinating red shirt, as my closet is so full of red shirts I could wear a different one every day of the week. Yes, I like red.) Then I found a Veggie Tales CD that we could play with a boombox to set the mood.
[Unfortunately, our shelter did not actually have an electrical outlet, so we didn’t get to play the CD. So – tip for you and for me – check for outlets in advance when throwing a party somewhere other than your own house!]
For the food and gift tables, I let the colorful fruits and veggies serve as decorations, along with red, green and yellow paper plates and napkins. I did frame and display an 8×10 print of Annalyn with the life-size Bob and Larry she met a few weeks before the party. But for the most part, we didn’t need anything extra cluttering up that space.
Note: You can purchase Veggie Tales napkins, but I decided to keep it a little more simple. I did, however, purchase square Veggie Tales stickers (from eBay) and put them on yellow paper cups. However, since I didn’t end up serving lemonade (as originally planned), we didn’t need the cups and are still using them for special occasions at home.
Edited to add: When I planned this party, it was virtually impossible to find a good set of Veggie Tales paper goods, especially at a reasonable price. But now, DaySpring is selling a line of party products with the “God Made You Special” theme. You can get a whole party set (for eight) for less than $25. Or you can buy everything separately: invitations, dinner plates, dessert plates, cups, napkins and thank you notes. Oh, how I wish these had been available when we had our party!
The rest of my decorations included balloons, streamers, a birthday banner, table coverings and centerpieces. The balloons were red, green and yellow, and I ordered them from a party store.
I planned to use red, green and yellow streamers to create a streamer backdrop, but tthe day of the party was crazy windy, so that didn’t happen. Here’s a tutorial, though, if you’d like to do this. It would really jazz up a party space, and would also make a great backdrop for photos – perhaps a photo of the birthday boy or girl with each guest!
My idea for a birthday banner was inspired by the dozens (hundreds?) of cute banners – some paper, some fabric – I’ve seen online, like this one by Parties by Hardie. I decided to keep it simple when making my own. I downloaded a font that looked similar to the one used in the Veggie Tales logo (you can see – and download – it here), then printed the words “Happy Birthday” in a point size large enough to require one page per letter. I centered each letter and hit print. Then I used double-sided tape to adhere the letters to cute scrapbook paper and planned to use mini clothespins to string them along a matching ribbon at the park. After realizing the wind would destroy a ribbon banner, we improvised and taped them vertically, as you can see in the photo above.
Finally, I decided to make simple, veggie-themed centerpieces for each table. “Simple” doesn’t exactly describe this little project, but now that I’ve done it (thanks to my best friend, who stayed up late the night before the party helping me!) I think it would be a snap. For you. Because I’m probably not going to throw another Veggie Tales party.
I covered the three picnic tables with kraft paper, and then I placed a few fresh vegetables (carrots, peppers, little pumpkins, tomatoes) in the center of each table. And for the piece de resistance (please hear that in my very best French accent, ala the Veggie Tales peas), I filled terra cotta pots with dried peas and stuck pictures of Veggie Tales on popsicle sticks in it. I wrapped a bright yellow, polka-dotted ribbon around each pot, fastened it with a glue gun, and voila! Adorable, “simple” centerpieces!
Two things to know about the centerpieces: I stuck floral styrofoam in the bottom of each pot and covered it with a piece of cardstock cut to the shape and size of the pot’s opening. That way, I only needed a couple cups of dried peas instead of several pounds. This is a lesson I learned the hard way and might never have figured out without Smitty’s help!
Also, the colorful Veggie Tales pictures I used on the popsicle sticks are from Who’s Who, a Veggie Tales Riddle Book. I scanned the pages and then printed copies, cropped them and adhered to colored paper and then the popsicle sticks.
Veggie Tales birthday cakes
Now, if you know me, you know that I often take shortcuts to preserve my sanity and generally make my life easier. That’s why I’m a huge proponent of paying someone to make a cute birthday cake for my child’s party. I am not a pastry chef or cake decorator at all. However, as you might have found if you’ve ever planned a Veggie Tales party, it’s not easy to find Veggie Tales-themed items. And that includes cakes.
According to the head baker at my grocery store, in order for a store to make a cake with licensed characters, they have to buy the rights to do so. And while they can make all sorts of cakes with Dora the Explorer, Winnie the Pooh, stupid Spongebob Squarepants and our beloved Mickey Mouse, they don’t have the right – literally – to make a Veggie Tales cake.
So . . . it was up to me. After searching all over the Internet, I quickly came to the conclusion that I was doomed. I couldn’t give up, though. As Larry the Cucumber says, “It’s for the kids!”
I decided to make one rectangular cake and one round cake. I’d ice the round cake with red frosting (Bob the Tomato) and then cut the rectangular cake into a cucumber shape for Larry. (I originally planned to make green cake balls for peas, but ran out of time. I did make mini cupcakes and frost them green, but my less-than-stellar icing skills made the little faces I painted look evil. I left the evil pea cupcakes at home.)
Let me just tell you, I was terrified of cutting into that 9×13 cake! Smitty suggested practicing, and that was smart. I drew weird-looking oblong shapes on paper until I was satisfied, then set the final template right next to the cake. (Of course, I waited until they were cooled before doing anything – cutting, frosting or decorating!) It took a LOT of food coloring to turn my white (canned) frosting into bright green and tomato red, by the way. It wouldn’t hurt to buy two sets of food coloring.
For the faces, I used pre-rolled fondant and black icing (this edible marker would’ve worked great, though). I’d never used fondant before and was so scared to try it. But it was actually pretty easy to work with – and kind of fun, too. (Still doesn’t taste great, but that’s to be expected.) Annalyn was thrilled with the cakes, and I was just so darned impressed with myself. I’m not saying I want to do it again, but I loved the final product!
I know it sounds like a lot, but it was really a fairly simple party. And, most importantly, Annalyn and her guests loved it!
Have you planned any fun parties lately? What’s your favorite (or, if you must, least favorite) part of planning a party?
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This is so handy! Your party is so cute, I love how creative you are. :)
If I could offer one suggestion about the food coloring, I’d say go with professional gels instead of buying two boxes. The gels are a bit more expensive ($4-$5 per color on Amazon, I think), but they last way longer, give really vivid color, and don’t thin out the frosting. I use Americolor, and I’ve been really happy. :)
Sharone, that is a GREAT suggestion. Thank you!
Mary, this is absolutely ADORABLE! You are so creative! And an e-book . . . wow!
SO SO FUN, Mary! You know I love every bit. Have you seen these Veggie Tales cake pops?
This is ADORABLE! I would love to try this next year!
It really was a lot of fun. I hope you’ll let me know if you try it next year after all!
Such cute ideas!! The birthday season in my family starts in a couple months, so this is just in time for me to begin planning. So excited about your e-book. :)
Thanks, Melissa. We have a couple distinct birthday “seasons” in our family, too!
I think maybe I will just steal your party for Libbie next year, so I don’t have to plan one! She loves “Tales.” Problem solved!
Done and done. Just beware of other themes sneaking in. About 10 days before the party, Annalyn announced that she’d like a Dora party. I told her that was nice, but she was NOT having a Dora party…at least this year!
My daughter did that as well! The morning I was making her princess cake (A barbie sticking out of a cake skirt) she changed her mind and wanted a little mermaid birthday. I told her she was out of luck lol! Now whenever we start thinking about themes I tell them that they have one week to decide and then remind them as soon as they settle on something that this is it and they can’t change their mind. It’s worked so far (my girls are 5 and almost 3)
I love party planning tips. Your daughter is a VERY lucky little girl. Have a great day.
Thank you, Roz!
What great suggestions! Thank you so much for sharing!
So cute! I haven’t seen this idea before and I think you did a wonderful job!
Thank you, Mandy. It was a lot of fun to put together!
That’s great! I love it!
SO cute! I’ve been thinking about a Veggie Tales party for Gracie’s 2nd and this gives me LOTS of great ideas!
Oh, good! I’m glad it helps!
I love your cakes!! I had a season of cake making…prekiddo mostly. I can give you a few tips if you like. The gel coloring was already mentioned, which is FAB, but want to add they sel it at walmart too, for those of us that never plan ahead far enough to mail order something like that.
The other tip is that there is a wilton buttercream recipe. Its uses half shortening and half butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. The recipe makes flower consistency icing…so thin it a tad with milk. Then when you ice the cake let it sit just a minute. Buy VIVA paper towels without a textured pattern-they make both. So you can actually lay the paper towel on the cake and rub lightly and smooth out every knife mark. So try it and if it sticks wait a minute and try again wiht a clean paper towel. If you wait TOO long the icing will be hard and crack. So smooth it and the wait a minute adn you can do it again after the freshly exposed stuff sets up a tad. It worked the first time out for me and is really easy, and best thing yet is that you do not have to try to get it even close to perfectly smooth with a knife!
Your creativity makes me sick! Okay, so it makes me sick because I didn’t think of anything cute like that EVER!!!
I may have to adapt some of the things you did for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse birthday this summer!
These are some awesome ideas! I love the Veggie Tale theme and your clever photo invite! I must admit, I’m surprised that there are so many sites out there with good party ideas, it really makes everything a lot easier. I came across this site too, http://bit.ly/ThemeParty, which had some unique ideas for parties.
Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I’m planning on doing my son’s first birthday with Veggie Tales theme, I’ll keep you post how it goes!!
Great! I hope the party goes well!!
I love the built in reason to have a more healthful birthday party! So adorable, especially the invites!
Thanks for this post—what a creative party and such wonderful tips! I’m planning a Veggie Tales party for my son’s third so this is really helpful.
Love your photos and ideas. Thanks!
Wow! Your decorations are very impressive.
Thanks for all the tips! My daughter is coming up on her 3rd birthday and at first wanted Sweet Pea Beauty. There’s NOTHING for that so I talked her into a regular veggie tales birthday. I stumbled onto your website and what great ideas. I thought I’d let you know though that a lot of your links don’t work for me. Maybe I’m just computer stupid or maybe they’re outdated…but it’s very disappointing :D I really wanted to see the streamer back drop!
I am so excited that I came across your website. My son who will be two in 5mths (august) is in lve with Veggietales. I just started thinking about his birthday and KNOW that we have to have a Veggietale birthday just because he is that much obsessed. He loves to watch the LIVE silly song performance on Netflix but I am able to get him to watch other shows. I know there are not a lot of decorations or veggietale parties out there. I am very much into DIY but I love shortcuts so seeing this is a lifesaver. I know we will have to make our own cake and it will have to be Larry (Ebu according to my son for the song Cebu). So I’m thankful this site. I will be pinning it and saving it for the months to come. THanks again.
I’m so glad my post helped! And you might check out DaySpring for Veggie Tales decorations: http://bit.ly/GOjeOt That’s an affiliate link. You can search for it on DaySpring.com if you’d rather! :)
ok. so my son is having a veggie tales birthday party at the park. Thank you so much for the creative ideas. But for his cake we ran into the same problem with finding someone to do it because of copyright laws. We shot an e-mail to customer service at veggietales.com and told them we wanted a veggie tales birthday cake and asked how we could go about getting the copyright for one cake. The very next day they e-mailed us back and gave us permission to get one veggie tales cake made. Just thought you might want to give it a shot for your next themed party. Most of the time they are very good about stuff like that. Larry and Bob even wished my son a happy birthday.
Thanks for the info! I never would have thought of that!!
Wow thank you for all the great ideas! My Callie bear will love this! She loves veggie takes!!
In case you ever want to use fondant again – try making marshmallow fondant – it’s delicious! The recipe I like to use is this one http://cakecentral.com/recipe/rhondas-ultimate-mmf. It’s lemon flavoured, but you can really make it any flavour you like – I usually do orange, mint, vanilla or butter (using colourless butter flavouring) :) Thanks for the great ideas for a Veggie Tales party!
Awesome! My sons turning one this month and I want to do Veggie Tales theme.. Thanks for the ideas :)
how do you use the font once it’s downloaded? it goes onto my computer’s desktop as a zip file and I’m not sure what to do after that. Help!
Hi, Bri! I’ll try to help. :)
Open the zip file with the font, then double-click on the font itself. When you do that, it should open a window where it shows the alphabet written in the font, with a button at the top that says “install.” Click install. From then on, it should be an option when you go to change the font in Word. If you have an earlier version of Windows, you might have to open the zip file, then copy/paste it into your actual font folder (which I believe you can find through the Control Panel).
I am NOT techy at all, so if that doesn’t make sense, you might be better off using the help function of Windows or googling it. I hope this helps, though!!
Got it! I’m “borrowing” some of your ideas for our party this weekend (combined party for our girls turning 1 & 3). Thanks so much for all your creative genius!
Ooooh, that sounds great! Have fun!!
This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Thank you!
I have to admit, I found this post one day while building a checklist of all the things I wanted to include (or not miss) in my son’s upcoming birthday party and became to rely on it! Since I was so busy and on the go and didn’t quite have the time to tackle all of it at once, I literally had this page open for months — on multiple mobile devices/tablets/stationary machines! — referring back to it every chance I got! It was my list of all lists, creative idea inducing, inspirational reference, if you will…
Anyway, I found this blog post incredibly helpful! Even if I didn’t follow all your ideas to the letter, it was perfect to see them written out and the links and pictures were more than anyone could ask! Thank you greatly for taking the time!
Glad to help, Israel! I’m sure your son’s party was great!!
We’re having a Veggie Tales themed party on Saturday for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. I’m going to attempt the Larry cake for sure. Thanks for the ideas! (I was able to find the plates, napkins, etc. at my local Family Christian Stores on clearance!).
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I absolutely love this post, I am actually going to reference it to plan my son’s birthday party in Sept. He is turning 1.and absolutely LOVES Veggie Tales. Thanks for sharing, these are all great ideals!!
How fun! I hope your party goes great!!