Pooka and Little Man's birthdays are a mere 32 days apart. That makes it nearly impossible to have separate birthday parties at this age. I cannot ask all of our friends and family to give up a Saturday afternoon for a toddler birthday party, then do it all over again just one month later. So instead we waited until Pooka's birthday, when the weather would be warmer and the spring flowers in bloom, and went for a unisex theme. Since Pooka is obsessed with the aquarium (and Little Man is too young to object) we decided to go with a under-sea theme.
First up was picking the right invitations. We saw lots of fun undersea and ocean themes, like this All Arms invitation from Minted, or the Undersea Adventure invitation from Tiny Prints, but settled on the Whale Spout invitations from Paper Culture. We love Paper Culture because they plant a tree with every order, and only use recycled paper and envelopes. They also do a free addressing and mailing service, and the card stock if heavier than tiny prints.
Next, we choose the color palette: navy blue, turquoise, and coral. Again, since Little Man wasn't going to be able to voice his opinion (while my 3 year old has very clear and definite opinions) the colors leaned a little to the feminine side without being overtly girly. I ordered tulle and ribbons from Paper Mart and made a whole mess of DIY tulle pom-poms to hang around the house. Then, I pulled out some of the chinese paper lanterns I had bought from Pearl River to decorate Pooka's party last year (a circus theme) and covered them with tulle. Along the cross bar on the bottom of the lantern I hung more tulle, sequin trim, and raffia ribbon, and voila...a jelly fish! I also covered our large, round pendant lamp over the dining room table with tulle and hung the same tulle, sequin trim, and raffia to create tentacles and transform our light into a giant jellyfish that puddled onto the table. I covered the table in a turquoise tablecloth and spread extra pom-poms, seashells, and flowers amongst the food and birthday cake. I got a few bunches of balloons (my kids are OBSESSED with them) in the same color palette to put around the house. Finally, I covered the mantle with more turquoise tulle and placed coral, starfish, and shells down the length of it.
For cake, I used the Yellow Cake recipe with Pink Buttercream Frosting from The Sweeter Side of Amy's Breads cookbook. We are generally hard core Magnolia Bakery fans, but this may be our new favorite. It's not quite as sweet, and with a touch of poured fondant in the frosting the cake seems to hold up a bit better. I colored the frosting blue and turquoise to look sea-like. A late night cake accident led to some quick thinking and a cuter than expected result. While assembling the cake the night before the party a crack occurred in the top layer, and I was forced to lop off a piece of cake. What remained was something that reminded me of the sand dunes and bluffs at the beach, so I went with it. I used the turquoise piping to make waves and some brown sugar to make sand. I added some cute sand castle and starfish scrapbook stickers and turned a potential disaster into the most talked about item of the day! I also made a small cake banner using fabric scrapes cut with pinking shears, stitched together and hung from two bamboo skewers. A simple but lovely and unexpected decoration.
Favors are this huge question mark for me. How much should you spend? How do you choose favors for a mixed-age group of children? Are they even necessary??? This year we decided to do a combination favor/activity/craft. I purchased wooden bead kits from Melissa & Doug and used the alphabet letters to spell out each child's name. Then I added several additional beads and placed the string and all the beads in bags. I actually used brown paper sandwich bags since I already had them on hand. Once the beads and string were inside I folded the bag in half, wrote the child's name on the front, punched a hole along the fold, and tied a ribbon through the hole to secure the bags closed. I made sure to warn the parents of younger kids that there were small pieces inside! The necklaces were a hit and for the older kids they were a fun craft too.
We had a wonderful day, and we hope our party ideas can help inspire your next birthday party for the little ones. Look for some future posts about what Pooka and Little Man wore, the gifts they recieved, and the yummy toddler and adult friendly finger foods that were big hits at the party.