Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mexican Fiesta: Success! (DIY STUFF) Part 1

A mother is she who can take the place of all others. - Cardinal Mermillod

I don't know who Cardinal Mermillod is, but well, he pretty much hit the spot. My own mother has been my tutor, my principal, my financier, my worst enemy (when I was a teen), my lunch buddy (when I was still single and working), and my best friend, now that I'm a mom too.

For my little girl, I'm pretty much just her playmate, her other aliping saguiguilid, her personal cook, and yes her very own party planner. :-)

Last year, I pretty much depended on my balloon decorator for most of the party decor. Partyboosters' package was pretty comprehensive, and the end result was really nice. It was, however, quite expensive this time for my small budgeted party. :-)

DIY projects can be quite tasking, but in the end, they figure less when it comes to expense. And since I wanted a more personal touch for my daughter's 2nd birthday party, I opted to take on more DIY stuff. This is also ideal if you want to reinforce a not-so-traditional theme.

I am so NOT an arts and crafts kind of person, but since I really wanted to be more hands-on with personalizing her 2nd birthday, I dived in and took the 'risk'. Hehe.

These are our DIY projects for my daughter's 2nd birthday:

1. Message book
2. Mexican hats and Mexican-themed styro letters
3. Labels and wrapping for game prizes
4. Colorful paper streamers and Balloon Decor

The Message Book
Rating: ❤ out of 5
I've always been a fan of photobooks. The first ones that I fell in love with were the magnetic ones that I saw at a wedding. Those looked like they will last forever because of the materials used. I actually wanted one like that for my daughter's first birthday party, but they proved to be waaaaaay too expensive for me.

Last year, I made guest sheets for her first birthday messages. I did the layout through scrapblog.com, an online scrapbooking site, and just downloaded the files as jpeg. Since I only got the free version, I had to make do with the resolution which was only good for up to a 5R size print. All in all, I spent about 325 pesos on it for 50 pcs. I just compiled them in a huge photo album which was a gift from my daughter's baptism. :-) Moms really have to make do with what's available. Hehe.

Anyway, this year, I wanted something different. I have been an artscow user since last year, and my first project was a 6x6 photobook of my daughter's first birthday pictures. It was more of a 'trial effort', just so I can check the printing and color quality of artscow's products. And since I was pretty impressed with the output, I opted to have my daughter's 2nd birthday message book done through them.

Front cover of the message book

Inside layout of the message book (with messages in picture)
This 6X6 message book was ordered last March 2011 (my baby's party was May 14 2011). I just did some tweaking on Artscow's template and added baby's pictures to make the layout appropriate for a message book. I made sure to order it way in advance since regular shipping time for artscow if done through  airmail is about a month. Since the photobook itself was free as there was an ongoing promo at that time, I only paid $3.99 (about 167.58 PHP) for shipping fees. :-)

I loooooved how it turned out, the colors were exactly as I saw them online, the paper was of great quality, and the cover had this slight gloss.

A few tips:
  • Artscow products are made and shipped from Hongkong. Make sure to order about 2 months in advance if you intend to use your end-product for a party. 
  • Since there are available templates on the website, you don't really need to be an expert at it, but still, a little knowledge on tweaking it would be of great help. So take time to play around the photobook builder first. :-)
  • If you intend to use their photobook as a message book like I did, you'd have to get rid of some of the cute elements on some of the templates. Make sure to leave ample space in the middle of a page for the messages. :-)
  • One 6x6 message book is good enough for about 50-60 guests since it already has 20 pages (additional pages would incur an additional charge.). If you are expecting more guests, you might want to get a bigger-sized one or order of the 6x6's. 
  • If you want to put in some of your kid's photos, make sure to check the resolution, especially if you plan to make them bigger. Photos from camera phones can work, but only if the photo would be used on a small scale, otherwise, they tend to pixelize.
  • Use raw files from your digital camera, and NOT those you have uploaded from Facebook. If you did not save/upload your photos in high-resolution on FB, then you'd get a low-res file when you download it. 
  • Have your guests use a waterproof, no-smear, permanent fine-point marker (not the broad ones or the whiteboard markers) when writing on the message book.
  • You can either have the guests sign upon registration (so they don't forget to do it. Hehe.) or you can have someone pass it around during the party. If you're going to do the latter, then make sure that somebody's monitoring it's whereabouts. :-)

Mexican Hats and Styro Letters

When I decided to go for the Mexican Fiesta theme, I got really excited with planning on how to go about working on the party decor. I did some research and found some really great ideas on the Smartparenting forum with the help of the moms there. :-)

A couple of party elements I really liked that I found online were paper flowers and pompoms that can be hung from the ceiling. Unfortunately though, hubby didn't like the idea. :(

I thought of Mexican hats as a great addition to the decor as it instantly suggests the idea of a Mexican Fiesta when you see it. They are also very colorful and can definitely add some fun factor to the decor.

My first thought though was: Where can I find these hats?

I had hoped and crossed my fingers that I will find or at least something that looks like them in Divilandia....and I DID! Yey!

I spotted plain and colored Mexican hats (pointed buri hats) on Tabora St. and they were a definite steal at 25 pesos each for the small ones (for the plain ones. 35 for the colored ones). I wanted to hoard 'em hats, but since I was on a super tipid mode I only bought four plain small ones. My mom went to Lucban Quezon, her hometown, for their HS reunion, and she bought me two big pointed hats there. :-)

I decorated them with art paper in different alternating colors and just established the patterns I saw on Mexican hats online.

Since I'm not good at all with anything that involves using scissors and glue, the output wasn't exactly perfect, but they were cute. :-) Here's how they turned out:

I was informed by an SP mom that the letters used for the celebrant's name in Jollibee parties were rather... let's just say, looked like they have gone through a lot of parties. :-) And I do remember attending some Jollibee parties, and had also seen some pics online where the letters were either lost in the tarp (because of the color) or were tearing apart in some areas. Since I wanted everything (as much as possibe) to be great, I took it upon myself to make my own letters. I also thought it would be nice if I can align it to my theme as well.

I first printed the letters on short bonded paper, one letter for each page, and then glued it on the styro. That served as my pattern for cutting the styro. I then wrapped the letters in orange and violet crepe paper (super effort because the crepe paper was so flimsy), and decorated it with art paper to adhere to the Mexican Fiesta theme. The output looked like a gradeschool project, hehe. But I'm proud of it, and it looked ok in pictures, so all's well that ends well. :-)

A few tips

  • Use the half-inch thick square or rectangular styro. They're easier to cut. 
  • Crepe paper - not good for wrapping stryo letters. :-)
  • Make sure that the colors you'll be using will not blend in with the color of the tarp. 
  • Make the letters as big as you can. They'd look better when photographed. 

Thanks again for reading! Please look out for the Part 2 of my DIY Stuff post. :-)

(Check out Part 2 on this page.)

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