Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Eli's 1st Birthday Spectacular!

Oh my goodness, ya'll- I can't believe my baby boy is ONE! One year ago today we brought our sweet boy home just a few hours after he was born. This year has been so many things. It has been full of self doubt, sleepless nights, new parent fails and victories, diapers, stains, laughter and tears but above all, this year has been so very full of JOY!

At the risk of sounding condescending or even worse, cliche- you just can't appreciate what it is to truly love until you have had a child. This past year has brought so many trials and tests of character. I am being refined through my love of Eli. Our Priest always said that marriage was the sanctification of two souls but nothing seems more sacramental to me than parenthood. Michael and I have been transformed through our love of Eli. The passing of this year carries with it the tremendous weight of the indelible mark that parenthood has left. I am no longer Vanessa. I am Eli's mother. I am his and he is mine and I have never felt more complete.

To celebrate this life changing baby boy, I planned a circus themed party to highlight the wonderful, spectacular, crazy way I love this boy. I've never had a party turn out exactly like I envisioned it. I guess that's what happens when you start planing a 1st birthday party 6 months in advance! I kept a strict budget of $200 and am happy to report that I even came in a little under. To accomplish this goal, I dedicated most of my efforts towards DIY decor and homemade treats. I also scouted deals months in advance by taking a mental inventory of the prices for needed items and bargain shopping like my life depended on it. I even haggled online for paper food trays and made counteroffers at estate sales and of course I used coupons too!

Setting the mood for the party is the most important agenda. I love to create a welcoming atmosphere right at the front door. In addition to giving guests a peek at what's inside, it also serves to guide guests to the right house. I made the directional signs from cardboard and paint and I added a DIY rag wreath to the front door too. Not too bad for a $4 investment!

The biggest DIY undertaking was sewing hundreds of pennants into banners that decorated the entire party space. I was beyond blessed to receive almost all of the fabric for free from a dear friend {and fellow Natural Mama} who has a collection of fabric scraps given to her by sweet little old church ladies. I'll be sure to post a banner tutorial later on but until then, here are some detail shots:

I also made all of the table decor to keep costs down and served homemade drinks and food. I love making food labels for parties, I think it just elevates everything and ties in the whole affair for a cohesive visual effect.

Our menu included sweet tea, lemonade, corndogs, popcorn and chips, veggies and dip and my famous root beer pulled pork. I also made Eli's smash cake and cupcakes and paired them with vanilla orange buttercream icing and dark chocolate fudge buttercream.

I bid on these vintage popcorn bags on Ebay and I love the feel they bring to the table-classic and festive fun! DIY water bottle labels also helped to set the mood. This addition wasn't originally planned but the morning of I stumbled across an online free scrap booking paper printable and just couldn't resist.


 I saved every cardboard box I came across for months leading up to Eli's party. A quick coat of paint and those boxes became circus train cars. Not too shabby, eh?

 And one final table shot for the finish:

Perhaps one of my most ambitious endeavors was creating a photo booth for our guests to take funny pictures in. I set my alarm for 6AM one morning to catch the receiving guys at Lowe's before they broke down the refrigerator boxes. I also managed to get this box in the trunk of the Malibu using bungee cords and a prayer! I plan on listing this guy in the "Free" section of Craig's List, he's too cute to trash! And notice that prop bucket? A photo booth is only as good as the props to go with it. I amassed a collection of novelty accessories for only $5. I bid on a bag of clown noses online, purchased the hat at a local party store and made all of the bow ties from a $.97 table cloth at Walmart.

And of course you know I had to decorate the mantel. I love me some mantel scapes. See that nifty little gumball machine? It sells for $12 on Amazon but I got it for $.25 at a local estate store. Nothing a little soap and bag full of Dollar Store gumballs can't spiffy up!

We were so blessed to have so many friends and family at Eli's birthday. My grandmother flew in from Peru, the majority of the families from our birth center came to celebrate and special guests of honor included Eli's Madrina and Padrina, Alex and Dulce {the adorable couple holding Eli in the photo above}. Even Eli's Pediatrician came to the party! How loved is our little boy?! And although Michael's parents were not able to join us, it was bittersweet that we received their present from the UPS guy during the party-perfectly timed delivery!

 Our friends have some of the most loving, well mannered and compassionate kids. This is gentleman "K" comforting baby "S". They met 5 mins before and quickly developed a bond. Just melts my Mama heart!

We didn't get to open presents until almost half of our guests had left but Eli was so excited by the paper and boxes that he could barely handle his excitement at discovering the "real" presents once they were unwrapped!

Whew! What a wonderful, blessed and joy filled day! We are head over heels in love with our son and feel beyond blessed to be his parents. And since I can't end this ridiculously long post without one more picture of a ridiculously handsome boy, here's the obligatory cake shot!

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