Party planning – easy decor for our transport party

Soย  one of the main reasons I buy party printable packs is because the decor is practically done for you.

I’m not the most artistic/ creative person in the world so I need some help.

This year when we decided on a transport theme, I started hoarding some things that I knew we could use for decor.

  1. puzzles the kids had outgrown
  2. books with a transport theme
  3. biscuit tins from my pantry cupboard
  4. “vintage” suitcase my husband used about 20 years ago ๐Ÿ™‚

Once my focus was on everything transport, I also started noticing things like cookie cutters and the airplane craft kit on Pinterest.

On the day, I initially only left out “transport toys” just to set the stage but of course, with the weather being as terrible as it was (I think it was 14 that day), all the other toys were eventually used to keep the kids entertained inside.

It all came together beautifully – see for yourself.

car biscuits (cookies)

And I think that’s a wrap.

I never make a big deal about a cake mostly because I don’t bake and I can’t see the point of paying a fortune for someone to make one. Teehee ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s your favourite part of party planning?

PS Here are the first three parts 1, 2 and 3

My favourite part of party planning, the party favours

It’s true – doing the party favours are my favourite part of the party process.

This year our theme was transport so this is what I put in the bags:

  1. airplane craft kit (craft pegs and sticks)
  2. little car
  3. tracing and colouring book from 1 – 10, all of transport (googled like mad on the internet for two hours one day until I found something suitable)
  4. crayons (I took the crayons and put them in a little plastic lidded cup)

I do it like a conveyor belt – I line up all the things and package them one by one.

White paperย bags are from the Flower Spot in Woodmead – R15 for 10 – and the thank-you closures are part of the etsy printable set. I also glued some 1-inch transport circles from the party printable set onto the front of the bags.

the party favours
top view
instructions for airplane craft kits
airplane craft kits
thank-you notes

I don’t give sweets and these were still a big hit with the little guests and their moms.

My kids were so upset that they didn’t get any party favours that I had to make up some bags for them afterwards ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s your feeling about party favours? Do you do them? Not? What do you put in them?

Party Planning – learning from last year’s mistakes

I’m a girl who loves to get “real” mail in my letterbox.

And by real mail, I mean personal stuff, not bills.

So last year I painstakingly wrote out about 15 – 16 envelopes and sent out handwritten party invitations.

Do you know that was the most stressful part of having a party? I even wrote that I would NEVER send out party invites in the mail EVER again.

Strong language? Yes.

I think 3 people RSVPd within a day and the rest didn’t RSVP until I hounded them about 3 weeks later.ย  About 3 people didn’t ever bother to RSVP.

That’s why I felt so strongly about not mailing out the invites this time.

This year I took the etsy invite and made it into a jpg so that I could “write on it” in Picasa (Google’s free photo editing programme).


And then I emailed it out to all the guests.

This year I only had to chase up 2 of them. Again, 1 just didn’t respond so I’m getting the hint ๐Ÿ™‚

The whole thing was so much less painful than last year.

This is the way to go!

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like South Africans care about getting things in the mail.

Is it the same where you live?


While I love, love, LOVE to send out “proper” thank-you notes, I was leaving for the USA 4 days after the kids’ party and I knew that was going to be unrealistic what with all the holiday preparations needed.

So I did the same trick of “writing” the thank-you notes in Picasa.

I did individual thank-you notes, attached some pics of each particular guest (and of my kids using the gift if it was already in use) and emailed out about 12 sets of thank-you notes.

Oh my gosh, it was a mission.

In retrospect, it would probably have been quicker to hand write them like I did last year. But that’s just because my internet was so slow that particular weekend.

Last year I sent out thank-you notes, and then I sent out professional photos taken at the party.

As with the invites I wasn’t quite sure if the thank-you notes arrived but most people thanked me for the photos.


What have I learnt this year?

  1. Definitely email the party invitations
  2. Not sure about the emailed thank-you notes. As Gretchen Rubin says in The Happiness Project, she realised that she likes to do certain things that other people don’t really care about. So too it is with me and thank-you notes. I do realise that lots of people don’t care one way or the other (a family member told me not to bother sending her a thank-you… I did one anyway) but I felt like something was missing in the email. We had one present after the birthday and for that one, we mailed a paper thank-you and I feel much better ๐Ÿ™‚

Where do you fall on the email vs mailed party invitations and thank-you notes?

Mind you, I do see a growing trend of text invites and thank-yous and I’m being very old-fashioned here, but to me, that just doesn’t sit right ๐Ÿ™‚

My kids’ 3rd birthday party – all the party planning details

First of all, can you believe my children are 3?

I remember them being born, the entire first year, and then the next two years just flew by!

Last year, what worked really well for me is getting the party printables from an etsy shop and I decided not to mess with a good thing and just keep doing what worked.

I bought this set and again, I was very happy with the results. The transport theme was great especially for people like me who can’t commit to one theme ๐Ÿ™‚

We had the party at home again, invited all our friends and family and prepared for the onslaught of toddlers ๐Ÿ™‚

I rented a little electric beetle car which proved to be a huge hit with the boys despite the terrible weather (really, it was one of the coldest days of the year).

I also had a little colouring in station inside the house and of course all the kids’ toys were available too.

This year we decided not to have a professional photographer and it worked out just fine. Looking through my pics I also just decided I’m not about the party pics ๐Ÿ™‚ There is so much busyness and it’s a rare picture that’s good!

This year I also didn’t bother with a proper cake – the cake is just not my thing. I’m the exact opposite of my sister who plans the cake first and even practises her baking and decorating skills a week or two before the time.

Any questions or things you’re curious about?

Coming up

How I did invites and thank-you notes this year

Food and decor

Party favours

Party planning 5 – thank-you notes

I have a thing about thank-you notes.

As in, I really believe stronglyย about being grateful and showing your gratitude to others.

I’m also super-fussy (!) about the format in that I like real thank-you notes written out by hand.

I think it’s because my love languages are words of affirmation and acts of service, and when I receive some lovely words in a card that someone has taken the time to write out, I feel so, SO appreciated.

Pure love!

I want others to feel that way too. I just don’t think a quickly-fired off text message/ email is enough to show our gratitude.

(if you’re bristling, please tell me why and remember this is MY opinion)


Strangely for things given to me, I don’t mind sending an email. Hmmm…


I know this is not always possible but I will do my best for as long as possible, and then the babies will have to take over and do their own cards.

As an aside, a work friend gave the kids some hand-me-down tools that her boys didn’t want anymore.

When I brought these tools home for the kids, they were over the moon.

That evening, I phoned my friend and had the kids say, “thank you, Aunty Annelize, for the tools” – she LOVED getting the message.

And then I handed a pencil to each of them and told them to “write thank-you to Aunty Annelize” on a blank card.

They made a few scribbles, I labelled them with their names, and then wrote in a thank-you note around their “words”.

Very cute and the next day she loved it.

It’s still displayed on her desk. Actually, would you like to see a pic?

Back to the party.

So of course, after our party, I had to write out about 13 or so notes.

Most from the party but we also had gifts sent from family and people who couldn’t make the party.

These were all part of the same printables set from the PaperGlitter etsy store.

This is how I do mass thank-yous. I’m sharing lots of detail because I like detail. Skim over it if it’s not your thing.

  1. On the night of the party, I take pics of each present with the card. This is for my memory so I don’t thank Susan for a puzzle she didn’t gift us! Also, the act of positioning and taking the photos seals it in my mind and I’ve rarely had to look back and check on things. But still, it’s there if I need it.
  2. I then count up how many cards I need to write out.
  3. I take out all the cards and envelopes and address the envelopes.
  4. If we’re seeing any of those people in the next week, I’ll keep it back to go by hand.
  5. Otherwise, I put the postal addresses on the envelope, with stamps, ready for my note.

And then the writing starts.

I like to be really specific. I learnt years and years ago on some management training that to say “great, well done” is not as meaningful as “well done for remembering to phone and give the client feedback”, for example.

And so my cards are quite specific, not just a “thank you for the present”.

Also, for me, it’s not just about the gift, it’s more about how people took time out of their busy lives and came to celebrate the birthday with us.

You may have guessed I’m quite passionate about time!

Over to you.

Do you do thank-you cards, text messages, FB messages, email, or nothing? Do you have a specific preference?

Party planning 1 – venue

My twins had their second birthday party on Saturday and it was one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve thrown.

I thought I’d share a bit about the party over a series of posts.

That sound good?

I may have mentioned to a friend or 10 last year that I’d never have another party at home.

Well, never say never.

The reason I wouldn’t want to have a party at my house is because of all the work.

However, when I looked into possible party venues, the prices put me off, big-time! They were R1800 on average.

The next idea was then to have it at a park which is free BUT we would have had the same amount of work carrying things to and fro and no quick alternative if the weather turned bad.

So we decided to have it at home.

If I have a perfectly good backyard, why not?

It also gave us some much-needed motivation to get the back of the house painted for the pictures. (I am nothing if not practical)

Jhb winter weather is traditionally beautiful – clear, sunny days, just cold, but we’ve had verrrrrry cold weather and that worried me a bit.

On the other hand, what’s the worse that could happen?

Terrible weather conditions and the kids run around inside my house instead of outside.

(Yes, I’m twitching but honestly, if that’s the worse problem I have, then I’m blessed, right? And I am)

It was a great decision and I’ve decided to have it here as long as I can.

All I did was get the cleaning lady, Nester (yes, that’s really her name), and our nanny, Viola, in to help out.

This was one of the best decisions as a few hours before the party I was still able to have a cup of tea and some toast, and do some reading!

On the day of my kids’ party!

Some things we did that I would say helped:

  1. asked people to bring some extra chairs, picnic blankets and a table
  2. separate food and drink stations so things wouldn’t be cluttered
  3. got cleaning lady to tidy up and sweep the morning of the party (our gardener had been on the Tuesday before but it needed a freshening up)
  4. set out playing zones – swing/ slide set, motorbikes, sandpit and other outside toys like trucks, balls, etc.

Are party venues a big thing where you live? Or do you have parties at home?

Last year’s party post

Organising a children’s party

My babies turned 1 on Wednesday.

My husband and I were very undecided as to whether we wanted to have a party or not (him, because he doesn’t like crowds and me, because I don’t like mess :)) but then we decided to do it because, well, we survived the first year!

As a friend wrote on my Facebook status update, that’s the worse of the sleep deprivation behind you. And I said, “amen to that!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, I thought I’d share some things that worked well, and also those that didn’t, in the hope that this list will help someone out there.

Decide on exactly what you want and stick to your plan

Not only is there less stress when you know what you want (and more importantly, what you don’t want) but the focus helps you “see” your theme everywhere.

We knew that we wanted a small and intimate party and that made it easy to decide on a small number of people. We also decided on a polka dot theme and I saw suitable foods, etc. everywhere – marshmallows, cupcakes, Salticrax with toppings, etc.

Decide on a budget

This is the part I did very well. And I still could have done better (see food story below).

I planned everything beforehand and was not swayed when I got to the party store as I had my list and knew I only needed x, y and z ๐Ÿ™‚

I normally don’t like the “waste” of paper plates and polystyrene cups but felt it was a necessity to save me time and energy later.

Get creative

Google is my best friend!

I googled ideas and found beautiful, beautiful parties by much more creative people than I am, or ever will be.

But they inspired me to get a little bit more creative than I would normally be.

Also, ask your friends for ideas – you’ll be surprised at what pops up.

Make a gift list

We didn’t have one initially because we really didn’t want people to feel obliged to buy two of everything or even one bigger item but after about 3 – 4 requests within hours of my email invitation going out, we got cracking.

Even so we only had about 4 items on the list – clothes and the sizes they currently wear, baby hot water bottles and some age appropriate toys.

Yes, a gift list can seem a bit mercenary but it seems my friends are super-practical and the babies were blessed with some fantastic gifts that are SO useful.

Don’t over cater

I sucked big time at this. I love food and I hate to run out so I had STACKS. Literally. Only 4 people were not able to come at the last minute but still, STACKS of food left over. Yes, I handed out food parcels but my freezer and fridge are still full of food.

(I have a thing against throwing away perfectly good food when there are so many needy people so that is not an option).

Accept help – don’t feel the need to be Super woman

Asking for help is not my strong suit at all.

But I soon realised that just running around after my two would mean I wouldn’t be able to socialise with my friends or be as hospitable as I’d have liked.

I got our nanny in to help us with the babies and in between running around, she also helped with washing dishes!

My MIL baked a yummy pudding and my SIL baked cupcakes so that I could focus on baking the small cakes for the babies.

Confession – I did microwave cakes as I didn’t see the need to do a proper baked cake for kids who would eat maybe a fistful or two ๐Ÿ™‚

My children don’t ever eat sugar and this was the first time they were allowed some – individual chocolate cakes with a caramel topping. They didn’t know what came over them but (Connor especially) just DOVE into the cake. Too funny!

One of the best things we did was

Put up a Happy Birthday banner and balloons on the gate. It helped guests find our house easily once they were in the street.

While party planning is still fresh in my mind…

Please share your best things to do and not to do so I can be well prepared for next year ๐Ÿ™‚

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :