Edited to add: I recognize now, 5 years later, that the theme of this birthday party might be interpreted by some as culturally insensitive. I truly appreciate Mexican culture, having traveled around the country a few times (and I don’t mean to Cancun). I decided not to remove the post, however, because it’s important to reflect on where we were, where we are now, and how we got there. Know better, do better.
In the weeks leading up to my daughter’s birthday, I was just walking around in a cloud of disbelief at the fact that she was one year old! It’s totally cliche, but totally fact that it does go too fast. It was an amazing year, at times difficult, but overall wonderful. We had so much to celebrate and really wanted to have fun with her party! I hope you enjoy the highlights as much as we did, and the recipes/tutorials to follow in the coming weeks.
I didn’t really want to do a kiddie theme because let’s be honest, a first birthday party is for the parents. Your child will not remember the party except through photos, and is too young to have a favorite show/movie, book or character. Plus, there are plenty of birthdays left for annoying Caillou plates and junk, I mean goodie bags. Moreover, we survived our first year as parents and wanted to celebrate that.
I went with a fiesta theme because it sounded like so much fun, and there were just tons of cute ideas to try. Not to mention, it’s a good theme when you’re on a budget! I did get some flack for it because, as my brother put it, “How can you have a Mexican theme on the 4th of July?” I think he got over it.
Listo para la fiesta!
Before I continue, I must give my family a huge amount of credit for helping me out. They ran errands, helped cook, fixed mistakes (I make a lot of those), set up tables and chairs in 100% humidity, cut limes (lots and lots of limes), hung banners, and much more. They made this party a success and I definitely couldn’t have done it without their help! Plus, they made it a lot more fun, too.
I went with these adorable papel picado invitations from Paper Fox Designs. I found Andrea on Etsy, and she was fabulous! She customized her design for me to go with my ideas and was easy to work with. She was also affordable, and I even used a Groupon to print on Vistaprint. And look at the finished product! Can’t get any better than this! I highly recommend her.
Sorry, can’t have my digits. Married and all that.
I went with all bright colors – lime green, hot pink, yellow, purple and electric blue – because they’re fun and celebrate her personality. I didn’t really want to go overboard with the decorations, so I hung up a few simple tissue paper pom poms, made a few birthday banners, and tied up some balloons (her favorite!). We hosted a ton of family that week and I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed. In the end, it looked festive, but simple.
How brilliant is the beer balloon weight?!
We even decorated our dog’s tie out…I don’t think he minded since it attracted the little kids to come and pet him. I also made some paper banners to decorate her high chair and to showcase all her monthly photos. The banners were both surprisingly easy to make and looked adorable! I now have her 12 month picture banner strung up in her room and plan on never taking it down. Ever.
Obviously, I took this picture prior to her 12 month photo shoot.
I also made a chalkboard design on the computer of her favorite things and a few stats. It was really fun to make and everyone enjoyed looking at it as they created their tacos.
This is much better than my handwriting. Trust me.
My husband’s boss is a super talented seamstress and made Norah not one, but two, birthday dresses. We used one for her party and one for her birthday pictures. The outfit and hair pieces went with the color scheme and worked perfectly for the hot day. I just love them!
For the drink table, besides Mexican beer, we also had homemade sangria, margaritas and plain ol’ tequila. I have to admit I had high hopes for homemade margaritas as well as a vodka watermelon (see, I told you this was an adult party!), but I ran out of time. Plus, in hindsight, I would have been better off just buying more beer and scratching the fancy drinks altogether. We almost ran out of beer, but I had a ton of sangria and margaritas leftover. No, we did not have leftover tequila. Don’t ask. We also provided a water cooler of, um, water, and assorted non-alcoholic beverages for the kiddos and pregnant ladies.
You know you’re jealous of the drink selection at this first birthday party.
The pinata was basically necessary. There were only a few kids big enough to take a whack at it, but they were unsuccessful. Apparently I bought an adult pinata that is harder to break than kid versions. Who knew there was a difference? So, we eventually had to allow the adults a turn, but with the required handicap. (Hence, the lack of leftover tequila.)
Tequila. The great equalizer.
Also, if you haven’t tried the Juanes Pandora station, do it now. You’ll not regret it.
For our late night party guests, we had a bonfire and fireworks. I guess that’s one benefit of having your birthday near the 4th of July! It was a great end to a perfect day. Couldn’t ask for better fun!
These are professionals. Don’t try this at home.
Now, for the best part…the food! I mean, that’s basically the reason why you have a party, right? I decided to go with a simple taco/nacho bar. Not only does everyone love it, it’s customizable for people with allergies/vegetarians, easy to put together, and very affordable. I had visions of myself making everything from scratch, but a happy medium of homemade and store-bought was the reality. The taco/nacho bar consisted of tortillas or tortilla chips as a base, with taco beef and refried beans as the main and homemade Spanish rice as a side. Toppings included bell peppers, onions, salsa, homemade guacamole, corn, cheese, and sour cream. I also had two kinds of fruit salads.
The brojangles is ready to eat!
For dessert, I made Norah her own smash cake. It was really way too large for her, and probably would have been cute to figure out some way to cut it down to a mini cake, but I just didn’t think about it until the day of. So she got a full size layered cake all to herself – I don’t think any of us would complain, right? It was a strawberry vanilla cake with cinnamon vanilla frosting (leftover from cupcakes). I cut out a number one and used that as a stencil for the sprinkles. (I must admit that the cake fell apart and my dad painstakingly fixed it with icing. He is an icing genius! Genius, I tell you.)
She loved the flavor of it, but did NOT like getting her hands messy. Especially when Uncle Jeff forced her to actually smash the cake. She was much happier with me feeding her and then getting clean in the kiddie pool with her friends afterwards. I think I might have ruined her. 😉
A more delicate take on the traditional cake smash.
The highlight of the party (food-related, anyway) was the churro cupcakes. I saw the recipe on Pinterest and just HAD to make them for the adults at the party. Let me tell you – they were so freaking delicious. For once, we are actually happy with leftovers. I have to admit though that I didn’t make the cupcakes.
Scene: I am making tissue paper pom-poms while my brother, Jeff, watches. Panic is erupting as I realize we have a lot more to do.
Me: Jeff, do you know how to bake cupcakes?
Jeff: Um, chemistry major!
Soooo…Uncle Jeff made the cupcakes. They were PERFECT. Must be the predisposition to following directions.
Only half the cupcakes we made…oops.
I hope you enjoyed the party highlights! We had such a wonderful day celebrating this past year and our little girl! This has been the craziest year of my life. We had a rough start, but through it all we grew stronger as a family, learned a metric crapload about ourselves and how to raise a human being, and ended the year on the most wonderful note. I couldn’t be more excited to see what this next year brings for us.
Newborn smiles. Can’t get enough.
12 months of adorable.
Please stay tuned for recipes and tutorials! I’ll be sharing these in the coming weeks so you all can have delicious treats too! Stay cool out there!