Saturday, September 24, 2011

our 2nd 1st birthday party

Our 1st 1st birthday party was for our first daughter and was described (milkshake recipe included!) in this post of yore. So that makes this our 2nd 1st. See?

As promised, i'm here to give the "big reveal" of the blue highchair and a breakdown of some of the DIY (do-it-yourself) birthday party fun for my brand new one-year-old.

She was absolutely adorable in that highchair! Of her own accord, she stuck her leg through the spindles for balance, I guess. You may remember that I had removed and never replaced the old brown belt in the makeover, so I'm sure the chair could be a bit slippery for an un-belted, tutu-clad birthday girl.

DIY project #1: Invitations

Well, everyone knows you can't have a party without invitations! Well, you can. But what's the fun in that? Invitations set the tone for the whole affair and often provide the color/design/decor inspiration for the whole party!

I chose these invitations from this Etsy seller. She also offered matching cupcake toppers, a banner, and even thank you notes for afterward, but I decided to just go with the invite this time. All I had to do was pick my favorite design and email a photo to the Etsy shop along with the wording and details to be included. (Obviously the invitation sample above is missing some of the details that the world doesn't need to see...)

The designer emailed me a proof for confirmation and I was able to ask her to tweak a few things (1, there was a distracting element over Arlyn's shoulder in the photo, so I asked her to zoom in more. And 2, I added Arlyn's middle name to give her name and the whole design more balance and presence.)

I purchased the file for this invitation which means I own it and can print it from my printer, the local grocery store photo printer, a professional photo lab, etc. I ran out of time to print and send these via "real mail", though, so they were emailed instead. (And sadly, ended up in a couple of our guests' spam folders, though I have no idea why! I shall do a better follow-up next time.) I shall print at least one for her baby book, though. Soon-ish.

DIY project #2: Cupcake Toppers

After the invitations were chosen, it was time to focus on some of the decorating details that would make her party extra special. I'd seen a photo or two of some cupcake toppers and decided to give it a whirl. Here's what I did!

Grab the following materials:
  • lollipop sticks (in the candy-making section of any craft store)
  • colored and textured cardstock that matches your party
  • thin ribbon
  • paper punches (or really steady hands and a good pair of scissors!) : )
  • a glue stick
  • scotch tape
I printed out a couple coupons for the craft store I was going to. I mean, who wants to pay full price for punches? Not me. I'm cheap like that.

On my first craft store run I found the sticks, papers, ribbons, and the 1 1/2" scallop punch. I was hoping to find a 2" circle punch, too, but all I could find were the highly complex-looking circle cutters with all their special attachments... Yay-hay no way! (yes, too much Neverland Pirates for me.)

So I figured I could trace a pretty great circle and just cut them out by hand. Only 12, so no big deal, right?

Well, I don't know about you, but hand-cut circles are obviously not my forte. I'm pretty sure I had better cutting skills in grade school with safety scissors. And my crazy "circles" did not complement the pretty and uniform scalloped circles I was working with.

Plan B (or just a Plan A amendment), here I come! Print out one more coupon and run out to one more craft store late at night... Whew! I found it! And at an extra 40% off, too. That was a successful night.

So as we sat in front of a GOP debate on the computer one evening, I punched away! It was fun to match up the circles with the scallops in different color combos. When I finally settled on what looked best, I glued the small scallops to the larger circles and set them aside for a minute.

Then I grabbed a dark pink Sharpie and wrote the number "1" on each one. I had hoped to find a "1" punch at the craft store, but writing "1" proved to be much easier and more satisfying than cutting out circles by hand. So it worked! I tried to make them as uniform as possible.

Next came taping each circle creation to a lollipop stick. Easy-peasy. And then tie the ribbons around and you're done!

DIY project #3: Festive Banner 

I just love banners for birthdays! I love them so much, that this one is still hanging on our mantle. What? It's still "birthday month," right? I love them so much that I hope to sew a more permanent use-it-every-year one someday!

This banner was really simple. I found an 8-piece package of coordinating 12"x12" scrapbook papers at Tar-jay for $.99! (Why isn't there a "cents" sign on my keyboard, by the way??)

I worked with the paper and a pencil and figured out how to get 3 triangles cut from each piece. My three-hole puncher spanned the little flags just perfectly to punch the two holes I needed at the top of each triangle. And then I just strung them onto some twine I already had! I actually had enough triangles to make 2 banners, but not enough twine, so I substituted curling ribbon and used banner #2 on the gift table. (word to the wise: Invest in the spools of curling ribbon in your most-used colors. It always comes in handy!)

This project just cost me 99 pennies! (Way less, actually, since I didn't use all the paper in the package.) I will never buy a cheesy ready-made pennant banner, again.

DIY project #4: Giant Confetti

I must confess: I had so much fun using my new punches that I just kept punching all the pretty paper until I had a ziploc full of "giant confetti!" Super easy. If you have punches, that is. And it just seemed perfect for use on the white tablecloths and so fitting to have more chunky decorations for a baby's party. The birthday girl LOVED playing with the confetti. And eating the confetti. Oops.

DIY project #5: Party Favors

We had 4 little boys and 2 other little girls (besides our 2) coming to our party and I wanted to make it fun for them, too! I mean, there's nothing like happily going to a party only to be constantly told, "sit down!", "don't open her present!", "get out of the way!", "don't blow those out!" I've just seen that happen over and over. The little guests often end up in a meltdowns because it's not their party and they can't do anything!

Well we hoped to alleviate some of that by giving our guests gifts that they could play with as soon as they arrived! The little boys got a bag full of a shovel or rake, a bouncy ball, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. The little girls received bubbles and sidewalk chalk, too, but a bracelet and necklace in place of the tools and balls. But of course.

We held the soiree at a park, so they could color on the sidewalks, blow the bubbles, dig in the dirt, throw the balls, and even stay busy on the playground equipment! It was definitely better than cooping them up in a house!

DIY project #5: the FOOD

I made cupcakes (cuz I made the toppers, obviously!) for the kiddos and cake balls for the adults. The cupcakes need no explanation, methinks. But the cake balls do!

Thank you, Bakerella, for the Red Velvet Cake Balls recipe! Her site has awesome recipes, detailed directions, and helpful tips, but the general idea is as follows:

1. bake a red velvet cake in a 9x13 according to box directions. let sit overnight.
2. the next day, crumble the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl. (remove your rings! this is only the start of the messy operation!)
3. mix one can of cream cheese frosting into the crumbled cake.
4. form into 1" balls and chill
5. melt your chocolate and dip the chilled balls!

We also served a special kid-friendly dinner for our 6 junior party guests and their parentals - peanut butter & jelly! The kids ate theirs plain, but the adults got to enjoy their pb&j's gourmet style! A la the gourmet pb&j food cart I ate at once in Portland.

I used their menu as my guide, but the names may have been changed or ignored to protect the innocent.

We served up one with strawberry jam, peanut butter, sliced bananas, and cream cheese. Yum!

Another was nutella, raspberry jam, and peanut butter. Delightful.

The third I called "the craving:" peanut butter, swiss cheese, and bread & butter pickles. Exciting!

We found a small sandwich press and grilled these lovely creations to perfection. So if you've never tried gourmet pb&j... you should.

There were parts of this party that didn't go as I'd originally planned. I had a whole streamer & lights canopy in mind, but had to chuck the plan when we ran out of set-up time! I had helium balloons in my plan, but that didn't work out, either. We opted, instead, to blow up a few balloons and hang them down from the rafters of the pavilion. It worked nicely.

In summary, we had a wonderful party and mommy and daddy were exhausted for three days after! The most important part of our day, of course, was the celebration of our 1-year-old beauty. She loved the attention and love and present-opening! She loved the cards and calls them "pee-boos" for peek-a-boo. And I know she loved the special touches, too. At least the confetti. And the balloons. The rest will be remembered through photos and stories when we tell her about her special 1st ever birthday party. She didn't have any idea of the plans that "fell through" or what we had to be flexible with. Remember, the details make a party memorable, but the people make it wonderful. Have fun, but don't stress. When in doubt, choose the party girl over the decorations. Just a little life lesson for ya, there.

So, tell me! Have you ever tried gourmet grilled pb&j?

1 comment:

Rosanna said...

Sounds like a fun party!

There used to be a little shop in the Mall of America that made all sorts of crazy gourmet PB&J creations (I remember one even having hot peppers!) I ate there once, but I don't even remember what I had, and they are gone now. Sadness.

I recently threw a baby shower for my friend up here wherein we created gourmet s'mores using various combos of gingersnaps, thin chocolate wafers, grahams, strawberries, nutella, dark chocolate, bananas, peanut butter, and of course the marshmallows! It was a hit. :)

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