To say that this little nugget of goodness had a 'good' time at his first birthday party is the biggest understatement ever. Nash partied like a rockstar and had a blast. We're so glad for this although we did prepare ourselves for potential baby melt downs and crying fits, just in case. He was actually the most pleasant, attentive, laid back and observant little fella. And how about the man of the hour wearing an ensemble that totally matched the decor...love it! Those suspenders (below) killed me, ha! Even Zola was in her party attire, a sparkly puppy sweater!
Although it saddens us to think he'll never remember the 'details' (or this party in general) we still attempted to spare none and kinda went all out. Ok, we did. We went all out! But not in the budget category, I feel like I have some goodies to share about how I lessened the load involving that. Read on for all the tips and tricks that I think really helped the day run smoothly and kept the cost pretty low.
I'm so indebted and thankful that my dear friend Amy over at Agape Photography was able to capture a hand full of these images. Her son is only hours younger than Nash so I made sure to repay the favor and snap as many pics at his party as I could. We both agree this is a great way to sit back and enjoy the party without having to work a photographer's pricing into your budget. What a blessing!
So let's start with the front of the house. We bought the most hilarious blow up birthday cake at Garden Ridge for $25. Even though it's tacky and hilarious, we thought we could use it year after year to celebrate Nash's big day. Maybe, as he gets older, he can sleep with it in his room all lit up on his birthday eve. So we thought this was money well spent to start a tradition. We were all excited to show it to him the morning of his party and then guess what happened. He freaked! He was so scared of his giant blow up birthday cake, ha! We also grabbed those gorgeous yellow mums at Whole Foods for $9 a pop and I think they really jazz up the entrance too.
Here's the layout about the food/buffet table. I took some plain white canvases that I use for numerous crafty/photo projects ($9/two at Hobby Lobby) and I covered them with fabric and used the same design technique as the trio of adorable handmade felt owls in Nash's nursery HERE. We just spray painted the letters and grabbed some bright green ribbon and bam, some large wall art to commemorate the BIG ONE! I framed some of my favorite recent and newborn pictures of Nash, thanks to the amazing talent that is Mel Cole over at I Heart Photography. Some fresh lilies in my maternal grandmother's statement making vase and we're ready to rock!
PS - Make sure to read in tips and tricks way below about my process of scoring and designing around this gorgeous brown/white fabric.
So I wanted something really AWESOME to showcase Nash the second our guests walked in the door. This is one of our favorite pictures of him so I originally had it blown up as an engineer print at Staples for around $4. When I went to pick it up, it had huge streaks through it and looked hideous. I spoke with the copy center manager and she actually offered me the full color enlargement for the $4 engineer print price. Though that meant coming back to Staples a day later (we all know how much fun that can be with a tot in tow) I knew it would be worth it. We just covered up a framed print we already had hanging there so it was a super simple change. And guess what? I think we'll just leave it. It makes me happy!
As for the banner, I'm forever grateful for my friend Christy who came over on a 'school night' and helped me Cricut a few things. She was such an angel to help me and guide me because even though I'm familiar with a Cricut, it's all new to me. I hung each banner letter on some twine with tiny little clothespins (50 for $2 at Walmart) and we just tacked it into the wall. Easy peasy! Oh and that can of 'wipes' is actually Nash's guest book but I'm saving that project for a subsequent post, just fyi.
We displayed all of our favorite pictures by using more of that 'favorite' fabric and attaching the pictures to twine we ran across via more tiny clothespins. Easy peasy and we just covered a painting we had hanging there and will easily remove all the staples and be back to normal in no time. Yes, this is still hanging pretty in our tv room. Nash loves to laugh at all his pictures so we just can't bring ourselves to take it down yet.
We had to share some of his 'watch me grow' pictures since I really was so good about taking them monthly and weekly. The top row is Nash laying on the panda bear that my parents made him (more on that HERE, holy smokes how tiny was he?) and some of those pics are downright hilarious! The bottom row is his monthly pics that I shot in addition to our monthly family picture. HERE's an idea of what I'm talking about with his monthly pics.
The simplest (and cutest) wine glass markers you've ever seen. More info on how to make those right HERE! Instead of magazines we obviously used pictures of Nash.
So I have to take credit for this one. So many of the Moms at the party stopped me and said, 'Ok that was genius, did you find that idea on Pinterest?' And I'm just being honest that this 'idea' came right out of my own Momma Bear noggin. What's so special about the above layout? Well, I used some of our fabric that carried through all the decor and just tacked it onto a wall, along with eight balloons. I then (stay with me, this is the good part) laid down an outdoor tablecloth (one side is wipe-able and the other side is white and fuzzy...it even has a zipper with a hole, similar to THIS) and called it a day.
It was a cooler day so I knew I didn't want to stage Nash's cake smash outside, though I've had a ton of friends just pop the bebe in their highchair outside and that works find too. But I wanted to dress it up a bit and get that perfect shot (or two) with easy and quick clean up. While Walt grabbed up cake smeared Nash and took him back in our room to clean him up, I just picked up that wipeable tablecloth off the floor and headed outside with it. Two seconds to clean up while the party was still going on was GENIUS. Ok, maybe I'm overdoing it with the genius talk, but it was really nice to get right back to our guests after the mega cake smashing fun!
And even though we asked everyone to please NOT bring presents and the evite even stated that 'your presence is your present'...a ton of close friends told me you just can't resist bringing a gift to a first birthday party. So we decided to wheel out this amazing wagon that was gifted to us by our good friends the Cotters (their older kiddos got many good years of usage out of it before they handed it down) and we used this as a present corral. PERFECT!
I made sure to wrap a few of our presents to Nash and plop them in there so it didn't just look like a random empty wagon inside our front door. Ya know, just waiting for a child to climb in and scoot around in. And I strategically placed it between the couch and a chair, so it would be really hard to maneuver out.
We gave little bath squirters as favors and my Cricut friend Christy helped me cut these little tags and I just stamped them with my thank you stamp. I think they took about 10 minutes to throw together and seriously, what child doesn't love a new bath toy?
As we were planning the menu for Nash's party, we started to realize things could get really expensive when feeding the possibility of 50 people and their kiddos. Uh oh, what to do? We started to think about how we wanted the party to be 'all about Nash' so I decided to do all his favorite foods. Although sauteed greens, pureed zucchini and avocado are his top three...those wouldn't be a huge hit at a party. So we opted for his party friendly faves. I made sure to write a little note to our guests so they wouldn't wonder about the random assortment!
What did we end up serving? Pizza (it was on a huge white platter right there in that empty space and we made sure to get each slice cut into thirds so it was kiddo friendly, a GREAT idea), cheetos, Pirate's Booty Smart Puffs, hummus with goldfish, cut up grapes in cupcake wrappers and bananas cut into thirds for smaller hands to easily handle.
So about these here Smart Puffs. I wrote Pirate's Booty and just told them that Nash absolutely loved their puffs and they are an all around family favorite that we consider the perfect 'treat!' And guess what they did? They sent us about 40 individual bags of puffs for the party. How sweet is that? Had to give them a shout out for their generosity and yummy snack options!
So I'm not going to lie, I was sort of stressed about the idea of making so many cupcakes. I love to bake and I even asked my sister for her number one cupcake recipe and just looking at it made me quiver. Why? I just didn't want to spend the entire day before in the kitchen. My parents were going to be here and I just really wanted to enjoy the time with them and not feel stressed, at all. So I started shopping around for cupcakes and although there are so many great bakeries in Austin, I couldn't say no to the deal HEB offered me. $7/dozen and guess what else they throw in? A free smash cake for any first birthday. Whaaaat? So bam, done and done. And HEB is the grocery store that's literally within walking distance of our home. Score!
And here's his sweet little smash cake. They asked me what my 'colors' where so I told them brown, turquoise and bright green. Although the colors weren't spot on, his cake certainly was cute and you can't beat the price tag: free! So I splurge and purchased a sweet little bunting at Hobby Lobby for $4 and just added some cake pop sticks and baker's thread and we had ourselves a celebratory tiny man smash cake.
Tips and Tricks
Since we had children of numerous ages in attendance at Nash's party, I also added some party hats and a couple buckets filled with punch balls and kazoos (thanks Lauren for the hand me downs) for the older kiddos. I might've thought through this a bit more because the kazoos did come apart into a smaller white piece and was probably a choking hazard. Thankfully, no babies were harmed in the making of this party, ha! I did see the older kiddos having a blast with all three options though.
For the little guys, I actually laid down a big quilt in our tv room surrounded by ALL of Nash's toys. I think this was a great way to sort of 'define' the space for playing and it also meant no freaking out if something was spilled, etc. Whenever I'm at someone's house I know there's a natural flow that they're used to, but it's hard to discern when you don't live there. The quilt idea surely helps. Plus, I just popped that sucker in the wash when the party was over and that was that.
I made darn sure that I fed Nash at his usual lunchtime. Although the house was buzzing with 40+ people, I wanted to 'serve' my sweet birthday party boy all his favorite foods. An empty belly baby is a cranky baby in our house so as soon as that munchkin had a full tummy, he was off to the races again, having so much fun with all his buds!
Yep, we had a ball pit in one corner of our tv room and it was AWESOME! As you can clearly see, all ages were enjoying the 'pit' and having a blast. I scored the balls used from a friend with older kids and then I added a few more bigger balls to the mix. The pool was one we got a few years back for our good friends, The Rileys, when they came to visit with their two twin boys. It was such a hit, I can't suggest it enough for an indoor party with different ages of kiddos.
We also made sure to have a little sitting area outside, complete with a pint sized adirondack (don't laugh) for the little folk. Some of the older kids were throwing the football with the Dads and others were just racing around the backyard, as kiddos do. Having an outdoor 'area' was a last minute idea and I'm so pumped Walt scored these chairs last minute.
On our evite we specifically put 'your presence is your present' because Nash clearly needs no more toys. But our generous friends and family showered him with so many awesome gifts that we would've never thought of. We didn't plan on opening gifts when everyone was there but a few of the older kids asked us if Nash had opened his present yet. As the party was dying down, we actually took some time to open those gifts that the older kids had had a hand in and it brought me so much joy. Those sweet angel kiddos that love on our Nash at their age just amaze me. I hope one day our boy is just as generous, sweet, kind and loving towards a tiny little one year old nugget friend!
Now for the fabric. So I was really having a super hard time wrapping my head around a direction, theme or colors. I went to Hobby Lobby for a few hours one day and found a stunning chevron print and I fell in love with. But it was almost $9/yard and we would need about 6 yards to be safe (tablecloth, covering the O-N-E canvases, the yearly faves picture display and lastly his cake smash backdrop) so I didn't want to splurge all of our budget on fabric. I kept looking. Low and behold I stumbled upon this gorgeous 'outdoor' fabric in the clearance bin at Joann's for, get this, $4/yard. Bam, done and done. I went home with 7 yards and got to work. I think it really helped pull everything together from room to room.
Here are the thank you cards we sent out to those that generously gave/sent Nash a present. I'm sure there were many eye rolls but we absolutely loved them and Walgreens did a great job with the print and mail system. I wanted them to be on matte paper and Walgreens had them to us in just a few days.
Finally, I really do want to thank my Mom. There is no way I could've pulled all of this off without her help. She flew into town the Thursday before Nash's party (it was on a Sunday) and immediately and generously helped me for days. She was such a trooper and I still wasn't feeling great at all (more on those crazy hormones HERE) so it was almost imperative that she was here. My Dad arrived on Saturday afternoon so it was absolutely awesome to have them here in Austin for the big event. We can't thank them enough for all they did to help with the party...including my Dad, as he was on 'Zola duty.' He held our sweet tiny angel the ENTIRE TIME! We absolutely love y'all!
And just in case you were wondering how Nash's cake smash went, he was such a champ! And yes, he even stepped in it at the end...SILLY GOOSE!