Photo Credits: Catrina Earls Photography
When Harlow turned one in December I wanted to throw a party that was every bit as happy and cheerful as she was! (And still is, but we're reflecting here.) We discovered around the three-month mark that she LOVED the show Maya the Bee; she would be in a screaming fit and if we put on Maya she'd calm right down and enjoy all the bright colors and funny characters. So when it came time to decide what kind of party we wanted to throw for her first birthday, we landed on a garden theme in honor of the happiness she found when watching Maya play in the meadow with her friends.
I asked Candace of Mingle Events to help me plan it because she's got the most incredible eye for detail and she can throw a themed children's birthday party like no other. As soon as I told her what I wanted to do she whipped out like ten amazing ideas, and once you hear somebody suggest really cute ides for your first and only child's first birthday you're hooked LOL!
I chose to throw the party at Engaged Asheville for several reasons. At the time, we were still living in our townhouse and didn't have the room to host the party ourselves. We wanted a bigger space we could let kids run around and play in since it was December and too cold to be outside. From a logistical standpoint, Engaged's kitchen and concrete floors make serving food convenient and cleaning up spills and messes super easy to handle. From an aesthetics point of view, the white walls and gorgeous natural light created a blank canvas for us to make the space our own little garden getaway for the afternoon!
Bee-day flower cake pops & pink smash cake by Ruth & Ranshaw
Worms in the dirt pudding cups
Mixed berry baskets
White cheddar popcorn
Milk served in mason jars with lids and straws
We made it easy for kids to serve themselves by making every thing on the food table individually portioned. I used pink and aqua cardboard berry baskets to serve the fruit and veggies, and tiny boxes for the popcorn. We arranged the refreshments on milk glass plates and platters accented by fresh blooms in matching vases. All necessary yet unattractive serve ware we covered in faux moss. Wooden spoons and paper straws were used to keep the look natural and cohesive. // Concept, menu, and arrangement by Mingle // Flowers by Springvine Design
DECOR + DETAILS
Color Palette: Just like Maya's meadow, I wanted the color palette to be cheerful and bright! I chose fuchsia, green, white, and gold as my core colors and added splashes of other thematic colors here and there. I shared my color palette and inspirations with every single vendor or creative I hired to keep everything consistent. The first place to start: the invitation (see more below). Every color I used throughout the party was included on the invitation, which to me has always been like a first glance into the party setting and decor. Honeybees (like Maya), red ladybugs, and my favorite blossoms like hostas, wisteria, and roses inspired my secondary color choices.
Invitation, Lyrics, Mirror, and Hang Tags: Bethany of Joy Unscripted designed us a custom invitation that we could make a forever keepsake in Harlow's baby book. She came up with the most adorable combination of beautiful hand lettering and whimsical garden illustrations -- I tear up when I look at it, it's just so precious! Bethany asked what our color palette was for the party so that the invitation would feel cohesive with the theme. She made us little name tags with Harlow's name on them to add to her gifts, as well as little thank you notes to tie on to our party favors. Small details like that really stand out to me, and show a thoughtfulness on the part of the designer that I really appreciate.
I also commissioned Bethany to hand letter the lyrics to the song I dedicated to Harlow when I was pregnant to frame and hang in her room. The song is "You Are In Love" by Taylor Swift and the lyrics to the chorus are the closest I've ever been able to articulating a mother's love for her child:
You can hear it in the silence
You can feel it on the way home
You can see it with the lights out
You are in love, true love, you are in love
We hung the lyrics on a gold magnetic wall behind Harlow's high chair as a simple yet sentimental backdrop to her big meeting with the smash cake!
Butterfly Wings and Flower Crown: Early on I decided Harlow should wear two outfits: a pretty one for playing in and opening gifts, and a cute but pared down look for when it was time to smash the cake. Candace suggested we ask Deedie of Springvine Design to make Harlow a pair of floral and feather butterfly wings and I almost fainted from obsessive excitement. I don't know if I could pick a favorite detail from the party but this might be it. What little girl doesn't want to run around in a beautiful dress and butterfly wings at her birthday party?! It felt like such a princess moment and we ate it up with a spoon. Deedie told me how to store the wings so that the flowers would dry properly and we could keep them forever. I'd like to hang them up in either Harlow's bedroom or play room as a decorative keepsake.
We let Harlow play around in her party dress and wings until it was time for cake. Not wanting to scrub icing out of tulle or tulips, we dressed her in a bib and bloomers for her icing showdown. The girls at Southern Chic Boutique made Harlow's monogrammed bib for me and matched the thread with the colors in her flower crown and bloomers. We still use the bib all the time; I love how cute it looks with her outfits now that we don't need a huge plastic catch-all bib all the time.
Party Favors: Another adorable idea of Candace's was to give out butterfly nets as party favors. I found these on Amazon and dressed them up with colorful ribbon, ladybug stickers, and 'Thank You For Bee-ing My Friend' tags from Joy Unscripted.
Mommy's Garden: Early birthday parties are often so much about the parents getting to do something fun for their kid and offering them an excuse to invite their friends and friends' kids over for a weekend afternoon. Of course we wanted to have some adult beverages on hand so I decided to stay on theme with a Mommy's Garden build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. It's a great way to customize your feature cocktail and also accommodate moms who are expecting. (I do still recommend keeping beer and wine in the fridge.) The vintage mirror and citrus display added a touch of glam and extra pop of color against the white walls.
Other decor and details...Bright paper flowers by Martha Stewart Crafts...Butterfly decals for wall art and embellishment...Garden-inspired monthly milestone stickers...Paper goods (straws, napkins, plates) and small details (photo and packaging string, clothespins, gift package embellishments) in white and gold to balance the array of bold colors...A rose gold sequin tablecloth (rented from Mingle) to add shiny texture to our gift table...A pompom storage bin gift doubles as a gift basket filled with new clothes and various sundries
Andrew Hiler of Ah Ha Music Productions joined the party to play some acoustic guitar for us and lead us all in singing some of our favorite nursery rhymes and children's songs. Harlow absolutely LOVED everybody singing and clapping together, and Andrew is so good performing and playing with children. He adapted some familiar tunes to be a little silly and get some laughs out of the kids and the adults. Andrew was the perfect entertainment choice for our space and the age range of kids who came. Children of all ages could get into the songs and get some energy out, and with our limited indoor space it gave the kids an activity without being too disruptive or dangerous.
On a separate but related note, I was thinking that Andrew playing an acoustic set would create a great atmosphere for a dinner or cocktail party.
Endless thanks to the amazing local creatives and businesses who helped us throw our little girl the perfect first birthday party!
Event Planner: Mingle Events
Photographer: Catrina Earls Photography
Musician: Ah Ha Music Productions
Cake Pops and Smash Cake: Ruth & Ranshaw Bakery
Flower Butterfly Wings and Florals: Springvine Design
Monogram Bib: Southern Chic Boutique
Invitation, Hand Lettered Lyrics, and Party Favor Tags: Joy Unscripted