This is an image of Rock Candy.

Rock Candy tips and tricks

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Despite it begin the current dietary bad guy you just can’t deny what an amazing substance sugar is. Even if you forget about the taste we all love, purely as a creative material in cooking it’s versatility is incredible. You can even use sugar to learn about the science of crystals. What more could you ask for than running a science project that in the end you can eat the results. I also think rock candy sticks are wonderfully pretty to look at and photograph and I had a lot of fun with that. Growing rock candy may test the patience of younger children but if there’s just a little bit of OCD in any of you parents, like me, you will love this process.

The rock candy recipe

  • 1 part water
  • 3 parts sugar
  • Wooden skewers
  • Tall thin glasses or jars
  • Food coloring and flavouring if desired.
  • Clothes pegs or large bull dog clips for suspending the skewers over the glasses/jars

The ingredients couldn’t be simpler but as always working with sugar can be both tricky and dangerous when it gets hot, so the first stage definitely requires adult supervision. All recipes call for one part water to two to three parts sugar. So if you had one cup of water you’d need two to three cups of sugar. Basically the more sugar you can dissolve into the water the better – though there is a catch – if you add too much sugar and do too much stirring your sugar syrup may crystallise in the pan. This is want you don’t want and the major omission that I found in all the tutorials I read. Obviously the more sugar and water you use the more rock candy you can make but I’d suggest starting with 1 cup water: 3 cups sugar for your first batch until you have the method working so as not to waste too much sugar.


Wet your skewers and roll them in sugar and hang them to dry in the jars. The sugar on the skewers provides a ‘seed’ for the crystal growth. Do this as far in advance as you can. If you get nice and evenly coated skewers you should get nice even crystal growth, but they need time to dry so they don’t wash straight off when you put the skewers into the solution.

Add one cup of water and three cups of sugar to a heavy based pan.

Bring to the boil over a medium high heat stirring UNTIL the syrup boils. As soon as it boils STOP STIRRING. Bring to a rolling boil and then take off the heat. This should only take a couple of minutes. The rest of the sugar should now be dissolved. You should end up with a clear, thick liquid.

We put different colouring in each glass so we ended up with 5 different colours. It’s up to you if you want to make them all the same. If you want a different colour for each you can put a few drops of colouring (concentrated gel is best) in the bottom of each glass

Allow your syrup to cool for 15 to 20 minutes and warm your glasses to avoid the hot liquid cracking them. Carefully pour in your hot syrup to the top mixing the colouring as you go.

Lower your sugar seeded skewers into the liquid. Depending on the size of your glass/jar you will be able to fit either one or two in each. Make sure the skewers don’t touch the bottom or sides of the container.

Put the containers in a warm sunny places where they won’t be disturbed and loosely cover with a kitchen towel if you have dust or bugs to worry about – and wait!

Within a day or two you should start to see some growth. If you start to find a sugar skin start to form on the surface of the liquid or crystals form at the bottom of the container it’s a good idea to pour the liquid into a fresh container. Use a sieve to remove and chunks of sugar floating around. Do this once a day at the most.

It should take about a week to grow some decent sized crystals.

The science

So this is all great fun and produces some yummy results but we’re also here to learn something right! Now I only studied chemistry as far as high school so I’m no expert but again thank goodness for all the helpful people out there in cyberspace all the answers are there.

So what’s happening is when we melt the sugar in the water we are creating a SUPER SATURATED liquid which is essentially unstable and the sugar can not stay dissolved in the solution once it cools. As the liquid cools the sugar comes out of the solution it is forming a precipitate, in the form of sugar crystals and the method is called precipitation. The other effect that makes the crystals grow is evaporation – over time the water evaporates from the solution again increasing the saturation of sugar in the solution and encourages the sugar molecules to collect on your stick.

Molecular bonds are soft with relatively low melting points. Rock candy sugar crystals are made from molecular bonds (there are other types of bonds in crystals such as ionic in salt) and they grow molecule by molecule on the stick.  There may be as many as a quadrillion molecules attached to your stick when they are fully grown.


Here are some of the useful websites that helped us with our rock candy plus some science sites for further reading.

Middle school chemistry

Video Tutorial

Science Bob


Gingerbread Houses 2013

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So we’ve managed to keep the tradition up for a second year at least. I think we had even more fun this year creating our gingerbread houses and the kids extended their decorating skills to using a bit of fondant and gum paste for some of their decorations. We even have a mountain man style log cabin and a sea side cabin, completely appropriate for a Kiwi Christmas.

We hope our project inspires you to try your own gingerbread house. Don’t forget to check out last years post with links to tips, tricks, videos and our template to download.

Gingerbread House Tips and Tricks

Pirate Ship Cake

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Want to make a pirate ship cake for your next party?

Here’s some photos of ours under construction plus some tips on decorations and supplies you might need.

This is an image of the pirate ship cake base.

First the cake pan – we used a Nordic Ware Pro Cast pan that we hired from a local cake shop but you can purchase one from Amazon. This takes a lot of the hassle out of getting the ship-shape right. But what we did do was turn the finished cake upside down. We felt it had a more traditional galleon shape that way. If you do this you will need to bake a second smaller cake to add some decking and cabin to the top of the cake.

Once you have your shape right cover with chocolate frosting. Using a fondant marking tool or anything sharp and pointy draw plank lines around the cake and wiggly lines for wood grain.

Use chocolate fingers to build the deck railing and bowsprit.
This is an image of the pirate ship cake with chocolate fingers.

We used Wilton piping gel tinted with aqua colouring for the water. This stuff is amazing and you actually don’t need that much. Spread on your cake board thinly with a spatular. Add some sea foam if you like with some aqua butter cream frosting. Use some parchment coloured paper for your sails – we printed ours with a birthday message. Thread them onto a long wooden dowel for a mast. My daughter helped me to model some cute details with coloured fondant like the crows nest, treasure chest and sharks fins in the water. Pipe some details like the anchor and portholes with dark chocolate frosting. Top it all off with a jolly roger flag.
This is an image of the finished pirate ship cake.

Arrrr me hearties that be a great pirate ship cake!

Don’t forget you can download matching pirate printables from our Etsy shop.

This is an image of Pirate Party prinables.

This is an image of Glow in the Dark Balloons.

Glow in the Dark Party Ideas

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Glow in the Dark Party Ideas – things you need to know!

My daughter has wanted to have a Glow in the Dark party since she was small. But first we had to exhaust all those little girl party themes, you know Dora, Princesses etc, now turning 11 we decided to revisit the idea. As kids get older it gets harder and harder to pick a theme they approve of and I’ve got to say this one is perfect for Tweens.

Firstly this is a theme that requires quite a bit of planning and preparation. The first thing you should do is purchase a blacklight torch. We got these small inexpensive ones from Amazon for $7.25 each. Get as many as you can afford as they come in handy for party activities and extra lights for photography. Once you have your torch pop it in your handbag and take it everywhere you go. Why, it’s your Glow in the Darkness tester. When you are out shopping for paint, card, nail polish, or whatever, check with the torch if it really does Glow in the Dark. Many products that look like they should don’t.

Secondly you will probably need to hire a blacklight. So check out local party hire companies and book it in for your party date. We hired two of the tube type which are preferable to the bulbs. That took care of our hall way and the room the kids were dancing in. Basically the more blacklight the better so if you want to blackout more of your house you will need more.

Now start gathering your products. We are based in New Zealand so we had to order a lot of things online. We got all our plates, cups, glow sticks and facepaint from various vendors on Amazon. Have a look at our Neon Glow in the Dark Pinterest board to see the full list of products and suppliers we used. Make sure you read reviews and check anything you buy does really glow under blacklight. All the products we used worked great!

Choose your blackout space, a room with few windows will be easiest. We emptied one room out and hung up black polythene over the windows and on the walls as decoration. Then we hung a polythene curtain in our hall way so the room stayed completely dark even when the front door was opened. In the entrance way we had a disco ball to make a great entrance.

Decoration Ideas

  • Glow in the dark balloons – these look amazing in the blacklight.
  • Neon chandelier – cut strips of neon colored fabric and tie to a hula hoop then suspend from the ceiling in the party room.
  • Black paper or polythene – splatter black paper or polythene with Glow in the Dark paint or stick on neon sticky notes or shapes cut out of neon colored paper.


With this theme there are a heap of fun possibilities. Here’s what we did…

  • UV face-painting and Glow in the dark nail polish – a good idea to do this when kids arrive so they are painted up for the photos.
  • Glow Stick Party Pack – this pack had a heap of Glow Sticks and a bunch of different connectors so you could make ear rings, brackets, bunny ears or sunglasses and kept the guest busy for quite awhile.
  • Dancing – you can get some great light painting photos with the kids dancing, playing with Glow in the dark Balloons adorned with their glow sticks.
  • Glow in the dark scavenger hunt – this does require a bit of pre-planing but is a lot of fun and here’s where your blacklight torches come in.


It’s a little hard to think of Glow in the Dark food without striking fears of toxic, radioactive, fish with three eyes like you see on the Simpsons. However just like white t-shirts just glow under blacklight some foods do too. I was tempted to buy some glow in the dark food coloring that I’d seen but ended up using UV food glitter to give some of the food the extra glow. As this was an evening party we kept the food pretty simple.

  • Topsy Turvy Splat Cake
  • Twisties – these are an Antipodean delicacy but I’m confident you can find a replacement glowing cheese snack in your neck of the woods.
  • Sugar Cookies with electric colored icing.
  • CakePops

Things to remember

Don’t forget to tell your guests to come dressed in Neon colors and white. This is a party that works much better after dark.

Don’t forget to check out the photo gallery

Printables for the party can be purchased from our Etsy shop


Thanks to the Hopkins family for their Disco Ball delivery and installation service and the awesome photos.

We were inspired by the Neon Glow-in-the-dark party featured on Kara’s party ideas recently. This is a fabulous looking party but we think we’ve put our own unique spin on it.

Another source I’d like to credit is this article BRIGHT Ideas for a Blacklight Glow Party. This is a great article which gave lots of fabulous advice which you should definitely check out.

Happy Birthday to us!

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20% off printables this week!

This is an image of the PPI cupcake.

A year ago we pushed the “GO” button on our Etsy shop. It’s been a great year and I can still remember the excitement of our fist sale! We’ve learnt a lot about party and menu planning in the last year. A lot about icing cakes! And we’ve eaten a lot of cake!

We love the fact that we sell to so many different countries. We love the nice things you say about our products. But most of all we love a good party!

To say thank you for being with us in our first year we’re offering a 20% discount on everything in our Etsy store this birthday week.

Use the coupon code PPITURNS1 when you visit our  Etsy shop.

Party On for another year!

Surviving a sleepover party

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Sleepover party ideas


If you’re like me when your child asks for their birthday party to be a sleepover party your blood runs cold and you have nightmare visions of being kept awake all night by screaming or giggling or fighting or crying or any combination of the latter.

Now I don’t want to put a hoo doo on my luck with sleepover parties but so far I’ve hosted two pretty successful ones that have by no means lived up to the horror I was expecting.

I thought maybe I could share some of the ideas that have helped save my sanity and kept everyone happy.

Have a bolt hole room

Even if it means the siblings have to go stay with a friend or relative, clear out a spare room. This room can be used either to isolate the trouble makers i.e. the kids who just can’t stop talking when all the others want to go to sleep or for the kids who really want to go to sleep and all the rest don’t . Even the threat of splitting up the gang can help keep things under control.

Collect contact detail and important information before parents leave

Have a piece of paper and pen by the door so you can jot down contact no’s of any parents you don’t know too well as well as any health conditions or allergies that you have to be aware of.

Have food and drink on tap

Make the food grazing rather than a sit down affair. For our Popcorn and PJs party we set up a concession stand just like at the movies. Kids were allocated tickets so they didn’t OD on sugar or fight about who had the most candy bars and they swapped them for food. They loved being able to browse and decide what they were swapping their tickets for items anytime through the movie.

This is an image of a Concession stand.

Concession stand

Too much of a good thing

Keep drop off and pick up times realistic. Don’t make it too hard for yourself – a sleepover can seem like a long party so don’t start too early in the day and have the kids picked up by around 10am the next day so you can get your house back.

Low parental involvement activities

Sleepovers are much more free range affairs than your normal birthday party. You do have to plan some boredom busters though just in case. Some suggestions are having a dance/disco room – this has the advantage of helping wear out the kids so they’ll sleep. Set up a photo booth with some props from the dress up box or print some from our Etsy shop. Movies are always a winner. Karaoke or Sing Star will keep them happy for hours. To avoid your house looking like a bomb site when everyone’s left and to keep focus on the activites you’ve planned try putting other toys away in an off limits room.

Best of luck!

Printables for the Popcorn and PJs party are available from our Etsy shop.

Gluten free party menu

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When I offered to cater and style my sister-in-law’s baby shower I knew the menu would be a challenge. Not only was there special considerations because of pregnancy but she also has a medical condition that is helped by eating a gluten free diet. So where to begin?

I always start with the sweet things – I can’t help it – maybe my priorities are wrong but a party isn’t a party without yummy sweet treats. So there was a couple of obvious ones… Macaroons! of course! But what about the cake? So I looked at a tone of recipes and settled on one from the Little and Friday cookbook. This is a fantastic cookbook and has quite a few gluten free recipes from the cafe and I’ve found them really reliable and very yummy. The orange, almond and rose water cake was the one I choose. I made two to get a nice high cake once iced.

My other brainwave was mallow-pops. I hear-by coin this name if no one else has before me! My variation on a cakepop, the marshmallows are stuck on cake pop sticks and dipped in colored candy melt then in sprinkles or colored sugar. Each one was placed in a cellophane bag then tied with a ribbon and a Printable Party Ideas Twisting by the Pool 1.5inch circle tag. These looked great on the table but also doubled as a party favour.

I also asked our Facebook fans for some ideas and got some great suggestions from them.

For the savoury table snacks we went for vegetable crudités, choosing colors that complemented our pool party theme, greens and yellows. For dips I made green goddess and guacamole, healthy choices for moms-to-be. Gluten free corn chips were served on the side.

Gluten Free Menu

  • Yellow and Green Peppers, Corgette and Cucumber crudités
  • Green goddess and Guacamole dips
  • Gluten free corn chips
  • Pineapple and grape fruit kebabs
  • Macaroons
  • Mallowpops
  • Macaroon Mess
  • Orange, Almond and Rosewater cake with cream cheese frosting

Etsy offers instant download – get Printable Party Ideas files even quicker!

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This is an image of an instant download button.We were thrilled to get the news that Etsy was now offering instant downloads on digital files. I’ve been spending the last week adding the files to our listings and now our inventory is all available via instant download when you purchase from Etsy.

What this means for you is getting your files even quicker than before. While we aimed to always deliver your purchase within 24 hours and we usually managed it a lot sooner than that we would often get sales over night here that we couldn’t process until the morning.

One of the big differences with between Printable Party Ideas and other party stationery providers is that there’s no waiting for designers to edit and add your details. With our editable PDFs you can do it yourself as soon as you get the file – which now is instantly!

So need some last minute party stationery? No problem – visit our Printable Party Ideas Etsy shop for the instant solution.

This is an image of paper pom poms.

Spa Party

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My daughter decided on a spa party theme for her 10th birthday. We thought we’d have some fun with the theme and instead of making the activities about pampering – let’s face it 10 year olds generally don’t need any MORE pampering – we’d make it about making the pamper products. Basicly they filled their own favor bags with the goodies they made. It kept them busy and they might have even learnt a bit of science along the way.

Color Scheme

Raspberry, turquoise and chocolate


  • Chocolate cupcakes
  • Macaroons
  • Cakepops
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Milk bottles filled with raspberry-ade
  • Apothecary jars filled with candy
  • Hombre two tiered ruffle cake

Decoration Ideas

Spa Station

We turned our play room into a spa station covering the bed with color co-ordinating duvets and towels to make it calm cozy and spill poof. The favor bags were set up on a little table and the girls could add the favors to them as they made them. Jars and tubs to contain their goodies were lined up on the table. You can find tent cards and labels to complete the look at our Etsy shop.

Activity table

We covered the table with plastic table cloths. I’d been hunting for months before the party and had gathered a collection of color co-ordinating plastic bowls, lip balm containers and little jars.


We set all the activities up before hand so it was all ready to go. Ingredients were pre-measured so all the girls had to do was assemble. Here’s what we made.

Lip balm: You’ll find many recipies on Pinterest or by searching on Google. Here’s the one we used we found it set quite hard and next time I’d probable add a little less bee’s wax.

Body Scrub: Here’s our version

Bath Bombs: These are a great activity as they keep the guest busy for ages and require a bit of team work. Be sure though to make them at the start of the party as they take a couple of hours to set and dry. We used Martha Stewart’s tutorial.

Face Masks: We mixed up a delightfully gooey natural face mask using avocado and egg and the girls took turns to apply the masks to each other in our spa room. Lots of sliced cool cucumbers were also on hand for the eye. Make sure to have lots of spare towels on hand for clean up!

Favour Bags and Party Favours

One of the other goodies the girls went home with was a cute flower head band which the girls used to keep their hair off their faces. Tutorial on how to make these coming soon. So the favor bags contained body scrub, bath bombs, lip balm and headband. We decorated the favor bags with our own spa clip art and luggage tags. Labels for the lip balm and body scrub are also available at our Etsy shop.

Check out our Spa Party photo gallery






Shabby Chic Party

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We choose the Shabby Chic theme for my daughters 7th Birthday party because one of her favourite shops to poke around in was a French Antiques store. She could spend hours there looking at their treasures. A lot of people commented that it was quite sophisticated for a 7 year olds birthday party but it was a great success. Because of that this theme will work just as well for an adults birthday party or a wedding or baby shower.

This is a picture of the Shabby Chic Table.


Color Scheme

Blue, Ink, Lilac and Cream.


  • Macaroons
  • Iced sugar cookies
  • Hydrangea cup cakes
  • Dainty sandwiches
  • Shabby Chic Cake


Decoration Ideas

  • Tissue pom poms
  • Ripped fabric strips co-ordinating colors but a nice mix and match of patterns
  • Thrift shop finds such as old books, Grandmas tea cups and any antique vases or jars
  • Birdcages
  • Shabby distressed picture frames
  • Burlap
  • Masson Jars
  • Shabby Chic Birthday Banner
  • Use stamps with vintage designs such as flure de lies, old keys and birdcages. Stamp onto brown craft paper with black ink
  • Crape paper rose topiary

This is an image of Shabby Chic table decorations.



This was a children’s party so the games and activities were geared for younger people. We did a cup-cake icing class. Now of course that depends if you’re a dap hand at this but really the kids just enjoyed giving it a go. They each went home with cup-cakes they’d iced themselves.

Favour Bags and Party Favours

With the Shabby Chic theme you can have lots of fun with this. We used plain brown paper bags and we decorated with Printable Party Ideas Luggage Tags and Circle Labels with the guests name, tied on with some jute twine. You could use calico bags also. Fill the bags with floral themed swaps or transfers, travel sized soaps, moisturisers or shampoos. We found most of these at $2 shops and emporiums. We also sent all the guests home with a pretty home made Shabby Chic head band to wear.

Check out the Shabby Chic Party Photo Gallery