Category Archives: party accessories and ideas

Granny/Auntie Party Favors

Countdown to Alastair’s 2nd birthday party has begun.  The children’s teepee bags, both boy and girl versions, are ready to be stuffed with the supply of goodies laid in by the birthday boy’s parents.  The Happy Birthday table covers are folded, awaiting the folding tables, the balloons have been ordered and the ingredients for the Cupcake Choo Choo are lined up on the kitchen counter.

The dishtowels are still a work in progress, but the night is young.  A few are finished for Alastair’s other grandmother and aunties to take home as a useful souvenir of the occasion.   The microfiber white towels have been embroidered with the same train as the one used on the teepee bags.  This design is from A Bit of Stitch’s Baby Petite Borders collection.  The steam cloud is filled with the party theme, Two-toot, the engine bears his initials and the boxcar is embroidered with the party date.

Black middy braid has been stitched in place for the track and a border of bandana fabric adds some needed color to the little project. The next batch of towels will have the steam cloud stitched in gray.  Another improvement will be to stitch the initials in a brighter color.  Continue reading





Sewing for Alastair’s upcoming second birthday party is such fun.  I’ve only just begun and I am glad to have another week  to sew for this gala affair.




A  few of the “boy” teepee goodie bag favors are sewn up and I am working on the girl version in more feminine colors.

As usual, a simple little project turned into something more time consuming.  I chose the  pillow ticking fabric because it reminds me of  traditional engineer bib overalls, worn by little guys (and train engineers)  for ages.  Until he was six, our son  had a new pair every year because he wore them out as he explored every inch of  our three acres, climbing trees and digging  “forts” under the cascading bridal wreath spirea by the clothesline.    It makes me grin every time I see Alastair wearing this same garb, 35 years later.

For the festivities, Alastair will be wearing his overalls  along with a matching cap, both of which I plan to embroider with “Amtrak.”   There is also a red bandana to tie around his neck, but we’re not sure he is going to be enthusiastic about that. Continue reading

Planning Party Favors

He called me to say, “Nana, will you make train teepee bags for my birthday party?” But it sounds like “Eeeja ba Nana wakka nong choo choo dayda eeepeet.” No problem for this Nana. I may not speak the language, but I understand Alastairese.

In 10 days, Alastair’s 2nd birthday party will be in full swing.  Could anything be more fun than ten 1-6 year -olds high on buttercream frosting?

Currently, Alastair is crazy about trains so that is the theme of the party.  His mother and I are in agreement about the cake–a train engine pulling graham cracker flat bed cars, each carrying a cupcake.  It will be so much fun decorating this with Rebecca the night before the party.

Meanwhile, I am assembling all the materials for teepee bags,  my standard little-kid party favors.  I hope to work it out so that the metal zipper teeth will pass for train tracks.  A train design has been edited so that the “choo choo”  makes a nearly right angle turn, trailing around the bottom of the bag and then chugging up the zipper.    Continue reading

Gingerbread House Party 2010

Rebecca, Alastair and the house he wants to get his little hands on!

The day after Thanksgiving, my precious daughter hosted her annual family gingerbread house party and what a party it was!

Rebecca was especially excited about Cousin Robert’s hand-me-down John-John.  Smocked with gingerbread boys and candy canes, it  looked just as good on Alastair as it did two years ago on Robert.

Like so many of the brother-sister outfits I have made for them, these garments were both ready-to-smock.  It’s very rewarding to see this outfit have a second life with my second grandson. Of course, Robert and Laurel have been raised in our family’s gingerbread tradition and made their first  houses that year.

Laurel and Robert, wearing the gingerbread John-John now worn by his little cousin Alastair

Since my children were little, we’ve always made gingerbread houses for Christmas.  For several years, the PlayGroup Mamas gathered to make houses for the children, before they all left home. But that was before the handy kits with pre-baked walls and  roof panels, frosting mix and a generous supply of candies.  Continue reading

Cupcakes and Nana Fun

This is CAKE! It is not burgers and fries as it appears. It is Suzanne Magic.

Now this is a modern project for an old fashioned Nana, who delights in her grandchildren.

Just last week, my friend Suzanne Sawko hosted a swim birthday party for Carter, 8, one of her four grandsons. When the boys got out of the pool, this is what she served–the sweetest burger basket that any boy ever had tasted.

Just before the party, she introduced me to two books that I think every creative Nana should have in her grandmother reference library. Hello, Cupcake! and What’s New, Cupcake?, will have you baking little goodies at the rate of  the Hostess Cupcake team. Continue reading

Wedding Cruise Hats

For the 50+ out of town guests for our daughter’s wedding, we planned a Saturday afternoon cruise down the St.Johns River.

In our area, the wedding pre-ceremony activity is most often a guest golf tournament, usually for the men, with balls or some other minor golf equipment for favors.

Our out-of-town  guests ranged from the groom’s 85 year old grandmother to young mothers with 6 month old babies.  We wanted something they all could enjoy before the 6 p.m. wedding ceremony.

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PGM Gingerbread Aprons


Gingerbread houses are truly old fashioned projects for old fashioned Nanas.  It can be one of the most lasting Christmas memories for your children  or grandchildren.

Since my children were old enough to lick the mixer beaters, we’ve made Christmas gingerbread houses.  And all the PlayGroup Mamas made gingerbread houses with their children (see earlier post, PGM-PlayGroup Mamas ifor explanation of PlayGroup Mamas).


PGM Arlene made four every year, one for each child.   Striving to make the best house or the best fire station or the best school or whatever,  they were fiercely competitive.  Each child  had a big idea and a big time.

A few Christmases ago, when a few of the PlayGroup Moms started backsliding in this time honored tradition, Arlene gifted each of us with an unadorned but constructed gingerbread house. We gathered together to decorate our cookie houses, each bringing a variety of decorative candies, a box of 10X confectioners sugar and extra electric mixers. Like Arlene’s children, we each had a big idea and a very big time. Continue reading

Bridal Shower Party Favors



When the PlayGroup Mamas hosted a bridal shower for my daughter, I assumed my regular assignment–party favors.  For this special shower, embroidered cross stitch monograms were embroidered on these little Aida gift bags.  The  guest party favors were filled with Hershey’s kisses, always appropriate, I think, for engagement and wedding celebrations.

No one loves a bargain more than I do.  So when I saw the bags on clearance, priced at $ .25 each, I bought three dozen, the entire lot.  I had no plan for their use, but I knew that for $9 I had the raw materials for  something wonderful.  Little more than a year later, Rebecca was engaged and my PlayGroup Mama friends scheduled a bridal shower for 3 months later.  Continue reading

Tailgating Accessories and Tips

Gators 13-LSU 3

Following a college football team offers so many opportunities for wholesome family fun. Some of our happiest family memories are set on Norman Field, in Gainesville, tailgating before a Florida Gator football game. For away games, we all crowd together in our living room, cheering, moaning, eating and chasing the babies away from in front of the TV. As was often said in our small town local newspaper coverage of each neighborhood, “A good time was had by all.”

There are also creative opportunities to pursue in the sewing room. The pictured embroidered terry cloth is actually a Martha Stewart dish cloth, repurposed as a tailgating napkin. When I see items in our team colors, I usually buy up everything on the shelf. So our tailgating box has a huge stack of these napkins, embroidered with a free “hungry gator” design offered many, many years ago, and text that names all SEC opponents and various other teams against whom our team has played. The opponent’s name on the napkin instigates a lot of  “Remember LSU 2008? 51-21 Gators! Wasn’t that a great game?”


note wash station on left, at tree

When we have messy food, such as barbecued ribs, a paper napkin just won’t do the job. Wet, these napkins, are much more effective against sticky foods. There is some distance to the bathrooms and running water, so we always take several jugs of water, some with liquid detergent added. I wrap a piece of elastic around a tree, tuck in several Gator hand towels and hang a bar of soap from a ribbon.   This gives everyone, most importantly the cooks, easy opportunity to wash hands before preparing food.

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Spiderman Birthday

Robert standing in front of his birthday tree which we planted when he was born.

For his fourth birthday party, our grandson Robert decided on two themes, Autobots and Spiderman. It was just too hard for him to chose one over the other, so it was a duo-theme celebration. For this special occasion, I would so love to have made him a button on suit with an heirloom style lace edged collar.

But Robert is a Huckleberry Finn kind of kid– no fuss, no shoes and, if he thinks he can get away with it, no clothes.   He prefers to wear what he calls “short sleeve pants” and loves nothing better than a new Spiderman or transformer shirt. The hugs he gives me when I deliver his “character”  duds make it all worth while.

For his birthday, I made Robert two Autobot and  two Spiderman shirts.   On party day, he grinned from ear to ear as he got dressed in  one of the Spiderman shirts. But he was awestruck when Spiderman himself showed up at the front door.

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