Up, up and away for Kate’s first birthday!

IMG_6240Kate’s first birthday was a labor of love for me. I thoroughly enjoying every bit of the party planning. I started early (I decided on the theme when she was probably six months old!), and I tried to delegate out the things that I don’t usually enjoy (making the food), so that I had plenty of time to devote to the parts I do enjoy (decorating and putting together all the little party details).

It is no secret that the hot air balloon party theme is hot right now. Take one look at Pinterest…its everywhere. I loved it for the whimsy. It is fun, sweet and little magical, without being too babyish or overly-girlie. For some reason, when it comes to Kate, I always seem to lean toward a slight “vintage” vibe, which is also apparent in her nursery. Strange, because I don’t usually go for this look anywhere else when I decorate.

So I picked a muted, vintage inspired pink and powder blue to serve as her party colors. As always, everything starts for me with the invitations.


I got the idea for the invitation from Pinterest…I was pretty much obsessed with those 3-D clouds floating on the paper. Oh so fun! I pulled all the other party elements from this design. So come on in, and welcome to the party!




I bought scrapbook paper in my party colors and used a circle die-cut to punch out circles. My sister then used her sewing machine to connect them into strands. They turned out super-cute, and yay for me delagating. Seriously, this is a skill I am trying to work on. I have a major problem with trying to do everything myself rather than asking for help.

The most time consuming part of this party was making all the floating hot air balloons and clouds. I wanted to make enough so that they made an impression. I think I ended up with 12 balloons and probably twice that amount of clouds. Totally worth it. They made the party for me. I used the same colors of scrapbook paper, cut out a hot air balloon shape, and then folded them in half and glued them together back-to-back to have a 3-D effect. I was proud of myself for figuring out how to do this…to say that math (geometry or otherwise), is not my strongsuit would be an understatement. My brain just doesn’t think that way.

We had a  slideshow of pictures on the TV with all of her weekly and monthly photos in order, so you could watch Kate grow. So I added a little “Watch Me Grow” banner on top of the tv to make this a party station. I also laid out all of her photobooks for people to look through.


The second party station we had was a “Help Me Remember” station, where guests were asked to put their thumbprints on a sheet (to look like a basket holding tons of balloons), and then sign a special message for Kate in her Hot Air Balloon book.

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And then there was the food. I did not make one thing, and this was the key to my sanity when putting together this party. My sister is a fantastic baker, and she made everything except for the cake and the cookies (which I ordered from a local baker).

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My vision for this party was for it to be a dessert buffet of really sophisticated little “bites,” like macaroons, meringues, and cake balls. Of course, all had to match the party colors! My sister fulfilled my vision so perfectly on this. I mean seriously, these are not easy desserts to make, and she pulled it off while also being in grad school and having a conference she had to attend that weekend. I’m amazed and forever grateful.

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The cake balls were even pink inside to match the party theme. Should’ve gotten a picture of that…


And that cake! I’m sure everyone has probably seen this cake design floating around Pinterest. I really served as my jumping off point for the entire party and I took great care in trying to find a talented baker who could pull it off. Yes, this was my great “splurge” for the party. I was also most apprehensive about the cake, since I wouldn’t see it until a couple of hours before the party. I just kept praying it turned out the way I hoped, and oh my goodness, she did not disappoint. It was exactly what I envisioned. I was giddy with excitement over this beautiful cake.

She also rocked the cookies…


And the smashcake…IMG_6081

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I saw the highchair banner idea on Pinterest and liked the idea of “Oh, the places she will go!” Fit with the hot air balloon/up, up and away theme, plus it makes this momma a little sentimental thinking of all the wonderful things in store for her little one year old’s future. I added some leftover circle garland strands to the high chair to make it festive.


She was a little timid with the cake at first, but eventually realized “hey, this tastes good!” It was her first taste of dessert, and now she is hooked. I can’t eat my after-dinner bite of dessert without her throwing a fit to have a piece now. I guess it’s a good diet plan for me, but I have a feeling I may have created a monster. A small part of me is relieved though, because her daddy doesn’t like chocolate or icing (basically all that is good on desserts), so I am glad that Kate took after me instead, and for the rest of my life I now have someone who will help me polish off “the good stuff” at restaurants, or share a bag of candy or a batch of chocolate chip cookies with me at home. As you can tell, this had been a great burden on my life before! Haha!

And what goes better with rich, yummy desserts than a glass of cold milk? How about chocolate or strawberry milk??



Truth be told, I mainly went with the milk idea because I knew it would be so beautiful visually (the jugs were all Starbucks Coffee jars…I certainly had fun downing all of those before the party! Haha). But I was a little nervous about whether or not people would actually drink the milk. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most people enthusiastically went for the milk! It added a touch of fun to the party that plastic cups of Diet Coke just wouldn’t have been able to provide.

But just in case I also had water bottles on hand. IMG_6161

This party began what I am sure will be a love affair with the stripped paper straw. I got these from Shop Sweet Lulu (who also featured this party on their blog, so exciting!!).


Notice the birthday poster in the background? This was a fun little touch that I am so glad I took the time to do. We took Kate out on a little “hot air balloon” photoshoot, and then I added text on top of it with stats and favorites from her first year. Then I had it printed as a large poster through Vistaprint, for about $15.

Kates Poster

I looked at this party as a celebration of looking back on Kate’s first year and just remembering how blessed we have been with this sweet little girl. I decided I would rather not have gifts (this is just a personal preference of mine. At this age, kids usually don’t even care about the gifts, and I would rather her have a few quality toys she can really get a use out of, rather than being overwhelmed by an abundance of cheap, plastic toys).

So in place of the time that opening gifts would’ve taken, I created a video compilation of her first year of life. I am so glad I did this because it puts all my favorite video moments together in one place. The three songs featured are all by JJ Heller, which was a godsend to me that first year. How many tears have I cried singing these sweet songs to my baby girl. I wish there were more “love songs to baby” out there. These are such treasures to me.

Kate’s first birthday video

As the party wrapped up, guests could leave with a little bag of cotton candy clouds and a hot air balloon lollipop (from this Etsy shop).

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The next day we had a little first birthday photoshoot with her leftover smashcake. Gotta get the obligatory cake-all-over-baby shots, after all 🙂 I took all of the circle garlands and strung them up on the wall to serve as a makeshift backdrop. It turned out so cute…and goodness knows, I needed an excuse to take even more pictures 🙂

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The hat was from Sweet Delights, and the bib was from The Perfect Puddle. All of Kate’s party elements can be purchased from my Etsy shop.


2 thoughts on “Up, up and away for Kate’s first birthday!

  1. Found your blog when I was googling party ideas for my 1 year old. I LOVE everything about this party. Where you did you get the invitation and all of the banners (Oh the places you’ll go, etc.), etc.? Did you design yourself?

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