eloise {first birthday party DIYs}

now that I have shared eloise’s first birthday party pictures, I thought I would share all of the party-planning details & the DIYs (since a lot of you have asked!).

first birthday parties have become huge events, thanks mostly in part to pinterest. (yep, I am totally blaming pinterest for this one!) I have a girlfriend who likened a child’s first birthday party to a wedding… sometimes it seems that way, right? I LOVE to decorate for parties, but had to set realistic expectations for what eloise’s party would be like because it would have been so easy to get super carried away. plus, eloise is only going to remember this party from photos. first birthday parties are for parents moms (& same with nurseries!) so I was determined not to go overboard.

of course I had a pinterest board (it was secret though!) & I honestly started pinning ideas of things around the time she was 6 months old. once we got closer to the actual event, I decided on a theme: polka dots. I knew it would be easy & simple, & it was something that eloise loved too! for me the theme was one of the trickier parts because I am not a fan of party décor that is super matchy-matchy. I think blogs & pinterest has created this idea that every single thing at a party (food, decorations, invitations, etc.) have to be perfectly on theme. but I prefer a more subtle theme, so dots were perfect.

color was the very first thing that I thought of & I pinned a few different colorways before I found the perfect one (see below). I wanted something that was fun, a little girly, & sophisticated, & this was right on! the colors I ended up with were all of my favorite colors: navy blue, mint green, grey, hot pink, teal, & gold. {& if I would have had time to make those paper party blowers, I would have! next time.}

{image via}

I started with the invitation since that would be the first thing everyone would see &, let’s be honest, I adore paper goods. just like Christmas cards, I designed the invitation (using photoshop & illustrator), had them printed at my favorite local printers (Girlie Press if you live in Seattle!), & snail-mailed them to our guests. while sites like Paperless Post & Evite are really great (especially for managing RSVPs), there is something really special about a mailed card that you can hold in your hand & hang on your fridge. plus, after perusing the Paperless Post site for a few minutes, I quickly decided I would be so much happier if I just made my own invites since nothing seemed quite perfect. the other great thing about having designed the invites is that I could later make party signs that followed the same theme.

{sorry this is so pixelated!}

& since I was doing paper invites, I also decided I wanted to line the envelopes. this is a little something extra that I think is really fun & I never get to do with our Christmas cards since it would be so time consuming! after shopping around at a few craft stores, I opted to design a stripey pink envelope liner (& then the hot pinks matched perfectly!). in order to save time, money, & paper though I made the inserts half size so that they didn’t go down inside the entire envelope. it ended up working perfectly & I could even print two liners per page! since I did the liners later, I had them printed at my local Kinko’s (the online printing service is pretty cool!).

when it came to décor, I knew I wanted to DIY a few things, but I wanted to keep it simple. garlands, balloons, party hats. that was pretty much it!

going with the polka dot theme, these paper dot garlands were perfect. I have seen a lot of different versions in my pinterest feed, but I liked the ones with the same size dots just in different colors. I chose the colors based on the paper supply at Michael’s & ended up with a glittery gold (but the glitter didn’t fall all over!), grey, hot pink, & mint green. I decided on a 3 inch circle (I traced the lens hood on our camera which was the perfect size) & traced & cut out all of the dots. it took some time (a few evenings of White Collar) & I had cramped hands afterwards, but I didn’t want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a 3 inch paper circle cutter just for these garlands! once I had the dots all cut out, I sort of randomly arranged them in order making sure there weren’t two dots of the same color together, or too much of a pattern. then I just sewed them together using a slightly longer stitch than I normally would for fabric. I left a long thread on both ends of the garland & used a white cotton thread (my go-to) to sew the dots together right down the middle of the dot. I didn’t leave room between the dots (though I could have) & found that putting down two pieces of washi tape on my machine helped to line up the next dot. {see dot garland pictures below with the ONE balloons!}

I also wanted to make a small garland to hang on the chalkboard. I found this great cardstock with gold polka dots at Michael’s & grabbed a few sheets since it was so on-theme! I ended up using some of it to make half of the chalkboard garlands (the other half I used plain cardstock). I like the look of little flags, so I used a simple rectangle & cut out the bottom triangle to make it a flag. I cut little slits with an exacto knife & then thread each flag onto white twine (with a gold glitter thread).

I ended up deciding pretty early that I wanted to make party hats since most of the kids at the party would be around eloise’s age. while a regular-sized party hat would have fit, I like the look of a slightly smaller party hat, especially on little kids. so I found this party hat template on Oh Happy Day! & printed it at 75% (or so). then I traced & cut out seven party hats out of plain cardstock, & one out of the gold polka dot cardstock (for eloise). I originally wanted to glue paper dots onto each hat using the same paper that I had used for the big dot garlands, but once I started one hat, it looked terrible. I could have probably painted dots onto the hats & it would have looked cute, but I opted at that point to leave the party hats plain. to make the hats look a little more festive, I added a small tissue pom pom to the top. there are lots of tutorials on how to make tissue poufs on pinterest & the interwebs. I used 5 sheets of tissue paper that were like 2 or 3 inches (small) & used very thin floral wire to wrap around & keep the pom poms together. I left the wire long on each pom pom so that I had something to tape onto the inside of the hat. I used gold & teal tissue for most of the party hats & hot pink for eloise’s polka dot hat. {sidenote: though these party hats were mostly intended for kids, they really weren’t super kid friendly. we didn’t have any issues with the hats, but the elastic & floral wire made them slightly dangerous. I made sure we had supervision while wearing the party hats.}

the other theme of the party (other than polka dots) was ONE since that was the age eloise was turning… so I thought it would be fun to have big balloons that spelled out ONE after seeing this adorable set-up with letter balloons. I ordered the O and N balloons from the Oh Happy Day! Party Shop in the large size (34 inches – they were huge!) because that was what was in stock. I was able to find the exact same balloon on Amazon for the letter E. there was a bit of a fiasco though once I had the balloons filled & while things didn’t go according to plan, I was able to make it work & was really pretty happy with it in the end. so if you are thinking about using giant letter balloons, learn from my story: on thursday evening before the party (which was saturday afternoon) I decided to run out to our local party store to have the balloons filled while aaron put eloise to bed so that I didn’t have to go out on friday & try to wrangle eloise plus three giant balloons. I was able to get the balloons filled (with helium) & home with no issues. I begged aaron offered to help me hang the balloons & the dot garland once I got home so we could check that off of my to-do list. we quickly figured out that filling the balloons with helium wasn’t ideal since I wanted them to hang near the top of the window, but didn’t want strings hanging down in order to keep them floating in the right place. so we taped them from the top of the window & weighted them down at the bottom with metal nuts (actually a really genius move by my husband!). all was well until 7 am on friday morning when I heard a POP! yep, the E balloon burst right at the seams & I was left with balloons that spelled out “ON.” perfect. Amazon Prime can get stuff to us quickly, but not that quickly, so I headed back to the party store later that afternoon (& luckily my mom was in town by that time so she watched eloise). while I was assured at the party store by multiple employees that the E balloon didn’t burst due to overfilling (I still question that, but I was picking my battles at that point!) they did make sure to tell me that the balloons sold on Amazon have about a 50% failure rate. that would have been nice to know. luckily this party store sold the same gold numbers, & the number 3 backwards looks a lot like a letter E. right before I was getting the 3 filled though, I noticed that it was a slightly different gold color than the original balloons. uh oh. but do you know what? the number 0 & the letter O are identical & I figured it may look somewhat purposeful if the O & the E were a different color than the N so I went with it. I also was talking thru the weighting process with the balloon fillers & they told me all of my problems would be solved if I just had the balloons filled with air. duh! so for the same price as helium (what?) I had the 0 & 3 balloons filled with air. once I got home, we took down the letter O & hung up the 0 & backwards 3. it was perfect (well as perfect as it was ever going to be!) & you couldn’t even tell the color difference! so all of that to say, if you are going to buy letter balloons, don’t buy them off of Amazon & buy a few extra just in case!

we had two cakes at the party – one for adults & party guests, & a small smash cake for eloise. the big cake was a vanilla one from Whole Foods & while I am certain it had the highest quality ingredients, aaron & I decided early on that we didn’t want to introduce eloise to sugar (just yet!). so I made her a little smash cake that was banana & blueberry with whipped coconut milk frosting. I really wanted some kind of cake topper too & made two sets (one for each cake) using this cake topper as inspiration. it was really simple to make. I cut different widths of paper strips (using the same paper as the big dot garlands) & glued them onto a wooden BBQ skewer (which I cut down in length after the flags were on it). once all of the paper strips were glued on, I cut out the little triangles from the ends, making each flag a different length. I added the writing with a gold paint pen, & added the gold-thread twine (which is the same I used to hang the chalkboard garland).

because of the smash cake photo op, I wanted to decorate eloise’s highchair a bit. nothing too elaborate, but I did make two little garlands that hung on the front of her tray. the first one was a tiny version of the dot garland. I used a small circle cutter that I have (it is about an inch and a half) & then sewed the small dots together just like I did with the bigger garland. the other garland used the same little cardstock flags as the chalkboard garland, & I added ONE to the middle three flags.

while perusing pinterest for party ideas, I came across a few pins for a party time capsule. I instantly fell in love with the idea & knew I wanted to do some type of time capsule for eloise to open on her 18th birthday. I found this great gold polka-dotted box at Home Goods & knew it would be perfect. the idea is that I am saving things from eloise’s first birthday party, storing the box, & giving it to eloise to open on her 18th birthday. pretty fun, huh? so far we’ve got all of her first birthday cards, the cake toppers, eloise’s party hat, the garlands from the highchair, the 3 balloon (since it doubles as an E for eloise!). plus, I thought it would be fun for each guest (well adult) to fill out a card for eloise so she could have all of them to read in 17 years (see picture below). I am hoping to add her ONE onesie that she wore on her birthday & for her first year photoshoot (still waiting on pictures from the photographer), a string that is the same length as her at one year, & perhaps some printed photos from her party & photoshoot.

& finally, I always put a Kraft paper tablecloth out on our dining room table (where we serve food) whenever we have a big group of people over. it gives me peace of mind that the table won’t be destroyed by water or food, & it makes clean-up so easy! plus, it usually goes with the party décor since I almost always incorporate Kraft paper somehow. I keep this huge roll of Kraft paper around for occasions such as these (& use it to make table runners, signs, wrap gifts, the possibilities are endless!). for this party, I also added some confetti to the table that I picked up here (apparently it is the BEST confetti ever!).

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{this is the only photo we have of the table – birthday party aftermath!}

I had SO much fun planning eloise’s party! &, if I do say so myself, think I did a pretty good job managing the décor & not going too crazy.

did you plan a first birthday party for your kiddo(s)?

M

this post contains affiliate links.

friday I’m in love.

welcome back friday! be sure to pop over to kendra’s blog too to see what she’s up to. we would love for you to join us! leave a comment and we’ll come check out what you’re loving each week!

{one} boeing & the 12th man.

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boeing not only wrapped its new freighter planes with seahawks graphics, its newest jumbo jet also took its first flight in the shape of a “12.” if that’s not support, I don’t know what is. good luck seattle! go 12th man!

{two} cupid’s arrow cupcake topper.

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I am loving all of the valentine’s décor & diy ideas that are floating around the interwebs {for obvious reasons}. I am particularly enamored with this cupcake topper that was featured over on the Oh Happy Day blog.

{three} julep freedom top coat.

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I am pretty certain I have talked about my love of this product before, but every time I use it, I fall in love again. when I do feel fancy & go get a mani/pedi, I always go to julep which is my all-time favorite nail salon {bonus that it is 5 minutes away from our house!}. months ago the gals started using this freedom top coat after two or three coats of color. once it is on, you sit 10 or 15 minutes with your nails under a light {just any regular light} & like magic, the coat finishes almost like a gel polish! seriously. it isn’t perfect, but it does mean you can put on your jacket & pay for your mani without smudging your nails. I use it at home now when I am feeling not quite as fancy {& have to paint my own}. I just put on one top coat over the color & sit at the dining room table under the light for 15 minutes. you an even read a magazine as long as you keep your fingers facing the light. then, as long as you don’t really rub your nails, you are free to get along with your day. if that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is!

what are you loving this week?

M

highlights of 2013.

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happy 2014!

i’ve said it before, & i’ll say it again!, yearly recaps are always my favorite kinds of blog posts. its a small way to sum up your year & to see how much the last 365 days have brought. as i look forward to the New Year, i am humbled & grateful by all of the wondrous events of 2013. here’s the rundown of ours:

january: I started out the new year with a bout of the flu. we hosted our first blog giveaway! we installed the west elm hanging capiz chandelier over our dining room table. I framed my diy polaroids for our bedroom walls. amanda & I met john & sherry from young house love during their book signing tour! I diy-ed campaign dressers for our bedroom.

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february: I did lots of diy-ing for valentine’s day {here, here, & here} I celebrated my birthday! we bought a kitchen island. I tried to be better about getting in front of the camera!

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march: I tried my hand at painting an antler {& was so impressed with the results!}. we took my 91-year-old grandmother to target for the first time! amanda & I diy-ed framed house keys on maps. we sold jez the jetta & bought a new car.

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april: we updated our bathroom vanity with a converted antique sideboard. we updated the closet doors by stripping off the old paint in a crock pot. we celebrated our one year anniversary in our house & I reviewed all of the house diys!

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may: we finally got some good weather in seattle! I painted the ceiling & hallway walls. we celebrated aaron’s thirtieth birthday with a beer tasting party! we had a fun-filled memorial day weekend. we were featured in west elm’s blog front & main.

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june: aaron replaced our toilet. sadie was featured in the seattle dog spot blog. my parents visited for a long weekend en route to the olympic peninsula. my diy his & hers maps were featured. we finally got some summer weather!

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july: we celebrated the long Fourth of July weekend with a holiday parade, fireworks, & time with friends. I made a nine layer ombre cake! we replaced our kitchen track lights with globe pendants from west elm. we road-tripped to idaho for my ten-year high school reunion. we started growing our first eggplant.

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august: we celebrated our three year wedding anniversary. the blog got a Liebster Award Nomination. I diy-ed the tiniest baby hats for our friends’ new baby. we road-tripped to hood river, oregon to celebrate my cousin’s wedding.

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september: we went to the husky vs. bronco game to kick-off labor day weekend complete with husky-style tailgating {via boat}. we took advantage of the warm weather & cleaned up the front yard with a fun game called love it or lose it. we celebrated sadie’s ninth birthday! I attended the Alt Summit for Everyone blog conference.

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october: I attempted to start doing fashion posts again. we celebrated our two year blog anniversary at emerald city diaries! I finished up with the #embracethecamera challenge. we went to the pumpkin patch & carved pumpkins with friends.

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november: aaron joined a team for movember 2013. we snuck off to hawaii for thanksgiving.

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december: I reviewed some of my favorite weekend in pictures pics. I participated in A Pinterest Christmas for the third year {see this year’s projects here, here, here, here, & here}! we celebrated Christmas in indiana with aaron’s family.

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reflecting back on this year, i am reminded how blessed we are & also how different this year has been than the year previous. it has been such a wonderful year & ringing in a new one is a bit bittersweet.

how was your 2013 – was it a year to remember, or are you itching to start 2014 already?

M

see past yearly highlights for 2011 & 2012.

thirty before i am thirty: {ombre 4th of july cake}

number twenty-nine: bake a cake.

it is hard to believe but i made it to 28 without ever baking a cake. seriously. it is something that i have always wanted to do, but i just never found the time. when i was flipping through my new InStyle mag last month & saw a nine layer ombre cake in blue & red, i knew i had to make this cake! #gobigorgohome ideally i would have wanted to make the cake & frosting from scratch, but let’s be honest, the ombre colors & nine layers more than made up for that!

we were attending a fourth of july party at our friend jerry’s house which was lucky since this cake turned out enormous. seriously. it was 9 inches wide & eleven inches tall. such a beaut! i knew this would be a lot to take on being my first cake and everything, but it was fun & i had such a great support system thanks to aaron & local friends cheering me on!

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{ingredient prep. see the full list & recipe below.}

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{dying three sets of cakes.}

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{baking, frosting, & stacking.}

{two other things: my sister taught me a trick years ago to use pieces of parchment paper underneath the first cake layer to keep the plate or cake stand clean – at the end you carefully pull the papers out. also, i didn’t cut any of the layers flat before stacking since they were all thin; as i built up the layers there was some curve on the tops of the top layers & i used a little extra frosting as glue.}

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{that is my “hey i made a cake & i am super excited” face. & that is our wonderful friend jerry behind me – thanks for hosting a fab party jerry!}

ombre cake – recipe from InStyle magazine July 2013

makes one 9-inch cake {stands 11 inches tall}

ingredients:

  • 3 boxes white cake mix
  • 6 egg whites
  • 4 1/2 cups Sprite
  • Blue gel food coloring {i used Americolor gel pastes from Amazon – royal blue}
  • Red gel food coloring {i used Americolor gel pastes from Amazon – super red}
  • 5 12 oz. tubs of whipped vanilla frosting
  • cooking spray/butter
  • parchment paper
  • 3 9-inch cake pans

one. preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

two. mix one box of cake mix with 2 egg whites and 1 1/2 cups Sprite; divide evenly among 3 bowls.

three. create three shares of blue: add 2 drops of coloring to one bowl, four to the second, and 8 to the third.

four. coat three 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray {i rubbed butter on the edges of the pan instead}; line bottoms with parchment paper cut to size. pour each batter into its own pan.

five. bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. let layers cool; remove from pans. if needed, use a serrated knife to trim tops so they are level.

six. place darkest blue layer on a plate {or cake stand!}; cover with a thin layer of frosting. repeat with remaining layers, from darkest to lightest. chill cake in fridge. {definitely put the cake in the fridge every three layers, this helps tremendously with the cake stability!}

seven. repeat step two.

eight. add one drop of blue coloring to one bowl and one drop of red to another. do not tint the last bowl.

nine. repeat steps four and five.

ten. keep building cake with blue, then white, then red layers, frosting after each. chill cake in fridge.

eleven. repeat steps two to fie using red coloring instead of blue.

twelve. keep building cake with red layers, going from lightest to darkest, frosting after each

thirteen. coat outside of cake with thin layer of frosting. chill for 15 minutes.

fourteen. use remaining frosting to generously coat outside of cake. chill for at least one hour before cutting.

have you baked anything recently? anything ombre or layered?

M