HAYDEN and HUCK'S vroom vroom BIRTHDAY

Photos:  Jessica Czarnecki  for @Ographr

Photos: Jessica Czarnecki for @Ographr

  1. Yellow (matching cake) Polka-dot dress 2. Converse Comfort 3. Huck’s shirt 4. Joel’s shirt

What a day!! This was a such a boy birthday!! It was a success. We worked hard and I know the boys will look back and remember how special it was (and we’ll have plenty of photos to remind them). Thank you to People Magazine Online for the adorable write up…E! NEWS for covering this photo above with the sweet mention. And while I’m at it- thank you also to Soap Digest!!

Since Huck and Hayden’s actual birthdays are so close together, and they’re both boys, I thought we’d do a joint birthday. But that was the first dilemna: what kind of birthday works for boys 4 years apart? Hayden is just now old enough for it to be appropriate for his friends to join Huck’s friends.

Both are serious car lovers. I knew I could do a double birthday with a race car theme and they’d be happy. But my goodness, I’m in full boy mode! lol We had a bloody nose, skinned knee…I was panicking, but other moms that have been around the block before barely flinched!

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We had fun getting ready the nights leading up to it. I was stressed though. It’s hard trying to get it all together!

And it was raining in Los Angeles on and off consistently. It rained the DAY BEFORE. We ended up working with Little Knights to have a back up plan if it rained. (Tip #1: back up plans for the uncontrollable factors). But,all in all it was a great day; even the weather cooperated!

Huck was not normally scheduled to be with us that weekend. We “negotiated” that time with his mother, which can then always be touch and go when it’s not court ordered time (any divorced/blended families out there here me on this??). But my worry was for not because we picked him up early that day and he had a blast at his party.

I wanted the kids to be comfortable, but still look cute. And I wanted to wear this yellow polka-dot dress! I didn’t realize until I got there, but I fully matched the cake! My color scheme was blue, white and yellow with pops of red. I did a whole post recently rounding up some of my favorite summer dresses, so check it out if you’re looking for parties, weddings, etc. I added the yellow silk dress I’m wearing here (with pockets!) to the post.

Huck’s affordable pastel-colored polo is linked, as well as Joel’s JCrew Factory button down.

(click on any image above for more info)


DETAILS I’M HAPPY ABOUT:

1) THE FUN BACKDROP and DECORATIONS:

SO MANY of you have asked about decor because you want this theme for your kiddos. If you follow me in stories, you know I was trying to make a balloon arch and back drop. Some of you were asking why I cared so much. Here’s why: I GOT CAUGHT UP IN PINTEREST! NO joke. I “pinned” ideas and got fixated on a few. I googled and they were so expensive I balked. If you hire people to do this for you…it’ll could be crazy pricey (or at least it was in LA). It will look better than the one I made, but I didn’t want to invest so much in something like balloons that wouldn’t last. I thought, “I can do something fun myself!!”

So, that’s when I went to amazon for backdrop concepts. I wanted one cute photo of our family with a clean backdrop. Our venue was amazing with bright colors everywhere, which is awesome, but I had a specific concept in mind. I’m silly and probably gonna get backlash for this (because I know it’s not about me, but the boys….I get it); at the same time, it takes work! Mind as well double up with the Christmas card pic now, right? Ok laugh if you want to, but if you get our Christmas card… it just might be one of these. LOL! I loved that other families could also take a family photo upon arrival if they wanted. As a thank you, I’m sending any digital photos we got of their families to them (Fun Tip #2). Maybe they’ll use it for their Xmas card? Ha!

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Items for our DIY entire pseudo balloon arch and backdrop are linked above. Oh, don’ t forget string!

FYI: you can also get kits like this one here, but I opted to do it a different way.

I bought an affordable stand HERE that I thought I would use again and again in the future. And got THIS BACKDROP in white for the same reason. I googled about balloons… I bought packages on amazon and Joel blew them up with his air pump (his is ugly, but this one here is so cute!). I tied string around them, then draped them from the top of the back drop with THESE CLIPS. I set it all up at home (and we even took pictures at home (see below) in case I could not replicate it at the location), then we broke it down to transport it. Each balloon section tied with string we put in a garbage bag to transport it in Joel’s truck. So… not the easiest and there were quite a few balloon casualties (ha!), but we DID IT!!!

I took one photo at home with a self timed camera. Just in case we were not able to duplicate it at the venue.

I took one photo at home with a self timed camera. Just in case we were not able to duplicate it at the venue.

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I outfitted the tables with these table cloths that I would totally recommend. They come in many colors and held up during the party. We added some black and white checked ones to make it seem more “race car themed.”  I love these cardboard snack holders of vintage cars. Truly—- if you are having any sort of 50s party, or car themed party, they are so cute with chips in them. Throw some confetti on the table and a few streamers and you’re good to go. I also got these piñatas on amazon and used them as table decor. 2 for $13! (More on piñatas further down in post).

2) I HAD HELP IN THE DAYS BEFORE

…Preplanning with so much of the event: Good Carma Studio helped bring it all together in a way I could have never imagined. BUT THERE WAS A MOM FAIL and a FRIEND CATCH…. you’ll get it when you scroll down! lol

3) GREAT SPACE

LITTLEKNIGHTS LA was an awesome venue. I decided not to do it at the house because of the number of kids attending due to a joint party. I truly could go on and on about Little Knights. If you are LA based (or even visiting LA during one of their parties throughout the year, GO!), you will love everything they have to offer. Matter-of-fact, check their website because their next fun event is June 21st! It’s a phenomenal space, equipped with playgrounds and areas for a variety of age groups. We had Camelot Kids, which incorporates a bird sanctuary, small petting area with bunnies, sand box with slides and play area, cars and cars and more cars (and bikes) and bouncy house and bubble machine!… the list goes on. It was a great space for parents, too. Plenty of room… which brings me to #4 below…

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Hayden and Molly manno sharing a bike! There were so many bikes/cars/swings/slides/sandbox/toys/bouncy house/bird cage/rabbit house.

Hayden and Molly manno sharing a bike! There were so many bikes/cars/swings/slides/sandbox/toys/bouncy house/bird cage/rabbit house.

4) COMFORTABLE FOR PARENTS

Make sure you have space and seating for parents if you are inviting kids that need supervision. Our seating consisted of picnic tables and small chairs. My husband is so tall, he wanted something larger, but hopefully people understand what you are doing for a limited amount of time.

5) FOOD FOR PARENTS AND KIDS

Don’t forget kids AND parents. At these ages, both need to eat a little something. We had a southern California based company/restaurant called STONE FIRE GRILL cater and I would do it all over again. They came on time, very prepared with everything we asked for. BBQ bri-tip, BBQ Salad mix (without chicken), Baked lemon chicken and mac and cheese, chicken fingers and breadsticks for kids. We had hummus dip and chips and guacamole ready upon arrival. You want food to be good and stay warm! I learned (TIP #3) that day from the delivery lady that if you ask ahead of time, they include to-go boxes! How great is that tip next time you get something catered and may want to pass along any left overs!! I went out and bought a few but we ran out of containers fast to send extra food and cupcakes home with our guests. If you are in California and can eat at a Stone Fire Grill, get their BBQ chicken chopped salad with chips and guacamole to start. Explains why I’m only gaining weight, but it’s soooo good! So are their chicken fingers! Huck and his friends devoured them! One small tip: bring cash to tip any delivery people;)

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6) MEMORABLE ACTIVITIY

We had the play space and bouncy, but I wanted one more memorable thing…face painting, or balloon artists, etc. We had bubbles (they LOVED them), but I was very please with my affordable option (2 for $13!!) of THIS Piñata from amazon. We stuff it with mini cars I got HERE, and some candy. I brought a plastic bat from home (so obviously this takes a good deal of parental supervision) but it was fun. I didn’t want a piñata that would collapse immediately. I wanted the kids to each get a swing—- and this one did the job.

  1. PINATA (2 FOR 1 PRICE!!) 2. MINI-CARS

This photo cracks me up! Hayden is like—um, scott, you sure this is a good idea?? All the big kids got a swing, then Scott helped the little ones continue when the string broke.

This photo cracks me up! Hayden is like—um, scott, you sure this is a good idea?? All the big kids got a swing, then Scott helped the little ones continue when the string broke.

7) CAKE - DESSERTS

No matter what you do, the kids will love the desserts. Your homemade one, store bought or your local bakery like this one from Polatots, the kids just wanna eat cake! If you jump down to my “what I didn’t do section”- you‘ll see one of my mom fails. But I LOVED our Polkatots cake. They nailed the theme. I have to tell a funny story here…one I know happens to a lot of people when they are ordering writing on cakes. It came like the one below…if you look carefully, they spelled Huck’s name wrong. It read HUKE. I mentioned it to the lady and she immediately said she could fix it!! So, if you scroll back up, she added a white edible “bib” and redid the names perfectly! I have to say, that is great customer service! I had to roll with the punches a bit here trusting that all would be ok- and it was!! I actually liked the second version even better! If you’ve visited the blog for a while, you may remember Polkatots doing Hayden’s first birthday!

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I also wanted an easy alternative to those parents that didn’t want their kids eating too much cake, or parents that didn’t want too much sugar, either. You all know I I feel about FAGE®, so it was a perfect choice to add for the party, along with La Croix Bar. This is not in any way sponsored by any of the brands mentioned in this whole post… just my favorite things I like to have around.

8) PARTY FAVORS

Good Carma Studio made sure everyone left with something really special. Each child received their own car-themed Mables Labels for all their belongings (which is just as much a favor for the parents) to get them ready for summer camps and school next year. And continuing with the car-theme, each child took home a hot wheels blankie-tail, mod family colors and squeasy gear. Any of these items would also make awesome gift by themselves. Our boys are love each of these things, which is why we wanted to share the love!! And blankie-tails and Mabels Labels has so many different themes; you can find all the specific concepts with which your child is currently obsessed!

  1. BLANKIE-TAILS 2. MOD FAMILY PAINT CRAYONS 3. SQUEASEY 4. MINI-RACE CAR PULL BACK AND GO CARS

TOP THINGS I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:

1) CANDLES

omgosh- i forgot the candles. We sang happy birthday and went straight to cutting the cake. The kids never mentioned it, but in all the flurry- GET CANDLES! NEXT TIME, I’ll amazon them with the other stuff. But, another way to look at it is they each had candles on their actual birthdays, so they got ‘em!

2) HELP SETTING UP ON THE DAY

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Although I had plenty of help in preparation, on the actual day, Joel and I realized we were in over our heads. Here’s why: venues only allow you to arrive an hour or so beforehand to set up. If you want to add your own mark on things, it takes man power. My dearest friends Kaley Cuoco Cook and Bri Cuoco showed up BEFORE US and were ready to seriously go to work. And they helped with all the tablescapes, food prep, drinks section, party favor set ups, present set up, etc. So, make sure your manpower equals the amount of work you have!

My girlfriend Hannah Hodgden stayed for clean up. So grateful for these peeps and everyone that came and helped and gave such thoughtful things to our kids.

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3) BRING TO-GO BOXES

If you are like me at all, you may not want to bring home a bevy of left over dessert and food. I was happy to have leftovers for a day or two, but not enough for a week. lol I didn’t have little boxes to give out of extras. We made do, using whatever stuff we already had, but next time, I’m gonna just budget in some to-go containers. After all, I did do a whole post on Rubbermaid containers. I could have brought those and passed them out!!! It’s not the cheapest option, so just have any option! LOL. I found out after that fact that our caterer would have included to-go containers for free. I’m trying to do less-to-no plastic and they actually use recycled materials, so that’s good to remember. But if you use a ask restaurant or caterer, ask for extra containers- it might be included!

We took so many photos- I’m adding a few more below. Thanks for reading and in some way being a part of our lives via this blog! If you are having a party anytime soon- PLEASE lemme know how it goes! Especially if you have more tips to give me- leave in the comments. At this rate, I may take next year off! LOL but seriously- every other year might make sense for us.

XOXO

AAJ

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