Friday, December 9, 2011

Bowling Party Ideas

As promised, I am back today with lots of ideas for planning a fun bowling party. This year we bowled son Christian over with a surprise party in honor of his 10th birthday. This was a perfect choice for the big 1-0 because you use 10 pins in bowling. And Christian enjoys bowling on occasion, so I knew he would jump at the opportunity. So, here are my ideas for making someone you love feel like a King Pin for the night.

Usually I make invitations from scratch, but I couldn't see re-inventing the wheel -- or the bowling ball, in this case -- once I found these dimensional invitations from Party City. The color palette and vintage feel were just what I wanted, so I mailed these to out-of-town family.

I love recycling Starbucks frappuccino bottles for parties, but for this occasion I wanted bottles shaped more like bowling pins. Orange Crush soda bottles were right down my alley for this project!

Thin strips of ribbon and rick-rack glued around the neck alluded to the bowling pin; personalized labels proclaimed "Christian Lanes"; and extra-long, aqua-and-white straws were perfect for sipping. Christian knew he was having Gavin and brother, Garrison, spend the night, so I set up our dining room for Saturday morning's bowling breakfast.

I used a plastic funnel I purchased in the automotive section of Wal-Mart to fill the bottles at breakfast time. Filled to the brim with milk, don't they look like bowling pins?

They were especially striking set up on a bowling-alley style platter, a square laminate flooring sample from my in-law's floor-covering store.

I saw this idea online ages ago, although I can't remember where I found it. The idea I saw was to use vinyl lettering to personalize a scrap of laminate flooring, but I used scrapbook paper and a printed label to cover the product labels on this piece that I will return.

Party printables tied the theme together using the Christian Lanes logo and a color scheme of aqua blue, red, black and white.

Along with cupcake picks, I made food labels and tags, not pictured.

Our lane reservation at the bowling alley included pizza and soft drinks, but I took a fresh garden salad, pizza dip and chips, and sweets. Pictured above, my first attempt at cake pops. I intended to make bowling pin cake pops, but they didn't turn out well for me. So I stuck with bowling balls. To get the swirled effect in the coating, I melted two colors of Wilton candy melts and swirled them just a bit with a toothpick before dipping. I found helpful tips, recipes and a video tutorial on making cake pops with Bakerella on the Martha Stewart site here. This was probably my one-time cake pop experience, but it was a great fit for our party.

I used yellow cake for the cake pops, so Oreo truffles provided another sweet option for the chocolate lovers in the group. I found the truffle recipe on A Girl in Her Kitchen, a blog of recipes and crafts by one of our former adopted college students at Faulkner. Find Elizabeth's recipe here. For both the truffles and the cake pops, three round sprinkles placed atop the wet candy coating completed our bowling balls.

The day of the party, I got a little nervous that our little sweets would not stretch to feed the crowd, so I purchased cupcakes from the Wal-Mart bakery. I displayed 10 on our laminate tray at the birthday party.

Paper goods were easy for the crowd at the bowling alley Friday night, and round glass plates set a pretty table for breakfast at home Saturday morning. Square plates, aqua napkins and red polka dot napkins, Target; bowling dessert plates, Party City; 10 1/2-inch long, aqua striped straws, The Sugar Diva. At home I used black and white polka dotted gift wrap from Hobby Lobby to make a runner for our breakfast table. You can see glimpses of the runner in other photos in this post.

"Even if you don't knock a lot of pins down, be sure to strike a pretty pose." -- Clyde Higa 

I used a free offer from Vistaprint to design this bowling-themed tee for Christian to wear to the party. Thankfully, he didn't question my suggestion that he shower and change before going to Gavin's house.

I also designed this banner on Vistaprint, uploading a graphic from Word to cover the banner and adding the message, "Happy Birthday, Christian! We're Bowling You Over with Birthday Wishes." Along with bunting made from scrapbook paper and helium balloons, this banner made a festive statement.


After his surprise party a few years ago, son Carson said the evening was such a blur that he was really glad to have a signed piece of artwork so he could remember who was there. Carson's guitar picture hangs in the boys' room, and now Christian's bowling pin graphic will hang with it. We teased our friend Garrison, who laughed when he realized he misspelled "friend" on his greeting, telling him that he will only see it every time he spends the night with us for the rest of his life. But that's what freinds are for!


For Carson's music-themed surprise party we gave out CDs with his "Top 10 at 10." This was such fun for him that we have made it a birthday tradition for all the kids. They love choosing songs that we listen to in the car during their birthday week, and this makes a fun party favor as well. For Christian's "Striking Gold" CD cover, I used photos I found in Word. The bowling-pin cover graphic I also used for the banner and framed artwork. I don't know if guests noticed this little detail inside the CD case, but check out the size on the bowling shoes: 10!


For the party I clustered the CDs in a round glass bowl, accented with three round stickers. After the party, I replaced the CDs with food for our breakfast table. I have seen little favor bowling sets at discount stores in the past, but they were nowhere to be found near party time. So I improvised with this easy favor .. .

Bowling ornaments made a nice favor for each family in attendance. To make these, I simply hot glued three sticker beads on each glittered ornament. This little touch will remind guests of our special night without hitting the bowling theme too hard.

Black and white cupcake boxes with clear lids were perfect for showcasing each family's ornament. Glittered ornaments, Wal-Mart; cupcake boxes and bead stickers, Michaels; tissue paper, Hobby Lobby.

Well, there you have it! If bowling is right down your alley, be sure to pin these ideas for celebrating a King Pin in your life. You can strike these easy ideas off your to-do list with time to spare to bowl 3oo. (OK, I will stop bowling you over with my puns lest you throw me in a gutter.) But seriously, if you are looking for a party theme that will appeal to a variety of ages, invite loved ones to meet you in a dark alley sometime soon. Chances are, they'll have a ball.

 "What is the quietest place in the world? A bowling alley because you can hear a pin drop." -- Unknown

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