It's no secret, I love to throw parties. Any excuse to celebrate and I am on board. I was blessed with an insanely amazing mom tribe of 11 moms that I met when my 5 year old daughter was just a few weeks old at a local parent baby class at the hospital we all delivered at. The classes were divided into 3 month old segments, that means, all 11 of our friends kids have birthdays within the same 3 month period, summer. Fast forward a few years later, and we added another half dozen babies to our tribe with summer birthdays too. You guys, that is a lot of birthday parties to attend while still trying to pack in summer fun.
Anyways, that lengthy story is the reason we decided to throw a joint party for our kiddos turning 5 and 2 this summer, and I am SO glad we did. Everyone had a blast, and I didn't feel overwhelmed trying to host 2 major parties within a few months of each other. One of the ways I keep parties FUN instead of stressful for me is to plan way ahead, like waaaaaay ahead. I have been collecting camping themed decor since last summer and snagged a whole bunch of buffalo plaid items in the after Christmas clearance bins last year. I don't always hoard months in advance because I have no room to store my finds, but picking a theme that could double as Christmas decor, and using camping supplies we already owned helped me keep a majorly thrifty budget for this party, which as the queen of cheapness, means I felt awesome about throwing this party.
Buffalo Plaid and Bears
One of the best tips I've ever learned is from my girl, Allison at Confetti Party Plans who taught me pretty much everything I know about hosting parties, and that is to stick to your theme! When I had a clear vision of buffalo plaid and bears, it made the camping theme come together seamlessly. It was also fun to choose a theme that our entire family loves. I almost always start by designing my invitations first, and usually I feel a lot of pressure to bring the vision to life for my own kids parties but I adore everything about this camping birthday invite and I designed it in record time. How cute is the little party hat on the bear? *pats self on back*
I decided for this party, the dessert table was going to be my focal point, and I wasn't going to do anything else "fancy" except a killer dessert table (spoiler alert, I got fancy). But all the heart eyes for this dessert table. It turned out *exactly* like I had envisioned in my head, and almost every single thing was repurposed or free, like the log round tree stump...courtesy of Grandpa and his chainsaw.
I did ALL the baking for this party myself, with the help of my daughter Reese. And funny story, the most popular dessert, the S'mores Brownies, were the one thing I made out of the box. I'm still kinda in disbelief when I look at that table that I made it all, but I really do love baking, so it was fun to indulge in that hobby for the week. We had:
Chocolate Naked Cake with Caramel Drip
Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting
"Do Not Feed the Bears" Trail Mix
I thought the bear trail mix was the cutest thing ever! Our friends posted a picture on their facebook page the week before the party at their own backyard campout, roasting baby marshmallows over a tea light and it gave me the idea for the s'mores bear trail mix with baby marshmallows, teddy grahams and chocolate chips (Thanks Drew and Em). Our little campers snagged bags on the way out the door as leaving bribes!
The s'mores cupcakes were SO good, my mouth is watering looking at the pictures. The cupcake liners were a quick cricut project to dress those up, and Reese enjoyed crushing the graham crackers to sprinkle on top and putting the chocolate pieces in. (And yes, I had extra cupcakes for her "extra help" because even I'm a little to OCD for that)
You would never believe me if I told you this was my first real attempt at making a naked cake. With some borrowed supplies from our resident cake expert and photographer, Aleks, and a half dozen youtube tutorial videos this cake turned out better than I would have ever imagined. My pro tip for next time, put the cake back in the freezer once the caramel is drizzled so it doesn't drip all the way to the bottom. I threw the cupcake toppers together and bunting banner on the morning of the party when Allison was helping with the final touches on the dessert table and the naked cake looked a little too naked. Lucky last minute project there!
I got fancy
Remember when I told my husband I was *only* going to make a cute dessert table and not do anything else fancy for this party....oops. In my defense, it was a solid promise, until I saw the most adorable potting shelf on a walk through our neighborhood and HAD to recreate it. I instantly pictured the mason jar glasses (a dollar store snag that I have more than gotten my moneys worth) lining the top shelf. We salvaged the same fence wood I used for the dessert table backdrop and I drew up a blue print of the shelf then my husband and Dad got to building. With our team effort we made this adorable bar cart in an hour!
The fall "spiked apple cider" was super easy to make, just apple juice, apple cider, apple slices, cinnamon sticks, and spiced rum. Not too sweet, and would be yummy served warm too. With the help of my cricut, I cut the bear silhouette and hand wrote the adults names on the cups. The kids got juice boxes and water, just keeping it real around here.
Making shirts for the birthday boy and myself didn't count towards my "not getting fancy" allotment. That was happening either way :)
The Birthday Girls Request
The one item Reese requested for the party was a unicorn piñata. Usually her requests come and go so I get to pick and choose which ones I honor, but she asked for the piñata for months, so it was a non-negotiable. I think we've only ever been to 2 birthdays with them, and the last one she got stepped on and cried, but apparently she doesn't remember that. As far as activities go for the party, I pitched a tent in the back yard and created a fishing hole using a swimming pool filled with small fish squirt guns and tied jute to sticks for the poles. I was just planning to let the kids run wild and free, because I'm not really the structured party type, but I thought the piñata bags would be a perfect activity if a kiddo wanted a little quiet time, or they could take the craft home once the sugar wore off. I used my cricut and some clipart I found online to make the camping themed stickers.
All in all, this party was a smashing success (piñata pun intended) and I am so glad I honored myself to do a joint party for them instead of overdoing my mom hustle with two parties. I figure we won't be able to get away with it for long, so we should take advantage of it while we can. This last photo perfectly sums of the magic of the kids birthday party. The most gigantic thank you to my wonderful friend Aleks, for capturing these photos and giving me such a gift with them. I hope you always know how thankful I am for you.
Paper Goods: Palm to Pine Design
Party Planning Consultation: Confetti Party Plans