{Organising} Presents for kids’ birthday parties

Remember my theme of the year presents I blogged about before?

Since then I’ve done a baking theme – handmade aprons with recipe books/ baking mixes/ measuring cups, cookie cutters, etc. Whatever I could find at the shops to go with my theme :)

The current presents came about (as usual) because my kids LOVE these kinds of things: tape, scissors, post-it notes, little notebooks, foam stickers, glitter glue, fancy pens, highlighters, etc. I personally like to have things contained in a box so I first used up all the spare containers I had (all organising queens buy extra containers, right?) and now I get some lunch boxes which serve the purpose beautifully.

So I make craft/ stationery/ keep ‘em busy kits and add some activity/ colouring/ notebooks too.

Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen Organising presents for kids | Organising Queen

The kids and I have a system for birthday parties – I do the present (I select things based on the child, gender, etc.), one twin does the card and the other decorates the gift bag. In this case, Kendra did the card and Connor decorated the gift bag.

I personally LOVE cards for kids (and for myself, who am I kidding?!) and I want them to have the joy of creating something for someone else.

I stamp the happy birthday and let the kid loose with washi tape, stickers and their markers. I write out the birthday child’s name and they mostly get on with it by themselves.

And bonus – it’s a craft afternoon :)

I know it’s a hit when the kids start asking when I’m going to make boxes of fun for them to use :)

Do you have go-to presents for birthday parties you attend?

{Free Printable} Lovely things to do this year

I have a new free printable waiting for you if you’re a newsletter subscriber…. and if you’re not one yet, go sign up and you’ll still get it.

We attach the printable of the month to the welcome pack so you won’t miss out.

Lovely things to do this year |Organising Queen

For the last four years I’ve done a 36 things list, a 37 things list, a 38 things list and a 40 things to do by 40 list.

This year I was tired of the list …. and I didn’t feel like having a lot of pressure, so I made a lovely things to do this year list instead.

It’s very low-key and easy-breezy.

Use this list if you’ve recently had a birthday but also if you want a low-pressure place to hold some intentions to finish out 2014 (I can’t believe I’m writing about finishing this year!).

Get the list here

This year’s free printables

  1. Monthly and weekly goals
  2. Life list
  3. 3 areas in 2014
  4. Lovely things to do this year

What are some of the lovely things you want to do this year?

{Blogging} Setting up photos for your blog posts: my 5 strategies

My blog has become much more photo-heavy over the last couple of years as my photography improved and I now seem to have a really good workflow.

We’ve spoken about how I organise the photos I want to use before but this is a step before that one – actually setting up to take the photos for your blog posts.

Here are the 5 things I ensure when I prepare to take photos for the blog:

1. Take a photo with lots of negative space so I can “write” on it.

Preparing photos for your blog posts | Organising Queen

2. Add a few supplies to “style” the photo better (I have no illusions that my styling is good, so don’t burst my bubble)

Preparing photos for your blog posts | Organising Queen

Preparing photos for your blog posts | Organising Queen

3. Use at least two different backgrounds initially til I download and see which looks best

Preparing photos for your blog posts | Organising Queen

4. Use lots of angles. If you want to play with this concept (it’s a really good creativity stretch), try take a photo of something from 5 different angles til you find the 2 – 3 that work for you (for me that’s straight on, and close up with some blur in the background).

Preparing photos for your blog posts | Organising Queen

5. Take photos from the front and the back, right side up and flip side. You never know when something you didn’t even consider looks REALLY good. This happens a lot with me.

Preparing photos for your blog posts | Organising Queen  Preparing photos for your blog posts | Organising Queen

Of course, the most obvious one is wait for good light. Everybody says this so I won’t harp on too much about it.

I’ve tried to bypass this step and I end up deleting those photos 98% of the time, so now, I just wait for good light and then go on a photo-taking frenzy of all my projects :)

By the way, the photos in this post are how I packaged these photo cards for a gift.

What are your tips for me and other bloggers?

#kandcturn5 – 5th birthday monkey party – thank-you notes

So I’ve written a lot about thank-you notes over on this blog over the years. Here is one post.

I strongly believe in thank-you notes, these days even more than before.

I actually googled something about age appropriate thank-you notes and the comments on the particular post were so… well, ugly, especially from people who didn’t feel they had to send a note.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

Four sets of twins

a few quick notes on my thinking:

  • People have taken the time to traipse into a mall and buy something for you. They then wrapped it and some very nice people even attached a card (I love cards!).
  • The least I can do is instill in my kids gratitude both for the gift but more importantly, for the time spent in getting it.
  • (maybe it’s because I hate shopping so much – I’m a “surgical shopper” (a phrase I picked up somewhere) – I go in, get what I want and get out)
  • In years past, it’s still been a partnership – I’ve handwritten all those notes myself and the kids have helped in varying degrees – sticking the stamps, choosing the washi tape, putting stickers on the envelope, going with me to the post office, etc.
Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

This is a font but it is a neater version of my actual handwriting :)

After the party, I sent this note to all the guests by email, along with one photo with most of the kids.

So this year they can write!

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

On the one hand, that’s great. On the other hand, they don’t get the whole spacing thing (no matter how many times I tell them) and I had to physically stop and take deep breaths MANY times.

I was really tempted to just do all the notes myself – it would have been quicker, neater and most of all, prettier!

BUT then I remembered the purpose of me going through this torture – to make them feel grateful and express that gratitude. It’s not about me and what people think of me.

How we did it:

  1. They were not allowed to play with anything til after they’d done the thank-you note. I allowed a few things on the weekend because I wasn’t ready with the card assembly line yet.
  2. I gave each twin half of the cards to do; I think Connor had about 2 extra because he was going faster.
  3. They decorated the envelope and stuck washi and address labels on the back.
  4. I wrote down the people’s names; they copied that and they know how to write their own names.
  5. Connor wrote : From Connor and Kendra; Kendra wrote From Kendra and Connor

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

Result – it was imperfection at its very best.

However, my mother, Dion’s mother and one of our friends (at the time of this writing) all told me they LOVED the thank-you notes, so I’m considering three out of fifteen a success!

Do you do thank-you notes?

How to make a vision board – part 1

I was clearing out some old papers, etc. when I found an old vision board. I posted a pic to Instagram and Facebook, and a few people started commenting on it which reminded me that I hadn’t updated my one for years (at least 6 – 7 years, I actually think it was more like 10 years).

How to do a vision board | Organising Queen

I made a vision board book a few years ago – a sketch book with a double spread for each area of my life – but it didn’t really work for me although it is very pretty :)

How to do a vision board | Organising Queen

What is a vision board?

A vision board is a visual representation of what you want from your life. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like as long as it resonates deeply with you.

Know your why

Is this vision board for your entire life or just one part? I’ve done vision boards for my whole life, and separate ones for business and babies. If you really feel like you need to explore one particular area, maybe you want to do a vision board for just that section of your life – e.g. work, family or home.

The idea is that as you keep looking at it, you’ll focus more on what you want out of life and those things will come to pass.

How to do a vision board | Organising Queen

This is a picture I’d printed off from the internet as it was the type of photo I wanted to be able to take. Who knew? I can now take these kinds of pictures! I started scrunching it up to toss and then realised that it’s a live example I can show you guys!

These are just some of the words and images I’ve already gathered for this next vision board.
How to do a vision board | Organising Queen

Actions for this week

  1. Get clear on what you want your vision board to represent
  2. Start paging through magazines for words and images

Do you have a vision board?

#kandcturn5 ; 5th birthday monkey party – photos and party favours

Announcements

  1. Three days left of the birthday sale!
  2. In the Live Organised Community, we’re going to start building our vision boards this week. I’m also going to be putting these forms in the members area.
  3. Have a great week!

birthdaysale

Something I love to do is to take photos of parents in photos with their kids. And, in turn, I LOVE it when people say, “wouldn’t you also like to be in the photo?” and take my camera to get a photo of me with my kids :)

So, I grabbed a few parents to get some photos of them with their kids as they were leaving. I totally bribed the kids and said, “let me take a photo of you with your mum, and I’ll give you your present” #anythingforaphoto

Aside from that, I obviously take a few candid photos (!) too.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

Let’s talk party bags.

My friend, Robynne, gives good party favours . At one party, each kid got a fleece blanket. Mine still use them for watching movies. At another party, she gave out little bags with facecloths and soaps. They still use the little bags for “treasures”. My other friend, Louisa, hand-sewed bags too at one of her daughter’s parties, and those are still my kids’ library bags.

I love doing party favours but not just sweets and chips. I think a bit differently…

I’ve given notebooks with pencil cans, airplane craft kits, and crayons and colouring books.

For this party, since it was a breakfast party, my first thought was, “what do you do straight after breakfast?”

Well, you brush your teeth!

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

ignore my post-it note – this is the only photo I have!

I decided to give toothbrushes as party favours and had to hunt around for reasonably priced ones.

Turns out I found a really good deal on a toothbrush and toothpaste combo so I bought 18!

Then I realised some of the kids (little brothers and sisters) were too little for proper toothpaste so I went back for some “baby” toothbrushes.

Personally I think this is a genius idea because I know how much MY kids love having their own toothpaste.

I haven’t had any feedback but hopefully the other kids are enjoying their new toothbrushes too.

What do you like to put in the party bags?

Which was the most original party bag you received?

#kandcturn5 ; 5th birthday monkey party – food and cake

Food! Oh food!

I have a love-hate relationship with party food.

I know it’s a party but I can’t STAND kids hyped up on sugar.

So this breakfast party was perfect because do you eat sweets for breakfast? We don’t so there were no sweets and dare I say it? No hyped-up kids.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

We served breakfast food – cereals, fruit, yoghurts, muffins, cheese croissants, toast with jam/ marmalade. I baked the muffins and the croissants myself. Oh, and of course, there were bananas.

There was banana milk and apple juice, water, teas, coffees, hot chocolate.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

I wasn’t even going to have a cake but I caved!

I actually ordered cupcakes from someone but she was very sick for the few days before and (can you believe this is me?!) I was, “no problem whatsoever” when she couldn’t make the cakes.

I went to my local Pick and Pay, picked up 24 mini cupcakes, two mini cakes and called it a day.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

I believe this is sacrilege to some of you but it works for me. Play to your strengths as I always say.

The only things I bought that I don’t normally buy were “fun” cereals. Fruit Loops and some Rice Crispies. We eat normal (healthy) things like oats, weetbix, all-bran flakes, etc.

And that’s it.

Seriously, the easiest party food ever.

Do you get the fancy, expensive cakes? Or store-bought ones?

#kandcturn5 ; 5th birthday monkey party – activities

My friend over at the Se7en blog has a HORDE of information on how to have fantastic birthday parties.

I read something over there in one of her posts – you have to keep the kids busy DOING something.

I took careful note because I didn’t want 18 crazy children running around bored and tantrumming.

So we had 5 activities planned – we only ended up doing 4 but it’s better to plan.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

1. Colouring-in competition

Table, colouring sheets, 2 buckets of crayons. This competition was judged by our friend, Aunty Funso, because her baby is still a baby and she had no “skin in the game” :)

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

2. Cereal necklaces

It was a breakfast party so there was cereal. This was super easy. I cut strips of ribbon and the kids threaded and ate cereal. This was actually a BIG HIT! I bought two boxes of the cereal and the kids totally used up the one and started in on the cereal for eating :)

I was also considering letting the kids colour in monkey masks but abandoned that idea as it was too hands-on for a parent what with the cutting of the holes for eyes and stringing elastic to put around the head.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

3. Granny read stories

Granny read the kids Curious George stories on the bed while I cleared the table of food and got the cakes ready. This was perfect to get the focus and attention to one side of the house while we readied the other end.

4. Pin the tail on the monkey

Connor won this game! Another friend adjudicated this one so it was all done fair and square!

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

5. Musical statues

This was planned for but not needed.

I had boxes of crayons for the winners. The kids are apparently into WINNING at this stage in their lives.

I loved the activities and I think the kids did too.

Seriously, there are great ideas at the Se7en blog – go have a look!

What are your go-to activities that you adapt per party theme?

It’s my birthday!

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Today’s my birthday and I’m 40!

I’m spending it at the beach with my family. So far it’s been amazing, mainly because it’s winter and here we are in flip-flops and swimsuits. It’s quite crazy.

The truth is, I’d be happy here no matter what the weather. In fact, a perfect day for me is a day with grey skies :)

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I spent some time last week going through my “40 things before 40″ list. I haven’t done final totals yet but I’ll get to that when we’re back home.

What I did do was make a list for this year. I’m not chasing numbers (too much) but instead I just typed out a list of lovely things I’d like to have in my life this year.

You don’t have to wait for your birthday to do a list like this – nothing’s stopping you from starting right now and joining us in the Live Organised Community. I’ll be putting the form I created for my own use in the member forum too.

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And now for all the birthday fun!

I can’t have a birthday without giving some gifts!

This is especially for those of you who are on a budget!

I’m keeping it simple so it’s a buy one, get one fr.ee s.a.l.e. Buy any product and get a second one of a similar or lesser value, totally free. No coupon codes needed, just tell me in the notes to seller (or if you forget, email me!) which product you want for free.

1. How to set and achieve your goals and Big, Juicy Goals

2. Break out of overwhelm

3. Organise your home

4. Organise your time

5. Organise your home office

6. Organise your business

Happy shopping and thank you very much for supporting my little business.

How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

(I plan to read, eat and take lots of photos)

#kandcturn5 – 5th birthday monkey party – decor

The main reason why I love buying a party printable pack is that your theme is instant. So easy to tie things together, especially for those of us a bit challenged in that area.

As I mentioned, I used this monkey party printable pack from paperglitter.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

She delivers a TON of value – my PDF file has 74 pages.

Even if you just use 5 things, that’s already the price of the pack because if you buy the items individually on etsy, you’ll pay about $3 each.

For the record, I used the happy birthday banner, the welcome signs, invite, thank-you note, cupcake toppers, big circles, food flags and labels, and the colouring in page.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

Happy birthday banner with a pic of them in their pjs taken two year ago (aren’t they adorable?!)

The decorating and setting up is the main reason I like having the party at home.

People say “but what about all the tidying up?” and I say, “it’s only 3 hours of crazy and 1 hour of tidying up afterwards”. It’s much easier pulling things down than setting it all up, in my experience.

Also, we pay our nanny extra on a Saturday to help us clean and tidy before and after a party, and even the cost of doing that is at most 25% of a venue fee. So there’s that too.

You can’t beat it – the control is worth it :)

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

Bed, pillows, stuffed toys and Curious George books :)

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

We made the table into a bed too. The tablecloth is a fleece blanket, pillows, monkeys!

Seriously, how’s this for the easiest theme ever?! I had everything!

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

My sideboard had all the yellow and green dishes and glasses set up. We cut out some bananas from yellow foam sheets and scattered them on the runner.

Monkey birthday party | Organising Queen

I had the party packs, a chalkboard with the instagram hashtag, welcome sign and a digital photo frame with photos from the last year on rotation.

What I generally do:

  • I go around the house and gather everything in the theme colours – in this case, green, yellow and brown, and dump them on the dining-room table to see what I have.
  • I had enough paper plates, bowls, serviettes, etc, so I bought nothing.
  • We had two stuffed monkey toys and Curious George books, green blankets, etc. so it all got pulled into the theme.
  • That’s it – easy peasy!

I was thrilled that I had to buy nothing and that I could use some of the party supplies stash.

What was the easiest theme you’ve ever done?

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