I often find one thing that strikes inspiration and I form the entire party around it. It was true with the love balloon for Lilly’s garden party and the adventure plates for Oliver’s happy camper one. When I found these reusable ice balls, I knew I had my next theme. They were perfect for Lilly’s gymnastics venue with all the bright colors and equipment. So a ball theme, it was (which is something I never thought I’d say)!
Since this is her 6th party and now I have her brother’s to plan just a month later, I wanted to keep this one simple. It helped to have it at a place that provides all the entertainment and some serious activity to tire the kiddos out. When my best friend arrived, she took a look around and said, “You really did scale down. I’m proud of you!”
I placed the reusable ice cubes in clear plastic cups with lids (because: kids) and found these super cute silicone straws for them, which are, of course, better for the environment and we can use again and again at home and parties. We purchased a few gallons of Poland Spring and filled the cups right there with room temp water since we had the ice cubes to cool them down. It made it so easy and affordable. I also love that this made us serve them water (because how would the ice cubes pop otherwise?) instead of juice. We also had cans of seltzer on hand for our sparkling water obsessed birthday girl and her party planner, in addition to wine and beer for the adults. Because every kid’s party calls for booze.
There are tons of ball plates out there (beach balls, sports balls, color wheels…), but I love that these Meri Meri charm plates have an element of that but still have some other things going on so it wasn’t so cookie cutter or repetitive. They are the same design that her invite was from Paperless Post. Even though that was sent weeks ahead of time and is a digital copy, I love carrying the same color story and vibe throughout.
At this point, we were balled out! So I selected a favorite, on-brand stripe napkin to compliment the plates and go with the rest of the palette. I placed white table cloths on everything (the gym provides busy birthday covers that didn’t really go with the rest of our decor) and, to tie it all in, sprinkled circular confetti down the center of the table.
I made a custom felt ball garland on Shop Sweet Lulu before I even knew I was doing the cake topper I chose and they ended up complimenting each other so well.
One easy, affordable way to cut down on all the extras is to use the favors as party decor. So, instead of place everything in the bags ahead of time, I had them partially stuffed (with play dough) and put the other items (yoyos, bouncy balls, spiky light up balls, punch balls) in clear, glass jars to bring some color and dimension to the dessert table and, then, when it was time to part, solicited some friends to help fill the rest of the goodie bags. I made sure to have extra on hand, knowing some little fingers would be unable to wait till the end and would need to yoyo or bounce between pizza and cake.
Speaking of food, I scaled way back there too. I mean, do I even recognize myself? What’s traditionally been a candy bar, mini milkshake shooters, ice cream sandwiches, themed ice cookies, homemade marshmallows, s’mores dip, DIY ring pops… Was, this time, just cake. A ridiculously delicious, massive cake, but the only offering when it came to dessert. In addition, we ordered pizza, put out bowls of fruit and some snacks on the side and that was it. Some times simpler is better. (Don’t hold me to this. I am definitely ignoring this motto for Oliver’s puppy party in June.)
When it came to the cake, I knew I didn’t want it to be ball shaped, but I still wanted to incorporate the theme. When I saw a similar idea on Etsy and contacted the shop owner, she said she, sadly, was no longer selling them. I found another that could make it for me, but decided I should try my own. How hard could it be? Well… harder than it looks. I discovered I needed to have a skewer thick enough to withstand being shoved into a thick, dense cake but thin enough to fit into and hold such a delicate sphere. Cut to me whittling wood and cutting tiny holes into felt balls and using lots of craft glue to make it work. But, I love the way they turned out. I also love that they were made by Mama and with love (and some finger pricks and swear words).
What didn’t turn out so well, that was also made by Mama (and Daddy and Nonna), was the homemade play dough that was included in the favor bags. It was my first time making homemade dough and I learned a thing or two. First, mix the color in before you heat it. My blue was marbled, which was kind of cool, but wasn’t the look I was going for. Second, maybe don’t make bulk batches. And, be sure to take it out at the first sign of it being ready, be careful not to over cook it and let it cool the whole way before balling it up. Mine was still perfect to play with, it just wasn’t the easiest on the eyes, certainly not Pinterest worthy. Then again, when have I ever been? I made three balls (blue, pink and yellow) put them each in a cellophane bag with a tag that read “Hope you had a ball”. And, all in all, I’m sure the kids did have fun playing with it, Lilly and Oliver definitely did, it just wasn’t the pretty, picturesque version I had in my head. Is it ever?
I love to do a big balloon, or six, in this case, instead of a bunch of smaller, more traditional ones. I think they make more of a pop (pun intended). But, they especially work with this theme as they are the same shape and size of the big balls we had for the kids to play with upstairs. These are the same ones we have in our garage that we use all year long outside, we just added a few more to our collection. They truly are the perfect playground ball and they look so pretty if you have a bunch of them on the grass.
Pretty much every photo I have of Lilly from the party looks like this. She did not stop running unless it was to jump in the bounce house, on the trampoline or to leap into the foam pit. I’m so happy she had so much fun.
She was so proud she was the only one allowed on the parachute and they all chanted for her and sang to her.
One of my favorite parts of the afternoon was this custom leotard, in her party colors, that she wore from Leotudes. Our friends gave Lilly a version of this several years ago and we loved it so much that I decided to order another especially for this party. Lilly paired it with her staple “swifty” pants.
If you’d like one of your own for the little one in your life or as a present (they make such good, thoughtful, unique gifts), Leotudes is offering NNA readers 10% off your own custom leotards with the code “LILLY”.
It was a really fun, low maintenance, high energy kind of day and we couldn’t have been happier to celebrate our girl turning six with lots of friends and family.
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