Category : Holidays & Parties

My daughter is currently very much into horses so I knew she would love a horse-themed party for her birthday this year. In all my years of planning birthday parties for my kids I have come to realize that the essentials for planning a party are pretty easy. Here is a list of things you will need for your party:

  • Invitations
  • Party supplies
  • Activity for kids
  • Cake
  • Favors (optional)

Simple, right? So this year I planned her horse birthday party at a horse stable where they teach lessons and have summer camps and are glad to host parties as well.


From Tickled Pink Invitations

If you cannot host your horse-themed party at a horse stables, that is okay too. You can still have fun with other activities such as “Pin the Tail on the Horse” or the coloring pages with horses, along with the super easy craft we did, as seen below.

Fortunately we had a beautiful day for my daughter’s party!

Here are the party supplies she insisted on having since white horses are her favorite!


 From Birthday Direct

I have a friend who is a wonderful baker and cake decorator so I asked her to make this cake. I just adore how it turned out!



While the children waited their turn to ride, I had them decorate their own cowboy or cowgirl hats. I found these at the dollar store and bought some stick-on gems at the craft store. Everyone also left with their decorated hat as their party favor!


If your little one likes horses they will love this theme for their party. Thankfully it is easy to find horse-themed supplies and you could even order some of these inflatable stick horses and have the kids “ride” around on them in the backyard — how fun would that be?

SSM CollageBirthday


Hope you have a great time at your horse party too!


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Fall birthday ideas include apples, hay and tons of fun

Apple orchards and cider mills can be lovely, seasonal locations for fall birthday ideas, but there are some drawbacks. Stay away from cider-seeking bees and long lines by recreating the cider mill experience at home. With the right menu, adorable decor, and games for your fall birthday child, your at-home apple orchard will come to life.

fall birthday party ideas

Welcome guests with a themed banner

Paper products can truly tie together your entire theme, and Etsy is one of the best places to find what you need for your fall birthday party. The Party Pack Special includes a birthday banner, door sign and cupcake toppers (Dream Party Paperie, $50). Personalized décor can truly turn your living room — or backyard, if you live in an area of the country where you’re not yet tempting the weather — into your own version of a fall family favorite outing.

Bob for apples without the germs

Bobbing for apples is a quintessential Halloween party game, but many parents will give pause to a game that involves a bunch of young children diving open-mouthed into a bucket of water to try to clamp the same apple selection between their teeth. Change the game, just a little, and have all the fun without all the cross-contamination. Add magnets to plastic display apples, add them to a cute tin beverage container, and use the poles from a magnetic fishing game to let kids take turns pulling the apples from the bucket. Mark each apple with different numbers to correspond to prize bags.
fall birthday ideas

Go beyond cider and donuts

Even an at-home cider mill should be well-stocked with cider and cider donuts. If possible, purchase the donuts the morning of the party, so the soft, cake-like donuts are as fresh as possible. Popping them in the microwave for a few seconds before serving will offer your guests the authentic feel of fresh cider donuts. For an alternative dessert, try our fabulous Creamy Caramel Apple Pie Parfaits.
fall birthday ideas

Create a photo backdrop

One of the really lovely things about a trip to an orchard are the fantastic photo opportunities. Create a photo backdrop at your at-home orchard, and offer to snap shots of all of your guests. Let parents know they’re welcome to use the backdrop for their own photos as well. Depending on your budget and annual photo needs, there are two ways you can arrange a photo backdrop: purchase a professional one or create your own.

fall photo backdrop

The Hay Stack Halloween Professional Photo Backdrop is a vinyl backdrop printed with baby-safe Latex ink (Etsy, $57). The backdrop can be used indoors or outdoors, so it’s a practical option if you plan on having annual fall parties and want to photograph your kids — and your friends’ kids — with the same backdrop each year.

If you’re not planning to reuse the backdrop for later parties, creating your own simply takes a little bit of planning. Find a solid wall on which to stage your photos, whether it’s a neutral painted wall or the wooden wall of a shed. Purchase a few bales of hay at a landscaping store, opening one and creating a floor of scattered hay while stacking the others. Purchase a few pumpkins and one additional fall accessory. The professional backdrop includes a rope, but other fun fall ideas are a bushel of apples, pot of mums or a favorite stuffed animal. While there will be imperfections with the homemade backdrop, you can get a wider variety of photos by letting kids climb on the hay and interacting with the rest of the display.

For more fall photo ideas, check out our 12 Fall photo props for baby.

Do you prefer to have your birthday parties at home or at another location?


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It’s that time of year again… time to delight your littlest ghosts and goblins with all things Halloween! And what better way to do that than to invite their friends over for a Halloween cupcake decorating party?

With a bit of prep, you can set up this fun, festive playdate that your kids won’t soon forget.

Halloween party


  • Cupcakes (Homemade or store-bought. We’re pretty sure that your kids won’t care either way.)
  • Dark chocolate frosting
  • Orange frosting
  • Sprinkles (We love the multipacks from Wilton. Because kids love options!)
  • Giant-size Hershey Bar (to be broken into squares and used as tombstones
  • A variety of candy Halloween decorations. Look for skeletons, ghosts, pumpkins, etc.
  • Candy corn
  • Marshmallow ghosts (We used Jet Puffed “Ghost Mallows.”)
  • Cupcake travel boxes (one per child)
  • Paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Creative kids

Aside from shopping for supplies and baking the cupcakes (if you go that route), this party is super easy to pull together.

Halloween cupcake decorating party

For our party, I chose to frost the cupcakes before the kids arrived so they could get straight to the good stuff.

Halloween cupcake decorating party

Hershey chocolate

Jet Puffed Ghost Mallows

Set up the plates and frosted cupcakes at one end of your cupcake decorating space and invite the kids to take a cupcake and work their way down the line, decorating as they go.

(If you can get the kids to decorate their cupcakes ON the paper plates as they go along, you’re more likely to contain some of those rogue, messy sprinkles.)

Halloween cupcakes

Halloween cupcake decorating party

See what I mean about those sprinkles? Imagine the mess without a plate!


Halloween cupcakes

Place the cupcake decorating boxes at the other end of the table, so that when the kids make their way to the end, the box is waiting for them. They can deposit their cupcake in their box and go back to the beginning and continue decorating until they’ve filled their to-go boxes!

cupcake box

And it wouldn’t be a party if they couldn’t taste their creations, so keep the napkins handy at the end of the table so they can get right down to the cupcake eating!

Halloween cupcakes

Halloween cupcakes


And once the kids have had one of their cupcakes? Watch out for those chocolately hugs of gratitude!

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Scary stories channel Halloween spirits

Halloween books are such a deliciously scary way to get ready for the spookiest night of the year. We’ve found the best Halloween titles for your little ghosts and your teenage goblins — and moms might even borrow the young adult selections for themselves!
Halloween books

Halloween books are only one way to enjoy the holiday

Libraries are a great resource for seasonal books if you aren’t sure you want to cram your overflowing bookshelves with titles you’ll only read a few times each year. After you get home, snack on these adorable Chomping Monsters for a special Halloween treat.

scary stories

Halloween stories for little ears

Kids can’t help but love The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams (Barnes & Noble, $7). Get your reading voice ready for this one — there are loads of fun sound effects to include.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (Barnes & Noble, $7) is the perfect book to find on the shelves of your own library. These little bats are fantastic ambassadors for libraries, and your children will be begging you to teach them how to make wall shadows after your first reading.

On a Scary Scary Night (Can You See What I See? Series) by Walter Wick (Barnes & Noble, $12) is a wonderful book for kids who love searching for details. The picture puzzle book contains oodles of Halloween pictures hidden within its pages.

Halloween books

Early readers will love these creepy tales

Trixie the Halloween Fairy by Daisy Meadows (Barnes & Noble, $7) is a Halloween story that won’t keep sensitive children awake at night. Mixed-up costumes and missing candy are some of the mishaps that need to be righted by Rachel, Kirsty, and their newest fairy friend in this triple tale in the Rainbow Magic series.

Early readers can be exposed to vampires without the gore in Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe (Barnes & Noble, $7). A bunny with fangs and a slew of white vegetables are at the heart of this mystery being investigated by Harold and Chester, the dog and cat of the Monroe household.

Neil Gaiman brings his signature blend of fantasy and reality to Coraline (Barnes & Noble, $7). When a young girl finds an alternate version of her home behind a locked door, she needs to outsmart the button-eyed version of her family in order to return to her side of the wall.

Can’t get enough books for your young readers? Check out 10 more children’s books recommendations.

young adult halloween books

Read these scary young adult books in the daylight

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (Barnes & Noble, $15) tells the tale of a young Victor Frankenstein, determined to create the Elixir of Life to save the life of his best friend — and twin brother. Written as a sequel to the Mary Shelley classic, it’s a fantastic introduction to the iconic Frankenstein.

Kami Garcia is the bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series, and she’s got a solo hit with Unbreakable (Legion Series #1) (Barnes & Noble, $8). The first book in the series introduces readers to Kennedy Waters, who must take her deceased mother’s place in an ancient, demon-killing society. Unbreakable is a creepy, compelling introduction to a series you won’t want to stop reading.

Even the most innocent looking doll won’t seem so safe after reading Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender (Barnes & Noble, $9). Sisters Alexis and Kasey begin to notice strange things happening in their home. Kasey’s newfound anger worries Alexis, but maybe not as much as the small detail of her sister’s eyes changing from blue to green.

Do you have a favorite scary book?
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It’s Halloween! But, your kids’ school doesn’t allow costumes. Bummer. Grab some pieces from these Halloween-inspired outfits for kids that will spunk up their Halloween school day.

Halloween outfits for girls for costume-free schools

It’s easy to pull pieces from your daughter’s existing wardrobe and mix them with a Halloween-centric statement tee or a fun, school-approved accessory to create an outfit that will work for costume-free schools. Match-up any of these easy-to-find pieces with her favorite black fluffy skirt, or even just a pair of jeans, and you’re sure to avoid any tears over her not being able to wear her beloved costume to school on Halloween.

Halloween Styles for Girls


Top row:
Halloween Glitter Graphic Tee, GAP, $17
Girls Halloween Print Leggings, Old Navy, $10
Girls Hello Kitty Graphic Halloween Tee, Old Navy, $17
Orange Dot 5-Pack Hair Ties, Emi Jay, $13

Bottom row:
Bones Halloween Knee-High Socks, LittleMissMatched, $13
Girls Footed Striped Tights, Target, $4
Girls Casual Halloween Dress, Target, $13

Halloween outfits for boys for costume-free schools

There are some super-cool Halloween tees out there for boys and we’ve picked some of our favorites, many of which glow in the dark! Don’t forget that even though we’ve put these down for the dudes, a few of them will likely appeal to your girls, too. Add his favorite pair of jeans or shorts and you’re ready for his costume-free school on Halloween!

Halloween Styles for Boys

Top row:
Helloween Glow-in-the-Dark 3/4-Sleeve Raglan Tee, Hello Apparel, $24 (Available in adult sizes, too!
Printed Hooded Jacket, H&M, $25

Middle row:
Glow-in-the-Dark Halloween Skeleton Graphic Tee, The Children’s Place, $10
Disney Mickey Mouse Halloween Tee, Old Navy, $13

Bottom row:
Mini Skull Bib, nununu, $28
Boys’ Long-Sleeve Glow-in-the-Dark Bats Tee, J.Crew Crewcuts, $33
Boys’ 2-Pack Skeleton Socks, Target, $5

Does your kids’ school allow costumes on Halloween?
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My husband likes to buy my children Halloween costumes from the store; it is somewhat of a tradition for him and the kids to go pick them out together. However, we usually have more than one Halloween event and my kids can be finicky. Honestly, I do not want them wearing their “nice” Halloween costume to every event anyway, like the local “trunk or treat” or school haunted house.

So, instead of buying more than one costly costume, I look to our closets and toy chests for things that can be worn as a costume as well.

Here are five examples of alternative ideas for costumes for our favorite candy-filled holiday:

Sports Player

My boys played soccer and are now in karate. I could easy send one of my kids as a soccer player or “ninja”. Do you have a pee wee football player or little league kid? Well then send them as Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter! It would also be cute to send your daughter as a famous quarterback. I think big shoulder pads and black under the girls’ eyes is cute and unexpected!

Halloween Costume


My daughter has a dress-up basket in her closet with several different princess dresses, tiaras and shoes. I would venture to guess than many people with little girls have a few hanging around as well. A few of ours have come from second-hand stores or garage sales or been passed down from friends. This is about the easiest one to put together around my house!

Halloween Costume


Do you have an old white sheet you can cut up into strips and some white or grey clothes to go underneath? Add a pair of white socks to cover theirs shoes and you are good to go!


White sheets come in very handy… Drape a twin-size sheet over your child’s head and cut around the bottom to make it the right length for their height. Next, cut a couple of holes for the eyes and another one for the nose and you are good to go! So easy!

Ghost Halloween Costume


Reuse previous dance costumes or borrow one from a friend. It is fun to do their hair up and put on make-up for this idea as well.  And, it also works for little tots too. See?

Halloween Costume


What easy costume could you come up with at your house?

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Camping with kids

Camping with kids doesn’t have to involve renting an extra vehicle to haul your gear. Do a camping test run in your backyard to see if your kids are ready for a weekend away. Pitch a tent, create a backyard scavenger hunt and invite a few friends to camp out without leaving your neighborhood.

camping with kids

The benefits of camping at home

A camping test run will help you and your kids feel more comfortable planning a weekend or week-long camping trip. There’s nothing worse than loading up cars and unpacking tents and then realizing there’s no way your kids are ready to spend a weekend outside with the sound of crickets, wind and the unruly college campers at the campsite across from yours. At home, you have control over the amount of time you spend “camping.” Kids can use their own bathroom, and any real fears of sleeping outside can be addressed by returning to a bedroom inside the house.

Backyard camping supplies
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag/air mattress
  • Water bottles
  • Small cooler with snacks
  • S’mores maker — unless you have a backyard fire pit (Plow & Hearth, $25)
  • Scavenger hunt (Etsy, $7)
  • Play doh
  • Fun sprinkler
  • Bathing suits
  • Sunscreen
  • Change of clothes & pajamas

camping with kids

Don’t stress about the campout

The more fun you can make the camping dry run, the more fun camping with kids can actually be when you do it for real. Try to emphasize that the campout is like a sleepover outside. If you have close family friends or cousins who might want to try camping, too, invite them to share your backyard! Let kids help with their packing, and remember not to overdo it — really, everything you need is only a few feet from your tent.

Focus on the fun

Kids can hold tent stakes or “direct” tent building, but if their attention span wanes, try a little distraction so they don’t wander back inside. Play doh is the perfect camping toy — it’s the one time you don’t have to worry about getting it stuck on your floors! Set up the sprinkler for a while, and guide them in a scavenger hunt around the backyard — create your own or turn to the printable experts at Etsy. At the end of the evening, huddle around a fire pit or set up a s’mores maker for sweet treats and campfire stories — and hopefully start planning a weekend camping trip!

Do you go camping with kids?
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Thinking about throwing a circus-themed party for your big top loving tot? Check out these applause-worthy treats that will leave your crowd wanting more.

Walking the tight rope

This easy DIY cake topper is perfect for any circus themed party — whether it’s for kids or adults. Let the colors pop against the backdrop of vanilla bean frosting. It’s all in the details with this one. Yum!
Photo courtesy of


Clown cupcakes

Gummy worm smiles, fruit cereal hair and licorice eyes. You can’t get any more sweet (or cute) than that. These clown cupcakes are the perfect treat for any circus-loving kid.
Photo courtesy of

Circus peanuts

Peanuts! Get your peanuts here! With all the food allergies out there, it’s probably best to stay away from actual peanuts, so these candy substitutes are just the right choice.
Photo courtesy of

Dumb bell pops

Chocolate-dipped marshmallows and candy straws make up these strongman dumbbells. Use piped frosting to mark each one with its weight.
Photo courtesy of

Personalized animal crackers

Animal crackers. These perfectly portable packs of cookies are too cute not to include in a circus-themed spread. What could make them better? Personalizing them with the name of the birthday boy or girl.
Photo courtesy of

Colorful cotton candy

What circus would be complete without cotton candy? Cute striped boxes are filled with colorful spun sugar. Finish each one off with an “admit one” ticket for the full affect.
Photo courtesy of

Pretty pachyderms

The big top wouldn’t be the same without elephants. Bring these majestic animals — only smaller — to life at your party. Chocolate molds, melting chocolate and lollipop sticks are all you need.
Photo courtesy of Rosebud Chocolates on

Polka dot cookies

While we’re on the elephant tip, let’s get a little crazy with the polka dot kind. These bite-sized cookies are so pretty, they serve as great decorations as well.
Photo courtesy of  Sugar Me Desserterie on

SocialCircus LeaderboardThis is a sponsored post in conjunction with the online #SocialCircus Event

Moms, what treats would you serve up at a circus party?
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Circus birthday party

Hosting an adorable circus-themed first birthday party for your child is a definite way to ensure that fun will be had by all! For us moms (and dads!) hosting birthday parties and choosing the right theme can be stressful, but a circus-inspired party can be so simple to pull off. From carnival treats and snacks to colourful banners and cupcake wrappers, I’ve found the perfect items for your little one’s first birthday bash.

I’m always a fan of easy-to-throw-together parties. Anything that’s easy on the parents and exciting for the kids gets a big giant A in my book. Putting together a circus-themed party with the sweet-as-candy supplies I’ve featured will be not only easy but will be guaranteed fun for your little one and his/her friends. What child doesn’t love fun, vibrant decorations and delicious food?

The invites

Circus-themed invitations

I love all of these fun invitations. They are bright and unique, as well as gender-neutral, which is a plus.

1. Blaze birthday party invitations 2. Ticket invitation 3. Vintage circus invitation 4. Circus birthday invitation

The decor

Circus party decor


All you need for foolproof big-top decor is vibrant colours, great printables and some other odds and ends that can create that carnival feel. Try serving drinks in old glass milk bottles, and drape festive banners around the party space to add circus appeal to every corner of the room!

1. Circus high chair decorations  2. Picture props 3. Carnival birthday party 4. Cupcake wrappers 5. Polka dot balloons 6. Circus decoration ideas

The menu

Circus party food ideas


The food for your party should be simple and fun for the little ones. Believe it or not this can be done! Ice the cake in whimsical colours. Lollipops and popcorn are easy no-brainers, and using old apothecary jars filled with candy and treats are easy ways to add to the effect.

1. Circus-themed party food 2. Retro popcorn boxes 3. Snacks and treats 4. Circus treats and decor 5. Popcorn-shaped marshmallows

What do you think of the circus theme for a first birthday party? How would you incorporate the circus into your little one’s big day?



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Bagels, eggs, champagne, bacon. We’ve all seen these staples at Easter morning brunch. But where’s the punch? Where’s the fun? These recipes are sure to amp up appetites and kick Easter brunch up a notch — from fun to fantastic.

Banana Almond Croissant Bread Pudding

I love all these words. Love them. How could you go wrong? The only way it could be better, maybe, is with chocolate. But why mess with perfection. This recipe is easy to follow, but it will look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

Photo courtesy of

Updated Eggs in a Basket

Eggs in a hole are so old school, but this recipe takes them to a new place. Whether you wrap your eggs in philo dough or in a popover, these savory treats will go fast.

Photo courtesy of


It’s the Bees Knees

Tired of mimosas? Looking for something a little…stronger? Yep, us too. This cocktail is full of springtime flavor with fresh juices, honey and gold rum. Who’s ready for another round?

Photo and recipe courtesy of
Bunny Bottom Pancakes Recipe

And Something for the Kids

These bunny bottom pancakes will make kids squeal with delight. The added dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries may have them asking for seconds.

Photo courtesy of


French Toast Shots

French toast can be messy, especially when you are serving things up family style. These cute French toast sticks are nestled in their own shot glass of syrup. They’re dunkable and totally delicious.

Photo courtesy of


Bacon Pancakes

Everything is better with bacon. That includes these pancakes. You can make these ahead of schedule and warm in the oven right before serving time. Once you have one, you’ll want another so make plenty.

Photo courtesy of


Moms, what are you serving for Sunday brunch?
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