real party: oscars/old hollywood

I mentioned awhile back that I was working on a Spring Formal event.  I have waited to post about it in hopes of gathering pictures from others put I haven't tracked many down yet.  I have a few pictures that I took (I never get many pictures at my parties) that will have to work for the moment.

I was on a fairly tight budget which isn't always fun but does make you get creative.  It also makes you think about the creative talents of friends.  When planning for the outside decor of the venue I called in many a favor from talented friends and family members.

I started by asking a good friend of mine, Herk Wright to help me out.  Herk is the one that remodeled my kitchen in our old house - the kitchen that we redid and than a year later moved from :(  He did amazing work, check it out...

Here is the before

and a few after shots

Herk did an amazing job, right?  If you are in the Orange County, California area and are looking to do some upgrades to your home let me know and I'll pass along Herk's number to you.  

But back to the party...Herk was kind enough to say yes to me when I asked him if he could make me 4 large wood frames.  His 4 frames along with 4 smaller ones I purchased at Aaron Brothers was all I needed to get started on my first project.

I made a few measurements and then drilled holes into the frames.   Here is a shot of one of the Aaron Brother frames getting drilled. 

Once all the holes were drilled all the frames got a few coats of some silver metallic spray paint.  Once dry I inserted some white ball lights that I picked up at Target.

The part I really loved though was the 1930's inspired artwork, my nephew Sam Ricks created, that went in the frames.  Sam is amazing!  You can check out his work on his blog and website.  In some of the pictures further down you can see the 4 designs he made - each one represented the city that the youth attending the Formal were from.

The outside of the venue (below) all put together and waiting the arrival of the kids.  The event was held at Soka University - can I just say what a beautiful campus this is.

To finish off the look of the entrance I called in another favor from an artist friend, Steve Ogren.  He created these massive academy styled statues for me out of cardboard, paint and sequins.  I love them!  I actually have them sitting in my front room at the moment while I figure out a place to store them.  Nothing like walking into someone's home and being greeted by an 8ft sequined man.

This last shot isn't great but it allows you to see the check-in tables where I used the 4 small frames mentioned earlier.  The frames contained the same posters as the outside they were just smaller in size.  This allowed for easier check-in as the youth could check in at the table from the city they live in.

Most people don't have plans to decorate for a 400+ youth Spring Formal but you can still steal some of these ideas for a party at home.  

The lit signs would be great at your front door welcoming guests to a movie night.  Buy a movie poster or create one of your own on your computer.  All the poster enlargements from this night were done at Costco with their online photo center.  It is easy and inexpensive.  If you haven't checked out all the Costco Photo Center offers you really should.  I use them for parties, school projects and more.


invitations: download and print

Have you seen this yet?  I first found Download and Print over at one of my favorite blogs iDiY.  I couldn't believe it - beautifully designed invites free to download?  Crazy, I tell you!

I'm loving this one for my next beach soiree...

How about these two graphic beauties...

I love this one.  Something about it being off centered makes me giddy...

You definitely need to bookmark this site.  What a great little internet treasure.  Can't wait to see new designs.

party: so easy even a caveman can do it

On my daily blog rounds I was pleasantly surprised to see my caveman party up at Frosted Events.  Thanks Kim for posting it.  Be sure to visit the Frosted Events blog for other great party ideas - she has a ton of them.

This party was done for a friend's 40th and was originally shared with the blog world over at At Home with Kim Vallee in  January 2008.  To this day this is one of my favorite parties and one that costs very little.  With so many watching their wallets now it's nice to be able to throw a fun party without breaking the bank.

Here is a bit of a breakdown on how to throw this party yourself...

Plate Chargers are stepping stones from Home Depot/Lowes's or whatever your local home improvement store is.  They cost right around $1 each.

I took some brown craft paint lying around my house (use whatever color you have) and painted some simple "cave drawings"  If you have kids get them in on this - they'll love it. 

Second step is to rub some good old backyard dirt all over the stone.  You can even use a rock to scratch up the stone a bit (see those white marks?)  Then take a hammer and chip away at some of the edges and corners (I started this step in the top left corner but hadn't finished when this picture was taken)

In this next picture you can see the roughed up edges - you don't want many straight lines, cavemen don't roll like that.  You also don't want every charger to look the same so take a hammer to the stone and break it up some.  As long as you keep each separate piece fairly close together your plate will sit on top perfectly.

You can see in this next picture some of the different charger shapes.

Some other details from this picture...

Dinosaur place cards - these little prehistoric guys came from my little guy's toy chest but they can be picked up cheap at a local dollar store.  I made simple labels on my computer using this font from Dafont.

Fur table cover and animal print chair backs - hit up a fabric store.  This stuff is always available and you don't need much.

I used terry washcloths instead of napkins since we went total caveman and ate with our hands.  The washcloths were picked up at my local Big Lots so check out your local discount stores.  Wrap those washcloths up with some twine from the garage and add a leaf picked from your backyard tree to complete the look.

Serving dishes were baskets and containers that I already had plus some brown paper grocery sacks.  I needed another serving dish and didn't have anything that fit the look so I ripped the top of a bag just a bit, folded it down and it made the perfect "serving bowl" for some roasted potato fries.  You can get a bit of a peek at my homemade bag bowl in the picture below.

The food was the centerpiece of the table but you can see that i threw in a few other things too...rocks from my yard, candles, moss and some strange dinosaur egg looking vases filled with succulents (can't find a similar "vase" try making them out of paper mache - they'll hold up for the night) 

My favorite part of the decor?

The jungle vines.  I hit up my local Army Surplus store and bought cheap camo netting.  If you don't have a surplus store near by you can find camo netting on the internet.  All you do is take scissors to the netting and start cutting away.  Vary the width and length of your strips (remember you are trying to imitate nature so don't make anything uniform in size)  The vines were hung from the top of the canopy. For lighting I added green paper lanterns purchased from Cost Plus.

This party was for a 40th birthday so the prehistoric man theme was rather appropriate and was much more appreciated than the standard over the hill theme.  The beauty of this theme is that it worked for my 40 yr old friend but would be a complete hit with kids as well.


harry potter party

Party plans have begun swirling in my mind for a Harry Potter party to celebrate the 1st installment of the 7th movie scheduled to be released November 19th.  I was thrilled to see the abundance of cute ideas over at Hostess with the Mostess.  Check out Jen's great ideas here and here.  I'm especially loving this idea...

For others searching for more ideas for their own movie release party, a Potter themed birthday or better yet a way to celebrate a family trip to Universal's new Wizarding World of Harry Potter (oh how I wish I was heading there with my family in June) here (scroll through all the posts) are some more ideas from some of our past wizard shindigs that I've posted about previously on Little Ant Design.

Here are some never before posted photos of our very first Harry Potter party that we threw to celebrate the release of the last book - Deathly Hallows in 2007.  We held the party open house style with people coming and going through the night and ended the party with party guests heading over to a local Borders to await the midnight release of the book.  

Look at my cute little guy, dressed up as Dobby the house elf, taking 1st place in the Borders costume contest.

Now some more pictures of the festivities at our home...

I turned my kitchen/dining room area into the potions class.  A cheap piece of plywood was stained to cover my tiled kitchen counters for a bit more authentic Hogwarts feel.  Labels were made for bottles that I had been collecting and filled with various "specimens"  This are also served as the drink station so I labeled sodas, drink mixes (Kool-aid, powdered Gatorade, etc), juices and other drink add-ins with interesting names and guest were able to concoct their own potions.

In an effort to keep the kitchen from ruining the potions class atmosphere I added a "stone wall" behind the drink area.  I had this left over from an Indiana Jones Halloween theme I had done prior but this is an easy DIY project.  I simply bought sheets of insulation foam and using a wood burning tool that I picked up at a local craft store I carved the stones into the foam.  The foam usually comes in pink or blue - use the blue.  Add some paint to get the weathered look you want and you have instant stone walls.

Other areas inside the house were...

Ollivanders wand shop - a little bookcase that jewelry boxes labeled with wand labels that I made on the computer.  Guests used these boxes to hold wands that they made during the evening.  Wands were made using wooden dowels and varying sized balls (with holes drilled them).  Guests took the balls and glued them to the end of the dowels to create wand handles.  I wish I had pictures.  I am notorious for not taking pictures of my parties so all the pictures you see here were taken by my brother or other party guests.

Trophy Case - here various Quidditch and other awards were displayed as well as containers that held the house points.

We also had an area full of Honeyduke's sweets.  Guests could eat some Bertie Bott's every flavor beans and guess the flavors.  We also had lots of yummy treats to make up for the grass and boogie flavored beans.

Outside we had...

Herbology class - guests were able to snack of food here.

We also had a pensieve that contained floating orbs filled with deep thinking quotes from some of the Harry Potter characters.  Guests could pull these out of the fountain to read them.  I didn't think this would be too big a deal but guests enjoyed this - the kids especially.

I wanted a place for people to congregate and chat so we set up a Yule Ball area.  We were supposed to have snow falling down on our guests but we could not get the snow machine to work.  I'm still irratated about it all these years later :)

Out near our fireplace we set up the Divination Class.  Here guests could make their predications about what would happen in the last book as well as read their fortunes with tea leaves.

There you have it - a few pictures from one of my favorite themes for a party.  To see a few more photos from that night you can go here.  I can't wait to throw the next one.  

I'm always looking for ideas so if you have thrown your own Harry Potter party or know of some other great HP ideas (like those from Jen at Hostess with the Mostess) please let me know.