Here’s the thing about 14-year-olds: they know what they want. And this year, my twin girls wanted a bowling birthday party / sleepover and they wanted their primary party color to be ginger. Allllright-y then.
Fortunately for me, I found Jula Paper Co, a fabulous printables seller on Etsy who is happy to customize party colors. She created a digital invitation for me, and sent a professionally printed banner and thank you cards. The paper quality was terrific, and not having to trim printables was a huge time saver for me.
In fact, a lot of this party was about: how I can pull this off with less effort than normal, because I still wasn’t back to 100% energy after my surgery. It turned out to be a nice lesson is keeping things simple. That also worked well with the clean, modern vibe my girls wanted to go for.
Here’s how we worked the party:
- Arrive at our house at 4:30 p.m.
- Drop off sleeping bags, etc., then pile into our cars by 4:45 to drive to the bowling alley.
- Bowl from 5 to 6ish, and eat pizza at the bowling alley.
- Back to our house for cake and Happy Birthday singing.
- Sleepover with pick-up at 10 a.m. the next day.
I knew I wasn’t up for transporting a party to a location this year, but if you want to see a stunning at-the-bowing-alley party, check out this one from Anders Ruff. Having the dessert table at home allowed me to set up for the party as I had time and energy. I decorated just three areas: the dining room, a bar cart for late night snacks in the living room, and the kitchen table for breakfast.
Dining Room Table
My trick of using Ikea stools to fit more girls around our dining room table just barely worked this year. All these girls are now in teenager bodies — they’re bigger! I don’t know how I’ll fit them in next year.
I dressed the table with a white tablecloth and topped it with a table runner made out of ginger-colored fabric (just $3/yard at WalMart). I used the same combo on the sideboard that served as our dessert table.
I used white plastic plates, gold plastic forks and gold/white striped paper napkins (gasp! I almost never use plastic or paper place settings). I’m telling you: if there was a easy route, I took it for this party. But, I loved how the combo turned out.
For water bottles, I skipped bottle wrappers (I was a rebel, ya’ll!) and washi taped on a peach striped straw. The washi tape didn’t want to hold, so I secured each end with a dot of glue.
At each place, I added a party favor. We picked hand lotion from Bath and Body Works, thinking that after bowling, everyone would want to wash up and pamper their hands. I found clear plastic macaron boxes and removed the inside part that would be fitted to the macarons. In went the hand lotion and a selection of Lindt chocolates. The thank you tags were attached with more gold glitter washi tape.
I have more fun designing party table centerpieces! I used a combination of elements here: two white floral arrangements, three vintage bowling trophies, and 7 or 8 faux bowling ball trophies that I made using supplies I had on hand.
The florals were white hydrangeas and roses, in a loose but full arrangement with stems showing through the clear glass vase. In all honesty, I had these made at Kroger, which usually works out well for me. But despite showing the florist a photo and picking out the flowers I wanted, the end result was not right at all. She had a block of floral foam showing through the glass vase and the arrangement was too high off the top of the vase.
I couldn’t help but be disappointed, so I nicely asked for them to be remade, and another florist popped out that foam, grabbed clean vases, trimmed the stems, added more roses, and was SUPER nice about it all.
For my faux trophies, I’ll add a tutorial, but basically, I marbleized smooth styrofoam balls, then hot glued them to inexpensive loving cups left over from my Kentucky Derby inspired graduation party. I added three white circles to each one to look like the holes in a bowling ball.
I wish I could say that I scoured Goodwill until I found the perfect vintage trophies, but nope. I ordered them off Ebay and Etsy and just closed my eyes about the shipping costs. (Those puppies are heavy!) The center trophy was the tallest, and the two on either side of it were a few inches shorter.
The dessert table was fun to design. I started with my trick of using cheap white curtains to hide my enormous mirror. Then I added a balloon garland. Baby A helped with balloon blowing up and it really took no time to assemble. I used a combination of balloons from Shop Sweet Lulu and some of my own. The garland is affixed to the wall using command strips and 1/8th inch grosgrain ribbon. (Here’s a balloon garland tutorial.)
I kept the serving pieces all white to support our color scheme. On the table, I added a small, natural wood bowling pin set as a nod to our theme while still keeping the dessert table a little more sophisticated than the average bowling party. Across the front of the table, I hung the Happy Birthday banner.
The cake was draped with marbleized fondant in our party colors to look like a bowling ball. I made the paper pins and bowling ball topper … and then SET IT ON FIRE when lighting birthday candles. Yes, indeed-y. We all just FROZE. And then I snapped to, blew out all their birthday candles (and the topper) and we did not try candles again. Still not quite sure how I did that, but lesson learned: remove paper toppers BEFORE lighting candles.
Our other treats included:
- Bowling ball and bowling pin sugar cookies from my favorite Guilty Confections
- Bowling pin pretzel sticks
- Bowling ball chocolate covered Oreos
- Nutella marshmallows and salted caramel marshmallows from Viveltre. They were soooo good. I might have eaten more than my share.
- Meringue cookies
- Vanilla ice cream
Late Night Bar Cart
Of course, the little pink bar cart had to make an appearance. I tied giant gold 14 balloons to the cart, and of course, getting them to face the same direction at the same time was nearly impossible because … balloons move.
The main thing about the bar cart was to satisfy the girls’ munchies while they stayed up late and watched movies and did nails and jabbered. I found a huge glass candy jar at WalMart and we used that to hold Smart Food movie style popcorn. Everyone had a clear plastic container they could use to hold their popcorn. I love the little scalloped edge on the popcorn containers. On the bottom shelf, I had a variety of Izzes.
I set up most of the breakfast table after the girls were done with desserts and present opening. In the morning, all I had to do was put out donuts and strawberries.
I used my Johnson Brothers ironstone for breakfast, plus more of the gold plastic flatware. I found the entire set of ironstone dishes in an antique mall before the girls’ Vintage Tea Party way back when — still can’t believe I only paid $20 for the set!
Our breakfast options included:
- Cheerios for the easy to please
- Donuts and donut holes – we picked these out the day before
- Mocha and vanilla Frappuccinos as a special treat
My husband thought I was crazy for hosting such a big sleepover, but having twins means having lots of friends. It all went really well with no drama — what a great group of girls! Have you hosted a big sleepover before ? Any tips?
- Party styling and photography: The Party Teacher
- Bowling invitation, banner, thank you tags: Jula Paper Co
- Cake: SmallCakes Woodstock
- Hand lotion: Bath & Body Works
- Party favor boxes: ClearBags via Amazon
- Peach striped straws: Creative Juice Cafe
- Sugar cookies: Guilty Confections
- Marshmallows: Viveltre
- Pretzels and chocolate Oreos: Crazy Brain Catering
- Balloons: Shop Sweet Lulu
- White plates: Party City
- Gold utensils: Lillian Tablesettings via Amazon
- Gold stripe napkins: Hobby Lobby
- Scalloped plastic popcorn boxes: __ via Amazon