On Saturday, we had a big party to celebrate Maggie's 1st Birthday! Of course, since this is the first time I have had a chance to throw a party for my child, and also since I have been on a party hiatus all these years of living in the shoe, I went a little crazy.
First, I claim minimal orginality in anything I did. I borrowed just about every idea from the internet, a blog or something I pinned on Pinterest. I am totally unashamed of this. I found it quite liberating, in fact.
The entire event was a huge labor of love. It took longer, and was more painful to put together than both a.) giving birth to Maggie and b.) her entire first year of life. In the spirit of blogging camaraderie, I am now going to share with you the full details of how I put it together, links and all.
(Click Here to keep reading...)
Let's start with the theme! I wrestled with having a "theme" party, I didn't want to feel limited, but in the end I decided to go with "Animal Parade" because I already had most of the items I could use. Maggie had her big stuffed Elephant from Christmas, and I knew that my Mom was buying her that big stuffed Giraffe for her birthday. Add in the other stuffed elephants and elephant decor from her room, and we had a good start.
Before I made the invitations, I did a lot of idea gathering. I narrowed down what I wanted to do for decorations, (the napkin flowers and the hanging animals), went shopping for some of the items I needed ahead of time so I could match the invites to what I had, rather than trying to match items in the store to my invitation. This made it easier to put it all together.
My mom came to stay with us to pitch in, and nothing would have gotten done if she hadn't. I am pretty sure she made all of the flowers, and I know she did most of the baking and cooking. Of all the items I had at my disposal to create this party, having an indentured servant was definitely the most useful. :D
I designed the invites using Illustrator, had them printed as 5x7 prints at Costco and mounted them on plain cardstock, and mailed them in plain envelopes with pink and white polka dotted liners that I printed and cut out myself. Total cost for all that was about $30- for 25 invites including postage. Hours spent: 9.5 at least. At least one of those hours was spent moving the "1" and the animals up and down a few millimeters, printing it out, and asking John, "Which one looks better? This one? Or this one?" I may have woken him up at 1am. Not 100% sure.
The flowers were made from napkins from a tutorial I found here. We bought the napkins at IKEA, the striped ones matched with the trays I also bought, and were the basis for all the "striped" items at the party. I think we paid about $30 for all the napkins, including the ones which were put to normal use during the party.
I drew the animals in Illustrator, and printed them out on Tabloid size cardstock using my wide-format printer. We printed two images for each animal, a regular side and a mirrored or reflected side so we could cut them out and glue them together to make a double sided image. These took FOREVER to cut out and make, so I would not recommend these to anyone. Ever. :D Though, I did double duty with these animals by also printing out the little "1" circle cupcake toppers, which I punched out and glued to a toothpick, to go with the "Animal Parade" cupcake toppers from Meri Meri.
I also made extra big pinwheels from another tutorial I found online. There is a trick with these. They take 8 or 9 pieces of letter size paper to make one pinwheel. If you want the pattern on both sides, this requires double sided paper. If you make these out of scrapbook paper, at today's prices, it's going to cost you about $7.00 a pinwheel just for the paper. I decided to go the cheap route:
I created a letter size rectangle in Illustrator and filled it with a polka-dot pattern (simple black dots) and then I printed the dots onto plain white cardstock using the borderless printing feature on my printer. Then I flipped the paper over and sent it through again on the other side. I used black only, and ran it at "draft" quality to save on ink. This way, I was able to save a few bucks and have them all match. I used a paper scoring board from Martha Stewart Crafts, and a large circle punch to punch out the circles in the middle, which also sped up the process.
I made the photo props out of felt and glued them onto bamboo skewers. I placed them into empty paper covered infant formula cans filled with dry white beans. I can't recommend the beans idea more! They weighed down the center of the cupcake tower, acted as vase filler anywhere I needed to plunk down some flowers on a stick, and to fill all my containers that needed filling maybe ran me about $7. And, I can make soup out of them later if I experience a massive personality change where that becomes something I would do. :D
I made the cupcake/cake tower out of foam core board, some wooden "doll head" pieces from Micheal's which I used for feet, empty formula/hot cocoa cans I recovered in pink and white stripe scrapbook paper, and finished the edges with ribbon and blue paper bunting flags. I remade this tower 3 times, it was as sturdy as a blade of grass, and am thankful it survived the party and the next day without tipping over.
The cake on top of the tower is a funny story. We originally baked a small 6" cake with one tier on top for Maggie's "Smash Cake" and had grand plans for it to be decorated beautifully, etc., etc. Instead of covering it in fondant, which I had planned on but decided against when the supplies would have added another $40 to my overexpanded budget, we frosted it with regular homemade icing. At 4 am, the night before the party. It turned out looking like such a pile of doo, and was sooooo heavy with icing, we decided we'd just slap the topper I made onto it, put it on the tower, and leave it as "decoration." We used the other smaller cake from the mini pan we had left over, used minimal icing and added some coconut flakes and chocolate drizzle, and used that as her cake instead. She is free from diabetes and Mom and I had a good sleep deprived laugh.
The cake topper I mentioned was one of my favorite things. It was the other3am project, but it turned out much better. I made it out of Sculpey clay, baked it in the oven, and hot glued it to a little foam core circle edged with ribbon. It's a keepsake for sure. I am especially fond of the little bird on the elephants back.
Oh, I almost forgot about the accessories! I made Maggie and I matching hair clips out of fabric yo-yo's, a tiny little grey crepe paper flower, and some turquoise tulle. I used some pink flower stamens in the middle of the yo-yo and a pearl brad hot glued in the center of the paper flower. I also squeezed in some time to make 2 paper birthday hats. One she wore on her actual birthday, when we had a little dinner celebration, and then I made another so we could put them on the elephant and the giraffe. The giraffe stood next to the table where we had the photo props, and the elephant was in the middle of the kids table.
The kids table was one of our prouder achievements in DIY-ing (or, pulling something out of our collective ass at the very last minute). We had a table top from a table we bought on Craigslist (for the legs that came with it) in our garage, and two blue Sterlite/Rubbermaid storage bins. Turns out that the storage bins were perfectly waist height for Maggie, we flipped them upside down so the wider area would be on the floor, and then duct taped the top of the bins to the table top. Covered it with a plastic table cloth, tucked in/under the bin feet on both ends, and TA DA!! Perfect for the kiddies!!
That was the decor.
Now the food:
I made Cake Pops for the first time, and Yippee!!, they turned out great, and I still have some in the fridge! I read a lot of comments from frustrated Cake Pop virgins out there on the World Wide Web, so when it came time for me to make mine, I added a little modification, which worked like a charm. (If you haven't made a cake pop, or don't have a clue what I am talking about, you can click here to learn more.)
Standard Cake Pop baking directions say to roll the balls and then chill them in the fridge overnight before sticking and dipping. I decided to add a step. After I rolled the balls, I dipped the top of the stick into the candy melt and stuck it in the ball, and then left those to chill in the fridge overnight. That little bit of melt acted as a "glue" to hold the ball onto the stick a bit better, and dipping the next day was no problem!! I only lost one ball, out of 75. If you have room in your fridge to do it that way, I highly recommend it. Might take a few extra minutes in the process, but I thought is was worth it. Especially if you have a problem with loose balls. (hehehehehe :D )
Since we bought oodles of Candy Melts for the Cake Pops, we put them to additional use and dipped large Snyder Pretzel Sticks, and also Kraft Strawberry Marshmallows. I put the marshmallows in cute polka dot mini ruffle cups that I bought, along with my cupcake liners, twine, and paper straws from "Hey Yo-Yo" on Etsy.
Thanks to weeks of "pinning" on Pinterest, I also made Veggie + Dip cups, Fruit Salad in Waffle Cone Bowls, Mini Mac + Cheese bites, Mini Croissant BLT's, and put out some colorful candies and snacks in glass vessels on the table. I served Lemonade on ice in a large beverage server, and had a few bottles of Trader Joe's Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade next to it (forgot to put out an ice bucket for those...note for next time.) I put a tray of pink plastic cups next to the beverage area with grey stripe paper straws inside. We also had a cooler with bottled water.
The cake and cupcakes were made by my dear Mother. Maggie loooooves bananas, so she made a banana cake from a recipe in the Joy of Cooking and Banana flavored butter cream icing with coconut flakes on top both for one kind of cupcakes and Maggie's "Smash Cake." The other cupcakes were a double chocolate mix, with homemade Raspberry Icing with rainbow sprinkles.
For the kids, we made a "sack lunch" with Turkey sandwiches, a cheese wheel, fruit cup and apple juice box, and they also had a box of Animal Crackers at the kids table. I wanted to make these cheese heads, but didn't have enough time. :(
Which brings me to the next segment, titled: "Why can't there be more hours in a day??" or...the things that didn't get done:
Games for the kids: My stepdad Leo drilled 3 nice big holes in sheet of masonite for me to paint to make a small "bean toss" game for the kids. Didn't happen.
I wanted to make an "animal" twister game for the kids as well... didn't have time, and there wouldn't have been enough room.
I had asked John to learn a few simple nursery rhyme/kids songs on the guitar to do a little sing-a-long, with homemade instruments for the kids. That didn't happen either. Instead, we played our "Wheels on the Bus" Pandora Station on our Roku.
Favors: We actually made it half way with the favors. I printed out the elephants from my hanging animal art onto heat transfer paper, and Mom ironed them onto white fabric, I sewed them onto a colorful fabric back side to make little elephant stuffies kind of like this, but the iron-on's we used are horrid, they crinkled when we pulled them through right-side- out...which meant we would have to iron each one before stuffing and sewing closed. That is where the project came to an abrupt halt. :( Still bummed about that, because we could have used that time for something else.
I wanted to drizzle the Kettle Corn with pink candy melt, and also I wanted to make the sack lunches look fancy. Those things didn't happen either.
Getting everything done on time would not have happened at all, if it wasn't for my Mom, My sweet sister-in-law Sally, her friend Andy, my BFF Autumn, and of course John and Leo, and John's Mom and Dad. They all helped during crunch time to get things wrapped up so I could take some pictures of all our hard work. In addition to all the party stuff, John and Leo also were busy around the house installing cabinet locks in the kitchen, putting up our shaker peg rail in the downstairs hallway, painting, cleaning house, etc.
I really wanted to take good pictures, because this was SUCH an emmense project...bigger and more involved than anything I have ever shared on this blog, for better or worse. I didn't have enough time for that either. So this is where I admit my last dirty little secret.
The next day... I restaged the food table with leftovers, and took more pictures.
That's why you love me!! Right???
Well folks, there it is! In all it's guts and glory, Maggie's 1st Birthday Party.
I have added some links below to the items that inspired me and the recipes I pinned on Pinterest.