This weekend, guys. This weekend was, without a doubt, one of the best weekends of my life. On Saturday, we celebrated my 32nd birthday.
I got to do exactly what I wanted to—lounged around, hung out with my family, ate delicious food (fried chicken and cheese grits, kids!), and drank delicious beer. It was everything I wanted for my birthday. And then on Sunday, we pulled together (most) of our friends and family to celebrate this spectacularly adorable now-toddler.
We had the best time at Juniper’s birthday party! It was low stress, super fun, and an absolutely perfect way to celebrate our easy-going little girl. The day was so full of love and joy—my face literally hurt the next morning from all the smiling I did. My cup runneth over.
Like I said, we kept Booga’s party pretty low-key—we wanted her to have fun, we wanted to have fun, and we wanted to be able to say “thank you!” (in the form of beer and food) to our friends and family for helping us get through the roller coaster that is the first year of parenthood.
We held the party at our house. It’s a good thing Juniper is a June baby, because our house is made for summertime birthday parties! Nine acres to spread out, play games, swim, and explore. We set up our carport as party central. I’m not the biggest fan of the carport for parking cars (I’d much rather have a nice temperature-controlled garage), but the carport is pretty much perfect for entertaining. It’s like a giant, covered party patio!
Decorations-wise, I did a lot of Pinterest perusing, and most of what I saw was a little too much for my taste, but I did borrow a few fun ideas—like displaying our Instagram photos from the year over the drink table.
I had this vision in my head that I would display all the Instagram photos Craig and I posted to our personal accounts over the past year. So I logged into my Costco photo account (Costco makes it super easy to print from Instagram—you just connect to your account directly), and then discovered that, combined, we posted 285 pictures of our baby girl this year. That’d be enough to wallpaper the whole house! So, I went ahead and got them all printed, and we plan on putting them in an album, but we narrowed it down to our favorite 50 to display at the party. Which was HARD.
We also hung up Juniper’s monthly photos along the snack table. I’m so glad we took these photos each month—it’s a blast to see how she changed from month to month—but I am so glad we’re done with it. It became such a burden in the last few months (and, shhhh, we still haven’t shot her last one yet).
We also had balloons! I love balloons, but since we live out in the middle of nowhere, getting and transporting balloons is a bit tricky for us—but I ended up getting one of these super cool recyclable helium tanks at our local grocery store. I just filled them the morning of the party, and didn’t have to stress about driving an hour round trip to the party store. It was perfect for the few balloon bouquets we needed.
Juniper’s party didn’t really have a theme (other than bright colors—who doesn’t love bright colors?), but we did use a lot of the number one everywhere. We live on a blind curve in the middle of nowhere, so it was important to well-mark our driveway. I put balloons on the mailbox, and then across the street at the top of the driveway, I put a sign with more balloons. I just cut the one out of a piece of cardboard, painted it white, then painted on circles using acrylic paint. Then I stapled the thing to a wooden stake. The whole thing was hammered into the ground the morning of the party.
For the door, I made a “wreath” by cutting letters out of white cardboard, covering them in glue, and then dipping them into rainbow sprinkles. Once the letters were dry, I taped them to some nice satin ribbon, and then tacked the whole thing to the top of our doors with a flathead thumbtack. The whole thing took me less than a half hour to make. Easy peasy!
There were a few other decorations we had planned, but they just didn’t end up happening. We were pretty happy with what we had! And hey, there is always next year (we already have a birthday party storage tote that’s holding what didn’t make it up this year).
Juniper’s outfit was super simple, too. I know a lot of people go all-out for first birthday outfits (especially for girls—holy tulle, Batman!), but that just isn’t Juniper’s style. I just appliquéd a number one (using this method) onto a solid color tank top (this one from Old Navy), and paired it with some denim shorts, a bucket hat, and her favorite sandals (these). The shirt took me all of 10 minutes to make—the hardest part was finding a store that carried solid color toddler shirts!
As far as food goes—we had a lot! But if you can believe it, I was too busy having fun to snap a single picture of the spread! Bad blogger. Bad. Bad. We set out veggies and dip, fruit, and cheese and crackers as a snack. And then for the main course, we grilled burgers (both beef and black bean), and had baked beans, macaroni salad, bean salad, corn on the cob, guacamole, and chips on the side. My parents helped out a ton with the food, and I did almost everything I had to do ahead of time, so I didn’t spend anytime in the kitchen during the party at all. All I had to do with pull it all out and tell people to come eat!
For the beverages, we of course had lots of local beers for folks to sample, but we also made sure to have lots of non-alcoholic beverages to choose from, too. And then, for dessert, we decided early on that we didn’t want Juniper to do her cake while everyone was there (we figured she’d be a little weirded out by 20 people staring at her, and we wanted her to have fun with her cake, so we waited). But I wanted to make sure everyone got their own taste of birthday cake—so I made a couple dozen cupcakes for everyone to snack on. The cupcake towers are paper ones from Martha Stewart (they worked wonderfully, and my hope is to store them for future parties), and the toppers were just numbers done the same way I did the wreath.
I went to grab a cupcake while I was holding Juniper, and before I knew it, she was scooping off all my frosting and shoving it into her mouth. I was covered in frosting. She was covered in frosting. And then she wanted to go share some with her Nana, too. It was hilarious, and adorable.
For Juniper’s actual cake, I baked her a small three-layer cake, and, of course, covered the whole dang thing in rainbow sprinkles. It’s a birthday! You have sprinkles at a birthday!
I’m so glad we decided to wait until the majority of the partygoers left to do her cake. I’m sure a lot of kids would be fine in large groups, but I know my kid, and she’d be majorly wigged out by two dozen people staring at her. Instead, she smiled while we sang her happy birthday and dug right into her cake! If you have a kid with even a little bit of social anxiety, I highly recommend doing the cake smash thing with just a few folks around—it’ll make it more enjoyable for you and your child.
Juniper is super into feeding people right now, so of course, she had to feed us all some of her cake. She’s such a generous little girl. And, hey, my cake was pretty delicious!
She made a pretty good dent, and then she was over it—that was a lot of excitement for a one year old. After the cake smash, everyone left, and then the birthday girl was set free to work off her sugar high. She was bouncing off the walls!
I know Juniper won’t remember the party, but I think she had a lot of fun, and I hope she can look back at the photos one day and see lots of love from all of her family and friends! We were so busy, we barely even managed to snap a picture of the three of us together—let alone any of the other guests. Our family as a whole is really terrible about taking pictures at family events (I blame it on the fact that I take pictures for a living), so we’re lucky we even snapped what we did. Hey, it’s more about experiencing life than documenting it, right?
I’m so lucky to be this little girl’s Mama. I can’t wait to throw many more parties to celebrate her, our family, and everyone who loves us!