5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

5 Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Under $25

Happy 4th of July!  It’s ok if I jump the gun a little bit right?  I’m pretty sure the festivities (4 nights of rodeo) start tomorrow night here anyway.

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  I love the enthusiasm for it here in my hometown.  The flags all over the place.  So many events to pick and choose however we want to celebrate.  And the red, white and blue – one of my favorite color combinations.  So, when it worked out that it’s my mom’s turn to host our Bunco group right after the 4th of July we were really excited to put together the prizes.  And what better for a 4th of July/summer theme than food-related gift baskets?!

The prizes are supposed to range in cost from about $12 to $24 so all five of these gift basket ideas are under $25.  As a fun twist we not only stuck to a summer food/dinner theme but tried to incorporate as much of the red, white and blue patriotic theme as we could find.  With the 24th of July Pioneer Days celebration here in Utah, we keep the red, white and blue out the entire month of July 😉

Picnic Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

My favorite basket would have to be our picnic themed one.  We found this adorable insulated picnic basket to use as the base for the gift (from TJ Maxx).  I love that it’s red, white and blue colors but flower-patterned instead of stars and stripes so you can use it any time of year.  We filled the basket with  patriotic themed picnic supplies – paper plates, napkins, those adorable red mason jar drinking cups with straws, a vinyl tablecloth, and red, white and blue tortilla chips to finish it off.

Fourth of July Patriotic Themed Gift Basket Idea Summer Picnic Gift Basket Idea for Bunco Wedding or other events

Ice Cream Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea Patriotic Red White and Blue for 4th of July

What’s summer without ice cream, right?  We just had to do an ice cream themed basket but the kind of base to use for the theme was a bit of a sticking point.  In the end we went with a basket of sand toys – ice cream and the beach works great, right?  The little sand strainer was the perfect thing to lift the items up so you can seem them above the top of the basket.  The basket is filled with an ice cream scoop, ice cream cones and waffle bowls, and a selection of toppings like chocolate and caramel syrup, marshmallow cream, and of course, some red white and blue sprinkles.

Popcorn Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

With all of the free concerts in the park, drive-ins, or those fun DIY back yard movie theaters that summer has to offer, we went with a popcorn theme for our third basket.  This one was also a good fit for our least expensive gift basket since it doesn’t take a lot to make this one cute.  We grabbed a blue popcorn bowl for the base and smaller individuals bowls in red, then added some microwave popcorn and a selection of popcorn seasonings.

Hot Dog Roast Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

Our local grocery store always has these great hot dog roasting sticks in stock and we knew we wanted to use these for one of the gifts (I have a set and we use them ALL the time).  The tricky part was figuring out how to package up something so long and skinny.  In the end we went a similar route as the ice cream but instead of sand toys we tied everything to a children’s bat and ball set  (baseball and hotdogs – totally works).  We also added a set of hot dog baskets (red, white, and blue!) like you would get at the drive-in, condiment squirt bottles and a container of potato chips.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Patriotic for 4th of July

For our final gift basket we went with a back yard grilling/BBQ theme.  The container is a plastic water pitcher to which we added some grilling tools, kebab baskets, corn on the cob holders, a grill brush with some barbeque sauce and a marinade, and a lighter.

BBQ Themed Summer Gift Basket Idea

I can’t decide which one I would like to win – can you? 😉  I can’t wait for our Bunco party, but first I’m going to enjoy the fireworks this weekend.

Five Summer Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Bunco Wedding gift or other special occasion


Splash Bash – Last Day of School Water Party

Hello Summer!

Well, almost summer here.  The kids still have one more week left of school but the countdown has certainly begun and I’m nearly as excited for the change in routine as the kids are.  Oh how great to get a later start on the mornings, and to not have to wait until the kids are out the door in order to get a chance to take a shower!  (someone remind me of this feeling on one of those long summer afternoons when the kids are “bored” or constantly bickering!)

This past weekend the kids and I sat down to work on our Summer Bucket List – which has become one of our yearly traditions.  (you can see last year’s list HERE and I will post this year’s soon!)  As we were talking I noticed a theme emerging from their suggestions – fun time with friends.  I wondered for a second if my kids have been feeling…socially deprived…?  (and if so, do I lose Mom Points for that? 😉  ) but quickly realized it was just a manifestation of their fun-loving, outgoing sides which I would like to help them nurture.  Being a bit of an introvert myself, I admire that side of their personalities while at the same time I have to subvert my own desire for calm and quiet in order to give them the chance to explore that.  So we made a list of things they wanted to do with friends and party ideas and I agreed to let them host something on a regular basis.

Splash Bash Fun and Easy Summer party or end of the school year party Alaynas CreationsFirst up on their list – a party for the last day of school!  This is something we did a few times in our old neighorhood but didn’t follow through with last year and Kaitlyn, in particular, was very excited about hosting something.  She quickly decided on a water theme (after seeing an idea on Pinterest for SlipNSlide baseball a few days before) and in less than 30 minutes we not only had a plan and menu ideas, but had created and printed out the invitations too.

Summer Water Party Splash into Summer End of the School Year party invitation AlaynasCreations

I found the Splash clip art on the internet then simply added the wording over the top and printed everything onto cardstock (4 to a page).  The back side of the invitation holds all the details:  time, date, location, etc.

Splash Bash Summer Water Party Invitation Easy DIY invite for a fun and inexpensive summer party AlaynasCreations

We checked the weather forecast and so far it looks like we will have sunshine and decent temperatures – yay!  That means we can go ahead with our ideas for SlipNSlide kickball, water gun target shooting and Splash Ball lacrosse.  (actually we don’t know how to play lacrosse but we do have a couple of sticks and they can play catch)  Kaitlyn helped me pick up supplies and snacks last night so we’re all set to party.  Bring on the last day of school and bring on SUMMER!

I’ll be sure to post party details after the event – check back soon!  Or check out some of our other Last Day of School Traditions, End of the Year gifts for teachers and kids (Buckets of Fun idea or Teacher Gifts in a Cup ideas) or Summer Fun Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank.

Linking to:  Home Matters Party, Pretty Pintastic Party,

Rainbow Dance Party

Throwback Thursday?  Let’s revisit a post from the old blog – how ’bout the Rainbow Dance Party my daughter requested for her birthday a couple of years back.
 Rainbow Dance Birthday Party Cake Table Decorations B
My oldest turned 9 today.  Where oh where does the time go?  And can we make it stop?!  She’s growing up way too fast.

This year’s party request was not only her first big slumber party, but a dance party with a rainbow color scheme.  That gave me tons to work with and we’ve both been pretty excited for the big day to finally arrive.  Friday night found us with a house full of crazy, loud, sugar crazed 3rd graders 🙂

I’ll walk you through the highlights:

The invitation.  I went all digital again this year – it’s just so much faster than scrapbook style.  And makes it easier to use all or part of the design for adding in smaller details like the cupcake tags I sent to school.

I always try to make sure there is at least some nod to the party theme outside, especially since we usually end up with one or two new friends that may need a little help finding our house.  A bunch of balloons on the mailbox and another bunch on the porch did the trick this year.

Happy Birthday Beadboard Pennant Banner
I had SO much fun with the party decor this year. Did you notice the cake stand tutu in the first photo?  It was my first attempt at one and I love it!

I worked up a birthday theme set of beadboard pennant banners.  They’re so easy to change up to fit any theme.

Rainbow ruffled table skirt made entirely from plastic tablecloths.  I think this is my favorite piece of the whole party.  (I posted a tutorial here)

Tutorial Ruffled Rainbow Tablecloth Plastic DIY

And a personalized banner with her name on it for the table.

Birthday Party Balloon Topiary Centerpiece

Balloon topiaries – these were a last minute addition as I had kept forgetting about working up anything decorative for the folding table.  I literally threw these together out of scrap dowel pieces from the burn box and a couple scrap 2×4 sections, drilled a hole in the 2×4 to hold the dowel, then tied on a few balloons.  I didn’t even bother to paint the stands.  I don’t think the girls noticed or cared 🙂

Rainbow Dance Party Ceiling Decorations
I pretty much just cleared out the playroom to turn it into the dance/party room.  And just used strips from the same plastic tablecloths to dress up the ceiling.  I got a lot of bang for my buck on the decorations for this party.  A handful of plastic tablecloths, two bags of balloons, and 1/3 yard of tulle in each color – well under $20!  Everything else came from supplies I already had.

The Food:

Looks like the beginnings of an art project, right?  Actually it’s the cake batter.  Making the rainbow cake was surprisingly easy.  I just portioned the batter into six bowls and colored each one a different color, then poured each one into the pan.  As long as you don’t mess with it much, the colors stay separated while it bakes.
Rainbow Birthday Cake with Pennant Banner A

Ta-da!  Not my most spectacular cake, but sometimes that’s ok.

Rainbow Birthday Cake B

For dinner we had nachos, rainbow style:
red – tomatoes and salsa
orange – cheese sauce (in the mini crockpot)
yellow – shredded cheese
green – bell peppers
blue – blue tortilla chips
purple – red onion
plus some taco meat to fill it out

Rainbow Birthday Party Rainbow Nachos

I was a bit worried about what kids dishing cheese and salsa onto their plates so I placed the messy stuff on a baking sheet. Turns out they didn’t spill after all, but better safe than sorry.

Rainbow Dance Party Rainbow Fruit Kebabs

And rainbow fruit kebabs with fruit dip.  These were an absolute hit.  That whole stack disappeared in minutes.

The drink was also rainbow – I made a few colors of punch and froze it in ice cube trays.  Then the girls could pick their colors and we poured lemon-lime soda over the colored cubes.  (the girls were also very impressed that the paper around the soda bottle matched the paper on the tiny cake pennant banner.  I repeat – it’s all about the details 🙂  )  They thought this was a fantastic idea.

As you can see, I also had a couple of nice friends that stayed for the main part of the party with their daughters.  The extra set of hands came in handy a few times, for sure (Thanks for the help ladies!).

Here’s the whole set up with the food.
Rainbow Birthday Party Food Table Decorations B
The party:

With the theme being a dance party, well of course we all danced.  For hours.  It was quite loud and crazy for a very long time 🙂  I had put together a playlist on the Ipod (a lot of Kidz Bop music) and set up the doc and speakers in the party room and the girls had a blast.  Most of the time they didn’t need any direction from me.  I did however, have a few games and ideas up my sleeve for when some of the girls started to lose interest.

We pulled out the glow sticks and turned off the lights and danced some more.  We played freeze dance (freeze when the lights are turned on, or when the music is stopped).  Some of us played audience/judges/photographer while others took turns performing solos.  They switched to Dance Revolution on the Wii for a while.  I had even thought about finding some of the line dance stuff from my middle school/high school days (everyone needs to learn the chicken dance,YMCA, and the Macarena right?) but I procrastinated and didn’t get that done.  If we had needed them I figured I could always bring it up on YouTube, but they had plenty to entertain them.
Rainbow Slumber Party Movie Snacks Tray B

Then at 9:00 I declared it time to settle down so everyone got in pjs, spread out their sleeping bags, and I popped popcorn and brought out the rainbow snacks for movie time.

Rainbow Birthday Party Colored Candies

Yes, I did separate all the M&Ms by color.  What can I say?  It was a random OCD moment lol.  But doesn’t it look pretty that way?

I wish I could say it was all easy after that, but the girls were too wound up and couldn’t settle down.  With one thing or another, I pretty much didn’t get any sleep *sigh*  The only down side to have a wildly successful party for incredibly hyper and excited little girls.

Rainbow Waffles Stack

Breakfast was HAD to be rainbow waffles!

Rainbow Waffles for Slumber Party

I used pretty much the same technique as the cake.  Put the batter into different cups and color them all different colors then pour it into the waffle iron in sections.  It worked great!

Slumber Party Breakfast Ideas Rainbow Breakfast

Add in OJ, milk, bacon (which was eaten so quickly I didn’t even get a piece!), syrup and whipped cream and breakfast was all set.  By 9:00 AM the girls were all fed, dressed, and had packed up their sleeping bags and did some more dancing and free play until the parents arrived.

Rainbow Dance Party Favor Favorite Tunes Mixed CD
Everyone went home with their very own mix CD of Kaitlyn’s Top 10 Dance Hits (and early reports from the neighbor girl is that the CD is AWESOME)  🙂Top 10 Dance Songs Party Favor CD Rainbow B
And in the end we have ten very happy, rambunctious girls.  And one very tired Mommy.

Dump Truck Construction Birthday Party

Dump Truck Construction Birthday Party Toddler
Time for another blast from the past!  According to the stats on my old blog, my most popular post of all time is the Dump Truck Construction Party I did for my son’s 2nd birthday.  That was over 6 years ago and it’s still ranking top 5 in hits every week.  Crazy.  I certainly wouldn’t have predicted that, though I do have a “thing” for parties.  And Tyler’s Dump Truck Party was certainly a fun one. And easy.  And inexpensive.  That’s got to be the key requirements for a busy mom with young children – lots of wow factor for very little investment.  And if those aren’t the reasons for the post’s popularity, maybe it’s those adorable chubby cheeks of his!

From December 2008:
My little guy turned 2 years old yesterday (!) and for his little party with his neighborhood friends I whipped up a fun, very EASY dump truck party. If I had to list Tyler’s favorite things, a dump truck would top the list. In fact, it was one of the first words he learned to say. I think he’s drawn to them because his grandpa has one, and he is a BIG fan of grandpa! 🙂 So anyway – I picked dump trucks as the theme for Tyler’s birthday party.


The whole things is paper pieced (yep I did the pattern myself!) and the back “dumps” to reveal the party info below it The wheels are on Pop Dots for a bit of added dimension. The front reads: “Tyler is 2! Dump everything and truck on over for a party!” And along with the party info inside I made sure to say it was being held “at the Caldwell Construction site.”

Decorations: I chose yellow as my primary color, with black and red accents.

I placed some construction “candles” (borrowed from my Dad) along the driveway and used a few balloons and streamers to make it feel festive.

Inside, I whipped up some signs using scrapbook paper, markers, my computer, and stamps. The truck and loader are clipart I found using google and used it as a pattern for the silhouettes.

The table was covered with a black plastic tablecloth, with pieces of masking tape running down the center to make it look like a road. The centerpiece was a few of Ty’s toys and a grouping of helium balloons. I also pinned up some streamers and balloons around the room.

Food: Dirt cake, housed in the back of a toy dump truck (clean – and I also lined it with wax paper for easier clean up) and served with a toy shovel. The cake is simply chunks of chocolate cake layered with chocolate pudding and topped with crumbled Oreos. I also added some gummi worms, which were a big hit with the kids. I think the original “recipe” came from Familyfun.com I usually try to avoid holding parties during meal times but in this case I had to make an exception. So I made peanut butter sandwiches in the shape of hammers (cookie cutter from Sur la Table) and served them with grapes and oranges (Ty’s favorite fruits) from the back of another dump truck. Then topped it all off with some cracker/pretzel snack mix, which was in an upside-down hard hat. They also had lemonade in bright colored sippy cups (I always do over-kill with the sippies – even if the kid knows how to drink from a cup I’d rather not worry about the inevitable spills.  Plus you can find great “disposable” ones in packs of four for only a few dollars).


The kids started off “painting” sugar cookies. I made a “palette” using a paper plate and piped little circles of frosting and let them dry overnight. Then I put a bit of “paint” (corn syrup with food coloring) in each little circle, placed a cookie (shaped like a fire truck because I couldn’t find any dump trucks) on the plate and let them have at it. This is a perfect activity for the little ones and the older kids too. And when done this way there is very little mess involved.

We put the cookies aside and had lunch and cake. Opened presents. Then I let them have free time with a couple play zones I had set up – one with blocks for building and the other with a road rug and toy cars. It was a small party with well-behaved kids (and all the mothers there to help out) so we opened up the toys he had been given and added them into the mix.

Favors: I decorated some plain white lunch bags with the child’s name and some dump truck clipart. I had found some really tiny sets of crayons on an after Halloween sale so I used the same clipart to cover up the spiderwebs on the boxes. I also included some dump truck fuit snacks and a toy truck.

 The kids had a blast and I am very happy with the party. And for once I wasn’t stressing at all about set up or getting things ready because I had managed to keep it really low key. (pats self on the back) 🙂