Holden's "No Theme" 1st Birthday Party

After Brantley's baseball-themed first birthday party, there was one thing I was certain of.  I wanted to get rid of all of it.  Not because I didn't love it (oh, I loved his party!), but because I didn't want to be tempted to use all of the same ideas for a Baby #2, should it be a boy.  I wanted him to have his own thing.  After all, a same-sex second child would already get the shaft in so many other ways (nursery, clothing, toys) and I was adamant about him having a first birthday party of his very own.

Turns out, Baby #2 was a boy and it would be have pretty simple to plan another baseball-themed birthday party, especially in the midst of my busiest school year and the start to an amazing {Royals} baseball season.  But low and behold, I started from square one and planned an all new party for my second born.

Now, let's be clear.  I didn't *quite* go all out like I did with Brantley's party.  This party wasn't *quite* as Pinterest worthy.  It didn't have a "theme" per say (other than blue, green, and black).  And I didn't spend half of Holden's life planning it.  (Ha!)  But I still enjoyed the process and his party included some cute details, if I do say so myself!

It was also the first party hosted in our new house, which made it special in itself.  The open floor plan of our house is perfect for situations like this, and never once did I feel separated from any of our 25+ guests.

Anyway, back to the party.  I initially wanted to go with a circus theme, as I found some adorably cute ideas on Pinterest.  But the more I thought about it, the more overwhelmed I got.  I just didn't think I'd have the time or energy to prep all of the themed-ideas, while also working a crazy-busy full time job, settling into a new house, and taking care of two kids.  So I quickly scratched that idea and decided on a non-themed blue, green, and black (chalkboard) party instead.

I started with the invitation.  Initially, I was going to design one on my own.  But then I decided it was worth the $15 to pay someone on Etsy.  So this was the inspiration for all other details.

Another big decision to make was the smash cake.  I scoured Pinterest for some ideas and thought briefly about making my own.  But after a failed trial attempt, I called Price Chopper and ordered one for $5.  Here was my inspiration.

And here's how it turned out.  It didn't look quite like this when I picked it up from Price Chopper, but with a little "doctoring" of my own, I thought it looked pretty good!

The details are always my favorite things about party planning.  It is what makes or breaks a party, in my opinion.  And though I didn't go overboard in the detail department, I feel like I had just enough to make it cutesy!  Paper straws, mason jars, chalkboard labels, color-coordinating paper products, a couple of banners, a first birthday chalkboard, and a "1" collage of Instagram photos from Holden's first year.

I made the cupcakes, made the HBD banner, made the monthly photo banner, hand wrote the chalkboard (with inspiration from Etsy), and arranged the 5+-feet-tall photo collage in the few days leading up to the party.  (I printed the 4x4 photos at Walgreen's and stuck them to our wall with rolled painter's tape).  I already had the mason jars (and some clear plastic cups for kids), the chalkboard drink labels and straw/fork pails were both last minute purchases from Hobby Lobby, and the paper goods (straws included) were a mix of Hobby Lobby and Walmart.

For the menu, I went with a barbecue theme.  Everyone loves BBQ and since KC is known for the best of the best, it only made sense!  I threw a couple of pork butts in the crock pot overnight the night before and shredded it the morning of.  Easy peasy!  With the exception of Craig's mom's amazing potato salad, I purchased all of the sides pre-made--baked beans, macaroni salad, and cole slaw.  It sure took some stress off of me.  Planning lunch for 25+ guests is a bit stressful!

And now for the actual party!  We really tried to rush through lunch, gifts, and the smash cake before we had a tired, cranky 1-year old, and also so that people didn't feel obligated to stick around longer than an hour.  Immediately after lunch, we attempted gift opening.  Holden had zero interest, so lucky for Brantley, he got to help!  (Holden did, however, love the PB chair we got him!)

Holden was lucky to have not just one set of grandparents in town for his birthday weekend, but both sets of grandparents and his great grandparents!  We enjoyed having all six with us to celebrate the special birthday boy.  So of course, I demanded requested photos. :)

Once pictures were over, it was time for smash cake.  He was happy, interested, and ready.

Until he stuck his hand in the burning flame of the candle as we were singing.  And you can imagine how that went.

But we coaxed him into trying the cake.  And that seemed to be the end of the pain and the beginning of a huge mess.  But isn't that how a smash cake is supposed to go??

Needless to say, Holden went straight to the bathtub.  And Brantley wanted to demonstrate how Holden had just demolished his cake.  He's never been one to get quite as messy...

And that pretty much sums up Holden's first birthday party!  My goal of this party was to keep it a little lower key than Brantley's party, and although we still hosted 25+ people, it was definitely lower key.  I'm so glad I paid people to do most things instead of trying to DIY everything.  It definitely helped me to enjoy the party.

Thank you to everyone who came and shared in the special occasion.  And a special thanks to my mother-in-law, Sharon, for making her deliciously popular potato salad; to my mom, Deb, who made the cupcakes; and to all six of the grandparents for entertaining our kids all weekend.  And to our old neighbors, Paul & Angie, for bringing me a new camera lens!!!!!  (Yeah, did I mention, it was broken when I went to use it Friday night?!?  Ahhhh!!!!)  We love and appreciate you all very much!


  1. Such a fun party!! It turned out really cute! Poor guy, burning his finger. I don't think we lit a candle for Wyatt's first birthday; it was at the park and pretty windy. #momfail Ha!

  2. This looks amazing! I love the chalkboard so much!!!! I want to have your writing talent :). Can't believe your sweet boy is one!!!!

    1. Thanks Brittany! My writing is horrendous. Really! I've been told multiple times that I have boy writing. But I'm really good at copying things, which is what I did for the chalkboard, and shockingly, it turned out pretty good!

  3. I love it!! It was all perfect!
    And oh my goodness, the smash cake photos - yesssss!!

  4. Obsessed! You have such a beautiful family. AND you should consider being a party planner. :) Is it bad that I'm already mentally planning Jolie's first birthday party? Hah.

    1. Kelsie--NOT AT ALL! I started planning Brantley's at his 6-month mark! This one, however, was more like 11 1/2 months. Ha! Thank you for your sweet comments. If I wasn't such a good math teacher, I may consider party planning. :)

  5. Super cute! Looked like a great party!

  6. Super cute! Looked like a great party!

  7. Super cute! Looked like a great party!

  8. So cute! Tell Holden that he is a great cake smasher!! (As the one who doesn't have to clean up, I always appreciate when kids go all out!)