I’m still not sure how I got so lucky to be Cooper’s mom. He is loving and sweet, FULL of energy, smart, sneaky, funny, entertaining and, did I mention, full of energy? Ha. Sometimes when I’m alone in the quiet of nap time or bed time, my heart feels like it could just burst out of my chest with love. He makes my husband and I so completely exhausted and yet spiritually fulfilled at the same time.
Last weekend, we had the opportunity to celebrate two big moments in Cooper’s life. First, he was baptized at our church and then, we celebrated his first birthday with forty of our closest family and friends. Yes, forty. We (and Cooper) are so blessed with truly nice, loving, dedicated people in our lives.
Obviously, the star of the day was our bambino, but let’s be honest, mommy had a fun time planning and decorating, too. Our theme was “Little Man” and bow ties because our guy is quite the gentleman.
Here’s a rundown of how we transformed our home into the ultimate setting for a house full of ladies and gents:
We started with the mantle. I picked up these O-N-E cardboard letters at JoAnn when they were on sale for 50% off a couple of months ago and painted them with acrylic paints. I did a Google image search for “argyle” to help me paint the design along the bottom.
To make the bow tie garland, I used THIS template and then tried to use THIS tutorial for a garland, but the hole punch idea didn’t work for me so I ended up just putting two small pieces of scotch tape on the back of each bow tie to attach the string.
For our centerpieces, I didn’t want to go overboard and be all “Real Housewives Party Planning Crazy” so I tried to keep my budget in check. I started stockpiling glass jars from foods and drinks of all sizes – wine bottles, salsa, spaghetti sauce, soy sauce, beer bottles, BBQ sauce, etc. The ABSOLUTE best way that I have found to help remove the labels is a homemade Goo Gone. If you’re a crafter, this recipe will change your life.
I painted the jars in different hues of blue, green and grey and used two different methods. I first started by pouring acrylic paint into the jar and swirling it around so the outside could be glossy. However, it took FOREVER for the paint to dry inside so after about six or seven jars, I decided to just buy spray paint and spray the rest – those had more of a matte finish. It was a nice combo of shiny and matte.
First, I picked up a few wood “one” numbers from Hobby Lobby, painted them, and attached them to pre-cut dowel rods. Then I came across foam sheets at the craft store and had more fun creating large “one” numbers and bow tie cutouts because they seemed more childlike and colorful.
The blue wire with little stars on it was tough to find but the winning craft store was Michael’s – only $1.29 and found by the wrapping paper and party supplies. It’s in a round coil so I had to just cut it to the lengths I wanted and then bend the wire gently to make it straight.
One thing I had been eyeing on Pinterest for ages was a balloon wreath so I added that to my to-do list and let me tell you, it was very simple but also a huge pain in the
ass butt neck at the same time (Cooper is starting to talk to my vocabulary is going through boot camp). I used THIS tutorial but had to buy WAAAAAAY more balloons than that lady. It’s probably because I learned there are different sizes of balloons. My advice to anyone else wanting to do this is to use the big balloons and space them out quite a bit when you pin them to the wreath. I used a pool noodle instead of a pre-formed foam wreath and because I had about 489,723,439,857 balloons on mine, it was heavy and became an oval wreath instead of a round wreath. I faked that I “planned” for an oval by cutting out a “one” with foam and taped it to the door. Clever, eh?
Most important to the party, the bow ties! I picked up a few quilting squares of cute fabrics in blue hues from Jo-Ann and used THIS tutorial for making bow ties. I ended up with 25 bow ties and after hand sewing the first six, I decided to use Tacky Glue and it made the project MUCH more bearable.
With one bag of safety pins and one of barrettes from Hobby Lobby, we had a damn cute prop for our guests to feel included in the bow tie fun.
Let’s talk about the food. I designed all of these little signs to explain each of the food items, and never printed them! Hence, the lack of photos. Oh well. I heard people say that the little MAN-wiches and BOW TIE pasta salad were good, so I’m happy. Plus, we had bow tie-shaped napkin rings so the food didn’t even really matter, right? Shout out to my Grandma and Mom for tediously completing this project for me!
Of course, I channeled my inner seamstress and made Cooper’s outfit. It wasn’t an outfit to stand the test of time (the “suspenders” started to come off by the end of the day), but it was cute and got the job done. I used Heat N Bond Iron On tape with some blue ribbon for the suspenders and sewed on one of the bow ties from above.
After sleeping through much of his own party (thanks, bud), we finally had our big cake moment. I made Cooper’s smash cake using THIS tutorial and even though I made zero effort to decorate it in a cute way, it felt good to save the money and it was the perfect amount of cake. As a matter of fact, he barely ate any of it so it didn’t feel like a waste at all.
AND, what I didn’t use for the smash cake from cake batter, I made into cupcakes. And everyone knows that real men eat cupcakes.
Last, is the part of the party I’m most proud of. Nate and I always talk about what type of kids we hope to raise, and how we can help shape them into good, loving, considerate and respectful human beings. We look at other kids with good manners and idolize (stalk) their parents and watch how they talk to their kids. We read article online. We read books.
We decided that because we are so fortunate (remember the 40 guests?), we would suggest that all of our guests bring a book for Cooper to donate to a local charity. Those 40 guests went above and beyond and even our family members that couldn’t be with us in person to celebrate sent books in the mail. This year, we are donating in memory of Ali
Nunery, who is the late wife, sister and daughter of a few very nice people we have met recently. Ali was a librarian with a strong passion for spreading the joy of reading. We hope she looks down at Cooper with a little smile when he delivers the books and knows that her life had an impact on people she never even met.
And after all of that wonderful fun? We’ve decided to celebrate birthday number two with a cupcake, a candle, and the three of us. 🙂
– Abigail –