Ideas + Inspiration | Cactus Cooler Party

This past weekend, we threw a cactus-taco-tequila-themed party as one last hurrah before Baby M arrives. As requested, I'm posting some of the decorative details to provide inspiration for your next fiesta! 


INVITATION

Don't get too excited...I did not hand watercolor each of them. I was lazy and used Paperless Post. :) I did draw a can of Cactus Cooler and customize a blank template with the graphic, though! (If you don't have a way to draw digitally, you could draw something similar and take a photo of it. Paperless Post has a lot of photo-ready templates you can use.)

Since I already had a Cactus Cooler vector handy, I made a clear stamp out of it to use throughout the party. Below, you can see a gold-embossed stamped image filled in with watercolor. Pretty coooool, eh?


DIY CACTUS BALLOONS

Full disclosure :: this was not my idea. I found it on Pinterest via Design Improvised.

Supplies Needed:

DIY Cactus Balloon Supplies | Pretty Peas Paperie

How to Make a Cactus Balloon:

  1. Fill your balloons with helium. You'll need 3-4 balloons per cactus. (I used 12" balloons and filled them with varying amounts of helium to get different sizes. If you want them to float with tassels, you'll need to use a giant "main" balloon. I ended up removing the tassels for the party so our balloons would stay afloat.)
  2. With a Sharpie, draw points (aka, upward-facing arrows) all over the balloons to make your cactus look prickly. (Be careful about smudging...even though it's a Sharpie, the ink needs time to dry.)
  3. Put a dab of glue on a pink pom-pom and stick it to the top of each balloon. (Luckily, these are easy to place because there's a dark spot marking the top.)
  4. Use a strip of double-stick tape to attach the smaller balloons to your main balloon that has a string. That's it!

What I love about these balloons is that you don't have to fill them with helium. You could simply blow them up and stick 'em in a pot and they'd be just as cute. I realized this the morning after the party.


PAPEL-PICADO-INSPIRED PARTY SIGNAGE

Since it was rainy on Saturday, I made a sign for the front door so people would leave their shoes on the mat. I bought 10 of these die-cut lace paper scrapbook sheets and used them for party signage throughout the house. For our "Please take off your shoes" sign, I cut out a smaller sheet of chalkboard paper and taped it to the die-cut sheet. It worked perfectly because I messed up a few times; using chalk pen saved me at least $4.00 in wasted paper!

Entry Sign (for leaving shoes at the door) | Pretty Peas Paperie

Cactus Cooler Bar | Pretty Peas Paperie

CACTUS COOLER TEQUILA COCKTAIL

Every shindig needs a signature drink, so we chose the "Cactus Cooler Tequila Cocktail" by Sugar and Soul.

What we did differently:

We substituted the tangerine and lime juices with fresh cut limes and strawberries. Since kids were at the party (and I can't drink booze), we kept the alcohol separate so everyone could enjoy the juice and soda mixture from the dispenser.

How to Make a Cheap Styrofoam Cooler Even Cooler:

Stamp it with mini cacti using a Colorbox pigment ink stamp pad!

Original Recipe via Sugar and Soul:

  • 1 part tequila
  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
     
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 1/2 parts cranberry juice
  • 4 parts lemon-lime soda
  • 1/2 part tangerine juice
  • 1/2 part lime juice
  • Fresh mint garnish
Cactus Cooler Tequila Cocktail | Soul and Sugar
Stamped Styrofoam Cooler | Pretty Peas Paperie

COOKIE TACO BAR

Here's another fab idea I found on Pinterest via Alana Jones-Mann :: a cookie taco bar! Bend sugar cookies into "tortillas," then fill them with brownie ("beef"), coconut ("lettuce" and "cheese"), and red M&Ms ("tomatoes"). My sample cookie didn't turn out quite as cute as Alana's, but guests had fun making them and they were really yummy.

A few things I learned:

  1. Bending the sugar cookies was harder than I thought it'd be. I baked them at 350º for 9 minutes and they were barely cooked through...so I put them in for another minute. I think the sweet spot is somewhere in between because they were soft, but the edges had begun to crisp. I recommend only baking 1-2 cookies to start to get your baking time and temperature right.
  2. The recipe calls for laying the cookies over a rolling pin to bend them. I found our rolling pins to be slightly too big, so if you have something cylindrical that's a bit smaller, that would be better. Also, with 3 rolling pins I was only able to bend a dozen cookies at once. Instead of waiting for everything to cool, I made the rest of the cookies flat and called them "tostadas." :)
  3. To keep your cookies from sticking to the rolling pin, you're supposed to use wax paper. We didn't have that on hand so I used foil - still worked!
  4. I accidentally bought unsweetened coconut for the lettuce and cheese. The food coloring didn't spread as evenly, but we ended up liking that there wasn't quite as much sugar added to the taco as a whole. The cookie, brownie, and frosting were sweet enough!
  5. I found the red M&Ms at Party City
"Taco Time" Chalkboard Sign | Pretty Peas Paperie

SUCCULENT BAR

With two taco bars and a tequila bar, we needed one more...a succulent bar! We have a plentiful supply of succulents, thanks to some super healthy specimens from our wedding. (Our wedding, by the way, was almost 6 years ago, and we have 4-5 overflowing pots of succulents that have descended from the cuttings of my bouquet...isn't that crazy?!)

Here's what I laid out:

  1. Mini terra cotta pots (which were surprisingly cheap)
  2. Acrylic paint, water cups, paintbrushes, paper towels, and small paper plates (to be used as palettes)
  3. Small rocks (for the base of the pot - helps with overwatering)
  4. Soil for drought-tolerant plants
  5. Succulent clippings (pre-rinsed, cut, and trimmed)
  6. Crushed glass (found in the decorative plant section at Ikea)
  7. Take-home bags

To protect our table, I covered it with kraft butcher paper and wrote instructions on it in chalk pen. (To my surprise, people actually read everything very carefully.) If I had more time, I would have printed out small cards with plant care instructions, but ohhh well. It was so fun seeing what everyone painted...one guest left Andrew and I a pair of pots with our portraits on them. :)

Succulent Bar | Pretty Peas Paperie
How to Set Up a Succulent Bar | Pretty Peas Paperie

SUCCULENT CUPCAKES

I saved the best for last! After seeing this pin, I decided that succulent cupcakes were a must. Good thing I know a talented baker by the name of Jenna (owner of Sinfully Sweet Cake Design) who could make my piña colada and buttercream dreams come true! She did such a wonderful job and I highly recommend her to anyone in the Houston area looking for custom cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.

Succulent Cupcakes by Sinfully Sweet Cake Design | Pretty Peas Paperie

Hopefully you can use some of these ideas for your next party! If you want even more, check out my "Tacos + Tequila" board HERE