WHEW!! It has been a whirlwind few weeks with our trip to the lake and Parker James’ first birthday party! I don’t think I’ve recovered YET!
After thinking about it for a few days, I’ve realized that a baby’s first birthday party is probably the most stressful! It’s hard enough juggling the baby (and your other kiddos) all day. Add some party planning in the mix and you’ve got too many balls in the air!
Also, trying to keep to a babies routine around and during a party is SO tricky! (If you’ve read by post on routines you’ll know I don’t mess around! Ha Ha!)
PLANNING THE PARTY
Luckily, this party wasn’t my first rodeo, as they say. As I’ve said before in several posts, I have become very good at project management. (And yes! I still plan to write a post on this at some point!)
I’ve learned to space out my To-Do list so it’s done in small increments over a longer period of time. Sadly, I used to be that creative person that would think of something RIGHT before the deadline or event and stay up all night trying to do all the things.
It just can’t be done in one night or weekend. (Believe me I’ve tried!!) I’ve had to teach myself that even though the party isn’t for 3 or 4 more weeks, I need to use the time between now and then to cross things off my list!
When I first begin planning an event, I start by brainstorming themes. With my oldest’s 1st birthday party, I didn’t really want to do a whole “theme” like superhero or characters or anything quite yet.
I knew later down the road there would be time for all that fun! So I kept it simple and just used his nursery theme. We used elephants and chevron and polka dot prints for his nursery, so we just carried that over for his first birthday party!
I had a similar train of thought for Parker James’ 1st birthday party as well. However, unlike Jaden, Parker James didn’t really have an animal as his theme. We mainly just used gingham or large buffalo check farmhouse print for his nursery and accessories.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
For a while I toyed with the idea of having a “themed” 1st birthday party, but I just couldn’t come up with one I actually liked.
Once I realized we would be going the “gingham nursery” route, I decided to go for a soft, powder blue and white color scheme almost like a “fancy” baby boy shower.
Also, I started to picture where we would be throwing this 1st birthday party.
We typically throw Jaden’s in our living room/dining room area. His birthday is March 3rd so we usually have to do it indoors. However, Parker James’ is an August birthday.
Although it’s hot in St. Louis in August, we thought it would be best (for many reasons- one being that we were throwing a first birthday party in the middle of a pandemic… Shhh…) to have the party outdoors.
This way people could socially distance easier.
Parker James’ nursery gingham is a dove grey and white. Since his 1st birthday party was now going to be held outside, I decided that we should probably go with more of a summery gingham.
I chose a dusty blue gingham for his first birthday party theme. Now I was on the hunt for all things blue gingham.
For the main display, I thought it would be best to have a “pipe and drape” behind our table display. The blue gingham would be our backdrop for his 1st birthday party display.
It took me a while to find the right blue gingham fabric for the pipe and drape. Finally, I found a great tablecloth on Amazon that I figured could be thrown over the pipe and drape frame.
Because I liked the fabric so much, I decided to purchase two and use the second one to make Parker James’ first birthday party high chair banner. I had enough fabric left over to make a few table runners too which helped tie the party look of the party together.
Besides having a pipe and drape backdrop, I knew I wanted to attempt to put up a balloon arch or garland on the corner of the backdrop frame. For the balloon arch, I thought it would look best with powder blue and white balloons with a few gold sprinkled in.
Parker James has a wooden “name” sign hanging his his bedroom that I thought would be perfect to hang in front of the backdrop! We purchased the sign on Etsy right before he was born.
On Amazon, I found the sweetest 1st birthday banner that had cards for each month of his life so far! They were each labeled for the particular month and had a spot to put his monthly milestone picture!
For the rest of Parker James’ first birthday party decorations I honestly just used my own house decor! Like I said above, I knew I wanted his 1st birthday party to be more of a “fancy” baby shower so I used vases and flower arrangements as well as other home decor items around the house.
Also, I found the SWEETEST little birthday hat on Etsy that turned out SO cute!
Over the years, I’ve “perfected” my “signature” cake I use at parties. I’ve used recipes that are cakes made from scratch, but I’ve found that I am just too busy with the rest of the party to do everything!
So! I’ve come up with a “hacked” a boxed cake mix recipe that tastes INCREDIBLE!
(Subscribe below for my cake recipe! It will be posted soon!)
To be honest, I’m not really a baker… I just do the best with what I’ve got! (And it’s also SO much cheaper to do your own!)
I made the icing a powder blue to match the first birthday party’s theme and added little white puffs of icing as a trim. On Amazon, I found a cute “one” cake topper to give a finished, professional look.
For the baby’s first birthday smash cake, I knew I didn’t want him to be eating all the sugar in my normal cake recipe.
After doing a little research, I figured if I made him a banana bread based cake, made with almond and cassava flour with some light buttercream it would do the trick! His smash cake turned out SO cute! And he ate every bite!
HOW I MADE IT
PIPE AND DRAPE
Once I knew I was going to be using a pipe and drape backdrop for Parker James’ first birthday party, I toyed with the idea of borrowing or purchasing an “official” pipe and drape system.
However, after thinking about how they’re made (and how much I’d probably use it) I decided to make one!
Just a quick trip to HomeDepot.com for PVC pipe pricing sold me!
To make the frame, I knew I’d need:
We knew the table cloth was 5’ wide and 10’ long so the PVC pipe frame would need to be no wider than 5’.
Even though the table cloth could’ve been used on a frame just under 10’ tall, we thought it would be best to have the frame be only 7’ tall.
The PVC pipes came in 10’ pieces. We purchased three and cut two of them for the 7’ side pieces and the other 5’ for the cross piece.
This actually turned out to be a good thing since we could connect the extra PCV pieces to be used as the legs in the “tee” joints.
For the backdrop, I folded the gingham tablecloth at one end and sewed a sleeve to slide the PVC pipe through similar to a curtain rod.
The morning of the party, I used a needle and looped fishing line through the table cloth around the side PVC pipes. I stretched the fabric across the frame taught almost like a trampoline.
HIGH CHAIR BANNER
Since we were throwing a first birthday party, we knew Parker James would be eating his cake in his high chair. Of course, this meant we needed to “jazz up” his high chair a bit.
Many people I saw used tassel or flag high chair banners. But I wanted to do something a bit more unique.
After searching a bit, I decided to make a “skirt” style banner almost like a bed skirt or valance. I was even able to use the extra fabric from the second table cloth to make the high chair skirt.
MAKING THE PLEATS
After measuring the highchair tray, I made a rectangle piece of fabric as long as the tray (plus 8 inches for two pleats). To hang down as a “skirt” or banner, I made it about 14 inches wide (with an inch or so hem on either side).
Once all the sides were hemmed the fabric, I measured where the corners of the tray would hit the banner and made the pleats just in towards the center from there.
After some sewing and a lot of pressing, the high chair skirt was made! To personalize it, I grabbed my Cricut and some brown iron on vinyl and put his name on the front!
For the table runner, I used a similar technique to the high chair skirt. I used the extra tablecloth fabric and cut a 14 inch wide strip the length of the tablecloth.
After hemming the sides and ironing it, the table runner was perfect! I loved having all the different matching pieces to tie in the first birthday party’s theme!
Ok friends… Here’s where the fun begins. I’ve made many balloon arches in the past and I’ll be honest… I hated making them.
THE OLD METHOD
Because I didn’t have the right equipment or tools to make the process go smoother, I would be staying up all hours the night before an event, killing myself making the stupid arch.
My previous technique would be to blow up (myself withOUT a pump) a MILLION balloons. (I always underestimate how many balloons it actually took to make the dang thing!)
Next, I’d get a needle and thread….not even kidding you… and sew the ends of the balloon together. To do this, I’d have to walk the length of the room running the balloons on the thread to “stack” them together.
THANKFULLY! I discovered a NEW way that was incredibly easier!
THE NEW METHOD
First of all, I bought this air pump (under Parker James’ 1st Birthday Party Idea List) which made things SO much easier. Also, I know I’ll use it again and again!
While on Amazon, I saw a lot of balloon garland “tape” which is a strip of plastic with hole you could pull the balloon’s knot through. However, I didn’t even need that!
After blowing up several balloons, I would tie the bottom of two together like shoelaces. Once I had two “doubled” balloons, I would put their knots together and twist them a few times to make a “quad unit” of balloons.
I could continue to make quad units until I had enough to fill out the length of the balloon arch. (For this arch, I only needed about 6-7 feet).
To fit the theme, I used white, powder blue and a few gold balloons. For the base of the balloon arch (the quad units), I used only white.
Next, I took clear fishing line and wrapped it through all the quad units, linking them together. If you’re just going for a single color and single size balloon arch, then you’re finished!
I decided to add in size and color variations. The powder blue balloons were medium size and the gold were small. I simply taped the smaller blue and gold balloons in the nooks and crannies of the white balloon arch!
It would have been nice to have some pre-cut double stick tape squares, but rolled up packaging tape did the trick!
It’s important to know the timing of your event when making your balloon arch. Latex balloons don’t last long, especially in more extreme temperatures.
If I would have had the time, it would have been ideal to make the arch the morning of the party but there was too little time that morning.
It’s best to make it right before the event, if not the evening before and keep it inside as much as possible.
THE PARTY WAS A SMASH!
(Yes. That pun was TOTALLY intended!)
The party was a GREAT success. All the planning, crafting, baking and set up went smoothly and was such a hit! I can’t wait for the next birthday party or event we get to throw!
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To see all the items I used at the party, go to my Amazon Page! Have any questions about how something was made? Shoot me an email! I’d love to hear from you! Be sure to check out my other posts and Subscribe below! Follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!