Leading up to Georgia’s first birthday, I was so excited. I had so much time and I wanted to celebrate both her first year and all of our new friends who were also celebrating one year of being parents. I love planning a party!! At that time I was also in the thick of starting my card company so it was a no brainer to design her invitation and have them printed at a print shop. Our theme was plaid in honor of the little ones being Brooklynites. I couldn’t wait!
For Conroy’s first birthday I was drawing a blank. We didn’t want to do the same thing, but we wanted it to reflect who he was. His favorite thing was easily Elmo, but we didn’t want to have a typical Elmo birthday party. Free time was few and far between and I just wasn’t feeling creative. I really wanted to just buy invitations, but how could the owner of a greeting card company just BUY the invitations to her son’s birthday party! Sacrilegious!
Then while strolling the aisles of Target, we saw a fun line of party supplies (including invitations). I loved them! They were brightly colored sports-themed party decorations…bright greens and blues that made them far from the ordinary “boy” birthday party themes. I still wasn’t completely sure I should buy them, but as we continued our Target run loading up on all the essentials--paper towels and toothpaste, I couldn’t stop thinking about the invites. I started daydreaming and soon enough I could envision the whole room decorated. I’d buy the predesigned invites, fill them out by hand, and add a little fun with extra details and a photo of our little man!! I could see everyone wearing neon sweatbands instead of party hats and playing with inflatable soccer balls. Done! Inspiration had struck and I was off and running!!
In this world of Evites and iPhones, we strongly believe an actual paper invitation is still very important. Getting mail is fun whether you are a child or an adult. An invitation is what sets the mood for your party. It lets your guests know what to expect. It is your opportunity to get the party started before the party has even started.
Our objective for Conroy’s first birthday invitations was to let people know three things: (1) it was sports themed; (2) they should get ready to celebrate; and (3) to kindly not bring gifts. The predesigned invitations that we purchased at Target took care of number one. They were shaped like an event ticket and had blank lines for us to fill out containing all the pertinent information.
To add to this, we used two rubber stamps (baseball and soccer ball) to decorate the envelope. Decorating the envelope is also a must for us. Let’s get people excited as soon as they open their mailbox!! We also chose a coordinating orange polka-dot patterned paper and some green gridded washi-tape for extra touches. We used American Flag postage stamps to complete the look. We do love those Vintage Flower Seed postage stamps, but they would have thrown off our theme.
To say “Let’s Celebrate” we did a quick photo shoot with Conroy and a couple sports balls. Photographing children isn’t easy. Photographing an almost one-year-old who just started walking is almost impossible. I hope to never become that mom who yells at their child so they can capture the perfect moment (although, I may have come close a couple times) so I grabbed a couple balls, took the kids to the playground, strapped the “big camera” around my neck and took roughly sixty-two pictures! Out of all them, there were two that we loved! Two!! Luckily, we only needed one so we were in good shape. We had it printed at CVS using our favorite “Collage – Mini Prints” option and had them printed as 3x4 photos. (That’s two photos on one 4x6 photo that we then cut in half.) Conroy is the whole reason we were celebrating…this smiley, cuddly, hilarious little man. The photo we chose captured him perfectly.
To drive home our “Let’s Celebrate” message, we took the invitation one step further and included just a little bit of confetti. This was super simple to do. I used red tissue paper and our Martha Stewart fringe scissors! We made a long row of fringe and then went back, cutting the other direction – which resulted in little squares. Fun!!
Finally, we wanted to nicely ask people not to bring gifts. We live in a small apartment in Brooklyn and we barely have room for the toys we currently have. We’ve tried asking three times previously (each of Georgia’s birthdays) and pretty much failed every time. Bringing a gift to a party is just what you do. I think people feel rude if they don’t. This time we made our request into a short rhyming poem. We printed it on the back of the orange polka-dot card stock and slipped it into the envelope. We didn’t want to come off ungrateful or rude, but we honestly didn’t want people to spend money just to give us things we didn’t need or have room for. Our poem worked like a champ!! Everyone listened and didn’t bring a thing! We were pleased and grateful.
We mailed the invitations roughly a month ahead of time. About two weeks before the party we sent out friendly individual emails to those people who hadn’t responded.
The party was a complete success! Ever since the day Conroy was born I have been so much calmer. I used to be a very anxious person. I am still far from laid back, but having two kids is so much more work that my new life motto quickly became “We will do the best we can and it will be ok.” I think it also helped that this is the fourth birthday party we have thrown for our kids and we kind of have it down. My mom is one of the best party planners I know. She could seriously start her own business. With her in our corner, we had all the details worked out.
We decided to make the food ballpark-themed: hoagies, popcorn, and hot dogs.
We ordered neon sweatbands to replace the traditional party hats.
We did want to include Elmo in the celebration somewhere, so I made an Elmo birthday cake. Conroy loved it!
We set up a step-and-repeat area to take photos of the guests as they arrived. I fell in love with this faux astro-turf tablecloth, so we hung it as a backdrop and framed it with balloons.
Yes, I had our whole family dress in coordinating Piccoliny t-shirts and tattoos!! If you are in New York City, this store is a great place to visit. Practically on the border of Little Italy and Chinatown, we made a morning of our trip by simply walking through the streets and checking out people and everything for sale.
In true Love Jac tradition, we had a “Conroy Quiz” to highlight moments from the past year. Aunt Trina and Uncle Tom won with a perfect score!
As activities for the kids, we set up several sports stations, such as a soccer net and a basketball hoop.
We also printed out a handful of personalized coloring pages to keep the kids busy.
You know it's a party when the birthday boy is shirtless!!
Thank You Cards
Target also sold coordinating thank you cards, so we took full advantage of them. We printed out a photo of each guest and included it with our note.
Some Fun Things To Remember (some I may have forgotten myself)
This is a short list of things we think are important to remember to do during the party. A one-year-old’s birthday can often be much like a wedding – there’s so much happening and next thing you know it’s over!
- Take a group photo
- Take photos as people enter
- Give out hats or necklaces as the guests enter – a great way to make sure you say hi to everyone.
- Get everyone’s attention and say Thank You
Better-than-a-gift gifts you can give as a guest
- Take a picture during “Happy Birthday” and blowing out the candles
- Take a video during “Happy Birthday”
- Take a photo with the birthday boy or girl
After Conroy’s party a couple people emailed us photos they took at the party. We were so grateful. As a parent your focus is on your little one, so often you don’t have time to take photos during the big moments of the party. Getting them after the fact was so exciting!
We were very happy with Conroy’s first birthday party and we think he was as well! It was low stress and lots of fun! We’d love to hear some of your favorite birthday party ideas.