Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Host a Cute Party If You Are Not Crafty or Rich

How to host a cute party if you are not crafty or rich - just a few things I learned from Sam's first birthday party.... (and I promise this will be the last time I talk about it!)

1. Skimp on invitations. I really love to design cute post-cards/invitations/etc., and I had big ideas for this party.  But, when I settled on a budget, I quickly decide that an Evite was the way to go.  It was easy, cute (they even had a couple of designs to choose from in my color scheme), FREE, and people actually RSVP'ed.  I think there is a time and place for the paper invitation; but, this was the way to go for this one.

2. Speaking of invitations, keep your guest list small.  I learned the hard way back in my wedding planning days, that the best (maybe only) real way to save money and stress on a big event is to cut your guest list.  It is definitely one of the hardest things to do, but it makes such a difference.  Would I like to have had every single person Sam had met in his first year of life at his party? Sure! But, keeping our invites to just family and close friends eliminated a lot of pressure and added expenses/stress.  PLUS, the smaller you make your guest list, the less people get their feelings hurt if they aren't invited.  I'm sure we have plenty of parties in our future where we hand-out invitations to every kid in the class, but I'm glad we kept this one more "intimate."

3. Don't be a shopping snob.  NOTHING from my party came from Etsy.  (I know, can you imagine?!?)  Not that I don't love Etsy, but I learned from this party that you can find a lot of these cute "trendy" party items at places like the Target dollar bins, The Dollar Store, and Amazon.  Walmart's party section probably impressed me the most.  They had TONS of photo-booth accessories, paper products, favors, etc. for REALLY great prices.  (The 1st Birthday Banner was $1.50 and the mustaches on a stick were 97 cents for three.  You get my drift?)

4. Cut the fat.  Err... That's just a cute way of saying that you really don't need to have TONS of food.  I decided that giving people the option of hotdogs and hamburgers at a summer cook-out was not a necessity.  For Sam's party, we opted to do hotdogs only because, to be frank, they are cheaper (and delicious).  They also require less time on the grill and fewer condiments - chili, onion, mustard, ketchup.  Shockingly, not one guest complained about the absence of hamburgers. :)  I'm sure this concept could apply to lots of different menus (steak and chicken?), but this is the one that mattered to us.

5. Ask for and accept help.  This one should be underlined fifteen times for emphasis.  I COULD NOT have thrown Sam's birthday party without the help of our friends and family.  (Ironically, the same friends and family we invited to the party... You see how that works?)  When people asked if they could bring something, I said "yes."  In fact, I hardly made any of the food that was served.  When people asked if they could make something, I said "yes."  That adorable banner? Jeff's mom.  The candy bar? All my mom. Sometimes, I even asked for help - like my friend Bekuh and the cute chalk photo frame.  It was as easy as that... There was a time in my life (not very long ago) that I would never have accepted help.  I would have wanted to do everything myself so that people thought I had it all under control and so that I could take all the credit.  But, again, if motherhood has taught me one thing it is not to take myself so seriously.  I needed help, and I am lucky enough to have people in my life that are willing to give it.  It's a win win.

6. Multi-task with party decorations etc. A LOT of my party-supplies were things I already owned (or swiped from a relative's basement).  For example: the highchair, the wheelbarrow, the tent and quilts, the vases, bulletin board, etc. etc. etc.  This is the BEST way to go.  BUT, if you do decide to make some purchases put them to work for you after the party too.  Case in point, you will likely see the same teal and red theme (i.e. paper fans, lanterns, and banner) in my "classroom decoration" post in a few weeks. 

Ok, I'm certainly not an expert, but I learned a little and always like to share.  Now it's your turn!  What are your tips for throwing a party without breaking the bank or the sewing machine/glue gun?

Friday, July 20, 2012


I hadn't planned to blog today - we are rounding out our little vacation afterall - but, it is stormy right now and the beach house is quiet as my parents are out and my boys (both of them) are napping, so I decided to catch up on some reading... One of the first posts I saw was Libby's announcing that her friend, Ellie had delivered a baby boy last week.

I'm a sucker for birth stories, but this one immediately stood out to me because I met Ellie back at Laura's shower in February - where we talked about blogging (she and her husband have a really awesome DIY blog that I actually talked about on here one other time).  Anyway, she wasn't pregnant then...  So, I knew something wasn't quite right.  As I went on to read the rest of Libby's post, I learned that Ellie had delivered Tucker at just a little over 25 weeks last Friday - Sam's first birthday.  Although he seems to be a little fighter already, Ellie and her husband Tommy (who is the area director for Young Life in the Richmond area) have a long road ahead of them...

I really don't know the Sibigas, other than our one little meeting a few months ago, but this is especially resonating with me as the mom of my own little boy born on July 13th just a year earlier.  Things like this put life into perspective so quickly.  While I was worrying about the after-party mess in my house and whether or not Sam was too young for a petting zoo last week, this sweet family was beginning the toughest battle of their lives... I don't really have the words to express how much gratitude and un-worthiness I feel right now.

Tommy and Ellie love Jesus.  They are not doing this alone.  Their Tucker is a very very loved boy already.  And, I have no doubt, they will get through the next three months, year, lifetime, stronger and more in love with each other and their God.  BUT, a little extra prayer on our parts won't hurt either.  Will you join me in holding your loved ones just a little tighter this weekend and praying (hard) for Tucker and his brand new mom and dad? Thank you!

Read more about his story here

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Just Some Stuff

- Last weekend, Jeff and I went to a wedding of a friend from high school is Charlottesville, Virginia - which is, seriously, one of my favorite cities.  The wedding was at a vineyard and absolutely beautiful!!  Plus, the bride has amazing taste and I was pretty much obsessed with all the vintage-southern details.  One of the coolest things - although I'm not sure the couple would agree - was that a huge storm brewed during the whole ceremony.  The sky was an incredible blue and purple and the thunder echoing off of the mountains was so cool.  Luckily, the rain held off until the outdoor ceremony was over and we moved inside for the reception.  Perfect timing.  If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably already seen these; but, I had to share a few photos.  They aren't great quality - obviously - but I think they capture the overall "feel" and style of the wedding.

- I did it.  I bought fashion glasses.  I found these at Urban Outfitters in Charlottesville.  They were only $10.00 and have absolutely no prescription - so I can totally see out of them.  What do you think? Do I look like a super academic AP English teacher? (Pay no attention to the fact that my one year old has a pacifier in his mouth.)

- Have you guys seen this awesome deal from GroopDealz this week?  J-Crew inspired bubble necklaces - like the one I wore at Sam's party - for just $20.00.  I know!!!  I ordered #6. (I'm pretty sure the wait for them is super long now - like a month - but it is still totally worth it.  Get them here.)

- Oh, and have I mentioned that we are at the beach right now?  We arrived yesterday, and we/Sam are loving it! Despite his very fair skin, I think we might just have a beach baby. :)

Don't worry... He is greased up in sunscreen like a pig.  Those cheeks are flushed from heat, NOT a sunburn.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Teal and Red First Birthday Party

(Sorry this is late... By now, you probably know that that's just how I roll.)

When I first starting planning and pinning for Sam's first birthday party, I wasn't really sure what direction I was headed.  But, as my "vision" and "purpose" (of course you can have those things for a birthday party, why not?) came into focus a little more, I realized that a lot of the cute themes out there were better suited for older kids.  So, I started a new board of "parties I can't wait to throw when Sam is older" and decided that since we were only going to have one guest (other than the birthday boy) under 25, it just didn't make sense to plan elaborate details for kids (i.e. favors, games, etc.). However, I felt really strongly that the overall "mood" of the party should be happy, fun, and a little whimsical. Here are a few other things I knew going into party planning:

- I wanted the party at our own house for sentimental reasons.
- I wanted to be able to use outside, but not be dependent on the weather.
- I wanted to use Sam's my new favorite colors teal and red.
- I wanted to incorporate elements that would remind guests what it felt like to be a kid again.

*This party was my rough inspiration.

In the end, I think all of those things were accomplished, and I was happy with the result.  Of course, I don't think the photos really capture the spirit of everything, but since hiring a professional photographer or inviting you all to see it in person didn't really fit into my "keep it simple" theme, these will have to do...


As guests arrived, they were greeted with this adorable side-walk chalk "picture frame" done by my friend Bekuh.  This doubled as a photo-booth, complete with plenty of props.  (Pretty sure this is going to be on our front wall until we move one day.)
Moving into the house, the living room was filled with red balloons and Sam's monthly photo banner.
This was the only "craft" I did for the whole party.  Clothes pins on ribbon - that's my kind-of project!
Also in the living room, I included the Happy Birthday book by Dr. Seuss (which just happened to be in my colors) for friends to sign like a guestbook of sorts.

The dining room is where I focused most of my decorating energy...
My favorite part - the vintage candy and toy bar.  This was mostly my mom's baby.  Isn't it SO cute?  And, I, of course, loved showing off our pictures too.  I even included a few copies for guests to take home.

We asked guests NOT to bring gifts, but I knew they would anyway; so, we use the wagon from Jeff & I to hold them.
I set-up the sunroom the way I would have done the backyard if the weather wasn't so iffy... It worked out fine.

Drinks were in the kitchen and on the deck.

Even Addy got in on the fun.

Sweet Birthday Boy

Later this week, I'll share a few more details and a post on "How to Host a Cute Party If You Are Not Crafty Or Rich."  Until then, thanks for caring about my little party-planning adventures and the milestones of our little family (I still can't believe my baby is ONE).  You all make everything that much more fun!

- Chalk art by Bekuh Browning
- Photo booth props from Target, Walmart, & my basement
- Dr. Seuss birthday book from Amazon
- Bulk gumballs from Sam's Club
- Banner made by Jeff's mom
- Paper products from local party-supply store & Walmart
- Paper balls and fans from Party Factory Direct via Amazon
- Highchair from Poppy's basement (it was mine when I was little)
- Cake by Sarah G
- Candy and toys from The Dollar Store, Target, & Cracker Barrell
- Birthday hat from Steinmart
- Photos by Howe Captivate
- Wagon from Amazon
- Ball from Target
- Quilt from Jeff's grandma
- Tent from Ikea (Jeff's mom already had it)
- "1st Birthday" banner from Walmart
- Addy's "outfit" from Walmart

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Before I Post My Party Pics

Just something I feel I need to get out of the way before I start throwing party photos all over the place...

After my post on birthday party anxiety  was hit with so much controversy, I actually felt even more stressed.  The new voices in my head told me that I was an awful parent for wanting to have a party and I should just bag the whole thing all together.

The response to that post (which you probably noticed, I kind of ignored until now), was actually a really good heart-check for me.  While I was only about half sincere in what I wrote, I do think that part of being real is admitting that sometimes our motivation for doing things isn't 100% pure. BUT, that doesn't mean that there aren't good and right reasons for doing those things too.  Let me explain.

Out of all the comments and emails I got about Sam's birthday party, the advice of a close blog friend with a recently-turned one year old - If you want to throw a big shebang, DO IT! If you don't want to, don't!

Baby Sam will love you regardless - rang the truest...

When I thought long and hard about my motivation behind throwing an extravagant birthday party, I realized that it did have some to do with having cool pictures that people would be impressed with on my blog; but, it also had a lot to do with the fact that I like entertaining.  I like party planning.  I like thinking up themes and decorations and watching it all come together.  It is something that really makes me happy - the way photography, or singing, or painting might be for some one else.  I also like celebrating.  ANY reason is a good enough one to celebrate in my book, but my baby turning ONE and me surviving all the challenges and joys of the first year... That's a DARN GOOD reason to celebrate.

So celebrate we did!

And, even if I lost a blog follower or two, I'm glad I actually went through with my plans for the party.  I had a blast planning and getting ready for it; and, I think any time my son gets to see his Mommy "coming alive" it is a good thing.  Plus, even though he probably won't remember a single thing about it, we have wonderful pictures to show him one day.  And to share with the blog world tomorrow. ;)

All that said, if I learned one thing during my first year of motherhood, it is to ASK FOR HELP.  This party (although I, well really Pinterest, came up with most of the ideas) was a labor of love from SO many people.  I had a lot of help; and, largely because of that,I can honestly say that I was never stressed out about it.  I'm excited to share it tomorrow because 1.) it's cute and 2.) I think it is proof that you can have a cute party that is still relatively simple, inexpensive, and craft-free.  I'll try to share some details on how we accomplished that in my photos.

Until tomorrow!

P.S. I realize I've now made it sound like this was the most extravagant/greatest party ever.  It really isn't anything that special. Just be prepared.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Wishes for You on Your Very First Birthday

Dear Sam,

Every day now you are becoming more a little boy and less of a baby.  (Thank goodness for your bald head - it's just the right amount of baby to keep Mommy happy.) When I look at your precious smile and your big blue eyes, I see a future FULL of laughter and adventure and love; and, although I wish I could slow time just a little bit, I am SO excited to hold your hand as you take those first wobbly steps and, when you are strong and ready, let you go to walk alone...

You didn't get to blow out any candles at your party last night - call it my "motherly instinct," but I didn't think fire on a smash cake was a good idea.  So instead, I thought I'd share some of my wishes for you on your very first birthday....

Know that you belong to Jesus; and, be known for your love for people.

Be strong, but gentle and kind.

Love being at home; but, don't be afraid to leave it when the time is right.

Never get too old to throw your head back and snort when you belly laugh like you do right now.

Read good books every single day.

Let your hair get too long (it's taking its time getting here, and it won't stay forever - feel free to remind me of that when I start complaining that it is in your eyes.)

Respect girls, pray for your wife, and remember that your mom was your first love.

Continue to smile at strangers.  (But be careful with this and girls as you get older.)

Hold the door for old people, pregnant women, moms w/ babies, actually - just hold it for everyone.

Dance (preferably, like your daddy).

Work hard - in school, on the sports field, at your job - but don't be defined by your performance.

Know how much you are loved and how much joy you have brought to so many people.

Sam, the last year has changed me...  I am better because of you. 

I love you more than I ever knew I could!

Happy First Birthday, Sweet Boy!

First birthday photo shoot by HoweCaptivate.  (Look for party pictures and details on Monday.)

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