Birthday Parties on a Budget



Unfortunately, birthdays don’t know whether or not your family is on a budget, they come every year regardless.

Here are 3 creative ideas that Real Simple shared on the Today Show that are easy on the budget but still fun for everyone! The video gives you a visual and instructions on each different theme and how to

[sorry the video wouldn’t load directly on our page but the link will take you to the quick 4 minute video]

These pictures can give you further ideas of what she is talking about.


This link to their website gives you step by step instructions on how to make the next birthday party you throw come to life! The instructions are to the right of each picture:



The Circle Party is my favorite.

Real Simple says the Target audience is 2-4 year-olds

(from the Real Simple website)

Simple shapes are something toddlers clearly understand (in addition to “candy,” “toy,” and “That’s mine”). A circle party is all-around fun for them and a no-brainer for you. Think Cheerios, polka dots, bubbles, balloons—anything to keep the party rolling. Activities should be short and sweet, as kids this age would rather run free than sit still in circle time. Word invitations “From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the dot.” (By then, you’ll be ready to send those sugar-crazed four-year-olds home.)


Round fare can be a square(ish) meal. Start with open-faced jelly sandwiches on bread circles (cut with different-size cookie cutters) and clementines. Grown-ups can snack on Froot Loops or cherry tomatoes. For the main course, serve pizza bagels or turkey sliders. Round out the menu with jelly beans and retro satellite wafers (from $2, And it’s a safe bet that the parents will appreciate a little bubbly.

Doughnut Cake

Think outside the box with a tiered doughnut cake (no baking required!). To build it, stack doughnuts and doughnut holes to form a pyramid-shaped tower, then sprinkle the whole thing with candy confetti. At serving time, if you want to sweeten the deal even more, fill the hole in each doughnut with a ball of ice cream (scooped in advance and kept in the freezer).

Decor and Favors

One word: balloons! And lots of them. Dot the walls with colorful construction-paper circles, and cover the table with a polka-dot tablecloth, plus matching plates, cups, napkins, and straws. (You can decorate everyday drinking cups with plain round pricing stickers from an office-supply store.) Before the guests roll home, hand out goody bags stuffed with a bottle of bubbles and a lollipop.


Rustle up some bubble wrap for tidy (if noisy) fun, or create a ball pit by filling an inflatable kiddie pool with lightweight plastic balls (try Fun Ballz, $20 for 100, A battery-operated bubble machine (like the Gazillion Typhoon Ultimate Bubble Machine, $25, will save you from blowing a wand and keep the kids running around in circles. (Plus, it will help them burn off some energy after that doughnut cake.)

Happy Planning!


Mission Possible : Bike Camp 2011

  “I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like”


Take a moment and imagine; an open bike path along the beach, wind in your hair, the sound of the waves breaking next to you and your family or friends riding alongside of you on your new bicycle. Riding a bike is a privilege that many of us take for granted. Most people have vivid memories of riding a bicycle throughout their childhood…and if everyone is like me, a few minor spills along the way!

 Last week, I was able to experience the true gift of being able to master the art of riding a bike at Bike Camp 2011. The camp is put on by Lose the Training Wheels instructors, Nikki & Corey,  and hosted by UCP-OC as well as the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County at the beautiful Soka University in Aliso Viejo. We want to thank Easton-Bell Sports, for generously donating bicycle helmets to each of the participants to keep them safe as the rode around on their bikes!

 The camp starts out in the gym where the children are given a bike adapted to teach children with special needs to ride a bike gradually. Each child has a volunteer stay with them through the week and work alongside of them, and by the end of the week the volunteers are running after the children so that they can keep up! Monday- Wednesday the campers ride around the gym getting used to the bikes and constant pedaling. Thursday the campers were able to go outside and try riding a bike with two wheels! The parking lot was the perfect setting for the campers to hit the asphalt and show off their skills. The parents were overwhelmed and emotional at seeing their child riding a bike on their own.

 Many of the parents of these children never thought they would see the day their child would ride a bike. Parents, like Selah’s mother, were told that their child would never walk or talk. This is a testament of what hard work, intervention, and coming alongside a child can do! If it were not for the determination of parents, volunteers and therapists, these children could be in a very different situation.

The children’s determination to ride the bike on their own was simply put; astounding. At UCP-OC we feel so privileged to be a part of these children’s lives and see these steps into Living a Life Without Limits.

Selah was a recipient of a bike from Edwards Lifesciences the week prior so she had been waiting to ride her new bike on her own! By Friday she was cruising around the parking lot on her new bike with her volunteer running behind her. Here is a video her mom made to document her success!


Adaptive Sports for Special Needs

Hello friends! This upcoming month of March is Brain Injury Awareness month, so we will be centering our blog posts on education of the topic, activities available and encouragement to those of you who live with someone with brain injury.

Individuals that have brain injuries need specialized rehabilitation, lifelong management and individualized services and supports in order to live healthy, independent and satisfying lives. Here at UCP-OC we see that brain injury is not something that will hold a child back. Our mission is to serve the children of this community so that they may live Life Without Limits! At our facilities we offer physical therapy that addresses medical problems and injuries that affect a child’s ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

The mountains are a common winter getaway for many Orange County residents. Who doesn’t love the brisk mountain air, the picturesque snow capped mountains, or watching your child zoom down the mountain passing you as watchers by cheer for him/her? Over President’s weekend Cathy Collins and her daughters went to Mammoth for the weekend. They were all able to enjoy the snow and sports thanks to Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. Her daughter Bridget was born three months premature and had many brain surgeries is diagnosed with Autism, Hydrocephalus and Cerebral Palsy, and she was able to shred up the mountainside with a professional instructor by her side. She was taken down the mountain with a Bi-Ski and people cheered for her when she passed by; truly encouraging moment for Cathy as she watched.

This program encourages children by allowing them to have the same opportunities, challenges and excitement at conquering the mountain slopes. They offer adaptive sports for special needs. People with physical or cognitive disabilities are able to have fun and healthy experiences in the mountains too! This organization is located in Mammoth, but not to worry there are other organizations around the area that can help your child experience the exhilaration of going down the mountain. These programs have adaptive equipment to fulfill every child’s dream of gliding down a mountain, or enjoying other outdoor activities such as a downhill wheelchair chair program to explore biking the back-country terrain.

If you are going up to Mammoth, Cathy would highly recommend Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra but there are other programs such as Disabled Sports USA Far West.

U.S. Adaptive Recreation Center is found in Big Bear and offers the same programs that had Bridget zooming down the mountain faster than her mom! 

It is important to give your child opportunities to experience new things and keep their brain stimulated and growing! By taking your child to the snow they can use all their senses and see things that Orange County doesn’t have to offer!

Most organizations have scholarships available, so don’t let the financials hold you back!



written by: Elizabeth Wylie