Monday, August 10, 2015

Oh, Baby! What a Delicious Year It's Been.

I chose the theme for Coco's first birthday because I was following an Etsy shop on Instagram (beachtownbaby) and first birthday shirt with a donut on it popped up in my feed.

I was sold on this theme for two reasons: (1) cuteness and (2) easiness. All I had to do was buy donuts! The adorableness made itself happen.

So I ordered the shirt (I actually love the baseball style, but got a short-sleeved onesie since we planned to be outdoors in August). It shipped quickly and the customer service was super friendly.

A quick Etsy search brought up a slew of donut invitations, and I thought this one was the absolute cutest (of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have the most adorable baby model, but I'm sure there are other babies who come close).

My friend Kristin volunteered to make donut cookies for favors (she is ridiculously talented and I had no idea how lucky I would be when I first e-mailed her and demanded that she be my friend).

Photo credit AND amazing cookie credit to Kristin - you can't really see the scale here, but the biggest ones were maybe the size of a quarter? a half dollar? Everything is cuter in miniature and these were so cute and tiny!
After that, everything else kind of fell into place.

I've learned a few things about myself and parties: (1) I enjoy making decorations and I want it to look "pretty"; (2) I don't enjoy food prep; (3) I have more fun if I have a drink.

So, I planned accordingly. I made decorations in the form of a Coco-face banner (of which I have ZERO photos because I was TERRIBLE and our camera didn't even come out of the bag--I snapped a few pictures on my iPhone but was mainly relying on my dad's pictures. He got some good ones of party guests, but it didn't occur to him to take pictures of the food or decorations. Bummer. I'm seriously sad about it, and next time I'll remember to ask a friend to document that stuff because my good intentions flew right out of my head once the party actually started--Kristin did this at Zuzu's party and she did a great job.)

Kristin snapped this photo of F and Coco and the awesome long john F selected. I was trying to have Coco stand next to F, but she insisted on sitting down right next to her, just like a big girl.
Aside from the Coco-face banner (it looks pretty much like this one, except with Coco's face) Since we were outdoors at a park pavilion, I was keeping the decorations really simple. I repurposed the Happy Birthday banner I created for Zuzu's first birthday (rainbow colors go with everything!). I did paint and decorate donut balloons, though.

I'd ordered these from Amazon (uh, but they have since quadrupled in price! yikes!) but when I first tried to inflate them, they were completely lopsided and looked like kettle balls (as several reviewers complain). I was ready to just give up, but then my dad managed to get them to cooperate. I gave them two coats of craft paint. They probably should have gotten a third coat, but I was running low on time since I did this the night before--I was afraid they would deflate if I blew them up too early. This fear was unfounded, as they are still going strong, so if you do this project, you can go ahead and paint them a couple days in advance (assuming you can get them to inflate all the way around!).

Once the paint was dry, I used a glue stick and glued on some tissue paper confetti to look like sprinkles. It was really a very simple project that turned out cute!

Of course they blew around in the wind and ended up facing the wrong way probably the majority of the time, but they made for a cute photo prop.

David's shoes make for a not-so-cute photo prop
(Until the birthday girl started picking off the tissue paper sprinkles and trying to eat them, and then the balloons had to be removed.)

I've also learned that it's more fun for me to start prepping way in advance. A few weeks ago, I was at Home Goods and I picked up three food tents since I knew we'd have sweet donuts outside and I wanted to keep bugs off of them. (Though I wish I had gotten these because they are collapsable!)

That same week, I found myself at Wal-Mart (I don't go there very often because Target is practically next door to me), and I happened upon their party aisle and decided to go ahead and pick stuff up while I was there. They had super cute quatrifoil patterned plates and napkins, coordinating table cloths, and inexpensive "Happy Birthday" tiaras.

Zuzu and Bop model the tiaras (which Zuzu kept calling "tortillas")
That just left food and drinks. Because I didn't want to do food prep, I decided to keep things very simple. It was a morning party (9:30am - 11:30am) and it was a donut party, so I was hoping that people would come just expecting donuts. We had glazed, sprinkles, long johns, donut holes, and those little powdered sugar donuts from the grocery store because damn those are actually really good. David also picked up kolaches (because they are my favorite), and we sliced up a watermelon. I debated on whether to have a bucket of popcorn to help cut the sweetness, but ended up skipping it and I don't think it was missed.

I filled up a big dispenser with ice water and sliced up lemons, and then put out juice boxes and milk cartons on ice. Finally, tucked away in a cooler, I had bottles of chilled champagne and orange juice for mimosas. (Because I have more fun at a party when I have a drink!).

I copied a Pinterest idea and filled little bags with Cheerios, then attached a cute tag and labeled them "donut seeds." I spread those down the center table, along with the party hats and tiaras, and stuck a mason jar with fresh flowers in the center.

I had cellophane bags for these and I COULD NOT find them. They disappeared the night before the party (still haven't turned up) so I had to use regular sandwich bags. Oh well. Still a funny joke that a few of my favorite party-goers appreciated.
I got to the park about 30 minutes early to start setting up. I chose Berra Park because it has a nice new pavilion (with nice, new bathrooms) and it is very compact--you can sit in the pavilion and see the whole playground (the big one and the "baby" one), plus the park has a fountain for water play. It's really the perfect party set-up, BUT you can't reserve it. It's just first-come, first-serve. I tried not to worry about this too much, because it's a small park in a little neighborhood and I have seen the pavilion open on lots and lots of weekends, but on my drive over there, I was still worried.

Fortunately, the pavilion was empty (save a guy on a bicycle filling up his water bottle) and I quickly got started with set up. A couple friends showed up early and helped me, which was a lifesaver (I probably should have brought my mom to help, but I left her at home to help out there).

Grammy and (sleepy) Coco
the pavilion - this photo taken from the playground
We'd almost finished getting everything out when another lady showed up and asked what time our party was--she was having a birthday party at 10am at the park! But obviously we'd taken over the pavilion. I genuinely felt bad for her (the pavilion isn't really big enough to split it in half), but she handled it super calmly and graciously (if our positions were reversed, I probably would have cried). Fortunately, there were a couple of picnic tables under some shade trees nearby, and she just used those to set up her party, so it seemed to work out okay. And I really appreciate how nice she was about it. But I wish the park would let you make reservations!

party guests

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As it goes with summer weekends, a few people we'd invited couldn't make it because they were out of town or (as with my friend Angie) pregnant and about to pop. They were missed, but we still had a nice turnout, including two sets of grandparents, and I enjoyed myself and felt much less frantic than I did at Zuzu's first birthday.

I think this one was easier because (1) it didn't start pouring rain right at party start time and (2) it wasn't at my house and (3) I requested no gifts, so while a couple of people brought gifts, I didn't feel like we had to make time to sit down and open them while everyone was there. Although I had to drag everything to the park to set up, it was actually much easier than hosting a big group of people in our house, especially since our backyard is so small.

I still wish I'd taken more photos, but I guess the way to think of it is that I really enjoyed being "in" the moment--I chatted with friends, I held the (sweaty) baby, I watched Zuzu run around the park with her bestie.

Zuzu appeared to enjoy herself
And thanks to our friend E, Coco got her share of playground time in, too.

look at that adoring smile!
Hilariously, we actually NEGLECTED TO SING HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I feel kind of terrible about that too (poor Coco, and her shoddy, half-assed birthday party). BUT since she'd actually turned one the day before, we'd made cupcakes and did the whole candle and singing event the night before. Do not fear! She really didn't miss out.

wanting to play with fire
the double point! (after a very dainty taste of frosting)
She flipped the cupcake over and attacked from the bottom, but overall wasn't super impressed. We thought they were delicious, so maybe she just prefers savory to sweet?
It made for a very low-key birthday party (next time, though, I'll make sure we sing!) and the only organized activity we had was the "Baby, choose your future!" game that we'd also played at Zuzu's first birthday.

A quick refresher: I chose five objects that represent five career paths (tiara = pageant queen; dollar bill and coins = entrepreneur; baseball = athlete; book = scholar; calculator = engineer). I lined them all up, then put Coco down so she could crawl toward them. The object she chooses indicates the career path she will follow.

At her party, Zuzu crawled immediately to the calculator and snatched it up, sealing her fate as an engineer (haha), but unlike her impulsive sister, Coco carefully scanned the row of objects, and truly seemed to be taking her time and making a decision. She paused very deliberately, looking back and forth between the baseball and the dollar bill, and then the tiara.

We were all waiting in anticipation, then she spent a long time she pensively watching an ant crawling near her hand. She watched the ant for so long we were ready to declare her a future biologist or entomologist, but at last she put her hand on the dollar bill, and all the people who guessed she'd be an entrepeneur were celebrating.

But, she left it lying there and crawled to me, fussing to be picked up. We declared her a future entrepreneur anyway, since that was the only object she actually touched. (Coco still wants to take two naps a day, and we were in her morning nap time window.)

Before this started, I had party guests write their name on a ticket and drop their guess as to which object Coco would choose into a little bucket labeled with the object and career path. Then I picked up the winning "entrepreneur" bucket and drew one of the tickets from there to give away the prize.

photo from Zuzu's birthday
The winner received a copy of Oliver Jeffers's book The Day the Crayons Quit, which is super cute. Our first winning name was Kristin's husband, at which point I remembered that their family already owns this book (should have planned that more carefully), so he graciously suggested I pick another ticket, and the prize ended up going to my friend Erika, who is expecting her first baby in September. So it was nice to add to the library of Coco's future friend.

The party favors were the sweet bags of cookies that Kristin put together (seriously, she should be a professional, they were SO adorable and delicious), so I sent people home with these:

another photo by Kristin - aren't the cookie bags adorable?
We spent the rest of the party just chatting, drinking champagne, and watching the kids play on the playground. It was a hot and muggy day, but it stayed pretty overcast and there was a nice breeze for the first part of the morning, so it was bearable to be outside but we were definitely ready to head into the AC by 11:30. (And poor Coco was so ready for a nap!).

Sweaty Lettie - so tired! I also like this photo because it more accurately shows off all the hair she has ON TOP of her head.
Most importantly, it was some of our favorite people, all gathered in one spot to love on Coco and celebrate the first year of her life. I'm thankful to everybody who helped out and everyone who showed up and made it such a festive little party. It truly was a sweet day to celebrate our delicious Coco-Puff.


  1. Seriously, what a great idea for a theme! Looks like everyone had fun! :)

  2. Love this delicious idea and baby.

  3. You're very kind and gushing. Thank you. And I'm SO sorry that I didn't help you take more pictures. I saw your dad with the camera, so I thought you were covered. And I wasn't operating at full capacity for sure, although I did bring my camera. I have learned throughout the years to delegate the camera to someone at all times - I hand it around - to make sure I get photos. And I try to take some before the party starts, but that doesn't always happen in the rush. Sometimes I take photos of things as I make them too, just because I know they don't always get photographed in the moment. I try not to be nuts about it - because honestly, it's not like I'm running some professional party blog or anything, and I like to enjoy the party too. But I know the girls like to look at photos of their parties, so it is a good practice. Looks like you caught the important stuff - and there's nothing wrong with staging some photos of next weekend's donuts with the leftover napkins and plates to round out the album. Make sure you get some of those smiley face long john's! They were so cute.

    It was a very fun, relaxing party, and the kolaches and coffee were EXCELLENT additions to the piles of sweets. Sometimes you can put a lot of effort into the food and no one eats. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the food. And my girls loved the party. E's a natural with the little ones. I think I should hire her out for child-minding at events :)

    Super party, and perfect for such a sweet pea.

  4. I love her in that baby chair in the last photo. What kind of chair is it? Hugs, Melanie

    1. My mom picked that up for her at a farm supply store--it says "International Harvester" across the back.