Are you ready for an epic post on the captain-quality decorations we used for the party? Get excited for some major festivities . . .

We set up a bar and activity table in front of the house and hung this signal flag banner that fluttered and flapped merrily in the wind.

We set the tables with white tablecloths. Some were topped with these blue runners, some were topped with this striped fabric, which I cut into long strips with pinking sheers. Being right next to the beach we were worried about the wind whipping all table settings off, so we came up with two clever tie-down systems. Dinner tables had lengths of red elastic (similar here) tied on either end; food and drink tables had large white cording (similar here) tied into eight knots (how to here) and wrapped on the ends with blue painter's tape.

Tables were topped with red gerber daisies placed in these adorable (and inexpensive!) bud vases and interspaced with frosted votives with electric tea lights like these (so the wind didn't blow them out).

To up the silliness factor, I made newspaper hats out of the sunday comics for guests to wear. They didn't stay onto people's heads too well, but they sure looked cute as decoration! Follow this simple instructional to make your own.

My mom had a great idea for one table's decorations: pulling out all my dad's childhood trophies! It was fun to check out all his vintage medals and awards for everything from swimming to bowling; I loved the way they looked all grouped together on the table with the guest book and birthday quiz.

Vivid mums, gerber daises and sunflowers were grouped in monochromatic arrangements and tied with navy chevron ribbon on the serving tables. On a whim I decided to try this tutorial to make some fun typographic signs to jazz up the tables. Since I wanted to personalize the signs with nautical phrases, I laid them out in InDesign (though you could easily do it in Word) and made sure the kerning (graphic design nerd speak for spacing) between the letters was as tight as possible. Then I printed the words onto pieces of paper, lightly glued them (read: light layer of cheap kindergarden-style glue stick) to foam core boards and meticulously cut out the letters with an exacto knife and a cutting mat. You have to be careful to make your cuts deep and even (since foam core tends to pill) and not to accidentally cut off a letter in the process. No joke, it's tough work! Once the cutting was done I carefully pulled off the paper and gave everything a good coat of spray paint. Last but not least, I painted some small wooden dowels (like these) and a 1" x 4" piece wood white; after slowly and carefully pushing the dowels into the spongy part of the foam core, I drilled holes into the wood to push the dowels through. The whole thing was secured with a dab of wood glue at the joints. Probably more work than they are worth, but still a pretty sweet result!

One more finishing touch to top off a perfect party: globe string lights! I have bought about ten boxes of these reasonably-priced lights from Target and have found they set the best ambience for an evening soirĂ©e. Seriously, these babies can turn a boring backyard into a beautiful backdrop for a party in the couple of minutes it takes to screw a hook into a tree and plug in an extension cord.

Still with me? Good, because we're not done yet! One more party post tomorrow . . .

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