Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh buoy, he's one! {whales and sails birthday party}

Despite my objections to the contrary, my baby boy turned one, friends. I wanted his first birthday to be special and memorable, but still relatively simple. So I employed the help of some clip art, a trusty printer and some very basic party supplies, to whip up a sweet, printable, personalized first birthday party with a whales and sails theme.

Basic supplies:

Polka dot plates, napkins and blow-outs from Dollar Tree

Cups, balloons and colored plastic utensils from Wal-mart.

As I mentioned, I chose an ocean/nautical themed party.  I originally began looking on party supply web sites for decorations, plates, cups, etc. with that theme.  They can be found, but I wasn't in love with any of them and there is a hollow feeling that comes from spending more on paper plates and disposable tablecloths than say, your utility bill...or shoes. So I opted to make my own party supplies to get the look I wanted and be able to personalize the items.  

I started hunting for clip art I could use to design and print party decorations.  I discovered that Etsy is a great source for clip art-who knew?   I found this sweet little nautical clip art set from Pink or Blue Designs and purchased it for $5.
Jana from Pink or Blue Designs was so great to work with and so fast and accommodating.  I had my clip art files almost instantly after paying for them. If the thought of using Illustrator or Photoshop or doing any DIY projects on the computer terrifies you, DO NOT DESPAIR! You can find a myriad of pre-made printable parties online. Pink or Blue Designs has some darling options and there are many to choose from on Etsy as well. In addition to convenience and cost savings, printable parties are great because you own the files and can re-print them for another party or other use.

Getting back on track, I started by making the party invitations.  I made them using Adobe Photoshop.  The design is pretty basic with some stripes in the background, circles to look like portholes and the clip art...oh and a photo of my sweet little guy. 

I liked the stripes and port holes look, so I incorporated those elements along with the number one in with the clip art to make the designs for the rest of the party.

I made birthday bouquets by simply printing out the designs, cutting them and taping them to bamboo skewers. I tucked them into patterned containers ( baby formula cans covered in patterned paper that I also made from the clip art).  I used the formula cans for a few different purposes.  It seemed fitting since we are celebrating the end to buying formula!

I framed a very simple little welcome sign with a few nautical puns...

I found some blow-outs at Dollar Tree that were the right colors, so I taped some of my clip art circles over them too.

I taped another happy little whale to the front of this clear plastic napkin holder from Dollar Tree and used it to hold the plates.

Let's talk about cakes.  In short, my talents lay elsewhere, but I still wanted to make a cute cake.  So I cheated.  Really, who made the rule that everything on a cake has to be edible? I wrapped the base in 1/2 yard of ribbon (the frosting held it in place) and made a quick birthday sign printed on card stock and taped to a bamboo skewer to top the cake. With a classic number candle, the deal was done. Fast, cute and removable for when my son destroyed the entire cake, per first birthday tradition.

Once upon a time I made this little dessert stand.

Once upon another time, I broke the top layer off.  It turned out to be a happy accident.  I needed two stands for the party, so I stacked my severed stands on some simple red platters from a very exclusive store called Wal-Mart. Done and done.

I forgot to get a good photo, but in the bottom left, you can see the star-covered formula can that I filled with napkins and utensils.

I added personalized cupcake toppers as well.  Clearly, I went overboard with the clip art circles on bamboo sticks idea, but I like it anyway.  We served strawberry cream cheese cupcakes with cake batter ice cream and grasshopper cupcakes with mint chocolate chip ice cream.

  Speaking of ice cream, here is a cool trick that I discovered: Dreyer's round ice cream containers.... perfectly inside decorated formula cans- who knew?  It was a fun way to serve the ice cream in a decorative but simple container.
To dress up the plain paper cups, I made and printed little drink wrappers that are very basic, then cut and taped it to the paper cups.

The birthday banner was my favorite part.  I originally planned to make a pennant banner but two things stopped me: 

1) It's been done (by me and thousands of other DIY aficionados).
2) I ran out of time.  The though of cutting, gluing layering and stringing more shapes together was more than I wanted to tackle.  I am lucky to have access to a big printer, so I used essentially the same design as the invitation with a few changes and made it approximately one billion times larger. The banner was 26 in by 30 in.

Whether it was the decor or the unrestricted access to his own cake that won him over, Asher was impressed with the party.


  1. What a great job! I must say it looks professional!! May I feature this in my Soiree Day in a couple of weeks?
    Love the use of the formula cans !!!

  2. Awe! They grow up so fast!!! What a great job on your party decor - looks like you had everything covered! I linked over from the crafty soiree where I also linked up! Hugs, antonella :-)

  3. Oh.My.Gosh. SOOOOOO cute!!! I am such a sucker for red white and blue nautical theme...he is one lucky little man! And the twin-ness rears it's (beautiful)head again...I bought the EXACT same trays at Walmart. In red. True story.

  4. Adorable details. Love the mix of stripes and polka dots with the nautical theme

  5. You are so creative and so great at getting everything perfect!!! I need to hire you to plan all my kids' parties. :) Little Mr. A is one lucky dude to you have you for a mama!

  6. This is so cute! I love the theme and how you put it all together. My son is turning 2 in a few months so I am in full party mode myself. Thanks for some inspiring ideas!

  7. Fabulous!! Love the idea of putting the ice cream in the covered formula cans! Too cute!

  8. Adorable, you thought of everything! Perfect-o!

    Warm Wishes,

  9. I hope everyone had a whale of a time!

  10. SO adorable...
    Featured you at A Crafty Soiree today:

    Thanks for linking... love your style! Malia

  11. Cute, cute and more cute! I'm no stranger to putting printables on everything for parties but you came up with a few I hadn't seen before. I'm for sure using your napkin holder turned plate holder at my next party.

  12. Wow! Tatum! You are so incredible! What a lucky little guy to have such a fun celebration. I need to hire you to help with our birthday parties. We need to get together soon, we can even just meet at the park.


  13. Cute little guy your Asher is. Love the invite and everything else you did. Such attention to detail. What a special 1st birthday.

  14. This allows for us non-crafty moms to think there is hope for something special without breaking a budget. Very useful ideas and the results are absolutely cute. Congratulations on your baby boy's birthday!

  15. Where did you find the cardstock and stickers? I'm so new to this and have no idea where to buy them. Thanks. I think you did an amazing job and so very creative as well.

  16. A lovely surprise birthday party! I really love surprise parties. I also hosted a surprise anniversary party for my parents. I booked one of their outdoor event venues too keep this party a secret but they liked it a lot.

  17. Fantastic blog, i want to see more. please visit here happy birthday sister


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