Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Printable | Smooth Move Binder Kit (with Excel Spreadsheet To-Do List!)

Last week, I guest featured over at I Heart Organizing and chatted about how my husband and I organize all the logistics of our military moves and corral all the paperwork that comes our way during the process. In the days since that post went live, I have been contacted by many new readers (most military spouses themselves!) eagerly asking and hoping that I'd share our Master Moving Spreadsheet as well as the printables I made for our Smooth Move Binder. I am always happy to share materials that make life easier and more organized, so I'm checking in today with the (free!!!) downloadable files!

Printable | Moving Binder Kit

In my post over at I Heart, I explain how we utilize a two part digital+paper system to keep ourselves organized. Our Smooth Move Binder helps us keep track of paperwork, receipts, measurements and more; while our digital Excel spreadsheet serves as our master to-do list. 

Smooth Move Resources

Our binder is organized into Here (current duty station), There (next duty station), In Transit, and Miscellaneous. Head over to Jen's blog to read in detail about what is included in each section...the main components being some handy worksheets I created to make our transition easier!

Smooth Move Printables

I now have my worksheets all formatted and ready for you to download, print and load into a 3-ring binder! 

Smooth Move Binder Kit

A FEW NOTES ABOUT THE MOVING BINDER KIT DOWNLOAD:
  • This is a FREE download, and I ask that you use it for personal use only.
  • Each page that you see above appears in the file in duplicate (front and back). 
  • I recommend printing the pages double-sided and putting them in a three-ring binder in order for the formatting to flow properly.
  • This moving packet does NOT contain room-by-room packing box inventory sheets. As a military family, we have always used professional packers, so we have never needed our own inventory sheets. Later this year, once we are settled, I will re-visit this file and add in inventory sheets. Until then, if you need them, I suggest Google :)
Smooth Move Binder Kit Download

Of more interest, I think, to many readers is our Master Moving Spreadsheet! We specifically keep this as a digital resource so that we can re-visit it with every move and update it/customize it easily.

Smooth Move Spreadsheet

A FEW NOTES ABOUT THE MASTER MOVING SPREADSHEET DOWNLOAD:
  • This is a FREE download, and I ask that you use it for personal use only.
  • This document is an Excel spreadsheet, and you will need corresponding software to view and edit it.
  • I left the spreadsheet as an editable workbook so that you may use it in any way you need. I encourage you to delete out line items that don't apply to you, as well as add in items that you need to remember/complete. Add in names, locations, dates and tasks that are unique to your specific moving situation.
  • These taskers are NOT organized by the order in which you need to complete them. I highly suggest you look at your own moving timeline and situation and populate the Deadline field with specific dates. THEN sort the spreadsheet by Deadline to get a time-specific, ordered list to work through.
  • Changing the color codes to "In Progress" and "Complete" does not happen automatically. You will need to change colors manually as you complete tasks.
  • I tried to think of everything on this worksheet, even things that don't apply to our family. I am SURE there are tasks I have forgotten or haven't included because we haven't encountered them in our own moves. Please add these tasks onto your own document. And if you think about it, email me with your add-ins so I can make this as complete and comprehensive list as possible for everyone else!
Master Moving Spreadsheet

I'm so thrilled that so many of you reached out for these moving resources. I really hope you find them useful and they really help you make a Smooth Move...no matter how far or how frequently you're moving!

Enjoy!
Megan

P.S. When you click on the "download" buttons, the files should download automatically to your downloads folder (instead of re-directing you to another site). If you are reading this post in a reader, you may need to come over to the site to download. If for some reason it's not working, please let me know!!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Glossy Silhouette Wallpaper Art (with Walls Republic!)

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! Before I get started on today's super fun project, a few housekeeping items! 

First, thank you so much to all of you who left comments or wrote emails after last week's Military Thriving & Surviving Post. I am always so taken aback at how many of you enjoy those posts. I appreciate your feedback more than I can say, and I will certainly keep them coming once a month. 

Second, thanks to my latest feature over on I Heart Organizing, there are quite a few new friends joining in here today! Welcome, and I am so thrilled to have you following along!!! Also after that post, I had so many people reach out and request that I share my moving binder documents and master spreadsheet. I am happy to oblige, so check back here on Wednesday for all the (free!) downloads! 

Lastly, today's project just might be one my favorites...ever...and I am just so giddy about it. Let's get to it, shall we?

Silhouette Wallpaper Art

For those of you who know me or have been coming around here for a while, you know (or can probably guess) that I am CRAZY about patterns. Stripes are (obviously) a favorite, but anything with a good, strong pattern makes me swoon. In recent months, I've been finding new and creative ways to incorporate more pattern into our spaces, and wallpaper has become an obvious choice (see my lamps and my drawers!). With the limitless colors, textures, and patterns available, it's a pattern-loving-girl's chocolate box! So when Walls Republic, a new wallpaper company, reached out to see if I was interested in doing a few wallpaper-related projects, I couldn't say yes fast enough! 

After spending hours combing through WR's incredible selection, I ordered a bunch of gorgeous (and free!) wallpaper samples. While the samples helped me narrow down my choice for a yet-to-be-revealed project, the gorgeous samples (most measuring at 19" squares!) were ideal for some sort of craft or art project. I am never one to pass up working with pretty papers...so I got to work.

Wallpaper Artwork-02

I knew instantly I wanted to make some sort of bold, graphic, fun (and renter-friendly!) artwork with the paper samples. Inspired by the work of David Bromstad, I came up with these oh-so-fun silhouette pieces that contrast bold colors with simple creatures cut from the patterned papers. Grouped together, they make a super eye-popping statement on the wall, and I am so so smitten with them.

Wallpaper Artwork-03

My excitement might seem a bit much, but let me explain! These pieces of artwork are so much more than just wallpaper samples glue to pieces of wood. To elevate them and give them a true wow factor, I finished the artwork off with a thick, heavy coat of clear, pourable resin. The clear resin gives an almost glass-like finish the artwork while still allowing all the metallic elements and textures of the paper to shine right through.

Wallpaper Artwork-04

Because of the super high-gloss finish on these pieces, they are admittedly really tricky to photograph (so many reflections!!!) In person, they are just so stunning and look as though they could have been purchased at an art gallery. Lesson learned: a high-gloss finish = instant wow factor.

Wallpaper Artwork-05

Surprisingly, these were actually quite simple to make but do require a few materials. Thanks to my hefty craft stash, I had almost everything on-hand, making this whole art display very affordable. All three cost me about $25 total.

FOR THIS PROJECT, YOU WILL NEED:
  • Wallpaper samples in coordinating colors and textures
  • 1/2" thick cuts of wood in the size/shape you desire
  • 7/8" iron-on wood veneer edging
  • Paint in the color of your choice
  • Spray adhesive
  • Pourable clear resin
  • Picture hanging hardware
  • Tools: e-cutter (optional), brayer, power screwdriver, paint brush or roller, paper cups and spoons
Start by selecting which wallpaper samples you want to use. This in and of itself is no easy task. I mean...all of my samples were so gorgeous. All of them had amazing texture and designs. Clearly, I was originally going in the blue direction but ultimately went with the black and silver papers. You better bet you're going to see those blue samples pop up again somewhere!

Wallpaper Artwork-06

In all honesty, the longest and hardest part of this whole project was deciding what shapes and colors to do. No kidding, I think I spent a full day playing with different images and combos. I was making myself crazy trying to come up with just the right set of images that made sense for our family as well as a visual. Completely frustrated, I ultimately went with my three favorite images. They don't really go together, nor do they have some secret meaning. I just loved all three of their shapes so I went with it. I'm so glad I did, because they honestly just make me smile!

I played around with colors, shapes and sizing in the Cricut Design Space software to give me a good idea of how they'd look once completed...

Wallpaper Artwork-07

The nice thing about using the wallpaper samples (instead of just wrapping paper or scrapbook paper) is that 1) the paper is really thick and textured, and 2) it comes much bigger than 12x12, allowing you to cut nice big shapes. My crab and bee fortunately fit on my 12x24" cutting mat, so I simply trimmed down my paper sample with a rotary cutter to fit the mat...

Wallpaper Artwork-08

...and ran the mat through my machine to reveal nice, crisp and clean images ready to go! Oh that paper - isn't it gorgeous!

Wallpaper Artwork-09

The rooster however, measured about 17"x17" - too big for my cutting mat. This one was going to have to be done the "old-fashioned" way. I split my rooster image into 2 halves that could be cut on my 12x24" mat and cut them out (from another wallpaper sample I wasn't using). 

For those of you without e-cutters, here's how to do this project too! Find images online, blow them up to your desired size, then crop them down to fit on several pages of 8.5x11" printer paper. Print out the image components and cut down. Next, tape all the sections back together to create the full image and place onto the back of your wallpaper sample (centering if necessary). Tape the template in place and carefully trace around the entire image.

Wallpaper Artwork-10

With the entire image traced, carefully cut out the shape using sharp scissors. Small, sharp scissors are helpful here to cut tight angles.

Wallpaper Artwork-11

Whether cut by e-cutter or by hand, try to choose simple, clean silhouettes that will show off your paper pattern nicely!

Wallpaper Artwork-12

When designing the size and shape of your image, also be sure to take into account the size and shape of the wood you will be mounting it to. My images were mounted to scrap wood from the garage, all measuring 20" wide at varying heights.

Wallpaper Artwork-13

My wood was also a bit warped from being outside all winter. We added simple lengths of wood to the back of each wood board to create a flatter surface to work on. Not only did this work great in flattening out the board, but I ended up loving how the art floated off the wall! This is also a good time to add picture hanging hardware if necessary.

Wallpaper Artwork-14

Once your boards are cut down and straighten out (as needed!), give each of them two good coats of paint (or use stain here instead!). Don't make a big deal of this! Use paint you have on hand and don't even worry about pouring it into a tray. Just dip a brush or roller in the can and spread evenly over the board! I love that the wood grain still shows through a bit. You can always use primer first to eliminate the wood grain look.

Wallpaper Artwork-15

Once the boards are painted and dried, the next step is to add the veneer edging. No matter what thickness wood you use, be sure to buy banding that is just a bit wider than your wood. This will create a 'well' of sorts for the resin to sit in. I had to order this 7/8" veneer from Amazon.

Instead of cutting strips the length of each side, simply measure then score the corners with an Xacto knife. With a gentle snap, you will break the veneer but not the adhesive coating. This allows for a single continuous strip all the way around the wood boards.

Wallpaper Artwork-16

Using a hot iron, secure the veneer banding all the way around the boards, ensuring the the bottom of the banding is lined up with the bottom of the wood. This ultimately creates a little lip all the way around.

Wallpaper Artwork-17

Next, secure your shapes to the painted wood surface with STRONG adhesive. I used spray adhesive which worked great. However, I did re-position my images a few times, ultimately decreasing the "stickiness" of the images. I didn't realize this was a problem until we poured the resin and parts of the paper started floating to the top (boo!!). (If you look at Mr. Crab, his top right claw is poking out a teeny tiny bit!) To keep your papers nice and secure to the surface of the board, use really strong adhesive and ensure every area is fully secured down before moving on!

Wallpaper Artwork-18

The last step is to mix and pour the resin on top of the wallpaper shapes. To ensure a clean, hard, bubble-free final result, follow the package directions very closely. Make sure you have lots of paper cups and spoons on hand to make this process easier; and a second set of hands sure is helpful (thanks, honey!). Because this product hardens relatively quickly, I highly recommend mixing and pouring for one board before moving onto the next. 

This step might seem scary, but it's not. You can find this product at your local craft stores; and if you follow the directions, you will get amazing results. Here's a few lessons learned:
  • Mix small single batches for each board (as mentioned above) and pour immediately after mixing.
  • Pour quickly and with a thin stream all over the board to get the product equally distributed.
  • While this product does harden quickly, you do have time to spread it evenly all over your board. We used disposable wooden coffee spoons (like popsicle sticks) to spread the resin. Work diligently and relatively quickly to get the full surface covered.
  • This step is best done in daylight or really, really good light. While the resin spreads easily, it doesn't pool/spread/fill on its own. You have to work it into the edges and to make sure it covers every last inch. We discovered the next morning, in the bright sunlight, that we had little "dimples" where the resin never got spread. When you're spreading, look at it at the board from different angles to make sure it's perfectly even.
Wallpaper Artwork-19

I feel like this stuff is magic! You pour it on, and in about 8 hours, you have a mostly cured and perfectly clear topcoat. After another 24 hours, this stuff is smooth and shiny as glass! Just make sure you put it somewhere dust-free to cure so you don't end up with particles in your finish. The gloss is so good - you can see my reflection taking the pictures!

Wallpaper Artwork-20

This was a 1 day project top to bottom (once I decided on my images, of course!) I cut my images in the morning, painted the boards at lunchtime, ironed on the edging after dinner, and poured on the resin before bed. One more day of good cure time, and they were ready to go on the walls!

Wallpaper Artwork-21

I never dreamed these would turn out so bold and fantastic. You all know we're moving soon, but I HAD to get these up on the wall. And wouldn't you know, they were the exact element we needed to finish this space (final room reveal coming soon!)

Wallpaper Artwork-22
Wallpaper Artwork-23

Admittedly, there is A LOT of pattern going on here...even a bit much for my taste...but I love these so much I'm overlooking it ;) 

Wallpaper Artwork-24

If you're a renter or don't have your own space, wallpaper doesn't have to be off limits. There are so many fun, fresh, and creative ways to bring more pattern, texture, and pizzazz into your space in completely temporary and removable ways. I actually designed these art pieces to go in our new basement/playroom in the next house. All I have to do is take them right off the walls and bring them with me. I so can't wait to see the room come together using these as my starting inspiration! This project can be customized in innumerable ways: size, shapes, colors, stain, papers. Visit Walls Republic and pick out your own set of FREE samples to make some for your own home!

It's a jam-packed week here on THIHM! On Wednesday, I will have all those moving-related downloads ready for you, and on Friday: my next installment of Hits and Misses. This time we're looking at my DIY home decor projects!

See you soon!
Megan

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Walls Republic did provide the wallpaper samples for me to use and review. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

Friday, May 1, 2015

THIHM Around the Web #6

Happy Friday, friends...and Happy May! 

Here we are at the end of another month! I know I say it every single time, but man, time flies. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by how fast the month has gone by when I stop and recap what a busy month it has been indeed! My free-lance work for April were a really fun mix of Easter, Spring, and Earth-Day related projects...all thrown in with a few moving and relocating posts!

THIHM Around the Web Series Volume 6 - The Homes I Have Made

(Because I recap at the end of the month, some of these posts/projects are a bit "out of date" for this year. To see my posts in real time, be sure to follow me on social media via FacebookTwitter, or Instagram where I push out notifications as they are published. I'm really proud of the work I've done for these other sites, and would love it if you took a minute to check out, pin, and share the posts by following the links. Keep in mind these projects will never appear in full here on THIHM! :)

ForRent_NoBorder

Over on the ForRent.com blog, I have two posts up. I shared a tutorial for creating an indoor herb garden (a perfect solution for renters and those with little-to-no yard!); and then also chatted about my tried-and-true techniques for getting settled into a new community. If you're facing a move like we are, I highly recommend you check it out!

Indoor Herb Garden - The Homes I Have Made

Transitioning to a New Community - The Homes I Have Made

My Daily Bubble_NoBorder
Two of my favorite projects of the month are up on the My Daily Bubble blog. I kicked off April by making this oh-so-adorable, totally inexpensive, and super easy Easter decor and then finished up with one final update to Henry's bedroom that I am totally smitten with!

Hanging Easter Decor - The Homes I Have Made

Geometric Wall Hooks - The Homes I Have Made

IHeartO_NoBorder
Each quarter, I get the awesome opportunity to guest post over on I Heart Organizing. This time around, I am sharing a behind-the-scenes look at how we get organized for our moves.

Organizing a Smooth Move - The Homes I Have Made

TGS_NoBorder
Over on Coupons.com's blog, The Good Stuff, our focus was primarily on Spring and Earth Day. I spent the month research and writing about awesome gardening and green cleaning solutions! I'm now super motivated to incorporate more green cleaning supplies into our routine after we move!

How to Garden without a Garden - The Homes I Have Made

Recycling Ideas - The Homes I Have Made

Making Your Own Cleaning Supplies - The Homes I Have Made

17 Uses for Vinegar - The Homes I Have Made

Last, but certainly not least, I participated in North Carolina Blogger Network's Blogging 411 Video series. If you've ever wanted to see what I look like, hear me talk, and get some of my insights on blogging and running this little corner of the web, check out this video. I had such a blast chatting with these two ladies, so I hope you will check it out!
Blogging 411 - The Homes I Have Made

Phew! A busy month indeed. And time keeps on rolling. I'm literally scrambling to finish up a final few projects and posts before everything gets packed up and put on a  moving truck. Nothing like DIYing new projects for a house you're leaving ;) Good thing everything can come with me! 

I hope you all have a great weekend! See you back here on Monday with a really, really fun DIY artwork project!

Megan 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Thriving & Surviving Military Life: The On-Base vs Off-Base Housing Debate

Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm taking a quick break from my usual craft and home decor posts to deliver you the next installment in my monthly "Thriving & Surviving Military Life" series. I started this series back in the beginning of the year as a platform to chat a bit more about the unique opportunities and challenges we face as a military family and give a glimpse into our unique lifestyle. As most of you long-time readers know, we are getting ready to make our next move...and along with everything that must be done and decided during the moving process, one of the biggest is deciding where to live. For most people when they move, this decision is driven by school districts, commute times, neighborhoods, and crime rates...all of which military families take into account as well. But there is also another big component to our decision: do we live on base or off base? 

Thriving and Surviving Military Life - deciding between on base and off base living

Not all military installations offer base housing, but many of them do. We have lived on base for three of our four duty stations so far (Japan, Virginia, and here in North Carolina) and lived off base for one (California). I tend to forget what a big decision this one is when we are between moves...but every few years when our orders come through...the debates and discussions start. We research the area, reach out to friends and family who have lived there before us, and look at the various on- and off-base housing options. Over the years, I've learned that this topic is VERY personal and can even be charged with a lot of emotions - everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter (us included!) While we certainly don't know everything on the subject...having just gone through the debate and made our latest on-base/off-base decision once again (which turned out to be quite a roller coaster ride!), I wanted to share the pros and cons of each and what we decided this time around!

Living On Base
(Again, I want to preface everything by saying these are all my own opinions based on our 10 years of experience so far. We certainly have not seen or tried everything when it comes to housing, but here are a few of my observations)

Living on a military installation is such a unique and fantastic experience. In very few other life circumstances can you live among people who you have so much in common with. Because housing is often organized by rank, you are most often living among your peers who are in the same place in their careers with the same age families (and not to mention similar interests and shared experiences!) For this reason, living on base affords you instant community and close, real, special, and long-lasting friendships. Being among other families who know what it's like to move frequently, have deployed family members, and live far away from family brings instant comfort and companionship. 

Other benefits to living on base include:
  • Safety - Not only are you living among service members, but most bases have guarded gate-only access. This is a pretty big deal when you have a deployed husband!
  • Support - Military neighborhoods offer a unique level of emotional and physical support. Our shared experiences make us more sensitive to the challenges of long deployments, living away from family, having babies alone, being in new/strange surroundings and more. Military families are almost always ready and willing to help in any emergent situation and are some of the best, most-trustworthy, and fun neighbors you'll ever have!
  • Access to benefits. One of the many advantages of being part of the military community is that you get to access subsidized and tax-free shopping at the on-base stores (Exchanges) and grocery stores (Commissaries). Living on base means you can (usually) access these stores (and ultimately save time and money) a lot easier! Large bases also have dedicated medical facilities, youth sports programming and recreational facilities (gyms, pools), making everything you could possibly need close and convenient. 
  • Commute. Base housing is often somewhat near the main working facilities of the installation, making for short and easy commute times for the service member. My husband's current commute is about 6 minutes with little-to-no traffic.
  • Utilities included. This may not be true for all on-base communities, but in many scenarios, basic utilities like electricity, trash, and water are included. Some bases are starting to incorporate utility payments; but on the whole, living in base housing can often be cheaper than renting or buying off base. 
Living Off Base
I've sure done a good job of hyping up base housing, but there are also some downsides to on-base living that also need to be considered. We've found that there are times and circumstances when off-base living can be a better fit.  
  • Separation of work and play. While living among fellow service members can create instant community and lasting friendships, it also severely blurs the lines between work and the rest of your life. On military bases, it can often feel like all military, all the time. Bosses can live down the street and you can run into co-workers at the grocery store or in church. Dress codes need to be abided by even during off hours, and the office is often just minutes away. Working, playing, socializing and relaxing among very like-minded people can become stifling, consuming, and messy. Living off base can help the job feel more like just work and less like an all-inclusive lifestyle.
  • Housing policies. On base, the type of house you get, the number of rooms you rate, and what neighborhoods you actually get to live in is most often determined by rank and number of children in the family. Need an extra bedroom for a home office? Too bad if you only rate a three bedroom house. Want to live closer to the elementary school? You might not be able to if that neighborhood is assigned to a different rank or population. Living off base allows you to choose whatever size and type of house you want or need, in whatever school district you want, for whatever rent you are willing to pay. 
  • Getting into base housing. For whatever reason, getting into on-base housing is often hard, stressful and honestly, a complete nuisance. You wouldn't think it would be, and I don't quite understand why it is...but everywhere we have lived, getting an on-base house requires jumping through unnecessary hoops and a lot of seemingly preventable stress. True, there most often isn't enough base housing to go around, but having to check into housing in person (instead of signing leases long distance), long wait times, and silly wait list rules make the whole process exasperating. This is absolutely dependent on the base, but we have yet to have a seamless transition into on-base housing. When renting off base, you have a lot more flexibility on when, where, and how you get into a house. 
So What Are We Doing This Time?
There is so much more I could go into, but this post is getting long enough (are you still with me?), and I bet you're wondering what we're doing at our next (still-to-be-named) duty station! The story is a long one (as it always tends to be!), but I will condense it for you. After researching our next base and the surrounding area and reaching out to folks we know who live there, we first decided to live on base for many of the reasons listed above: security, community and overall ease of living. But even with our decision mostly made, I was unsure. We've been living in on-base housing for 4 years now, and I've been starting to feel stifled and frustrated by the all-military, all-the-time lifestyle. I already shared that I wasn't too crazy about this latest move of ours', and the on-base housing options were leaving me less than thrilled. Still...we proceeded with our on-base plan. 

However, as I mentioned, getting into base housing was proving messy and stressful yet again. Then this crazy, too-good-to-be true string of events occurred, and a perfect off-base house landed seemingly in our laps. Even though we love on-base living, the off-base option felt like the right fit for us where we are at right now on this crazy journey. The prospect of a nicer and bigger house sure had my spirits lifting, and a small break from this intense lifestyle was just the thing I needed to get excited about our next transition. After some twisting of my husband's arm, we went for the off-base house, and I honestly could not be more thrilled. You know I am chomping at the bit to spill all the details; and as you might expect, I've already started decorating this home in my head! Alas, you all will have to wait a bit longer...but know that it's going to be a good year ;)

I think the "moral of the story" here is that there isn't ever a perfect fit. Both on- and off-base living have great rewards as well as big drawbacks. The best you can do is research, weigh the options, and figure out what is the right solution for your family at the time. I don't think we will ever be "on base only people" or "off base only people." Just as we like to explore new parts of the world/country with each move, we also like to experience different housing options and scenarios. After four years of on-base living, I am beyond thrilled to make the leap off base for the next year. Will we regret it? Who knows. Would on-base have been more fun, easier, cheaper etc? Who knows. All I know is off-base feels like the right decision this time around...and because it feels right...it will be right! We will bloom where we're planted...and if we got it wrong...we get to try again the next time around!

As usual, thanks for indulging me in these more personal, anecdotal posts! I know I have a bunch of military spouse readers out there! How do you approach the on-base/off-base conundrum? Do you agree with my various assessments? I'd love to hear your experiences. Even if you aren't part of the military community, I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about one of these very unique aspects to our lives!!! 

(And be sure to catch other installments of this series here!) 
See you back here Friday with my monthly roundup!

Megan




Monday, April 27, 2015

How To | Setup a Candy Buffet

A few weeks ago, I showed you Henry's 4th birthday party reveal: a blue and orange, Planes-themed bash filled with lots of fun DIYs and projects. I covered a ton of details in my party reveal post (you can read it here), but I wanted to go a little more in-depth into one of my favorite aspects of the whole party: the candy buffet! If you've ever wanted to do something like this at one of your parties but don't quite know where to start...I've got you covered with everything you need to know!

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In addition to offering a slew of kid-friendly snacks and an easy lunch spread at the birthday party, we set up an entire dessert table. Packed to the gills with cupcakes, cookies, and sweets, this table was definitely the crowd pleaser of the party for both the kids and adults alike. So much tasty goodness on one table!

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The highlight of the whole table, though, was absolutely the candy buffet! I have ALWAYS wanted to do a candy buffet at a party because...well...they are just so cute! I love seeing adorable and colorful candy-filled displays in store windows, magazine spreads, and on Pinterest but never attempted to do one myself. When Party Pail offered me some selections from their super fun candy buffet supplies for the party, I knew this was my chance to give this party trick a try! 

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Let's go step-by-step through all the elements you need to make your candy buffet a simple and sweet success!
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1 - CONTAINERS. The key to a candy buffet is to offer all sorts of candies. And if you're going to offer a wide variety of candies, then you need to have a wide variety of containers to hold them in! To keep it visually interesting, try to vary the heights, sizes and shapes of all the vessels. Plastic or glass both work fine, but I really prefer clear containers so that the candy colors and shapes become the stars of the show! Over the years, I've accumulated a nice collection of glass jars and vases, so I didn't have to buy a thing for this display. If you're starting fresh, shop for unique jars and vases at great prices in places like HomeGoods, Marshalls/TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby and Michaels. In addition to vessels, if you are going to offer candies than need to stand up straight (like rock candy or lolly pops), be sure to have rice or glass pebbles on hand to fill the jars to keep items up right!

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2 - SERVERS. Some candies can stay in their wrappers, but many candies included on a candy buffet are loose. To keep fingers (and germs!) from getting all over the candy, be sure to put out a variety of serving utensils to help your guests load up. Small-scale scoops and ladles are perfect for little candies that are scooped in multiples (like m&ms, gum balls, etc). Tongs work great for larger/longer candies (like cotton candy, large gummies, and string-type candy). I found these great mini tongs in sets of two at Walmart!

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3 - TREAT CUPS or BAGS. The thrill of going to a candy store (or through a candy buffet!) is filling up a single bag/container with all sorts of candies to snack on. So that guests don't have to eat from their hands, provide some sort of treat containers for your guests to fill up. Small paper bags or cups are easy to find, inexpensive and work great. Craft and party stores also carry all sorts of cute and clever paper containers that you can decorate or buy in colors to match your party theme. (One benefit to offering bags is that they can easily be folded or stapled shut, making them simple take-home favors!)

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4 - FUN LABELS. In addition to offering tasty treats, having a candy buffet is another way to play up your party theme. Puns, plays on words, or movie/character references are all great ways to tie basic/generic candies into the party and amp up the fun factor of the whole display. If your brain locked, search the internet or brainstorm ideas with someone else. To come up with these names, Henry and I re-watched the Planes movie and I wrote down good word or phrases used during the movie. We then matched up the words with the candies in ways that sounded fun or worked really well. I made these labels out of white, orange and blue vinyl with my Cricut Explore and put them right onto the glass jars. Even if you don't have a die-cut machine, you can still make fun and "punny" signs using pre-made decorative labels or wooden signs from the craft store. 

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5 - CANDY! This one is an obvious "must" for a candy buffet, but finding good candies  can sometimes be a bit tricky (especially if you are trying to stick to a particular color scheme). My tips? Go to several different stores (grocery stores as well a places like Target, Walmart, etc) and just look for anything and everything in your color scheme. Don't overlook wrappers or candies you don't typically eat - someone might like them, and they can help round out the buffet. Also, keep your eyes out in un-suspecting places! Blue candies are not easy to find...I found the blue Sour Strings in the Hobby Lobby checkout line and the blue cotton candy at Target! Lastly, shop online to eliminate the hunting game and find just what you're looking for at good prices. One of my favorite aspects of Party Pail's site is that you can shop for candy by color. Not only are their prices super reasonable, but it makes putting together a stunning display truly a snap!

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In addition to offering these sweets as party fare, the candy can also serve as your take-home favor! While we did have other fun party favors for the kids, I loved that I could package up goodie bags of all the extra candy and send it home with the guests! I certainly didn't need all the leftover candy in this house! 

Putting together this candy buffet really was a highlight of the party prep for me. From finding the candies and coming up with the cute labels to decorating the goodie bags and setting it all up, it was just too much fun and such a unique and festive thing to offer. I'm pretty addicted to this idea, so I think the candy buffet might become a staple at my parties from here on out!

I hope you all have a great start to your week! I've got a jam-packed few weeks planned for both here on the blog and in real life, so be sure to come back every few days for moving updates and new projects! See you back here Wednesday!

Megan

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Party Pail did provide many of the party supplies for me to use and review. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

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