Ever since the birth of my first child (and his first birthday party) we’ve tried to make the kids’ birthday parties extra-special. Over the years, crazy party decorations have become a tradition in my house and I enjoy hearing the children recall previous birthday party themes and talking about which ones were their favorites. I’m often disappointed with the off-the-shelf options you find at your local party store. While I usually start my shopping there for certain items, much of the time, decoration creation veers into some unusual territory.
This year, my son turned eight and we thought about what he liked best of all for dessert — Little Debbie Swiss Rolls. I knew I wanted to make him a custom t-shirt to wear at the party (another tradition) featuring the Swiss Roll, but for the decorations on the dinner table, I decided to expand the theme to “The Astonishing Candy Factory!” My objective: to make a visual explosion that is every 8-year-old’s dream come true.
My first stop when decorating for a birthday is the party store to pick out plates, streamers and balloons. The plates themselves are where I usually find my color palette to select the streamers and balloons.
But then I quickly ended up at my local hardware store (Lowe’s) for the majority of the raw materials: empty paint cans, corrugated pipe, spray paint and scrap wood. Oh my! I also went by my local Garden Ridge store (which is like a big warehouse store that sells lots of “stuff” for your home) and found some amazing glass containers that I felt could be a big part in the construction of my candy machine.
After I gathered all the raw materials, the fun part began with the decorating itself.
Here you can see the fancy glass containers I found, painted scrap wood, metal cans and painted pipes. For the candy packages that are extending outside of the containers, I opened them up and emptied out the contents. You can then replace the contents with cotton (or often the package itself holds it shape just fine without contents) and you can hang them with fishing line taped to the balloons above the centerpiece. The candy SPLASHES are actually cut paper (of course, you know I have to incorporate paper art in there when I can). The trick to making those is to FOLD the paper right on the edges of your surfaces to it looks like it is dripping off. The technique is REALLY cool-looking and it’s super-easy to do.
Not shown in the pictures is another tradition in my house. The annual hiding of the Tooyu! If you don’t know what a Tooyu is, you owe it to yourself to head to my paper toy download site and build one today!
My kids loved the decorations and stood in the party room for a long time examining the details hidden in the explosion of this crazy “machine.”
For the party itself, my son wore a custom-made Swiss Roll t-shirt with pride (and has actually worn it to school a few times too since then.) I drew Swiss Rolls giving each other a high-five along with the headline “This is how I roll…” and uploaded it to cafepress.com for the printing of a one-off finished product. I encourage you to explore places like cafepress.com or zazzle.com if you didn’t know you can do this sort of thing!
Naturally, we planned to have Swiss Rolls for dessert after dinner. But you can’t be boring about the presentation after eating dinner in front of a candy factory! So we invented (perhaps) the first-ever Swiss Roll cake! (It was super-easy to make. Just set up the Swiss Rolls on their end, form them into a circle shape and tie off with a ribbon (be careful not to squeeze too tight!) For the top tier, we lopped off about a 1/4 inch of the end of the Swiss Roll before stacking so you can see the swirl inside. (Then we used the lopped-off extra pieces to accent the bottom tier.)
As is my objective with all my party decorations, I try to think outside the box and come up with a theme or motif that is unique. By looking in unusual places for the raw materials, you can save a lot of money (rather than buying supplies at an actual party store with its limited options).
I hope this post inspires you to invent your own wacky decorations for your next party!
Want to see more of my birthday party decorations?
Is so, please SHARE this article with your friends and post comments below. I’ve been doing these sorts of party decorations for years (themes like: sunken treasure, superheroes, trains, even BUGS and RATS!) If I see lots of sharing and likes to this post on facebook, twitter and pinterest, I’ll know you want to see more so I’ll dig into my photo archive and blog more party decoration pictures in the future!