Curious Cashel Turns 2

We were inspired by our incredible almost 2 year old Cashel when I began to dream up this party. It would not have been possible without our amazing Buy Nothing community (a group we have been a part of for a year now on Facebook.) Costumes, décor, and even some of the favors were all gifted to us there. We love to throw a party that not only honors the birthday child but also the village that helps raise them. 🙂 This is a challenge as we have 11 grand and great grand parents living in town now, plus an incredible group of friends who are family.
This year it as DESSERT only. A banana split party was the perfect solution.
Curious Cashel had so much fun, despite having to move the party in half way through the evening due to rain. Thank the lord for flexible guests, and a home that [kind of] fit everyone.
We had to embrace the costumes! Ted “The Man in the Yellow Hat,” “Professor Wiseman” the scientist, a banana and “Ahh Ahh” were all in attendance.
We gifted the families a copy of “Curious George and the Birthday Surprise.”
Homemade banana muffins (thanks to Buy Nothing friends for their frozen bananas)1
And banana shaped sugar cookies from my Auntie Toni’s famous Sugar Cookie Recipe.
(Another Buy Nothing idea – I used a moon shaped cookie cutter and adapted the shape to make these!)
The kids also received banana taffy and laffy taffy.The favor table might have been my favorite party!

Benjamin created these adorable printables to have around the house, and the adorable goodie boxes were turned into centerpieces with mums in them. I was then able to use them for my yard. Such a fun alternative to expensive cut flowers and they lasted ALL fall.
A college, and now Buy Nothing friend, lent me these adorable banner, bananas, and some fun lanterns that really made the house feel festive.
The jar for cones was borrowed and the buckets for toppings were used at Cashel’s first birthday “Cashel for President.”
Even the trays for banana splits were gifted to us! Someone had leftovers from a party earlier in the summer. The straws were also left from last years party (stay tuned at the end of the post for a party planning tip about this).
Even the painted mason jars were reused from a couple previous parties!
So special to see the change from last year’s birthday board that hung in his room all year to this year’s second birthday board.
                                        2013- first birthday            AND          2014 – second birthday
Did I mention that awesome pallet flag that was gifted to me by a Buy Nothing friend just before the party – her and her kids MADE it!!!
I got a steal of a deal on helium and filled balloons (even Curious George ones!) that were give to me through Buy Nothing. Are you seeing a theme.
Along the fence line I used photos that I had already had printed (I get a monthly Groove Book) and shared memories of Cashel with family and friends from the past year.
Borrowed quilts and extra gifted table cloths made the outdoor seating area so festive.
Of course disposable plates are perishable so I had to purchase those but I even was able to wash and save the cups for other friends parties – these are “Man in the Yellow Hat” place settings. It’s just black electrical tape on the base of the cups. 🙂

I now have a Curious George birthday bin I lend out to friends and those in our Buy Nothing group!!

The “photo board” was our “Welcome to the party” and really helped set the tone.
The paint and wood was gifted to us or we used what we already had.
(Thanks to my creative husband for building this for me!)
 Guests took their photos here and I gave them pictures from the party in their thank you cards we mailed out the following week.
I used leftover felt to make Cashel a birthday crown that will make an appearance every year from now on. He loved it!
Our curious, adventurous boy, felt so loved and celebrated!
The invitations were so adorable and included a rhyme asking people to contribute to a family zoo pass so Cashel could see the monkeys in lieu of gifts. They were so generous! We’ll get to go to the zoo all year as a family and with other friends. We like to ask for experiences for birthdays as we have limited space and want to create memories with those we love!
This awesome Curious George toy was wrapped and delivered to Cashel from a Buy Nothing friend as his birthday gift. He opened it that morning and we used it for décor at the party. The monkey book too and he is obsessed!
We invited the immediate grandparents to join us for a casual BBQ dinner before other party goers arrived and “Ted” took his job very seriously!
Party goers arrived, we moved inside to avoid the rain, and had banana splits.
Kiddos got to “Adopt a monkey” – stuffed monkeys they got to take home with them. They had so much fun selecting a monkey to take home with them.
They also helped do an art project that now hangs in Cashel’s room. I received 3 canvases from Buy Nothing folks and I used masking tape to write “curious,” “courageous” and “creative” on them. Then I took craft “puffs” and put them inside clothespins. The kids them dipped them in yellow, red, and blue paint and dotted the canvases like crazy. This was when Cashel opened the few gifts he did receive and when he was done there were three awesome pieces of art complete. The kids at the party didn’t have be consumed with watching Cashel open presents and had so much fun in the meantime.
 I always hope to lessen that pressure for Cashel (being watched by everyone) and also realize presents can be tough on young party attendees – and that’s not why we invited them there. We want happy guests, kids, and less stress. I found this activity was a fun way to do that!
Cashel is TWO and the party was so fun!
Party Tips
1. When planning a party try to use as little that is brand/theme specific as possible that make a big statement. For example I only had a few “Curious George” items like the center piece boxes and a few balloons with George’s image on them, and the rest were within a color theme. So it is nicely coordinated and the theme is still evident, but you can utilize leftovers for other events.
 (I especially love primary and patriotic colors for that reason as they are easy to reuse for multiple themes!)
2. Borrow from friends (table cloths, servingware, leftover cutlery/plates/napkins, folding chairs, folding tables, even banners or left over décor elements). If you don’t ask you will not receive.
3. Collect and return borrowed items well in advance and then quickly after the event. Don’t ask guests to bring borrowed items to the party or take them home after. This is just courteous since they are generously lending them to you. Plus you’ll want to take your time with setup and clean up to minimize stress.
4. Have an “unexpected weather” Plan B even in the middle of a hot summer – you might get rain!
5. Set up as much as possible the night before. Clean the day before, prep food the day before and pick a menu that allows you to enjoy the party, the guest of honor and other attendees. That’s the point … to celebrate with your village.
6. Don’t feel like you have to feed everyone a meal. Dessert is great, or just appetizers. Maybe think strategically about the time of day and just do a few snacks.
7. Know what you value and choose party favors, activities, and how you do gifts in line with those values. Be true to who you are as a family so you’ll enjoy it too.
8. Find your local Buy Nothing group and get involved. When you are gifted something be sure to share and #afterthegive photo so people get to see how they blessed you!
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