Farris’ Fifth – a Halloween-themed birthday party

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Do you remember Farris, my Carnival Party muse? Well, I had the pleasure of planning a spooky soiree for her fifth birthday recently, and I’m excited to share the details with you today.

Let’s start with the invitations. The three images below served as my inspiration…

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Michele Purner Designs /  Groovy Graphics / Stamp and Seal


I especially loved the image in the center from Groovy Graphics., and it was the one that got the wheels in my head really turning. Farris’ mommy, Gray, is an amazing children’s photographer. With my vision and her talent, I knew we could create something really special, something unique and personal, and something that would make a wonderful keepsake. It took me a while to convince Gray that she had the time and that she could do this, but I’m so glad I pushed her.

So, with four kids between us and no sitter to help, we spent a (crazy) afternoon posing Farris. I had a list of poses that I wanted her to fake – holding a pumpkin, flipping through a spellbook, looking at a raven on her finger, and flying on a broom. She nailed flying on a broom, with a little help from a very pregnant me holding her cape.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration


After a little photoediting magic from Gray, this is what we came up with….



Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration


Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration



Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

I made the keys with my Silhouette Cameo, attached them with twine, and then we sent the invitations in black envelopes. The birthday girl herself even addressed a few. Sentimental me couldn’t resist including this picture.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration


For the decor, I thought it was more important to have a few special vignettes than it was to decorate the whole house. So I focused on staging a few key areas in the foyer, entry hall, and dining area. I had so much fun staging this party and was able to use several things that Gray already owned. Everything else was purchased from Amazon, Michaels, WalMart, and various dollar stores.


Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

We made sure the kids had fun too, planning several fall festivities.

Apple bobbing.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Potion mixing (my personal favorite).

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

And a donut eating contest.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

I’d say a good time was had by all.

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration

Happy birthday, Farris. I can’t believe the tiny five-pound baby I remember holding is now five years old. It was a joy to plan your party and to be part of this special celebration. I love you, sweet girl!

Farris' Fantastically Frightful Fifth | the Maypop | Halloween themed birthday party inspiration


Beautiful photos by Gray Benko.



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On hostess gifts and getting by with a little help from my friends

Simple hostess gift idea | dress up a bottle of wine | the Maypop

I’m a little teary as a write this post, overwhelmed with sentimentality and gratitude; humbled by the love of friends; and excited about the new baby soon joining our family in a few weeks.

Throughout this pregnancy, my friends have made me feel so special. They’ve done things like bring me my favorite pad thai and homemade biscuits and jelly for no reason. They’ve driven me around (I hate driving). They’ve given me maternity clothes. (I’d given everything away after two pregnancies, and I’ve refused to buy anything this time around. My wardrobe is sad. Very sad). They’ve watched my boys while I went to the doctor. They’ve filled the late afternoon and evening hours that are always so tough for me when Eric is out of town. Sometimes, they’ve come up here for pizza and a movie and then headed home just when it was time to tuck the kids in for bed. Other times, they’ve cooked dinner for us, helped me bathe the boys, and then sent us home in borrowed pajamas so that I could put them straight in bed when we got home. They’ve listened to my crazy hormonal breakdowns and have then promptly forgotten them, as only true friends will do. They’ve visited despite the mess that my house is right now because I’m in fierce nesting mode and have too many decor projects going on at once.

Like the Beatles, I’ve thought several times to myself lately “I get by with a little help from my friends” (but not high, it seems prudent to note especially when I’m expecting).

Folded notecard via Recipe for Crazy

Folded notecard via Recipe for Crazy


And today, they gave me the sweetest baby shower. I told them it wasn’t necessary, that I didn’t want anyone to spend more money on me, and that this was, after all, my third pregnancy. But they insisted, scheduling the loveliest brunch (my favorite meal), bringing the cutest monogrammed cookie favors (which my boys devoured before I could snap a picture), setting the table with a gorgeous arrangement of hydrangeas, and showering me with gifts anyway.

To show them how grateful I was, and feeling crafty, I thought I would whip up a little hostess gift. But, after a couple of failed DIY attempts, I decided to go the safe route, opting instead to dress up a bottle of wine.

Simple hostess gift idea | dress up a bottle of wine | the Maypop

With fall in mind (despite 90 degree temps), I focused on deep, rich reds as a color palette. I selected a Malbec with a dark cherry foil wrapper, added a fiery pincushion and some purple-red leaves, and then wrapped them up with craft paper and twine.

Since the hostesses are also mothers, I thought “a little wine to cope with the whine” was appropriate to scribble on craft paper tags left over from the Bow or Beau shower I cohosted a couple weeks ago.

Simple hostess gift idea | dress up a bottle of wine | the Maypop


I thought this hostess gift turned out cute, certainly much better than the failed DIY, and it was a reminder that simple, classic gifts are often the best.

However, this bottle of wine still seems so paltry compared to overwhelming sense of gratitude I have for my girls.


I feel so blessed to call this group of women my friends. I’ve written about this before, and it only becomes truer with time; they really are like family to me. And, because I don’t have any family in town, I cherish their friendships that much more. In fact, as the shower wrapped up, they were already planning who will watch the boys when I deliver and how and when they will bring us meals once the new baby arrives.

I’m not sure how I got so lucky. I love you all so much! Xoxo



Bow or Beau – A Gender Neutral Baby Shower

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@mrsmaypop), then you’ve probably seen a few snippets of the adorable Bow or Beau themed baby shower I hosted for a friend this past weekend.

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | Gender neutral baby shower inspiration | the Maypop


My friend, Ashlee, is having her first baby and is due in early October (just a couple weeks before me). She’s decided not to learn the baby’s gender and to instead be surprised at delivery. How I wish I had been able to hold out and be surprised myself for at least one of my babies, but the planner in me just can’t bear the thought of not having everything ready in advance.

Ashlee is a relationship builder of the most genuine sort. She makes a point to keep in touch with everyone she meets, no matter how rarely she may see them or how far away they may live. I admire her ability to nurture her friendships, and she inspires me to make stronger, deeper connections and to be a better friend.

It really was a treat to return Ashlee’s kindness and spoil her for once. I had such a wonderful time planning her party. To be fair, I can’t take credit for this little event; there were five hostesses in addition to myself, each with impeccable style and taste. We decided to divide and conquer – one handled food, another a group gift, another beverages and dessert, and so on. This made hosting the shower so easy! I offered to tackle the theme, invitations, favors, and decor.

Since she’s not finding out if the baby is a boy or girl, I settled on this precious Tiny Prints “Bow or Beau” invitation. I loved that it was gender-neutral but still pink and blue. Plus, I’m a sucker for brown craft paper. I didn’t pull my calligraphy pen out, but I did have fun hand-addressing the invitations on craft paper tags I found at Michael’s. It was a nice change from the labels I usually print to coordinate with my invitations.


Bow or Beau Baby Shower Invitation | Hand Addressed envelope | the Maypop

After the theme was decided, everything else quickly came together. My amazingly talented friend and interior decorator, Joy, hosted the shower at her house, and she pulled most of the decor together based on the inspiration board I created for the group. We agreed to keep everything chic and simple – lots of bows and bow ties, pink and white flowers in her enviable collection of blue and white vessels, and tassel garland for the balloons and entry.

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop




Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop


Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop


Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop


Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop


Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop


Bow or Beau Baby Shower | Skittles Bow and Bow Tie Favors | the Maypop

Taste the RainBOW – Skittles Favors


Ashlee – I know I am speaking for everyone when I say it was truly a pleasure hosting this shower for you. Love you!

Lindsay Letters: Christmas in July Sale

Hello friends. Just popping in to share a little Christmas in July sale from Lindsay Letters.

Calligraphy is a long time passion of mine, and I love anything hand lettered, so naturally I’m smitten with Lindsay Letters. Her instagram images are especially lovely! When I saw this O Holy Night print on sale for $10, I couldn’t resist snatching it up for Christmas. This is my favorite Christmas hymn, and I am immediately transported to the Christmas Eve candlelight service at my hometown church when I read it. Closing my eyes now, I can almost hear the choir singing it.

Lindsay Letters O Holy Night Print

The print nailed several loves for me – it’s hand lettered and sentimental. I can’t wait to frame and display it for Christmas, and I hope the boys grow to treasure this song and its meaning as much as I do.

If we didn’t have the television mounted over the fireplace, then I would have ordered it in a large canvas, as Holly Mathis did.

Lindsay Letters O Holy Night Holly Mathis


The Nester used another line from this song in her house, and Lindsay printed it up too. I think it would be lovely to pair the two O Holy Night prints together in different sizes, one leaning in front of the other.

Lindsay Letters Weary World Rejoices the Nester

Navy is my go-to color, and the idea of “calm and bright” seems like such a balm to my spirit, especially as a mom of two boisterous boys. I really loved this one. Maybe I should order it for the boys’ room…you know, as a subtle hint? 😉

Lindsay Letters All is Calm

This hot pink is adorable too. It would be such a fun gift!



Hurry and pick one up for yourself or for a gift while they’re still on sale through the end of the month. Merry Christmas in July!

Elf on the Shelf Gets His Own Door

One of my goals this year has been to keep Christmas all year. Mostly, I set this intention with the idea that “random acts of kindness” would happen more often, that we would give more generously, help more often, and forgive more easily, in the way that we all do “because it’s Christmas”. It was the essence of the Christmas spirit that I was (and am still) hoping to capture all year long.

Many of my own childhood memories of Christmas are wrapped up in the magic and fun of the season. My parents always made a really big deal of Santa and of encouraging us to Believe. For example, I have a distinct memory of my Dad calling my brother and me to the front door one Christmas Eve. “Hurry,” he said. “Look! See that flashing red light? It’s Rudolph, flying across the sky! Listen. Can you hear Santa’s sleigh bells?” Another time, I remember Santa Claus calling us on the phone at home to make sure we were being good. I can remember asking him about Rudolph and Mrs. Claus. My Dad has continued that tradition, making certain Santa Claus calls my own little boys.

So, in addition to keeping the Christmas spirit all year, it was (and is) important for me to capture some of the magic and fun of the season too. And friends, that’s just what we did Sunday night.

Our little Elf of the Shelf, Seymour, made an impromptu mid-year return visit. The boys quickly and excitedly spotted him perched on top of the table on Daddy’s Yeti.

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop


After carefully removing him from the cooler with kitchen tongs (so as not to touch him), the boys were excited to see that Seymour had delivered a treasure of CapriSuns and popsicles. I let the kids drink and eat this stuff at parties, but I have never bought either for the house. So trust me, this was an exciting moment and very in line with Christmas magic and fun. (Plus CapriSuns were $.79/box at Publix this week!)

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop


Then, the kids immediately noticed the new door. Harrison, ever sharp, immediately knew that “Seymour had built his own door!”

Elf on the Shelf Door | Christmas in July | the Maypop


With this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy as my inspiration, I picked up two of these little MDF doors at Michaels for under $3/each. They measure ten inches tall; the perfect Elf size.

Unfinished MDF Craft Door for Elf on the Shelf, from Michaels | the Maypop

I painted them white to match the trim in our house (which clearly also needs to be repainted. And, I’d like to paint our walls something other than this manila envelope shade the builder chose, but we’re digressing deeply into not-in-the-Christmas-spirit territory.).

Back to the Elf doors – I then added an old large faux-pearl stud earring to each door for doorknobs. Eric pre-drilled tiny holes in the doors for the earring studs, and then we used super glue to attach the earrings. I’d planned to paint the doorknobs too, but I didn’t mind the pearl color once they were attached. Using 3M strips, we hung one door inside and the other door on the outside of the house. I don’t like that you can see the little 3M tabs, though, so I may end up cutting these off and just chance a little peeling paint when we remove them.

Here’s another shot of Seymour, our Elf on the Shelf, with his door. I think he likes it.


Elf on the Shelf Door | the Maypop

He even came back this morning! This time we found him indulging in a little frozen treat of his own. (Cue Olaf with “What Frozen Things Do in Summer”).

Elf on the Shelf Ideas |Christmas in July |the Maypop

My boys have been so excited to have Seymour return, especially unexpectedly and out of season. Magic and fun are in the air around here, for sure, and that’s really what I wanted. I hope they look back and remember these sweet summer days.

Friends, bring your elves back too! Let’s make the rest of July as magical and fun as Christmastime. Tag me on Instagram (@mrsmaypop) or post a link to your blog in the comments. Facebook is great, but it is harder to look back on it for inspiration. And, that’s what I want – to inspire and to be inspired by you.

So, please help me make this post an amazing resource by sharing your Elf on the Shelf ideas in the comments. I will do a round up of Seymour’s visit at the end of the month and link back here too.

Merry Christmas, in July!

PS – When I asked Eric to get in the attic to get our elf, he admitted that he was so relieved to see my labels and said finding him was a snap. He thought it was ridiculous when I was labeling each box at the end of the season, and he didn’t hesitate to roll his eyes at every label. My OCD feels so redeemed!

Inspiration: a Carnival Themed Birthday Party

Meet Farris.

photo by Gray Benko

photo by Gray Benko

My little muse had just turned 3 in this picture. Her mommy is an amazing photographer, and one of my best friends. This picture sits in their foyer, on top of an heirloom table that I love. (You know I’m a sucker for an heirloom). Anyway, I’ve always been inspired by this photograph. Let’s have a carnival party, shall we?

Carnival, Circus, Fair Party Inspiration and Ideas | the Maypop

Clockwise from the upper left: Candy apples / Popcorn / Cotton candy / Fair food photo / Goldfish game (cute read; the source post author is actually boycotting them) / Goldfish soap (as an alternative) / Pony rides! / Facepainting / Carnival masks / facepainting kit / Dart and balloon game / neon gorilla prizes / Vintage food baskets (I saw some at Hobby Lobby in turquoise and melon too) / Felt corn dog and snowcone (how fun are these? don’t miss her green eggs and ham too) / Lemonade stand banner / Invitation (center photo)

Funny thing is, I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for months, collage and everything ready to go. I suppose I was hesitating to post it, just in case I could share this idea with a friend first. I’m so glad I waited too, because just this weekend, a friend contacted me for help planning her daughter’s 4th birthday party. Serendipity!

She emailed me saying she was wanted “pony rides for the kids” and “something adorable and non-commercialized”. Plus, she mentioned she is a self-professed “sucker for Hawaii and all things luau-ish without being cheesy”.

So I suggested a carnival, Hawaiian style! That’s right – we’re going to put a tropical island twist on this Carnival. I think it will be the perfect way for her to blend the pony rides and backyard games with her passion for Hawaii.

To keep it from being too cheesy, I suggested a sophisticated color scheme, steering clear of red, yellow, and blue. Maybe melon and aqua?

Obviously, we’ll use some of the same things from the carnival inspiration board above, such as the food baskets and face painting. But, we’ll put a twist on things – think pineapple snow cones, rainbow cotton candy, coconut-covered candy apples, and maybe a tropical Betta fish instead of goldfish?

Here is another Carnival inspiration board, this time with a Hawaiian twist.

Carnival, Fair, Circus, Hawaiian Party Inspiration and Ideas | the Maypop

Clockwise from left: rainbow cotton candy / ticket invitation / hibiscus leis (of course!) / bean bag toss game /tropical snowcones, (pineapple flavoring is a must for this party) / hibiscus print* / color inspiration / Alba Botanica sunscreen (the birthday girl’s name is Alba; tell me these aren’t perfect for favors or in a basket on a table) / pony rides / goldfish soap for games or as favors

*(For the hibiscus print, I envision it striped like a circus tent as an accent or backdrop for invitations. I added the stripes. I’m not a graphic designer, but I think you get the idea.)

We’re just starting to plan this event. I can’t wait to see how this little backyard soiree unfolds! I promise to keep you posted.

PS – this party is in Washington state, where the weather is “beautiful in August” according to my friend. I’m super jealous. August in Charleston is just hot and humid, so hot and humid you almost don’t want to move at all, much less have a party in the backyard. Did I mention I”ll be 8 months pregnant then? :)


You Are My Sunshine – Olivia’s 1st Birthday Party

I love planning parties, and there is nothing more special than a first birthday celebration. So, when my friend Ashley asked me to help plan her baby girl’s first birthday, I jumped at the chance.

After tossing around a few ideas that didn’t stick, I asked Ashley to tell me a little bit more…favorite toy, book, song, etc. When she said Olivia’s favorite song was “You Are My Sunshine,” I was instantly inspired and knew we’d settled on the perfect theme for a springtime birthday. We decided on a simple backyard party complete with face painting, flower planting, and a picnic lunch.

Liz at a Pinch of Spice created the invitations for us. This is not the first time I’ve worked with Liz; she designed Christmas cards for me a few years ago. She is so easy to work with! I really can’t say enough about how much I have enjoyed working with her. She understands that the little things matter, and she doesn’t mind revisions to get the details right.

You Are My Sunshine Invitation | the Maypop


On the menu:

Grandma’s chicken salad on croissants, PB&J sandwiches, fruit, cupcakes, and lemonade. So simple, and so perfect for a backyard picnic. Ashley even put quilts out on the backyard for guests to sit on. I wish I’d snagged a picture of those.

You Are My Sunshine Party Collage | the Maypop


A few more details…

Flower cupcakes on my favorite tiered galvanized stands.

Flower cupcakes | You are my sunshine party | the Maypop

I loved the lunch bags with the ribbons. We used a Martha Stewart punch to create the eyelet trim.

Paper Bags | You Are My Sunshine Party | the Maypop


Lots of fun chalkboard signs…Chalkboard Signs | You Are My Sunshine Party | the Maypop

Bubble wands, sidewalk chalk, bright gingham pinwheels, and tissue puffs from the porch ceiling.

You Are My Sunshine Party | the Maypop


Finally, instead of favors, we set up a flower planting station, and each child planted his or her own flower to take home.

Flower planting station | You Are My Sunshine Party | the Maypop


I could share a hundred more pictures with you. This party was such a joy to plan! Happy First Birthday, Olivia!


For more You Are My Sunshine Party ideas, check out my Pinterest Board.

And, if you missed them, I shared Harrison’s first birthday here and Whitt’s first birthday here.




Spring garden party

With several spring fetes on my calendar this month, I’ve got the itch to plan my own little garden party. We haven’t tackled the backyard in our new house, though, so this little soiree will have to be virtual for now. Will you join me?

I’ve been looking for more reasons to practice my calligraphy, so I’ll send you a handwritten invitation on card stock that’s so heavy it would jam the printer anyway.

Harper's Bazaar

via Harper’s Bazaar

This eclectic dining set from Target should work perfectly. I like the idea of a gravel area in our backyard too, instead of laying pavers (okay, honey?).

Holden dining set Target


I’ll DIY a table runner or tablecloth using this tutorial from Oh Happy Day.





Top it with a few terrariums with grasses and bird’s eggs, like these from West Elm. Be sure to check out their terrarium tutorial while you’re there.

west elm terrariums



And some chunky woven chargers and white plates. I like these in the lighter tone from Pottery Barn.




Add some bamboo flatware. I think the darker bamboo would be a pretty contrast with the light woven chargers.

bamboo flatware from neiman marcus


Napkins from Mark and Graham, personalized, of course.


Vintage glassware is my thing, so we’ll have Firefly Mo-Tea-Tos in these gorgeous blue tumblers.

vintage blue tea tumblers



I’ll keep the menu simple…homemade pimento cheese and crackers as a starter (couldn’t lunch without this Southern staple).

Pimento Cheese via David Leite

Pimento Cheese via David Leite

If you are all together unfamiliar with this Dixieland delicacy or simply don’t have a secret family recipe, then read David’s witty post. Or, do what I do when I have an immediate  hankering and no time to whip it up: pick up some Palmetto Cheese.

I’ll keep lunch simple too: a prepared quiche from Whole Foods and a simple green salad (even Ina says she doesn’t make everything from scratch).

And, we’ll finish things off with my most favorite dessert, banana pudding. I’d rather this over birthday cake any day. Doesn’t this caramelized banana pudding from Southern Living look divine?



I hope you can make it!


A Pirate Looks at One: A Baby Buffet Birthday

My oldest little boy will be four on Sunday. Four. Gulp. Where does the time go?

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we, and revisit his very first birthday party.

My husband is a Jimmy Buffett fan; he’s a total Parrothead. When we started talking about Harrison’s first party, he jokingly said he wanted a Jimmy Buffett party. I laughed it off at first…but the wheels in my head quickly started spinning, and this “A Pirate Looks at One: Baby Buffett Birthday” was born.

Grab a lei and join the party! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!

jimmy buffett birthday

I asked my friend Joy to help me whip up the invitations. She helped bring my vision to life with these fun, bright invitations full of references to Buffett and his music.

Jimmy Buffett Birthday Invitation

Here’s a photo of how they came together; I really love the “Baby Buffett” band embellishment.

jimmy buffett birthday party invitation. a pirate looks at one. baby buffett.

And, here are a few more of the fun Buffett party details. I wish I had better pictures, but I had no idea at the time I’d want to blog this three years later.

“Cheeseburger in Paradise” cake, “Margaritaville” cupcakes, complete with candy limes and sugar salt rims, and “Son of a Sailor” sugar cookies.

cheeseburger in paradise cake and margaritaville cupcakes


son of a sailor sugar cookies. jimmy buffett birthday

Swedish fish and goldfish…”Fins to the Left, Fins to the Right”.

goldfish and swedish fish fins to the left fins to the right. jimmy buffett birthday.

Parrothead party favors.

beach party favors. jimmy buffett birthday.

And the birthday boy himself.



Want to throw your own Jimmy Buffett backyard birthday party? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

jimmy buffett party ideas

Margaritaville DM1000 Frozen Concoction Maker / Lost Shaker of Salt / Margaritaville Cupcakes

Why Don’t We…Invitation / Norpro 188 24-Pack Decorative Cocktail Umbrella Picks, Multicolored
/ 5 O’Clock Somewhere cornhole

Life is Just a Tire Swing, tire swing / Landshark Lager / Cheeseburger in Paradise tutorial

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This is the first time I’ve included any affiliate links, but I’ve been shopping at Amazon for a long time, and I feel confident promoting them as a retailer.