Obviously, you can't have a picnic without sandwiches, right!? We had a sandwich bar, of sorts, where guests could choose their favorite ingredients to build their own mouth-watering masterpiece. Other traditional picnic fare included both pasta and potato salads, veggie dip cups, corn on the cob, and of course, watermelon! I also couldn't resist making, ahem, Ants on a Log! (Just an extra little tidbit... for allergy reasons, I used cream cheese instead of peanut butter and it was quite tasty. I had never tried it that way.)
The "plates", if you will, served two purposes. Beyond being a plate, it was also one of the favors for the guests to take home. I found frisbees (only 50¢ each!) at Michael's early in the summer season. I put a paper plate inside the frisbee for eating. The frisbee provided much need stability while piling on the grub. For the favor aspect, we made custom stickers for the top. Not only could the guests play frisbee with each other at the party, they got to take them home for some fun too. We put all the "plates" in a huge basket for quests to easily grab at the beginning of the food table. The paper plates were perfect right!? Ants and all! The huge basket was originally a part of an arrangement I received. When my grandfather died earlier this year, I received an extremely nice sympathy gift of a hydrangea plant and a rose bush. Impressed with the basket, I knew I should keep it for "something down the road". A basket for a picnic party - how perfect! This is a good example of how to build up prop inventory.
We had lots of games and activities for the guests. The bounce house is always the favorite!
At most of our parties, we manage to stay in the backyard, but this time we spilled out into the front. Because we were going to be eating an actual meal (verses just finger food) we set up tables in the backyard. Since we live on a little lot, that didn't leave much room for all the games/activities - ergo the spillage into the front yard. We do live on a pretty quite street, but I still wanted to make sure the kids stayed safe in the front yard. I looked into buying some cute barriers that still fit the theme, but I'm a pretty cheap, I mean frugal, person and they were a little pricier than I was willing to pay - even from Oriental Trading Company.
So what did I do!? Cue handy-man hubby... (Remember the VW Bus he made for last year's party? Yeah, that architect hubby!) Jeromy headed to our local hardware store and asked for a couple of shipping pallets. They gladly obliged - a few less they have to deal with. He disassembled them and re-worked the pieces into a split-rail fence. It looked like it had been there for years and it fit the classic picnic theme perfectly.
In our playroom, we have a little toy market. Along with a cash register and play food, obviously the girls use it for imaginative play, but we have also used it for a lemonade stand during our tag sale last year. And now add another use to the list - party candy bar. The "fruit bins" displayed the wrapped candy beautifully and a few berry baskets on the "top counter" held the scoopable candy. (Hint: Buy your candy at the dollar store. You have lots of color options and it's only a dollar a bag.) My crazed party self really wanted to change the canopy to match the party, but time was not on my side so that did not get done.
I know I showed you the cake before, but come on, I can't have a party post without some frosting!!!
I'm so excited to tell you about the centerpieces that I arranged throughout the party. So excited because they were so cheap and easy! I received the cans from a family friend who owns a local specialty grocery store. They sell several ready-made recipes at their deli counter. Being Italian, a lot of the recipes call for tomatoes and/or olives. I asked for the empty cans. Like the pallets, they were happy to help (as they always are), but this also got the cans out of their way. Free cans - check! The day before the party, I bought several packages of day-old marked-down fruits and veggies from my big box grocery store. I bought enough for 15 arrangements for only $10! At the same store, I asked the bakery if they had any old bread they were selling for discount. The head baker told me to return that night at 11pm and I could get them for free! So, cheap fruit and bread - check! And finally, the same week as the party, I spotted sunflowers discounted (again at the same grocery store) for $6 per bundle (each bundle had 5 flowers). They were huge and beautiful so I ordered 5 bundles! For 25 huge flowers, I paid $30! Don't discredit the floral shop at the big box stores. Where else can you special order flowers for $30!? To recap, I made 15 arrangements in the cans, an arrangement in the little grocery cart we have (pictured below) and an arrangement of sunflowers next to the candy bar for forty dollars. $40!!!!!! See, I told you I was
For the drink area, I used several different serving methods. The iced tea and lemonade were in my glass beverage dispensers that you've seen several times before. (Sidebar: I bought them about two years ago at BJ's for $25 each. I recently saw the EXACT same dispenser for sale in a boutique magazine for $110 each! Shop around!) We also had cherry and lemon sodas (color coordinating finds at TJ Maxx), beer and water. The vintage-style sodas bottles and water were served over ice in our red wagon. Use what you've got!
As I said before, we had lots of ants... Some small (arranged perfect on the food table), some large (as part of the centerpieces) and some real - a REAL ant farm. The kids loved it!
Since the frisbee favors were for everyone, I decided to do a little something extra for the little ones. I found these little picnic baskets at Michael's, used my 50% off coupon, and started crafting! In addition to the gingham fabric, I added a little sunflower detail to really customize the baskets to our party. I filled them with Lemon Head candy and they were complete!
One more little detail I want to tell you about is Aubrey's outfit. While looking for something completely different, I happened to find the gingham and eyelet skirt at Goodwill for 99¢! Her size and everything. I have lots of friends that can't believe some of the stuff I find for my parties. Finding this skirt even had me pretty amazed! What are the chances!? To really bring the theme home, I had my friend Lesley tack on three little ants to her t-shirt for her third birthday.
And again, a special shout out to Stephanie Anestis Photography for capturing the day so beautifully! If you are in Connecticut and need a photographer, I've got your girl! Stephanie is a gem and such a sweetheart. Not that I have to prove to you that my photography skills are sub-par to hers, but here is a perfect example. She took a couple of quick shots of this party's invitation - see mine here. Yeap, I told ya she's good!