First Birthday – ‘One’derland

Last weekend, we helped out with a first birthday. The theme? Alice in Wonderland… Or ‘one’derland, if you will. 

It was a backyard party (yes, it rained…), so we focused on a few story elements to feature the theme. There was croquet with flamingo mallets, “painting the roses red” centerpieces, playing card guards welcoming the guests, storybook pages lining the tent, and (my favorite part) a tweedledee and tweedledum character cutout custom-made by Offbeat Occasions!

Check out the pictures below!  We are happy to share some tips of how everything was made, so leave us a comment to let us know what you like!

   
    
    
   

Calendar Party

As an event planner, I LOVE being invited to parties that OTHER PEOPLE plan.  It’s so much fun for me to see the details they think of and the creativity they bring.  This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a church fundraiser “Calendar Party”, which was the idea of teenage girls in the congregation.

So what exactly is a “Calendar Party”??  It’s one of those concepts I love so much that I’m kicking myself for not coming up with on my own!!!  Basically, you get no more than 12 people together and each person picks one month of the year as “theirs”.  They then pick a holiday or common theme associated with that month and use that as inspiration for decorating a table for the party.  To use November as an example, you can choose the obvious Thanksgiving theme, the less obvious Election Day theme, get silly with a Black Friday shopping theme, or spread awareness by using Children’s Grief Awareness Day as your theme.  (Did you know Children’s Grief Awareness Day is the third Thursday of November each year?  It lands on November 19 this year!  Wear blue to raise awareness and share hope!)

hope

As a fundraising event, the heads of each table can invite friends to sit at their themed-table and participate in the party for the price of a ticket.  A ticket to the party I went to was $10 and included dinner.  That’s a pretty good deal!  The event also included a Chinese Auction, a Live Auction, bingo, and contests for “Most Creative Table” and “Most Aesthetically Pleasing Table”.

My favorite part was seeing the creativity each person used to show the theme of their table.  The January table looked like a seen from Frozen and was celebrating National Tea Month.  The April table had tiaras for their guests because they were celebrating the Royal Wedding of William and Kate.  The most creative table?  June.  The table was decorated like a beach scene and their decorator showed up dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow — they were celebrating Johnny Depp’s birthday which is in June!

jack sparrow

I didn’t get a picture of the person in costume… but I think looking at Johnny Depp’s rendition of Jack Sparrow is just as nice. Isn’t he dreamy??

 

Although I wasn’t in charge of a table, my mother was… which meant I got to help!  Hooray!  She chose February as her month and we went with a Valentine’s Day theme.  My mom had so many creative ideas!  She would show me a picture of something she wanted and we worked together to make it happen.  The next few posts will go into the “how to” part more in depth, but here’s a sneak preview at our finished product!

calendar table

Have you ever been to a Calendar Party?  Are you interested in hosting one as a fundraiser or as a fun, themed event?  Let me know and I’ll help you start planning your party today!

What’s Hatching?

If you’re scrambling for last minute ways to make Easter a big hit with the kids, You might want to give this a try!

Easter egg hunts are so much fun… Then again, I think any kind of a scavenger hunt is fun!  Anyway, my mom and I were shopping last weekend and she wanted to pick up some eggs for an Easter egg hunt for my niece and nephews. But what to put inside??  Candy, money, and cheap toys have always been the go to. But what if you don’t want to overload the kids on candy?  What if there are little ones who might swallow the tiny, cheap toy?!

That’s when we had our “a-ha” moment. RAFFLE TICKETS.   Each little egg can hold one raffle ticket. When the kids find all the eggs, they can trade their raffle tickets for prizes. It’s a win/win!

Now, here are a few tips to guarantee egg hunting success:

1. Assign each kid a color. They are only to hunt for the eggs that are their assigned color. This ensures that the older ones don’t find all the eggs before the little ones. AND you can hide the eggs in harder locations for the older kids and easier locations for the young ones. It’s genius!!! (If I do say so myself.)

2. Have a set number of prizes per kid. They can only trade their raffle ticket for one of their prizes. Maybe the oldest kid has 10 raffle tickets? Negotiate the trade so that he still gets all of his prizes. Maybe the littlest kid got distracted and only found one raffle ticket. Have a “sale” – all of his prizes for just one ticket!  Everybody’s happy. 

Now that you are armed with an awesome Easter egg hunt plan, go for it!  Make memories and giggle all day!  Be sure to share some pictures. We’d love to see your hunt!

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Everywhere…

October in the northeast is truly a treat. The air is crisp. The leaves change colors. And there’s pumpkin everything!

Some of my favorite event memories are from events that happened in the fall (including my own wedding!). Here are just a few ideas I wanted to share with you from events I’ve attended as a guest and from my very own offbeat brainstorming…

Pumpkin-themed Baby Shower

The idea is adorable, right?? I can’t take credit for it. A friend of mine had this wonderful idea and I, as a guest, loved it!

There were pictures of mom’s belly next to dad holding a big pumpkin in front of his belly. Pumpkin decorations were plentiful. Just imagine pumpkin flavored baby food, drinks, desserts, etc. It was the perfect theme for a fall shower!

Pumpkin-Themed Kids Birthday Party

Why not? Sure there are kids having princess or superhero parties… But wouldn’t a pumpkin theme be super fun for a fall birthday? You can have pumpkin carving (or painting for little ones) and they can keep their pumpkin as a favor. Serve up some toasted pumpkin seeds as a snack. Have a pumpkin tossing contest or a pumpkin rolling relay race.

Hosting a party at home not your thing? Invite everyone to meet up at a pumpkin patch! There are some great farms in the area with hayrides, slides, corn mazes, and tons of other family friendly activities!

Girls Night In

One more fun pumpkin idea for you… A girls’ night in! Grab some pumpkin flavored beer or mix up some pumpkin martinis. Bake pumpkin pie and plan some fall crafts. Pumpkin carving is always a good go-to fall craft. Maybe pick up some supplies at a craft shop and make fall-themed wreaths.

When your all tired of crafting, pop some popcorn, make some s’mores, grab a blanket, and put in your DVD of Hocus Pocus. (If you don’t have a copy, go get one!) If all the girls decide to spend the night, be sure to watch a scary movie like The Shining or Halloween… Then go get pumpkin muffins and pumpkin spice lattes in the morning! Sounds like a perfect way to spend an October weekend!

Have more pumpkin ideas? Did you try one of these ideas on your own? Comment and let us know!

Still Here!

(*crickets chirping*) It’s been awhile since the last blog post on here, but you can be sure Offbeat Occasions is still here!

It’s been a busy couple of months helping clients with weddings, corporate events, and charity events. It’s been a blast!

Stay tuned as there will hopefully be more tips and topics to share in the future.

Adventures in Pittsburgh

Valentine’s weekend. A time to stuff yourself silly with chocolates and think about all kinds of lovey-dovey stuff. (I tend to do that every weekend, but I digress.)

The past two weekends, my hubby and I had a chance to spend time together. Usually this means some sort of adventure, but this time we kept out adventures within city limits. We had so much fun that I wanted to share these date ideas with you!

Northside Noms & Art

It was a typical dreary, winter Saturday in Pittsburgh and we were itching for something to do… Something different. After watching a Rick Sebak special on Northside sandwich shoppes, we decided to take our hungry tummies in that direction. We hit up Benjamin’s Western Avenue Burger Bar [benjaminspgh.com] and OMG was it good. The staff was welcoming and friendly. The space was cozy with a fireplace and wooden floors. The food was unique and comforting. Highly recommended by this girl!

After getting our grub on, we went to the Andy Warhol Museum [warhol.org] – a Pittsburgh treasure. It was fun to see the different mediums used to create art and to learn more about Andy Warhol. Heads up: some exhibits are not meant for young eyes, so you may want to think twice before bringing the kiddos along!

Chips & Giggles

Due to work schedules, we celebrated Valentine’s Day this past Sunday. Our celebration started with grabbing dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – Mad Mex. Since I can’t have dairy, I love the fact that they offer dairy substitutes. Hooray for progressive restaurants!

Once we were properly stuffed with chips and burritos, we made our way over to the Arcade Comedy Theater in Downtown Pittsburgh. Never heard of it? Well you are missing out! For $5, we got to see hilarious, live improv comedy in a classic downtown location. Does it get any better?? Oh wait, it does. In addition to their special events, they have $5 shows every Sunday at 7pm. Want to take the kids? They offer “Penny Arcade” shows once a month that are kid-friendly. Get all the details at arcadecomedytheater.com. (Did I mention they are BYOB?!)

Hopefully this inspires you to get creative and explore Pittsburgh with your significant other, your kids, or a great group of friends!

Valentine Treat Bags

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I could write a blog about romantic get-aways or Singles Only celebrations.  BUT I had this super fun idea come to mind for a family-friendly craft project and I just HAD to share it!  Hopefully you find these treat bags as cute and easy to make as I intended them to be.

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Valentine Treat Bags

Materials needed:materials

Scissors
Construction Paper
Tape or Glue Stick
Markers
Lunch Bags
Candy

[Owl Always Love You!]

Cut two circles from white paper to make eyes.  Color pupils in the eyes.

Cut two larger circles from another color of paper (I used black).  TIP: fold the paper before cutting to get two same size circles.

Tape or glue the white circles to the color circles, then tape of glue them to the lunch bag.

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Choose two colors of paper.  Cut a large U shape from one and a smaller U shape from the other.  Tape or glue the small U to the large U, then tape or glue them to the lunch bag.

belly

Cut a small rectangle for a beak and tape or glue it to the bag.

beak
Use the same two colors of paper to cut large and small wings.  Tape or glue the small wings to the large wings, then tape or glue them to the lunch bag.

wings

Open the lunch bag and fill with as much candy as you’d like.

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Fold the top corners to the front and flip the top down.  Tape or glue in place and see your Owl come to life!!!

 owl

[Trunk Full of Love!]
Cut eyes, ears, and a trunk from the construction paper.  Tape or glue them to the lunch bag.
Fill the lunch bag with as much candy as you’d like.
Poke the top folds of the bag out to accentuate the ears.  Fold the top over to keep candy in.  Tape or glue in place and say hello to your Elephant!

elephant

[Don’t Froget Me!]
Cut spots from the construction paper.  Tape or glue them to the lunch bag.
Fill the lunch bag with as much candy as you’d like.
Fold the top of the bag to the front and tape or glue the eyes and tongue in place.  Here’s your Frog!

frog

Let your kids be creative with this project!  Use any colors you want.  Think of different animals to create.  Make it your own!  My only wish is that this craft project makes your Valentine’s Day special, fun, and easy to do.

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Did you make the craft?  Post a picture and let us know how it turned out!

Snowed In with Kiddos??

Here’s a quick blog in response to a request for things to do when you are snowed in with little ones! The cabin fever may be setting in, but hopefully you can catch a brief break from it with these three ideas.

#1 – Homemade Playdough Recipe

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I have childhood memories of making and playing with homemade Playdough. (I may have also taken a bite or two of it when no one was looking…) The fun is more in the “making” than the “playing.” Kids these days have plenty of toys and Playdough. Showing them where it comes from is sure to make a memory. Check out this recipe for how to make it: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-Playdough-Play-doh/

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#2 – Challenge House

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If your kid is bouncing off the walls with extra energy, try playing “Challenge House” to tire him out. Make a list of “challenges” that he must complete in each room of the house to earn a “token.” The challenges and tokens can really be whatever you want. The idea is just to direct his energy. Here’s an example:

 Kitchen – Hop on your right foot 5 times, hop on your left foot 5 times, touch the ground then jump in the air 5 times to earn ONE Gold Star Token

Living Room – Crawl like a baby in a circle, crawl like a baby in a circle backwards, act like a monkey, and make a sound like a cow to earn TWO Gold Star Tokens

His or Her Bedroom – Dance with your favorite stuffed animal to earn ONE Gold Star Token

Customize the challenges to fit your house and your rules!

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#3 – Happy Notes

mom_card

Put his brain to work by getting out some craft supplies (coloring paper, crayons, glue, etc.). Have him make a card for someone he loves (Grandma, Pap, cousins). While he’s doing that, ask him to name 3 things he loves about that person (ex: She makes yummy food. He reads me stories. We play Super Heros together). Write them down on a separate piece of paper, put that paper in the card he made, and mail it to that person. It will be fun when he gets a phone call a few days later from the person he loves thanking him for the sweet card!

Like I said, it’s all about directing his (or her!) energy. Give these ideas a try and let me know how they go!

Polar Vortex – Round 2

Ok, Polar Vortex – Round 2, we’re all ready for you! When Round 1 hit, we were all excited about the idea of time away from work or school. Now, it just seems cruel and endless. Last time, I spent my day indoors thinking of things I could be doing on a winter’s day.

Of course, you’d like to think you will spend the time cleaning or doing all those home repair projects you’ve been putting off. Yeah. Right. In reality, you are more likely to sit on the couch in your pajamas, munching snack foods, and watching game shows. (Or is that just me?) When you decide to move off the couch, here’s a few things you can do…

TRY A NEW HAIRSTYLE!

sock bun

Those buns on top of the head keep popping up everywhere. Wondering how to make it happen? Here’s some tips I found on how to style your hair with a sock bun: http://www.wikihow.com/Do-a-Sock-Bun.

 fishtail-braid-fixed_gal

Or you can try a fishtale braid, because… why not?

http://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/hair/hair-tips-00100000077218/page6.html

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IMPROMPTU DANCE PARTY!

riskyJDAY

Have you ever seen that famous Risky Business scene where Tom Cruise slides across the floor in his socks? Look it up. I can tell you it’s as much fun as it looks. Instead of letting the cold air bring you down, get some friends together, download a good tune, throw on a pair of socks, and have a slip-sliding dance party! (Admittedly, this idea came from an accidental combination of slippery socks and Pledge dusting spray on the floor.)

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FOOOOOOOOOD!

Um, I would be remiss if I did not advise you to utilize your time by cooking or baking some delicious treat. Duh! Cold, snowy days usually make me want comfort food. My go-to favorites are Brownie in a Mug and Homemade Pudding. Oh so good!

 [Brownie in a Mug]

 brownie in a mug

Get the recipe here: http://www.food.com/recipe/microwave-chocolate-mug-brownie-349246

[Homemade Pudding]

vanilla pudding

I LOVE this recipe! Because I can’t do dairy, I use Light Vanilla Soy Milk instead. Perfection!

http://sewhooked.com/2009/09/09/recipe-homemade-vanilla-pudding/

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This cold weather may not be fun, but hopefully these few ideas I have shared will make it bearable… perhaps, even memorable? Do you have other ideas? Feel free to leave a comment and share!

Dr. Seuss 1st Birthday Party — Recap!

After many months of planning, Saturday was the Dr. Seuss-themed 1st Birthday party for a very sweet little boy. With websites like Pinterest celebrating the possibilities of DIY projects and parties, 1st Birthdays have come a long way from watching the kid smash some cake in the family’s kitchen. And this particular party was truly a Pinterest pinner’s dream!

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To make an event “Offbeat”, I look at what the traditional elements of the occasion are and think of ways to make them… different. In this case, the baby’s mom was right there with me creating all kinds of ideas! Bouncing ideas off of each other resulted in the themed pieces pictured below.

[The location restricted balloons, streamers, and hanging things on the wall. That meant our decorations needed to be creatively done. Our idea? Using clothesline and clothes pins to hang Dr. Seuss character cut-outs and quotes from hooks already on the walls.]

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[Tables were decorated with a white plastic cover and a red or blue plastic cover folded like a table runner. For centerpieces, we used Dr. Seuss books and trivia cards. The adults loved the trivia questions! ex. How many children and grandchildren did Dr. Seuss have? The answer will surprise you!]

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[We Seuss-ified (is that a word??) the buffet and bathrooms with simple signs saying “Who-Feast” and “Horton Hears a He” or “Horton Hears a Her.”]

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[Since there were some older kids there, too, we set up some activities for them. My personal favorite was the Hop on Pop Scotch… get it?? It’s like hopscotch, but the Dr. Seuss version. With help from my mom and husband, we painted “Pop” on a dropcloth. The kids loved it!]

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[The show-stopper was definitely the cake! Done by a friend of a friend, the cake was designed to look like a book. It turned out better than we could have dreamed! If you’re looking for a customized cake, let me know and I will hook you up with our baker!]

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[Dr. Seuss’ classic book, Happy Birthday to You, was used as a keepsake for the baby. Guests signed the book with wishes and memories that he can cherish into the future. Did I hear everyone say a collective, “Aw!”??]

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A few other fun details not pictured included a coloring table that was set up for the kids, but sometimes adults like to color, too!  A Dr. Seuss birthday party wouldn’t be complete without some Green Eggs & Ham. To make it happen, we used grid pretzels, Hershey Kiss Hugs, and green M&Ms. Place the Kiss on the pretzel, warm it in the oven until it gets soft, then place the M&M on the center, and let them cool! Yum!  Hot Cocoa Bar anyone?? On a cold winter’s day, this was a welcomed treat! We even dipped candy canes in the blue melting chocolates to tie in the Dr. Seuss theme. Put the candy cane in your hot cocoa to add a minty flavor!

It was a kid-friendly, parent-approved party – just like a 1st Birthday party should be!

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[Special Thanks to Michael Thorwart for the photos!]