Brody's birthday party has officially made the rankings as one of my favorite days of motherhood (thus far, of course). Celebrating the milestones, amazing memories, and even the early struggles of our first year together was a great reminder of what a blessing this little guy has been in our lives. Today I'm sharing all of his birthday party details and what I learned planning my first toddler party. Be warned---picture overload!
We held Brody's birthday at a local park (Tumbleweed Park for those that live in Phoenix). We lucked out with his birthday being in March, since the Arizona weather is usually beautiful. The park was the perfect setting---playground space for the older kids to play and a shady ramada for the adults and babies to hangout under. It's also a bargain--the total cost to rent the ramada for half a day was under $40. The only tough part about hosting the party away from our home was not being able to set things up a few days beforehand. Thank goodness for all of our extended family who pitched in to set-up the morning of. The park was such a great setting for toddlers that we will probably do the same next year.
The ramada we rented only had two picnic tables inside. Since we wanted to make sure there was enough seating for our guests and the kiddos, we set-up a kid sized picnic table next to the ramada. My dad built a wood table top with three 8' planks from the hardware store. He varnished the top of the planks and using cinder blocks, we created a toddler height table. We also set-up Brody's play tent (from this DIY post) and it served as the perfect gift drop area.
We kept things simple with the food--a sandwich, chips and a piece of fruit. To spice it up, we ordered wooden berry baskets to hold the picnic lunches. Inspired by these beauties, I painted the edges of the baskets to match our party colors. Nothing fancy, but an easy lunch to eat at the park.
One of my favorite sayings "a party without a cake is really just a meeting" served as the inspiration for the dessert table. We draped a festive piece of fabric over a white tablecloth to add a pop of color. My mom made our wedding cake a few years back, so we thought it would be special to have her make Brody's smash cake as well. She covered the outside in blue ombre dots to match the decor. My sister-in-law is a talented baker, so she made mini rice krispie treats and dipped the corners in chocolate. She also made confetti cupcakes that we topped with pinwheel paper straws (thanks Target dollar section!). Since it was a bit toasty on the playground, we filled up a container with ice and frozen otter pops--the perfect way to cool off.
You probably remember this post where I was all over the place with trying to figure out a theme. Ultimately I scratched all plans for a theme and just went with a blue color scheme. This made life so much simpler. The main decorations we used were giant bunting, balloons, and honeycomb clusters. The giant ombre bunting was a simple DIY using 12"x12" card stock. I followed these simple directions to make it. We also swagged gold bunting from some of the trees around the ramada.
The toddler picnic area was so much fun to put together. We used turkish towels instead of traditional picnic blankets. I've been obsessed with turkish towels lately--they are so versatile and the perfect size for our little family of three to sit on in the grass. We tossed a bunch of pillows around the table to make it a little more cozy. Most of the pillows came from World Market (their velvet pillows are a bargain!). For a centerpiece I gathered up 40+ tissue paper honeycombs and created a cluster of them. Here's a great honeycomb DIY if you want to try to recreate this yourself. We filled in the empty areas with balloons. It was a massive centerpiece, but it really gave the party a celebratory feel.
Things I Learned:
Recruit the Family
The whole party was a family effort. From setting up to baking the desserts and everything in between, having our family pitch in made the planning and set-up processes 100 times easier. Gather up your friends and family and have them help make the day perfect.
Use What you Already have
It is easy to blow a lot of money on birthday parties. Rather than buying one time use decorations, we tried to be practical with what we used. For example, many of the pillows that were used on the toddler picnic area were from Brody's nursery. The turkish towels that served as picnic blankets will be our beach towels this Summer. The play tent that was used as a gift drop is the play tent Brody plays in at home. Be resourceful. You will be surprised by how many items in home your home can make fun decorations.
Hire a Photographer
The biggest investment we made for the birthday party was hiring a photographer. It was worth every penny! Elizabeth Lawlor spent an hour taking family photos before the party started and hung around for the first half of the party to capture all of the special moments. I didn't have my phone or camera on me the entire time. It was such a great feeling to be able to be in the moment with my little family.
Focus on Decorating a Couple of Areas rather than the whole place
My friend (who happens to be an event designer) gave me this golden piece of advice as I was frantically trying to pull the party together. Rather than making sure every table had a centerpiece and every corner of the ramada was covered in decorations, I decided to put the focus on two areas---the toddler picnic table and the dessert table. These two areas made a big impact, so the little areas that weren't as decorated went unnoticed.
Invitations | Gold Bunting | Oversized Ombre Bunting (DIY) | Playful Fabric (on Dessert Table) | Dessert Table Sign | Wooden Food Baskets | Glassine Bags (for Sandwiches) | #1 Balloon Stickers | Turkish Towels | Tissue Honeycombs (and Michael's Craft Store) | Blue Pillows + Polka Dot Pillows
I still can't believe we have a one year old! I am not sure when it will actually sink in, but in the meantime, I am so grateful for the wonderful friends and family that have been with us on this fun journey.
PS: Brody's birthday party was featured on Project Nursery today as well. Check it out for more fun glimpses of our celebration!