All posts by Renees Soirees

To Gift or Not To Gift? That is the question…

What do you do when you receive an invitation that requests no gift for the birthday child? Comply and risk being the only person who arrives sans gift? Or bring one and face the ire of parents who wonder why no one can follow directions anymore?

Do you request no gifts when you throw a party?  A friend gave me her perspective during an email conversation (remember those? They fell somewhere post-verbal, but pre-text).  She said:

“I think any kid in a middle or upper-middle class neighborhood probably has more toys than they need as it is. Or in less well-0ff areas, well it could be a financial hardship to expect friends to bring gifts. So either way, I think it’s just tacky to not ask your guests to refrain from bringing a gift. But you have to be firm about it. Say something like, ‘Our Grace has a room bursting with toys and clothes, so please bring only your smiling face!’ That has worked for me.”

I tend to agree that most children in western nations could use a lesson in living simply. I have tried various techniques, with varying degrees of success. For my oldest child’s first birthday, I put, “Your presence is your present!” on the invitation. Most guests brought gifts anyway.

If you are looking for an approach with better success rates, here are a few ideas:

White box with pink bow and a Princess embellishment** Ask friends to bring a bag of cat or dog food, and have your child make a welcome donation to a local no-kill animal shelter.

** Ask for unwrapped gifts that will be donated to a toy drive or child crisis center. Or wrapped items that fulfill an Adopt-A-Family wishlist. This works great for a November or December party, when gift drives are very active.  If you think your child will be tempted by the site of all the new toys, request they be for the opposite gender from your child’s (request girl toys for your son’s party, for example).  Call around until you find a shelter that will allow a tour when your child arrives, or at least a peek at how some families live. Seeing the small bunk and few stuffed animals that are the sole possession of a child in a long-term shelter will make it easier for your child to part with the toys, and will really drive the ‘giving’ message home.

** I would never deprive a family member, especially a grandparent, from the pleasure of surprising their grandchild for their birthday. But you can limit the focus on consumerism by asking others for gifts of time. Trips to the zoo, a bike ride and picnic, an art lesson or lunch date will be remembered much longer than the latest toy or cute outfit. Continue reading

Angry Birthday party!

If you love the Angry Birds game /phone app as much as my kids do, you will love this party idea!

This amazing PLAYABLE CAKE (yes!) is made of a little chocolate cake, a lot of fondant, some chocolate covered wafers, and a repurposed kids slingshot toy. See here for a video tutorial if you want to make your own!

Most of the cake was made of colored fondant, like this red bird, ready to catapult towards the pigs.

Slingshot with fondant Angry Birds character

The snack table was called “Bird Feed.” And funnily enough for a 6-year-old’s birthday party, the most popular item was the persian cucumber slices! Not offering chips or cookies was probably the key.

Food table labeled BIRD FEED


The party tables…

Party room for Angry Birds party

These fantastic 3D balloon faces were found here.

Balloons decorated with Angry Birds faces

My son was obsessed with the ‘Bomb Bird’ aka the Black Bird.

Cupcakes with edible Angry Birds edible toppers

If you would like to order Angry Birds Party Printables, please see my Etsy shop! (The other items in the photos are not available in my shop, as they were made by the hosts, the family of my son’s BFF).

birthday invitation with Angry red bird


Other fun ideas for your Angry Birds party!

A party snack made from Babybel cheese shaped like the red Angry Bird

And if you don’t know what all the fuss is about, you can play Angry Birds on your PC, via Google’s web browser Chrome.

Magic Party

Even though I design my own party printables, sometimes your child requests a certain theme, and when you research it, you realize that you could never improve upon a collection that already exists. And that’s how I found myself using this amazing Magic Collection. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed throwing this party…

Here is the dessert table:

Photo of Magic Party dessert table as styled by Renees Soirees

And the amazing custom Magic Hat cake, complete with wand!

Cake made to look like a magic hat and wand

The cupcake tower, striped “6” (cardboard number purchased at Hobby Lobby and Mod Podged with scrapbook paper).

3-Tiered cupcake stand with cupcakes with magic cupcake toppers

I made some cake shooters, consisting of brownie bites and red frosting. Kids especially go mental for push pop anything!

These Top Hat Pops are my own creation, inspired by similar leprechan hats (with instructions here). They are made of jumbo marshmallows, Nilla Wafers, and dipped in dark chocolate candy melts (tinted even darker with a bit of black food coloring). I used a flat frosting tip and red frosting for the band.

Magic Hats on a stick

I made the pretzel “magic wands” by dipping pretzels into white chocolate candy coating, and sprinkling red decorative sugar on them while they were still wet.

The cutlery holder is a re-purposed container with an opening for a photo in the front. I purchased it at Home Goods and used a favor tag instead. The glass container for the pretzels is also from Home Goods.

Presto Pretzel wands dipped in white chocolate

I filled apothcary jars with red and black candy (M&M’s, licorice, cherry sours, red gumballs, etc).
I made these tags myself, so don’t be cross with Amanda at Shindig if it isn’t included in her collection.  🙂

Small apothecary jar filled with red candy and a tag that says CHERRY SOURS

Because the party was near Easter, there were bunny items galore in the stores, but most of them were the wrong color scheme. But I couldn’t resist picking up these rabbit pops from Sam’s Club. The sign is a 4″ medallion taped to a chop stick (yep!) and the can is a formula can wrapped in scrapbook paper (no kidding)! See, you can make a party as elaborate or as inexpensive as you want!

Rabbit-shaped lollipops in a can with a Happy Birthday tag

Well I can’t feed the children JUST desserts, so I had another table with healthier options.

Photo of a plate of vegetables labeled VOILA VEGGIES

The food was fun, but the REAL highlight of the party was the magician. Christopher the Magician made the kids and the parents laugh, and after the show he gave them a magic lesson and a favor bag with magic supplies. I first met him when he performed for my son’s kindergarten class on a day that I happened to be volunteering. I think I laughed harder than the kids did, so I knew we had to have him!

Here is the birthday boy with his siblings. (He looks like he’s sulking, but I think it’s just the shadows.)
He is wearing a custom shirt that I bought on Etsy from a seller who no longer exists, but there are many other cute options, for instance these shirts with a magic hat and age number or initial.
I bought a magician costume for the birthday boy’s little brother (figured I could use it again at Halloween, right?!).

3 children at magic party

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Colin’s Magic Party!

Room with 2 buffet tables, black and red streamers and balloons


All photos (except for the last one) by the amazing Amanda at Rule of Faith Photography.
Magic Hat by the Cake Cafe in Ahwatukee, AZ.
Magician party printables by Shindig Parties To Go

Easter Treats!



Made of:
•Rice Krispie Treats shaped into a nest (via a muffin pan)
•Coconut (green food coloring & coconut in a ziptop baggie, shake)
•Egg-shaped candy (Jelly Beans, Whoppers, etc)
•Chick Peeps

The idea for these came from the Rice Krispie ‘Robin’s Egg Nest’ recipe. This photo is actually from Easter 2007, so my kids were quite young, but they were still able to help shake the bag that colored the coconut, and sprinkle the ‘eggs’ on, and place the Peeps on top. It was a fun family activity.


child striking a pose with his colored easter eggs

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