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“I really regret playing,” said no one ever. Here is where I will share a photo that could make me happy forever. If you’d like to see all of the photos in my PLAY, PLAY, PLAY series, click here.

{ Playing on this beach with my family fuels me. }
Feliz fin de semana everyone!
Photograph from my husband’s iPhone, Limantour Beach, CA.


Call me lazy, but I often shy away from fancy crafts with my kiddos. Remember the easiest Valentine project ever? It’s not that I don’t appreciate exploring different media and investing time in a well thought out project, it’s just not always realistic for our every day. And there is something magical (and scary) about a plain sheet of paper. I can still be intimidated by starting from scratch myself. But I also know that the more you do it, the easier it gets.Jill-Smith-letter-writing-01So this summer I have found myself offering up thick white paper and markers to the kiddos more often than anything else. One day last week, I threw some easy snacks in bowls and threw out a blanket so we could draw. We seem to have a lot of friends with summer birthdays, so I asked my kiddos to draw some cards. It was good because it gave them a goal or at least a starting point for what to draw. And a nice stack of pre-drawn cards around here will cut down on me saying, “We have to leave in 5 minutes to get to the birthday party. Put on your shoes, brush your teeth, go potty, oh and draw a really meaningful card for your friend…you have exactly 43 seconds to do it!”

Simple summer drawing for the win!Jill-Smith-letter-writing-02Jill-Smith-letter-writing-03Supplies needed: Paper and any type of crayon or marker. We used some color-changing ones, very similar to these.
Photography by Rebecca Sanabria who makes a great pen pal.

Blobs on blobs on blobs » Jill Smith - […] for kids. Ones you can do with minimal prep, minimal supplies and minimal cleanup. See others here and here. Supplies needed: Large sheets of paper and any type of paint. We used acrylic paint that […]


Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-05On July first, I became an aunt again. This time to a little boy named Holt Fisher. I love being a mom, but Holt and his big sister Harper have shown me how much I love being an aunt too. It is such a fun bond.

Before Holt arrived, we threw a baby shower for him. My sister-in-law chose the most beautiful color palate of cobalt blue and purple. The whole day was gorgeous. You can see more of the party planning details on her site.1 horz 1 vertI designed the shower invitation, which I wanted to be completely personal and something that they could save for his baby book. We decided since we knew what his name would be that it would be fun to include it on the invitation. I hand lettered all of the details with brush and ink then scanned them in. I had them letterpress printed on a century-old press which added to the overall charm. The ink was mixed especially to match the cobalt blue on the fabric, and I chose a double thick cotton cover stock paper to print on so that you can see and feel the ink impression on the paper. I love how they turned out and feel they were a perfect first impression for guests.Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-08We had such a fun time celebrating (and attempting to get a photo of our little family of four…see the best we could do?! It’s imperfect silliness is just perfect to me.)Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-01

Jill-Smith-Holt-shower-03Welcome sweet Holt! You are already so loved.

Event photography by Elizabeth Messina.
Invitation photography by Rebecca Sanabria. (Event address changed to be an imaginary one.)

Food by Maili Halme, desserts by Solvang Bakery, fabric by Guildery, Flowers by Moon Canyon, Rentals by Found, tableware by Casa de Perrin, favor bags by Maika Goods.

Jenny from the Block - OH how I love this! Holt and big sis Harper are beyond precious, as are you and your sweet, silly family, and I **LOVE** the blue & purple baby shower palette. (Blue is my favorite color.) Beauty all around!

Jenny from the Block - P.S. I also love being an aunt to my two nieces-to-pieces. It is a role I cherish separately and distinctly from my role as mother to my own two munchkins!

Amber - Omg.. That’s so beautiful, I want you and Tiffani to be my party Jill, you really did an awesome job. The invitation was perfect too, everything came together perfectly. Best wishes and congratulations Tiffani, Holt & Harper are just adorable.


Jill-Smith-forty-musclesTwo weeks ago, I turned 40. And we thought forty trips around the sun deserved a party. But the idea of going clubbing or getting super fancy didn’t resonate with me, so we almost abandoned the idea of a party entirely in exchange for a little family celebration or a weekend away. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head. I want a kid’s party. Um, but with no kids. We would only invite adults.Jill-Smith-forty-holding-handsJill-Smith-forty-friendsThe only exception was that we did have our own kids here for the beginning of the party. I really wanted to celebrate with them and have them get to see our friends (and a lot of their friends’ parents) but after dinner, they went to my parent’s house for a sleepover ending their night with popcorn and a movie which was great because they were pooped.Jill-Smith-forty-laurieJill-Smith-forty-with-woochieThere are a few reasons why throwing a kids’ party was perfect. Together my husband and I have thrown 9 kid parties in our backyard. We’ve got it down. And we’ve been to a zillion kid parties, so we get to see all the fun but almost never get to hit a piñata or bounce in the bouncy house ourselves. I kinda wanted a turn.Jill-Smith-forty-invitationPlanning the details of this party was great fun. I hand-lettered an invitation that totally made me giggle.Jill-Smith-forty-inflatablesWe rented an inflatable slip and slide and a gigantic 75’ water obstacle course with a climbing wall, tunnels and a slide. I must have run that thing 97 times. It had 2 lanes, so we could race relays or just run next to a good friend and laugh the whole way.Jill-Smith-forty-two-slideJill-Smith-forty-one-slideWe filled up kiddie pools and ordered 1,000 water balloons. Years ago, we found a company that will deliver pre-filled water balloons to your doorstep and my fingers have been thanking me ever since.

We sprinkled our yard with all our fun toys like Spike Ball, a slack line, hoola hoops and pink polka dotted beach balls. Good friends brought more great games like Corn Hole and Beersbee. Some friends just opted for our good old-fashioned swing set.Jill-Smith-forty-foodThe Eatsie Boys food truck served up dishes with great names like “What the Falafel” (house-made fried chickpea patties, peace in the middle east salad and roasted garlic) and “Shazam” (grilled chicken breast, arugula, feta, tomato, avocado puree, tarragon mayo, chimichurri, ciabatta tzatziki sauce on a challah wheat bun) as well as trays and trays of smoked jalapeño and harissa hummus served on fried naan. The food was amazing.Jill-Smith-forty-drinksFor drinks, we filled galvanized steel buckets of ice with a variety of craft beer and wine. And we offered one signature cocktail, “A Pile of Pink”, from Bad News Bar which they kegged for us. I picked it because it was pink, but the bonus was it tasted delicious too. Dry gin, grapefruit, lime, acid phosphate, Herbsaint, Peychaud’s Bitters and soda. We garnished the glasses with grapefruit, lime and mint. And those glasses? They are plastic and I found them at Crate and Barrel. We can’t have breakable glasses at a kid’s party!Jill-Smith-forty-baby-photosJill-Smith-forty-chalkOutside of baby photos of me everywhere and fabric flags that my mom and I made, there was really no décor. We kept it simple with colorful napkins from IKEA and Bamboo plates and silverware. We did need some extra seating, so we opted to rent 6 wooden tables, which were really gorgeous. Instead of renting chairs, we found that we could purchase these from IKEA for less expense. And they will be nice to have for our next (real) kid party coming up before we know it.

Wooch surprised me with a cake from Acadian Bakers and a piñata that he said looked like me. Ha! I’m forty and a luau lady. Best day ever.Jill-Smith-forty-old-schoolJill-Smith-forty-jumpLastly, we are strong believers that the people make the party. Our group of friends was up for absolutely anything. They truly brought the fun out of the party. It turns out I wasn’t the only one who wanted a turn at being a kid again—a good reminder that age is just a number and growing up is optional.Jill-Smith-forty-cakeMuch went into this kid party that required adult preparation, so I am beyond grateful for my husband and all his hard work. Even my parents, who always threw great parties for me when I really was a kid, were hauling ice and stacking napkins like the pros they are. Thanks, Mom and Dad! And for all the loved ones that couldn’t be at the party but called, texted or emailed me on my special day, trust me when I say that I felt the love and hugs just as much.

Food by The Eatsie Boys.
Signature cocktail by Bad News Bar.
Cake by Acadian Bakers.
Water balloons from Filled Water Balloons.
Plastic wine glasses from Crate and Barrel.
Inflatables by Sky High Party Rentals.
Table rental from Darryl & Co.

Photography by Rebecca Sanabria who I just love being friends with. Thank you sweet friend for coming to celebrate with us.

Andrew - Ah, this is fantastic! You and Wooch have really made a beautiful family and it looks like you guys have a great life and great friends. Looking beautiful as always – 40 ain’t phasing you!

Send me a note sometime and lets catch up.


Rebecca Kahlden - Awesome party!!! I threw myself a huge 40th party as well.1975 themed with a taco truck, kegs of beer, games, fancy drinks but with kids since I don’t have any. It was the best birthday EVER. I had so much fun and felt like a kid too. Happy belated birthday, good to see you are doing well and welcome to the Fabulous Forties!!!!

Alyssa - This is so cool Jill! I love love love it! What a way to bring more PLAY! to the party!

Jen Quinn - Best “kid party” I’ve EVER been to! Never grow up, Jill-Jill!❤️

all things birthday » Jill Smith - […] year, one of my favorites is the party flag bunting. We’ve hung them for every single party (and my 40th birthday party too). In 2009, I convinced my mom to help me make 85 million yards of them. I only know because she […]