DIY Victorian Woodland Baby Shower: 

I hosted this party myself, which can be a very costly endeavor.  It is amazing how inexpensive a party like this can be with a little creative thinking & elbow grease. 

Interested in doing a DIY party like this?  Here is how to keep costs down:


  • Buy strategically.  Only buy what you can’t or are unwilling to make. 
  • You can repurpose an amazing amount of items as decoration.  Use items from around your house or nature.  Examples: the owl is a garden statue.  The acorns were just collected from outside.
  • Paper decor is amazingly easy to make with glue sticks, tissue paper and string.
  • Random decor can be found at thrift stores & antique malls too.
  • The table cloth for the gift table I used was actually a repurposed thrift store bed sheet.


  • Buy in-season as much as possible
  • Cut up your own items.  You know how to cut up fruit, cheese & veggies, so don’t pay a premium to have it done for you.
  • Use real serving dishes; don’t buy them just for the party
  • Buy from low-cost groceries.  It is how it tastes, not where it comes from that matters.  Nobody will know you were shopping at ALDI instead of Whole Foods.
  • Make your own.  My cousin’s bees made the honey & my aunt canned the jam.  I made the fruit baskets in 10 minutes with a pineapple corer.  The watermelon slices were made quickly with adorable cookie cutters.  I used dark chocolate chips to stuff the raspberries myself instead of buying them like that.


  • Buy cheap and present classy.  Again, taste is what counts.

Disposables / Table Goods

  • Buy strategically.  You need enough stuff, not a million.  Use toothpicks instead of forks for finger foods.  Even very fancy toothpicks are way cheaper than forks.
  • Buy what is on sale that can fit into your scheme.  It doesn’t have to be the perfect thing- it has to compliment what you are doing.
  • Go for the right vibe, by hitting the high points, but don’t worry about too many details.  This table cloth is actually plastic, but looks like lace.  It was significantly cheaper, but had the correct effect.
  • I printed out the cheese labels and just taped them onto tootpicks & rolled them like flags.  It was basically free.
  • Mix in real utensils with your disposable stuff.


  • This can be tough.  My daughter is learning to bake professionally, so she did this cake with her mentor’s help/guidance for $30. 

Party Favors

  • My party favors were essentially free.  I found some fun sticks to use as the rose stems.  I used Disney recorder sheet music & DC Comics coloring book pages that were to be recycled as the rose petals.  I used a vase I already had with some ribbon I already had to put them in & made the “favor” sign in photoshop.

My goal was to have a party that could comfortably handle 20 people for under $200, and I was able to do that.

Victorian Woodland Baby Shower I threw for a friend.

Drinks: Raspberry-Lemonade Punch with raspberry sherbert & pumpkin cider

Food: Pineapple fruit baskets, woodland animal shaped watermelon, dark chocolate stuffed raspberries, chocolate covered berries, chips, crackers, cheese plate.

Favors: paper roses

Activity: Wish jar to leave wishes for the baby

Decor: Paper poufs, streamers, acorns, flowers, misc.  Color scheme was peach, seafoam green, turquoise, brown, white, tan.

Cake: 2two-tiered beaded chocolate cake with peach fondant & fresh hydrangeas on top, with brown, satin ribbon.

I made the favors, table cards, wish jar, fruit baskets, punch, etc.  My daughter made the cake.

My paludarium, Day 72.

I DIY’d a contraption to add CO2 that only recently ran out.  It seemed to do a decent job, but I don’t know that it made a lick of difference with the dwarf baby tears.

Paludarium Day 72: pH 7.6 temp 78 degrees

Today I saw the ghost shrimp, and have counted at least 11 of the dwarf shrimp running around.  They aren’t as lively as they’ve been, so I’m hoping this is not a sign of something going wrong.  

The tank is heavily planted now, despite the removal of the hornwort.  The plants have been growing great (except dwarf baby tears).  I’m hoping that moss will begin to carpet more.  I’m wanting to get some fisseden moss or comparable to go with it.  I’d like the whole substrate to be covered in moss, now that I’ve had to give up on the baby tears.

New, fun aquarium plants: crinum aquatica & bolbitis heudelotii

Paludarium Day 70: 78 degrees F

I purchased approximately 15 dwarf shrimp from the swap.  It is a little hard to count them, as they are very active and tiny.  I was also given some fun new plants and another staurogyne.  I don’t actually know what one of the new plants is.  It is the one on the left that is very ribbon like.  I REALLY like the crinum aquatica (African onion) that I was given & the bolbitis. I took out the hornwort & added it to the assassin’s area instead.  I needed a good place for the crinum aquatica, which I like better than the hornwort.

If things go well, these new dwarf shrimp will be able to breed in the tank, and I won’t have to buy additional shrimp.  I’m going to have to prune some of the new plants though, as they are a bit too big for my little tank.

Paludarium Day 70: dwarf shrimp in action

The aquarium swap meet was a success.  I purchased some yellow and orange varients of the cherry shrimp for an AMAZING price & got a few new plants.  The dwarf shrimp are so tiny & lively!  The ghost shrimp seemed very pleased to have tank mates again & has been hanging out with her new buddies.

Day 65: pH 7.6, temperature 78 degrees

My last shrimp has just molted (see ghostly apparition below the shrimp).  I seriously thought it was dead today, as it is QUITE lethargic.  I decided to see if it was hungry, since I stopped adding shrimp food awhile back.  It was completely uninterested in the wafer.  You may think that I starved the shrimp, but this isn’t the case.  I stopped adding the shrimp food once the algae and mulm started to develop & the shrimp didn’t go to the wafers any more after I put them in.  There is enough food in the natural tank ecosystem for the shrimp now.  Adding additional can be harmful, since it can cause the shrimp to molt too quickly, which kills them.  The carbon dioxide diffuser has bubbles, so the CO2 appears to be working.

Am I ready for cherry shrimp?  Maybe so.  I’m going to check my ammonia levels (I need to purchase a test kit) first.  There is an aquarium show I was invited to this weekend.  There should be some good advice there to move me forward or keep my playing around a bit more until I take the cherry shrimp leap.


DAY 64: pH 7.6, temp 78 degrees, 0 nitrites

I now have cycled the tank for 2 months & it is stable.  Time to try CO2!  I removed the water circulating power head today & replaced it with an air filter.  The air filter will add oxygen & carbon dioxide to the water.  The sponge filter for the air is the same one I’ve been using.  I also increased the water level in the tank a little, since my palm has grown tall enough to do so.  Using DIY instructions I found online, I made a yeast mixture (2 cups of sugar, 1/3 tsp yeast, warm water) in a 2 liter pop bottle.  Sexy Face drilled a hole in the cap for me, and I shoved in an air hose.  I attached the other end of the hose to a Fluval CO2 diffuser, which I stuck in the tank.

CO2 can lower my pH.  It also can cause pH swings that would hurt the shrimp.  Buffering is important to prevent this.  My pH is very stable, so I’m not too concerned.  I hopefully will also not blow the house up with my McGuyver’ed CO2 contraption.

I priced the local pet store for cherry shrimp, and the price was outrageous ($6/shrimp!!) so I will  decidely not be purchasing through them.  There are several breeders through that will serve my needs fine.

I also added another new moss (also from Bob- thanks, Bob!) which I treated in the same manner as I did to add the previous moss.

I hadn’t noticed a shrimp in a few days, but did see 1 today (of course it was after I was messing around like crazy, thinking they were all dead).  I had thought that maybe it had been the assassin snail eating the shrimp & that’s where they were vanishing to, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.  Where are the shrimp bodies?

Paludarium Day 51: pH 7.6, temp 78 degrees

Observed 4 ghost shrimp walking around today, but also had to pull out a dead shrimp.  I added a new aquatic moss.  No clue what it is.  I got it from a guy named Bob who has amazing pond plants.  I left the moss sitting for a few days and then thoroughly rinsed it out with aquarium water before adding it to the tank.  Something was still in there though, as I witnessed some sort of tiny worm and a bug like organism swimming around in the tank.  I removed numerous pond snails & threw them in with the assassin.  By the way, the assassin seems completely fine in it’s new vase home.  I haven’t seen the other pregnant shrimp since yesterday.  I’m starting to get some algae, which I have to be careful about it.  I’m going to pull out the affected shells/rocks & clean it off.

Day 55: temp 78 degrees

The circuit breaker tripped, so the tank didn’t have water circulation for about 24 hours.  Pulled out 1 dead shrimp today.  I haven’t seen the pregnant shrimp in days, but also haven’t seen any babies.  There is more dead plant material.