Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not Your Ordinary Face Painting!

Next time you consider hiring a professional face painter for your child’s birthday party, think beyond the common ‘cheek art’ specialists and hire a true artisan – like our friend Elizabeth Jordan at Magic City Face Art.

They recently painted veritable ark of God’s creatures onto the faces of a wait staff serving at a Noah’s Ark themed event. These images tell it all!

The imaginative talent of these artists reaches far beyond tiny rainbows and balloon bouquets – and would thrill party goers young and old.
See more photos on their website at

Monday, February 23, 2009

Beary Easy Glittery Animal Ears

Several friends who saw pictures of the recent MerryB Event, Peyton’s Teddy Bear Picnic, have been surprised by how easy it was to make the glittery bear ears all the girls we wearing. So I thought I share the directions with you!

First, get pre-glittered foam visors like these (in pink) from your local craft store. These are usually about $1.25 and come ‘ready-to-wear’.

Your guests will be wearing these visors like crowns above the forehead instead of like hats on the forehead so keep that in mind during the following steps.

Next, create a template by tracing an outline of the visor on construction paper and cut it out.

On the visor template, pencil in a sample shape of the ears taking into account distance from one another and positioning on the head. (Hint: put the visor on your child to get approximate placement for the ears). Be sure to keep a connection across the top of the head / between the ears so the template doesn’t fall apart (similar to a girls headband).

Fold the template in half and cut along one side of your pattern, making sure not to cut it entirely in half. This should render a symmetrical template you can use to trim the visors. You may need to repeat this step to get the ears just right.

With the template on top, align the visor and the bear ears template together and fold them both in half. Trim away the excess foam – again making sure to leave a band to connect the ears. You should have a perfectly adorable bear ear shaped visor.

Using a sharpie (I used black, but you could use brown or any other color), sketch the inner ear shape on the glittery ears. I feathered in a few whispy hairs for added effect. And you’re done! Writing these instructions was probably harder than creating the ears.

These directions could be adapted for any number of animals–think cats, horses, bunnies!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

May the Force Be With Me!

According to my son, who will turn seven in April, there is a Star Wars themed birthday party in my future. I loved the original movie... or rather the first but technically the fourth movie ... The 1976 Star Wars was a favorite of mine, so I'm looking forward to planning the festivities.

Ever the planner, I did a quick search of the web for ideas and uncovered these cute R2D2 cupcakes at Sugar & Meringue. A stand-out among ordinary cupcakes topped with plastic Darth Vaders and Storm Troopers, the R2D2 is sure to be a hit with my little jedi.

I'll be bringing this picture to the bakery when it's time to place my order!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Move Over Mylar – Make Room for Monogram Balloons

According to our friends at Bama Balloons, more and more brides are requesting monogrammed balloons for wedding d├ęcor. We thought why not enhance a child’s birthday with them as well?

You can special order any color combination through Bama Balloons. And if you want to add something truly spectacular to your child’s party, talk to them about creating a custom balloon structure to match your theme. They design balloon sculptures that will knock the socks off the birthday boy and his guests! They created a gorgeous garden canopy for us for Peyton's Teddy Bear Picnic.

Check out more pictures on the Bama Balloons website to see how talented they are!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Join MerryB Events & Sassafras Boutique for a Very Merry Unbirthday Tea Party!

March 7, 2009
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

MerryB Events is thrilled to be teaming up with Sassafras Boutique to celebrate a very merry unbirthday benefiting Camp Smile-A-Mile.

Meet us at Sassafras Boutique, at 111 Broadway in Homewood, AL, (next door to Bella Bridesmaid) anytime between 10:00 and 3:00 for teacakes and whimsy. Alice herself will make an appearance and we may even have a visit from the March Hare. Feel free to wear a silly hat or dress as your favorite character! Discounts, door prizes, swag and fun activities are planned for kids and parents!

Please bring any of the items listed below to support the summer camp program at Camp Smile-A-Mile. Camp Smile-A-Mile (SAM) is a non-profit organization in Alabama for children who have or have had cancer. Year round programs are provided for the campers and their family at no cost.

- Shaving cream (no menthol please)
- Sunscreen - SPF 30, 45 or higher
- Ice cream toppings
- 4x6 Glossy photo printing paper
- Acrylic paint tubes- all colors
- Sharpie Markers- all colors
- Wal-Mart gift cards
- CD covers
- Glass beads
- Dr. Seuss hats
- Dr. Seuss socks

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Darling Birthday Banners

Make your child's next birthday party extra special with one of these custom designed birthday banners. Whimzycreations, an Etsy designer (and mom of four), creates one-of-a-kind banners which can be personalized with your child's name and age. Phrases, characters and color combos that match the party theme are also available. Prices vary depending on customization, but these basic "Happy Birthday" banners are $30.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Party So Sweet!

MerryB Events held our own Sweet Soiree to celebrate Valentine’s Day with friends from far and wide! An eye-catching dessert buffet greeted ecstatic guests. From charming cupcakes to essential conversation hearts, the holiday treats were whimsically displayed and sure to make Cupid proud.

Click on the images to see more pictures from the celebration.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Host a Sweet Soiree this Valentine’s Day!
(Yes! there's still time!)

Valentine's Day is a few days away, but it’s not too late to host a soiree for your little cherubs. If you’re like me, it’s hard NOT to go over the top. At this late hour, you should focus on what can be realistically accomplished. The kids won’t miss those little touches you don’t have time to execute and you can bet they’ll still have a blast.

You can keep things simple and precious with an afternoon Sweet Treat Buffet between lunch and dinner. Mid-afternoon parties are easy on the wallet and planning is a snap since there’s no need to serve a full meal.

Rely on eVite to get the word out fast. With many themed designs to choose from, eVite is a speedy alternative to printing or making invitations by hand. Be sure to ask guests to dress in festive colors. To create an easy and dramatic tablescape that every little cupid will love, drape a low table or buffet with a pink or white tablecloth. Serve elegant groupings of red, white and pink cookies and cupcakes on white platters and fill glass jars with matching candies like jelly beans, lollipops and conversation hearts.

For ease of distribution and clean up, serve cherry or strawberry juice boxes. At MerryB Events we typically serve flavored waters like Fruit Falls. Pink lemonade is a sweet alternative. If adults will be joining the festivities, have some savory snacks and sodas or wine on hand.

Plan a few activities to keep the children busy. ‘Steal My Heart’ is a fun game that gets a lot of laughs. To play, place a large bowl of conversation hearts at the center of the kitchen table and have the children choose a spot around the table—making sure it isn’t too crowded. Give them each a pair of chopsticks and three minutes to steal as many hearts as they can from the bowl using only the chopsticks – no hands! The child with the most hearts when time runs out wins a Valentine prize and everyone gets to keep the hearts they collected. If you have varying ages, consider dividing up the game into younger and older kids. Simplify the game for the little ones by having them use small plastic spoons instead of chopsticks. A Heart Hunt (like an Easter egg hunt) or Pin the Heart on the Cupid are some other games the kids will enjoy.

Thank your guests from coming by giving them a personalized sweet treat to take home. Grocers have cute Valentine cookies by the dozen or your can place a special order from a local bakery. Wrap the treats in individual cellophane or glassine envelopes and secure with a heart shaped sticker that you’ve customized with each child’s name. Guests will enjoy the party all over again when they indulge in their special party favor.

Best of luck with your last minute celebration! Happy Valentine’s Day!
Photo courtesy of Smooch Photography.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Minimizing the Guest List (and Maximizing the Fun)

One of the biggest issues to come up when planning a child’s birthday party is controlling the number of guests. Between classroom friends, neighbors, family, team sports and Sunday school, the guest list can quickly grow to exorbitant proportions. Although your excited seven year old may have spread the word far and wide, you shouldn’t feel obligated to invite everyone.

At MerryB Events, we find smaller parties are more fun for everyone because each child can be more involved in the activities, shy children don’t get lost in the shuffle and rowdy kids don’t get too rambunctious.

To minimize the guest list, first determine the number of guests that your budget can manage by taking into account the food, games, goodies, etc. you plan to provide (be sure to include adults if you plan on having them stay for the festivities). If budget isn’t a concern, select the number of guests you will be comfortable hosting. A helpful rule of thumb is to invite as many kids as the age of your birthday child. If you decide to sidestep this rule and invite more kids, just be sure you have a well planned out party and plenty of parents to help supervise and manage the games.

Next, discuss the party with the birthday boy during the planning stages. Tell him how many guests are appropriate and let him help determine the guest list, choosing those friends he is especially close with. He’ll be able to tell you who must attend. You may need to add a guest or two, but it’s better to start with a target number in mind. Be sure to include any siblings (your child’s or his friend’s) who will be participating as a guest. Keep in mind, older brothers and sisters make excellent helpers and kid wranglers!

When it’s time to send invitations, be considerate. You won’t be inviting the entire class, so don’t pass out invitations at school (many schools have a policy against this). Mailing (or emailing) invitations prevents hurt feelings and ensures each invitation will arrive at its destination where a responsible adult can make note of the details.

You can still have simple celebrations with friends who didn’t make the cut. Bringing muffins or cupcakes to the class or sports team will help your child feel like all his playmates participated in his celebration. Having friends sing happy birthday is also a nice way for everyone to be involved.

And remember, every parent who’s ever thrown a birthday party understands how hard it is to keep the guest list manageable. So relax and enjoy the party!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Twitter Test Blog

the hours slip away
technology perplexes
Will I 'get it' soon

a haiku by someone trying to figure out how this all fits together.

Peyton's 7th Birthday - A Teddy Bear Picnic

On Saturday, January 24, 2009, MerryB Events celebrated Peyton's 7th birthday with a beary special Teddy Bear Picnic. After transforming into honey bears, Peyton's guests were invited to make a special bear of their very own. Peyton shared her birthday magic by waving her wand over the beary new friends. Then her guests danced the magic Teddy bear dance.All the bears enjoyed a special picnic under the sunshine arbor of balloons with cute pink sandwiches and sweetie bear cupcakes.

Surviving (and Enjoying) Baby's First Birthday

A child’s first birthday party is the exclamation point on a year full of firsts. First bath, first tooth, first Christmas, and in some cases first steps. It’s no wonder we’re driven to make the celebration unforgettable even when baby won’t remember.

I can’t tell you how many hours I spent planning my daughter’s first birthday party last year. Countless. I obsessed over every detail of her Ladybug Picnic… right down to what time of day is most appropriate to release live ladybugs (early evening in case you’re wondering–so they can settle in, nibble on aphids and avoid becoming a swallow’s dinner). When it was all over I realized I’d had been too busy to truly enjoy the birthday girl’s special day (that’s what inspired me to launch
MerryB Events).

With that hectic day in mind, I thought I would share a few suggestions and survival tips for planning your child’s first birthday party.

The best locations for first birthday parties are places your child is familiar and comfortable with, such as your home, a friend's or relative's home, or a playground your child frequently visits.

Schedule baby’s celebration for the time of day when she is the happiest and well rested; mornings are usually good for this age (how about a birthday brunch?).

If you don’t want guests to linger or interfere with naptime, include an ‘end time’ on the invitation. “Please join us from 2:00 – 4:00 pm.”. Courteous guests will honor your request for the party to end at a specified time.

Keep the party brief—two hours max (one hour is even better)—and open gifts after the party is over, when the excitement of the celebration is history.

Choose a theme you like for the guest of honor–the simpler, the better. There’s plenty of time for princesses, pirates and all the details that go into planning those kinds of events. For first birthdays, I prefer themes that are basic yet out of the ordinary and incorporate a sophisticated flair (because let’s face it, first birthday parties are really for the parents!). Stripes, polka dots, your child’s first initial, the color chartreuse, inspiration can be found everywhere.

If you're serving food, don’t make everything yourself. For instance, make the finger foods and order the cake. Better yet, order everything to simplify further. Birmingham has many great caterers and restaurants that offer party menus–let them do the work so you can spend more time enjoying the party. (On a side note: Most upscale bakeries will bake a little ‘smash cake’ for baby to destroy all by herself. I like Pastry Art in Homewood, AL and Louise’s in Hoover, AL, but there are many to choose from around town.)

Hire a photographer or ask a friend to take pictures for you. Unless you have an event planner coordinating the day, you’ll be very busy and having someone snap pictures will ensure you capture every beautiful moment of your child’s birthday. Prepare a list of all the shots you want ahead of time and give it to the photographer before the party begins. Take pictures of the cake and of baby in her special outfit before guests arrive.

Keep the older kids entertained with games and activities. A bouncy house is always popular and requires very little effort on your part. If smaller children will attend the party, set out a basket of age appropriate toys to keep them occupied.

Ask guests to contribute to a time capsule to be opened on your child’s 16th or 18th birthday. Simply add a line to the invitation that reads ‘Please help us create a time capsule for baby by bringing a small token to commemorate 2009.’ You could request this in lieu of gifts. Display all the treasures during the party so your guests can enjoy the collection. Afterwards, seal everything in a beautiful container or sturdy box, including pictures from the day, the candle, handprints, an invitation, etc. Then put it in a closet and surprise baby with it at her Sweet 16 party.

Display a beautiful photo of baby in a frame with a large mat (glass removed). Have guests write a message on the mat to commemorate this very special day. This will be cherished by you and your baby for years to come.

As a thank you gift for guests (or to simply commemorate the occasion), consider creating a ‘smile book’ that documents memorable moments from baby’s first year. Shutterfly and other online photo suppliers offer a variety of affordable photo books to choose from.

Most of all, remember this is a day to celebrate the birth of your child. Keep the party simple and brief so you can do just that. Obsess over ladybug eating habits another year (or have someone like me do it for you).

Don’t forget to plan some special quiet time at the end of the day just for Mom, Dad, and baby. After all, you survived your first year together and hopefully there are many more to come. Cheers!

Heaven in a Handbag?

Before the children, I delighted in changing my handbag daily to complement my outfit. Earning the scorn of maternal peers who’d been carrying the same bag for years was amusing. I foolishly thought my passion for purses could never erode to the point that I’d clutch the same bag for more than a few days at a time.

Two kids later I am, admittedly, in a handbag rut. So a while back I decided to go in search of a new purse to re-energize me and remind me that I can be a stylish mommy. My goal was not to rebuild my collection of chic shoulder bags, but simply to find one bag to share my life with—a constant companion warehousing hand lotion and the secrets of mommy-hood.

In this day of high fashion and affordable glamour, one would think… if one were thinking of such things … that replacing old reliable would be a fun adventure. With so many stylish options, locating the perfect match for my daily wear should be easy. Not so when contemplating my list of ‘must-have’ qualities—which apparently collectively equate to the holy grail of handbags.

‘Throw-over-the-shoulder-able’: Non-negotiable.
In my world, there’s usually a toddler in one hand. Beverage, keys and a spinning plate in the other. Practicality wins out. The strap (or straps) must be lengthy enough for flinging onto my right shoulder at a moment’s notice. More importantly, the purse must remain comfortably in place without digging in or slipping lest the revolving tower of saucers come crashing to the ground–keys, nail files and other unmentionables spilling out for all the world to see (…and queue the calamity).

Roomy, but not supersize: Negotiable if the shape and structure is right.
Having ditched my designer diaper bag earlier this year, my purse is often home to an occasional replacement diaper, a well-worn baseball cap and a rather smelly, yet lovable bunny. While I need to be able to carry these treasures and find my lipstick with ease, cavernous simply won’t do. A quick scan of the accessories department reveals that ‘unwieldy’ is a prominent style at the moment. But if I can’t reach the bottom of my bag with my arm fully extended, then it’s not the bag for me.

Easily accessed: Non-negotiable.
Last time I bought a handbag solely on style, efficiently storing my necessities became as baffling as a MENSA project. The wallet would fit, but only if I put my phone in the secret zippered exterior pocket accessible when the bag was tossed over my left shoulder (and we've already established I wear my bag on the right). Pens and keys would have to be meticulously filed into an obstinate interior pocket. Freshening my makeup would require completely dismantling and reassembling the contents of the bag… and let’s face it, I’m just not that smart.

Stylishly structured: Non-negotiable.
No amount of access or functionality is worth sacrificing style. Today’s choices are many if you like colorful, floppy bags. Me, I’m not a fan of floppy. It bugs me when my bag collapses into a pile of patent leather and hardware the second I set it down. I want more structure than that. I want my bag to stand erect… knowingly at-the-ready with my favorite lip balm a gentle arm’s reach away. Available to solve my every problem simply by remaining upright with no assistance from its contents.

These are just the basic needs mind you. I’m not even taking into consideration brand, quality, shape, color, quantity of straps, length of straps, trimmings, etc.–all of which are negotiable if I can find a bag with the just the basics.

I’m eight months into the pursuit of perfection and still carrying my standard black albatross packed full of receipts from 2006, ten pounds of loose change, and a random pacifier from the baby’s earlier days. Functional in so many ways and devoid of actual style, it’s not anti-stylish. It’s just, well, bland.

When I waver and consider settling for something that doesn’t meet all my criteria, I remember the plight of a dear friend, who recently gave up her year long search for the perfect bag and reluctantly adopted a beautiful Coach satchel. I thought things were going well between them until she stopped taking my calls. Turns out she can’t get the stubborn purse to relinquish her phone in time enough to answer. My friend is now on the hunt for a replacement.

So I guess I’ll continue my quest, too. Until I find the right match, I’ll take comfort in the loving reassurance my mundane shoulder bag offers when I blindly reach in and effortlessly find a breath mint on my first attempt. Still I can’t help but wonder, ‘am I asking too much’?

Because I want it all. And I want it all to fit in my purse.

Another Blog

Because I have nothing to do between 5 and 6 a.m.