Gigi's camping party and 2 creative ways to use paper lunch bags

happy birthday Gigi I hope you enjoy this little party re-cap-- scroll down for a couple of easy DIY party projects.

Friday night was Gigi's birthday party-- her first drop-off party with a slew of little girls . It was lovely. Having only done parties where the whole family was invited in the past, I wasn't sure what to expect.

But with only my two little ones to get in the way of the big girls, the 5-7-year old crowd was remarkably easy to coordinate. The girls had a blast. My next-door neighbors were the only adults to stay and hang out and we had a great time with them-- and I enjoyed passing off my camera to one of them who offered to photograph the event.

camping party-3-2

I love photography, but it was so refreshing to not have to be the one doing all documenting. He took dozens of photos (including ones of me-- shocking!) and I got to focus on Gigi and the girls instead of my camera.

When I saw this party on a friend's blog, I knew it would be the perfect way to sway Gigi away from a character-themed party (gag me!) and it was true. She loves camping, and well, I had her at s'mores for dessert (and hey, we still had a Frozen sing-along around the campfire).

camping party-4

The meat of the party consisted of a "tent"-- an EZ-up with sheets tucked in and clothes-pinned around the sides. Inside were blankets to sit on, and the girls got to do finger-style rainbow looming, decorate wooden clipboards with camping-themed stickers and then use those for coloring printable coloring sheets that I found on Pinterest. The clipboards were their party favors.

camping party-5

camping party-8

Gigi was dying for face painting, so while the girls (+ Brody) worked on their art projects and snacked (see below), I also painted their cheeks. They all looked loved.

camping party-14

The kids also did a backyard scavenger hung -- finding a bug was the big challenge there. ;)

camping party-2-2

For food, we served up organic hot dogs, caesar salad (Gigi's favorite), watermelon, chips & dip, carrot sticks and juice boxes, along with the super fun build-your-own trail mix bar (honey roasted peanuts, dried cranberries, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, almonds & raisins), which was a hit.

camping party-9

Gigi opened her presents around the fire pit, and then we lit the fire for dessert. While I ran inside to grab the sweets, the girls were getting a bit restless. "Why don't you guys sing Let it Go" was enough to send them into a contented singing frenzy. When I returned, I took a moment to pray for dear Gigi before we got to roasting.

camping party-12

camping party-11

Dessert couldn't have been easier-- s'mores around the "campfire" and of course, we sang to Gigi over a flaming marshmallow instead of candle.

camping party-10

She had a wonderful time, and I loved seeing my big girl so happy. Her actual birthday is May 7, so I'm looking forward to another special day of simple celebrating. Special thanks to my parents for letting us have the party in their backyard.

And now for a little DIY.

Being the classic ENFP that I am, I had great visions (and lots of inspiring pins) for this party, but of course, I waited till the last minute to do everything. So there I was, the morning of the party, trying to create a cute paper bunting by Gigi's request, and naturally, my Cricut wouldn't work. I threw in the towel, disappointed.

It was later, that I came up with an even better solution. I cut off the tops of some brown paper lunch bags to make little snack bags, and when I looked at the top halves sitting in a pile, I wondered what we could do with them. Inspiration struck and sure enough, they made a perfectly rustic bunting that Gigi loved (and got to help make).

paper bag DIYs

2 ways to use paper lunch bags for rustic party décor

These are fun projects to do with your child!


Trail mix bags for a build-your-own trail mix bar

The first thing we made was the snack backs. I cut off the tops of the bags leaving a short bag about 3-4" tall. Gigi labeled them for "trail mix" and then I hole punched two holes in the front side to tie a little baker's twine bow through for a dash of cuteness.Voilà!

Rustic bunting

Take the paper bag tops and gently fold them in half where their seam is and trim off a diagonal piece leaving you with a slightly triangular bottom.

Have your kid label each one with a letter (on the side without the seam)-- ours said "CAMP GIGI!" on it in two colors.

camping party-1-2

Punch two holes in each pennant and then lay them out on the ground. Measure a piece of raffia and a piece of baker's twine long enough to span the pennants and have about a foot of extra on each end. Thread twine/raffia through the pennants.

camping party-7

Hang to display! Ours went on the front of our art "tent" and then we saved it to hang over Gigi's bed. I love simple these projects were and that Gigi could get involved. Sometimes when technology doesn't cooperate, we all win.

camping party-13

Happy camping!

From old tablecloth to BBQ cover {a repurposing tutorial}

David and I both grew up camping and have been camping all throughout our marriage. Our classic red-gingham check tablecloth has been with us these last ten years and has seen scores of campgrounds. tablecloth in 2004

Here we are, so young and sun-kissed, camping at the beach with some dear friends of ours (miss you guys!), playing one of our favorite games (we love this vintage version), on our traditional tablecloth.

This year, we decided it was maybe time to give the ol' table covering a new life. It's covered many a table and despite its durability, it's starting to look a little worn. I knew it wasn't destined for the trash can though. I had other plans in mind...

old tablecloth :: new BBQ cover

David loves his grill. It's compact enough for our little patio and for taking on camping trips, but it serves us well and grills our food nicely. Our patio is partially covered but the grill has still has to endure some weathering and it was longing for a cover. So why buy when you can repurpose?

Here's how I repurposed a table cloth into a BBQ cover.

BBQ Cover-1

First, I draped the tablecloth over the BBQ inside out. Instead of using pins which would have poked big holes in the plastic, I used clothespins to roughly fit the tablecloth to the grill, being careful that the opening would be big enough to go over the biggest part. This was no exact science.

BBQ Cover-3

I flattened out out the top into a triangle to make a boxed seam (like in the bottom of a tote bag- you can see details on how to make the squared bottom of a bag here). I pinned this with clothespins, too. I'll show you that corner again later.

BBQ Cover-4

Next, I sewed the side seams, using a slightly longer stitch than normal (size 3.0 on my machine).

BBQ Cover-5

I took my roughly-pinned box corners and made them nice and flat and drew a line with ball point pen from pin to pin. I sewed from pin to pin along the marked line to make a nice square corner. You can see a close up of this seam up above in this post.

BBQ Cover-8

(Thanks to my adorable assistant.)

BBQ Cover-6

And I'm so pleased with the finished product!

BBQ Cover-7


Affiliate links included. Thanks!

Make a lovely watercolor bunting

watercolor bunting | Yesterday Gigi decided she was going to make a Christmas bunting. She started haphazardly cutting out triangles from scrap paper but then after a few, discarded it in favor of some other activity. Eventually the scraps were forgotten and she recycled them.

watercolor bunting-1

Well, I loved her idea. I'm almost as big of a fan of buntings and garlands as my friend Melissa.

After a particularly rough homeschool day, I thought the afternoon would be a good time for some directed art. I set up watercolor supplies on the kids' table outside and when quiet play time was over, I asked her if she wanted to make a bunting together.

watercolor bunting-3

watercolor bunting-4

Gigi painted a red and a green page, which I then cut into triangles and punched (she didn't have the patience or interest in that step, and let's be honest, the perfectionist in me was glad because then I got to make nicely shaped pennants!).

watercolor bunting-5

watercolor bunting-6

Hallee was my personal assistant.

watercolor bunting-7

watercolor bunting-8

Then Gigi got to use my sharpies (such a thrill for her!) to write out the letters to spell Merry Christmas. She did this part all by herself, and then I strung the triangles on baking twine. It's the perfect decoration for our staircase, hung with a bit of washi tape.

watercolor bunting-9

I'm not always the most excited about kids' crafts, so this was a perfect compromise. We each got to use our respective skills, we worked together, and we created a little masterpiece. And, no tantrums involved... double success!

watercolor bunting-10

Autumn leaf twig tree tutorial at The Art of Simple

fabric leaves-6 Have you heard the news? Simple Mom is now The Art of Simple. I love the new vision for Tsh's site and I'm happy that I'll be continuing to write over there. Here's the video she published to promote the re-branding. See anyone you recognize? (Hint: Tsh doesn't live by the beach, but I do!)

Today I have a post up with a fall-ish tutorial for even the most inexperienced sewista.

Head over to The Art of Simple for the autumn leaf twig tree tutorial


Handmade Memory Game

memory game This post was originally published Jan 25, 2011. It is still one of my favorite homemade kids' gifts that I've made. These little photo memory games were for my daughter and my niece, who were both three and a half at the time.

memory game-2

It was simple, yet did take a little time. First, I started with a sweet, embroidered zipper pouch. I use Cindy's pattern over at Skip to My Lou. If you're not a sewista yourself, you could easily use a store-bought bag, or repurpose something to hold the cards.


Then I packed it full of family photo cards!

I printed out wallets (they come in 4-packs, which was perfect since I needed 2 of each photo for each girl), pasted/stuck them to cardstock and then laminated them for longevity (I do mine at a local teacher supply store).


Add a few directions, and voila!

memory game-4

I loved this gift because Gigi was just starting to get into games, and she really loves looking at photos. It gave her a way to connect to her cousins near and far, too. :) We still play this game, almost three years later, with all three kids. Although we've since added 7 (!!) new kiddos to the extended family, so it might be time for an update...