Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Josefina (American Girl) Birthday Party

Last week, we had a little birthday party for Rose with a few of her friends.
Since she turned nine this year, I thought this would it would be a fun Mama ~ Daughter project to plan and prepare for her party together!
It was also a special opportunity for her to learn first-hand about hospitality. :)

She recently began reading the American Girl Josefina books, and chose this as the theme for her party.
We really didn't know very much about Mexican culture - or this particular time & place in American history - so it was a lot of fun learning and researching ideas for food, decorating and activities!

Here are a few highlights from the day. :)

~~** Decorations **~~

We kept the decorating very simple, focusing only on the table and (mostly) using things we already had around the house.
After reading this sweet post a few weeks back, I picked up a copy of Naturally Fun Parties For Kids.  This book is filled-to-the-brim with creative and thrifty (and cute!) ideas...and several went right along with our Josefina theme.

Punched-tin lanterns were a common craft and household item in New Mexico during the 1800's...and these candle-holders were very cute and easy to make.  We used the olive cans leftover from preparing lunch. :)

A few flowers fresh-cut from the backyard, gathered in a honey-jar with fabric ties from the scrap-basket, completed the centerpiece.

Rose made these tissue-paper flowers ~ a traditional Mexican craft ~ to use both as decorations and as party gifts for her friends.  (Tutorials found here and here.)  She attached green pipe-cleaners onto the backs of the flowers (using tape) so the girls could try to wear them in their hair.....however, the flowers were pretty large (and heavy!), and required a lot of fussing to make them stay!  But they made lovely decorations, and I think the girls enjoyed them anyway. :)

~~** party food **~~

We had so much fun planning our menu!  The American Girls Party Book (now out of print, but available used, at Amazon, for about $1) was very helpful - so many recipes to choose from!  We kept things simple and easy in this department, too...

When our guests arrived, we served Mexican Hot Chocolate and these traditional cookies:

"Biscochitos" (from the American Girl Party Book)

These are very similar to sugar cut-out cookies - except the recipe calls for lard, which isn't something I keep on hand. ;)  I substituted butter instead, making a very soft we just rolled ours into balls and pressed them flat on the cookie sheet.

And for lunch, we served tacos...with lots of olives (of course!), nachos and salsa.  And lemonade - a traditional New Mexican drink!

~~** party crafts **~~

After their hot-chocolate-and-cookie snack, the girls had fun trying out a few Southwestern-inspired crafts...

* "Majolica" Painted Pottery *

* Turquoise Friendship Bracelets *

We used turquoise and silver beads to make bracelets similar to what Josefina might have worn.  I found a simple pattern for these - two strings tied together, threading the beads on one string and tying a knot after each one.  The cord was almost a little too thick for the beads...but they were all able to finish the craft with just a little help from the Moms!

Even Peanut wanted to join us for this one. :)

And for all of the brothers....

* Leather Wrist Bands *

When I saw these on sale at Michael's, I thought this might be something the boys would like to do.... the little ones, especially!

~~** party games **~~

After lunch, the girls went outside to try a few games that Josefina and her friends would have played (found in the American Girl Party Book)....

"El Floron"
(a guessing game to see whose hand is hiding a little flower or other small object)

"The Rainbow"
(very similar to Color Tag - whoever is "it" calls out a color...and tries to tag any players who are wearing it)

The older brothers joined in and livened things up for this one!

"The Coyote and the Fox"
(everyone forms a chain while a "fox" and "coyote" try to capture one of the players)

I think this was everyone's favorite!

~~** a Josefina cake **~~

After spending quite some time searching the web for inspiration on a themed cake (and being surprised not to find very much!)...I asked Rose if she had any ideas for a cute (and easy!) cake to make.  Sure enough, she did!  One of her books has a drawing of Josefina's purse with yellow primroses tucked inside...and with a little help from this recipe, I was able to put together a simple version of it:

After our last cake disaster, I remembered to thoroughly cool all of the layers this time. :0)
Thankfully, it all went together very well - and there were lots of big smiles at cake-time!

And after all of our party activities were done...Rose was so excited when her sweet and creative friends brought out a few gifts!  Even though we had requested no presents, the girls still put together some very special, hand-made surprises for Rose to open....

Aren't they just so sweet??  We are truly thankful to have such kind and thoughtful friends (kids and Mama's :) around us to share these special times....and to travel down this path of homeschooling and raising our families together!

Feliz Cumpleanos, Rose! :)


  1. I love this! You put so much thought and creativity into her special day, and your photos are amazing! My girls have had a Kit party and also a Molly party in the past...both were really fun, and they were invited to another American Girl party just this week. I have to say though that your Josefina party is the best I've seen. The cake alone is beautiful. Blessings!

  2. Thank you, Jenn!! This was our first AG party, ever...and I was surprised at what a lovely job they've done putting together these (historical) party themes! History mixed with hospitality and femininity - love it. I wish I had discovered this sooner, when Rose was younger, lol! Have a great weekend!

  3. Wow! What a wonderful, sweet and special day! Everything looks so fun and thoughtful - even including brother things to do. The cake is beautiful - awesome idea and awesome production skills! Looks like Rose is blessed with a loving Mom , family, and friends. Glad your photos "returned".
    Counting down now to next weekend....

  4. Thanks :) 6 1/2 days to go.... :0)

  5. its just grand!

    I think that torn fabric makes such a lovely decoration for just about everything! I'm certain I'll never purchase ribbon again:)!

    You did a fine job of pulling everything together and turning it into an extraordinary day. Rose will remember this for years to come.

    i enjoyed how you creatively incorporated the guys into it as well.


    A superfine way to practice hospitality!

  6. I'm loving the cake idea. That was really, really creative...and cute!

    Happy (belated) birthday, Rose.

  7. i just found your site while doing a search for american girl ideas. ;) my gals are having an american girl movie viewing party for mckenna this weekend. good girlie fun. you have a very beautiful family... and blog. ;)

  8. Here from Jessica's! What a beautiful cake and party for your daughter!

    1. Thank you, Jamie Jo! And thanks for stopping by ~ it's nice to "meet" you! :)


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Things are pretty busy around our house, so I can't always leave as many replies as I would like to. But please know that I look forward to reading every note you send my way - they brighten my day! Blessings,Collette

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