One for the Boys…

valentine gliders p1 edit in processFinding appropriate and fun valentines for boys can some times be a bit of a challenge.  With a whole house full of boys, I’ve become an expert as sneaking in a few hearts for the occasion while still retaining all that boyish fun. And with a touch of creativity, there are so many cute themes that can be used.

So we’ve already made some transportation valentine goody bags, but we also made adorable airplane-themed valentines this year as well.  Our oldest son picked out gliders that he requested be his valentine class treat.  Which is great because we can totally skip the whole peanut-free candy headache. So, to coordinate with the gliders, we used the printable airplane valentine from the transportation collection.  Printed them all on heavy white card stock from our home color printer, punched two holes at the top of each are and tied them to the already bagged gliders that came that way.

So simple! And coordinated… and my favorite… a fun little candy-free valentine treat that still retains all that boyish fun (and maybe, just maybe contains a heart or two).

Find even more valentine designs (for boys and girls) on Oodles-and-Doodles.com or at the OandD Etsy shop.

valentine gliders p2 edit

Valentine’s Day

valentines_OandD_edited.jpgValentine’s Day always sneaks up on me every year.  I don’t know what it is… I feel like we’re just getting over the holidays and then it’s magically February.  So, in response, I typically pick a really easy Valentine’s Day project.  Because, let’s be honest… it’s usually me that does most of the work since all the little hands in this house are mostly interested in eating the chocolate candy and playing with the toys.

This year, we went with the super simple Valentine’s Day goody bags for school.  I love this idea because we can skip the candy completely and fill the baggies with little valentine-themed toys.  We stuck with a transportation theme and used the personalized & printable valentine cards from the shop.  I love these because you can use them year after year and the theme works for so many different ideas. And boys can be tricky on this holiday… far too many pink and red hearts out there to make my kids happy.

We printed both sets of Transportation valentines on heavy white card stock, stuck them in clear baggies and sealed all the little goodies shut with the matching favor tags.  (This is one of my favorite tricks… so super simple and easy … and perfectly coordinated).  The trick here is to print the tags on sticky paper.  I like Avery Full Sheet labels. The entire page is a giant sticker so you can cut out square tags or punch out 2 inch or 2.5 inch circles.  Easy peasy.  And done.  And….I never had to worry about searching for peanut free school-approved candy.

I wish all things were this simple!

And you can find lots of other Valentine-themed designs in the Etsy shop and on Oodles-and-Doodles.com.  There’s adorable owl designs for girls, animals for the itty bitties, and robots and monsters too!  (One day, when I plan ahead enough, I’m going to pick up some eyeball bouncy balls at Halloween and save them for those Monster valentines.  How perfect would that be)?!  Next year – that’s on my list for next year.  It’ll be here before you know it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

How to Create the Perfect Holiday Card

Starting right around Thanksgiving, the design requests for custom Christmas & Holiday cards start to pour in.  Now, I don’t typically have the time to indulge on custom designs during the year, but the holidays become my one exception.  I love designing Christmas cards… seeing all those bright smiling faces, and watching the children of some of my favorite clients change from year to year.  And let’s face it… those happy, merry little faces just make my day!  It completely gets me in the Christmas spirit.

So as you can imagine, I get all kinds of requests! And after years of designing custom holiday cards, I’ve come to learn a little bit about what goes into creating the perfect one. So here are a few of my trade secrets.

 

Tip 1: Let the photo do the talking!

Don’t try to accomplish too much in one card. Don’t squeeze in an entire year of vacation & holiday & seasonal photos.  Don’t include ten barely visible thumbnail photos.  Pick one photo from the year that you LOVE.  Maybe it’s a fabulous professional photo you had taken or maybe it’s one you took yourself.  But pick the one you LOVE and use it.  Build everything around it.  Keep it simple.  And let us all see those big smiling family faces when we receive the card in the mail.

Wait… what??… one photo… with EVERYONE in it? SMILING?  Yeah, I hear you… it’s impossible to get three kids to sit down and smile in one picture.  Totally understand.  It is (most days).  Don’t fight it.  Just take a different route. Consider one that includes all of them playing or laughing (and not necessarily posed and smiling perfectly).

Or consider breaking up the kids into individual photos but all in a similar design, so it feels like one big photo.  Converting the photos to all the same type of finish/color helps create a cohesive feel.

 

Tip 2: Add a bright, bold, {FUN} backside with additional photos

Because it’s hard to pick just one.  Add a few more photos on the back.  A boring, plain white backside to any card is a major pet peeve of mine.  After all, you took the time to send all these cards out to family & friends.. use all the space you have!  And brighten it all up with a bold matching pattern.

 

Tip 3: Pick a Fabulous Printer

For goodness sake, don’t print out cards with your family’s photos that you LOVE at a lousy printer.  A great card printed at a crummy printer is… well…. a crummy card.  A great image is only as good as the printing, so pick well!  It’ll be worth it.

And if you’d like to have a custom holiday card designed around your photo, find it all at Oodles and Doodles.  With lots more holiday card designs to peruse as well.

Everything is available either as a printable file for you to print yourself or printed at a fabulous professional printer in the highest of quality.  And shipped next day to you … because, you know, who has time to spend worrying about cards? There’s so much more to do for the holidays!

Happy Holidays!

 

Exciting NEWS!

Family Tree, Canvas Print, Personalized Family Tree, Family Tree Gifts | Oodles and Doodles, OandD

I am super, super excited to announce that I’ve partnered with a fabulous speciality canvas printer and am now offering a Canvas Print option for all my Modern Family Tree Art.

This all came about a few months ago as I was looking for some great artwork for my newly renovated bathroom.  I searched for such a long time and couldn’t find anything that fit the space. And then one day it suddenly occurred to me… it was a perfect place for a canvas print version of my own family tree. After giving them as gifts for years, I had yet to make one for myself.  So, long story short, I teamed up with this truly fabulous canvas printer and they produced the most beautiful printed version of my art.  Once I saw it in person, I knew that I just had to start offering it in the OandD Etsy Shop  (and coming soon to the Oodles and Doodles website).

The prints arrive super fast (which I love.  I have no patience.) and are printed on a thick, luxurious poly-cotton blend canvas that is archival grade and lasts over 100 years. Once printed, the canvas is sprayed with ultra-protective laminate coat to make it waterproof, scratch, and UV light resistant. And then finished with a premium satin coating which provides a soft luster finish.

These Family Tree prints really are my go-to gift for all those impossible gift-giving occasions (like those 80th birthdays, or 70th wedding anniversaries, or Mother’s Day).  And, they’re available in any color to match any decor/event.

Hope you love them as much as I do!

Ahoy! Someone is a Big Boy … A New Nautical Birthday Party inspired by a trip to the Sea

We just got back from an amazing trip to a beautiful island with the most welcoming, kind residents!  And after five days of drinking in all that gorgeous turquoise water and white, sandy beaches, who wouldn’t be inspired?  So, once I got home, I set to work designing a new Nautical Birthday Party.  And I’m totally in love with it.  Now I just have to find an event so that I can use it. And an excuse to spend countless more days on the beach soaking up all that beauty.

The full Nautical Birthday Collection is available at the OandD Etsy Shop and the Oodles and Doodles website.

ROAR! Our Big Boy turned FOUR (with a DINO-MITE Birthday Party)!

Dinosaur Birthday Party, Birthday season is finally over in our house!  One big First Birthday, four cases of strep, one broken finger, and finally a 4th Birthday.  And now I’m tired!  I mean… really tired!  But the party turned out so well, that I just had to share all the details.

Our son’s “ROAR!  I’m FOUR” Dinosaur themed birthday party turned out great!  It was, of course, designed by him.  Every year, I ask him what kind of birthday party he would like me to design, and this year he said dinosaurs with lots of polka dots.  Specifically BIG polka dots (and he wanted them pink.. but Mom overruled him on that one)!  I got to work designing the whole party for him and started with the invitation. I’m so tired of the typical dinosaur theme full of drab green & brown, that I decided to brighten it up a bit and play with the words so that the dinosaurs appeared to be walking through them.   And, of course, added a big photo on the polka dotted back.  I love photos on the back of an invitation.  Why not use that space?These particular invites were printed at VistaPrint (and I rounded the corners myself).

Dinosaur Birthday Party Invitation, Party Printables by Oodles and Doodles, OandDROAR! Printable Dinosaur Party Invitation by Oodles and Doodles, OandD

Once the invitation was designed, the whole party took form.  Party signs, chalkboard posters, banners, cupcake toppers, adorable favors, you name it!  And, some really great dinosaur activities for all the kiddos.

Our big guy’s birthday was right after Easter, so we took advantage of that and stocked up on a lot of white, plastic Easter eggs and filled them with really great dinosaur crayons from Etsy.  They were just perfect!  Packaged them all up, added the favor tags and viola!  Perfect and super easy… and more importantly … adorable.  Here are just a few photos of how the favors turned out.

Dinosaur Favors for Dinosaur ROAR Party by Oodles and Doodles, OandD

And there were lots more decorations… party signs, chalkboard posters, and really simple diy centerpieces made from my digital patterned paper and cupcake toppers all available in the birthday party kit.  You can find a tutorial on how to make the centerpieces from my party tips post.

DIY Dinosaur Centerpieces by Oodles and Doodles, OandD

Here are a few photos of the banner (with a dinosaur crawling through each letter), party signs, and dinosaur party hats.  The hats were so easy to make!  All you need is the printable party hat, glue, and some foam cut into triangles and glued up the seam of the hat.  Super simple and so cute!

ROAR! Dinosaur Birthday Party by Oodles and Doodles, OandD

Boy's Dinosaur Birthday Party Decorations by Oodles and Doodles, OandDROAR Dinosaur Birthday Chalkboard Poster by Oodles and Doodles, OandD

And finally, no kids party would be complete without activities!  We had a “Design your own Dino” station, a “Make your own Fossil” station complete with play dough and plastic bugs for imprinting, a dinosaur piñata, and a “Dino Dig.”  The Dino Dig was the bit hit of the party!  I had decided against actually hiding dinosaur bones in sand (ugh… sand … everywhere… can you even imagine??), and switched it to a “Dinosaur (Egg Hunt) Dig” so the kids got to jump in a giant size blow-up pool filled with shredded paper and search for plastic eggs filled with tiny dinosaurs.  The activities were meant to be played outside, but it had rained the day before, so they all got moved into our unfinished basement.  It still worked out great!  The kiddos made a HUGE mess and loved every minute of it.  Even some of the adults jumped in.  (When grown ups can’t resist, that’s how you know it was a success).  And the birthday boy is still talking about “his dino dig.”

Dinosaur Party Activities

Our big birthday boy had a DINO-MITE time… and so did everyone else.  The party was a big hit!  I’ve been told that I should start working on a rocket party for next year… so stay tuned!

Vendors:

All Party Printables were designed by Oodles and Doodles and are available in the OandD Etsy Shop or on the Oodles and Doodles website.

Oh how time FLIES when you’re turning ONE!

It’s birthday season around here, and we kicked it off with the biggest one of all!  Our little guy just turned One and celebrated in style with an airplane-themed party designed just for him. Now, as you can probably imagine, birthday parties are a super big deal in our house.  Months of preparation,  lots of obsessing over little details, and lots of shopping go into it.  (And maybe, just maybe, lots of eye-rolling from my husband). So after all that thought, planning and hard work, I thought I would share some photos of the party … and more importantly some of my favorite party styling tips. But first, some photos of our little guy’s big day!  I can’t believe how fast the first year FLEW by!

And now on to all those creative Party Styling Tips:

1. Party Printables (and why I love them)

Of course, I love them!  After all, I spend a good amount of time designing them.  But, honestly, they’re the best.  Super easy, inexpensive, really versatile, you can print as many copies as you need…  Pretty much the only way to have a completely custom, pulled together, DIY party. For this particular party, I designed an airplane theme centered around how fast the first year flies by (because it does)!  And so my starting point was creating a sweet invitation with a photo collage on the back highlighting all of his milestones this past year.  Because, honestly, you never really tire of looking at baby photos of your own kids, do you?

2. Wrapping Paper as a Table Runner

Wrapping paper is one of my best kept secrets. Actually, come to think of it, I think it was my mother’s brilliant idea.  So here’s the great part about wrapping paper… it makes an awesome table runner.  It looks adorable, is super inexpensive, can be thrown out when the party is over (especially with all those little chocolate-covered fingers running around near the cake table), and can be used long after the party.. you know.. as wrapping paper.  Oh, and you can always wrap your child’s gifts in it and will get bonus points for being uber-coordinated.  Plus, I use wrapping paper all the time to line the inside of glass vases to make centerpieces, too. This is literally a tip that I use for every party I’ve ever thrown whether it’s in a house or a restaurant.  It’s so simple.  So here’s a photo of our son’s party with the wrapping paper (red and white polka dots) over a cheap blue plastic table-cloth.  And the best place to buy it?  Hobby Lobby at Christmas time.  They have the best, thickest paper.  (And most of my party kit designs include polka dots, so you can pretty much always find something to match).  The Container Store is a good bet too!

3. Pipe Cleaners to Decorate … pretty much everything!

Ok, so I’m slightly obsessed with pipe cleaners.  Remember in school, when you used to “curl” them around a pencil?  Yep.  That’s me.  Still doing that.  But now with my 4 year old.  He loves it too.  So I use pipe cleaners to decorate pretty much everything…  in centerpieces, on cake cutters, to tie favor bags, as extra decorations, you name it.

DSC_5366e with watermark DSC_5344e with wtrmrk First Birthday Boy's Airplane Party by Oodles and Doodles, OandD

4. Creative {adorable} Favors

I firmly believe you can’t have a great party without sending your guests home with a sweet little favor.  And so, this is usually one of those details that I obsess about for a long time trying to come up with the perfect, most creative idea.  And for this party, I hit the jackpot!  The most adorable printable suitcase favor box by Claudine Hellmuth.  I’m totally in love with these.  They are, of course, stuffed with hershey kisses in homage to our Chicago airport’s “kiss ‘n fly.”   Super adorable, simple, and inexpensive.  Each suitcase favor box is packaged in a clear bag, tied with a pipe cleaner and personalized favor tags from my Airplane Party Kit (along with a little extra flag in there too).  You can never have too many tags.  And, of course, there’s the perfect “Baggage Claim” sign from the kit to go with it all.

Boy's First Birthday Airplane Party

5. Not Just Water Bottle Labels 

Yup, those.  Now I have a ton of clients that never bother to use them.  Totally a mistake.  They can be used for lots of things!  First, of course, as actual water bottle wraps.  And here’s the tip for those: 1) don’t actually place on ice (they may run) and 2) print on Avery full sheet labels.  The entire page is sticky, so you can use it for any shape or size that you want and don’t have to worry about margins.  Genius.  Or, honestly, you can totally print them on white typing paper and glue the ends together.  It’s not exactly rocket science. But.. I use them all the time as wraps around vases.  Or, in this case, as wraps around some bar glasses to hold all my plastic utensils.  Of course you have to decorate those too!

Boy's Airplane Birthday Party by Oodles and Doodles, OandD DSC_5325e with wtrmrk

6. Digital (Scrapbook) Paper for Centerpiece Vases

This is another one of my favorite secrets.  Nearly every party kit that I design includes digital patterned paper.  And I don’t think most people know what to do with it.  It is the BEST!  First, it’s included in kits so it matches everything perfectly.  Next, you can print it just like normal and cut out any shape/size, etc. that you want (think: envelope liners, drink flags, cake bunting, back liners, etc).  But, my two favorite uses: 1) stringing multiple sheets together with cute ribbon and making a table runner out of it, and 2) lining centerpiece vases.  I think I pretty much use that trick at every party.  All you need is some cheap dollar store glass vases and a bit of creativity.  So here’s the centerpieces from this year…. matching digital paper printed and placed inside a glass vase, some shredded paper over a bit of styrofoam at the bottom of the vase, wooden dowel rods, cupcake toppers, an airplane graphic & ribbon.  You can find the super simple tutorial here.  Oh, and those Airplane party hats.  Those don’t really ever stay on little heads for very long, so why not use them as table decorations?

Boy's Airplane Birthday Party in Blue and Red by Oodles and Doodles, OandD

7. No Helium Required

You have to have balloons at a kid’s party.  That goes without saying.  BUT… I really despise having to go pick up helium balloons on the day of the party when I already have twenty million other things to do.  So this year I decided that I was going to skip the helium (but in no way sacrifice the decor).  And so I discovered balloon topiaries and balloon sticks.  Now, I always thought that balloon topiaries were beyond me.  I mean, I’m crafty but I have my limits… and I kinda assumed that was my limit.  Totally wrong on that!  So EASY! I mean so EASY!  You can find tons of tutorials online, but basically you just tie two balloons together, make a bunch of those, and then twist them all together into a ball.  (I know.. right… that should be way more complicated… ).  Apparently each topiary takes 12 balloons, but I was short, so the one in the photo is made of only 10.  Then I shoved a balloon stick in the bottom (found those at Hobby Lobby), and tada!  I’m making these for every party from now on.  I’ve finally found a decoration for those big urns outside our front door.  And, those balloon sticks completely fascinated all the kiddos since the outside balloons were finally at their height. And not one ounce of helium. Genius.

Kid's party decorations, balloon topiary for birthday, outdoor birthday decorations Birthday Party outdoor balloon decorations

Vendors:

Airplane Party Printables:  OandD Etsy Shop

Printable Suitcase Favor Box: Claudine Hellmuth

Smash Cake Photography: Carrianne Photography

Embroidered Birthday Hat: Dainty Couture

A very HOPPY Birthday for SomeBUNNY Special

Now that Valentine’s Day is officially over, we’re moving right on to Spring (and Easter) over here.  It’s so nice to think of warm weather and sweet, pastel colors full of bunnies and easter eggs!  Oh, how I love spring time… and oh, how I’ve had it with Chicago winters. For literally years now, I’ve been meaning to sit down and create some sweet spring designs.  So, I finally got to work designing an adorable pink and purple bunny girl’s birthday party kit.  (With two boys in our house, I relish the thought of being able to design in pink and purple… and accent letters with little bows). So check out the someBUNNY Invitation and all the sweet digital goods in the HOPPY Birthday Kit – available both on the website and in the Etsy Shop. And stay posted on some more sweet spring designs hopping into the shop sometime soon!