Monsterous Birthday

Monster Birthday Party

Let’s talk about cardboard and paper.  I have a huge love for these materials and my first choices for this birthday party creation.  It might sound weird I know.  There is truly an excitement when I get various pieces of nicely cut cardboard from many things bought from stores – big photos from photo centers, snack packages, etc.  I also love cardboard tubing.  Why do I like it so much?  Because I know I can use it to make art projects with the boys and it’s usually free. Maybe it stems from the good old college days in interior design studio class when we were all creating working models  – some were made out of old pizza boxes – oh the memories.

So moving forward in time from my college years to now, the thoughts of quirky and fun came to my mind when first thinking about our oldest son’s fifth birthday. He wanted a monster theme, and I wanted to steer the design towards a not-so-scary direction.  There are many monster characters to get ideas from, but I also wanted the characters to be unique and non-Halloween (this is the month of June for goodness sake).  So I started playing around with the idea of having the characters be created out of shipping cardboard tubes.  I loved this challenge, and I also wanted this activity to include our son’s assistance – one that he could have fun helping put together.  I hope one day he’ll look back and remember how much fun we had making party decorations together…or he might just be able to prove how nutty his mother really is!

Party Color Scheme

The main color palette I chose for the party was red, white, yellow, and blue. I like to think I had two groups of other colors that supported the main color scheme which were black and gray and also the three additional monster character colors of orange, purple, and green.  Overall, there was COLOR at the party.  It was fun to mix the large polk a dot fabric with black and white stripes.  My favorite color of this party was the bright blue.  It looked so good with the yellow, red, and white.  It’s also the birthday boy’s favorite hue which makes it extra special.

Tablecloth & Party Signage

Fabric completely inspires me.  Most of the time, it’s my first source of creating a theme. I love searching through patterns, dreaming of what could be possibilities of each.  This party was no exception. I found a polk a dot fabric from Too often, I feel polk a dots lean more towards a pattern for girls, but I loved this because it was not a dainty design.  The circles were super large and made a fun yet bold statement.  It was $7.50/yard and it’s a pattern I know I could use again. In the great state of Nebraska, I’m sure I’ll be using this for Husker football game parties…

In the dining room, I placed foam core in the area where we usually have a painting.  I wanted to keep it simple, so I just displayed a big number 5 in the center.  The wooden number was on clearance at Michael’s craft store for .80 cents a few months back.  I painted it bright blue which really stood out from the yellow felt circle (purchased at Wal-Mart for $2.00) and also the red foam core.  After the party, we were able to display the sign in our son’s room!  I’m all about reusing decorations!

Monster Characters

As stated earlier, the characters were made out of shipping cardboard tubes.  I found free shipping cardboard tubes on originally designed to ship company posters.   I made each main character 12” tall which my husband cut for me.  I then painted each one their designated color and also painted the circular bases which I found at Michael’s craft store for .99 cents each (before coupon).  I then glued the tubes to their bases and let that adhere.  My next step was to pack the tubes with crunched up newspaper to help fill the tubes.  Leaving some room at the top, I placed styrofoam which I had also painted the color of each monster tube.  I did leave some room around the edges for duck taping the styrofoam to the tubes.  Our son and I had a great time sticking their ‘hair’ in place as each character had a different type of material.  All ’hair’/craft pieces came from Michael’s craft store.  The eyes were made from a circle cutter and I used an oval stencil for making the mouth pieces and then cut around each to make the teeth.  After the party, we placed them in our son’s room on his dresser for decoration.  He loves his new ‘roomies’!


The invitations were created with Corel Draw 5X.  I wanted to replicate the tablecloth fabric design on the invitation which was so fun and colorful.  In each of the middle circles, I had the four monster characters plus our very own silly monster, the birthday boy.  Our son loved seeing himself in the middle of the invitation! I was able to fit four invitations on one 8.5” x 11” sheet.  After the invites were designed, I had Office Depot print the document on cover paper for about $1.00/sheet.  I then added gray scrapbook paper to each invitation which worked to ‘frame’ the invitation nicely.

Guys Write Poems Too

One special moment of the party was when my husband read a poem he created for the birthday party. I loved this, and it is great for our boys to see their dad try something new and fun.  Here’s what he recited:

First of all, thank you for your presence at this time

The important focus is to have fun and unwind

There are lots of things that we will do

Whether kids are bare foot or decide to wear their shoes

With so much fun in store at hand

I hope that you will understand…

Kids get dirty when they play

So please relax and lets all enjoy the day

Happy birthday Bryson!

Monster Book Idea

After the main monster characters were created, our oldest son named them.  Since he loves books and drawing, I made the book pages in Corel Draw 5X and left the monsters without color.  This allowed him to have fun coloring each monster just as he would with a coloring book.  I think it made him feel he had ‘ownership’ in the planning of his party, and it continues his love for creating books and characters. Also, the small easels were found at The Dollar Tree. and I backed each page with black foam core for extra sturdiness.

Photo Frame

I found a brand new ceramic white frame at a rummage sale for .99 cents. Awesome find!  I took a photo of our son and had it enlarged to the needed size of 5”x 7”.  Then, I used scrap book letters to spell out his name and also added a monster at the top.  I’ve done this before with birthday parties and enjoy promoting the special little person celebrating a birthday.


I’m all for discounted candy!  I found Easter candy lollipops in late April marked .30 cents each.  I covered the label with a blue circle and used a black marker to write ‘5’ on each of them.   This was very easy project to do.  The black vase came from a thrift store for $2.00, and I added an extra flare by tying a black and white striped ribbon (purchased at Michael’s craft store) around it.

Monster in Niche Area

I wanted to make a monster for the niche area in our home, but I didn’t want to duplicate one of the four monsters that would be displayed on our dining room table.  So to be different, we made a yellow three eyed monster which was also out of shipping cardboard tubes and scrap wood for the base.  The monster’s hair is painted tree branches.  I really like this character and hope to bring him back in the spotlight around Halloween.

Balloon Holders

On the dining room table, we used smaller balloon holders constructed from paper towel cardboard roll with scrap wood bases.  For these, I painted a bright blue color and then glued smaller polk a dots to offset the tablecloth dot design. *I promise no toilet paper rolls were used for this party!

For the larger balloon holders, they were made from cardboard shipping tubes and scrap wood bases just like the smaller holders.  I painted the tubes yellow and then decorated them with colored circles.  My husband made holes at the top of all the balloon tubes for the balloon strings to connect.  Once again, inexpensive to do and the kids enjoyed them.

Kids Love Chocolate Milk! 

I’ve always loved those smaller milk cartons that schools serve for lunch.  A few months back, I asked someone at our son’s preschool where I would get the half pint size of milk cartons due to the fact I could not find them local stores. This person referred me to Robert’s Dairy.  I called them and they were very accommodating.  It is a special order item (takes only one day to get sent to the company) and does require a customer to buy a case (50 cartons), but I knew we would definitely use them!  I felt it was affordable for our party too.  The chocolate milk cartons were .26 cents each and when we went to pick our order up, they gave the cartons in what else but a milk crate! So, we got a little extra storage compartment out of the deal too.

Straw Flags

I was looking through a Martha Stewart Living magazine a few months back and saw a photo of straw flags.  It was a different design than I needed for our monster party, but I loved the concept!  On Corel Draw 5x, I made the flags on an 8.5” x 11” size of paper which I could fit thirteen on one sheet. I then had Office Depot print the document on text paper for about .70 cents/sheet.  Next task was cutting out the flags and using a glue stick to attach to each straw. The black container is actually designed for storing pens/pencils but was the perfect size for holding our decorative straws.

Party Favors

Homemade printed monster t-shirts were made for the party.  Similar to our younger son’s party in April, I found discounted youth t-shirts for $1.00 each at The Dollar Tree.  As a homemade stencil, I had used cardstock paper – drawing ‘Bluey’ monster on each shirt with a fabric marker. *Note:  I would recommend inserting a tray in the shirt as you draw on it to prevent the ink from bleeding through.

The birthday boy is all about drawing, so I bought sketch pads at The Dollar Tree to include as party favors.  To make them more personal, I made a monster cover sheet in Corel Draw 5X to attach to front of each pad.  I could fit four on each 8.5” x 11” sheet and had Office Depot print the document on thinner cover paper for about .80 cents/sheet.

Boxes for Party Favors and Large Sandwiches

The large cardboard boxes were originally from Sam’s Club.  These were boxes for the individual chip packages and came in handy for putting the sandwiches in and the other for party favors.  I covered them with white wrapping paper and taped coordinating circles to decorate the boxes.  After a few pieces of gift tissue paper, the boxes were ready! It’s easy, inexpensive, and tied into our color scheme.

Vintage Picnic Basket

I love this basket!  While rummage shopping a few months back, I found it for $4.00.  Although I love the original colors, I temporarily covered the basket with wrapping paper for the party, and then I embellished with coordinating colored circles.  This was not just for looks either – it stored all of the party’s individual packaged potato chips.

Napkin Rings

Once the boxes for the party favors and large sandwiches were wrapped, the wrapping paper roll was practically gone.  I liked that it was a more narrow roll and thought I could use it. So, I painted it bright blue and had my husband cut the roll into 1” pieces.  When this task was complete, the pieces worked wonderfully as napkin rings.

Silverware Holders

I had my husband cut a cardboard tube into 3 pieces which were 3.5” long. I then painted each of them yellow and glued them on a scrap wood base which was also painted yellow.  For added flare, I taped blue circles on each tube.  Last task was filling each with red spoons, forks, and knives.  This was super easy and I can see us using this again for storing paint brushes, markers, etc.

Front Yard Fun

While the party emphasized on cardboard and paper, it was fun to have colorful balls on our front lawn as guests arrived.  I started collecting these months ago after finding them for a little over $1.00 each at Super Saver grocery store.  The kids had so much fun with the balls making it difficult at times to come inside the house. I loved the activity it brought and the array of colors in our yard.  My husband now is questioning where we should store all of them…hummm…

Pinata Time

You gotta love those decorative paper creatures all kids try to smash to pieces!  What’s a paper party without a pinata?  The weather was beautiful for the party so it worked to have this activity.  Our son has been asking me to make a pinata with him (which is on the list to do eventually), but we ran out of time and purchased one at Super Saver for $14.95.  It was fairly large in size and stored lots of candy which = happy children.


Our son loved ‘Bluey’ monster the best since his favorite color is blue.  So, I tried my best to replicate Bluey as a cake!  I used 6” diameter cake pans, and I was able to stack four of them.  For that height, it was really tricky to keep it from not sliding while frosting!  I’m sure there are more ways of doing this that is better than what I did. At times, it was the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  It was a great activity for our oldest son to help with too.  Even though he has one arm in a cast, it was fun for him to mix the ingredients together while little brother took a nap. (*Note, the photo shows him with some funky marked eyebrows – another activity accomplished that day.)   For the frosting, I totally cheated on this cake as I did not dye any of it myself – I went to Super Saver in Lincoln and purchased the bright blue frosting color I needed.  I found out a few months back that you can buy frosting from this particular grocery store.  For a 13 oz. container, it’s $2.97.   Sold!  I used two and a half containers out of the three I purchased which also went toward decorating several cupcakes.  To get that strong of a blue color, it was worth it for me, the amateur cake decorator.

I did manage to get the cake back in an upright position and added a part of a large marshmallow and dark chocolate Hershey’s kiss for the eye area.  The mouth was made from cut marshmallow pieces and black sparkle liner frosting.  For the top of the cake, I used pretzel sticks dipped in candy melts and blue sprinkles.   Oh how our boys loved the extra pretzel pieces to munch on while I was making the sticks!

Fruit & Desserts

For the party, I carved a watermelon for the first time.  This really didn’t have a monster theme behind it, I’m just proud of this accomplishment and would like to show the world if I can do it, anyone can. For another type of dessert, I used chocolate covered graham crackers topped with whip cream, a yellow banana shaped marshmellow, and a strawberry slice. These were colorful, easy to make, and quite tasty.  I also used skewers that my husband probably thought I would never work with for extra fruit pieces. Mission accomplished.

Birthday Party Season – Officially Closed!

This was the last birthday party of our family ‘birthday season’ which began in mid April and now ending in early June.  After our monster party was over and everyone left, it was certainly time to relax and think about how much fun everyone had – especially our birthday boy.

I deemed it appropriate to sit on the front porch and take a break while watching the boys and my husband play frisbee.  Usually when this happens, it fitting for me to have a glass of wine.  What seemed weird though was having my wine in a glass.  After a party filled with cardboard and paper, I chose to drink my pinot noir in a paper cup.  I felt I had to stay with the paper theme for the rest of the evening.

*Special thanks to Jennifer Flemings for taking amazing, wonderful photos of our son’s birthday!

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