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ONE Happy Camper

We wanted to give my sweet boy the best first birthday for making us have the best year of our lives! When searching for themes, I felt like I was seeing the same ideas and themes over and over, and definitely less ideas for boys! When finally stumping upon the camping theme I was left in the dark with very few ideas to go off of. I whipped up these details with the help of my mom and would love to share with you the day Rayden was ONE Happy Camper !

Among the Bracken: An Elegant 1st Birthday Inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit

My daughter’s first birthday party was held in our living room via Zoom. The COVID pandemic had just made its arrival known in the states, and everyone was in a semi-state of panic. What had begun as the joyous adventure of party planning quickly turned into a sad state of affairs. I still decorated; we had a smash cake and party hats, but I felt incomprehensibly sad for the experience our sweet girl had lost – that of a first birthday full of fun and friends and memories that we parents hope to give our children.
Flash forward three years, two more birthday parties for our daughter, and one new bouncing baby boy later. I was bound and determined to give my son not only the first birthday party that I’d dreamed of for my daughter, but the experience that I felt both of my children deserved.
Armed with the notion that this was quite likely one of my few remaining opportunities for a “precious” birthday party for our little boy (I know we will all too soon be embarking on an era of monsters, fire engines, and dinosaurs), I began searching for a theme. Who better to turn to than Margery Williams, author of our family’s favorite book? Enter The Velveteen Rabbit – the story of a stuffed rabbit’s quest to become real through the love of his owner. So deep is our love for this story that we created a gender-neutral Velveteen Rabbit nursery with plenty of vintage and farmhouse touches.
I’m a floral designer by trade and a homemaker by nature, so I really wanted to set the scene for sweet Charlie’s first birthday. After seeing a few bunnies dancing through our newly planted hydrangea bushes, I had a lightbulb moment: I’d incorporate hydrangea in hues of green, blue, and lavender into the party as a simple way to jeuje up the color palette, as I generally lean more towards neutral tablescapes and backdrops. From there, the location was a given- the side yard of our ca. 1917 historical fixer upper is laden with lovely greenery and hydrangea bushes. We’d host a simple lunch with games “among the bracken where [we] would be quite cosy…” The space was small, which I normally don’t mind (it’s easier to make a larger visual impact in a small space), but I was a bit concerned about fitting all of our guests. However, COVID outbreaks were again on the rise, so we knew we needed to keep it intimate – just family.
Now that I had selected the theme, color palette, and venue, I did some major research on invitations. I scoured the internet for anything bunny or velveteen rabbit themed, finally narrowing down my options to three stationers before settling on this lovely bunny themed suite by Freshmint Paperie. I was particularly drawn to the color palette, botanical elements, gingham pattern, and monogram. The invitation suite fit with all of my other choices thus far, but it didn’t feel overly-matching.
Having settled on a menu that encompassed a plucked-from-the-garden feel, I incorporated fruits and veggies that I could envision a bunny nibbling on in a garden as the heat of the day faded into a breezy summer evening. I chose items that were fresh, colorful, and hearty enough to withstand the warm summer sun: avocado chicken salad on golden, flakey fresh baked croissants; tri-colored rotini pasta salad with English cucumbers, cherub tomatoes, pepperoni, feta, and grilled chicken tossed in a light vinaigrette dressing; English cucumber finger sandwiches with garden herb cream cheese on pumpernickel squares; summer berry medley; ham and cheese heart sammies for the kiddos; and of course a semi-naked cake adorned with fresh berries from my dear friend Kadi of Kadi Bakes. Displayed on a chippy white dresser from one of my favorite small businesses, Faded Cottage, “The effect was charming.”
As a floral designer who specializes in weddings, none of the guests were surprised to see a number of DIY components that made an appearance at the party (I’m known for spotting something pretty and saying “I can make that,”).  I knew I wanted to use my gilded mirrors as signage, so I DIY’d the beautiful script lettering using my Silhouette Cameo Pro. For a visual representation of Charlie’s first year, I printed milestone photos and attached them to the largest gold mirror with numbered heirloom wax seals from Greenhouse Wax Seals -one of the few items I actually purchased for the party. I also made a few custom birthday banners and a Pin the Tail on the Bunny Game using giftwrap from Rifle Paper Co and my Silhouette Cameo Pro.
I am an advocate of using items I already have in my inventory whenever possible (I’m nothing if not practical when necessary), so having a velveteen rabbit themed nursery made it easy to create the party of our dreams. Many of the decor items came directly from our nursery: for example, all of the statues, picture frames, the carrot patch sign, the DIY Velveteen Rabbit quote sign, and the sweet vintage stuffed bunny that looks exactly like The Velveteen Rabbit from the original book illustrations. The woven baskets and vintage crocks are items I keep in my home for storage and display purposes. The gold mirrors came directly from the studio where I design and arrange florals for my clients. All of the furniture pieces – including the guest book table, buffet, folding screen, dining chairs and antique church pew – have various purposes throughout my home. I was even able to source and forage all of the hydrangea from my neighbors’ yards (with their permission of course!).
The few other items I purchased were almost exclusively for the tablescape. I covered folding tables in a simple textured white tablecloth found at At Home (one of my favorite places for affordable, stylish home goods). I knew I was going to use our plain white dinner plates. I’ll proudly own that white is my favorite hue, but white plates on a white tablecloth was falling a bit flat, so I decided to incorporate linens and placemats with plenty of color and texture. I settled on a woven round placemat (also from At Home), which not only coordinated with the woven baskets I used to house the hydrangea, but also added a layer of texture to what was an otherwise plain affair. I think this choice in particular helped elevate the entire affair, creating a bit of a French Country vibe (which completely matches my home decor style).
Since I was already incorporating shades of blue into the party via hydrangea, I settled on scalloped chambray cloth napkins, casually knotted and resting on the side of each place setting. Our existing gold flatware and clear pressed glass goblets completed the practical components of each place setting, but I wasn’t done yet! I knew I needed a bit of pattern to elevate the whole tablescape, so I purchased an additional napkin – a luxurious disposable French ticking striped number from Amazon- and laid them horizontally across each plate.
The final touch? With a theme like The Velveteen Rabbit, I knew I had to include a velvet element in the event design. So I sat down and sketched out an inscription from The Velveteen Rabbit. “All things that are real were imagined first.” I turned to Velvet Raptor to make my custom vision a reality. They printed a sweet little card in grey velvet, a memento for our guests to thank them for being a part of Charlie’s life. I laid them on top of each place setting.
My original plan was to lay my foraged hydrangea along the center of each table as a garland, flanked by taper candles in vintage brass candlesticks. But in addition to feeling a little excessive for a toddler’s birthday party, there just wasn’t enough space. So I placed the hydrangea in woven baskets and scattered them in groups around the yard to accentuate the pretty vignettes I’d set up for the occasion. While I was initially disappointed that I had to change my plans last minute, I think the effect was slightly more charming; I made a bigger impact in multiple different spaces, and it didn’t feel quite as “extra.” Plus, it took a lot less time to set up, as I was able to arrange all the florals in the days leading up to the party (a large garland install like the one I was planning would have taken at least 45 minutes to an hour).
A vintage hardback copy of The Velveteen Rabbit served as a guest book, a keepsake for our sweet boy to remind Charlie of the all the people who love and adore him.
At the end of the day I felt that I created an elegant and fun first birthday party for our sweet boy, one that our family will remember for years to come.

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That’s Amore! 1st Birthday Party

I had to share my son’s 1st birthday theme… since his name is DEAN we felt a Dean Martin inspired birthday party was a must!
We specifically targeted the song ‘That’s Amore’ and went the pizza route with food and some featured decor pieces. It was easy-peasy because we blasted a Dean Martin playlist from Spotify, served New York style pizza (which was delivered), designed Dean’s smash cake to replicate a pizza (Thanks Britt Bakes) had pizzas inspired cookie takeaways with a message saying “Thanks for Bein’ a Pizza Dean’s Year”. We found the cutest gold banner that read “I love you to pizzas” that hung above the makeshift bar in the garage – yes, this was a garage party! The tables were lined with red & white checkered table runners, displaying photo pedestal frame centerpieces from Ikea for like .99/each. We found a wholesale site that sold personal pizza size boxes that we used as risers and centerpieces and now my son uses when creating Playdoh “pizzas”. It was a truly lovely event and outside-the-box theme that everyone loved! Most importantly, it didn’t break the bank.
XO, Nicole

A Camp Themed 1st Birthday Party

Miles 1st birthday was a Camp Theme, “Camp Miles.” We held it at our home and backyard. I went with a color scheme of greens, pops of gold, and black and white plaid to give off a campy vibe. I incorporated greenery, vines and wood signs into every nook and craney of our home.  I loved adding DIY touches everywhere I could. I wanted each kid to feel special and the party to be totally unique to Miles.
Check out our post on the TheGiftInsider.com for more details as well.
For activities we had an Arts & Crafts table and tee pee and faux fire pit set up in the basement, Music Man Dave playing Camp Sing-a-Longs and a Trail Mix Bar.  The dessert table was stocked with camp themed sugar cookies, s’mores donuts and a marshmallow smash cake. We had a beverage station with “Adult Bug Juice,” each kiddie got their own bear sippy cup and we had water bottles labeled with “lake water” from camp miles. For food, everyone enjoyed the gourmet hot dog truck along with greek salad, mac and cheese and fruit and veggies cups. We had trays of puffs and pouches set up for the little ones throughout the house.
I created DIY “Camp Miles” care package favors for each kiddie filled with s’mores trail mix, bubbles, gummy worms and camp inspired patches. There were tables set up outside with plaid table clothes and DIY mason jar centerpieces with Camp Miles pennants I DIY-ed. I used the DIY pennants throughout the whole party.
Some of our favorite decor elements where the huge life size cardboard bears, huge green balloons with greenery hanging from them and green vines hanging from everywhere we could. I also DIY-ed wood signs to label each part of the party and tie it all together. Guests were greeted with a welcome to Camp Miles sign and a DIY-ed Happy Camper Zone wood sign at our front door. Each bathroom had an “Outhouse Sign” which was a last minute little touch. I created a photo garland and hung from a branch with our favorite photos from his past year. We also had huge photo strip photos of him hanging from his cake smash photoshoot.
We DIY-ed a majority of the creative elements and then found some great Etsy shops for the rest. For things like linens and tableware, we found great deals on Amazon.
– Banners: Camp Miles sweet table banner, camp miles fireplace banner and highchair banner from HouseofHooray on Etsy
– Balloons: green balloon bouquet from Party Dialect, and I added in gold orbs from OhShinyPaperCo and the 36 inch green balloons were from BlushBazarre. I added on the green garland.
– Sweet Table: marshmallow smash cake and cookies from Love and Buttercream, s’more and nutella donuts from Donut Bar Detroit and mini teepee from TenesseeTeeppes 
– Tableware: Bear plates and napkins by Meri Meri, bark cups from SteshaParty, woodland bear sippy cups from Amazon, palm leaf plates and silverware from Amazon, black + white plaid napkins from Zazzle, birch straws from Amazon
– Arts and Crafts table – wood rounds from Michaels, stickers from target, signs DIY-ed
– Favors – DIYed using mini gable boxes filled with gummy worms, camp patches, s’more trail mix and camp themed bubble wands 
– Trail Mix Bar – Happy Camper Bags from HHPaperCo, plastic bins from Oriental Trading, teepee from TenesseeTeeppes, sign was DIY-ed
– Greenery: Used everywhere, hung on garage, on balloons, on staircase, around signs. All from Amazon
– Huge Brown Bears: Amazon
– Teepee in Basement: faux felt firepit from TheHomespunMarket 
– Linens: Black + White Plaid tablecloths from Amazon
– Pennant Flags: DIY-ed
– Wood Slice Signs: DIY-ed
– Cake Stand: DIY-ed
– Happy Camper Sign: DIY-ed
– Favors: Name Pennants, s’more trail mix, labels DIY-ed
– Arts & Crafts and Favors Hanging Banners: DIY-ed
– Wood Photo Hanging: DIY-ed
– Water Bottle Labels: DIY-ed
– Adult Bug Juice sign: DIY-ed
– Mason Jar Centerpieces: DIY-ed
– Outhouse Sign: DIY-ed
– Hot Dog Cart Outside Sign: DIY-ed
Again, thanks to Lumi Photography for all these shots. Feel free to reach out if you want more info on how we DIY-ed everything and check out our site: TheGiftInsider.com

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Fun to be One Birthday with Maddie

I’ve been purchasing items for Maddie’s first birthday almost since the day she was born. I loved the color palette of her nursery, and just decided to do the same for the party.

Leo’s “You are My Sunshine” First Birthday Party

My song for Leo is “You are my Sunshine,” so I thought it would be the perfect theme for his first birthday party. I made sure to find food to go with his theme, and decked out our living room in sunshine themed decor! He had a blast, and I loved going all out for his big day!

Great Gatsby First Birthday Party
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Great Gatsby First Birthday Party

First birthday parties are so memorable for us new moms, and I wanted Baby J’s to be fabulous. What could possibly be more elegant and glamorous than a 1920s, Great Gatsby themed party!?!
This party had a lot of DIYs–the backdrop, the photo booth, the Ferrero Rocher tower, the cake smash photo backdrop, the ostrich feather bouquet, the baked goods, and the crystal tree. Nothing was too complicated and it all turned out perfectly!  For the details of all the DIY projects check out my post Great Gatsby First Birthday Party for Baby J.
I kept the food simple since it was a small guest list, but everything tasted delicious. I always add vanilla cake batter mix to my Rice Crispy Squares to make them extra special. And that Ferrero Rocher tower was really simple to make, come to the blog for the tutorial!  We drank sparkling juice and I even let Baby J have a taste, oh the face she made was precious!
I had 1920s jazz music playing in the background, and both me and Baby J dressed up in our fanciest flapper dresses and headbands. Of course I did more than a couple photo shoots of my sweet baby, but by the time we made it to the photo booth she was fast asleep–she definitely partied like Gatsby!
This first birthday party was so much fun and turned out so beautiful. It was exactly what I had envisioned for little Baby J.  Now to start planning her second birthday party…
#greatgatsby #1920’s #firstbirthday

Whale-Theme First Birthday
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Whale-Themed First Birthday

Our guest of honor loves playing in the water! We choose a whale theme party that included an inflatable whale pool he could enjoy long after the party was over. The room was flooded with balloons to mimic bubbles and an easy to prepare, sea-worthy menu including special sea water for the adults. The community center offered a relaxed environment and we carved out a special space in the center of the room for toddlers to safely roam under the watchful eye of adoring relatives.
Worldwide Party Design created a darling graphic package in varying hues of blue which inspired the design for our birthday cakes.

Ice Cream Party
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Evynn’s First Ice Cream Party

I could not wait for my daughter’s first birthday party! I knew the theme decision would be my call since she was only 1, so with a July birthday, Ice cream it is! I chose bright, fun colors and a clean approach for the party. I bought some items off etsy shops, target, and hobby lobby but most of the decor was DIY and a craft project come to life!

Chuggington First Birthday Party

Maxwell’s Chuggington First Birthday Party

We chose a Chuggington First Birthday Party theme for our son, Maxwell. He loves the show on Disney. My husband and I also work in the building industry so we watch as well! The colors are so bright and fun, we just had a blast putting the party together. The cake was my favorite item and I was sad to cut into it but it was as delicious as it was cute. My mom ordered the overalls from an Etsy shop and everyone loved seeing Maxwell dressed to impress. We made a lot of the table decor and the backdrop for the tablescape ourselves. Had such a great time. Can’t wait for 2!!

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party
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Laila’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star First Birthday Party!

My daughter loves the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I have been singing her to sleep with this song since she was a newborn. I knew this would be a fun and beautiful theme for her birthday. I designed a twinkle, twinkle party using gold, light pink, hot pink, and aqua. I scoured sites like etsy and pinterest for months looking for the perfect decorations. The result was a sparkly and beautiful party, perfect for my little girl. I wanted the ceiling to be reminiscent of a night sky so I hung star gold glitter star garlands from the ceiling of my great rooms. On the fireplace I had handmade wands in gold glitter bubble vases. A stary chalkboard sign went over the fireplace and a gold glitter twinkle banner hung from the mantle. I made my own centerpieces using roses and gold planters with gold glitter wands. I used pink crinkled taffeta linens and gold sequin runners. Monthly baby pictures of Laila were displayed on bookcases in frames that had gold glitter die cut months. Hand decorated favor bags filled with star themed cookies, went on another bookcase. I did a bunch of DIY projects such as wands, a crepe paper backdrop, and hand punched confetti for balloons and the tables, and custom centerpieces.
We served brunch food such as french toast, mac and cheese, fritatas and bagels. My talented friend, Betsy, made star shaped sandwiches, delicious mini muffiins, fruit wands and beautiful star themes cupcakes.

Cat Birthday Cake
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Flowers and Kitties First Birthday Party

With winter still lingering, but being so ready for spring, I decided to create spring with a bright, flower-themed party for my daughter’s first birthday. But since we’re also a kitty-cat loving family, I just had to throw in a little kitty silhouette into the theme as well, and thus, a floral-cat themed party was born!
I first started with a custom design party pack from VonnLou Designs on Etsy (who was so FUN to work with, by the way. I highly recommend her!), who provided me with printable PDF’s for the invitations, signage, banners, cupcake toppers, etc. Once I had those, the rest was just embellishment! Most of the decor was made up of DIY tissue paper flower kits from Martha Stewart and Dollar Tree floral bunches that I turned into balloon strings and a floral wreath/chandelier for above the dessert table. For the balloon strings, I just detached the faux flower blooms from the stems and hot-glued them together around some yarn at various lengths (Tip from experience though- the flowers really weigh the balloons down! We found that we really couldn’t do more than 2-3 flower bunches on each string to hold up 4-5 latex balloons…any less balloons or more flowers and the balloons would sink to the floor. Boo!)
All of the food was homemade by me and my amazing mama. It was a labor of love, as we ended up needed to feed over 30 people (!!!), but having lots of elves on the day of to help assemble made it happen! I definitely suggest minimal hot foods- it’s just too hard to pre-prepare with enough time…and of course, keeping them hot is another challenge, unless you have chafing dishes. So in my opinion, room-temp foods are the way to go. ;)
It was a last minute addition, but I’m so glad that I did the little “time capsule” project, asking everyone to fill out a little card that Gracelyn won’t read until she turns 18- I think it will be so fun for her to open in eighteen years and see who was at her party and the wishes they made for her at her first birthday. :)
I know that my daughter won’t remember her 1st party, but I know she’s going to love looking back at the photos and seeing how much love surrounded her on this special day! <3

Colorful Retro Camper Trailer Birthday Party
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Kitschy Camper Trailer Birthday Party

On Saturday we celebrated Samantha’s first birthday! I decided on a kitschy camper trailer theme because it just so adventurous and fun-loving, which reminds me a lot of Sammie’s personality. She is an extremely adventurous, curious and happy baby. I cant thank my dad (best dad ever) enough for turning my idea of a mini camper trailer prop into an actual camper trailer playhouse, it is the coolest playhouse ever, and the kids, especially Samantha loved it! I also need to thank Veronica Luna of Luna Cakes for the amazing camper cake and cookies, she never fails to amaze me.

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It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

For our son’s first birthday, which is in October, I wanted a Halloween theme, but also something cute, not creepy. So I picked “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”. The main colors are yellow and black chevron and white and orange polka dots. Pumpkins were everywhere! Pumpkin balloons, pumpkin beach balls, pumpkin decorating! Pumpkin coffee, cupcakes and candy too!

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Quinn’s Flamingo First Birthday

As a graphic designer, I spend most of my days designing party pieces for other people. So, when it came time to celebrate our daughter Quinn’s first birthday I was so excited to do some creating for my own event.
Almost everything from the food and flowers, to cupcakes and cupcake toppers, banners and flamingo cookies was done by myself or my mom. I also had lots of help from Quinn’s Grandma, Great-Grandma and Aunt who flew in for the party.  For weeks before the event I would cut and tie tissue tassels while watching tv at night with my husband. Although it was a lot of work, it truly was a labor of love. I had such a fun time creating a flamingo fete for my daughter and our close friends and family.

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Train Themed First Birthday at Gymboree Play & Music

We hosted Blake’s first birthday at Gymboree Play and Music. The party was fueled with amazing games and activities hosted by Gymboree Play and Music and adorable party décor from Happy Wish Company. The Gymboree Play and Music location had an additional party room on site that allowed us to personalize the event and add additional decor to help bring our train theme to life. We used construction pallets to set the theme and incorporated a wooden train set to add character to the dessert table.
The amazing staff at Gymboree Play and Music won the hearts of our tiny party guests (and the parents)! They were animated, fun and kept all of our little partygoers engaged in the activities. I’m happy to report that there were no tears at this event!