Before I even begin to tell you about Gemma's first birthday party, I'm proclaiming publicly that her second birthday will be Elmo themed. I will buy everything from a party store and will likely invite guests via a last minute text message. Since that's off my chest, now I'll give you the run down on her first party!
After going back and forth for weeks about a theme, I finally went with "winter woodland creatures". Gemma's favorite toys are a bear and a fox from IKEA, affectionately known as Beary White and Foxy Lady in our house. I decided to use them as the starting point for the party. If you follow me on Pinterest, you probably had your feed flooded by all the pins added to my First Birthday Ideas board in a 24 hour period. It took a while, but eventually I got excited about planning a party that began from something Gemma loves and morphed into a theme that worked well for February.
Probably my favorite decorations were the paper banners. I'll be making them again for future parties, but might try ribbons next time. I got the idea to make paper fox party bags from Pinterest. It took a little while creating the template. Once that was figured out, I cut all the pieces I'd need and set it up assembly line style. I watched a few episodes of Weeds and knocked them out one evening after the baby was asleep.
Can we talk about favor bags for a minute? As I child I remember my litmus test for a birthday party was the loot you got to take home. I vividly recall begging my mother for the most elaborate trinkets and gifts for my own parties. I'm quite certain I still have a sketch in an old notebook of my "favor bag wish list" from my 4th grade roller skating party. Anyone else relate?
One of the first things I knew we'd have at the party was a list of Gemma's favs. I had the frame on hand and used chalk paint on a piece of cardboard. I know that years from now I'll look back on those little things and be glad we wrote them down...I'm really trying to capture moments not just in pictures but in words as well. That's hard for me.
It feels natural to pick up my camera, but sitting down to write about simple moments is a challenge. I want to get better about this. I know how special it is when I read notes that my mom or grandmother scrawled in a baby book or journal. I want to leave the same for Gemma. I even bought a family journal in December. It's super cute and has our name printed on it...and it's completely blank.
The adorable owl cookies were inspired by Pinterest and made by the oh-so-talented Anna. She also made praline and rocky road mini bundt cakes. We served these at my baby shower and thought it would be special to have them at Gemma's first birthday too. I used the log slices left over from a sip-and-see shower we hosted last spring. (Check out the handsome fella' in a pic below to see how much he's grown.)
My Gemma was true to her nature and carefully studied the cake before very cautiously dipping a couple fingers into the icing. Once her first bit of refined sugar made its way to her tastebuds, she picked up the pace and got her money's worth out of icing. That beautiful cake was also made by Anna. We had her make a dairy-free banana cake, which I can tell you was delicious. In the name of "not overloading the baby with too much sugar", I ate the rest of the cake over the course of
I mentioned before how this is "the year of the baby" in our circle of friends. We had 6 babies under (or barely) one year old in our house. It was cuteness overload. This is has been such a year of growth and excitement. Since so many of our friends became first time parents the same time we did, it's become a built in support system. Clothes, toys, and tips are shared freely.
Then THIS girl came down from Kansas City for the party. Stu let me kick him to the couch for a night while Tanya and I had late night pillow talk reminiscent of dorm days. The day of the party it was like I had a clone. Seriously, party prep was a breeze. Between my mom and mother in law watching the baby and cleaning and Tanya helping with set up, it was a low-stress hosting gig. I even had time to make the birch tree back drop.
My original plan was to buy wall decals of birch trees. Considering that I waited until four days before the party to really start prepping, I found myself in a bind. I couldn't give up on the idea, so I tried to make them. My first thought was painting a large canvas and hanging in the middle, but the scale looked odd. I Googled birch trees and then played around with watercolors. Turned out to be a free project that only cost me about 2 hours time.
If you need large scale party decor for a back drop, don't discount watercolor on butcher paper. You'd be surprised what you can come up with! I'm thinking large flowers, pine trees, balloons...all of these would be simple to replicate if you had an example to look at.
...and here is what the after party looked like. Happy Birthday to my precious Gemma "Bean". Your first year was my most exciting yet.