I can hardly believe that in less than two weeks our baby girl will be one and a half! Seriously time sloooow down!! As I think about how we are half way to her second birthday (ahh such a scary thought!) we are also six months from a very special day filled with very special emotions that I wanted to share with you all.
We knew when we were pregnant with Elise that she would be our last baby. There were major health concerns that brought us to that decision. So with her our family was complete. We had our boy and now we had our girl and for us that was a dream come true. When you decide to complete your family there is a lot of emotions involved (I will save those for another post) and planning and celebrating your last first birthday is no exception.
We brought Elise home on cold snowy day in February. I remember thinking “it’s a winter wonderland” as my newborn little angel and I were wheeled out to the car and the snow blew around us as if we were in our own little snow globe. When I was searching for ideas for Elise’s first birthday party I came across the ‘Winter ONEderland” theme and instantly thought of that snowy day we brought her home. It was the most perfect theme. I pinned posts like crazy and oh my gosh did people have such beautiful Winter ONEderland parties and ideas! I was so excited to plan this party.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to plan parties and celebrations! From birthdays,to showers, or just a simple get together, I LOVE planning and hosting!! My husband and I being the extroverts that we are, love hosting so much that as we are searching for our new house we have “a good space to entertain” on our must have list! But as I was planning her party I became emotional. This will be the last time I have a baby and the last time we have a first birthday party and most of all, I reflected on what we had to go through to bring her into this world.
My pregnancy with Elise was not an easy one(and that too will be a story for another day). In fact, it was scary as hell. This party was going to be a celebration of her being here,healthy as ever, and defying the odds that were against her! Birthday parties have always been my favorite. I mean what is better than your closest family and friends all together at the same time all to celebrate this tiny human you created, the love of your life, whom they all love as well. When you think about it there really isn’t anything better than that! First birthday’s are so special. As a first time parent there is so much to celebrate. I remember Xander’s first birthday and being so excited to host my very first birthday party for my baby. Sure I felt sad that he was no longer a “baby” but I was so so excited and anxious for all the new things he was learning and for all the things that were to come. Those feelings were still the same when I thought about Elise turning one but they were also different. Just as I was excited for all the new things Elise was learning and now knowing what was to come as she enters toddler-hood, I also knew how painfully fast time flies by. As a first time Mom I was always anticipating what was to come next and reading everything I could about each milestone and development. With Elise I knew what to expect and I found myself sad that she is our last and this will be the last time I will have these moments.
I put everything I had into Elise’s birthday party and I shed a few tears along the way. Although I was sad that we would no longer have a baby in the house, I was so grateful that she was here and she is healthy. The day of Elise’s birthday party was picture perfect. Everything went so incredibly smooth and there was no stress! I was so worried about the possibility of a snowstorm as her party was in mid- February and well the weather in Pennsylvania is pretty unpredictable but as luck would have it we were given a beautiful 60 degree day in the middle of February! So much for our “winter” Onederland, haha! Elise’s first birthday party will go down as one of our most favorite days ever not just because our last baby was turning one but because there was so much love in the room from all our family and friends. It was truly a beautiful experience.
This day and everyone of our kids birthdays are such a special day for Mike and I and our families. Although our kids may not remember every single birthday party, we will and these will be the memories that we cherish and hold on to as we watch our babies grow up entirely too fast.
This was tricky because we live in Virginia and our family and friends are mostly in Pennsylvania so we weren’t sure where to have her party. We decided to host the party in Pennsylvania at the local Italian restaurant JoJo’s Pizzeria. My Mom and I hosted my sister’s baby shower there and everyone loved the food and we loved how accommodating the staff was. I went back and forth about having the party at our house but ultimately decided on renting out a place due to the number of people we were inviting and the fact that hosting it outside our home allowed for us to relax a bit. That last part was huge. JoJo’s took care of the food and serving of our guests as well as the clean up. From the time our friends and family arrived till the time they left we were able to spend our entire time with them and our birthday girl without having to worry about a thing. We had a few guests come who we haven’t seen in such a long time so spending the extra time with them was so worth it.
* Party Planning tip: If you are stuck between hosting the party at your home or at an outside location, add up the cost of the food and supplies it would cost you to host at your home and compare that to a location that offers the venue and food. In our case the difference between the cost of having it at our home or at JoJo’s was so close it was a no brainier to host it there!
Decorations totally set the tone for the party! I started searching for decorations the week after Christmas because this was when all the winter stuff would be on sale. I am lucky enough to have a Mom whose Christmas decorations are something straight out of a magazine so I was able to use some of her decor for the party. I am a HUGE small shop shopper so for the prints for the welcome sign and the hot cocoa bar I used a shop from Etsy. We are so lucky to have a wonderful friend who made the beautiful “Elise’s Winter ONEderland” banner for us! It was so perfect and so kind of our friend to offer to make!! For the cake table I used our gold sequin table cloth that we had on our cake table at our wedding. I just loved incorporating something from our wedding into our baby girl’s first birthday party.
* Party Planning tip: Search your local Facebook online yard sale sites for birthday party supplies. I was able to find the “ONE” block letters for $2.00 on a local yard sale site along with balloons and party straws that were never used and were so incredibly cheap! In return, I sold our left over party supplies and made most of what we spent on supplies back! #winning
Hot Cocoa Bar:
The Hot Cocoa Bar was a hit! I like to have a little something extra at the party that adds a fun element for guests. We had lucky charm marshmallows, peppermint sticks, white chocolate and chocolate chips, hazelnut cookie straws, and of course whip cream! We served the hot cocoa in individual coffee cups. That made it super easy for clean up and everyone loved having their own little hot cocoa cups!
Chalkboard Sign by: Katty Good Party
As I have mentioned before, I am a huge supporter of Momtrepreneurs and small shops! So when deciding where to get the cake it was a no brainier to pick a local Mom who makes cakes from scratch right out of her home. We had a Funfetti cake with buttercream frosting and it was sooo delicious! Angela did and amazing job and the details of the snowflakes were just stunning! She even added a little tiara on the top for our little princess!
Another fun element we added was having a custom Snapchat filter made! This was so much fun to create. I have done this for different events as well and it is always a hit! It is super easy, very affordable, and so much fun for your social media loving guests! I loved watching our friends Snapchats of the party. It was so neat to see their stories and pictures that they captured of Elise’s special day! Learn how to do it here!
Elise Quinn you have blessed our lives in more ways than we could have ever imagined. Celebrating your first birthday was one of the best days of our lives. We love you to the moon and back!