Long before we knew Eloise was Eloise, we decided to refer fondly to her as “the Button.” It seemed cute and endearing at the time, and it turns out to be quite fitting for her now. When she was born a girl, I knew within months that I’d be throwing a “Button Birthday” for her as she turned one. I love a good, themed affair, and I figured there was room to get creative with so open-ended a jumping off point. I set the thought mostly aside until summertime, just pinning a craft here and a cake there. But when I started day-dreaming about vintage buttons and a mish-mash of feminine floral fabrics and linens, my dance with a button themed birthday party began
You certainly can’t have a party without guests, and I wanted to make sure invites were out at least a month in advance because E’s birthday falls at such a busy time of the summer for most folks. I’d committed to a fairly handmade feel in my mind, so I decided to just freehand an invitation and then duplicate it for sake of time and ease. I wanted to print it on kraft paper, so I hand wrote four invitations on one 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of white paper, then photo copied them onto the kraft paper before adding embellishments. I used a blend of print and cursive for whimsy, crafted a little rhyming poem, and we were off to the races. Finished off with buttons to replace a few “O’s” on the invite, some rick rack, and a paint pen for the needle and thread detail, these puppies were in the mail (with vintage bird stamps of course 😉 after a few hours spread over one weekend. It was a fun little project, and I’m pleased with how they turned out:
For each of Henry’s birthdays thus far, I’ve created some type of homemade bunting as decor, so I started there with Eloise’s party, too. I scoured my favorite fabric shop for the perfect prints to blend into a color scheme that would drive the rest of the party. I wanted the bunting to be able to hang in E’s room post-event, so I had somewhat of a palette and style in mind. I didn’t do the greatest job of taking photos mid-process, and I also didn’t follow a specific pattern for this bunting, but here is the final result and the inspiration for many of the eventual party details:
(As an aside, I always like making several shorter buntings rather than one really long one, so they can hang in various places and I have some flexibility when decorating the day of the party. In this case, I made two buntings with seven flags each and this bunting with six–the number of letters in Eloise.)
I turned to Pinterest for some thoughts on a cake and a few homemade decorations that would adorn tables at the party. I also scoured ideas for party favors (finding something that was both gender and age appropriate for all of the kiddos at the party, ranging from one year to six, proved challenging as I tried to keep the takeaways on theme). The winner was ultimately these darling hot/cold rice packs, inspired by Lori over at A Bee In My Bonnet. I just thought these were the cutest little things, perfect for bumps and bruises, muscles aches, or warming up your hands after a day outside in the snow. I used leftover material from the buntings to tie them into the party and got to sewing. These were so fun and easy to make, and I love the way they all looked together when finished. I wrote up a little poem to accompany the packs, popped it into an IKEA frame, and set it out next to the basket of goodies at the entrance/exit to our backyard:
For table decorations, I found button topiaries on Etsy that I just loved. The shop owner was on vacation thru August, so I decided I’d just have at it and make my own. I bought seven small plants from a local greenhouse, potted them in terra cotta pots, and then for flowers used some of the leftover vintage buttons I’d gathered for another project. I simply threaded coordinating buttons onto floral wire bent in half, then twisted directly below each set of buttons to secure them to the top of each pick. I popped any number of picks into each plant and set them out throughout the backyard to add some green and extra cheer to each table.
As I planned out the party, I knew some vintage/antique shopping would be in order. I wanted to find a quilt or two and some table linens that would coordinate well, but didn’t want to spend a fortune. For a few weeks, I made a habit of ducking into refurb/vintage/antique shops whenever I had a moment (and could manage with the kiddos or was without them), and each time, I’d find a little treasure or two to add to the mix. Some of my favorite pre-loved items included a $3 antique sewing box that I used to hold flatware and paper straws on the table, an old mason jar filled with wooden thread spools that I added a few fabric scraps to for color, a green tablecloth in pristine condition for $2, varied depression glass plates and bowls for serving, and an amazing patchwork quilt with a ruffled band of bright red trim. Each of these elements seemed insignificant on their own, but together, I loved how they coordinated and made things cohesively vintage and inviting.
Over the years, I’ve collected a few shelves worth of vintage serving pieces and other items that might come in handy “someday.” I was thrilled to be able to put many of them to good use for Eloise’s shindig. An antique Domestic sewing machine and table came out of hiding to hold the party favors and guest book, Eloise’s great-great grandmother’s picnic basket made its way to the food table as a prop, and Eloise sat in my high chair to eat her lunch and smash her cake. My grandmother’s cookie plate displayed lovely cupcakes, and even one of Jason’s grandmother’s tablecloths made an appearance. I like to think there was a lot of love woven into these tiny details…kind of as if the matriarchs of our family were somehow smiling down on the day and adding extra joy.
Besides having so much fun putting things together piece by piece (and as I previously mentioned), I truly got such a kick out of crafting for this party. My very favorite project was Eloise’s button “E”–a button craft I’d pinned to her birthday board and kept in the back of my mind for a while. Any time I’d head into a vintage shop, I’d scour vendor booths for vintage buttons. One place in particular was like a little button heaven…so much so that I drove half an hour to go back and buy more buttons a second time. It turns out that vintage buttons are easy to come by, but not when you’re hunting for red, pink, yellow, green and blue ones! No matter. Once I had my mind set on it, those buttons practically found me! 😉
I didn’t really follow an exact set of guidelines on this project, although I did find this tutorial to be quite helpful in getting started. After drawing, cutting out and tracing a pattern for the “E,” I ended up just spreading my collection of buttons out all over the dining room table and playing with them for a few hours as I fit and glued them into place on the canvas. I paired this with a series on Netflix and was happy as a clam to spend the time. The end result makes me smile, and it will be a great remnant from E’s party to hang in her room for years to come:
On the subject of things made from buttons, I absolutely have to rave about the chocolate buttons I ordered from The Frosted Petticoat, a chocolatier I discovered on Etsy while hunting for, well…candy buttons. These were tied for my favorite party purchase, and for more than one reason. To start, The Frosted Petticoat is the real deal. Personalized service often feels like a thing of the past these days, but the gals behind this shop are truly amazing! The chocolates arrived in the most beautiful little blue boxes, complete with a handwritten “Happy Birthday, Eloise!” note from one of the shop owners. I couldn’t believe the speediness of their delivery, and I’m fairly certain my heart skipped a beat when I opened the boxes to find the most perfect (and realistic) looking buttons inside. I used the buttons to decorate cupcakes (homemade by a sweet, eleven year old friend of our family who bakes the most delicious treats to raise money for mission trips to Guatemala) and Eloise’s smash cake, made by a bakery here in town. I was in sweet treat heaven the night before the party as I placed the buttons on each cupcake, and our guests enjoyed the delicious raspberry, mint and amaretto flavors atop their desserts the next day. I am so delighted to have found The Frosted Petticoat, and I completely adore these chocolates–they truly “make” the cake!
At this point, I can’t even begin to pick my favorite images from what happened to the cake after it sat so prettily on the table. Here’s a whole heaping handful of them. Eloise’s entire cake eating experience in pictures, simply because I have the best friends in the world, and they captured every last bit of these precious first birthday moments:
The above photos bring me to my other favorite party element–another lucky find and a second amazing customer service experience thru Etsy. I’d gone looking for a birthday crown of sorts for Eloise to wear at her party, although I wasn’t optimistic that she’d keep something on her head very long. If this says anything, even Eloise was taken with her flower crown, made by none other than the talented and incredibly accommodating Katie from Fancy Free Finery. I almost hate to leak my source on this one, because I just know we’ll see these popping up all over town ;), but they’re just too precious not to share the joy. Katie was fabulous to work with–I sent her a photo of Eloise’s dress and the colors of the party, and she got right to it. The end result is a beautiful little (perfect fitting) crown that Eloise will wear whenever the occasion permits. And the photos…oh, the photos! I just can’t resist the cake and the flowers together!
One last little detail I had fun creating was the signage for the day. We were partying in the backyard, so naturally, guests needed to know where to find us when they arrived. I learned an unfortunate fact about chalk markers and chalkboard paint in the wee hours before the party, so we quickly improvised and used kraft paper over top of an existing chalkboard to achieve this little milestones board I’d set my heart on making. All in all, it turned out just fine and only took an extra hour. I’m crazy, yes. But I did love seeing it all come together. One last sign to thank our guests for joining us, and that’s about all she wrote. Well…kind of.
There are so many other images from the day that highlight all of the reasons why it was one of my favorites in a long time. The people who surround us bless our lives so immeasurably…I’ll likely post an entire entry of the smiling faces and kiddos who joined us for the festivities. Eloise is one fortunate little peanut to have friends like these, and we are, too. Couldn’t ask for a better bunch to fill up our backyard!
Before we started watching teeny babies turn into dynamic little people in just twelve months’ time, one year gone by felt less significant to me. But really, it’s amazing what transpires in 365 days. In the lives of our families, a year under our belts is so worthy of recognition–in big and small ways. So we toast and we sing and we celebrate with buttons and buntings, these sweet little babes and their precious souls. Our Eloise turned ONE and it’s hard to believe. Harder still, to imagine what the past year would have been like without her petite, spirited, beautifully fierce little self in our midst. We love her SO!
we hope you loved your celebration, Eloise, and even more so, we pray that when you look back on these photos someday, you know that you know that you know you are deeply and dearly loved!