wedding and baby inspiration, diy, design and other loveliness

A Lego Ninjago Birthday Party

Every year, I tell myself, we’re going to tone it down, we’re going to invite less people and keep it simple. I’m talking about the kids’ birthday parties. When we finally nail down a theme, (at this age, we kind of leave it up to the kids if it’s reasonable.) I get excited for all the fun things we could do and it once again gets blow out into a big production. However, at the end of the day, I’ve come to the realization that celebrations are my love language, for me it truly is a labor of love and I have thus fully embraced it. The perks of children having a graphic design mom. Downsides are your seven year old thinks he’s allowed to art direct.

For my son’s seventh birthday, he chose Lego Ninjago. While I am a fan of Legos and ninjas separately (because ninjas in real life are pretty damn cool), I’m just not a huge of of Lego Ninjago–but it’s something we are okay with the kids enjoying.

We rented a park building in Sunnyvale because in February, the weather is unpredictable. It’s great because if weather permits, you have the park right outside. Fortunately for us this year, we did not have to do any indoor activities.

I was inspired by this Ninjago like temple set up I found on Pinterest so I redesigned it to fit my needs and printed it out and stuck it onto foam core. Sorry I don’t have any detail shots this time around–I was too tired! The goal of my parties is always: how can we blow this out on a budget? 

I happened to have a large format (13×19″) photo printer so I’m always wasting ink with these types of projects. I blew up the Ninjago characters and also stuck them on foam core as you see them prancing around the temple.


The font I used was this knock-off Ninjago font.

An interesting tidbit I found out from The LEGO® NINJAGO® MOVIE The Making of the Movie book is that this font was custom designed for this movie and actually won a typography award.

Sometimes to bump your decor up a notch without too much on the wallet, I’m a fan of the tinsel foil garland. Make sure you buy the shorter one if you’re just skirting part of the table. As cheesy as they can be, when used correctly, they can warm up the decor. It comes in a lot different colors as well.

Luckily the Ninjago colors are primary colors so I picked up some colored cups, plates and yellow napkins to add color and folded them into ninja stars. It actually is very easy! You just need two large square napkins. I found a good tutorial on how to fold them here.

I also picked up some mini popcorn boxes and stuck on some customized labels. I filled them with my son’s favorite snack: popcorn!

For the cups, I just cut out these free Ninjago Eyes. I’ve uploaded a PDF here for download and set them atop some colored square plates.
For added value, thrown in some chopsticks!


ninjago party

For party favors, I did a very standard colored gable box and pasted circle dots on them to make them look like Lego bricks. I found some affordable Lego colored gable boxes on Amazon. You can kind of see them sitting on the dessert table.

I purchased these really awesome ceramic minifigures that you can paint from eBay. The seller offers premade favors with brushes and paint but I opted to purchase my own once again through the amazing online mecca that is Amazon.




While I love crafting, I am at best a mediocre baker. I wanted to have a cool birthday cake but I wasn’t going to pay an arm and a leg for it and I wasn’t going to successfully produce one–at least not this year. Here is an awesome tip to get a custom cake through Safeway. At my local Safeway (and others I’ve been to), sometimes, the decorator is willing to customize the cake for you with no additional charge so long as the cake structure retains its existing shape. What does that mean? I know our Safeway makes dome cakes which in theory could be the head of a ninja. I showed the a similar photo and asked them if they would decorate the cake in that way. The cake came out so great and it only cost me $25. Personally, I like Safeway cakes and this one was a chocolate cake with fresh strawberries and whipped filling. Good enough for me, good enough for my kid.

ninjago cake

Additionally, you can preorder any set of 10 or 24 cupcakes ahead of time with any color frosting you want. I ordered them with the Ninjago colors and that made dessert so much easier and affordable.

Okay, so if you’ve read through this blog, you know we love piñatas and ever since I made my first one a few years ago, I’ve been hooked. Initially, my thoughts are to make a piñata of one of the characters–presumably Lloyd Garmadon. When I solicited this idea to my son, he said we should do Lord Garmadon because if we’re going to be attacking the piñata, it should be Garmadon. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea but it made sense and we went with it. If you want to get an idea of how I made my first piñata, check out my post about our Octonauts Party

Mostly, I’ve used cardboard but with Garmadon, I tried a different route and used foam core. This was not a good idea because the structure did not hold as well and was not as easy to bend so piñata making tip: use cardboard.

I didn’t go all out and make the food ninja-themed but we did order some Chinese. We used a company here in the area called GoGo Cater which for a small delivery fee, will drive and set up the food for you. It helped save time and me attempting to cook for 100 guests. I supplemented the food with an Asian salad. Sometimes it’s a good idea just to have the food catered but you can supplement the sides or what not.

I also picked up this amazing Ninjago shirt from H&M. It’s those shirts made from sequins and it flips into another image. This one flips back and forth between Lloyd and Kai.

Lastly, check out my Zazzle store for a Ninja Themed Party Invitation!

ninja party invite


Super Mario Brothers Themed Carnival Party

When it comes to celebrations for my kids, I like to go all out without going all out. Like any normal middle-class family, we have to have to budget the costs as well as our time when it comes to throwing a party.

This year, my youngest is turning four and I asked him what kind of party he wanted. Naturally, he made it difficult with a request of a Super Mario Brothers themed carnival party. He loves Mario and he loves carnival type games. Anything that requires you to throw something to knock down, he’s into it.

Fortunately my sister-in-law is also down with celebration chaos and together we dived deep into a rabbit hole of DIY carnival ideas and games. We decided to create eight stations of carnival games and deck them out with Super Mario Brothers decorations. Since it was summer, we were able to rent a picnic area at our local park and serve some BBQ.

Rather than rent expensive carnival looking tents, we used our blue pop up tents and added “curtains” with red table cloths from the local DollarTree. This was an easy an inexpensive way to create a carnival feel without breaking the bank. It also helps that Super Mario Brothers use a primary color scheme.

In each tent, we split it in half into two games. I bought wooden dowels and pounded them down into the grass and bought some colorful pennants from Amazon, cut them up and used them as game dividers between each tent.

Unfortunately, I forgot to get a good photo of the tents but you get the idea:


Big Boo Balloon Darts (Ballon Darts Game)
Out of all the games, this was our pièce de résistance: the balloon dart game. My SIL and I labored away at this game and it was actually a big hit! We used a foam core board and some water balloons to create this game. If you wanted to, you could essentially stab a bunch of holes into a foam core and stick the balloons wherever you wanted. Wanting it to look cleaner and more cohesive, we measured, lined up and color coordinated. We made two of them and mounted it onto a kid easel. I happened to have some old darts from an electric dart board and used those for the kids to throw. The hard work paid off because this was definitely the favorite of the carnival.
*While these are darts are not super sharp, parental supervision at this game is definitely required*

Super Mario Can Toss (Milk Jug Toss)
I cut out some N logos and taped them to some plastic cups. The kids used whiffle balls to knock down the tower.

Toad Bowl (Inflatable bowling)
This was just an giant inflatable bowling game we happened to have.

Bucket Bowl Toss
We used stakes and I cut out some mushrooms and added a point system. Taped them down to some DollarTree (yay!) planters and the kids had to toss balls into them.

Star Corn Hole
I looked into ordering a custom corn hole but they are not budget friendly. Instead, we took an existing corn hole and added the star design to it to make it more “Mario”.

Warp Pipe Ring Toss
I picked up some noodles and cut them half and staked some dowels into the grass and put the noodles over them for an easy ring toss game.

CheepCheep Fish Bowl (Fish Bowl Game)
You know that really annoying ping pong fish bowl game that you can never win at? We made a dumbed down version of that as well.

Basketball Game
I really wanted to do a basketball type game and decided to DIY our own.
From the very resourceful DollarTree store, I purchased a tri-fold presentation board and two basketball hoop games. I designed and printed out a new background for the the board and hoops with the infamous question mark blocks.

To secure them onto the board, I used zip ties and threaded them to the back of the board. We also had to tape down the whole thing onto a table since it needed to be weighed down.

We also hung these guys on the trees but didn’t get a picture of them.

A lot of times, I focus a lot on the feature table but at a park and battling the elements, sometimes you just have to make it work and it kind of becomes “Ugly Delicious”. It has all the makings of a nice table, just not visually pleasing.

The kids also got to wear some Super Mario themed visors.

As part of the favors, I made some bookmarks and attached them to coordinate with Pocky/Prez. flavors: Chocolate, Strawberry and Pretzel.

Hope you enjoyed reading our party as much as we had planning it!


A DIY Octonauts Birthday Party

My son and I discovered a book series called “The Octonauts” at the library about two years ago. I immediately loved the cute, adorable characters and my son loved the stories. We found 3 different titles there and he became obsessed. We then discovered that it was turned into a show with the best end of the show jingle: “Creature Report.” You all know what I’m talking about. We also found out the author is a design agency based in San Francisco called Meomi.

When my older son turned five, I asked him what kind of party he was interested in having and he told me, “Octonauts party!” I excitedly started brainstorming in my head some fun ideas. This year, we decided to invite all of his classmates in addition to our regular group of friends and family so we rented a park building which is a great alternative if you need a larger space during the winter birthdays.

Unfortunately, “The Octonauts” aren’t popular enough to have too many party supplies readily available. We had to channel our inner-DIY guru to generate some fun Octoanuts birthday ideas.

The Invite
I had really enjoyed the style the characters were originally drawn for the book and wanted to apply that to the invite design. I found a desktop wallpaper and did some photoshoshopping to the image and added more waves so the background felt continuous and had my local print shop print them out for me.


The Decor
I wanted to give a feel of The Octonauts and the ocean feel without blatantly doing that. I remembered Oh Happy Day’s big fringe garlands and had always wanted to use that idea in a party. They kind of reminded me of large kelp but I wanted to maintain a blue scheme that mimicked more of an ocean. The twists and fringe texture gave it that lovely feel of motion (of the ocean. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself). We used some 1″ wooden dowels and taped the end of the fringe to the dowels. We then mounted about 4 of these small 3M wire hooks to the wall. We then nested the dowels onto the hooks to hold the fringe up. This made for a fairly easy set-up and break down; much easier than setting up my PVC frame at least.

I promised myself in the beginning that I wouldn’t redraw these characters but I couldn’t find large enough images to print out so I did end up redrawing them and printing out the characters that floated above. They are about 13×19″.

Octonauts decoration
DIY jellyfish has to be one of the most satisfying DIY projects ever. They are incredibly easy to make and very affordable. In the book, there are some imagery of these light pink jellyfish and I wanted to incorporate that into the decor. After researching a few DIY jellyfish projects, I ended up using the one from Party City//tutorial here.

I made Kwazii’s telescope out of some mail tubes and gold duct tape. Another inexpensive party favor that is great are the bubble wands, or bubble swords as we called them.


Each kid received a little Peso Medical Kit favor box mostly for collecting goodies from the breaking of the piñata. This idea is a pretty standard Octonauts party favor idea but it’s such a great and easy idea, why reinvent the wheel?


Also really easy are these tissue paper corals. If you have ever made Tissue Poms Tutorial, it’s the same technique except you cut a long triangular pattern and to make them sit, you just only pull out half of the tissue. They reminded me of sea anemone!


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Food & Cake
For the food, it wasn’t very Octonauts themed. I just wanted to be able to serve some semi-decent food for a large party that could be easily made, but you can also have fun with the naming conventions.


Because of my both my sons’ food allergies, I ended up making a lot of food. It may seem like a lot but with some careful planning, it’s actually not too bad and much more economical for a large party.
– Garden salad consisting of romaine lettuce from Costco and peeled carrots
– Minestrone soup made from home with fresh veggies and ground turkey
– Meatball subs (more for the adults). I bought packs of hoagies from Safeway. They were like $2 for a bag of 6–such a deal. Cooked them with some spaghetti sauce and frozen meatballs from Costco. Topped it off with some mozzarella and stuck it in the oven. Super easy and tasty.
– Cheese pizza and baked chicken nuggets from Costco (Costco was my food hero for this party)
– Fruit bowl made by my mother- in- law. Fruit ALSO from Costco.
– Veggie straws
– A whole mess of chocolate chip cookies. I made them earlier in the week and froze them and them baked them they day before. Still tasted just as good.

For the cake, there was a request for a “Kelp Cake”. In the book/show, vegimals love to bake kelp cakes. These guys right here:

kelp cake
I am by no means any sort of a baker. I can only bake cookies and that was after practicing the same recipe for a year! I decided to attempt it. Granted, it isn’t going to win any sort of Food Network bake-off contest but I think at the end of the day, my goal was, “when you look at this kelp cake, does he make you smile?”
kelp cake
We also picked up these short cakes from Safeway for everyone to design and eat their own kelp cake. The kids loved doing this. I provided some sliced fruit, whipped cream, sprinkles and some frosting for the kids to draw the kelp cake faces on. Definitely a hit.

We didn’t have to have too many activities because we were at a park but a few things we did do was bubbles, cloud dough and the piñata. (I originally had a pin the eyepatch on Kwazii too but I forgot the eye patch. womp womp.) A bubble machine and a large bubble wand goes a long way.

*Party Tip*  Face painting and balloons are awesome–and also awesomely expensive. We rented a helium tank for $65 and bought our own balloons online. The tank blew up over 100 balloons. For face painting, we asked a friend’s creative teenage daughter to lend her artistic skills. She isn’t a professional face painter but you could’ve fooled us! We were very thankful to have her help.


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I thought it would be fun for the kids to dig up some sea creatures in sand but I didn’t want to do sand so a friend suggested I make some cloud dough. It kind of feels like kinetic sand and as much as they advertise how less messy it is, it will be messy. However, we were outdoors and it was easier (and cleaner) to make cloud dough than to buy sand. I found a good recipe on Pinterest but essentially it is just flour and vegetable oil.


The DIY Kwazii Piñata
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Make your own piñata?? Are you crazy?? I will just preface this section that it isn’t that hard to make and it’s a lot of fun, especially if you like to craft. If you don’t, find a friend that does because I guarantee you, they’ll get a kick out of it. Initially, I wasn’t going to have a piñata, but then I thought it might be fun to have fun one. I searched high and low for a decent Octonauts piñata. I found some on Etsy but they weren’t that great for the price I had to pay and I was already behind on time for shipping. I YouTubed some videos to get an idea of how those big number piñatas were made and decided to apply that same technique.

Being a graphic designer has its benefits. I was able to redraw Kwazii’s silhouette and blow it up as a template to trace onto cardboard.


You will need two of the templates. One for the front and one for the back.

Next, you cut about 2-3″ cardboard strips and using masking tape, tape down the strips to the other side. If you are like my husband, this would be very clean and neat. If you’re me, it will be done very haphazardly with no intent of consistency. Either way, it don’t matter; it will all be covered up. I would also recommend not to tape it too well because if kids are hitting this piñata, you don’t need it to be that strong.


For the body, I bought two large rolls of orange crepe paper and cut along the sides like the photo below. Using a sponge brush and tacky glue, my piñata making assistant and I proceeded to glue down the crepe paper. She sat on one side while I sat on the other and just passed the crepe paper along. It’s also fine if it’s not done in one long stretch but it will feel more seamless if you can. Also remember to start from the bottom and work your way up since it will be layered from the top.

diy pinata

When you’re done, cut a hole up top and proceed to fill with cavity inducing goodies.

For the face, I just print and cut them out. I thought the details would be too intricate to use crepe paper on and this kind of made it easier to do.

The look on my son’s face was priceless when I showed him the complete piñata. It was totally worth it.
Now came the sad part, the destruction of all your hard work…

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I can’t believe this little guy is already five. Time flies so I better make the best of these moments. Celebrations are one of my love languages and boy do I love this little guy! I hope you guys enjoyed our Octonauts journey and may yours been just as grand.
“Octonauts at ease! Until the next adventure!”

octonauts party


Invitations, Paper Goods, Pinata – Rachel Of JolieJolie
Decoration Supplies (large crepe paper) – PaperMart
Pink jellyfish lanternsAmazon and Party City for the crepe paper
Peso Medical Box – PaperMart
BalloonsBargain Balloons
Big number piñatas inspiration by Sorry Girls
Party City jellyfish instructions
Big fringe garlands by Oh Happy Day


Golden State Warriors Birthday Party

My youngest one recently turned two and we decided last minute to throw him a birthday party. He loves sports which is great for us because we are a big sports family. He particularly loves baseball and basketball and since the Golden State Warriors had just won the 2015 championships, we decided to throw him a Dub Nation party. Having two kids and not much outside help, I really had to limit myself in the party planning process. As much as I love doing it, I had to set some boundaries (or more like my husband had to :)).

I think the natural idea for any type of sports themed party is to do ticket invites so I had a little photoshoot with my little guy, added some blue lasers in photoshop and off to the presses it went. A friend had donated her laminator to me and I had been going crazy doing some DIY foiling with it. We also got lucky as USPS just released some awesome looking Wilt Chamberlin stamps. Also sent an invite to my homey, Steph Curry cuz you know, we tight like that. 😛


 Since it was summer, we had the party at a nearby park. Everyone came decked out in their Warriors gear.

Decorations at a park are a pain so we just went with some simple blue and yellow decor. The fun part for me was redrawing the starting line up in this chibi-like cartoons. I really get a kick out of redrawing anyone and anything into these little characters. It’s a weird hobby of mine.


By the way, my Silhouette Portrait cut these bad boys out. I never have to buy another birthday banner again, EVAR.


Years and years ago, at the advice of a friend, my husband bought me a button machine for my birthday. Initially, he didn’t understand what in the world I would use a button machine for. Well, DH, it is to make awesome button party favors for our son’s birthday, obvis.



Now let me tell you about this double shot basketball hoop. I searched around to see how much it would cost to rent this thing. Everywhere I checked was going upwards of $350 for 2 hours. $350??? I figured a used one on eBay must be less. Fortunately for me, it was on sale on Amazon for a whopping $160. Add to Cart. Done. Despite the brunt of building it and dragging it to the park, it was a hit. My son LOVED it. He couldn’t even reach it but he absolutely loved it. I’ll admit, my husband and I stayed up a few nights duking it out as well. Great for kids AND adults!



 As my kids get older, there has to be a little more entertainment at these parties. We brought out our Little Tikes hoops for some toddler balling action.



Food. Food is very important. There must always be enough, and there must always be a ton left. We hired an amazing taco cart guy who made their tortillas fresh ON THE SPOT. It was some legit tacos. We also had a few other more kid-friendly snacks. Would’ve loved to have made some basketball-themed food but time got in the way.







Happy Birthday, little one! Keep practicing and most importantly, enjoy playing!!

GSW party details

Golden State Warriors Thank You Card



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