Monday, September 20, 2010

Woodland Gnome Birthday Party!!

My {now} 8 year old chose the theme "Gnomes" for her party. I stretched it out a bit & made it a "Woodland" party. Think: gnomes, forests, deer, squirrels, foxes, raccoons, owls, hedgehogs, acorns, etc.
It was a FUN party to plan. And, again, another theme that is not really "out" there so I had to come up with a lot of stuff on my own. In the end, it ranks as one of my top 3 favorite parties.

The invitations were very simple. Click HERE for all the details about the invites.

The decorations for the room were also very simple. We are lucky enough to have access to our church's large activity room. I spruced up the room--with its blank & bare walls--by spray painting very juvenile-like trees onto 8 really cheap plastic tableclothes. (About $1.50 each at Walmart. Or you can get 'em at the dollar store.) It was quick & inexpensive. I needed inexpensive. If you wanted to do something more permanent, you could spray paint designs onto thrifted white sheets or heavy painter's dropcloths. 

I made squirrel cucpcakes the night before the party. They took me 6 HOURS to make!!! And I had many fails & had to improvise many ways. If I had known they were gonna take me 6 hours, I would not have made them.
There were heads falling off & tails breaking & it was horrible. Enough squirrels survived for all 17 kids to get a cupcake. (PHEW!!!!) So, basically 7 squirrels died. I got the idea for the cupcakes from the book What's New Cupcake? And I'm sure I didn't give such a great book review just now, but--SERIOUSLY-- the book is AWESOME!! I can just confidently say that I'll never in my life make those squirrel cupcakes. EVER. AGAIN. I was disappointed with how they turned out. But Zoey loved them. And that's all that matters. Still, I'll never make them. EVER. AGAIN. I ended up freezing them overnight before the party. And that helped with any more of the tails & heads from falling. (Until they thawed out a couple hours before the party.) And the morning of the party, as they de-froze, some of their m&m eyes got all runny. The squirrels looked rabid & crazed. I was over it. And I couldn't wait for the kids to eat the stupid things so I didn't have to look at them anymore.
Everyone DID ooh & aah over the cupcakes. So, they were a hit despite my frustrations.

Here is a photo of some of the dead squirrels.

I also had leftover cake batter that I poured into a square cake pan. (OH! And the cake was butter pecan flavored. Num!!) A quick spread of cream cheese frosting & a chocolate doodle of an acorn & it was done.

The same cupcake book also showed how to make the acorns. LOVE those. I'll make those again. Mini vanilla wafers "glued" onto hershey kisses with melted chocolate chips. They were a hit too!

The cupcakes were set on log cupcake stands inspired by THIS LINK from Martha Stewart. I cut out hearts from woodgrain contact paper & stuck 'em on the cups. Like carving your name in a tree, the kids were supposed to write their names on the hearts to help reduce drink mix-ups. But, alas, I forgot the permanent marker. Cute anyways.

I had a small table set up displaying a bit of finger foods: veggies & dip & fruit salad & mixed nuts & punch. Nothing fancy. I didn't go all out with "themed" food at this party. I found a Martha Stewart brand scrapbook paper pack at TJMaxx (on my road trip!) that had "woodland" theme motifs. I laid some of the papers on this finger food table to dress it up a bit. And I laid logs under the table. Just 'cause.

When the kids first arrived, I had them hunt in the back yard for little logs which had paper clues tucked inside. (The logs were toilet paper tubes wrapped in woodgrain contact paper.)

 After finding all the logs, the kids came inside & opened up the clues. The pieces of paper each had a word or two written on them. The kids had to put the words together to form a sentence, which was the BIG clue that revealed where some goodies were hidden. To make it easy, I numbered the backs of their clues. Once the clue was in order, we read it out loud & the kids ran off, scampering after surprises awaiting them.
The riddle read:
"If you would like to dress the part,
and be a gnome at heart,
turn the corner, climb the stairs,
and you'll find costumes on the chairs."

I made felt gnomie hats & white furry beards for each child. It was one of my favorite details of the party.

I even surprised Zoey & made a set for her new American Girl Doll!!
Bobbing for apples was next on the agenda!

Next, I did something different. I normally have scheduled activites, crafts, & games for the kids. But since there was SUCH a mix of boys & girls & A LOT of them, I decided to have a few things set up that the kids could do on their own.
Outside, the kids could jump in one of those big jumpy house thingies.
Or roast marshamallows & make s'mores.

Or paint with sidewalk chalk paint.
It was PERFECT!!! The kids stayed busy the WHOLE time & they seemed to be having a great time!!

Presents next. Why do kids insist on suffocating the party present opener?? I have never been to a party where it hasn't been this way.

"Kids! Eat your squirrels!!"

And then, my favorite part: the goodie bags. These goodie bags were SO MUCH FUN to do!!! I'm so excited because almost everything inside them was handmade.

Handmade chocolate owl suckers. I bought the owl mold from Bake it Pretty.
Handmade finger puppets. The kids either got an owl, a gnome or a fox.

Handmade buttons. The kids got 2---I made 'em with my button machine.

Bird whistles, from Bake it Pretty. (They're the kind you put a little water in & they sound so cool!)

Fuzzy forest animal stickers. (From the American Girl's crafty section at Michael's. I LOVE A.G.!!!)

Little purchased notebooks embellished with woodgrain contact paper apples.
Twig pencils from allie beans on etsy.

The red bags were purchased at Walmart. I tied off each bag with a woodgrain tag from Rosengarten on etsy.

Zoey wrote "Thank You!" on the back of each tag. And they were decorated with the same puffy gnome stickers as the invitations. (Stickers are from Target.)

After all the kids went home, I had a few happy stragglers. The kids all sat down & decorated owl masks I purchased from JoAnne's with permanent markers.
I couldn't get my hands on enough masks to make a party craft out of it, so I didn't even bring them out. But what a perfect save at the end to keep a few energetic kids busy (mine included!) while I helped clean up the party mess.

Here are several links to projects I WISH I had time for, or just simply used as inspiration:
Woodland Gnomes & Fairy Waldorf Party

We all got into the gnomie fun.....
Pazely: Self portrait gnome photo

Zoey: The Thinking Gnome
Haha! (My friend Jaime is doing the "The Carlton Dance" dance from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.) And I'm just...being a dork!

Kung-Fu Gnomes


  1. LOVE it! Your daughters are so lucky to have you making their birthdays so special with all your crafty goodness!!!

  2. that is the cutest thing I have ever seen!!

  3. I want to party too! :)

    RIP squirrels. :(

  4. So many great ideas!! this is absolutely adorable. The faux bois contact paper on the cups is such a nice touch. Amazing party!

  5. I SUPER DUPER LOVE this party!!! Looks like all had a good time, but looks like you also had to put a bit of work into it.
    I'll remember never to try to make squirrel cupcakes. . . 6 hours??? Geesh!!

  6. What a fun party idea! I love those pencils!! It's all so stinkin'CUTE!

  7. Oh my goodness, tooooo cute!!!!

    ~The Mama Monster

  8. I can't believe you did a gnome party! You did a fantastic job! It's just that I was planning to have gnomes (the boys) at my daughter's fairy party next month and make them hats and beards much like you did here. I thought it would be this totally original idea no one had ever seen before.

    Ah, well. I guess great minds really do think alike.

  9. That is the sweetest birthday party. Lots of wonderful details. Well done. Clarice

  10. Once again, you have crafted an AWESOME party!
    Those cupcakes are so darn cute!

  11. you are the kinda creative mom i wanna be {even though i don't have kids yet}. one day.

  12. Your best party yet. You keep raising the bar for the rest of us.

  13. Hopefully I am not repeating myself as i was interupted commenting with a phone call and don't know if I left a message....anyhow I just wanted to say that I have been lurking around your blog for a while and never left a message until now. You are a crazy, crazy woman...but I love it! Your story about the squirral cupcakes had me in stitches, just soooo funny. As I sat in my armchair over here in England, tears of laughter streamed down my face. Lovin all your craftyness, keep it up.

  14. You and those poor squirrells. LOL I LOVE them, they are the cutest...flaws and all. We are all our own worst critics. You did a fabulous job and of course the kids loved it all. How could they not?!?

  15. You are so clever! So many fabulous ideas. I especially love the gnome hats and beards... What a cute party!

  16. I love the idea of the gnome party you held for your child. All the details were so cute and fabulous. :)

  17. Can I ask where you got your pictures that you used to make the 'button' badges for the party? Naomi :)

    1. Hi Naomi! The pictures were actually from a piece of scrapbook paper I got at a local craft store. I don't have any information on the maker or title of the paper because that adorable paper is long gone from my stash. :/ BUT...if you google "Woodland animals scrapbook paper", you'll find all sorts of adorable papers on the interwebs. You can even find digital clip art that you can print from home---even sized to 1" circles for making these buttons. (Or whatever size you need.) Hope your search is successful! Thanks for stopping by!!

    2. Um, how cute is this???!?!


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