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Show Some Love for "My Sweet Valentine" Party

Share the love with a Valentine's Day party with a philanthropic twist

Every year Annabelle waves goodbye to her dad as he heads to an old prison in Guatemala City to distribute socks and shoes to orphans. Though she can’t go with him until she’s 12 years old, for her eighth birthday she desperately wanted to help. So for her party, she asked that friends and family donate a pair of shoes to Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls instead of bringing a present.

Because Annabelle was born on February 15, her mother Catherine Clay always incorporates Valentine’s decorations into her party. This year, since Annabelle had grown to love hip-hop and contemporary, the Murphy mom settled on a Valentines-themed dance. “She absolutely loves to sing and dance, so this party was a fantastic way to let her do both with her friends and all for a fantastic cause,” says Catherine.

The mom started planning for the big day just three weeks in advance by gathering as many red, black and white decorations as she could find in the seasonal section at Target. Next, she sent out personalized invitations, requesting guests come dressed in the same three-color scheme. With the help of a hired babysitter, she decorated the Murphy Community Center with red, black and white striped balloons, table clothes and a photo poster from Walgreens that read, “Grab a Stache and Join the Bash.” When the 60 guests arrived, they were given a paper mustache on a stick to tote around with them.

The party took off with DJ-led dance games, including the limbo and a hula-hoop contest. When guests took a break from boogying, they paid a visit to the self-serve sweets bar for a variety of pink- and red-colored candies in clear canisters, mustache-topped cupcakes and slices of the two-tier black and white striped cake. To keep the kids hydrated, Catherine made water bottles with printed labels that read, “Wet Your Whiskers.”

Before they left, guests stopped by the photo booth to pose with shiny props, including top hats and tiaras. Later, Catherine sent the images to parents in the form of a video slide show.

When the music finally stopped, Annabelle thanked her friends for helping her collect more than 100 pairs of dancing shoes. “While we did sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Annabelle at the party,” Catherine says. “It honestly was less about her and more about doing something fantastic for a wonderful organization.”