Let’s face it. Life is hectic. As much as I love entertaining, quite often events here end up being planned at the last-minute because I’m finishing up a previous event at the same time I’m starting the next one. Last week was a very busy week for us. We hosted a lovely couple via Airbnb, turned right around and prepped the house for another overnight stay for four band members and their crew, hosted said bands’ sold out show, then prepped for our son’s fifth birthday party.
We opted for a low-key birthday this year with just grandparents and school friends. While I still wanted the party to be nice, I decided not to go over-the-top like we usually do. Instead we focused on making sure our son had a memorable time with his friends.
He chose an Octonauts theme for his party this year. I set up two small food areas, added some Octonauts printables around the house, and set up a small favor bag table. That’s it. Then we brought down toys from upstairs and set them up on the stage and also set up our bounce house outside. Nice and simple.
Now when I say last-minute, boy do I mean it. The week before the party I found myself frantically designing invitations in Photoshop and printing them out on our computer because I didn’t have time to order them from the print shop. Normally I order press-printed cards of my own design from a place called Bay Photo Lab. I order all of my photos and press printed products from there. The home-printed invitations weren’t ideal, but they worked. Regarding Photoshop, I will say that there are programs out there more oriented towards graphic design, but since I maintain a Photoshop subscription anyway, I’ve always made it work for my graphic needs. Be sure to check out the end of the blog post for free downloads of the editable Photoshop invitation, a generic write-in JPEG version, and the Octonauts circle printables I put together and used for decorating.
The only thing I did ahead of time was order edible cookie transfers to make Octonauts cookies. I didn’t open them until the day before the party, and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. The print quality was lacking, and the transfers weren’t pre-cut so we had to cut the circles out by hand. I don’t think I’d use these again. Everything else was planned two days before the party– running through the aisles at Walmart grabbing blue and orange food, drinks, and favors, assembling favors, baking cookies, cupcakes, and setting up the tables.
For the favor bags, I used Duro 3 Kraft Bags. We keep these bags on-hand at the house, and they are the perfect size for things like popcorn, favors, and guest hospitality bags. Luckily our son’s birthday falls in September so all of the Halloween items were already out at Walmart. I was able to find blue and orange LED flashlights and blue and orange glow sticks for the favor bags in that section. I also grabbed some Silly Putty from the crayon section. I created a sheet of 2″ Octonauts circles on an 8.5″ x 11″ file in Photoshop, printed them on textured card stock, and punched them out with a 2″ Fiskars Circle Punch which you can find on Amazon. I then glued these to the kraft bags using Tombow Glue. After filling the bags, I sealed them with Scotch Expressions Glitter Tape. The tape didn’t want to stick to the kraft paper surface so I applied a small dot of Tombow glue to seal.
After tackling the favor bags, I turned to the cookies. Because I needed to make the cookies and decorate them the same day, I needed a sugar cookie recipe that didn’t require chilling. I turned to blogger Katrina of Katrina’s kitchen for the cookie recipe. It was easy, and the cookies turned out well.
For the royal icing recipe, I went to Wilton’s website, but I had trouble with the recipe. I ended up using twice as much water than was called for just to get the icing pipable and couldn’t get the icing thin enough for flooding consistency before it whipped. I very well could have been doing something wrong, but I followed the video tutorial and still couldn’t get the icing to work out. I don’t recommend this recipe even though this is the recipe Wilton publishes on their website and products.
I also had trouble with the edible transfers that I purchased on Etsy. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that the transfers weren’t cut out, so we had to cut them by hand and I thought they looked horrible. The print quality was also poor. Printer lines were visible on most of the transfers and one of the images was blurry due to low file resolution. I’m not sure that I would use them again. Lastly, they didn’t lay well even on flooding consistency royal icing that was nice and wet. Between the royal icing issues and the edible transfer issues, the cookies were quite the disaster. I think I’ll leave decorated cookies to a professional next time!!!
Luckily my loving mother came to the rescue with blue and orange cupcakes, and by the time we got everything else decorated, the cookies were overshadowed by things that did look good! We purchased some Octonauts toys from eBay for our son’s birthday gift and used them to decorate for the party so decoration costs were minimal. I also had a teal cake stand that I’d purchased for a baby shower a few years ago that I pulled out of storage. I love it when we don’t have to purchase party decorations and can reuse things from around the house. The only thing I purchased that was purely for this particular party was a Octonauts Snack Pack Kit for 16 from Amazon with cups, plates, and napkins.
Overall the party was a success! Our son had a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends. I’d say that I’ll do more planning ahead of time next year, but let’s be realistic– that’s not how we roll!
FREE PRINTABLES AND DESIGN FILES
These items are not licensed products; all character images used are free and not being sold. I DO NOT SELL or claim ownership over the character clipart or graphics; they belong to their respective copyright holders. These downloads are for one-time personal use only and are not to be re-sold for any reason.
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