I remember the day my son was born like it was yesterday, and I hope I always will. With that said, I am in awe of how quickly the last two years have gone by. I am the mom of a toddler?! How did that happen? I feel like his birthday party is the time of year for me to celebrate him and all of the amazing ways he is growing and learning, as well as two important facts: (1) I have kept him alive for 2 years and (2) I haven’t had a stroke yet (although the Blue Paint Incident was a close one). Additionally, it has been a rough couple of months with me saying goodbye to two wonderful grandparents. I’ve needed blue couch-ish distractions more than ever, and my little man’s birthday party was a welcome, happy one.

Last year, the theme was “Oh the Places You’ve Been” to cap off a great year. Approximately three months later, I decided on the theme for his second birthday party, which I have been tediously planning ever since. It is an illness…an illness that Pinterest has only exacerbated.

This year, to celebrate his love of all things round, the party was ball themed, so I knew immediately that a ball pit must be a part of the equation. Add in a moon bounce, indoor playground, and make-believe town, and you have the makings of a fantastic party.

I read somewhere once that the invitation sets the whole tone of a party, so I was pretty pumped when I found these simple, fun “Bouncing Ball” invitations from Tiny Prints:

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Next, it was time for decor. I had seen someone’s pin for ball garland, which sounded adorable, so I whipped a couple strands up. And by whipped, I mean worked myself into a sweat and gave myself blisters. You can’t imagine the looks you get when someone asks how you got your blisters and you say, “Oh I was just making some ball garland earlier.” It really did turn out awesome, though.

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Supplies

– Rainbow twine (jewelry making section of Joann’s Fabrics): This is just what it sounds like, twine that is rainbow colored. Different than bakers twine, as I now know.

– Upholstery needle (Joann’s Fabrics): You will likely not be surprised to hear that I didn’t really know what this was. A lovely woman at Joann’s took me over to the needle section (yes there is a whole section) and showed me that these are your bigger, thicker, stronger needles. That made sense since I had to shove them through plastic. I bought a set with a cute pouch, you know, so that my needles can travel with me anywhere, to meet all of my sewing needs. HA.

– Ball pit balls: we already had these from the birthday boy’s inflatable ball pit that popped last spring. We were just storing them in case we ever decided to get another. This is actually where my unwillingness to throw things away came in handy. If, however, you don’t randomly have 100 or so ball pit balls just laying around, you can get them at Toys R Us, Amazon, and sometimes Target.

– Pin cushion, book, or something equally hard: You will need this to help you push the needle through, which I didn’t know. I ended up using the rainbow twine spool. Desperate times.

Instructions

1. Get yourself seated in a comfortable position. This can take a while.

2. Start by threading your needle. A simple knot is fine.

3. Push the threaded needle through one end of a plastic ball. I tried to do it on the seam so that I could try to get it to come out the other end at the seam, in a somewhat straight line.

4. Find the needle in the ball, as it will disappear temporarily. I kind of squashed the ball and pushed the air out so that I could find the needle again.

5. Using your hard surface, push the needle out the other end of the plastic ball. This will hurt your hand slightly.

6. Reinflate the ball by reforming it into a ball shape.

7. Repeat until you have the garland as long as you would like.

You’ll notice in my picture that I also added some letters for some extra pizzazz. I made this on the Cricut machine where I cut out circles and letters. I backed the letters using the shadow feature on the Cricut. If you don’t have a Cricut (or a wonderful mother-in-law who will let you hijack borrow hers – thanks Karen!), you can trace the letters and cut them out by hand. Michaels also sells pre-cut circles and other shapes.  Simply make your letters, punch holes in the top, and thread them onto your twine as you go.

My other, significantly easier decoration was this vase of balls that I put in the middle of our table before cake with the family at night. Tie some happy birthday ribbon around the bottom and voila! I feel like it’s not even right to take credit for this as a craft because it literally took two seconds, but hey. I earned it after the blisters.

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We went with a simple, pizza meal for the kids’ party at the play center. Last year I went crazy with our menu at the house, and this year, I just didn’t want to. There, I said it. I did, however, decide to make cupcakes. This ended up being an unfortunate decision, as my oven broke a couple weeks ago. Thank you to our friend, Barbara, who let us use her oven!

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These were simple, out-of-the-box, funfetti cupcakes, with a delicious buttercream icing. I got the ball decor discounted on ebay, but you can buy them here. Because our cupcakes were smaller, I just cut them so that we put two balls on each. I used a set of 5 for the cake we celebrated with later that night.

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I also made some little sticks, using the Cricut, some stickers I got on sale at Michaels, and wooden skewers. Glue two circles together with the stick in the middle, and you have yourself a cupcake decoration.

Finally, the favors. I saw a great post from Kimberly over at Try It Mom who did a ball themed party for her son. She ordered kickballs as party favors, which I thought was just awesome. Last year, I gave out Dr. Suess books to go with  our theme, so I loved the idea of doing a single, bigger item as a favor this year too. I ordered the 10″ balls from S&S Worldwide for the kids and smaller, 5″ balls for the babies. I pumped them up (after first feeling foolish that I expected them to come pumped up!) and wrapped them in clear bags that I got from the dollar store. Tied em up with happy birthday ribbon and a tag that I cut from – you guessed it – the Cricut. I made the labels using clear circle labels that you can buy in any Staples or Office Max and the matching template on Microsoft Word.

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All in all, I’d say the party was a BALL. I’m sorry. I had to do it.

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