TRENDS: What's "Trending" in the World of Cakes

by Jillian Leslie on

If you see my blog posts or read my Facebook and Twitter posts, you know I'm a huge fan of creative cakes. I think if you're going to splurge on one item for your party in terms of money or time, a cake is a great way to go.

I've noticed some new cake trends (in addition to all the beautiful rainbow cakes and ruffle cakes) on our main site that I wanted to share. Take a look (and click on the photo to see what party it's from)...

The Unfrosted (or Partially Frosted) Cake


The Rustic Ruffle Cake


The Candy Coated Cake


The Cookie Wrapped Cake


The Ombre Swirl Cake


If there are any new trends that you're seeing that I'm not seeing, please let me know. I'd love to post about it.

PARTY ON A BUDGET: Backyard Carnival Party

by Jillian Leslie on

I saw Brenda F's Backyard Carnival Party and almost flipped. The attention to detail was amazing. Then I discovered she pulled the whole thing off on a budget of $464 for 70 people. That's about $6.50 per person.

Backyard Carnival Party

Of course I had to learn her secrets, so here are Brenda's top 5 tips on saving money throwing an amazing party. Take it away, Brenda...

TIP 1 - Don't be Shy

Because I knew my theme early on, I was able to talk to the manager of our local Dollar Tree store about a "Big Top" promotion they were having in their candy department throughout the summer and requested that they give me the empty boxes.

Once I was given the go-ahead for pick up, I was able to fill up my SUV with these adorable red & white striped boxes AND she threw in a colorful plastic sign that said "Candy Zone." It worked perfectly at our candy buffet table. These items were FREE, and were going to end up in the trash if I hadn't spoken up.

empty carnival boxes from the Dollar Store
Empty carnival boxes from the Dollar Tree

When a Facebook friend who lives locally posted pics from her grandson's carnival party, I immediately sent her a message to ask if she wouldn't mind letting me borrow some of her decorations before I spent money on purchasing those very same items myself. She was happy to loan them to me, as they were just going to sit in a box in storage otherwise.

Borrowed items and prize table
Borrowed items and prize table

Because I didn't have the extra money to hire professional entertainment, my husband entertained our guests with his juggling skills and I taught myself how to twist balloon animals by watching tutorials on Youtube. I also asked friends to assist me. One friend was willing to play the clown, one did face painting, and two others helped me with making balloon animals. 

My husband, the juggler
My husband, the juggler

My friend as the clown
My friend as the clown

Lots of balloon hats
Lots of balloon hats


My friend helping with face painting
My friend helping with face painting

I called our local feed store to ask about their pricing on hay bales and asked if they were available to rent instead of purchasing. As it turns out, we were able to purchase them upfront and return them later, undamaged, and we received all of our money back. I loved the old-time look that the bales provided, and they also doubled as extra seating. Ultimately, they didn't cost us anything and because of the significant savings, we will be using them a lot in the future!!

Free bales of hay for sitting
Free bales of hay for sitting

From other friends, I received an old fashioned popcorn maker to use for the day, a candy claw arcade game, and I was also offered two cartons of flossing sugar, cotton candy cones, and paper popcorn bags.

All other tables and chairs were borrowed items as well.

I know it seems like a lot to borrow from others but when you really need to save money, take whatever is being offered and it never hurts to ask for help. Most people are happy to oblige!

Tip 2 - Use What You Already Have and DIY Whenever Possible

Collect items around your house that may fit into your theme, including bowls and serving dishes. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to repurpose items, but you will be surprised at what you won't have to purchase.

Search the web for free printables and royalty free clip art. You can use Microsoft Office and your free basic photo editing software to customize your own invitations, labels, banners, and other party decorations instead of purchasing them at party supply stores. The DIY custom touches are what really "wow" your guests! It doesn't matter what your skill level is with crafting, there IS always something that you can find to do yourself. Sometime's it is just as easy as hitting the print button.

I purchased a DIY printable package from an Etsy shop: Bee and Daisy. I searched until I found the best deal. It was $12 for the blank invite, pinwheel patterns, cupcake toppers and wraps, napkin rings, labels, a tee shirt transfer, and a banner sign. All other printables used were found online and were FREE. But don't allow yourself to get carried away with printing. Ink is expensive and this ate up much of our budget.


I bought a T-shirt at Target at $4.99 and I already had the iron-on transfer sheets lying around, so I printed out the image, and in 1 min. his birthday shirt was complete!!

And to think that I was originally going to buy him a custom T-shirt with a $29 price tag + shipping. Ouch!

I fell in love with cotton pom-pom's this year and created a #4 to decorate the dessert table backdrop. Using cardboard from an empty cereal box, I traced out the number, cut the shape out, and filled it in with small and medium sized colorful pom-poms and I used the jumbo pom-poms for making the fun garland by using a travel sewing kit and attaching each pom pom to thin ribbon. A hot glue gun would work just fine, too, but I really wanted this one to last so that I could re-use it again in the future.

Pom pom backdrop
Pom pom backdrop

Using some of the "Big Top" boxes that I received from the Dollar Tree, I made a circus train, and used inflatable animals, that we already owned, to sit in the train cars and welcome guests as they walked up to our front door.

homemade circus train
Homemade circus train

I transformed my son's puppet stage as the "Ticket Booth" just by blocking out the painted clock with a picture of a clown and stringing a small banner on it.

Homemade ticket booth
Homemade ticket booth

For the photo booth: I collected our own sheets and bought cheap curtain panels to use as the backdrop and placed old Halloween costumes into a storage trunk to be used as photo booth wardrobe props. Easy!

Photo booth
Photo booth

Before selling old toys on Craiglist, or donating them to Goodwill,  I decided to give them one last go 'round and I incorporated them into our theme as well. Our son's battery operated Thomas the Train Railroad was set up and we also used both his rocking horse, and stick horse for some "Pony Ride" fun!

Thomas the Train ride

Carnival games -- I used what we already had. My son's basketball hoop for "Hoops." I didn't have enough basketballs so we used our small beach balls instead. We made up our own game using the unused pom-poms and a wooden cubicle that I used for a party in the past. We already owned a canvas bean bag toss game, and I found other easy to assemble games online.
"Penny Toss" only required using pennies and a container.

Penny toss
Penny toss

The "Cotton Ball Game"only required cotton balls, and Vaseline. Everyone has those items at home! There was no need to purchase any specialty carnival games.
TIP 3 - Buy Decor That May Possibly Fit into Other Parties in the Future and Always Hit the Clearance Section First

I find that it is best to stay clear of any party theme that is commercialized or too theme specific. It is almost impossible to use those same supplies in the future, lending them to the "one-time only" option. Example: When looking to purchase a printed cardboard cutout, I opted to buy the Hot Dog Concession Stand instead of buying the Carnival Barker because I can get so many more uses out of it.

Concession stand cutout
Concession stand cutout

Try to use color combinations that are easy to find and that can be used again. I like red, white and blue. The best reason I can give for this is because after every Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, party supplies in those colors are found extremely discounted. It is then that I stock up! This same combination also worked great for our son's train and baseball parties that we have done for him in the past.

Also, when looking for possible favor bag items, I always look in the clearance section of stores first. It is not uncommon to find great favors there that are well made, allowing us to gift our guests with something more than the same junky toys that are usually found in favor bags, and that every parent hates! This year, those items found did not cost any more than $0.49 each and they were used at our Prize Table.

TIP 4 - You're Not Feeding the Army

Outside of hosting a dinner party, you are not promising your guests that they leave with full stomachs. I always keep this theory in mind and inevitably, I am always left with extra food. To save additional money this year, I offered party guests food and snacks that gave me more quantity with lower costs.


The food
The food

For example, we served corn dogs that gave 16 servings for $5.00. I purchased one large watermelon instead of a fancy fruit tray and served corn on the cob at 10 ears for $1.00. I spent $2.00 on bags of small carrots instead of serving a veggie tray that would only get half eaten.

I also purchased Goldfish crackers and gumballs that I individually wrapped into small portions, using clear bead bags that I got from the craft store. It allowed us to stretch the servings better than using the pint size snack bags and instead of over-filling the peanut bags with loose peanuts, I stuffed those into small snack bag first, to help keep them fresh, and to assist in filling up the paper sack, which allowed me to to use only one bag of peanuts and not having to purchase any more.

I also decided to use small cellophane bags again to showcase the cotton candy, instead of using the cones, because it required less product per serving and we had less waste.

TIP 5 - Plan Ahead

The first money saving tip will always be to plan ahead.

When your theme is chosen early, you have the time to search out party decorations and supplies at a reasonable cost, and/or either make them yourself.

Because I started planning our Backyard Carnival early and had an idea of what props I wanted, I went to children's consignment stores first and placed all the items on their "Wish List" and they contacted me when those items came in.

This was a huge time saver too! I did not have to visit these stores more than once and several of the items wouldn't be something they would have taken otherwise, because they aren't a high demand item, or that they were in less than perfect condition.

Simply put, if they weren't on the list, it would have been a missed opportunity. I was also able to negotiate better prices this way because they were making money on things that they never had to place on a shelf.

Secondly, I asked my friends that frequented thrift stores and yard sales to be on the lookout for certain items. They found me a brand new, never used, cotton candy machine for only $6, a baby sized pool and an entire shopping bag of rubber duckies for only $0.50 (to be used for one of the carnival games), a new face painting kit, and a crystal cake plate for only $1.50.


Our party expenses totaled $464 for expecting 70 guests.

Food- $165 (includes drinks, snacks, candy for buffet table, and birthday cupcakes)

Printing- $60 (includes cost of printable package and paper too)

Party Props- $27 (includes hot dog stand, circus canopy, and dessert table decor)

Oriental Trading Co.- $49 (includes all misc. party supply supplies but I got free shipping)

Craft supplies-$50 (includes paint, glue, tape, paper lollipop and wooden craft sticks, fabric and ribbon.)

Serving pieces- $34 (includes paper plates, cups, utensils, peanut and pickle bags, paper straws, and 2 large netted style outdoor food covers)

Prize and Party Favors- $44 ( includes cost of prizes provided at each carnival game station, the Prize Table for every guest and custom party favor bags for the children only)

Helium Tank Rental- $35

*I could have saved even more money if I didn't insist that every part of the house was decorated....that is Tip #6. lol

Thank you Brenda, for these smart and creative tips. Your party looked  amazing!!

If you haven't seen the whole party, please check out all the photos. It's worth a serious look!


by Jillian Leslie on

This week's photo comes from Kori C's White Pumpkin Party.

When I read this sign Kori had on her beautiful dessert table, I thought what a great reminder to stay in gratitude. Thank you, Kori, for the sentiment, just perfect for this time of year.


Check out the rest of Kori's fabulous party, filled with lots of original ideas for both Halloween and Thanksgiving.

P.S. Kori, just let me know her sign is available as a free download. How great! Thanks, Kori.

The Winner of our FunFavors Halloween Party Package Giveaway is...

by Jillian Leslie on

Daffny!!! Congrats, you were the 21st person to "like" FunFavors  on Facebook and won a Halloween Party Package worth $73!

Good luck with your party, Daffny, and please add it to our site so we can all see it after you throw it!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and please check out our newest giveaway where you could win 250 super professional business cards from UPrinting.

FREE PRINTABLES: Allergy Dessert Tags from Lollipops & Paper

by Jillian Leslie on

Ces from Lollipops and Paper contacted me about giving away these allergy dessert tags she created to let guests know what is in desserts, and I thought this was a fabulous idea.

There is one child at my daughter's  preschool with a serious peanut allergy so I understand how important this information is.

Ces designed 3 different tags: "contains nuts," "nut free," and "gluten free" to help use to classify your treats. Thank you, Ces for letting us give these away!



free-printable-allergy-tags-nut free
Nut Free


free-printable-allergy-tags-with nuts
Contains nuts



free-printable-allergy toppers-gluten-free
Gluten free

Thank you, Ces, for letting us give these important labels away.

GIVEAWAY: Win 250 Business Cards from UPrinting Worth $60

by Jillian Leslie on

Since many of you are small business owners, I'm really excited to offer this giveaway from UPrinting, where you could win 250 free business cards worth $60. 

If you remember, I used UPrinting for my business cards because my graphic designer thought they were the best. (That was the first time I'd ever heard of them.)

Okay, so what do you win?

  • 250 Die Cut Business Cards
  • 1.75” x 3.5”, 2” x 3.5”, or 2” x 2”; 2.5” Diameter (Circle)
  • Rounded Corners, Leaf, Rounded Single-Corner, Half-Circle Side, or Circle
  • Double sides printing
  • 14pt Cardstock Gloss / Matte / High Gloss (UV), or 13pt Cardstock Uncoated
  • 6 Business Days Turnaround
  • Free shipping in the US
I personally recommend rounded corners and matte (which is what I did for mine and they look great).

Also, if you don't have a design for your card, UPrinting has a business card design area on their site where you can easily create one.

So how do you enter?

Just “like” UPrinting on Facebook, then leave a comment saying you did just that. Easy!

We’ll pick the winner at random on Thursday, October 13th at 10:00PM (PST).  Any entries after that won’t be considered, sorry.  We will use to generate our winner and will notify you by email. This giveaway is limited to US residents 18 years and older.

This giveaway is a paid post sponsored by UPrinting. 

FREE Halloween Party Printables from B.Nute Productions

by Jillian Leslie on

We're giving away a whole new collection of FREE "Little Witches" Halloween party printables designed by my friend, Betsy from B.Nute Productions. This collection has the cutest little witches and a retro feel that I just love.

And in addition to the invitation, party circles, "Bewitched" banner, goodie bag labels, and party labels Betsy designed, she also created this adorable "cootie catcher" fortune teller that will keep your kids entertained for hours.


Here are some photos of the collection in action...








The fabulously fun cootie catcher...


And if you don't know how to fold an cootie catcher, here's a video to help.

Thank you, Betsy for designing this adorable vintage collection. To learn more about Betsy and see all her festive designs, check out her company, B.Nute Productions.

Need more inspiration? Check out all of our free Halloween printables and Halloween parties on our site.





Halloween Treats from our Favorite Vendors (Part 2)

by Jillian Leslie on

As promised, here are more amazing Halloween treats from our favorite vendors. We've got creepy, we've got cute... take a look!

To learn more about the vendors or to buy some treats, just click on the link or the photo.

Mummy cake pops from Simply Posh


Chocolate Skeleton Cameo from The Frosted Petticoat


Halloween Skeleton Sugar Cookies from Sugar Sanctuary


Halloween Cake Pops from Mom's Killer Cakes & Cookies

vendor-moms-killer-cakes-halloween-cake-pops Halloween Jack-o-Lantern Fondant Cupcake Topper from Mimicafe Union


Halloween Ghost Gourmet Marshmallows from Madyson's Marshmallows


Halloween Oreo Pops From Half Baked Co.


Skull Lollipops from Sweetniks


Halloween Hello Kitty Chocolate Covered Oreo by Serena's Party Boutique


You vendors blow me away! To see all our vendors, check out our entire party vendor directory, and if you're looking for FREE Halloween printables, we've got them, and if you'd like to check out some Halloween parties, we've got those, too.

If you are one of our vendors and have a Halloween treat you’d like me to add to an upcoming, please email me at jillian(at)catchmyparty(dot)com.


Halloween Treats from our Favorite Vendors (Part 1)

by Jillian Leslie on

If you haven't already checked out our new party vendor directory, you will be amazed at the talented people creating handmade party invitations, printables, decorations, and of course treats!

Since I love Halloween goodies, I thought I'd show off some of my favorites. To learn more about the vendors or to buy some treats, just click on the link or the photo.

Halloween haunted cookies from Charming Treats by Chelsea


Skeleton Witch Hand Chocolate Lollipop by FunFavors


Halloween cake pops from Sugar Parlour

Witch fondant cupcake topper from Lynlee's Petite Cakes


Ghost decorated cookies by Lori's Place


Sugar cupcake toppers from Modern Luxe Events


Chocolate eyeballs from Sugarbelly's Boutique


Halloween cookies from acookiejar


Amazing, right?! Stay tuned for Part 2 where I show off more fabulous treats and desserts from our vendors.

If you are one of our vendors and have a Halloween treat you'd like me to add, please email me at jillian(at)catchmyparty(dot)com.

DIY TUTORIAL: How to Make Party Decorations with Festooning

by Jillian Leslie on

Have you heard of festooning? It's one of my new favorite party craft decorations. I first learned about it when I saw this photo on Jen Smith's Jilly Bean Kids Facebook page.


In case you don't know, festooning is crepe paper fringed garlands that comes in 25' rolls in all these colors.




So you can see why it's so great for decorating and crafting!

Now back to the craft... Jen had decorated a Styrofoam ball with festooning, and I needed to know how she did it, so she kindly put together this tutorial for us. Thank you, Jen!


  • Festooning 1 roll
  • Styrofoam ball or ring or anything else that can easily be wrapped (and be creative here, I didn’t have a Styrofoam ball the size I wanted so I used a round twig ornament I use for decor in my home)
  • Glue gun or Glue Dots (could even use straight pins)

If you have worked with festooning before then you know it has a front and back. This is great for crafting.  The photo shows both the front and the back side.  The back side or working side of festooning, has a flat spine like look to it.  This is so helpful when attaching it to objects.  The fringe pieces from the front get in the way sometimes but just fluff, squeeze, or shape the festooning after you are done.

Now that we have our working side, find the beginning of your festooning garland roll. Apply your Glue Dots (2-4) to the back flat spine of the festooning roll.  Firmly apply the Glue Dots to the bottom of the Styrofoam ring. Now start winding the festooning around the Styrofoam ring.  This task is much easier if you do not unravel the roll of festooning. Keep it in the roll and just unwind as you go.


Continue winding around shaping, aligning, fluffing and checking to make sure you have good coverage as you go.  Looking back, I would have used less festooning if my styrofoam ring was white instead of green, but again I love using items I have on hand and really loved the end results.

When your reach your starting point, double check your work.  Make sure you have the coverage you want before you cut your garland.  If you are happy with your results, cut your garland and apply (2-4) Glue Dots to the back flat spine of your festooning and firmly apply to the bottom of the Styrofoam ring.

Ta-da! We have created a beautiful centerpiece in minutes and under $5.00.  I have used this festooning centerpiece as a cake pop stand and have even glued photos of the birthday girl/boy on sucker sticks placed them in the Styrofoam ring for an easy and economical personalized photo center piece.


Remember the round twig ornament from the first photo?  I covered it with festooning using the same method.  I was thrilled how it turned out.

You can even cover an inexpensive paper lantern.


Festooning is my favorite decorating material, and so underused.  It is inexpensive, re-useable, easy to store and work with and comes in nearly any color you can think of.

Thank you for taking a moment to read my tutorial, I hope you have learned a little about festooning, and plan on making it a part of your next event. Trust me, you'll be hooked.

Also, to Jillian from Catch my Party, thank you for the opportunity and inspiration behind this tutorial....You have helped put festooning on the map!

Thank you, Jen!! If you'd like to try your hand at festooning some crafts, Jen sells it in her store Jilly Bean Kids for $3.45 a roll. Not bad...

And if you make something with it, please send photos, I'd love to show it off!!

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