Party Planning: Clara’s First Birthday

Clara’s big birthday shindig is tomorrow! Along with her actual birthday. It seems utterly insane to think that this time last year she was just arriving. Oy, how time flies. And since so many of you were asking for par-tay details I figured I’d toss up a quick little pre-party-prep post about all of my “supplies” for the bean’s big day. You’ll have to excuse me if you think I’m going overboard. I’m just a little obsessed with our girl and we’re so honored and excited to celebrate her first year here (more on the reasons for my über appreciative b-day behavior here).

First I made Martha’s ubiquitous paper poms with tissue paper and some string in our three main party colors (blue, green, and pink- just like her nursery).

You’ll probably remember those colors from her invite (which we made here). Those hues are based on her bedroom- she just loves blue, green, and a hint of pink. At least for now. She’ll probably go through a goth black-loving phase someday so I’ll take pink, blue, and green while I can.

Now we have a handy little numbered photo. Because we all know I like listing stuff. Explanations below.

  1. This is a cloth party hat that gets passed around our entire family for every child’s birthday. It was last worn in October by Clara’s older cousin Emanuel on his first birthday and she’s been eying it ever since.
  2. This is the birthday fabric that we designed on Spoonflower for Clara’s 52 week photo. We also plan to use that as a backdrop for a little photo station where everyone at the party can stand and hold those white pieces of paper with colored borders while they pose for a pic. We plan to take each photo and add the person’s name on the blank piece of paper in Photoshop and make a little album for Clara so she can start to learn and see names like “Granny” and “Nona” (her two grandmas) and look back to see everyone who came to celebrate her.
  3. Here are the fun patterned napkins and plates that we got from Party City on sale. Since our party’s “theme” is based vaguely on Clara’s weekly photos (which inspired her invitation) we thought the patterned napkins and plates looked like a background we would have chosen for one of her weekly shoots.
  4. Those are giant punch balloons that we grabbed from Target (I thought they’d look fun hanging from the trees on the patio if it doesn’t rain on my parade party).
  5. These are the two banners I’ve made (one a long time ago with paper, and one recently with my stubborn sewing machine) full of fun patterns and colors that also remind us of backdrops for those weekly pics.
  6. Here we have piles of pink, blue, and green balloons from Target that I’d love to blow up and make into huge balloon garlands to be swagged around outside (or inside if it rains).
  7. Those are two tablecloths in pink and blue. Just to cover things like odd outdoor tables that don’t match and to add more pops o’ color.
  8. This is a festive table runner that I made with some of Clara’s weekly fabrics (just like her quilt, but it was way faster and easier- I’ll post the detailed instructions for ya soon).
  9. Then we have some sidewalk chalk to entertain the kiddos out on the patio. And next to that are little containers of bubbles shaped like ice cream cones (from Target) that will serve as favors for our wee guests (I want to personalize them with each of their names).

I still have to make her smash cake and arrange for the rest of the food, but that shouldn’t be too hard (famous last words?). Oh and we’re going to make a little time capsule that guests can add stuff to for her to open when she’s 18. That should end up being hilarious. I hope.

Operation Start Blowing Up All Those Balloons is about to commence.

We also mentioned that we wanted to DIY a piñata a while back, but the jury is still out on whether it’s going to work. So far I made paper maché (mixing approximately two parts water to one part flour)…

… and blew up one of those punch balloons from Target that wasn’t in our color scheme (the orange one)…

… and cut a bunch of newspaper strips…

… which I paper machéd to the big balloon…

… which I then let dry a bit overnight and then hung outside this morning to hopefully speed up the drying process (since it was still soggy and looking a bit – uh – questionable). Might be a wop-wop project. We’ll have to see.

I still have to let it dry, pop the balloon, fill it with little toys or candy, and add ruffled tissue paper all over it so it doesn’t look like a big goiter (we actually want to make it a pull string piñata since that works well for smaller kids but we’ll have to see how it goes and post details if we get ‘er done).

But more nerveracking than my homemade piñata’s fledgling looks is the forecast. Boo. What’s the deal with the whole scattered t-storms thing?

Please for the love of balloons in trees and bubble yielding ice cream cones, let it be clear and sunny-ish for just two early afternoon hours. Then it can rain cats and dogs all night.


  1. Amy Wolff says

    what food are you serving good?
    Can’t wait to see pictures from the party- love your ideas.
    Happy 1st Birthday, Clara!

  2. Maggie says

    Another shout out for Martha, but this time for the striped kitchen towel peeking out in the paper mache photo! We have the same ones (along with more terry cloth type hand towels in the coordinating taupe color) and absolutely love them. Definitely an item I’d recommend snagging if you see them on sale at Macys!

  3. says

    You can try putting the paper mâché in your freezer for short increments. Moisture will evaporate as it freezes. Just take it out every so often so it doesn’t actually freeze.

  4. says

    All of your supplies are so cheerful and fun! I can’t wait to hear all about the party!

    I’ll be crossing my fingers that you’re rain free tomorrow!

  5. Barb says

    Let the EXTRAVAGANZA begin!!! Will be thinking good thoughts for the weather and the fun get-together. Enjoy every minute of it. CLARA is only “1” once!!!

    Another Milestone to check off…….got it!!!


    Have fun with family and friends.
    Will be thinking of you.

    (I am the one who made the gall bladder post earlier this week. Not that you care….but I am just about 100% back. FEELIN HUMAN AGAIN!)


  6. Barb says

    I forgot to say….Happy Birthday Precious Little Girl.

    How lucky she is to have great parents like the both of you.

  7. says

    The pinata goiter cracked me up – hope it dries in time for the party! We’re in No. VA and the forecast here is rain/t-storms for the next week. What the…?! Really hoping the weatherman is wrong – both for Clara’s party and for the sanity of Virginians throughout the state! (And we’re also going to a first birthday party tomorrow – though I think this party is more about the adults sitting around drinking beer – which we can do rain or shine!)

    Happy Birthday to Clara and congrats on your first year of parenthood completed!

  8. Sayward says

    You must be the pom pom whisperer! I’ve tried that tutorial twice and I can’t get the tissue paper to fluff up out of the folds the way it’s supposed to. I pull gently and they don’t come out. I pull harder and they wrinkle and rip. Instead of a round O shape I get more of a pathetic I shape and you can still see the flat middle part. I generally try to avoid luscious fullness around my middle section, but when it comes to pom poms I can’t get a full middle section no matter how hard I try. I’d love any suggestions because I’m throwing a bridal shower next Saturday and had my heart set on hanging these beautiful cheap decorations that I can’t seem to make.

    • says

      Mine were all kind of oddly shaped until I just floofed the heck out of them with motion. What I mean by that is that I spun them around a ton on the string, which seemed to make them more round instead of oblong. Hope it helps!


    • Jacqueline says

      I find that good quality tissue paper helps with this problem. I’ve made these many times, using cheap-o paper from the dollar store and more expensive paper from craft stores, and the difference was quite noticeable. I also use 12 sheets per pom pom to give it more fullness. Hope that helps!

  9. says

    Put a fan on that balloon!!! Hope it dries nicely! And sending no rain jazz hands to you Sherry and John! I’m going to need the favor returned for next Saturday as my family is hosting a 40 person outdoor bridal shower for my cousin!

    Have a great time tomorrow and Happy Birthday Clara!!!

  10. Jillian says

    May 14 is a great day for a birthday! My oldest niece turns 5 tomorrow so I’ll be hoping for blue skies for you and here in Iowa too! Hope the weather holds out, but even if it doesn’t I know you guys will make the best of it.

    (However, I’m crossing my fingers for an overcast and semi-chilly Sunday morning, perfect weather to run 13.1 miles!!)

    Oh, and maybe you can take the hair dryer to the paper mache? (of course with all of the spare time you have to blow dry a balloon ;)

  11. Krystal says

    Birthday parties are so fun and provide some of the best/funniest memories. On my niece’s first birthday she absolutly refused to touch her smash cake because she’s really finicky about her hands being dirty (actually, she’s just really finicky in general. She FOLDS her napkins before throwing them away). My SIL put her hand in the cake and the loudest scream-cry I’ve ever witnessed ensued. We just attended her 4th birthday party last weekend at Chuck E. Cheese (I’m never going back there again. NEVER.) and she was traumatized by the man in the mouse costume. The mascot did this 30 minute schpeel he’s required to do for all parties, and she just cried hysterically the whole way through. I’ll never understand why he didn’t just say “Happy Birthday” and leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *