Archive | June, 2011

Smile! You’ve Been Framed!

20 Jun

Lowes Creative Ideas Giant Frame

A fun and easy project that can be used at family reunions, weddings, birthdays, or a myriad of events is from Lowes’ Creative Ideas.  You take insulation board (I believe there is a light pink and a light blue version that would work well), cut it out using Lowes’ giant picture frame template found on their website here, and then paint it!  Their website recommends using a jigsaw, but if you are careful and patient, you can carve the design out with an Olfa knife.  You could even make some ‘happy’ mistakes that make the frame more your own.  You can also make smaller sized frames.

This would make a great holiday card and the kids can even help decorate the frame for whatever holiday you choose.

The giant frame can also be used as a moving announcement: the frame and new homeowners are in the foreground and house in the background.  Or try the idea below for a father’s, mother’s, or grandparent’s day card.

Use several different shots with the same (or different) frame in a series for the card to really capture the quirky air of the frame.


Lowes Creative Ideas Giant Frame Father's Day


Dad’s Day!

12 Jun

As Father’s Day approaches, it is time to get the sentimental gifts started.  One idea is from Michael’s.  The kids trace their hands on some contact paper or card stock, then paint around the fingers and fade out.  You can add differing colors to add to the fade effect.  Just purchase a plain white tie, shirt, hat, etc. and decorate away!

This next idea comes from Martha Stewart.  I made this last year for my father-in-law and my own father.  I made the ties decorated in something they were interested in (i.e., fishing, the college they attended).  It is cute and people will love how cute it is.

Teacher Retirement Centerpieces

6 Jun

After the pots and branches were set (instructions on how-to visit original Manzanita Madness post) it was time to decorate!  I needed something that would add color to my centerpieces, fit into my theme, and be the right scale for the branches and pot.  I happened across some school themed scrapbook paper I found on sale ($9.99 for 100 sheets!).  The sheets had multiple different patterns, sparkles, and colors– just perfect for the party, but I still had to figure out what I would use it for.  Then it hit me!  What screams school and teachers more than paper airplanes!  And, to top it off, the cost would be less than a penny for each plane!

How To

Perfect Paper Airplanes

I first used plain computer paper to figure out the size I wanted on the trees.  I went with about 4 inches by 7 inches.  I got four planes per 12 inch by 12 inch scrapbook paper (I eyeballed the measurement to make them all fit– three in one direction, one on the leftover top part).  Then I took a metal ruler and began folding the planes.  First I folded in half, then folded the sides in once, then again (to get a good point and a slimmer plane), then brought the two sides together and folded down from the middle.  Or click here for a pictorial tutorial.  I had purchased some yarn ($1.29 for a ton of yarn at Wal-mart) and cut lengths of about 5 inches and tied them into loops.  I placed the knotted side into the middle of the planes and then stapled them together.  I then tried to place one of each pattern on each centerpiece to get a lot of color for not a lot of cash!

Gingham Placemat

I thought gingham would be a good compliment to a teacher retirement party.  I purchased 4 yards and cut the squares roughly about 2′-0″ x 2′-0″.  I used a roller cutter on a cutting board.  I noticed I had some frayed edges and decided I needed to finish it off.  I had some wired red ribbon about 2 inches thick.  I used regular Elmer’s white glue to glue on the ribbon to the edges of the fabric along two sides.  If needed, I went through and “hemmed” with the white glue on the other edges.  The ribbon added some weight to the mats and made them see more expensive.  I sprinkled colored buttons around like confetti on the placemat due to our guest of honor being a home economics teacher.  I used the placemats also on the memorabilia table.

Mini Blackboard Table Cards

The table cards were made from black foam core that was cut in order to be able to use wooden tongue depressors.  I cut them about 4″ x 6″ (approximately).  I used hot glue to adhere the wooden sticks to the foam core.  I used scissors to cut blunt edges on the depressors.  Next, I used my Cricut to cut the letters for the mini blackboards.  Then I used a coordinating ribbon from my gingham placement (same ribbon just in a 1/2 inch size).  I used green floral sticks with metal wires attached to wrap around the ribbon and shove into my foam (worked really well and held them even during transport!).  I covered the area with an apple– it didn’t need it since the moss covered everything, but I liked the shiny apple at each table.  My table names went along with my theme and were based on stereotypical school cliques.  The tables were the:

  • Drama Queens
  • Bullies
  • Nerds
  • In-Crowd
  • Cheerleaders
  • Jocks
  • Outcasts
  • Preps
  • Misfits
  • Honor Students
  • Teacher’s Pets

 The guest of honor had a seat saved with a blackboard saying, “Saved for teacher” and had a matching red ribbon bow in the back of the chair that matched the gingham placemats.

Moss & Pencils

As I mentioned in my post Guest Book with a Twist, I instructed the guests to actually engage with the centerpiece by using little yellow golf pencils that were placed in the green moss.  They were to look like they were part of the theme only, but were actually functional for filling out the guest book and also for the surprise pop quiz (as mentioned in  Teacher Retirement Party Activities post) that was given.  We bought the pencils for cheap at an office supply store and sharpened them up a bit before placing them out.

Teacher’s Lounge

6 Jun

One way to get guest up and out of their seats is to have a bar.  Be it cash bar, open bar, top or bottom shelf, people always will wander over for a look.  At my teacher retirement party, I took the theme and called the bar the “Teacher’s Lounge” and made the drinks coincide with my party.  The guest of honor’s school mascot are the buccaneers and we named it the most popular drinks.

Engineering Cakes!

5 Jun

Trying to decide on a cake for two civil engineer’s birthdays is pretty hard work– and to top it off, I am far from a great baker or decorator.  My theme for one cake was clearing the land, and the other was pouring the asphalt.  I utilized the kids’ toy aisle at my local big box store to jazz up the cakes along with some store-bought frosting and chocolate rocks!

To save myself time on a weeknight, I purchased a cake from a grocery store.  I looked for a cake with ‘earthen layers’ so I could tie it into my theme.  It was a bit more pricey, but saved me tons of time.  I also purchased some butter cream frosting from the bakery.  I scraped off the topping from the store-bought cake and put my frosting on the top.   For the other cake, I actually baked!  Well, sort of– I mixed some brownie mix and put it in the oven.  The frosting was from a store-bought jar.  Some clever placement of rocks hid any mistakes!  Below is the Electrical Engineer’s cake that mimics a circuit board.  I again purchased a store bought cake and redecorated the top.  I used mentos, mini M & M’s, chocolate bar, and Mike and Ikes to create the little circuits.

After researching online, I found that I must be the only person that does not specialize in fondant and cake decorating— the cakes I found online were amazing!  So harnessing my inner designer, I decided to find something within my skill set.  I settled on mini cupcakes.  I perused the candies/cookies aisle looking for inspiration when I came across vanilla sticks and 100 calorie sandies.  I purchased premixed butter cream frosting from the bakery and decorated away!  I made little ruler lines on the vanilla sticks and then put elevation tags on the sandies.  The mini cupcakes were perfect when I brought them to work!

Teacher Retirement Party Activities

1 Jun

Guests can sometimes be stuck to their chairs all night and not socialize.  To keep your guests from suffering for “Tree Stump Syndrome” I crafted some activities to get people talking, laughing, and, most importantly, learning more about the guest of honor.  I needed something to match my ‘Last Class’ theme that would get the guests to interact with one another doing something benign and silly.  These little activities usually help people loosen up and helps make the party more memorable.

Dunce Cap Doodle

I decided to create a song as a tribute to the guest of honor.  The springboard for the idea came from a message board site.  I liked the Yankee Doodle themed song since could download it from you tube without words to have the guests sing to at the party.  To keep with my theme, I decided that I would make Dunce caps and those with the caps would automatically be chosen to sing the song at some point during the party.

At first, the Dunce caps were around and people merely thought they were just decorations for the party.  However, the guest of honor began to choose people as she met and chatted with them.  She picked people like her old boss, some old friends, etc.  As soon as they received the hat, I discretely went to them and handed the song so they could read it over.  The guest of honor only knew she had to hand them out, but did not know why.  Then before the speeches, we asked all those ‘Dunces’ to come up to the front to receive their ‘punishment.’  Since I had about 10, people who were shy could still get up there without feeling bashful.  I was surprised at the amount of people who got out cameras to get everyone singing!  Everyone got a kick out of the whole production!

How To

I bought gray poster board and referenced First Palette for a little help on making a conical hat.  I measured my head with the string and then halved it.  I then attached the string to a pencil, held the sting at the center of my circle, and traced my semi-circle.  I cut out the shape carefully.  Then I secured the hat with a staple at the bottom and then fixed the rest of the seam with dabs of hot glue.  To make it more festive, I bout some spray glitter and glittered those bad boys up!  I also used my Cricut to cut out the letters “Dunce.”  I glued those on prior to the glitterization.

Party Pop Quiz!

Another idea was to help the guests be better informed about the retiree.   To do that we had a memorabilia table with old pictures, old year books, awards, etc. spread along the table along with mementos and decorations.  In addition, we had a sideshow running that had fun facts about when she started teaching compared to now (e.g., the average teacher salary from the 60’s to average teacher’s salary now).  Hopefully all the guests were paying attention because we had a POP QUIZ right after the speeches were done!

How to

I printed these out on my card stock I used for all the rest of my projects.  I chose questions that were tailored to those who attended (like the neighbors invited would get the car color correct, while work people would know about how many years she taught).  The questions were meant to entertain and to get people laughing and, at the same time, learning a little more about the retiree.  We also had some tie breakers in case we needed them.  We gave the top two guests gifts for getting the most questions correct.