DIY Fabric Garland

22 DIY Fabric Garland Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

As a styled event and party photographer, I have worked with some amazing vendors who create handmade custom pieces. Having photographed many of Lilypaul Designs fabric garlands in the past, I was inspired to try to create my own DIY version for my son’s Monster, Aliens, and Robots birthday party. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out since I’m on the border of being crafty and I don’t work with fabric much at all. I’m so excited that I accomplished this without the use of a sewing machine! I simply used a cutting mat and rotary cutter to easily slice through fabric. Scissors would do the same thing, but this goes much faster and gets smooth, straight lines.

2 Cutting Setup Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I picked up fabric at Wal-Mart and ended up buying one yard of each color at a total cost of about $7 altogether.

1 Fabric Bolts Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

First, lay the full yard of fabric out and folded it in half horizontally. Then cut that piece in the middle vertically.

4 Cutting Fabric Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 5 Cut Fabric in Half Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Next, stack the two halves on top of each other. There will now be a fold at the top of each piece and four layers of fabric at the bottom.

6 Stack Fabric Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Use the rotary cutter to slice through the fabric in one inch strips, using the cutting mat as a guide.

3 Cutting Setup Closeup Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Continue cutting fabric until all fabric is used. Keep fabric strips in folded position and organized by color. There will be odd ends, hold on to them, just in case.

8 Finished Strips Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 7 Odds Ends Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Using a 5/8 inch ribbed ribbon, knot one end to begin making the fabric garland.

9 Ribon Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Determine the color pattern for the garland and begin to use simple knots to attach fabric to ribbon.

10 Beginning Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

To create the knot, hold fabric strip in the left hand and insert index finger into folded section, creating a loop. Place ribbon under loop.

11 Create Loop Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Grab ends of strip with the right hand and insert into loop, ensuring ribbon is now inside the hole created.

12 Insert End in Loop Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Hold on to ribbon with the left hand and lightly pull on ends with the right hand to tighten knot.

13 Pull End Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Tighten knot further by pulling harder.

14 Tighten Knot Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Push knots together to create pattern.

15 Push Ends Together Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

While trying to follow the pattern, it’s possible to forget a color.

16 Missed Color Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

If that happens, simply slide the incorrect color over to create some additional space.

17 Slide Knot Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Determine the color missed, and grab that strip.

18 Add Strip Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Attach the missing strip as instructed above.

19 Insert Strip Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

When the fabric garland is finished, knot the ribbon at the opposite end to keep strips in place. This will create one fabric garland of about 7 feet in length, perfect for a 6 foot dessert table.

20 Finished Product Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

28 Joseph Dessert Table Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

DIY Polystyrene Backdrop

28 Joseph Dessert Table Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

After I gave up on my idea for a galvanized metal backdrop, I decided to spray paint polystyrene (insert link) to use as a lightweight and affordable dessert table backdrop for my son’s Monsters, Aliens, and Robots themed 2nd birthday party. I wasn’t completely sure how this was going to work out, but at less than $5 for the entire 4 foot by 8 foot sheet, it seemed like a good idea to at least give it a try.

1 Polystyrene Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I had the perfect Monsters, Aliens, & Robots themed birthday party color palette picked out already – Brilliant Blue, Key Lime, and Dark Gray, but when I saw the silver color Rust-Oleum offered, I just had to have it. I swapped out the Dark Gray for the Metallic Aluminum.

2 Spray Paint Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 6 Spray Paint Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

While at Menards, my favorite hometown hardware emporium, I asked one of the guys working if they could cut my polystyrene so that it would fit in my car. I had ulterior motives here – I knew this 8 foot piece of styrofoam wasn’t going to possibly fit in my SUV, but I also anticipated that they’d be happy to professionally cut it for me on the spot. I had grand ideas of them measuring out and cutting my piece of polystyrene in perfectly portioned thirds. I had not anticipated that the guy out back would just slice right through it all willy nilly with a box cutter without any idea of the type of perfectionist he was dealing with. I chose my battle. I shut my mouth and happily accepted my jagged lines, forced all three pieces in my car (leaving an unforgettable trail of styrofoam pieces), and was headed home to “make it work” as Tim Gunn says.

3 Bad Cut Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I started off by using a razor blade to straighten out the rough edges.

5 Straighten Edges Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I then stacked the pieces to make sure they looked pretty similar, without taking away too much of the width. I ended up placing the thinnest piece in the middle in order to cover up the other jagged edges and use up as much surface area as possible, while maintaining some balance.

4 Stacked Pieces Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I decided to make the middle panel blue, since it was the darkest color, and make the outer panels silver and green.

7 Blue Spray Paint Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I laid out a dropcloth in the backyard to keep things clean and spray painted each panel individually, starting with the edges and then working my way in, allowing for some drying time between colors.

9 Spray Outside Edges Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

The green color gave the polystyrene a crazy spotted effect after applying it. I thought it was just perfect for alien skin though, so I wasn’t stressed.

10 Green Spray Paint Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

The silver ended up melting the polystyrene very quickly! I totally freaked out for a bit, waiting to see if it would just melt the foam completely. Luckily, it didn’t turn to complete liquid and I kind of liked the crater effect. I’m guessing it was the metallic element of the paint that caused this effect, but I’m no expert, just a mom with a can of spray paint.

8 Silver Spray Paint Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I left the completed panels in the garage for a couple days to fully dry. The night before party day, I started the dessert table setup. I was working in a pretty small space with a 6 foot banquet table and a custom backdrop that was definitely no longer 8 feet wide.

11 Table Setup Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

As a seasoned party photographer, I have a few things that make me go a little crazy. My number one pet peeve is a gorgeous, custom backdrop that is the same size or smaller than the table itself. Stylists and planners – you NEED to make it larger than your table! Here’s why – when photographing the setup, you WANT to continue seeing the gorgeous custom backdrop, not the ugly background!

12 Photo Space Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

After I got the panels in place, I figured that maybe, just maybe they’d be happy to stay in place, but I started preparing for battle, just in case. I had a few ideas in my bag of tricks and tape seemed like the most logical answer, with glue coming in at a close second. The thought of gluing the panels together caused me so much anxiety that I’m relieved I didn’t pursue that option. Then I had a new idea – push pins!

13 Pins Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

They were just perfect to keep the panels close together without any shifting.

14 Insert Pin Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

They were also super easy to use and so tiny that they were unrecognizable!

15 Insert Pin Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

After inserting several in the front of the backdrop, I wanted to play it safe and keep the backdrop secured to the China hutch it was leaning against. I’m not real sure how secure this actually was, like, don’t try this with a paying client, but it worked for me! I just used some scotch tape and put a piece on several sections of the top of the backdrop and the top of the hutch. Knowing full well I was dealing with non-sticky polystyrene, I decided to go a step beyond and insert a pin into the center of the tape too. I repeat – it worked for me.

16 Top Pin Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 17 Top Pin Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

This is definitely a very affordable DIY project! The polystyrene costs just under $5 and the spray paint costs just under $4 per can, so overall, you’re looking at an investment of $17. I don’t know how safe this project is – I haven’t been told to the contrary – but then again, I often prefer to ask for forgiveness rather than permission…

DIY “Galvanized Metal” Letter

21 DIY Galvanized Metal Letter Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I came up with the idea to use galvanized metal in my son’s Monsters, Aliens, & Robots birthday party when I was searching for inspiration for his dessert table setup. I found this party from Carol of Partylicious featured by Jenny Raulli of Bloom Designs when searching online. I loved the idea of using  a sheet of galvanized metal as the backdrop and quickly went to Menard’s to find some locally, without any luck. I still have no idea where I could get a sheet of that stuff!

1 Partylicious Robot Party

I decided on a different direction for the backdrop and then came up with the idea of having a big letter J for Joseph in the middle of the backdrop. I checked Hobby Lobby and Michael’s for anything that would work and came up with two options that were just way too small.

2 Hobby Lobby Big J Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 3 Hobby Lobby Little J Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Disappointed in the selection of sizes to choose from, I started thinking harder about the grooves of the metal and wondered if I could achieve the same look from a cardboard box cutout. I picked up a flat moving box from WalMart for less than $1.00 and started freehand sketching a big J on the surface.

4 J Cutout Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Using an X-Acto knife, I sliced through the cardboard to cut out my letter J. I’m always very cautious when using one of these blades, as my brother accidentally sliced his arm with one pretty badly when he was a teenager. Thankfully, it was nothing too serious!

5 Xacto Knife Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Next, I carefully peeled off the flat layer of cardboard, working slowly to try to remove as much as I could with each strip.

6 Peeling Cardboard Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

It got messy after a while, so I just had to start peeling everything I could get my fingers on.

7 Cardboard Layers Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

After I completely peeled off the flat layer of cardboard, I started meticulously picking off all the leftover pieces using a pair of tweezers. This part was quite tedious and time-consuming, but hey, if there’s one thing I have in abundance right now, it’s free time. This is a great project for someone who has a plethora of patience and a healthy dose of functional OCD – not a common combo!

8 Using Tweezers Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Finally I used the same Rust-Oleum Metallic Aluminum spray paint I used on the DIY Polystyrene Backdrop to cover the cutout in paint. The metallic silver gave the cutout the shiny, industrial look I wanted.

9 J to Paint Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I left the cutout in place for a couple hours, to ensure it was dry before touching it.

10 J Painted Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

To hang the cutout, I used pins to attach it to my polystyrene backdrop.

11 Pins for Hanging Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I really love how the final DIY “Galvanized Metal” Letter turned out. I was able to get it to the perfect size for the backdrop I was working with and it was light enough to hang from pins to the polystyrene.

29 Dessert Table Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Monsters, Aliens, and Robots, oh my!

29 Dessert Table Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

It’s amazing my son even had a birthday party this year, quite honestly. I had very valid reasons for not celebrating his 2nd birthday – we were traveling, I had no venue, and I am not a party planner are just a few of those excuses. I can’t help it though! I don’t know how not to celebrate and I certainly don’t know how to celebrate in a small way! Go big or go home!

28 Joseph Dessert Table Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I had the theme chosen before we even left California in July to begin this crazy cross-country road trip we’ve been on. I loved the idea of doing “Monsters, Aliens, and Robots, oh my!” for his 2nd birthday party, as a play on The Wizard of Oz’s “Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my!” I consulted with Amy of Dimply Sweet and she was 100% on board with the theme and she helped me choose a color palette. We decided on blue, lime green, and gray. I loved it! She started working on the printable collection and I was blown away with the invitation she created for me. Amy doesn’t just create custom printables, she also prints everything, cuts it, and deliveries the pretties to your door.

3 Invitation Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Amy worked her tail off to create a custom package for my Monster, Aliens, and Robots birthday party. She came up with the idea of using gears as a design element and I thought it was such a great addition. Here are a few of the photos she sent me before mailing off my package.

7 Dimply Sweet Gears Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 10 Dimply Sweet Welcome Sign Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 9 Dimply Sweet Straws Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 8 Dimply Sweet Toppers Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I searched the Quad Cities for a fun venue for a boys’ birthday party and wasn’t too excited about what I found, so I decided to just host the party at my grandma’s house. Just to see what I was working with here, check out this before photo of the empty space. I’d just like to drive the point home that you can throw a great-looking party anywhere! That’s another reason that having a professional photographer photograph your party is so important. In the event that hiring a professional photographer is out of your budget or your client’s budget, it’s incredibly beneficial to know your camera well enough to take your own photos.

1 Before Setup Space Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I took on quite a few DIY projects for this birthday party. First of all, I created a DIY Polystyrene Backdrop for the dessert table. Check out this post for all of the details on that project.

2 DIY Polystyrene Backdrop Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Amy helped me out tremendously by creating a mock-up for my dessert table. I told her I needed as much hand-holding as possible to pull this off without her presence.

4 Dimply Sweet Background Mockup Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

The DIY “Galvanized Metal” Letter is another project I created to hang on the backdrop. Can you tell I created it from a piece of cardboard? Here’s the link to that post, if you’re interested in creating your own.

21 DIY Galvanized Metal Letter Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I’ve also created a great tutorial for making your own DIY Fabric Garland and you can find the details here. It was a fun project and I’m really looking forward to making these for the rest of my future parties.

22 DIY Fabric Garland Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Along the lines of DIY crafts, I picked up a few things at Target and Walmart after Halloween and was able to get a great deal on some after holiday clearance items that went perfectly with a monster birthday party. I found this little monster at Target. He came in a bag as a puff ball, a goggly eye, and a sheet of sticky felt pieces. I followed the instructions and voila!

19 Monster Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I also found this cute monster wreath at Target. He was pretty simple to put together, though he required a bit more time and resources.

20 Monster Wreath Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I used the purple monster to place on the dessert table to fill up space. I also found this great alien balloon at Walmart and it was the perfect size to also place on the dessert table.

18 Alien Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

For the robot, I used a mixture of large and small cans, goggly eyes, and silver pipe cleaners to create him. I then set him on top of a cake pop stand from Michael’s, shocked he fit perfectly on there.

17 DIY Robot Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Speaking of dessert table, I collaborated with some incredible vendors to fill it with sweet treats. I ordered custom lollipops from Lollipics. I chose blue raspberry and green apple and used a photo of Joseph dressed up in his Frankenstein Halloween costume. Can you believe that image is 100% edible?! Lollipics is pretty amazing! I created the lollipop stand using a brick of floral styrofoam and spray paint.

16 Lollipics Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Marie of Sweets Indeed also sent me some scary cute monster Candy Kabobs. Her sour lollis are so fun and tasty! Who doesn’t love sour belts turned into art?!

15 Candy Kabobs Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

A few months ago, I won a great giveaway hosted by Tonya of Soire-Event Design that included an order of her adorable custom cotton candy bags. She came up with design on the label too. Don’t you just love them?!

14 Cotton Candy Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

No dessert table is complete without cupcakes, of course! I ordered mini cupcakes in gourmet flavors from HyVee – my favorite hometown grocery store. They tasted just as good as they looked! The cupcake toppers were handcrafted by the amazing Blanca of Creativities Galore. I’m always in awe of her custom cupcake toppers, so I just knew I needed her to create some for this Monster, Alien, and Robot party.

11 Gear Topper Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 13 Alien Topper Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 12 Robot Topper Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

The amazing NatSweets also spent countless hours creating these amazing cookies based on Dimply Sweet’s original designs. Here are some photos Natasha shared before mailing my cookies out. Her work is just outstanding and I was so thrilled to have her finally providing cookies for one of my own parties, as I’ve photographed her custom cookies on numerous occasions in Southern California.

5 NatSweets Cookies Full Collection Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 6 NatSweets Cookies Full Collection Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I found some cute Halloween cupcake candy toppers at Target and displayed them on the dessert table too, so that guests could decorate or embellish their own cupcakes. The monster divider was found at Walmart.

23 Cupcake Bar Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party 24 Cupcake Bar Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

The dessert table doubled as a guest favor table. I found some fun monster goodie bags at Walmart.

25 Goodie Bag Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

Guests filled the bags with Lollipics, Candy Kabobs, and cotton candy to take home.

26 Goodie Bag Inside Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I even saved some sweets and put together a goodie bag to mail to the hubs, who was at sea with the US Navy. He had to miss out on our little guy’s 2nd birthday party, but I wanted to send him a sweet surprise, so that he could still feel like he was there. He told me he showed everything off to whoever would listen. My job is done! When even the hubs is bragging about my craftiness, well, I know I did a good job.

27 Goodie Bag Mail for Daddy Maria Healey Monsters Aliens Robots Birthday Party

I’d like to thank all of these vendors for their phenomenal products:

Dimply Sweet, custom printables

Creativities Galore, custom cupcake toppers

NatSweets, custom sugar cookies

Lollipics, Frankenstein lollipops

Sweets Indeed, monster Candy Kabobs

Soiree-Event Design, custom cotton candy bags

HyVee, gourmet cupcakes