Category Archives: Kiddo Parties

Wolfie’s Bouncey House Olympic Sized Birthday!

Last week was Wolfie’s birthday and this weekend we had a party. Now I have a confession to make. Last year he turned 6 on April 6th. And I was SO excited! “Hurray! It’s your Golden Birthday!! You are turning SIX on the SIXTH!!!” Wolfie was really into the Winter Olympics last year and we had a plan to do a fantastic Olympics Themed Party with an obstacle course in the back yard and everything. Cute, right?? Only… rained. And rained. And did I mention the rain? The party was postponed and postponed yet again and then ultimately…..he never had a party at all. Ugh. What’s that old saying, “The Cobblers Children Always Go Barefoot”?? I felt SO badly. Here I’m blogging about all these fab parties and my own little guy gets screwed. Nice job, mama.

Needless to say this year I was gonna do it right. I had grand plans to bust out the crafting supplies and design a 4 star birthday! Only….Wolfie had other plans. “Can we please have my party at Pump It Up?” “Um, really? You don’t want to have a fun party at our house? In the back yard?” “No.”

Argh. For those of you haven’t experienced the magic of Pump It Up, it’s a colossal party space that houses several GIGANTIC bouncy house and inflatable structures. On the up side, the party is totally contained and organized by the staff. The kid’s arrive, they get a little spiel on the rules and then they get to go into the room where they bounce like maniacs. The staff sets up and cleans up. Easy peasy! The down side? It’s pretty commercial. The place doesn’t really let you personalize your party. You can’t decorate. You have to use their food. And while it’s loads of fun for the kiddos, it sure ain’t perty. At least, my kinda perty. But as your child gets older you realize they have opinions and their own tastes and it’s less about creating a Martha-style party and more about wanting them to have something fun and “them”. And after last years fiasco, I wanted Wolfie to run the show. So what to do?

Wolfie wanted a Pokemon theme at the Bounce House Extravaganza. I wanted to unload some of the Olympics stuff I had bought last year. Which left us with this:

Ah yes, the Poke-Olympics! I had no clue if this was going to work, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to try. Of course I neglected to realized this place is really popular and the only times they had open were 9am and 7pm….so we had it at the crack o’ dawn.

I made these little “passports” for the kids and before they watched the “rules” video I passed out Pokemon terry cloth wristbands and made a little speech explaining how this was all going to work.

There were six spots on their passport and I told each kiddo they’d get a stamp every time they went on one of the bouncy things. I didn’t want anyone to feel like that had to go on something if they were nervous (the bouncy slide, for example, is a little steep) so I said that they could earn bonus points for striking a special dismount “victory pose” whenever they exited a bouncer.  Greg demonstrated some awesome poses (which got some laughs from the kids). Get all your stamps and you get a prize! The kids sat there kind of stunned…and definitely intrigued!

Here they are listening in rapt attention to my AMAZING speech. hah! Just kiddin’….they were watching the little safety video.

Wolfie got a special crown and scepter as the Birthday King. Please note the crazy casino carpeting. Oof!

So shut mah mouth because the kids had a blast! They kept racing back and forth between the bouncys and me—trying to get stamps in their booklets.

The “victory poses” were the funniest. They’d shoot down the slide and strike a pose!

At the end of their session they all lined up to go into the “party room”. We hummed the Olympics theme and it was time for the medal ceremony. Wolfie got a slightly bigger medal (hey, you only turn 7 once….never mind that the back of the medal said “Happy 6 on the 6th!” Ahem.)

The kids looooooooooved the medals. They had USA on them and the Olympics logo so all the kids thought they were REAL. OLYMPICS. MEDALS. Huzzah! It was awesome.

From there my little Olympiates went to the party room where they ate pizza and fruit and admired each others medals. SO CUTE. Wolfie got to sit on a giant inflatable throne which he was shyly pleased by.

(I can’t lie….the colors….the COLORS! It’s too much. And I love color….but not like this. Yee gads, who decorated this place??)

Please note Sir Wolfgang is wearing his “comfy loungers” and Pokemon tee. Sure I love dressing him up but there is a place and time for everything…and bouncing isn’t a fashion show, it’s about BOUNCIN’ IN COMFORT!

I made pretty simple goodie bags—I forgot to take a picture, but I just used a plain brown paper lunch bag with a little red ribbon and pokemon label (kinda like this). Most parents I know have a love-hate relationship with the goodie bag. They can get a little outta control. And part of me wants to rebel against doing them, but then when it comes down to it, it makes the kids happy and what the heck…yer only little once. The bags had lots of silly little trinkets like lollipop ring pops, red white and blue whistles and these cool spinning tops that lit up (Go Party Supply Store!). I also wrapped big ol’ chocolate chip cookies in aluminum foil and added a ribbon to make them look like medals. These were a big hit!

I bucked the system and we opened presents at the party. I’m not sure how it is where you guys live, but out here there is a growing trend to NOT open presents in front of the kids and wait til you get home (or if you are at home, wait til everyone leaves). I’m not sure if it’s to avoid the chaos/mess of paper or if people think it’s too long for the kids to sit patiently through or they are worried presents will get ruined…BUT, I’m not a fan of this trend. Call me old fashioned, but I think half the fun as a guest is watching the birthday kiddo open up your present! [some of my best friends are in the non-present opening camp so, you know, no offense if you are too….but I’m still gonna make you open your present from me while I’m there! heh]

I will admit, it was a little chaotic, with paper bits flying….but the kids were so cute ooohing and ahhing and giggling over everything!

Wolfie was grinning from ear to ear the whole time. The staff was totally great AND they did all the clean up. So despite my initial reservations….it was pretty awesome! Goes to show you what do I know??

Afterwards we had to race off to Little League…and then we ended the night watching a movie, eating leftover pizza and talking about how awesome his birthday weekend was. An action packed day to be sure.


In the middle of the night, Wolfie woke up doubled over in pain moaning and sobbing. We ended up spending over 4 hours in the emergency room and it was pretty awful. Wolfie is a really stoic little guy and to see him crying for two hours straight was heart breaking. He couldn’t even walk so we had to take him in a wheel chair to get his x-rays…by 3:00am we had determined it wasn’t his appendix or any obstructions. It was extreme gas and poopage (sorry….gettin’ all TMI on you guys here). A tad embarrassing but we were just relieved it wasn’t anything worse. We went to bed at 4:30am, emotionally and physically exhausted! What a crazy end to our fantastic day!!

So to end on a positive note, we finally woke up  the next day at 1:30 in the afternoon!!!!!!!! (unheard of). Wolfie was feeling 100% better and we had a great brunch and wandered around in the sunshine.

When we got home, Wolfie and Greg recorded “I’m in a Wheelchair,” a goofy fun song they made up about his ordeal the night before.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY one last time, my little monkey. Thank you for being so sweet and fun….and for letting mama put you in pants that “sorta look like clown pants” and thinking they were cool. I love you!

The Best Music for a Kids Dance Party? Heck Yeah!

NOTE: This list was originally compiled in 2011, but I thought it would be do a 2013 upate—click here for the same list but with some more current tunes at the end! I wanted to keep this one up because there are some great reader suggestions in the comments at the end! Here is also a super cool idea—Griffin’s Rad Rock-n-Roll Birthday Bash!

Recently I’ve gotten a handful of emails asking me, “What would be fun, “non-kid” music to play at a birthday party??” Music that is still kid-friendly and appropriate, of course! Given the cool rock-n-roll birthday party I posted earlier today, I thought it would be fun to compile a Master List of some tunes that are super rockin’ for party go-ers of all ages. Our mission? Get the kids AND parents dancing! Here were our guidelines:

1. Kiddo-friendly. Nothing overly dour, slow or with inappropriate lyrics.

2. Upbeat! Silly! Fun! High energy music that is great for boppin’ around to.

3. Sing-a-long factor! If it has an easy chorus, bonus points!

4. Parent pleasing. I love a good round of Farmer in the Dell as much as the next gal, but it’s kind of nice to rock out to grown up tunes, no?

5. Recognizable. Nothing super obscure or too indie. Your child may love Yoshimi Battle’s the Pink Robots, but we wanted a mix that everyone could relate to.

Please note! This list is not about me impressing you with my hipster/indie music street cred. This is about inspiring kiddo’s with fun jams and giving your cool meter a shove and allowing yourself to embrace the cheesy goodness of pop! I’ve broken this down by decade—feel free to mix and match for your own Mega Mix!

[Unfortunately I can’t give you the tracks, but I’m happy to help you track ’em down if you need ’em.] Let’s go!

The 1950s/60s

Goofy, bouncy and pretty darn wholesome. What’s not to love? There are a zillion more I’m missing, but these should get you started!

“La Bamba” -Richie Valens

“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash (perfect for young Woody & Jessie fans….)

“Twist and Shout” – The Beatles (really you can’t go wrong with any Beatles song!)

“Wipe Out” – The Ventures

“Build Me Up Buttercup” – Foundation

“The Loco-Motion” – Little Eva

“Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley

“Day-O” – Harry Belafonte

“I’m A Believer” – The Monkees

“The Twist” – Chubby Checker

“Magic Carpet Ride” – Steppenwolf

“Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies


The 1970s

Classic Rock. Disco. Punky. Funky. The Seventies had it all—and these groovy tunes make for an amazing kiddo dance party. Start with some bad ass classics, so the dads can feel cool, and by the time you throw on that LIPPS Inc., they won’t even know what hit ’em!

“Bliztkrieg Bop” – The Ramones. “HEY! HO! Let’s GO!” The classic anthem that’s is guaranteed to get kids rockin’. But really any Ramones song. Right?

“Rock & Roll All Night” – KISS

“We Will Rock You. “ – Queen

“You Shook Me All Night Long.” – AC/DC

“I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow

“One Way or Another” – Blondie

“Shake Your Booty” – KC & the Sunshine Band

“Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees

“Dancing Queen” -ABBA

“YMCA” – Village People

“Car Wash” – Groovy tune and hey, you just might get a clean car outta the deal too. Not too shabby!

“Le Freak (Freak Out)” – Chic

“You’re the One That I Want” – Grease Soundtrack

“Rock the Boat” – Hues Corporation. I had no idea who sang this song, I just knew that every kid loves to “Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat ovah!!”

“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

“Funky Town” – Lipps Inc.

You see where I’m going here, right? DISCO = AWESOME DANCE PARTY.

The 1980s

Ah, the 80s. If disco’s not your bag, go for the candy colored goodness of a new wave dance party. You get the big nostalgia factor of your elementary school/junior high memories—and who doesn’t love to watch little kid’s chanting, “Hungry Like the WOLF! Hungry Like the WOLF!!”

“That’s What I Like About You” – Romantics

“Blinded Me With Science” – Thomas Dolby

“Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

“Get Into The Groove” – Madonna

“C’mon Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

“Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

“We Got the Beat” – The Go-Gos

“Mickey” – Toni Basil

“You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi

“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

“Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

“Footloose” – Kenny Loggins

“Flashdance” – Irene Cara

“Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

“Jump” – Van Halen

“Busta Move” – Young MC

“Walkin on Sunshine”- Katrina and the Waves

Tip: any song that has a verb in the title is a guaranteed booty shaker: JUMP! STRUT! WALK! BUSTA MOVE! You get the idea…

Modern Stuff

OK. So maybe you want something a little more au courant. I admit, some of these are cheesers—and while they may not be my own personal faves, remember IT’S FOR THE KIDDOS!!!! (ok fine. I’ve been known to rock the vaccum to Katy Perry. What??)

“Firework” – Katy Perry

“Dynamite” – Taio Cruz (get the clean version)

Just Dance” or “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga (get the clean versions)

“Please Don’t Stop the Music” – Rihanna

“Hey Ya”-  Outkast

“Sweet Escape” – Gwen Stefani

“Life is a Highway” Rascal Flatts. If your child has seen the movie Cars, then you’ll know that this song is pretty cute.

“Me Myself and I” – De La Soul (I skipped the 90s but here are a few tunes I had to throw in!)

“Groove is in the Heart” – Deeelite

“D.A.N.C.E” – Justice

“Kids” – MGMT (awesome song—but warning, avoid the music video. It’s very disturbing!)

“I Like to Move It”- Madagascar Soundtrack

“Cha Cha Slide” – Mr. C the Slide Man (yeah, I had to look that up….I had NO CLUE who did that song!)

“Hey Soul Sister”- Train

“A Punk” – Vampire Weekend

“I Got A Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas

SIDEBAR: I can’t watch the Black Eyed Peas any more without thinking of that SNL skit. If you haven’t seen it, seriously, watch it now. SO FUNNY. But  ya know, the kids love to jump around to them. And Fergie was super sweet when we shot a commercial with her [OOF! NAME DROP!] so yeah, BEP make the list.

Michael Jackson.

The dance master. The one. The only.

The man gets his own category. ABC, I Want You Back and Rockin’ Robin from The Jackson 5. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough and Rock With You, from Off the Wall. Beat It. Thriller. Black & White. The list is endless. You can’t go wrong with Michael, people.


As a little surprise, I love to throw on some TV and movie theme songs—it always brings a smile and a “Hey!!! I know this!” If you have a really little one, think Little Einsteins, Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba etc. You can also go for Disney classics—Supercalifragilistic, Under the Sea, The Tiki Room Theme Song, Yo Ho Pirates of Carribean song etc. Slightly older kids will get a kick outta things like the classic “Spiderman” song, or the theme song from their favorite cartoons (like Pokemon or Ben 10, both of which are surprisingly 80s rockin’…)

Whew! So that’s my list. I know there is a ton of great stuff I didn’t include—but hopefully this will get you started. Help me fill in the blanks! Leave a comment with the songs you and your kiddos like to rock out to!

Oh, and fun party tip. Play FREEZE DANCE with the kids. It’s a game I invented in 1985 (well, OK, I probably didn’t invent it….but back no one in Flint, Michigan had ever heard of my fabulous creation…haha). ANYWAY, you play music, get every one to dance/hop/boogie, and when the music stops everyone has to FREEZE! Until the music starts again. Kids LOVE this game. Trust me….

Griffin’s Rock-n-Roll San Francisco Birthday

“Soooooo, I think we’re going to have Griffin’s birthday party in a bar. Is that weird??”

That’s how the conversation began. To be clear, the “bar” was actually a venue called Thee Parkside. It is sort of a bar/pub with a great outdoor patio area — not some dark, grotty hole-in-the-wall. I’ve been to many a rock show there and in the day time it has a very different vibe. So when my friend Toria asked me if I thought it was weird to have her son Griffin’s 5th birthday party there, I had to pause….it was definitely unconventional! But it was also kind of genius. Allow me to explain.

In this day in age the birthday party has evolved a bit. When I was younger it was more of a drop off scenario. Parents rarely hung around and your younger brother or sister wouldn’t even DREAM of crashing. Nowadays parents actually like to socialize with one another and it seems more often than not little siblings show up too. As my friend planned the party, she knew she wanted to do something fun/different and appealing to both parents and children. Griffin loves music so the idea of a rock-n-roll bash seemed just the ticket. I’ll be the first to admit that having a children’s party in a pub is very “San Francisco.” We don’t have the luxury of large backyards, so parties call for creative measures. Let me assure you that Toria executed it brilliantly! The place was shut down for the party (so no errant riff raff was wandering around) and the staff was extremely enthusiastic about the event and ensured it was utterly kiddo-appropriate. There were so many fun details I thought you guys would like to see how this Indie Birthday Party all came together.

1. Embrace Your Inner Rock Star!

The party began with a special table where all the kiddo’s could apply fun temporary tattoos and paint their faces. Lots of glittery stars, butterflies and lightning bolts made an appearance! You could take it even further and add costumes or wigs to the mix. I love the colorful signs Toria printed up for the various “stations”.

2. Encourage the Kids to Rock Out!

A collection of inflatable guitars, banjos and other instruments were available for all the kids. This was AWESOME. They loooooved it!

Super cutie birthday boy Griffin with his groovy clarinet. [You’ll notice he and Wolfie both have the same crazy curls!]

Toria cleverly had paint pens so kiddos could write their name on “their” instrument.

More of a lead singer? We’ve got you covered!

Wolfie ready to rock the mic……

3. Live Music Rules!

Griffin’s dad is a musician so he and some friends got together and formed an impromptu band that played loads of kid-friendly tunes—from They Might Be Giants and the The Beatles to fun standards. All the kiddos were invited on stage to “jam” with the band. Griffin took center stage and led the kid’s in a fantastic round of air guitar. It was SUPER cute! There were also tambourines and those percussion drum box thingies for the kids to bang on as well.

Little Santiago with the “keyboard” killed me….

Wolfie and Greg taking a breather….hey, it’s hard work rockin’ out!

4. Dance, Dance, Dance!

If a live band isn’t possible, then go with a DJ! Once again Toria had a fantastic idea. She emailed parents and asked them to send her a song or two that their child really loved. After the band played she had a friend DJ. The guy would announce each song with, “This one goes out to WOLFIE!” You can only imagine the grins on all the kiddo’s faces, “Mama I love this song!! How did he know???”

5. Nom.

Rockin’ out makes you hungry, so food is a must! Toria had tasty burgers and tater tots for everyone and can I just say these were the crispiest most deeeelicious tots EVER?? There was also a table of kid-friendly healthy snacks like apples, carrot sticks, cheese and crackers.

In the end, a really fun time was had by all. The parents felt like they had a little afternoon out (yes, the bar was serving drinks) and the kiddos REALLY had a blast.

Just goes to show ya that with a little creative thinking, kid’s and parents can both have a harmonious time at a birthday party!

I hope you got some fun tips for throwing your own rockin’ birthday bash! You could easily do this kind of a party at your house (especially if you have a big back yard!). If you live in a city like we do, and back yard space is not as readily available, consider holding it at a park or community center. Or go big and find a family-friendly pub like Toria did!

By the way, Toria has an awesome blog called “Tiny Reads” which is all about cool kid’s books. You should check it out for sure!

Later this afternoon I’m going to have a list of my Top Tunes for the Most Rockin’ Kiddo Dance Party! So c’mon back.

Hello Lucky! Parties & Pretties

Oh my. So I’ve seen a few Circus birthday parties in my time. (You might remember this gorgeous circus party from Sandy of The Winding Road.) I have to say it’s the one theme that never really grows old for me….I’m still totally charmed by them! I was so excited to discover this deeeeelightful party from the ladies of Hello! Lucky. Little Jude was turning 1, and boy did his mama turn it out!

The cookies! The cake! It’s all perfect….down to the red stripy napkins! (found via Shop Sweet Lulu) These cupcakes are also so sweet. I love the homemade look to them and the rad little flags.

These super charming birthday hats were made out of pom poms, ruffly paper trim, stickers and poster board. LOOVE! You could also just get ready-made hats and add some poms and stickers to embellish them.

Here’s the adorable little Jude with dueling pianos!

Hee! I love the “ring of fire” hula hoop! Classic! And an upside down, flower pot becomes a great little circus stand with a little red and white paint.

How cute, huh? [can we discuss the amazing outfits on the grown ups?? high fives!] You can see even more of this terrific party on the Hello! Lucky blog.

While we’re on the topic of Hello! Lucky, I had to share some of their goods. A few years ago I was at a holiday warehouse sale and found their shop—where I was able to scoop up stacks of amazing letterpress cards for a song. I’ve been a fan ever since!

Hello! Lucky was founded by two very talented sisters, Eunice and Sabrina Moyle. Eunice Moyle is the creative director: a talented illustrator who began designing birth announcements and party invitations for friends and printing them on her antique Vandercook press. On a whim, she sent her card designs to Kate’s Paperie in New York City, and they immediately placed an order. Hello!Lucky was in business!

All their designs are super charming but I thought it would be fun to take a look at some sassy birthday announcements! Take a look and you’ll see what I mean:

They also do gorgeous custom letterpress announcements. Take a gander at these:

I’m a big fan of these sassy ladies! Be sure to swing by Hello! Lucky and see all of their beautiful work.

Oh, and don’t forget to enter our Winter Water Factory Giveaway! You could win the most adorable little dressie!

Tiny Tuesday :: Dottie Throws A Baby Shower!

Friends, last weekend I threw one of my dear friends a baby shower! Yup! Right on the heels of the Peach’s big blowout.  But I was determined to do right by my friend and come up with something charming and thoughtful decoration-wise for her shower.

Now bear with me–unfortunately I was too busy making six different kind of tea sandwiches and hugging friends to take many pictures. My bad and I apologize for that, but I will take a couple from after the party, when I finally remembered that I wanted to share it with all of you.

OK—I totally admit, I needed a bit of a party throwing break and decided to use the same colors for the party but change everything except the table runner and the napkins for the shower.

These lovely hanging pompoms were a breeze to put together and hang. From Etsy seller, Create & Adorn.

I also sparkled up the place with some quick paper banners that I hung all over the house.  I bought the paper from Paper Source and sewed them to a grosgrain ribbon.  Polka dots and flowers.

And flowers really do add so much to any party!

Oh and I used those felt swirly cut-outs on the wall again. They just worked and added another texture to the wall.

All in all, it was a successful party and our little preggie friend who is due in about a month and still not wearing maternity clothes glowed.  I still have to finish making her prezzie. I’ll save that for Dottie’s Kraft Korner if you don’t mind!

I must admit–I’m always looking for the perfect baby shower gift.  And I came across a really charming one from Canopy Cards.

Jennifer Parker, the creator summed it up best:

“While video and pictures all have their place, it’s our business to preserve parental editorial. Picture a set of 10 letterpress cards each focusing on a milestone in baby’s first year (i.e. knee glee: now you’re crawling).  Every time the wee one picks up a skill, the parent picks up a pen and writes a love letter all about it.  So that someday, when this little person isn’t so little anymore and asks, “what was i like when i was a baby?” parents get to hand over a stack of handwritten notes and say, “this is just how i saw it.””

To me that is just perfect. Not the agonizing pressure of a baby’s first year book, but enough to capture some lovely moments of babyhood that past so very fast before our eyes. Don’t you remember looking at your little one as swearing you could see them grow in front of your eyes? Sigh. It really does go by so fast…