Sunday, April 1

Brock's First Birthday

We've had a busy and crazy week this past week, and everything has kind of been a whirlwind, so this is a little late getting posted. Brock turned a year old the Monday before last (3/19), and Blaine and I both took off work to celebrate the day with him. Then Saturday we had his actual birthday party with family and a few friends. Both days were so much fun, and I loved watching him experience the excitement of balloons and cake and presents. Now I'm catching up and blogging about it all.

While we may be reserved when it comes to gifts at Christmas (remember my post about our policy?), I am all about birthday presents! I love, love, love birthdays (with a preference for my own until I turned 26, and now I'm kind of over my birthday... I can't even keep track of how old I am anymore). I love the concept of birthdays: that it's your special day that you came into the world and that everyone celebrates you and all the years you've lived. I love the parties and the gifts and the gathering of family and friends. I love surprises and cake (Oh, I love cake a lot) and party themes and cake and games and fun. Did I mention I love birthday cake?

Anyway, it probably goes without saying then that I plan to do really great things for my children's birthdays. I remember my mom always throwing my sister and me the best parties (we almost always had to share parties because our birthdays were a day apart, but I hated that because she was three years younger than me, so that meant all her little friends were there with mine, ugh. I was a mean older sister). One year we had a food-fight party with a wheelbarrow of disgusting mush (wet bread, noodles, jello, etc.) to throw at each other while we all ran around in bathing suits and then played in the sprinklers afterward. The slumber parties were the greatest, with food and nail polish and movies and girl gossip. Oh man, I miss those days.

Now, I don't think that really great parties equal spending tons and tons of money so don't get me wrong there. And I didn't want to go overboard for Brock's first birthday because I've seen some pretty crazy first birthdays out there. I did want to do something fun, and I also wanted it to be something that all his little cousins would enjoy coming to (he has quite a few). I think it was a success because my nephew Jackson told me as he was leaving, "This was the Greatest. Party. Ever!" (Although, he has a precious tendency to be that enthusiastic about lots of things so I'm not sure if it was a completely accurate assessment; I'll take what I can get though.) I thought I'd write a little post about Brock's birthday and his party (or maybe a not so little post since I've already written four paragraphs and I'm only now just getting into the actual topic).

On his birthday day, we unfortunately had to go to the doctor that morning so that wasn't such a great thing since he had to get shots. But he came home and took a nap and then afterward we gave him his presents. I didn't wrap them because I figured he'd rather just be able to play with them immediately. So this is what he woke up to after his nap:

He was slightly more excited about the balloons than anything else, but that was okay. Then after he played with his presents a little while, we ate lunch at Chick-fil-a, went and got some thumbprint cookies from the bakery, and then went to the park near our house. Sadly my camera battery went dead so we only stayed at the park a few minutes because as Blaine said (in what may have been a sarcastic tone), "There's no use being at the park if we can't document it on camera." So we came back home, Brock took his second nap, then we went back to the park and had more fun (with better lighting, I might add). Then we went to the Tropical Sno place down the road and let Brock have his first shave ice. We topped off the evening with dinner at O'Charley's, compliments of my mom.

Now, on to the actual party. I've been planning for two or three months what I was going to do, not because it really required that much time but because I'm a big planner and an admitted Type A personality. With the help of a sweet little website known as Follow Me on Pinterest I was able to find all kinds of ideas and tips for the party. I decided I wanted to do the theme based on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It's one of the books I have read to Brock since he was just a few weeks old, and he has really grown to like it. He loves the part where the caterpillar eats through all the fruit and he'll flip each little page to get to the next fruit. So I thought it would be a cute and easy theme to work with.

I looked for invitations to buy, and there were some you could order from Etsy, but none of them really looked like what I wanted because they were mostly generic versions of the hungry caterpillar and didn't look authentic. Plus they were a little too expensive. So I decided, as I usually do, that I was just going to make the invitations myself. I have found over the past few years that I really, really like making party invitations. I've done them for friends' bridal showers, lingerie showers, and baby showers that I've thrown. I wish I had taken pictures of all the ones I've made so I could show you here, but no luck. I only have this one that I did for my friend, Kerri's baby shower last year:

It's so much cheaper, I think, to make your own invitations, and you can personalize it and make it exactly the way you want it. I found a website (via Pinterest) with some genuine hungry caterpillar clipart that you could download for free, so I headed to Hobby Lobby and found the scrapbook papers I wanted and set to work. Using the free clipart, my scrapbook supplies, and my computer and printer, I came up with this little guy, and it only cost me about 25 cents an invitation since all I had to buy was the paper:

I wanted to have the party at Gilbert Stephenson Park because it is only like 2 minutes away from where we live, it would be free, and we wouldn't have 30 people in our house. You never know what kind of weather we'll have in March, so that was a frustration, and I was on every day for about a month before the party, with my fingers crossed that it wouldn't be rainy or cold (both of which it did end up being). We had a backup plan at my grandmother's apartment clubhouse, but I really wanted to have it at the park so all the cousins could play on the playground and not be bored.

My friend Kristen had saved the paper poms we made for Kerri's shower, so I borrowed them from her to use as decorations for the pavilion since the green, orange, and yellow colors all went pretty well with the Hungry Caterpillar theme. I won't post a picture of what they looked like hung up because I kind of ran out of time and couldn't hang them the way I really wanted to, so they weren't very fantastic-looking, but the picture I had planned in my head looked amazing. A side note, I saw at Party City that you could buy a pack of three pre-made paper poms for $6. Do not ever spend that much money on those! These are so easy to make, and depending on what size you wanted, you could make two or three for just $1 if you buy your tissue paper at the dollar store. Here's the link to a tutorial on how to make these, and this is what they look like up close.

I got orange, yellow, and green tablecloths, plates, napkins, and cups from the dollar store and found a cute polka-dot table cloth for the food table that matched the theme. I wanted to somehow display Brock's monthly pictures that we took for the first year, and I had seen some different styles of hanging banners on Pinterest. Then when I noticed I had extra invitation paper leftover, the idea came to mind to make a caterpillar banner. My only regret was that I didn't have a way to hang the banner up at the party because it was too windy and it would have fallen apart. So we just laid it out flat on the gift table.

I also had a ton of pictures that I had printed off that didn't have a home in any picture album or frame and were just sitting around so I thought I'd make use of those and put them on a cork board to display. This was fun for the people at the party who don't follow the blog (I know, it's shocking but true that even some of my family members don't!) and haven't seen most of those pictures before.

To add to the theme, I cut up all the fruits that are in the book and printed off little labels that quoted the book. I stuck the labels on little wooden dowels and used whole fruits to hold them in place, which looked pretty to me. These were Pinterest ideas and not my own.

I got some thumbprint cookies from a bakery down the road from the park, Sunshine Bakery Boutique. I wanted to do thumbprint cookies, one, because they went along with the polka-dot theme and, two, because I love thumbprint cookies more than it should be humanly possible to love thumbprint cookies (sometimes I go buy them just as a random treat for myself... which probably explains why I can't lose the 20 pounds I keep complaining about). I was going to put them all around the caterpillar cake as the dots from the book, but the caterpillar cake ended up being so amazing that I didn't even want to add anything to it. So we just set them aside on a plate by the book as extra decoration.

Since the hungry caterpillar turns into a butterfly at the end of the book, I figured the end of the party could be associated with a butterfly. Another Pinterest idea... I made little butterfly party favors with sour gummy worms, ziploc snack baggies, and clothes-pins. I forgot to take a picture of these at the party, but this was one that was left over that came back home with us. He lost his little antennae though. The others had tiny blue pipe cleaner antennae at the top of the clothes-pin. I also printed off hungry caterpillar coloring sheets for all the kids to take home. (Here's a link to the printable in case anyone else wants one.)

Finally, the pièce de résistance (which is just a fancy French phrase, meaning "the best part"). I had seen a cute caterpillar cupcake cake on Pinterest and asked my crafty and super talented mother-in-law if she thought she could possibly make one for the party. From my own personal experience with stuff I make, I try not to get too excited about how something is going to actually turn out looking because it usually ends up nothing like what I had in my head (remember what I said about the pom decorations up there?). And she had even texted me that day saying she was worried that it wasn't what I wanted. I think she was just trying to throw me off though because it was perfect! It looks just like the Hungry Caterpillar. She put black sprinkles on the top cupcakes to look like the caterpillar fuzz. She made edible chocolate antennae and chocolate feet and even died some coconut green to look like the grass. The caterpillar head was the "smash cake" for Brock to dig into (which was kind of anti-climactic because he only wanted to use a spoon). My one regret is that this was the only crappy picture I got of the cake! What's wrong with me?! I loved it though!

So that was Brock's first birthday, A Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party. Other than the rainy, cold, and windy weather, I felt like it all turned out really well. I loved planning it and putting it together, and I look forward to many more fun birthday parties. Although one lesson I learned is that future parties for him will probably need to be indoors because I'm too much of a control freak to do outdoor parties in Spring weather.

No comments:

Post a Comment