I think there’s a lot of pressure on parents these days to throw the perfect birthday party. Don’t get me wrong, I love scrolling through Pinterest and getting party ideas, but I ultimately take what I see and try to narrow it down (I can’t imagine planning a wedding with Pintersest and Instagram now, birthdays are crazy enough!). With Liam’s first, I wanted to keep things simple but still pick a theme and have fun with it. I was determined to not overwhelm myself with DIYs and a never- ending list of ideas, which for the most part I think I succeeded at. I also kept the party smaller than I usually would have; even though I would have loved to invite a few more friends, keeping the guest count down helped the day go smoothly and kept the stress level low (it also kept the budget a little more manageable).
I went with a ‘True North’ theme so I could repurpose most of the decor in his room and for future use, in addition to using items I already had instead of splurging on a bunch of new things that I probably wouldn’t use again. While I love seeing styled dessert tables, I opted to bake him his cake myself and keep the sweets to a minimum. For better or worse, I pulled it off (you’ll see it below- I fondly referred to it as my ‘half- naked hot- mess cake’ and it still makes me laugh) and I honestly liked loved how imperfect it was. Again, my focus being on enjoying the process and the party itself, rather than getting hung up on the details. I still had moments of frustration when things didn’t go the way I hoped, and of course it’s challenging being the host of birthday parties, since it can be tough to enjoy the moment and the company as you’re running around. But overall it went well and I loved celebrating my little man’s first birthday. I still can’t believe the day has come and gone, but I loved how it rolled out, and I hope this is proof that a party doesn’t have to be perfectly styled to be perfect.
For favours I did a mini bean seed kit. Rather than send kids home with candy I gave them a cello bag with everything they needed to grow their own bean plant (just add dirt and water): In a seed pot I popped a bean in a smoothie straw that I’d cut in half, stapled at each end and covered in washi tape. I then had a friend bag them for me and tie them up with twine for a cute finishing touch (thanks again Bronwyn!)
I created a memory photo wall as a fun way to show how Liam has grown and changed over the past year. All this took was twine, washi tape, and paper clips. I picked some of my favourite photos and had them printed in squares for an Instagram- inspired photo wall.
For food I did a make- your- own sandwich station with poutine and a trail mix bar, plus lots of fruit and veggies for snacking. I bundled wooden cutlery with a napkin and a paper bag so guests could scoop their trail mix and nosh at the party or take it to go. And to avoid mixing up cups there were little canvas tags and a sharpie so everyone could keep track of their drinks.
… And then there was the cake. I was going for a naked cake, layers and all, and what I ended up with was this creation. I’m no Martha, but I tried and even though it’s not the prettiest thing, it tasted pretty good (and Liam liked it, which really is the most important thing I guess 😉 ). I used vanilla frosting and tossed on shredded coconut to try and redeem my efforts (I’m even laughing as I type this!). It was fun whipping up the sponge cakes and having the chance to bake it from scratch. I didn’t make it gluten/ dairy free just for a refreshing change and picked up some store- bought treats for Ari. I just didn’t think I’d have the time/ energy to make two versions of a cake and I’m glad that I opted to simplify the baking to one option.
… And if the birthday boy liked it, I guess that’s what really matters?!?! <3
I still laugh when I think about that cake, and the day really went well thanks to the help of Will, my Mum, and a few good friends lending a hand, so overall I’d say it was a success. I’ve been reminded recently of how easily we can get caught up in the details and miss out on the bigger picture and even if this party wasn’t styled up the wazoo, it was about celebrating this little human who has brought so much joy into our family and making some precious memories to look back on. Thanks to everyone who made his celebration so special, I’ll look back fondly on Liam’s first birthday because of those I got to share it with.
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