The twins (I can no longer call them the boys since we have our newest addition) turned 11! To celebrate they invited their friends for a round of paintball and dinner and then back to our place for treats. I was advised by them not to go 'too crazy' with the party planning so I kept things simple. Outside of the invitations the only work I did was to set-up a simple dessert bar with treats and favors for the kids. The theme they picked (after some pressure to pick anything) was pandas + donuts: two things they both like. Here is how our simple dessert bar turned out, followed by some simple party tips.
I am sure you have all seen beautiful dessert bars that are to die for. They are certainly drool worthy, but would not be fully appreciated by a bunch of 11 year olds, so I kept our dessert bar simple--which means it was easy to put together. Here are some of my lessons learned and tips for making things easy on yourself...
1. Go with Target Donuts - Did you know that every month Target has a new color scheme for their donuts? I just learned this myself. Initially I had envisioned a black and white color scheme for the dessert bar, but when I came across the colorful Target donuts I decided to match their July colors of red, yellow and aqua. I was able to pre-order my donuts and could specify to make the donuts extra colorful. Also the pails I picked up in their dollar section matched the blue of the donuts perfectly (I had to wonder if that was planned by Target--I wouldn't put it past them). The cute panda picks can be found here.
2. Tissue Paper Fringe Bunting if Your Friend (Who is Easy AND Easy on the Eyes) - The fringe was a last minute addition, but seemed necessary to help carry the color theme and to carry the eye up the space. It didn't take more than 10 minutes from start to clean-up. All you need is tissue paper in your colors (be sure to buy the big tissue paper color pack which has like 20 colors so you always have lots of colors on hand), scissors, tape and string (I used bakers twine since I had it handy). Here is a link for more detailed directions. For each fringe block I used two sheets cut to the proper width and then folded over to give me four layers of fringe.
3. Buy Your Own Stash of 24" Round Balloons - Round balloons are hot, but if you try to by just the few you for your party it will cost you an arm and a leg. So instead buy the bigger, economy-sized variety pack of balloons so you can have some now and for future events. Also if you are wondering about 24" vs 36" balloons, let me just tell you that 24" round balloons are huge, so 36" round balloons are ginormous! Also, it costs $1.99 to fill up a 24" balloon and $5.99 to fill up a 36" balloon. One more tip on balloons, always get at least one more than you need filled up. One popped on the way home so it was a good thing we had gotten three filled.
4. Mini-Cupcakes are the Perfect Dessert Bar Filler - There are two main reasons I like mini-cupcakes for a dessert bar: (1) they're easy to make a ton of, and (2) they won't fill-up your guests so they can enjoy more treats. One box of cake mix can yield 30+ mini-cupcakes. I actually never finish the batter when making mini-cupcakes because then I'll have too many. Mini-cupcakes are also very easy to quickly pipe icing onto, especially if you have any large tip (I used an 808 round tip). Then you can display them on their own or use them to fill in any gaps.
5. Candy, Candy, Baby! - Candy is a great way to bring color to your dessert bar, plus it is a great way to involve your kids. Bring them to the candy section of your grocery store and have them help select candy to match the color palette--they will love this! Then when you get home have them sort, remove wrappers or repackage, etc. to keep them involved.
6. Display Your Favors - We found some really cute panda snack containers which we paired with Hello Panda snack treats and 'Bamboo Sticks' (our own creation). We place our goodies in pails purchased from Target's dollar section. The pails with the aqua ribbon were purchased recently and matched the aqua icing on Target's donuts perfectly (love Target!). If you ever see those pails on sale at Target buy them, you can always change out the ribbon color. They are perfect for packaging favors.
7. Plan for Guests to Take Home Leftover Treats - They will love it and you will save yourself some hours on the treadmill. We had lined white paper bags embellished with sticker labels for the guests to take home donuts and candy. The label design was a modified version of this.
8. Use Cheap Photo Boxes to Give Height and Interest - The red boxes supporting the milk jug and the cupcakes are just photo storage boxes I found at the craft store ($1.99 each). They come in a variety of colors but if they don't have what you are looking for then you can always cover them with paper or spray paint them. If you are using them to support something heavy then be sure to put something inside the box to support the extra weight (I used flipped over water glasses). The additional color pop and height variation make the overall set-up look much nicer.