• Girl Birthday Parties,  Product + Service Reviews

    Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 1st Birthday Party for a Girl

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    Last Sunday, we did it. We hosted our third daughter’s 1st birthday party. That’s right. Her 1st birthday party is in the books.

    AND, two daughters went before her.

    This time around I kept it sweet + simple. (I might have gone a little teeny-tiny bit overboard with the first two. Don’t judge me.)

    Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 1st Birthday Invitations

    For 1st birthdays I always do a real, tangible invitation on card stock. They’re personalized + customized. Generally, I order them from a designer that also prints them + then ships them to me — envelopes included!

    After their 1st birthdays, evites, Punchbowl + Paperless Post invitations it is!

    This time, however, I took too long to figure out the theme so I ran out of time to order invitations to be printed + shipped my way.

    Instead, I bought a template/file from an Etsy seller. I downloaded it + customized it + then uploaded it to print at a local printer.

    Venue

    We also did things a little bit different when it came to location. We had the first two 1st birthdays in our home. This time, we opted to rent the Art Room at a beautiful local community center.

    The rental fee was reasonable, unlike some of the other locations I considered. It was also sort of a blank canvas where we could decorate as much or as little as we wanted.

    Bonus is they included chairs + tables in the cost of the rental. I did have to pay for the linens that covered the tables. Again, it was a minor cost.

    Food + Drinks

    We catered the food this time as opposed to buying + making the food ourselves or ordering pizza. We catered it from our favorite local gourmet Mexican place — Coyote Grille.

    The food was amazing + it included them delivering + setting up the food.

    We bought our own drinks, cups, plates, forks, etc.

    Cakes

    Simply Desserts did our first two girls’ 1st birthday cakes + smash cakes also did Emmy’s cakes. They are ah-mazing + delicious!

    I paid a little extra to have the main cake + the smash cake delivered. It is the best money I could ever spend to ensure nothing happens to the cakes.

    Plus, they set the cakes up for me + add the cake topper.

    Decorations



    This is another area where I toned it waaaaaaay down 🙂

    We decorated her high chair with a skirt + ONE banner. My sister-in-law was going to make it but something came up so I ordered it + a ONE banner from Amazon.

    We added an entire roll of tulle to it to make it fuller + to get it to reach around her high chair tray.

    I also ordered a star mylar balloon, latex balloons filled with star confetti + we added a Princess mylar + some white latex balloons to fill out the balloon bouquet that we attached to the back of her high chair.

    I also ordered + hung two star banners (pink, gold + white). My sister-in-law usually makes the banner too but something came up.

    She had a plastic mat under her high chair (requisite Twinkle Twinkle Little Star theme), along with cups, plates, dessert plates + napkins.

    I added gold plastic forks + spoons.

    Like her sisters, she also had a chalkboard sign (by Grace Notes Lettering on Etsy) listing her stats as a one-year-old.

    Voila. Decorations complete.

    It might be tough to be the third child 🙂

    Birthday Girl Outfit

    She had to have a themed outfit for the occasion — of course! I bought gold sequin pants (which were a huge hit). Everyone commented on her pants as they arrived at the party.

    I ordered a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star 1 Onesie from an Etsy (Noelle by Design) seller + gold sequin shoes from Amazon. We topped it off with a little sequin crown with a 1 on it.

    Music + Entertainment

    We brought in our Bluetooth speakers + played kids’ music from my husband’s iPhone. We also hired a facepainter from our neighborhood to paint the kids faces.

    I bought a star craft for the kids + had oversized coloring sheets + mini crayon packs on the two kids’ tables to entertain the kids that came to the party.

    Most of the kids at the party have moves so they danced to the music on the “dance floor” space in between the kids’ tables + the cocktail tables that were set up for the adults.

    All in all, everyone had a lot of fun. It was a fun + sparkly theme + totally different from the 1st birthday parties we threw for the first two girls.

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  • Gifts for Kids,  Girl Birthday Parties

    The Kid Birthday Tradition I Do Every Year (For All 3 Girls)

    I am not HUGE on traditions but I am a bit nostalgic so as my oldest daughter was approaching her 1st birthday, I wanted to come up with a kid birthday tradition I could carry out for her from year to year.

    Kid Birthday Tradition Letter

    I picked something that is near + dear to my own heart, which is writing. I decided I would write her a letter each year on her birthday. I would share with her what she accomplished that particular year, what she was like, what she did, what was going on in her world.

    After writing the letter (usually with tears streaming down my face), I put it in an envelope + write the birthday she is celebrating that year. So a big number 1 for her 1st birthday.

    Kid Birthday Tradition Continues

    She just turned five this last September, so she has five letters in five envelopes tucked away in my drawer. As my second + then third daughters arrived, I carried on the tradition with them.

    (Well, not yet with my third because her first birthday is in a couple of weeks.)

    As my second daughter joined the tradition, I started adding their names and the birthday they are celebrating to the envelopes so they each have their own set.

    What to do with the Letters

    I haven’t quite decided if it’ll be at 18 or 21 or 25 yet, but at some point, I will stop writing the letters, place the envelopes in a pretty box + gift them to each of my daughters.

    I think they will enjoy reading their letters to see what they were like as they were growing up. Especially since it is through my eyes.

    By the way, I handwrite each of the letters + envelopes.

    I do this for a couple of reasons.

    1. The art of a handwritten notes/letters is lost
    2. I want my girls to see my handwriting
    3. A handwritten note/letter is so much more personal than a typed one

    Do you have a birthday tradition for your littles? What is it?

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  • Gifts for Kids,  Girl Birthday Parties,  Holidays

    #1 Reason I’m Giving My Kids Experience, Not Toy, Gifts

    Have you seen that YouTube video Girl Moms vs. Boy Moms, where they paint this picture of what it is like to be a mom to a girl in a light that it’s all cupcakes and kitten licks, while being a boy mom is all chaos and mayhem?

    To this I say poppycock!

    I have three girls, a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 10-month-old. Every single one of them, including the baby, is like a hurricane (and I know hurricanes because I am from Florida).

    In fact, this is what the older two girls’ room looked like this morning (I’m embarrassed to even reveal these pictures):

    This isn’t even the worst I have seen it look, either. The “stuff” doesn’t stay in their room either. It seems to overflow throughout the rest of the house, which means I get to spend every night walking through the house picking up the items nobody else bothered to pick up and return to their rightful home. 

    I have tried all sorts of toy clutter solutions. I bought those pretty bins to put on shelves. I bought a toy bin holder. The best of the toy clutter solutions that I could find is to stop buying toys.

    The Top Toy Clutter Solutions

    This, my fellow mamas, is the #1 reason I vow to not buy any more toys as gifts. This does not even include the 9lbs. (I wish I was exaggerating) of trash, toys, toy parts, books, cups, pieces to various games, arts and crafts pieces, and papers I cleaned out from behind and underneath their bunk bed.

    Ridiculous.

    I was so angry while I was cleaning out this mess. This is exactly the moment that I proclaimed no more.

    On the way home from church last week, I had this exact conversation with my husband. I told him that our house is too small, they have too much crap, they don’t take care of the crap they have, and they don’t put away the stuff they have so NO MORE STUFF.

    I told him that I think we should give them experiences instead. 

    I would rather spend our money on taking them to the theater (our oldest has been asking about seeing The Nutcracker) or catching the Fancy Nancy live show that is in the area, or having them dine with their dolls at the American Doll Bistro.

    I’d rather pay for an extra vacation each year.

    I’d rather fill their calendar with even more free library programs than we already attend or pay for additional dance classes, soccer, or whatever the heck it is they want to do than to fill our house with even more stuff that nobody cleans up but me. 

    I would rather deposit extra money into their college funds than spend one more dollar on stuff.

    Educational Toys & Books

    We have overflowing bookshelves of kids books. We have bins bursting at the seams with puzzles and educational toys and games.

    At this point, we don’t need anymore. Plus, the two older ones, especially, have educational items in their kindergarten and preschool classes.

    PLUS, we can borrow and return most of these items from the library!

    This, this, and this are all the reasons why I am choosing to just say no. In the eyes of my kids, this probably makes me “the worst mom ever” but I can live with that. In the long run, they’re not going to remember or benefit from all of the stuff they have.

    The experiences they have, however, they will remember for a LONG time. 

    What about you, Mamas? How do you feel about toys and all of the stuff your kids own?

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  • Girl Birthday Parties

    7 Steps to Create the Perfect 1st Birthday

    I’m getting ready to plan my third 1st birthday party for my youngest daughter. Two have gone before her and as a former event planner (in my former single life in Miami), I tend to go a little crazy with it and tend to be a bit of a perfectionist (I know, there’s no such thing as perfection but tell that to my inner planner.).

    I write this post as much as a reminder for myself as to share with you the steps to take to create as perfect of a birthday party as possible.

    Step #1 Pick A Theme

    Whether it’s a character theme, color theme or some other theme, picking a theme for the birthday party makes it easy peasy to plan E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. It’s sort of like homing in on a niche if you’re opening a business or writing a blog.

    When you have a theme, it really narrows down the options for all of the party items you need and want for the party. For example, if you’re having a pink and gold theme, you automatically know that you need pink and gold decorations.

    If you’re having an outdoor picnic/BBQ theme then picking foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and watermelon is easy.

    The theme for my oldest daughter’s 1st birthday was a ladybug theme.

    For my second daughter, it was a pink poodle theme.

    I’m still working on the third daughter’s theme but I better work quick because her 1st birthday is two months away:)

    This might lead you to the question, “How do I choose a theme?” I admit I spent hundreds of hours in Pinterest-land coming up with ideas for themes and then for the ways to pull the theme off.

    In the end, though, the themes came to me rather simply. My oldest daughter is Kate but we called her Katie Bug the Ladybug when she was little — hence, the ladybug theme. We also call her (still) Kate the Great so we easily could have pulled off a superhero theme, too.

    I sang a song to my second daughter, Audrey Grace has a pretty face, to the tune of the Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace (changing the words to fit a baby and a blue-eyed girl instead of a brown-eyed girl) so it was natural to have a 1950’s sock hop pink poodle theme.

    I can’t say I am having the same luck with my third. I do sing Emmy Anne to the tune of 2 Live Crew’s Get it Girl. Probably, not appropriate for a party theme, though 🙂

    Leah, over at Home Growen published a series on planning a Winter Onederland Party. You can check out the series for ideas, free printables, and more. 

    Step #2 Pick a Date

    This may sound so like duh to you. Of course you have to pick a date for the party but it can be a tiny bit more complex than you think. You have to consider holidays and long weekends or dates that might be out of the question for your invited guests.

    If you’re planning to have the party at a place or venue, you have to pick a date that the location is available. Even if you’re having it at home, you have to pick a date when you can have your home guest-worthy.

    For all of these reasons and more, pick a couple of dates. If your first choice is booked at the venue you want, go to your back-up date.

    Step #3 Pick a Place

    You really have to have a theme and a date in place in order to move on to all of the other steps of planning a 1st birthday party. The next big decision is to nail down the location. If you’re hosting the party at home, then it’s not a problem to quickly move on to the next steps.

    If you’re booking a venue, then you have to locate the one you want that can hold the number of guests you’re expecting and that is available for your party date. Usually, the venue also needs to fit into your budget.

    Step #4 Order + Send Invitations

    For the 1st birthday, I still send pretty/fun/festive hard-copy invitations. (Subsequent birthdays get Punch Bowl invitations.) I chose shops on Etsy that provided custom invitations (and party supplies like decorations) that fit my theme.

    Step #5 Plan the Menu

    I always try to coordinate the food and snack items with the theme. So for the ladybug theme, I served red and black snacks and candies. We also served hot dogs and hamburgers, which did not necessarily fall into that category.

    Same was true for the pink poodle party theme. We served hot dogs on an old-time hot dog roaster (50s-style), popcorn, along with pink and white candies and sweets.

    Step #6 Decide on Decor

    So far, we have had 1st birthday parties at our home. For my oldest daughter, we rented some tables and chairs and black and red table covers. I bought a banner, hanging decorations, and wall decor from Etsy. I bought ladybug paper plates and cups, along with red and black utensils from an online party store that had a ladybug pattern I liked better than the local party store.

    My sister-in-law is such a good sport so if I forward her the files, she prints the decorations and cuts them, assembles them — the whole shebang! Some Etsy sellers offer downloads so you can do this yourself or they will ship you the finished products.

    Audrey, of course, had pink poodle decor, favors, etc. As you can see in the picture, we also did chalkboard signs. We also opted for favors so this is something to consider when you’re ordering/buying the supplies you need and want.

     

    Step #7 Order a Cake (Don’t Forget the Smash Cake)

    For the 1st birthday, we always go big or go home when it comes to the cake. Kate and Audrey both had a two-tier cake. Both also had a smash cake that was all their own.

     

    Go forth and party 🙂 I’ll keep you posted on the baby’s 1st birthday party, which theme I end up choosing, and how it all turns out. She turned 10 months yesterday and I think she’s super excited that there is cake in her near future!

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