A Hmong-Inspired Celebration! A DIY Party

This Hmong-inspired birthday celebration (with a touch of Bohemian flair) for my 8-year old daughter was 90% DIY. Why? Because my idea was truly very, very original. Probably too original. SO original that I had to brainstorm without the help of the ever reliable and beloved Pinterest! Can you imagine?!

The decorations took up the bulk of my time but I was smart enough to plan a couple of months before the actual party (smart mom tip #1, you're welcome.) I knew I wanted a touch of Bohemian thrown in too because I like to shake things up a bit and mix unexpected themes. Plus, Hmong arts and culture are rather Bohemian in style and feel so it felt a lot like discovering how great a cheeseburger and fries are together for the first time.

I admit, I spent weeks just producing pompom after pompom; first, for the canvas tablecloth, then later for the fun ethnic pillows I sewed for the DIY teepee. It was fun for about 10 pompoms in...then I was desperate enough to ask my sister to help out (thanks, sis!) Aren't sisters the best ever? I have lots of them too, all with different, wonderful sets of talents and skills. It's freaky fun to see and experience the results of our combined talents.

I also designed the stencils for the canvas drop cloth (Adobe Illustrator)and cut them out on clear craft plastic sheets using my Silhouette Cameo (best craft buddy after my sisters.) The designs consist of various Hmong embroidery symbols, like the elephant's foot and snails. Once cut, I hand painted each one using acrylics along one edge of the cloth, then blanket stitched the pompoms with colorful yarn. This pretty tablecloth requires so many different sets of skills! Funny how I just realized that after writing out my design process for just this one piece!

The artworks on the ends of the table are my own original drawings . Yes, another skill I have under my belt. Luckily, I had drawn these lovely ladies up a couple of years ago and simply sent them to Office Max to get printed as posters for the party. The style of the art fit perfectly with my theme, right? And then there is that gorgeous, hand sewn story cloth in the center of the table. I found that on my local Craigslist for only $50! Gasp! I know! These beautiful story cloths at this size usually sell for hundreds and this one was even professionally framed! Lets just say that I love CL as much as Pinterest!

My awesome big sister helped make the colorful Hmong gelatin desserts. Let me tell you, these are so time consuming to make but so delicious and perfect for the party. I told you it is simply amazing when my sisters and I combine our talents! The kids and I gobbled these up fast! It was as good as the homemade cake!

Mmmm, the cake! It was boxed confetti cake but with tweaked ingredients to make it more rich and moist tasting. I think we had issues with the original frosting recipe so we went with a canned one. But the strawberry Pocky sticks make the cake very Asian-inspired. My kids get a pack of these each time we go to the Asian grocery store. It's as necessary as buying rice! They are starting to sell these everywhere now though but I find they are more affordable at the local Asian grocer. We sprinkled the top with colorful nonpareils and lastly, tied a Hmong ribbon trim into a pretty bow for presentation. Fun, isn't it?

I also had a talented friend come over early to help assemble the decorative, traditional, ceremonial platter with the hand tying yarn. Since I don't follow the old shaman ways of the Hmong, we didn't actually tie yarn on the wrists of the guest of honor, but the platter is so gorgeous and filled with different offerings for a beautiful birthday blessing. It was the perfect centerpiece for our table!

Lastly, this DIY pegboard cross stitch piece is one of my favorite things and I still have it hanging in my living room! I painted a sheet of pegboard with black chalk paint, drew on the Hmong snail heart design with chalk, then simply cross stitched my way around each design element. It went faster than it sounds. I finished it in one evening once the paint was dry.

And of course, my trusty Silhouette Cameo cut out some elephants foot for our goody bags, which were filled with plastic cross stitch sheets, plastic yarn needles and colorful yarns. The girls enjoyed learning to embroider, a very traditional Hmong woman's expected skill.

So this very original party turned out beautiful! The months of planning and creating made my vision come to life so it was very rewarding. My daughter loved it and she learned so much about her Hmong heritage along the way since she watched me create everything from scratch. I hope this inspires you to jump in with both feet when you come up with your own original idea!

Created By
Julia Chang

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