H’owl’ing good birthday party

If your child has a late October birthday, you’re eventually going to be faced with one fact: everything in the stores this time of year is orange and black and features spooky/nighttime creatures. Around a year ago I heard about this cloth diaper hunt that was semi-annual. The ‘icon’ you were to find was a cloth diaper-the more you find, the more likely you are to get prizes, etc. Until people started noticing that it looked an awful lot like an owl. So their slogan became — is it a diaper or an owl? Click the link if you want to play along this year or see what I’m talking about– it’s really cute– (starts Nov. 1st )

Anyway, between that hype in that small group and diaper manufacturers as well as the rest of the world catching on, everything seems to be coming up owls this year. GroVia, Rumparooz, and Happy Heinys cloth diapers all have new owl prints this fall. Even places like Wal-Mart have mass manufactured tshirts for Halloween with owls on them (versus pumpkins or cats last year). So it seemed natural to me, when I saw this wooden mask in JoAnn’s Fabric store, to paint it up and use it for my daughter’s invitation. It was a perfect combination of the baby she was and the big girl she’s turning out to be. It’s actually a fairly neutral theme as well, and pairs with any color. It’s also one of the few animal names she can pronounce. We used smilebox to create and email a free slideshow, they had one that was autumn/owl themed, and you could add or delete little extras and play with colors to make it as simple or frilly as you wanted.

INVITATION: smilebox using photos

Theme: Guess who's two?

DECORATION:  Because I believe in keeping things simple, inexpensive, and ‘semi-homemade’– I set out to theme it up without going overboard. It’s a fine line. We put off looking for balloons until the last minute. Big mistake, however, my husband found the perfect one just a short drive away, from Party City (Hippie Chick is the theme name from them and they are a chain store).  I got some plain orange ones blown up at a discount store, as well.

Owl balloon

gift table and plates, etc

In this photo, the dish there is from a discount store from Easter last year, I had it storing ponytail holders in my daughter’s room and dumped it out for the party. There are printed coloring pages I intended for the kids to color, but we didn’t have time. Those were printed off the internet (search owl + coloring page) — this is a great time filler if you have antsy kids that are waiting for others to arrive. We only had one younger guest and they were the last to arrive, so we didn’t get a chance to do this, but we will do it again for future parties, since kids enjoy it a lot and it’s basically free. We used free wrapped silverware from our favorite take out place. They always send it home with us and we had it stockpiled, so we used it. Candles are tossed in the basket and are all orange, again, discount store had them inexpensively. The napkins and plates we bought at the end of last year’s Halloween season for around 50 cents apiece.

I reused the mask as decoration along with other decorations I had sitting out, and some birthday cards she’d already gotten to try and complete the look of the dining area.



Owl cookie

I found a 3 pack of cookie cutters at Michael’s craft store (Wilton brand) for Halloween-one of them was an owl. We made cookies and frosted them in orange for our little guest’s take home-I used a toothpick to make the face on them. In the container were the cookies in a baggie, a balloon (not blown up), and a Del Monte fruit chillers bar (not frozen–find these on the fruit aisle by the canned fruit). Simple, edible or easily usable/tossable for a 2 year old. I decorated the container using felt stickers (Michael’s  Halloween section.) However, I did scour the whole store, and there were also some in the American girl section and some in the scrapbook section, so you can find them off season pretty easily as well. The take out container I bought long ago at containerstore.com but I have seen them in discount stores packaged by single color as well as in craft stores singly and in packs of various colors. These are easy to find. I used marker to write the guests’ name and thank you on one side and Who’s two–the theme on the other side.

'Take home favor' treat box


We grilled burgers and dogs, had chips and dip, baked beans, and cake and ice cream. Kind of a combination of the last of summer’s goodness and a sneak peak at fall. The whole thing started out pretty simply, actually with the cake pan. Several years ago my grandma was moved to a nursing home and the grandkids got to pick some things out of her house. One thing I found which looked completely unused was an old 1988 Wilton cake pan of big bird wearing a bowtie. Flip it over, and it’s an owl. No, seriously, look. It worked out really well, but you could easily draw an outline of an owl yourself  on a 9×13 sheet cake and decorate it very simply. I’m glad my grandma got to be a part of the celebration, as well (in spirit)–she loved decorating cakes and gave me a decorating set years ago.

Owl cake from Big bird 1988 Wilton cake pan

Can you see if you flip it over that it’s big bird’s ruffly feathered head and where the owl’s eyes are is the bow tie? Well, anyway, that’s what it was. My daughter recognized it as an owl when I asked her and she hadn’t been coached, so I give that a big thumbs up! Oreos, m and m’s for eyes, candy corn nose, half pecans for the feet and crushed pecans for the wings and front feathery area.

EXTRAS: Recycling during a party, signs, and playtime

Fling recycle bin

We scored an awesome deal on Halloween themed Flings bins and used this one with a clear plastic bag in it to recycle cans and bottles. Most of my guests were coming from far away and brought nearly empty drinks with them, so this was a great addition to the party and kept me from having to dig into the trash to recycle their items. Once I put my empty can from the morning in there, everyone else followed suit. Easy! 

Since the birthday girl (and guest) were 2, we settled on playing outside as the main activity. We had purchased a freezer recently, so we saved the box and made a play house out of it. Notice the ‘owl’ shaped windows. We traced the cake pan and cut them out to make signs (posted with balloons) to show people where to go to get to our house in the country! 

Play house w/owl cutouts

Cut from cardboard box, homemade signs

I hope that you’ve enjoyed our owl party! If you have any questions, please let me know, I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!


  1. I suspect mama enjoyed planning this party and the kids had fun attending. Like your simple but fun approach to partying. Kids enjoy and don’t go into an emotional meltdown over excesses.

  2. Wow, mama, that is a fancy party! You put in a lot of effort and she will look back at these pictures and think “Wow! Look at my awesome 2 year party!” Glad to know I’m not the only one who wants to make birthdays extra special! :0)

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