Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shared Post: Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party

It's not often I use the "Share to Blogger" function on Google Reader but sometimes a post is so awesome that I don't trust y'all to click it when I post a link.
So check out this Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party from Hostess with the Mostess. This is a great idea for kids parties or you could do an adult theme with real spa treatments (you could upgrade the jewelry, but I'll be honest, I think the macaroni bracelets are awesome) or even make it more spa in concept for an outdoor soiree. So many awesome ideas that I just had to share. If you love it click through and give HWTM some love.

Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party:
Hostess with the Mostess®
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
This Egyptian-inspired “Cleopatra’s Spa Day” party that Bettijo of threw for her daughter’s 7th birthday is – in a word – AMAZING!

Egyptian Birthday Party Highlights

Designed & styled with the help of her co-blogger Aimee, the Paging Supermom gals not only created a wonderfully unique and imaginative party atmosphere here, but they also put a huge emphasis on creative activities a for the kids…from “jeweled” Egyptian collars that the girls created using their fingerprints and paint (!) to a Sandbox table where they were encouraged to play and “exfoliate” before they were treated to manicures and Egyptian-inspired painting. There are so many more fun details to share, but one of my very favorites has got to be the downright fabulous DIY Gold Arm Cuffs that Bettijo made from empty toilet paper rolls, macaroni and spray paint. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m tempted to Page Supermom for my own birthday party! ;)
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Read on for more fabulous party images + all the creative details…
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday PartyAmazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party
Amazing Egyptian Spa Themed Birthday Party


PARTY DETAILS, as told by Bettijo

When I started brainstorming ideas for an Egyptian-themed birthday party I immediately had an idea to build a big tent in the backyard. I ran the idea past my husband (who is used to my crazy elaborate party ideas by now), and being the darling Superdad that he is, he figured out a way to build a tent-inspired structure using mainly wire, fabric and safety pins! (See Faux Tent how-to below.)
The tent turned out amazing and definitely set the scene for the rest of our activities. My daughters’ other request was that this year be an all-girl party. With that in mind and pulling on my experience as founder of spa and bath brand, Bath By Bettijo , I centered on a Cleopatra’s Spa Day theme.
We divided the tent space up into 4 main areas: Food Table, Pillow Corner, Spa Table and Activity Area. Each space had it’s own functionality, but I wanted some way to unify all the spaces. I decided to collect the pieces for each space’s activity (except of course the food display) into matching wooden trays placed in each area. My husband built and stained these simple wood trays for under $5 each (See Wood Tray how-to below.)
My co-blogger Aimée and I tend to like minimalist and modern styling, but since the whole idea of this food table was a spread fit for an Egyptian Princess, we wanted to create a feeling of richness and abundance. This meant going outside our comfort zone a bit and piling things on the table to fill it up. We’re very excited with how the food table came together.
I baked six loaves of bread using this recipe. It is the EASIEST bread recipe ever – I baked all 6 loaves the morning of the party – that’s how easy it is! Not only is this bread as easy, but it also tastes wonderful and looks so natural and beautiful. Plus when baking vs. buying artisan bread, you save yourself lots of dough. Literally!
In keeping with the whole idea of “Spa” we tried to keep the food selections relatively healthy and natural but still fun and kid-friendly. We served whole dates, pears, chocolate coins and other fruits in pretty glass jars. Sliced bread, grapes, blackberries, olives, veggies and a selection of cheeses were presented at the guests fingertips, and the girls were invited to snack throughout the party.
I really loved the “Sand Cupcakes” made from the always delicious Krusteaz Cinnamon Streusal muffin mix. These are a breakfast favorite at my house, and one morning, a few weeks before this party, we were eating them, and I remember thinking how much the topping reminded me of sand. Aha! Sand Cupcakes are perfect for an Egyptian party!
Attalie thought a pyramid cake would be so cool, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to pull it off. Aimée came up with the idea of making a giant Rice Krispie Treat pyramid. We formed the base by making two batches and molding into a tapered square bowl I already had. The top portion was formed by hand using part of a third batch of Rice Krispie mix. I created the rough shape by hand and then pressed each of the four sides at and angle repeatedly on a wooden cutting board until we were satisfied with the shape. Then I pressed the top and base pieces together. To cover the seam and add a little sparkle, we finished the cake with white-and-gold, Egyptian-patterned ribbon. I mitered the ribbon’s corners so the pieces would fit right with the diagonal lines of the pyramid’s edge, and then I secured the ribbon in place with pins (which we were sure to remove before serving!)
When the girls first arrived at the party they were greeted by a fun sign on the door and then ushered through the house to the backyard where they met our “caravan.” We had them remove their shoes and change into socks and then each girl received a headband (made out of colored elastic seam binding like this). We began with a couple of gathering activities that would be easy for the girls to quickly join in on as they arrived. We had crayons and the Fill-in the Pharaoh’s Face Coloring Pages  set out on a table as well as a Sandbox for playing and “exfoliating” before their manicures.
Once all the guests arrived we began our first craft, Egyptian Collars adorned with fingerprint “jewels” made using red, blue, green and gold tempera paint. We set the collars aside and let them dry.
Next each girl made her own jewel bracelets, and during this activity we had the girls take turns at our spa table where they were treated to a royal makeover. First up was a pampering manicure including a Dead Sea Mud Mask; hand massage using Organic Whipped Shea Butter, topped off with gold nail polish. Then each girl was given Egyptian black eye liner and red lipstick. Finishing touches were a set of Gold Arm Cuffs that I’d made ahead from empty toilet paper rolls, macaroni and spray paint (See how-to below) and a giant gemstone ring.
After the girls completed their spa treatments we invited them to lounge in our Pillow Corner. I was trying to think of some simple activity to provide in this area that would be interesting but very unscripted and sort of quiet (since we were trying to create a spa atmosphere). My first thought was reading books, but that didn’t seem very partyish. Then I remembered how my daughter pours over the rock collection my aunt has in her backyard. Attalie is totally obsessed with rocks so I decided to surprise her by borrowing a bunch of my aunt’s rocks to set out at the party. I totally pictured all the little girls gathered around a tray of shiny, pretty rocks using a magnifying glass to “inspect” them — adorable in my mind, but I was sure it probably wouldn’t go over that way in person. BIG SURPRISE – it totally happened. Somehow the zen-like atmosphere rubbed off on them (or maybe it was the lack of boys?) but after each girl was done with her makeover, she joined the others in the Pillow Corner where they admired their bejeweled selves in a gold mirror, inspected the rocks and whispered and giggled. It was precious!
We gathered the birthday gifts in a wooden crate in the Pillow Corner and after all the guests had received their makeovers, Attalie sat on a bench and opened her presents.
Each of the girls left the party decked out like an Egyptian Princess with her own pretty bottle of Cleopatra’s Milk Bath.
I knew we’d hit the mark, when just before leaving a couple of the moms remarked to me at how relaxing this party had been. (Yes – they thought a 7-year-old’s birthday party was relaxing!) Certainly it hadn’t felt relaxing to me at all (as the hostess it never is), but those words were the best compliment they could have given me!
Our Superdad is responsible for this genius tent. Of course the specifics will vary based on your own location, but here’s some basic instructions to get you going. We started by setting three, 10-foot 2x4s into buckets of concrete and let dry for several days until solid. Next we attached three evenly spaced eye bolts to our back patio. We placed the center eye bolt 12 inches higher than the ones on the sides to give the tent shape. We also attached three eye bolts to the tops of the 2×4 posts. Then we placed the buckets on the far side of our yard, in line with the bolts on our patio. Since our yard is in the midst of a makeover, we didn’t mind digging holes to bury these buckets and make things more stable. We stretched tie wire (from the hardware store) from each eye bolt on the back of the patio to it’s corresponding eye bolt on the 2x4s. Pull it REALLY tight and secure well so it can support the weight of the fabric. We placed two perpendicular lines of tie wire to frame the front and back of the tent.
We purchased a total of 32 yards of white fabric (60-inch wide) and cut it into three lengths. We used a polyester fabric that reminded me of parachute material, but we selected it simply because the price was right (definitely a good time to check out the dollar table). We draped the three strips of fabric over the wire frame, overlapping the edges of each strip by about six inches. Then we let the ends hang down created the illusion of tent walls. We secured the fabric to the wire frame with safety pins. If your day is windy (like ours was) you’ll need to attach some kind of weights.
To dress up the tent I used inexpensive ribbon clustered onto a safety pin and easily attached to the wire frame. The colorful strips that created the back “wall” of the tent are courtesy of Aimee’s old living room – they are Pier 1 Imports window panels purchased several years ago.
For the tray’s sides he used inexpensive pine 1x2x8s (you’ll need one for each tray) for the sides. Then he cut all three of the bottoms from one lightweight board, cut down to approximately 15×19 inches. He used small tack nails to attach the bottom and sides together, sanded and finished with a medium wood stain.
This brilliant idea comes from my daughter’s first grade teacher. You need one toilet paper roll per set of cuffs. Cut the roll lengthwise on just one side so they create an open shape (resembling a cuff). Next cut each roll in half the other direction (perpendicular to your first cut) so you now have two separate cuffs. Glue elbow macaroni (using regular white school glue) as desired onto each cuff. This part could be fun to let the kids do themselves. Cover with gold spray paint and let dry.


– Design & Styling: Aimee Lowry & Bettijo B. Hirschi of
– Invitations, Party Flags, Jar Labels, Signs: Supermom Co-Op
– Photography: Michelle Gifford of Jasper and Josephine
– Giant Gemstone Ring: Oriental Trading 
Hostess with the Mostess®

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Mishaps

I was in a show recently where my music cut in and out. I kept dancing. Whenever the music came back on, I was in the right place. I felt confident enough with how well I new my piece to just power through.
The only bad thing is the stress of "holy crap, what happened to my music?" shot my adrenaline up and then I crashed before the song was over. A combination that I struggle with on a good day looked like udder crap because I just didn't have it in me. But you know after all that, having only 16 counts off in an otherwise perfect performance - I'll take it.
After the show, I heard nothing but compliments on how I handled the music mix up and that's what I want to talk about.

#1 - I was at a show with Raksanna when her music did not play. 
This show was in an intimate setting. The dance space was at floor level with seating on two sides. Raksanna had already entered the dance space and was face to face with the audience when her music failed. After several tries she signaled her husband to go sort things out with the sound guy.
She then said that while they were getting that sorted out, why didn't we play a game. She divided the audience into groups and arranged is in sort of a clapping game so that we clapped out a rhythm. She then did a bit of improv to our clapping until the music got sorted. 
The way she dealt we a music mishap was graceful, fun and you know what? I remember it for all the right reasons.

#2 - I was a little involved with the backstage of this show and I recall that the CD player lacked a time signature. Somehow during the middle of a dancers piece, something happened to stop the song. She stopped, looked annoyed and told the sound man to go back to a certain part. He had to restart the song and forward it where everyone could hear it every time he stopped to let her listen if that was the right place. She got further frustrated and stormed offstage to yell at him. He reaction wasn't pretty, and those audience members setting so they could see behind the curtain on stage right (quite a few people actually) saw her continue to berate the poor sound man until her got it right. A lot of people remember this and still talk about it. 

I let both these instances be a lesson to me a long time before I myself ever had a problem onstage. Unfortunately, like wardrobe malfunctions, music mishaps are something that we have to prepare for. Here are some suggestions on how to handle it.

Music skips - Sometimes, like in my case, the music skips a little but then gets back on track. I chose to keep dancing. The first few skips were only a few seconds so I chose to hold on until they got too bad, and it actually got better by the 2nd half of the song. 
If the problems make the music undanceable then take a bow and walk off stage. You can ask the stage manager/organizer if they want you to get a back up of the music right away or go on later in the show instead.

Music stops - If you are near the end or it was a long piece anyway, its okay to make a face that says "this wasn't the end but oh well" do a big finish and take a graceful bow. 
If you are near the beginning or it is a very short piece, there is nothing wrong with starting over. You worked hard on your dance and the audience appreciates that. They want you to get to do it start to finish as much as they want to see it start to finish. 

Music won't play at all - I know organizers are busy, but there is no reason not to check all the music on the sound system before hand. Without taking breaks the music is never half as long as the show. Just let it play and listen for problems. Delegate it to the sound person. It also let's them become familiar with the equipment and music. 
But things happen and that's why we always bring back-ups. Again, exit the area and find out if they would like you to fetch your back-up while they stall or just squeeze you in to a later place in the show.
Or like in Raksanna's case where she was the headliner, she knew she had someone to get the back-up and get it handled so she did her own stalling.

They play the wrong music - Smile at the sound person and shake your head no. Or hold your pose/position  back stage in a way that says - that's not my music.

There is never a reason to get mad, and really never reason to get upset. I take exception to students and beginning performers whose nerves may be shot after a mishap. When that happens there is nothing wrong with gracefully walking off stage and telling the organizer that you just don't feel like your nerves recovered from the music problems and you will instead enjoy the show from the audience.

The only thing you can do is prepare yourself mentally and be prepared with music back-ups. Personally, I always go to a show with the three things. 
1. A CD with just my song. I burned it and tested it in my car and my very cheap CD player as well as my computer. I find cars and cheap players to be the most finicky of playback devices when it comes to homemade CDs.
I also label in BOLD sharpie marker
Bluegrass Bellydance
Time Signature
This helps me and the people running the show to keep it from getting confused.
I also keep all these in one box in my dance room so I don't have to burn more than one if I use the same number several times.
2. My iPod. My iPod has all my music. I know not every sound system can play one but just in case.
3. A couple of back up songs. I have never used one yet but better to prepare for the worst.

I would love to hear about any music mishaps I didn't mention or any scenarios where you learned from another dancer both what to do and what not do when there is a problem.