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Thursday, June 6, 2019


May was a month full of celebrations for us... it seemed as if we were hosting a different party or gathering every time we turned around!  Among them we had two big family milestones, and today I'm sharing some of the decorations around our house from my daughter's 16th Birthday and son's High School Graduation.  They aren't outrageous or over the top, just simple touches here and there to celebrate each occasion.

I was pleasantly surprised when my girl requested a backyard party at home with her friends to celebrate her birthday.  Alright, I can do that!  I had grand plans worked up in my head of epic decorations in the trees and scattered around the patio and yard. And, of course, it poured buckets of rain the entire day of her party right up until the time that the party started.  I was thankful that it cleared off and the kids could be outside a bit during the actual party time but any grand plans for decorating outdoors were thwarted.

So, we used what we had to make the house festive.  I generally just focus on a few areas for parties... the mantel, tables, maybe the porch or entry and maybe a bit in the kitchen.  We didn't really have a theme for her party, just bright, cheery, and colorful.  I have a variety of balloons that we inflated and then grouped in clusters to hang at the ends of banners and garlands.  I made the tissue garland years ago and the "Let's Party" came from Five Below several months ago.  Dollar Tree carries 14" number and letter silver or gold mylar balloons now, so I got a few sets of those to use.

A while back she brought this giant styrofoam "E" home that had been part of a larger word from an event at church, so we stashed it to use for her party.  It's hard to see here but we quickly sprayed the edges green and then covered the top with wrapping paper.  My paper fan stash that's usually out at Christmas came in handy too.

We had dreary weather so the lighting is bad, but we added similar decorations in the Dining Room.

Several months ago I picked up a variety of these nylon lanterns to use when we planned to decorate outdoors, but since that didn't work out I just hung them where I could around the house.  They have a solar light inside and ranged from about $5-10 each I think, so they were a small investment that I plan to reuse often.  I used a rainbow runner from Hobby Lobby on the table, then scattered honeycomb balls and paper lanterns, gold and silver mirrored balls, and cupcakes down the center.

She currently prefers cookie cake, so I made a large sheet pan size for her "friend" party, and a smaller version for the party we had the next day with just family.  I added in some pictures of her through the years on the day of her family party, she didn't want them out when here friends were over ;).

The Breakfast Room off of the kitchen got more nylon lanterns and a variety of whatever I could find that was sparkly and colorful.

Even with the rain, we were able to hang a photo backdrop on the covered corner of the patio.  I hung some of my old curtain panels, then used pins to attach more paper fans and tissue paper puffs, along with another set of "16" balloons.  I also had a basket of photo props for the guests to use if desired.

We can't believe she's reached this milestone and had such fun celebrating our girl!

Two short weeks later, we celebrated my son's Graduation. Again, I had big plans for outdoor graduation decorations as well, and again, it poured and poured all morning of the ceremony until right when we got home...  thankful it stopped in time for us to take our photos outside.

 Dress- fairly recent from Marshalls  but very similar here, on sale for under $50!
Shoes- similar here 
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Again, with last minute decorating plan changes, I kept things simple.  I bought this yard sign at Michael's a few weeks before and we put it out after it stopped raining.  I've seen companies that do these signs but was glad to find one we could put out ourselves, and I'll hang onto it for our next graduate in two short years!

Inside, things were similar to what I did for her party, but with a change to his school colors.  I was actually able to reuse her "16" balloons (they stay inflated forever) by flipping the 6 upside down ;) and I just added the 20 and strung them on a ribbon to make a garland.

Beside the mantel I strung more ribbon and used mini clothespins to hang photos filled with lots of  memories, family, and friends with the graduate.

In the Dining Room I set the table up with some of his mementos, hobbies, and awards.

I pulled out lots of "growing up" photos and strung those with clothespins on a ribbon behind the table.  I bought a simple blank scrapbook from Hobby Lobby, then set out a basket (that he made in third grade!) filled with blank notecards.  I asked each guest to write him a note with a memory, encouraging word, scripture, or prayer and I'll attach those all inside the book and give it to him.

We served lunch after Graduation for the family who was able to come.  The food was all buffet style in the kitchen. I didn't get a photo in time with it spread out before we ate, but I added another 2019 garland over the island by simply tying a ribbon to the pendants.

Finally, I'm not a pro, but I enjoy making special cakes for the kids on their birthdays or special occasions.  For graduation, I made a round cake into a mortar board cap.  It was easy!  I made 2 8" layers and frosted them (in hindsight I wish I had made 3 to make it a bit taller), then we cut a square of cardboard to lay on top.  I covered it with foil before frosting it and laying it on top, but also in hindsight I didn't really need the foil... that part just gets removed anyway so it didn't matter that it was covered.  I had some number picks to use on top, so before icing and laying the cardboard on top I poked the holes where I wanted them to go and inserted skewers so they wouldn't disappear when I frosted the top.

I finished it off with a simple Congrats and the number picks.  They are foam and were actually all attached together on a hanging sign from the party store, but I cut them apart and hot glued each one to a skewer.

We had such fun celebrating our boy and are excited about what's in store for his future!

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Would you like to comment?

  1. It looks like you had 2 wonderful celebrations Congrats to Emily on turning sweet 16 and to Caleb for his graduation!

  2. 2019 will be forever a memorable year and your decorating style adds to the special events. Awesome and congrats to Emily, Caleb and Mom/Dad!!


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