Raising and loving and learning Henry for the past year has been, without a doubt, the most incredible experience this first time mama could have imagined. Needless to say, I approached his 1st birthday with sheer delight. Normal parental reservations about babies growing up aside, I was downright honored to plan a party in celebration of H’s first year–of all that he has brought to our world as a family, of the child he is becoming, and of many friends and loved ones who have helped us to welcome our little man into the fold over the past twelve months. It truly does take a village!
When I started brainstorming party themes the day after Henry was born (kidding!), landing on Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar was kind of a no-brainer. H has been my “bug” from day one, and since being introduced to table food, he just keeps eating right on through everything we put in front of him. (His appetite is marvelous, and his mama, appreciative:) My love of butterflies and the deliciously sunny sunshine in Carle’s book didn’t hurt either–it was the perfect inspiration for Henry’s big day. I commissioned a friend/graphic designer to help create my vision for an invite, and once we had guests on a list, the ball was rolling:
From there, I threw myself into party planning mode–something I absolutely love and long for an excuse to do! On the to do list? Cake, balloons, food/drinks, favors, kids’ games, decorations, and DIYs. I should start by saying that Pinterest and Etsy are brilliant creations, and that they make the process all that much more fun. I browsed and perused to my heart’s content and came up with some originals that made me oh so happy. The cake seemed like a sensible place to begin, so I met with my friend Katie from Second Floor Bakery to dream up these lovelies:
I loved the idea of a cake bunting, so I came up my own version to represent the caterpillar from the book. It was fun making the petite bunting out of paper after my fabric bunting shenanigans (read on:) earlier in the week.
The cakes were splendid on the outside, and equally as marvelous to bite into. I always end up with a little leftover cake from SFB because their portions are so generous, but this time, we actually ran out! No one could resist the chocolate truffle cake with the strawberry filling–and why should they? It was just too good!
For food, I decided to stick with what works and let the book dictate the menu. I didn’t want to get too terribly fancy because everything needed to be kiddo friendly, so I filled the table with all kinds of bright, ripe fruits, a big green salad (one nice green leaf:), cheese and crackers, pickles, chips and salsa, and a caterpillar-ish looking pasta salad. I ordered lemon bars from Second Floor to add a little more “sweet” to the mix, and Jason grilled (awesome) hot dogs for our guests:
After browsing a number of different printables for food labels for the table, I opted to get creative with a deck of VHC playing cards. I cut out little food shapes from the corresponding cards, used a mini hole punch for the “bites,” and then just hand wrote the labels on card stock table tents. I love how they turned out:
For space and flow, I set up a separate area for beverages and table ware. The bay window was an ideal spot:
I also couldn’t resist a giant tub filled with these:
When it came time to decorate, I couldn’t help but get a little carried away in the DIY project arena. What better excuse than your child’s 1st birthday party to learn how to make a fabric bunting (or three!):
Then I decided I had better take a stab at a party hat to match:
Just a bunting and a party hat, then? As luck would have it, my incredibly talented aunt had hand-painted a heap of Eric Carle characters for an anniversary celebration at the library where she works, and after mentioning our Very Hungry Caterpillar theme a while back, a tube of beautifully artistic bugs arrived on our doorstep. We absolutely had to put the caterpillar and sunshine to use! They were the perfect addition to the party, brightening up the wall above the kids’ play area:
Last but not least on the decorating front, I wanted to pay tribute to beauty of the past twelve months and how much Henry has grown. I gathered up a smattering of my favorite HD moments caught on camera, and plastered the front entryway door with a collage of our little bug:
And then there were favors…
I had all kinds of fun games and crafts planned for the kids if time and weather permitted, but when we woke up that morning, it looked like this outside:
So we scrapped the outdoor picnic plans and put the bubbles and caterpillar buckets away for a sunny day. We had so much fun indoors, in fact, that we didn’t even take the time to make these:
Hank didn’t seem to notice the weather, and our friends and family were the most gracious of guests as we all spent a few hours in close quarters to celebrate Henry with the utmost enthusiasm. Everyone wrote special messages to the birthday boy in his new copy of the Very Hungry Caterpillar–a perfect memento for a perfect day:
And when it came time to sing “Happy Birthday” and dive into cake, the guest of honor did a marvelous job of discovering all of the chocolatey goodness to be had beneath layers of sugary frosting:
We wrapped up the afternoon with friends and grandparents and our little wonder–all freshly cleaned up and ready for a nap:
A few weeks out from H’s birthday bash, I think we’re still in awe of God’s faithfulness to us and of all of the reminders we were given that day. Henry’s first year of life bubbled over with such joy and goodness, and we couldn’t be more blessed as his mom and dad! It was a most perfect day in many ways–an adequate celebration to express what great delight we take in raising our little bug and watching him grow!
For me, this time around, the love was in the details and everything they intended to celebrate. Happy 1st Birthday, once more, Henry David. you make my heart sing!
love. and a nice green leaf.