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Emerson’s Vintage Carnival Birthday Party

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December is the most hectic month of my (Jessica Wilcox, Modern Moments Designs) life. Every year, I promise myself it will be easier and I will plan ahead, but without fail, it seems to be crazier than the last. I know many of you feel the same way, and for me “December madness” stems from having two kids with birthdays two weeks apart, being a graphic designer (designing Christmas cards is a full time job in itself), buying presents, and also trying to get ready for Christmas! Wow, I’m tired again just thinking about it all {wink}!

Our youngest son, Emerson, who you might remember from his Office Party First Birthday last year, turned two this month! I’ve been planning a VINTAGE CARNIVAL PARTY for him since last year…

I had my dear friend, Courtney, of Courtney Jade Photography take his photos this summer at Oaks Park, a local amusement park. The photos were amazing and I knew the invitation had to be spectacular too! I designed a four-page double sided booklet style invitation.

I also included a mini envelope in the back full of raffle tickets to get the kids excited! The envelopes were lined with a coordinating striped paper. (The following photos of the finished invitation were taken by me.)

Selecting a venue is always a challenge since we live in Oregon and December isn’t exactly warm or dry here. Thankfully, my aunt and her husband were kind enough to allow me to use their family “barn.” They own a farm, Lake View Farms, and have an amazing pumpkin patch. The venue was perfect. We took full advantage of all of their amazing old crates and baskets too!

If you’re familiar with any of my parties you know that I only serve items with sugar as their first ingredient. Okay, so that may be a bit exaggerated, but pretty close. I served popcorn (with several topping options, as inspired the perfect Olde Fashion Rustic Popcorn Bar by Pen N’ Paperflowers Sudio and Designs), peanuts, cupcakes, rice crispy treats, cotton candy, cake pops, and totally stocked candy cart.

One of my clients sent me a photo of a candy cart at a local hotel, I was instantly in love with it and knew I had to have one. My Dad was kind enough to build one for me. I gave him a really small photo of what I wanted and away he went. I was so excited with how it turned out! He did the most amazing job! Thanks Daddy!

Since we didn’t have the party at your traditional kids’ party place, we had to come up with our own activities. I kept if fairly simple and setup four games.

The first was “Knock them Down.” I took chip cans from the Dollar Tree and created my own wrap. We stacked them up and let the kids knock them down with balls. The second game we set up was a “Bean Bag Toss”. The kids got to toss bean bags into buckets and won the corresponding amount of tickets. The third game was “Fish Toss” – clear glasses were filled with water and the kids had to toss ping pong balls in them. If they made it, they won a fish. Somehow, all three of my kids came home with fish! The last game was “Spray it Down” which I had intended to have the kids spray ping pong balls with squirt guns. However, finding squirt guns in December was a lot more challenging than I thought. Instead, we used Nerf guns, which ended up being so much drier and cleaner.

We set up a prize table so the kids could redeem their tickets and pick their own prizes! They had a ton of fun selecting from the huge prize table. I also designed custom candy bags that each child could fill with candy before they left! I’m sure the parents love me for that one!

All of my parties are always a group effort. I have a whole team of family and friends that always step-up to help! Honestly, I couldn’t throw these parties without all of their help! A special thank you to everyone who helped me with Emerson’s special day!

Check out some more photos from the big event. . .

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  1. Paula @ Frog Prince Paperie December 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Wow! This is just beyond words–amazing amazing concept, and love the invitation in particular!

  2. MeganV December 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Love it all! Beautiful job!

  3. Susan at Busy Bee Lifestyle December 27, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    This party plan is incredible! My favorites (so hard to choose!): the fabric treat bags and the cake! Great job!

  4. Chrystal Tuning December 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    SO truly amazing & FUNN!!! So bummed we missed it!!! You are so creative and put so much Love & effort into them boyz!!! great JOB!

  5. nancy pfeifer December 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    wow! my mouth just dropped…..simply amazing! I love the lollipops on those vases! gorgeous details!

  6. Laurie @ Gallamore West December 27, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Wow!! Amazing job, Jessica! I love the fabric treat bags, and that invitation is fabulous! :)

  7. Nicolle-Libby Lane Press December 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    This is by far the BEST party I have seen in quite some time. I adore the little prize machine and can only imagine the excitement this created! Cake pops from kCreative.. doesn’t get any better than Kris. My kids have birthdays 2 weeks apart as well and I can honestly not imagine them being in December to top it off.. Fabulous job!

  8. Heather December 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Wow! This is pretty cool. I gave my son a Backyard Circus party for his first birthday and it turned out amazing! I have photos on. Y fb but I never keep up with my blog.

  9. Jessica @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design December 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Jessica!! Wow! You always amaze me with the over-the-top parties you do! LOVE this one SO much and I’m completely flattered to have you mention my Rustic Popcorn Bar as part of your own popcorn inspiration for Emerson’s party. You must’ve been goin’ out of your mind with birthdays 2 weeks apart in the middle of the holidays. I feel your pain and admire you all the more for having pulled everything off so beautifully!! Wonderful, wonderful job!!

    Two items in particular I’m enamored with:
    • the chalkboard – did you do that yourself?
    • the candy bag – did you use the Yudu for that?

  10. Jessica @ Pen N' Paperflowers Studio & Design December 27, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    One more thing…
    Your dad is AMAZiNG!!!
    The candy cart is PERFECTION!!!
    I want one! *wink*

  11. Splend Paper + Goods December 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    This is BY FAR the best looking carnival themed party I have EVER seen! Congrats!!!

  12. Ashlee December 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    That is amazing!!

  13. antique engagement rings December 28, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I love vintage.. wonderful!

  14. CJ January 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks so much for posting! Amazing! I am proud to have my chalkboard art among all of those amazing details!

  15. Kelli January 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    LOVE IT! FABULOUS… May I ask where you bought the prize machine from? Thank you!

    • Annie April 5, 2014 at 6:37 am

      HI there!
      Would also like to know where the prize machine came from! Also any chance I can buy a candy cart like yours? Can your dad make me one and I’ll pay?
      Or the plans?

  16. Louisa @FLIPAWOO Designs January 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    This. party. is. AWESOME! Love the party and the invitation booklet! I especially love the chalkboard drawings. I always seem to gravitate towards these type of designs.

  17. Tiffany January 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    If you could please let me know where you got the treat bags made> I love them and really need some lol

  18. bettijo @ PagingSupermom.com March 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    this party is fabulous… your December sounds horribly exhausting… but still fun I’m sure ;)

  19. Bethany May 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I was wondering if you would mind telling me where you made the invitations? I would love to have some designed like that for my daughters 2nd birthday.

  20. Michelle May 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I love the prize machine. Do you mind telling me where you purchased it?

  21. Kristen Reilly August 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    dying to know where the prize machine is from?

  22. ShaBree Henry September 10, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Everything looks ammmmmazzzing! Are you willing to share the printable design for you muslin bag?

  23. Galit Hack October 9, 2012 at 1:32 am

    Love prize dispenser, cant find it anywhere, do u mind sharing where you got it? thanks!

  24. JeanKnee April 12, 2013 at 10:33 am

    darling party. I love the colors.

  25. Bliss Ranch-Malone May 26, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Stopping in to check out your peanut drawers, but had to leave a comment about the cart your dad made, the whole party is adorable, but that cart is the best!

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