Party Inspiration - Rainbow and Mermaid Parties!

by Jillian Leslie on

To give you lots of party inspiration this week, check out my favorite parties added to our site this week...

A lovely pastel rainbow birthday party, a stunning fiesta for a twin birthday, a gorgeous mermaid girl birthday party and a fantastic backyard camping birthday party. If these don't make you swoon, I'm not sure what will. :) I'm loving all the colors at each.

Party Inspiration - Rainbow and Mermaid Parties and More! |

Clockwise from top left:

Hope you found these parties inspiring. I sure did!

We're busy fine-tuning our new site. Launching it has been a real labor of love! Hope you are enjoying it, and if you have any feedback for us -- good and bad -- please shoot me an email at jillian(at)catchmyparty(dot)com. I'd LOVE to hear from you!

Back To School Craft Ideas

by Jillian Leslie on

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

I love fun back to school craft ideas. Michelle from Michelle's Party Plan-It is here with a fun back to  homemade bookmark DIY. What a great gift to give teachers and friends on the first day of school!

It’s still summer and if your kids are anything like mine, they are getting a little stir crazy. I’m always looking for fun ways to focus their energy and paper crafting is one of my favorite activities we can do together. Today I’m sharing how to create bookmarks to give to school friends and teachers on the first day of school. This is also a great party activity for back to school parties or play dates.


  • Paper tags
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Washi tape
  • Adhesive
  • Baker’s twine
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Stickers or paper embellishments
  • Laminator
  • Permanent Marker
  • Pencil
Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |


Step 1 - Cut 2 pieces of scrapbook paper to cover the paper tag (front and back) by tracing around the tag on the paper.

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

Step 2 - Adhere paper to the front and back of the tag with glue stick or spray on adhesive. Add washi tape, stickers or paper embellishments, as desired. (I did not have school themed stickers on hand, so I cut out elements of the scrapbook paper to add dimension.) To personalize the bookmark, you can handwrite a name or a special saying with a permanent marker.

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

Step 3 - Laminate the tag and trim, if needed. If you don't have a laminator, you can cover both sides of the tag with clear packing tape. Using a hole punch, punch the tag hole.

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

Step 4 - Cut several strings of baker’s twine in desired length and loop through the tag hole. Yarn or ribbon would also work great.

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

Step 5 - For a finishing touch, place the bookmark in a small paper treat bag.

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

Back to School Craft Ideas - Bookmarks DIY |

With the variety of scrapbook paper available, bookmarks are not limited to back to school themed parties. They are also a great addition to any party favor bag and perfect as teacher’s gift.

Thanks, Michelle for your great back to school craft. To learn more about Michelle, please visit her at Michelle's Party Plan-It, on Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy!

For more inspiration, check out these back to school partiesfree back to school printables, and back to school crafts on our site!

How To Turn Your Kids into Innovators

by Jillian Leslie on

Tinkerlab book for kids 'creativity |

My dear friend, Rachelle Doorley, the creative mind behind the kids' activity blog, TinkerLab, wrote a book that touches me deeply. We are all trying to raise children who can thrive in an uncertain world, but the big question is, "How do we do it?"

Rachelle's beautiful hands-on book gives children opportunities to think for themselves, problem-solve, innovate, and most importantly, believe they are all little creators. I think she's onto something...

I asked Rachelle a few questions about her book:

What inspired you to start TinkerLab and did you ever think it would become a book some day?

I started TinkerLab when my older daughter was almost two-years old. She and I spent countless hours squashing play dough, inventing play worlds in our garden, and experimenting with kitchen supplies. It was such a fun time for us, and I realized that I wanted to write a book about fostering creativity in this early part of childhood however, when I made this realization, I was also in the trenches of parenting a small child and it was impossible to wrap my head around the extensive task of writing an entire book. The idea of starting a blog seemed far more tangible!

I found a URL, signed up for a host, and wrote my first post within the week... simple as that! Writing this book is a dream come true, and I'm so happy to hear that it's transforming so many lives. 

If you had one message or take-away for busy parents trying to add more creativity into their children's lives, what would it be?

Take heart that you don't need to fabricate elaborate, picture-perfect projects in order to add more creativity into your family's life. Because creativity comes from  imagination and a desire to problem solve, children will be far more creative if they can be in charge of their ideas.

One of my favorite strategies that fosters this internal motivation is to set up a self-serve maker zone. This could be a designated art table or a corner of your kitchen table. Within this area, have buckets of easy-access materials such as markers, glue, and crayons, a ream of paper, scissors, and play dough that your child can find when an idea strikes. While you might need to take some time to show a young child how to use scissors properly, or lay some ground rules for using glue, once the area is set up, you'll find that your child will create with very little prompting from an adult.

What is your favorite experiment/project from the book?

This is a hard one since I love them all!! The Scrap Building project (page 113) has been my go-to project for the hands-on activity that I present on the TinkerLab book tour, and it's been really successful with children of all ages.

Tinkerlab book for kids 'creativity |

In a nutshell, gather clean recyclables, odd and ends, and treasures such as sequins and pom poms, and present them to your child along with a low-heat glue gun. Low-heat glue guns are the best, and I've seen preschoolers use them quite effectively!

Offer these materials to children along with some googly eyes, and the invitation to create a critter. Children love this challenge! The fun in it for me, is to see how differently each child interprets the materials -- one child makes eyes out of sequins, another deconstructs a pom pom and turns it into a teddy bear, and another turns a piece of scrap wood into Hans Solo from Star Wars. The possibilities are endless.

The last time I ran this project, the children turned their critters into an imaginative game and used them like action figures. Not only did they have fun inventing their own critters, but they went on to use them as toys. So cool!

Lainey, my daughter, is in love with the book, and can't stop looking at the photos. Here are the projects she wants to try:

Tinkerlab book for kids 'creativity |

Tinkerlab book for kids 'creativity |

Tinkerlab book for kids 'creativity |

And for me, this is my favorite page: "Ten TinkerLab Habits of Mind."  Since creativity is all about being mindful, stepping back and enjoying the flow, seeing mistakes as gifts, and embracing a good mess, what a great reminder this page is. Thanks, Rachelle. I needed that today. :)

Tinkerlab book for kids 'creativity |

If you are a parent, I promise this book will speak you, too. And if you want to give an extra special baby shower gift to a new mom, just bundle it with a few basic art supplies and you've got a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.

Here's where you can buy it. Enjoy! And thanks, Rachelle, for writing a book that makes us all better parents, and our children, better thinkers and innovators.

Keeping our Family Happy on Road Trips

by Jillian Leslie on

photo (83)

To our family, McDonald’s means travel. It’s a tradition. We get in the car to take a road trip, we haven’t left the driveway yet, and my daughter is already asking, “When can we stop at McDonald’s?”

Every year for my daughter’s birthday, we take a road trip to Disneyland. The only places we stop along the way are McDonald’s. We know the exact ones we like. We usually get breakfast at our first stop, lunch at our second, and a snack at our third.

I’m a big fan of the McDonald’s salads (and fries), my husband gets a Quarter Pounder, and my daughter always always get a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal, with preferably a “girl” toy. Before she starts eating, she must open the toy first. It’s a rule. She even keeps the toys as souvenirs, right next to her princess dolls from Disneyland.

photo (85)

Since we can find a McDonald’s wherever we go, it’s our one family constant when we’re on the road.  I know this provides a sense of comfort for my daughter, who’s not the most adventurous traveler. Travel is all about flexibility, broken routines, the unexpected... and having McDonald's as something my daughter can depend on, makes her more willing to take risks, and venture into the unknown. On our travels, we’ve eaten at McDonald’s in Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Maui, and rural North Carolina.

As a mother, when I think of McDonald's, I always think "special treat." (Nothing ever makes up for a shot at the pediatrician than a surprise trip to McDonald's.) So to be honest, I'm thinking more about convenience, than quality.

But for this post, I got to learn a few things about where McDonald’s food comes from, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. Just like how we, as a society, are thinking more about the foods we eat, so is McDonald’s.

The way McDonald's is able to keep prices low, is not by lowering the food quality. It’s from buying in advance and buying directly from the supplier. This made me feel better writing this post, and I’ll be thinking it the next time we need a special treat after the pediatrician or when we hit the road.

mcondalds logo

“Disclosure: Compensation was provided by McDonald’s via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of McDonald’s.”

Welcome to the New Catch My Party!

by Jillian Leslie on

CatchMyParty Stacked Logo

Hi Everyone,

We're super excited to be rolling out our new design!

We wanted it to be simple to navigate, easily viewable on mobile and desktop, and minimal and clean in feel, so your beautiful photos are what take center stage!

We have so many people viewing our site on a myriad of devices, so while we think we've fixed all the bugs, there might be some still lurking out there.

Please let us know if you find anything weird or wonky on the site, either by clicking here or by emailing me at jillian(at)catchmyparty(dot)com. And if you like it, please give me a shout out, too. I'd love to hear what you think...

Have fun and enjoy!


Catch My Party Redesign

My 4 Favorite Parties of the Week - July 27th

by Jillian Leslie on

Check out my favorite parties added to our site this week...

A lovely pink and gold ballerina birthday party, an adorable spring kitten girl birthday party, a colorful art boy birthday party, and an amazing Alice in Wonderland birthday party for two little girls.

My 4 Favorite Parties of the Week on!

Clockwise from top left:

We have a fun surprise coming today! Stay tuned...

Budget-Friendly Back to School Party Ideas

by Jillian Leslie on

Budget Back to School Party Ideas |

Laura Aguirre from Laura's Little Party is here with Part II of her back-to-school party posts!

First she shared her budget-friendly back to school wreath DIY and now she's sharing how to put together a budget-friendly back to school party! Take it away, Laura...

Another school year is about to start! I always like to celebrate back to school to get my kids excited,  so. I found this free back to school printable set from Printabelle, and scoured my local Dollar Tree for fun & inexpensive items for our own celebration.

What’s nice about the items I chose is the party guests can take home their favors, and use them as their own back to school supplies!

Party Set Up

I love using fabric as a table cover. I used a bright red chevron pattern to display my party spread. Printables, school supplies, sweet treats, and lots of color, brought the entire back to school party to life.

Back to School Party Ideas |

I displayed pairs of scissors inside of a chalkboard eraser. Just a fun, little detail that was eye catching!

Dessert Table Backdrop

I attached two foam boards together and taped classroom themed posters and borders to it. I also found some cute paper apples, and attached them down the middle of my backdrop. The cost for this was less than $5.

I hung the banner between two large decorative pencils that I found a couple years back at Hobby Lobby.

Budget Back to School Party Ideas |

Party Display

I thought it would be fun to display some of the school supplies on plastic lunch trays. Flash cards, pencils, markers, and crayons fit nicely on the trays. I attached paper straws to the juice bottles, and added mini glasses that I found at Michael’s.

Budget Back to School Party Ideas |

My table centerpiece was a simple plastic caddy that held gift bags filled with scissors & pencil sharpeners. I also added boxes of crayons, and mini crayola markers.

I attached a “super star” cut out to a pencil, and stuck it inside with the gift bags. I also attached a “you rule” cut out to the front of the caddy, that was resting on top of a dry erase alphabet board.

Budget Back to School Party Ideas |

Sweet Treats

Store bought cupcakes are always a quick fix to a last minute party. You can always make the simplest cupcake look enticing, by adding fun little touches. The details can be as simple as adding brightly colored A+ cupcake toppers, and fun themed cupcake wrappers. I found a pack of 3 mini composition books that worked perfectly as my cupcake display.

Budget Back to School Party Ideas |

Chocolate covered pretzels that resemble a #2 pencil couldn’t be more perfect for a back to school party! And the little marshmallow pop apples are another darling treat to get your guests excited.

Budget Back to School Party Ideas |

Back to school parties are a fun way to get your kids excited for the new school year!

Budget Back to School Party Ideas |

I hope you’ll be able to use some of my back to school party ideas for your own celebration!

Vendor Credits:

Thanks, Laura, these photos actually get me excited for school to start! I weirdly love the smell of new pencils. :) To learn more about Laura, please find her at Laura's Little Party and on Facebook and Pinterest.

For more inspiration, check out these back to school parties from our site,  plus our free back to school printables, and our back to school Pinterest board.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe

by Jillian Leslie on

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

I was asked by PAM Cooking Spray to come up with a healthy recipe for summer. I knew I wanted to make something that incorporated all of the incredible summer fruit I'm seeing at the farmer's market, so I decided a pie was in order!

But not just a big 'ol pie, but mini pies I could make in a muffin tin. I thought they'd be more portable and bite size, great for a picnic, plus aren't they darn cute?!

Here are the peaches and blueberries I picked up at the farmer's market. What I love about summer farmer's market fruit here in California, is not just how sweet everything is, but how complex the flavors. These peaches, for example, were definitely sweet, but they were also tangy and floral.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

To lighten up the recipe, first, I used PAM Cooking Spray instead of butter or Crisco to keep my pies from sticking to my muffin tin (plus it made cleanup a cinch), and secondly, because the fruit was so rich and complex in flavor, I barely used any additional sugar. In fact, I used a touch of salt to bring out the sweetness.



for the Crust

  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
for the Filling
  • 4 large peaches
  • 1 1/2 cups of blueberries (~6 oz container)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
for the Assembly
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar
  • PAM cooking spray

We used the basic crust recipe from our Mini Cranberry Apple Pie Recipe. Check out that recipe for more detailed instructions and photos of the process.

Start by cubing the butter, and use a food processor to mix it with the flour, salt, and sugar for about 30 seconds until it has a breadcrumb texture.

In a chilled mixing bowl add 1/4 cup of cold water, and mix it with your hands. When the water is absorbed, add another 1/4 cup of cold water. That should be enough to pull the dough together. If it still seems crumbly work in another couple tablespoons of cold water.

With a floured work surface, knead the dough just a couple times to work into a nice smooth ball. Cover it in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Heat the blueberries in a saucepan until they start to burst. Stir in the brown sugar, salt, and vanilla until it is dissolved. Set it aside and dice the peaches. We kept the skins on.

Roll out the pie dough and cut circles about twice as large as the muffin tin. Thoroughly spray the muffin tin with PAM cooking spray. Push the dough down into the pan.

Stir the peaches into the blueberries and spoon into the muffin tin.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Roll the remaining dough out again, and using a pizza cutter to cut into 1/4 inch strips. Lay them across in a lattice pattern like this.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Beat an egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush across the lattice. Sprinkle a pinch of sanding sugar over each pie.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. until the crust is a deep brown and the filling starts to bubble and you can't resist taking them out of the oven.

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Then enjoy your delicious, light mini pies. They're perfect for summer entertaining or just as a special treat! And I promise , they won't last long...

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Peach Blueberry Muffin Tin Pie Recipe |

Leaving up to 99% less residue, PAM is your ally in the kitchen and allows you to save time during prep and clean up.

PAM Logo

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by ConAgra via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of ConAgra.

Summer Challah French Toast Recipe

by Jillian Leslie on

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

I love the taste of challah. It's soft, light, eggy, and a tiny bit sweet. For those who don't know, challah is a traditional egg bread eaten by many cultures, but especially by Jews at the sabbath.

It's also my favorite bread to make French toast with, because it brings so much flavor and richness all by itself.  But this time I wanted to step out of my French toast comfort zone, and add some new flavors for summer.



  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 slices of challah (1/2 inch slices)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
Here's the challah I picked up at my favorite bagel store. It usually comes braided like this... pretty.

 Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |


Add the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla to a mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined, then stir in the milk. Transfer the liquid to a flat pan (a square cake pan works well).

Put the bread in and let it soak for 30 seconds a side, then let it rest on a rack for at least 2 minutes.

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

Heat a skillet to medium heat, and add about a tablespoon of butter. Cook until browned then flip and cook the other side. Add new butter between batches.

I dusted my French toast with powdered sugar. Then, since I'm not a big syrup person, but I am a big chocolate person, I drizzled Nutella on top, and I added fresh farmer's market strawberries.

This is the first time I put Nutella on French toast and it is now my favorite way to serve it. Plus, the summer strawberries, with their sweet, tartness, added a layer of brightness to the whole dish and made it feel like summer.

My family loved it. I made six slices and they were eaten by my husband, daughter, and myself in about six minutes!

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

Challah French Toast Recipe with Nutella and Strawberries |

To go with my summer French toast, Nutella also asked me to share what music I'm listening to this summer. I'm loving a lot of songs this summer, but here are a few of my favorites (in a YouTube playlist) that make me happy, and that I thought would go beautifully with my French toast!  See if you agree...

Nutella® hazelnut spread is a happy start to every day! Pick up a jar of Nutella in the spreads aisle and enjoy it with whole wheat toast, waffles, pancakes, strawberries, bananas and many other foods. Nutella. Spread the HappyTM.

 AuthorLogo (4)

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by the makers of Nutella via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Nutella.

Budget-Friendly Back to School Wreath DIY

by Jillian Leslie on

Budget-friendly back to school wreath tutorial DIY! See more crafts at

Is it back to school time already? It isn't even the end of July, but my daughter heads back to school in four weeks! 

Laura Aguirre from Laura's Little Party is here with an easy budget-friendly wreath to get your kids (and you) back in the mood for school!

When there is a holiday, or special occasions, I like to hang a wreath on our front door to celebrate an event. They’re easy to make, and are usually pretty inexpensive.

I’ve recently created a simple back to school wreath to get ready & welcome the new school year!

Budget friendly back to school wreath tutorial DIY! See more crafts at


  • Wreath {can be a grapevine wreath like I used, pool noodle, styrofoam, etc.}
  • Hot glue gun
  • Twine
  • School related embellishments. {I chose paper apples, and paper rulers}

Before I start attaching all my pieces to the wreath, I like to place them lightly on top of my wreath, to figure out where I’d like to glue everything down. Once you figure that out, start hot gluing your items to the wreath.

Budget-friendly back to school wreath tutorial DIY! See more crafts at

I evenly spaced my paper apples, and started the hot gluing process.

Budget-friendly back to school wreath tutorial DIY! See more crafts at

I continued gluing my items, until I had finished attaching them all the way around my wreath.

Budget-friendly back to school wreath tutorial DIY! See more crafts at

I attached twine towards the top center of my wreath, to hang my paper rulers. I then glued them to the twine.

Budget-friendly back to school wreath tutorial DIY! See more crafts at

This project was very inexpensive. I used one of my existing wreaths, spray painted it, and purchased my back to school embellishments from my local Dollar Tree store. The total amount spent for this project was $2!

 Amazing, Laura, $2??  I love budget crafts! To learn more about Laura, please find her at Laura's Little Party and on Facebook and Pinterest.

For more inspiration, check out these back to school parties from our site,  plus our free back to school printables, and our back to school Pinterest board.

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