Introducing … presto! party

17 Jul

You guys, I opened an Etsy shop! As you may have noticed, since the only thing I get around to blogging about these days is parties, I love planning parties! I love the little hand-crafted details that make each one special. Once I get through one kid’s birthday party, I can’t wait to start thinking about the next one! However, I fully recognize that, with two kids and a full-time job, I can’t be planning parties all the time! So I started brainstorming ways that I could continue to satisfy that creative bug without too much of a time commitment. And that’s how presto! party was born.


prestoparty white circle

Super mad props to my sister for creating this logo.  Click the photo for a link to her Etsy shop :)

The idea behind presto! party is that people often want the look of DIY details to make their parties more memorable {and, let’s be honest, more Insta-worthy}, but don’t have the time or materials to actually pull it off.  When developing the items that are offered in my shop, I tried to focus on popular themes and color schemes so that they would work as collections or on an a la carte basis. I started out with some themes I wanted to work on and have had friends suggest others along the way! The Rubber Ducky items were made for a dear friend and I absolutely love the way they turned out, so I added them to my shop!

Here are some of the themes I’ve been working on so far:

Tropical / Let’s Flamingle


Tropical Favor Bags


Pineapple Menu / Place Cards


Flamingo Straw Toppers


Pineapple Cupcake Toppers

Rubber Ducky


Rubber Ducky Favor Bags


Rubber Ducky Menu/Place Cards




Ballerina Party Collection


Pink Tulle Banner {Available in other colors}



Princess Cupcake Toppers


Tiara Menu/Place Cards

I hope you’ll check out my shop and let me know what you think! You can also follow updates on Instagram: @prestopartybykelli

Party on :)


Monster First Birthday Party

21 Apr

Even though our little guy has been toddling about for a couple of months now, we officially said goodbye to infant days when Levi turned one earlier this month {sniff sniff}. Adam and I both love that our kids were early walkers because it opens up so many new activities at the park, etc., but a little part of me was definitely sad to be done with the sweet baby phase! Here are my favorite things about Levi’s first birthday party.

  1. Theme/Invitation: I went with a monsters theme for this party after some Pinterest perusal. I was drawn to the bright colors and thought it would be easy enough to add googly eyes to everything in the house! I ordered a digital invitation from JCO Invitations and used Paperless Post for online tracking. I struggled to find an invitation that featured monsters that did not refer to the honoree as “our little monster.” For some reason, that seems like an extension of “boys will be boys” and just wasn’t the route I wanted to go.levifront2
  2. Decorations: I used the lime green, orange, and blue from the invitation as my general color palette {it really was just a happy coincidence that we had just painted an orange accent wall in our dining room}. Then I rounded up all of the monster toys we had around the house to use as table decorations and added googly eyes to anything that wasn’t moving :)20170408_160320.jpgimg_20170419_120339_723.jpgimg_20170419_121249_985.jpgimg_20170419_120645_615.jpg
  3. Fun for the kids: We were expecting quite a crowd, so I tried to set up a couple of activity stations around the house, in addition to the usual play areas. We had a Make Your Own Monster station and Pin the Eye on the Monster. We also had favor bags with monster face play dough, tattoos, stickers, and a bendable monster.img_20170419_120842_712.jpgimg_20170419_120603_280.jpgimg_20170331_170741_476.jpgimg_20170331_114651_472.jpg
  4. Sweet treats: I tried my hand at blue monster fur buttercream frosting atop chocolate cupcakes. I also made Jell-O Sugar Cookies {with the help of my favorite sous chef} and they were a surprise hit. I mostly thought they would be fun for the kids, but I saw several adults heading back for seconds as well :) Levi was a bit apprehensive when it came time to eat his first cupcake, but I think he finally finished it after 15 minutes or so!diptic-153613105.jpgimg_20170419_120446_634.jpgimg_20170419_121328_724.jpg20170408_111511.jpg
  5. Birthday boy photos: One of my favorite things that I did with both kiddos in their first year was to track growth each month using a Snuggly Swaddle doll from Designs by M Susan. It’s hard to believe how big the doll looks next to Levi in the one month photo now!1492634055969.jpg

As usual, the best part of the whole thing, was being surrounded by friends and family who came from as close as next door and as far as South Florida. Our little boy sure is well-loved {as is our whole family}.img_20170401_222551_217.jpg


It’s his party and he’ll cry if he wants to…

Superhero Third Birthday!

18 Apr

So, third time around on this whole kid’s birthday party thing, and I think I’m getting better at focusing on the little details that make a party more memorable rather than trying to do it all. I’m guessing that just about everything at the Twinkle, Twinkle First Birthday was made from scratch, but who has time for that anymore?!?  With an extra little one under foot since the last time we did this, I tried to prioritize by picking just a few projects that would have the most impact. Unless you’re a professional baker/chef, most of your guests are not going to care whether you lovingly cooked up every item on the menu from scratch, or lovingly warmed up some pre-made hors d’oeuvres! With that being said, here are the things that I think are worth spending a little extra time on:

  1. A good theme: Naomi had been loving her Batman and Superman shirts all summer, so a superhero party seemed like the way to go!IMG_20161112_183342
  2. A fun invitation: I love hand-crafted, custom invitations, but I love the ease of online tracking even more. My favorite way to get the best of both worlds is ordering a custom, digital invitation from Etsy and then uploading it to Paperless Post. This time around, I ordered from Kawaii Kids Design and was so happy with the result. They even did a custom blonde, blue-eyed Batgirl :)super hero invite v2
  3. An eye-catching tablescape: I went pretty simple this time around and just used red, blue, and yellow to pull the theme together. I ordered a six-pack of cardboard superhero signs and used them on the table, front door, and photo booth-style wall. Luckily, the birthday girl had just received some Little People Superheroes, so I used them as table decorations as well.20161112_160630 IMG_20170418_152520_229
  4. Fun take-homes for the kids: The big craft project for this party was making custom capes for each child using re-purposed, old t-shirts. I won’t reinvent the wheel on this one as I just found a tutorial on Pinterest and made some minor adjustments. I decided to leave the original necklines intact for the most part (unless it was too large for a child, in which case I cut in the center front so that it could be tied around the neck). I then found a free printable online and added each child’s first initial using Microsoft Paint. I printed them using iron-on transfer paper. The hardest part of the whole project was actually peeling the backing off of this paper! Otherwise, it was a fun and easy way to make it a little more special for the kids!IMG_20170418_164332_71820161112_174351IMG_20170418_152233_390

We couldn’t use our super-speed to get a decent picture of all four family members, but we had fun and that’s what counts! The birthday girl just asked for a superhero fifth birthday party {after a Moana fourth birthday, clearly}, so I think it was a hit with her!


Reflections on the Women’s March #WhyIMarch

22 Jan

Yesterday, I attended my first ever protest march (what a privileged life I have lived to have never felt so strongly as to formally protest anything).  Having worked blocks from the White House and lived in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, I have often accidentally attended countless marches and protests, but this was the first that I attended with intention.  I would like to say a few words regarding my experience.


First, I’ll put this right out here at the outset.  Yes, there were some vulgar things said and represented on signs.  Yes, there were some people who said hateful things, especially about our new president.  I do not condone this, nor do I think it is particularly productive.  In fact, I think it is counter-productive to the “love trumps hate” and “we go high” messages, which seem far more powerful to me.  I know the march re-opened the debate about whether one can be at once a feminist and pro-life.  I am not looking to settle that debate here.  While I do believe there are certainly women’s health issues that are under fire, reproductive rights were not what called me to the march.  It is easy to focus in on those aspects and discount the whole thing as a gathering of sore losers.  Having been one in a crowd of hundreds of thousands, I can attest to the fact that there was an overwhelming sense of love and solidarity (not to mention peacefulness!).  There was beauty in the diversity of people with so many opinions coming together to agree on some fundamental things.  We definitely didn’t all agree on everything and we all came for different reasons, but we were unified by the belief that basic human rights and decency have come under attack.  We were unified by the belief that science and truth have come under attack.  We were unified by the belief that there should be no place for misogyny and white nationalism in the White House.

These were the overarching reasons that drove me to march.  More specifically, I feel strongly about the way President Trump has spent most of his adult life objectifying and denigrating women.  He has spoken in disgusting terms about too many women to name, including his own wives and daughters, and I am deeply troubled by the way he has been given a pass on all of this.  The fact that he had the likes of Jeff Sessions denying that what he described on the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape was in fact sexual assault is appalling.  It is not comforting in the least that Mr. Sessions has walked this claim back now that he is slated to lead the Department of Justice.  It’s easy for me to identify with this issue as a woman and mother of a daughter, but it’s not the only reason I marched.


I also marched for reasons that will likely never affect me personally due to the privilege afforded me by the color of my skin.  I marched in solidarity with Muslim Americans and People of Color.  I am fearful for our future if it includes a Muslim registry.  I am fearful for our future if we don’t recognize that racism still exists and that its existence necessitates certain protections under the law.


I marched because I believe that science and reason have come under attack.  It seems that being an expert in scientific fields may be frowned upon in the incoming cabinet.  I fear what it means for our future if we ignore climate science.  I fear what it means for my children as they enter schools in the next few years if debunked vaccination theories are once again given a national voice.

What I keep coming back to as I ponder how to move forward from the 2016 election, is a Vox piece called A handy guide to New Year’s resolutions in the era of TrumpSorry in advance for all the swears, but the third resolution especially comes to mind.  I’ll paraphrase without the swears!  It basically points to the fact that, because of tactics used by Trump to manipulate his opponents, the public, and the media, we have become too fatigued to really care about or pay attention to anything.  The news media is still finding its footing in terms of dealing with this phenomenon and has not done us many favors to alleviate this fatigue, in my humble opinion.  The author posits that the answer to this fatigue is becoming much more selective when deciding what issues in which to invest one’s time and energy.  As advocate citizens, we can be much more effective if we recognize that we only have so many cares to give.

I think the over-performance (in terms of turnout) of the women’s marches around the world is a perfect representation of this idea.  There were so very many offensive, shocking, and hateful things said during the 2016 campaign that it is no surprise that hundreds of thousands of people came together to show solidarity.  We may have been too fatigued individually to know how to respond, but this march was the collective representation of all of the people who felt marginalized and demonized by President Trump.


My hope is that the women and men who marched harness the energy from yesterday’s event by choosing the one or two issues to which to lend their passions.  That won’t be the same for every person and I think that is what made this march so special.  It was an awakening of citizen advocacy.


Many people used the refrain “not my president” yesterday.  Some may have meant it literally, but I can get on board with that feeling in a more metaphorical way.  He may have been elected president, but he does not speak for me.  I will not normalize or forget the disgusting things he has said about women.  I will not normalize or forget the way he has given white supremacy a place in our nation’s highest office.  I will not normalize or forget the way he has insulted entire religions and ethnicities.  The point of this march to me was to show the president that he works for us now, and we are the noisy majority.

Curious George Second Birthday Party

12 Jan

Well, here we are at the beginning of another year and our baby girl is two now! We once again decided to mark the occasion with close friends and family. When I reflect on the party and the year that has passed since the last one, I am struck by how incredibly fortunate we are to have such a wonderful group surrounding us with love and support. A group that has grown this year, not only through the addition of several new babies, but also through the delightful fellowship we have found within our little community of townhouses.  We truly are a lucky little family!

2015 Card 2

Naomi has really been into watching Curious George lately, so I decided that would be a fun and easy theme for the party. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite details.

I ordered this adorable digital invitation from Etsy {DesignsbyCassieCM} and simply uploaded it to Paperless Post for easy distribution and tracking.


The patterns and colors on the invitation really helped me visualize the rest of the party decorations as well. Here is the look at how the tablescape came together {and some close-ups of the details}.


I love the way the flower arrangements came together using simple red and yellow flowers, mason jars, and {what else} yellow hats! I also finally tried a flower arranging tip I’ve been wanting to try out for a long time. I simply criss-crossed clear tape across the opening of the mason jars and then screwed the metal ring on top to cover the tape and help hold it in place. This gives you smaller holes to work with so that the flowers stand up better in the vase. The yellow hats came together easily using yellow and black cardstock and sticks.


The savory side of the table was “Chef Pisghetti’s Ristorante” and featured flatbreads and meatballs.


There were also desserts fit for a monkey: chocolate cupcakes garnished with banana chips and my mom’s oft-requested banana pudding.



 The kids area was all set with Curious George coloring books!


Finally, the toddlers in the group went home with favor bags filled with the following Curious George themed goodies: a monkey mask, stickers, fruit snacks {purchased at Giant Food}, and sugar cookies {made using an Etsy cookie cutter, which was apparently not dishwasher safe :( }.




We are so thankful for another year watching our little monkey grow up!


Mystery Materials Craft Challenge {The Results}

8 Feb

Last night was the first MMCC party and it was so much fun to see what everyone came up with! I was really blown away by the wide variety of crafts … everyone’s take on the materials was totally different! My dining room table was like a Pinterest board come to life, complete with a painted mason jar and a decoupage tray! As a reminder, the theme was Valentine’s Day and the materials were mini cupcake liners, cotton balls, craft tags, and pink twine.



Without further ado, here are the winners of our blind voting!



wpid-IMG_20150207_231956.jpgAnd because I thought everyone did an amazing job, here are the other adorable entrants!








 I am already thinking about what we should do for the next MMCC party and I can’t wait :)

Mystery Materials Craft Challenge {Valentine’s Day Surprise}

13 Jan

The new year almost always comes with ambitious new projects and ideas. This year I’m committing to the usual things … more thoughtful eating habits, de-cluttering my life, etc. Those things are great and all, BUT the new project I am most excited about is the Mystery Materials Craft Challenge (MMCC).


What, you might ask, is the Mystery Materials Craft Challenge? I’m so glad you asked! It’s kind of a Martha Stewart-y version of the Food Network show Chopped {quick synopsis: chefs face off to make a three course meal using ingredients from a mystery basket}. The major differences being we’re crafting not cooking, and I’m not giving away $10,000! What I really want it to be, is a fun way for friends to get together and share in each other’s creativity. Here’s the way I set up the challenge:

1. A package containing four mystery materials and a theme is sent to each participant.

2. Participants create one-of-a-kind crafts using all four materials and as many other items as they want.

3. Crafters bring their completed projects to a party featuring a blind contest to award our favorites!

That’s the idea anyway. I hope it ends up being fun!  If nothing else, we can all laugh about our failed craft attempts in the company of good friends over food and wine! The theme for the first MMCC is Valentine’s Day and the materials are below.  What would you make with these materials? Stay tuned for the results!