Welcome to creativedirtpile.com/ Construction Party

Boys + creativity.   They are two extraordinary words and the idea behind this blog, www.creativedirtpile.com. My husband and I have two boys who are blessings and highlights of our lives.  However, they are super active kids and need to exert a lot of energy. I’m a stay at home mom who wants to explore new experiences for my boys that are fun and educational.  I have a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Kansas State University and also held positions in marketing/event planning in the workforce prior to having kids.  With this experience, I have an interest in all aspects of art, space planning/design, and party planning.  I want this blog to also be a website for birthday party ideas, bedroom and playroom design for boys, and especially crafts.

The boys and I like to do crafty projects, and I am always sketching and thinking of different things to do with them.  For instance, seeing them paint on different materials other than paper enhances their curiosity. I’m a big fan of introducing new textures to the boys & adding nature to the learning process as well.  All kids can be messy, but boys take it to the next level…or is this just mine?  This blog is about focusing on boys and creative ideas that can inspire them, and embracing the notion that it’s okay to get a little messy or dirty in the process. I still struggle with this. At times, I know I’ve had to learn to let our boys be almost unrecognizable from all the mud and dirt they were wearing! It can be tough for parents, especially moms, to do.

In our household, we also enjoy adventures – sometimes, not even needing to go anywhere.  It can be fun just staying right in the house building new ‘towers’ with blocks, going outside and exploring on nature walks, or even creating something spectacular on that wonderful backyard spot we call a dirt pile.

I am thrilled about the future of this blog.  Happy reading!

~Angie

Party time

In our family, our ‘birthday season’ starts in April and ends in early June, so that’s our window for a lot of celebration, cakes, balloons, presents, and EXCITEMENT in our house during this timeframe.  You could say it is a party after party at our home! We start with my birthday, then our youngest son’s, followed by my husband’s, and the last one is our eldest’s.  What a blur but so much fun at the same time!

I love the adrenaline of preparing special decorations and treats, and I get to share this love with my mom who comes to visit and help.  We both enjoy seeing the looks on all the kids’ faces when they are at the party.  She’s been a terrific influence on me, and I got my love for creativity from her. Both of us enjoy making items out of simple, inexpensive things, and I must say it can be a downfall at times. My husband is supportive to artistic endeavors but sometimes he can only endure so much…“Honey, please don’t throw that cereal box away. I think I have a use for it…!” My fear of becoming a hoarder one day is not such an exaggeration!

Birthday parties for kids are a big deal, and consequently, for us two grown women! What a great time for family and friends to gather, and our boys go nuts over all the festivities!

To do all of the preparation, it does take a plan – time to really gather materials and execute the design.  For me, party projects need to be done in stages – sometimes with the kids and other times after they go to bed.

Overall, for the special birthday kid, it’s THEIR day and they know it!  I’m just here to embellish that feeling of excitement through the party design & creations.

Our little tool man’s birthday

Our youngest son is madly in love with tools and all things concerning construction! I started forming ideas months before, and it just kept growing!  A simple clipboard became a very good friend as I used it every day to attach notes and sketches about the party.  For the color scheme of the party, I went with white, orange, silver, green, and yellow with black as an accent.  The colors were bright and cheerful but still had a tough, construction feel with the accent color.  I loved every minute of planning this party!  Here’s more information on how it was created:

Invitations

The invitations were design and created on Corel Draw. I knew I wanted a collaboration of construction features – tape measure, wood, truck, etc.  Also adding our son’s photo was a personal touch to the invitation.  To add a finishing touch, I ‘framed’ the invite with orange 4.25” x 5.5” scrapbook paper and mailed with green envelopes.

Tablecloth

I’m a big fan of www.fabric.com!  While looking on the website, I found a Robert Allen fabric with a construction design for $3.50/yd.  There was some sewing involved – I did sew the edges to complete the look of a tablecloth.

Water bottle labels

Just like the invitations, the labels for the water bottles were created on Corel Draw.   I could fit four labels on one 8.5”x11” sheet for a standard sized bottle.  These were a big hit at the party!

Party Signage

What’s a construction party without construction signs?  I used black foam core for the back portion of the sign along with yellow poster board for majority the signs.  By purchasing vinyl sticker letters, it helped to complete the look.  The white sign sticks were originally for Easter yard signs and the black base container is a simple small trash can (which I filled with sand).  Both were purchased at The Dollar Tree.  I finished it off with caution tape around the base container and tied balloons to the sign stick.

Party favors

I really like party favors that are practical and inexpensive.  At the end of winter, I found discounted youth t-shirts for $1.00 each at The Dollar Tree.  I chose colors of shirts that coordinated with party scheme. While shopping, the sizes needed to vary because I knew we would have little toddlers on up to 1st & 2nd graders.

To make the saw design, I took a piece of cardstock paper and had drawn a saw on it to the size I thought would fit well on each shirt.  I then cut it out.  Next, with a fabric marker, I traced around the cardstock saw. *Note:  I placed a plastic tray in the t-shirt to make sure the marker ink did not bleed through.

In addition to the shirts, my mom and I found magnetic tape measures at Home Depot for .25 cents ea. What a combination and great invention!  Kids love tape measures and also magnets!

Tool Props/Gift Wrapping

 

For the large hammer and saw, I used scrap particle board.  Gotta love those extra pieces I can find a need for eventually!  I had drawn the design onto the particle board and then had my hubby router them out.  I then sanded down the edges and painted with craft paint.  The pieces were then accented with an outline from a black marker.

As for the gift wrapping, I went with brown craft paper.  On one of the gifts, I made a construction truck out of colored paper to coincide with the party theme.

Toolboxes/toys

Rummage shopping!  Inexpensive items that can be used for party decorations and for playtime use works for me!  There are so many flea market/thrift shops around.  My personal favorite is Vintage Village Antiques & Flea Market in Lincoln, Neb.  It’s where I found all of my toolboxes and truck toys. What was the best purchase?  It was a 3.5’ toolbox that I cleaned and painted a bright orange.  This served as a centerpiece to the dining room table and was also functional as it held many treats.  Each compartment had a construction title to go along with a treat.  After the party was over, the toolbox is now a great feature to our son’s room.  He loves it!  Best $20 spent!

Nailed photo frame

I thought having a photo of the birthday kiddo would be a nice touch to the party.  Our son was photographed in his construction attire which was super cute, and it was an easy photo to take at home too.  I purchased a $1.00 picture frame at The Dollar Tree.  Then, I painted it a matte grey to match more with the party color scheme.  To finish it off, I found nails from hubby’s toolbox (thanks, Honey!) in the garage and super glued them to the frame.

Clear containers (shown above)

For holding the balloon strings, I found clear containers with wire handles.  Days before the party, the boys helped fill them with rocks from the driveway (this was a great afternoon activity too). I then decorated them with ‘#3’ from colored paper and vinyl stickers. Simple and easy!  I love it!

Did someone say Saf-T?

Remember those suckers you got at the doctor’s office?  I never knew the brand name of them, but while shopping at Michael’s craft store, I discovered they are called Saf-T Suckers.  To have a construction theme, these tied in perfectly!

Niche area in home

Off to the side of our front door is my niche area.  It’s one of my favorite places in our home.  I like it because it resets back into the wall, can be lighted to enhance a featured piece, and so far, our boys have not bothered it!  So for the party, I left my basket vase but took out the decorations I had in it.  I then replaced it with cut wires and positioned the pieces to make them curvy.  Ahead of time, I had little squares which spelled out Barrett’s name and added a square that said #3.  Each were hole punched and dangled by string to the wire. This idea helped to personalize the space and added more party flare when guests arrived.  Last touch was making a bow out of caution tape for the vase.

Orange cones

The small orange cones displayed on the counter are originally for classroom use as they say ‘excellent’ or ’great job’ on each one.  I found them in the classroom/school section at The Dollar Tree. By taking colored paper (used this paper to cover up ‘excellent’ and ‘great job’…), alphabet stickers, a circle cutter, and a glue stick, each one spelled the birthday boy’s name.

Food signage

There was a product called, Tire Ooze from Michael’s craft store.  On the outside of the container of ooze, was a rubber tire piece used just for appearance.  It’s stretchy so easy to take off and on.  On clearance for a $1.00 each, I couldn’t pass them up.  It worked nicely to put tissue paper in the tire to help hold each sign.

Clever signage made the each food more appealing. Where to find ideas?  Try a little boy’s bookcase!  Our son has several books on construction machines – that’s where I thought of ‘mini loader sandwiches’, ‘big bulldozer sandwiches’, etc.

Rocky Road Bars

Ingredients: 1 pkg. of semi sweet choc. chips, 1 cup of peanut butter, 3 cups of mini marshmallows.  Heat the chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave or on stove until melted.  Let it cool for a few minutes after removing from heat.  Add the cups of mini marshmallows to the chocolate chips/peanut butter mix and stir.  Pour in a greased dish and refrigerate for a few hours.  This is an easy recipe to satisfy a sweet tooth!  It’s no surprise the boys loved helping make these bars!  Having the construction toy (which sat on crushed Oreo cookies) in the middle of the platter also helped add to our theme.

Concrete Crunch

This required no cooking for me!  I found peanut brittle at the store, took it home, and I just need to dazzle it with silver food coloring spray.  Just like the rocky road bars, in the middle of the platter, I had a construction toy to give the dish some ‘construction appeal’!

The cake

Honestly, making cakes has always been my struggle.  I get sort of freaked out about making one of the most important parts of a birthday party! Why do the work?  Maybe it’s because I know my husband and I are too cheap to buy a cake. The other part is I like trying new things and learn as I go.  I also pride myself with making really moist cakes – that part, I feel confident about, and it’s the frosting/decorating that I’m an amateur.

A day before I made the cake, I experimented with mixing food coloring to frosting for a brown color resembling wood.  I also mixed a color combination for the sides of the cake to look like the inner part of a piece of wood. Then, I made green frosting to represent grass around the wood.  As for the area right under the saw, I used coconut to look like saw shavings.  The coconut was also mixed with the food colored frosting to make it coincide with the ‘block of wood’.

I also worked on the cake container a few days beforehand.  Using black foam core for the base and a few strips of caution tape, it added more to the construction theme.  The saw was also created days before and was made of white foam core and accented with a black marker. This was so cute – it matched with the large saw prop!

The cake was a total of three layers.  All layers were made from large bread pans.  Each varied in height.  The bottom layer was the tallest, middle layer was the shortest with the top layer a little bigger than the middle.  We made it an activity too.  The boys helped mix the ingredients and watch the layers bake!  The soon-to-be birthday boy ended up taking a nap when one layer was cooling and the other was baking. During the nap time, our oldest boy wanted me to read books, so we sat by the oven and read books so I could still keep an eye on the cakes!

After baked and cooled, I did not cut or shave the layers.  It might have made it easier to do this, but my ‘curve’ (cake surface/top) was subtle, so I just flipped the bottom layer over to have the curve against the cake stand and it did not crack.  I then put a layer of frosting and placed my middle layer.  I made this layer very short (baked to about 1” or so) because I didn’t want the cake to get too high. Since it was more flat, it did not need to flip over.  I placed the middle layer on the frosting and then frosted the layer. The top layer was my nuisance.  I flipped this over onto the frosting and it did begin to crack a little.  I was able to work with it though and fill in with frosting.

After all layers were put together, I frosted the outside with my newly dyed frosting.  I then took a toothpick through the frosting to make wood grain.  I went around the base of the ‘block of wood’ with green frosting for the grass look.  Next, the saw went in place and I sprinkled the coconut underneath the saw to make it look like wood shavings.

Construction style playtime!

The kiddos had a great time building with blocks of wood as they all transformed into construction workers!  A large classroom size chalkboard also served to spark fun creations.  Along side the chalkboard, I used a toy construction truck to hold chalk pieces. All were economical choices as they were things we already had a home.

*Special thanks to Jennifer Flemings who photographed this party!  Also, many thanks to family and friends who came to help us celebrate our little hard workin’ man’s special day! What a memorable time it was!

6 comments to Welcome to creativedirtpile.com/ Construction Party

  • Lisa Kuta  says:

    Love it!!!!!!!!!

    • crea2165  says:

      Glad you loved it! More to come…..!!!!

  • Sherry Trautman  says:

    Wow Angie, what a great blog!!! The work you put into Barrett’s birthday party is absolutely stunning! LOVE all your photos, ideas and well thought out budgeting!! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! I will share your blog!

    • crea2165  says:

      Thanks! It was fun – and hubby was pleased with the discounted shopping! ha! Stay tuned…lots more to talk about!!!

  • Lesa  says:

    Great blog Angie!

    • crea2165  says:

      Thanks! I’m having fun with this!

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