In my last post, I shared the details of Zoey’s 3rd birthday party, a drive in movie theater.  In this post, I’ll share how I put together the cardboard cars for the drive in.  The cars made the whole theme come together.drivin_title2


To make the cardboard cars, I searched everywhere to find the perfect affordable cardboard boxes that were the right size and in the right quantities.  Boxes can be pricey and I needed 18 of them.  I also wanted them without any logos on them in case it would show through the paint.  Originally, I bought the medium size moving boxes from Lowes but found them to be too deep. When Zoey sat in it, she couldn’t see out of the box!  Taking measurements, I found that the boxes couldn’t be taller than 14 inches for an average height 3 year old toddler sitting down.  I ended up finding the perfect size and quantity of cardboard boxes on Amazon.  They were 20″ long, 16″ wide and 14″ tall. And a steal at only $1.63 a box.  They ended up being great quality and really sturdy.

Originally I wasn’t planning on painting the boxes because, seriously, who has the time to paint almost 20 boxes?   I’m really glad I did though because the paint really transformed the cars from ordinary cardboard boxes to adorable little cars.  I used huge bottles of regular acrylic paint and used the largest foam brushes that I could find:


I needed a lot of paint since the cardboard really soaked it up. I timed myself and each box took about 10 minutes to paint. The yellow boxes needed two coats so those took 20 minutes each. Every night, I would try to paint 3-4 boxes after I put both kids to bed. Jeff thought I was nuts. Especially because I was trying to hide what I was doing from Zoey so I had to wait and make sure she was sound asleep before I took out all the supplies, laid out all the tarps and then cleaned it all up before the kids woke up the next morning.  We live in a small condo in the city with very little space so I  strategically stacked each box to dry in our kitchen:



After the paint dried, I used colored duct tape to make racing stripes down the front of each car:cardboardbox1

You can now buy colored duct tape at Michaels, Target and even Lowe’s.  Such an awesome product.

To assemble the cars, I folded three sides of the box flaps down and left one side up for the “hood”. The hood is held up by two pieces of tape underneath.  For the wheels and steering wheel, I used 7 inch plastic plates that were hot glued on:


Each car was personalized with the guest’s name on a license plate. I drew these license plates  in photoshop and downloaded this license plate font. I printed them out on full page sticker labels so that I could just peel them off and stick them on the back:licenseplate

Here are all the mini cars all lined up  for their little drivers:


Before the movie started, kids could decorate their cars. Each kid got a little red and white striped popcorn box with stickers and markers. This is how the birthday girl decorated her car:


Because our home is small, I kept all the cars folded up until the party.  We transported all the boxes while they were flat and stacked and then assembled them at the venue.  My friends S and A were rock stars and worked frantically before the party to get the cars ready to go. They used painters tape to tape the hoods up and and hot glue to adhere the wheels and steering wheel. Big thanks to S and A for getting these cars assembled in time!

Because we used painters tape to tape the cars, the tape was easy to pull off and guests were able to collapse their cars easily and take them home with them.

Here is Zoey and her friends enjoying the movie:


Whew! That was a lot of info! Hopefully this is helpful to someone out there!




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For Zoey’s 3rd birthday party, I chose a drive in movie theater theme.  I was trying to come up with an unique, cost-friendly idea that didn’t require us hiring any entertainment for the kids. In the past, we have hired balloon artists and caricature artists, but those fees add up after all the room rental, food, favors and decorations.  This year, I promised Jeff that I’d try to keep costs under a reasonable budget!  I don’t think Zoey had any idea what a drive in movie theater was, even Jeff was a little confused when I told him what I was planning. Zoey had never even watched a movie before, but she got really into it once the party started.  All the kids loved it and the adults did, too!  The beauty of this drive in movie idea was that the kids sat quietly in their little cardboard cars watching the movie and eating lunch while the adults got a little break to chat and eat as well!  It was fairly quiet and the kids weren’t all running around like crazy!

The most labor intensive part of preparing for the party was the making of all the little cardboard cars for the kids to sit in. Eighteen cars total!  I’ll share in detail in my next post how those were made.  In this post, I’ll share the other big components that made up the birthday party.

I made this huge marquee sign out of extra large poster board for her party that said “Zoey’s Drive in Movie Theatre”.  It doesn’t really show up in the photo but I punched holes and poked Christmas lights so that the sign lit up:


Here is our birthday girl, ready for her VIP friends to stroll down the red carpet!


Here are all the cardboard box cars all lined up and ready for the movie screening:


We let Zoey pick the movie and she picked Frozen (of course!):


The birthday girl’s car had a bunch of pink balloons taped to the back. As the kids waited for all the guests to arrive and the movie to start, they decorated their own cars with stickers and markers.

The “concession stand” included pizza, fruit, apple sauce pouches, cookies, bottled drinks and of course, lots of popcorn!


I found the cutest popcorn boxes at Michaels that were perfect:drivin10

Instead of paper plates, we used these brown kraft paper food trays lined with red/white striped wax paper to go with the movie theme.  The kids ate their food right in their cars while they watched the movie and the trays kept food from sliding around:


For dessert, I made Zoey’s favorite chocolate with chocolate chip cupcakes with buttercream frosting:


Party favors were Little Golden Books of Frozen or Cars with a packet of popcorn:
I made this banner out of scrapbook paper to hang over the food.  For all the signage, I bought movie clipart from this Etsy store that was perfect for the movie theme. The font is called “Budmo“:

We also hung up the birthday banner that we hang up every year with “3rd” written with chalk marker:

Happy 3rd birthday to my little pumpkin!

Check out my post on how I made the cardboard cars in part 2 of Zoey’s 3rd birthday party.

Read the letter I wrote Zoey on her 3rd birthday here.  See Zoey’s 1st “xoxo zozo” birthday party details here. Her 2nd “Zozo’s Zoo” Birthday Party here.

Poor Skylar’s 1st birthday is in a month and I haven’t done ANY planning at all for it!  Poor second child!

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Merry Christmas!!

by ilene on December 25, 2015 · 0 comments

in christmas, decor, holidays


Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!christmas2015_1

We are especially grateful this year for this new stocking that we get to hang up.  (I  blogged about how I embroidered these with our names last year here)

Our Christmas card that we sent out this year:Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 2.40.06 PMHope that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, that you have a wonderful Christmas!

Thanks for reading!!


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Since this is Skylar’s very first Christmas, she made a special ornament to commemorate her first year.  I took a clear glass ornament and stamped her little handprint on it with acrylic paint.  After the paint dried, I took off the top and stuffed in the hospital ankle bands that she wore at hospital when she was born:


This is a really simple and quick ornament that I think we will enjoy hanging up on our Christmas tree every year:

Her hand is so little!

This idea is really similar to the wedding capsule ornament that I blogged about 4 years ago. I smile every year when I hang up our ornament filled with flower petals that were thrown at us on our wedding day:




We are all about handmade ornaments at our home.  I’ve written up tutorials on a bunch of them that I’ve made over the years. Here is a round up of a few other fun homemade ornament ideas:










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Our Family Thankful Tree

by ilene on November 23, 2015 · 1 comment

in decor, holidays


My latest project, is what I call Operation Dethrone The Toddler.  I’ve been trying to teach Zoey to think outside of herself.    I want my child to be kind and compassionate and lets just say, she has never been one to be described as “sweet”.  My kid, as delightful as she can be, can also be one little self-centered firecracker.  She wakes up barking orders and doesn’t stop until she goes to bed.  And even then, she still yells all sorts of demands at us from inside her crib.   Since I would not like to be raising a little tyrant, I’ve been trying to brainstorm ways to teach Zoey to be nice, thoughtful and generous.  I’d love to hear any ideas that parents may have on this as I’m really struggling!  My Zoey is more spicy than sweet!  Luckily, I think the holiday season is the perfect time of the year to start these conversations and initiatives with Zoey.  With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I made this “Thankful Tree” in our living room out of kraft paper and leftover card stock.  Everyday over dinner, I’ve been asking Zoey what she is thankful for and we have been adding her thoughts to the leaves on our tree.  We’ve been having some great conversations about how blessed we are!  She is starting to realize that she is one lucky little girl.  Listing out all the things we are grateful for is also a great reminder to me of how God is so good to our family.

Our Thankful Tree bare:


Some of things that Zoey is thankful for:thankfultree3

She loves to pick out the leaves and put them on the branches herself. The tree has gotten a lot more full since I took this picture.

I’m curious to hear from readers what you are doing this season to help others.  Are there holiday service projects that you guys love to do with your family?   The holidays are all about love and I think its the perfect time for us to start some holiday traditions.  We just dropped off a shoebox of toys that Zoey prepared for Operation Christmas Child and plan to try Kindness Elves instead of the typical Elf on the Shelf in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I’m planning on starting an Advent Calendar where everyday we do one random act of kindness, too.  We’ll be baking a birthday cake for Jesus and I can’t wait to introduce the meaning of Christmas to Zoey now that she is three and old enough to understand.  The holidays are going to be a lot more fun this year now that I can share them with her!  I’m looking forward to starting family traditions!  And her experiencing the magic of Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving week, my friends!!


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