When it comes to children’s birthday parties, it’s sometimes hard to know how much is too much. I personally love a good party, and I love socializing, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on a children’s party. That said, I’m also not one of those people who can let a birthday come and go without hosting some sort of soiree, so I’m always on the hunt for easy and inexpensive ways to make a party cohesive. What I’ve done for my son’s two birthday parties thus far is have a cute invitation designed to set the tone, secured a free location and then added a few simple accents to pull it all together.
Since my son is “Nelmo” obsessed and his birthday falls around Mardi Gras this year, I decided to go with an Elmo Mardi Gras theme. It kind of sounds like a stretch at first, but the girls at Sweet Birdie’s Nest really helped me pull it together. After moving and re-sizing Elmo a few times, we settled on an invitation that paired my desire for something “not too animated” with my son’s love of streetcars and Nelmo. I was thrilled with how it came out, and it was perfect for the time of year and our casual playground location. In addition to the invitations, I ordered favor stickers and return address labels to match. I find that coordinating paper items can really pull a theme together quickly without much effort at all, and the stickers and labels were minimal in terms of added cost.
For the favors, I asked Melissa of Let’s pARTy NOLA to design coloring sheets to match the invite, and I included Sesame Street stickers from Celebrate Express in the party favor bags. The coloring sheets were under $1/piece and come with the plastic bag, and I purchased two books of stickers and simply removed the individual pages. I think each favor was around $1 or so each, so you really cannot get more affordable than that! I also ordered some Sesame Street medals from Party City, which I had every intention of somehow turning into Pinterest worthy Mardi Gras beads, but I lost steam with a non-napping newborn. The medals were a huge hit with the toddlers, and Thatcher’s still wearing his around the house proudly. I kept it simple with the food: finger sandwiches and fruit for the adults and Sesame Street yogurt pouches and juice boxes for the kids. Throw in a custom Elmo Mardi Gras shirt from Lisey Lu ($18) and some Elmo balloons ($20 total), and I had a cohesive party theme for not much money or effort!
Essie’s Sparkling Confections: Personalized Sweet Treats
While I was in the midst of party planning, I was connected with Alyssa of Essie’s Sparkling Confections. Originally from New Orleans, she bakes sparkling sweet treats out of her home in Lakeview. The “sparkling” in her business name comes from the fact that all of her cookies have a slight glittery sheen to them. While she’s done this on and off over the years, she is starting to really build her business and as we all know, moms are always looking for personalized cookies and cakes for birthday parties, baby showers, bridal luncheons and more. Alyssa offered to provide cookies for Thatcher’s birthday party on a complimentary basis, and as a busy mom of 2 under 2, I was more than happy to oblige. It’d be easy to say that I loved them just because they were free, but had I paid for these cookies, I would have been equally pleased with how they came out.
I sent Alyssa the invitation to give her an idea of what we were doing, and I was blown away by the level of detail on the cookies. She came up with several different styles and designs on her own, all of which made sense with the theme. Additionally, they were super creative. I mean, a Mardi Gras crown with Elmo’s name? That is too cute! The cookies really helped add that something extra to the party with zero time or effort on my part. Alyssa truly did all of the work. She sent me an email or two with her ideas, and I said “sounds great!” and left the rest to her. She said that she’d come by my house with the cookies around 1:30pm the day before the party, and she showed up right on time. Alyssa was extremely responsive by email, friendly and punctual. All of these traits are hugely important to me in general but especially as a tired and forgetful mom. Reliability and responsiveness are key for me.
Now for the important question: how did they taste? Well, I can tell you that the toddlers loved them! It was so sweet to see all of those sticky fingers grabbing for cookies with excitement. My husband, the taste tester, really liked them, too. You should know that they are very, very sweet, but they weren’t too sweet for my personal palate. I find that sometimes what a baker has in creativity and detail can get lost in taste (hello, fondant!), but in this case the cookies not only tied our theme together but also provided a delicious sweet treat for our guests. Several people commented on how adorable and good they were, too. I would definitely recommend Essie’s Sparkling Confections for any party need you may have. Personalized cookies are one of my very favorite ways to make a theme come together, and Alyssa is very talented at helping you create a party that would impress Martha Stewart herself!
Overall we had a fabulous time, and what’s even better is that Christie Froom – another local mom – was there to capture the fun. The pictures she took are watermarked, but she’s just getting started and is currently offering sessions for FREE to gain practice. Like Alyssa, Christie is also sweet and reliable, and I’m so happy to have pictures from the day. As you can tell, Thatcher had a ball!