Keeping It Casual: #disneyside

Last year I went all out to plan and create a huge Disney party for all of our friends and family at Raising Astoria. Read all about that amazing party with Pinterest tutorials and everything here.

This year, I wanted it to be more intimate. There were a number of reasons, one mostly being the weather (we had to cancel once already and last year we had people get stuck in the snow!), but others being that I am getting older (sigh) and wanted to make it a more personal experience for everyone. I wanted to invite a few close friends and our children who know each other for a simple Saturday afternoon play. I even hosted it this year in my tiny NYC apartment, and guess what – it was perfect.

I’m learning that bigger isn’t always necessarily better. 

It more about the company you keep, the connections you make, and the magic that your children’s experience. Keeping it intimate let me be able to be more in the present with my son instead of running around making sure a large party was being pulled off with zero flaws. Let me elaborate:


Because food is always my favorite part! We’re trying not to go overboard with the sweets and candy since we seem to be surrounded by it all the time, so I tried to put out a few healthy snacks as well. Since our theme was Cars, we had:

Apple and grape cars, and carrot and celery dipsticks


Popcorn cones (and donut spare tires) 


 and then of course – Brownie Street Lights



For games we kept it simple too – just some good old-fashioned fun instead of going crazy on Pinterest to make these insane, time-consuming games and decorations that the kids won’t even acknowledge (not that I don’t do that from time to time, too!).  This year it was all about the kids – 

Fat Tuesday King Cakes


Since I was traveling and missed Fat Tuesday and our King Cake decorating – I incorporated it into the party so everyone had a chance to make their own King Cake! Thanks to MommieDe, we have a easy recipe – just pick up plain donuts from your local Dunkin Donuts, make a quick and easy homemade icing recipe, and add sprinkles! Oh and don’t forget the baby!




Pin the Smile on Mickey

This game is awesome. Seriously – doesn’t it take you back to your own childhood? I literally cut out smiles, wrote the names of each child on the back, wrapped a scarf around their eyes, twirled them a couple times and we saw who could get the closest for a simple prize!






I am kind of over this new trend that kids coming to YOUR party go home with gifts – wasn’t it that the birthday child was the one getting gifts? We definitely got the shaft in our childhood. Anyways, since this was a Disney celebration not a birthday, Maximo helped me make homemade playdough the night before to hand out to all our guests as parting favors (in the colors of traffic lights of course). If you want to make your own playdough, you can follow my recipe here.



And that was it this year! Simple, fun and memorable. And now we have the photos to look back one day as well. When’s the last time you invited a couple friends over just because? 

About the Author:

Stephanie Barnhart is an award-winning blogger, columnist, and outdoor enthusiast writer featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times and other media outlets. She is also the NYC Editor for


  1. Pamela Bannon March 5, 2015 at 10:01 am

    I totally hear you on the intimate gathering being more personal and fun sometimes. While I love the planning of a big shindig, I do enjoy myself more at a smaller event with close friends.

    • Stephanie March 5, 2015 at 10:10 am

      I agree Pam – you have to balance them out – haha I realized I can’t manage throwing large wild perfect parties every single time and this one was just as fabulous!

  2. Jenny March 5, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Perfect! I am so over the bigger is better trend with kids parties. I can’t handle it anymore!

    • Stephanie March 5, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      so agree jenny lets start a new trend haha

  3. Mary Johnson March 5, 2015 at 11:19 am

    This looks like so much fun! I love the smaller, intimate gatherings – you did such a wonderful job.

    • Stephanie March 5, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      thank you!

  4. Destiny Paquette March 5, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Love this and so bummed we couldn’t make it. Looks like a great time.

    • Stephanie March 5, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      we missed you too! we need to get together again soon!

  5. Elizabeth March 5, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    I absolutely adore this! Every details is simply precious. I love that y’all made tiny king cakes!

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