Monday, April 20, 2009

Rockin' Surprise Party

Last Thursday we pulled off an incredible feat: a surprise party for son Carson's 10th birthday! When Carson left home that morning, Joe casually mentioned that he would pick Carson up from school for a little birthday shopping. As soon as he left, I set to work decorating for the party. I wanted to cover our entire dining room ceiling and chandelier with balloons for a dramatic transformation. Within hours the ho-hum house Carson left was full of color and ready to rock!

Since Carson is now a "10-ager," I wanted to plan a party that would rock. Weeks before the celebration, I started asking Carson his favorite songs so I could compile them onto a CD of "Carson Lester's Top 10 at 10." I designed the CD cover in Word by resizing a graphic to fit the CD case. An insert listing Carson's favorite songs also contained a message for guests: "Thank you for helping us celebrate Carson's 10th birthday. You rock!"

Carson's rockin' party needed an electric guitar cake!

Carson's cake was a hit with all the kids and a big surprise for the birthday boy! In order to pull off a surprise party, I couldn't share my plans with Christian, Mary Ashley and Emma. At 7, 5 and 3, respectively, I knew they couldn't keep a secret, so I made and decorated the birthday cake Wednesday and delivered it to a neighbor's house while they were all out of the house. And I even made cupcakes "for some people at church" and saved a few for our dinner that night to explain the scent of chocolate cake. (Who knew I could be so sneaky?)

Carson's electric guitar cake was a lot of fun to make. I baked a sheet cake and let it cool, then sliced off one short end of the rectangle to make the handle of the guitar. I then rounded the bottom of the cake and shaved off cake from the sides to create a cool guitar shape. Pieced together with icing, these cake pieces formed the end of the handle. Iced smooth with chocolate buttercream icing, Carson's cake started looking like a guitar! Next, I used a toothpick to draw the face of the guitar, flames on the sides and a "C" on the end of the handle. Then I covered the cake in icing stars. I finished off the design with red icing strings and a ribbon guitar strap. It was a rockin' cake, if I do say so myself!

I knew that Carson's evening would have a dreamlike quality, so I wanted him to have a lasting memento from the party. I resized the graphic I used for the favor CDs and taped it to a wide mat that guests signed as they arrived for the party. Displayed in his room, this inexpensive framed piece does double duty as cool art and sweet memory. With everything going on at the party, Carson didn't even notice this piece, but in the days since he has commented on how much it means to him.

Along with our "Top 10 at 10" CDs, packages of Pop Rocks and gummy guitars and microphones from Dollar Tree made sweet favors. Party horns from Party City looked festive clustered in vases on our dining room table, and the kids loved blowing them when it was time to cut the cake.

I wanted to have something on hand to keep guests satisfied while they waited for Carson's arrival, and this layered pizza dip was a hit. It was easy to put together before the party and was a nice accompaniment to our fuss-free menu of pizza and soft drinks.

Layered Pizza Dip

My sister-in-law, Shannon, shared this recipe with me, and it got rave reviews from adults and kids alike at Carson's surprise party.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
14-ounce jar pizza sauce
1/3 cup chopped onion
6-ounce can chopped black olives
2 ounces sliced pepperoni, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
Press cream cheese into the bottom of an oven-safe pie plate or small casserole dish. Layer other ingredients over, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with corn chips.


Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

So, so cute...we are planning my grandsons 10th birthday......Loved all your pictures...

Allidink said...

Wow what a neat party! That will be something he'll never forget. Your ideas are so cool I really liked the CD. :)

All the best,

Shell in your Pocket said...

What a great party...that cake is dreamy!
sandy toe

Tracy said...

What a cool party! You are so creative, Melissa!! :)

Carly Winborne said...

This is unreal! I love that cake and am so impressed that you constructed it as well as decorated it.

I'm planning a train party for this weekend and am baking a practice cake today to decorate. You've inspired me once again to just go for it. Thanks for sharing your talents.

Deidra said...

WOW you are wonderful when it comes to everything! I have one question. I am thinking about having my daughter's first birthday party with the cupcake theme. Do you make the dresses to sell or by request? Also did you create all the cakes that's on your blog. Boy you are great. I live in Anniston, AL how far is that from where you live. If possible will I be able to see other pic from the cupcake party for ideas?

sray said...

You need to publish a party book!
What was the cute circular tablecloth on the party table?

Melissa Lester said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for the compliment! For our dining room table, I used a plain white tablecloth and used a roll of wrapping paper as a runner. This is a practical choice for kids' parties, and the giftwrap adds nice color to the table. I believe I got this roll awhile back at Dollar Tree.


Belle (from Life of a...) said...

Fabulous job as usual...and I agree that you definitely need to write a book! Martha Stewart doesn't have ANYTHING over on you!

Live.Love.Eat said...

You're too good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh Melissa! What a great party! You amaze me! You ROCK!

Donna @ Party Wishes said...

A surprise party!? There is nothing you can't do! How fabulous! What an amazing memory to create for you son.

Another great job!

Joanne Kennedy said...


I don't know if you have ever heard of Cake Central or not. If not, you are in for a treat! You will find tons of cake ideas, tips and lessons from many great decorators.

Here is a link to the super smooth buttercream icing...the tip I told Cindy about that you were asking me about.

Have fun over there and let me know what you think.


The Quintessential Magpie said...

What a wonderful mother you are, Melissa! Hope Carson had the happiest birthday to date!


Sheila :-)

Three plus Me said...

What a great surprise party! The cake looks delicious and wonderful! Thanks for sharing the pizza dip recipe, can't wait to try it!

Erica said...

Wow... what an awesome cake! Happy Birthday to Carson!

Sandy said...

Wow! Awesome cake!! I love everything about the party!!

katylinvw said...

what a fun, fun party! i always love your cute and creative party themes! ;) saving them up for when we start having little rock stars :) - everything was adorable! - can't wait to try the pizza dip, too

Envelope Printing said...

I'm sure your surprise party was well appreciated. Your must have been so surprised! Love the CD idea, Carson's Top 10 @ 10, that's really neat :) The cake looks absolutely wonderful! And thanks for sharing the pizza dip, definitely something to try out.

E said...

How fun! I love that you carried the guitar graphic throughout the party! You must be a super cool mom!!

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