For Father’s Day, I made “A Book About My Daddy” workbook for the Dumpling to fill out as a personalized gift for jigg. The template contained typical sections to fill in her dad’s name, age, eye color, reasons she loves him, etc. Unlike typical “feel good” versions, however, I made sure mine contained opportunities to have a few laughs at my husband’s expense. She got to rate jigg’s skill in various categories, compare his abilities with mommy, and divulge what he sucks at doing.
The Dumpling’s brutal honesty did not disappoint! My kid is savage. Never ask her any questions that you do not want to know the answers to.
A number of people has asked me to share the book template, so here it is! I made a few edits to my original version so that the questions and answer options can be applicable to more people. Even though Father’s Day is over, this would make a funny birthday gift for dads as well.
I was able to get away with not throwing the Dumpling a birthday party last year, but not anymore. Having attended countless birthday celebrations of her friends, the Dumpling had specific requests of how she wanted to celebrate her fourth birthday.
Between a My Little Pony or Halloween themed bash, the Dumpling surprising chose the latter — probably because she wanted to wear her princess costumes. So this year, we threw another not-so-scary Halloween birthday party.
I sent out an electronic mummy-themed invitation to set the tone of the party. As much as I love physical invitations, digital ones are just so much easier to send and track…not to mention more environmentally friendly!
Goody bags are necessary evils because the kids get so excited about them…for about 15 minutes. I tried to keep the items practical and within the budget of $2-3 per bag. My strategy was to buy items in sets and then separated each into individual gifts. Below are a few ideas I considered:
I always make my own bunting because it’s inexpensive to create custom text and colors to match my decor.
I also purchased a few small pumpkins and simple decorations from Amazon that I put up a few hours before the party.
Games & Activities
Along with a trampoline and bouncy castle that came with the venue rental, we played games to keep the kids entertained. I had prizes prepared for the winners, and theoretically every child had a chance to win something. Unfortunately there were still a few tears because everyone wanted to be winners at the same time…lesson learned for the next party!
Wrap a Mummy: We divided the kids into groups and provided them with two rolls of toilet paper. The team who finished wrapping an adult with the toilet paper (covering head, hands, body, and legs) won.
Pumpkin Relay Race: Each kid must race while balancing a pumpkin on his/her head.
Hot Pumpkin: Similar to hot potato, each kid must pass the pumpkins around. Whoever was holding a pumpkin when the music stopped, was out.
Craft Station: I set up a small table with crayons, coloring sheets, and craft supplies. This little corner surprisingly became a huge hit!
A big thank you to everyone who came to celebrate. Happiest birthday to my little Dumpling, who really isn’t so little anymore!
The Dumpling’s kindergarten is throwing a birthday party for all November babies at the end of the month. Since she’s one of the birthday kids, I wanted to do something extra. So along with treats, I also made her classmates a coloring activity book as a party favor that I’m sharing as a customizable printable!*
The book is super easy to make because it’s printed single-sided on a regular piece of copy paper without any gluing or binding. While the customizable version provides the option to include a short message, I have also made a generic version with a simple “Happy Birthday” on the cover. The content is suitable for pre-schoolers and kindgardeners.
Customize the cover text in Adobe Reader (skip if using the generic template )
Open up the PDF file in Adobe Reader and click on the form fields (highlighted in blue) to edit the text.
Print. Prior to hitting the print button, select “Fit” under the Page Sizing section. This ensures that no matter what size paper you’re using (whether A4 or Letter), the entire image would be scaled appropriately to fit within the print area.
Trim the page border. Although this step might look extraneous, it ensures that all your pages will be of equal size.
Fold and Cut.
I managed to whip out 20 of these within the hour…mom-life is hard work!
* Please note that the two graphic elements in the template are different than the version featured in the video—the font used on the cover and the balloon design on the letter tracing spread.
In what felt like a blink of an eye, the Dumpling turned three last week. It was the first year that she understood what a birthday is, and ironically, it was also the first time I didn’t throw her a party. (My rationale was a bit complicated—something to do with me no longer feeling guilty about us not spending enough time together.) Instead we did a few birthday-themed activities leading up to the big day and took a family trip to Disney Hong Kong for the grand finale.
The Dumpling’s lungs got a workout as she practiced blowing out pretend candle made out of marker caps. We even played a bit of “air bowling” by arranging the caps like bowling pins and trying to knock them all down in one huff.
Scrap Paper Cake
We used pieces of scrap paper that were cut into varying lengths to build our first cake. I even managed to sneak in a numbers exercise by labeling the strips 1-10 and asking the Dumpling to glue them in chronological order.
3D Styrofoam Cake
For our second cake, we painted styrofoam circles and stacked them to create a 3D layer cake.
Birthday Breakfast of Champions
On the morning of the Dumpling’s birthday, I made her favorite breakfast food—pancakes. I added a candle because pancake is a cake…right? Those candle blowing exercises paid off because she kept blowing the candle out before I could snap a picture!
The actual birthday cake
The Dumpling wanted a chocolate cake, so I asked jigg to pick up something cute at Harbour City since the selection is somewhat limited in Discovery Bay. While I was expecting cartoon characters, he came home with this chic gourmet dark chocolate cake from Paul Lafayet. Even though the Dumpling gobbled it up, I think jigg and I need to recalibrate our definition of “cute” in the future.
Disney Hong Kong
Despite talking about going to Disney for months, the Dumpling was absolutely miserable when we got there. She only smiled on the “Small World” ride and was Miss Grumpy Pants the rest of the time. Womp womp.
A nice thing about throwing a party for my two year old is that the Dumpling is still too young to realize that the festivities are for her. That meant I had 100% say in the theme and got to live vicariously through my daughter. The result was a mint green, pink, and gold celebration that I would have liked if I were two going on 32.
I love making my own party decorations because I can customize every detail on a budget. But I sometimes take the DIY aspect a bit too far—to a point where I thought “doing it yourself” meant doing everything yourself. For example, I was so stressed planning the Dumpling’s first birthday party last year that I had anxiety attacks (and poor jigg was on the receiving end of most of them) because I was pressed for time.
To ensure that I enjoyed every moment of my party crafting this year, I made a list of everything that needed to be done, took on only the projects that I wanted, and sought help for everything else—tasks that I didn’t want to do, am not good at, or were time-consuming and didn’t provide value. While I gained convenience and time at the expense of higher costs, the trade off made sense given my hectic schedule.
Have Someone Else Do the Set Up and Clean Up
On the top of my list was renting a venue because after hours of prepping followed by several more of hosting, the last thing I wanted to do was cleaning. We rented out Good Day Play Cafe, an indoor playroom that was perfect entertainment for our little guests and parents. Their tiered party packages and a la carte options offer a variety of services across different price ranges. The staff was phenomenal and helped with the set up, provided food for the kiddos, and of course, the clean up.
Budget friendly thought: Host the party at home and hire cleaners to come afterwards.
Delegate Your Weakness
My strength is in design, not baking. When it came you dessert, I was more than happy to seek professional help rather than spend time learning to bake and sculpt gum paste (and worry whether my creations would be edible).
By chance, I was browsing through Instagram three days before the party when I saw my my friend’s gorgeous dessert creations and immediately fell in love. I gave her free reign on the design and was ecstatic with the results! One of the beauty of hiring a professional is that she knows what she’s doing and didn’t need much guidance from me.
Budget friendly thought: Decorate plain cakes or cupcakes with personalized banners and flags.
Use Pre-Made Decorations
How housewives felt about instant cake mixes back when the product first came to market was how I initially felt about pre-made party decorations: it’s cheating. Then I realized that I didn’t want to spend hours cutting up tissue paper, so I bought a pre-made (but unassembled) party kit from Amazon that came with tassels, decorative straws, and pom pom.
Budget friendly thought: Amazon offers a variation of what is included in their party kits, so explore their sets rather than buying pieces individually.
Focus on the Fun Part!
Delegating out certain tasks freed up more time for me to focus on designing.
Remember that Time is Valuable!
People often asked me where I found the time to throw a DIY party as a full time working mom. If there’s one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s time management. When “free time” is scarce, I made sure the it was used efficiently by focusing on my strengths and what made me happy; everything else was a distraction. Crafting is supposed to be fun and therapeutic and I intend to keep it that way!
Finding the right gift to use as a favor has always been one of my biggest party planning hurdles. It feels like I’m searching for a unicorn when I’m looking for something that meets ALL three of my following criteria:
Practical: The gift should be useful, not something the kids play with once and toss into recycling.
Fun for most ages: Since my guests range from babies to toddlers to young children, the gift should ideally be appealing to a wide demographic.
Affordable: My goal is to keep each item under $3.
My strategy is to come up with a list of things that I use with the Dumpling on a regular basis, then filter out items that are too age specific, and try to purchase them in bulk for volume discounts.
For example, I gifted headbands and bow ties for the Dumpling’s first birthday last year. Both have re-use value, are available in sets, and can be used with children of all ages. (I use the Dumpling’s headband as a scrunchie …and I’m 32.)
Cookie Cutters Are Useful, Fun, and Cheap!
Cookie cutters made the cut for the Dumpling’s party favor this year because they knock all three criteria out of the park. I thought of the idea after an old set unexpectedly received a lot of mileage in our household recently. While prices range drastically depending on shapes and materials, I opted for a box of 24 stainless steel cutters for a whopping $8.50 on Amazon. (I didn’t purchase a replica of what I have since I didn’t need 100 cutters!) Because the package comes in an assortment, I labeled each gift bag with the child’s name and assigned a pattern for everyone. This ensured that the design is gender appropriate and siblings do no get the same thing.
The cost of each favor came out to $0.35 each!
Activities With Cookie Cutters
Teach ABCs, Shapes, Numbers, Etc.
I initially dug my cookies cutters out because the set contains plastic molds of all 26 letter that I wanted to use as alphabet “blocks” with the Dumpling. They served my purpose because 1) they look enough like toys to pique my toddler’s interest; 2) they are light and easy to grab; and 3) they are movable to form short, simple words.
Cut or sculpt food
I subsequently found myself using the other shapes to make meal time more interesting. They can be used to cut through bread, pancakes, cheese, sliced fruits, or anything soft.
Stamp and Stencil
The Dumpling used the shapes as stamps to create repeating pattern with finger paint.