So the little one has already reached her 1st birthday and what a year it has been! With this grand milestone, a party was imminent. A chance for friends and family to gather and an opportunity for Mummy to get a little creative. We decided to make use of a beautiful local nature reserve that came with a rotunda and managed to score a brilliantly sunny spring morning.
Here are some photographs of the party and I’ll let you in on how it was all put together.
Firstly, I’ve said before I think invitations are a great starting point when creating a party. Our little girls’ name is Emma Skye so based on that I decided to run with a ‘sky’ theme. I know themes can somewhat seem a little daggy but I quite enjoy working with limitations and I figure that you can pull off just about anything if it’s executed well. Little Emma loves a good swing in the park so I thought I’d put her amongst the clouds…cute hey?
Now for some decor. In keeping with the ‘sky’ theme, I grabbed some fabric scraps from my local craft store and just knotted it around string to give a soft cloud type vibe. It might not be ‘slap in the face’ obvious but I was going for that ‘shabby chic look’ and just wanted to stick with the colours from the invite. I also put together a little photo montage of Emma’s first year. All the photos were taken in the same washing basket several months apart. It’s a great little momento because admittably, looking at them surprises me how much she has changed! I printed these at my local photo store; I think for about 10 cents a pop, cut them out, stuck them onto some backing card and laminated them. Finally, I stuck a magnet on the back and voila, a little keepsake for each of the guests. I just pegged them to a decorated hoola hoop that was fastened to the ceiling of the rotunda. Also, I made a little badge for the birthday girl and her big sister by just printing them on the home printer, laminating and using the hot glue gun to fix them to ribbon. The girls happily wore them (Emma tried to eat hers) and they got tattered throughout the day but that’s okay; it was just a bit of fun and something to make them feel a little special.
When our first born had her first birthday party I made a thumbprint guestbook for our guests to leave a print and sign their name. At age 3 Isla still loves it and is always asking who belongs to each thumb/finger print. Inevitably I had to do one for Emma. So for about $15 from the local craft store, I picked up the hard canvas board and used a black paint pen to illustrate a little girl swinging from the clouds. I just kept an ink pad and the pen by the board so our guests could sign away. Also, I just had some small wipes close by so our guests didn’t have to go home with blue fingers!
The party was in the morning as this is when kids seem to be at their best and it was really all about the kids! So as there was no need to provide a meal I thought we could offer a little brunch. I just ordered croissants (we found out we were pregnant with Emma whilst holidaying in Paris) from the local bakery and had my parents pick them up on their way. My husband placed them in a picnic basket and they smelt delicious and were still warm! I highly recommend doing this; it was really easy! All I had to do was make up a couple platters of ham and cheese and I bought a few jars of jam and nutella and let the masses do what they wanted with their croissant. There were none left so I think it went down well. My mother-in-law bought some fruit and I asked everyone to bring a thermos of hot water if they wanted to have a cuppa as we had no access to power being outdoors. I supplied some cold water with citrus slices and that was it…very simple. I knew we needed to save room for cake!
As the party was in a nature reserve, I kind of laid low on preparing games for the kids in hope that they would amuse themselves. But I don’t mind a spot of pass the parcel and it seems that some things never change! I wrapped a small trinket between every layer. Personally, I’m not really sure this is necessary but we did make sure very child had an opportunity to open a layer and therefore get a gift. It took a while but finally the parcel reached Emma on the final layer (surprise surprise) where she received her gift from Mummy, Daddy and her big sis… an engraved cake knife and server. The perfect cue for cake time!
Well naked cakes are all the rage right now and I really wanted to make a ridiculously, over-the-top, huge, reaching for the sky sized cake so I did. If you’re thinking about making one of these I highly recommend it; they are really simple to make (easier than working with fondant) and it looks good, actually better I think, if it’s a little rugged, albeit shabby chic. Because there was going to be so much cake I opted to provide no sweets other than fruit. No slices, no cookies, no jellies. Just cake. And plenty of it. And because this was the only sweet I thought it would be good to provide options. So with 5 tiers we had 5 different types of cake. I asked my Mum to bake the bottom 2 tiers, chocolate mud and white mud. I made a dark chocolate ganache for the mud and a white chocolate ganache for the white mud. And then I made a gluten free orange cake which I iced with a orange buttercream, a gingerbread cake that was iced with cream cheese icing and topped off with a coconut cake that was also iced with buttercream but I added desiccated coconut and coconut essence. It really was quite simple. I just baked the cakes (baking 3 layers separately per tier), made the icing, sandwiched the cake together, placed them on cake board, inserted dow (from my local cake shop) trimming the dow level to the height of each cake. All of the cakes were taken to the venue where I then assembled it 30 minutes before the guests arrived. It would’ve been nice to have a little longer but it worked well based on the rustic theme. I just place cookies that I’d made earlier, the name plate which I’de made the week before along with the cake topper to match the garland around the rotunda and some beautiful flowers from the local florist. All dusted off with icing sugar. It was yum!
Rather than lolly bags I wanted to have a go at making cookies for everyone to take home, little kids and big kids alike. So I just googled cookie pops and followed the instructions. Simple as that. Then I used the same cookie cutter to cut out rolled fondant which I pasted onto the cooled cookies using a touch of water and a pastry brush. Using a letter stamping kit from the cake shop, I stamped ‘EMMA’ or ‘LOVE’ on each one, bagged them up and knotted them with twine. I was able to do this a few days before the party. It was also a fantastic activity with the 3 year old!
With all that cake in the belly it was time for some exercise! Again, sticking the the ‘sky’ theme, I made a piñata by grabbing a couple old cardboard boxes, cutting them into a cloud shape, filling it with sweets and trinkets, covering it with one layer of paper mache (torn newspaper strips dipped into a paste made from mixed flour and water) and decorating it with white crepe paper. I was pretty slap dash with this because I figured it was only going to be beaten up anyway! Mind you, I did a bad job of securing the string to hang it so my dear husband had the unfortunate job of holding it whilst the kids took to it with a cricket bat lol! In the end the kids were no match for the layers of masking tape and paper mache so I had to help out! Haha!
Now I need to make mention of the fact that some of the photos throughout this post have been taken by my father-in-law, and a good friend whom volunteered to grab my camera on the day and to them I say ‘Thank you!’. I love being behind the lens but I also find the lens can create a shield from all the action (I’m sure photographers will get it) and on this day I wanted to be amongst the action! But I also wanted to take some snaps of beautiful little Emma so I actually did this a few days later when Isla was at kinder and I could just focus on the birthday girl. I have to say, she makes a stunning little model, constantly laughing and cooing with her cupcake in hand. On the cupcake, it was a refined sugar free, gluten free, healthyish variety topped with coconut cream because as much as I wanted these pictures and wear the ‘photographer cap’ it seems that the ‘Mummy cap’ can never be removed lol! But I’m glad I took these pics; they just make me smile.
Lastly, I just wanted to thank all our guests for coming along to Emma’s party. So I chose a couple pictures, had them printed and made some little cards that doubled as envelopes. They were able to be posted and hopefully our guests opened them and saw Emma’s smiling little face and bought a little smile to their face too!
And that’s a wrap. No more first birthday parties for this little family. Please leave any comments you may have below by hovering over and clicking on the little plus sign on the bottom right-hand-side or if you have any questions just ask! Also, if you’d like this party theme just email me and I’m more than happy to send you the working files for you to personalise : ) Also, if you want to dive a little deeper into the thought process of creating a party like this, check out my pinterest page where I’ll open up my ‘Inspiring Emma’s Party’ board. Just click here to see it.