Bee’s Beach & Boat Themed First Birthday Party


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Try saying that five times fast.  HA!

When I first shared the inspiration board for Bee’s first birthday, I left out one small detail.  There was a very good reason it was beach themed, and it’s not just that I love the beach so much I want to marry it.  The real reason?  We had the party while on vacation at the– wait for it– BEACH.

Not just any beach, but my beloved Outer Banks.  With 21 family members.  How ’bout them apples?

Originally I thought hosting a party in a house I’d never seen before would be difficult, but there was great freedom and “letting go” in doing it that way.  If decorations fit, great, we used them.  If not, oh well!  Since I made almost everything myself, the party cost about $50 total (with the exception of the dinner and beverages we served).  The menu was simple but tasty, and everyone soaked in the atmosphere of life on the canal, overlooking the sound.  Can’t get much better than that.

“our” canal
that’s another canal behind us and the sound is at the very top– water everywhere!

I’ll tell you all about the vacation later, but for now, let’s PARTY!  Out of respect for my family, I won’t put random photos of them on the interweb.  Just know there were a lot of people and kids who attended, they are all beautiful, and I love them more than marshmallows.  Which I love A LOT.

Thank you, Land of Nod, for providing fabulous inspiration.  The two items I wanted from their catalog couldn’t be personalized, and since I’m ridiculous I decided to make them myself and add a few personal touches.  First were the nautical flags.  I’ll post the tutorial later this week, but basically I used paint and white fabric to create the birthday boy’s name in nautical flags– for under $5 total.  They will hang in his nursery once we get unpacked.  And YES, it does spell out his real name.  😉  {except I made a tiny mistake on one of the letters; if you are a sailor, don’t call me out!}

As for the lifesaver pillow, I searched everywhere for someone to make a personalized version for less than the $40 it would cost to buy/ship from Land of Nod.  No dice.  Like a crazy person I decided to try it myself, and WOOT!  It took less than 2 hours to make one of our own.  It wasn’t a pretty process, but I know how to make it better and much faster next time.  I purposely made it larger than the LofN version so we could fit a baby {or two} in the middle.  Not only will he have a memento with his name and first birthday date, he’s already been putting it to work as a place to sit and play.

Side note: where did my baby go?  Who is this little boy?

Months ago I snagged a pair of khakis with a whale belt on sale at Gymboree, and a Birthday Boy shirt from Carters.  Would you look at my handsome little guy?

not the most flattering shot, but here’s the belt I adored so much:

To make bib #1, I used a green bib that we I already had and stamped it with a chunky boat stamp covered in white paint mixed with fabric medium.  Simple and easy!  Bib #2 (which you’ll see in the cupcake photos) was a gift, which came in handy as bib #1 had already gotten dirty.  Darn pureed prunes.

By far the most expensive thing at the party was the hat, purchased online for $10.  And I forgot to put it on him for the birthday song.  Ooooooppppssss.  Ah, well.  Here’s the sailor hat:

Now picture it with bunches of wispy curls underneath and covered in pureed prunes.  See it?  That’s what it WOULD have looked like if I’d remembered to put it on Bee’s perfectly round head.  {when he was born, one of the nurses commented that his head was a perfect circle.  Gotta love c-sections!}

For the invitations I stamped white boats on dark blue paper, with a twine handle to hang on the doors of guests.  Since we were all staying in various houses just a minutes away from each other I thought that would be a cute way to distribute them.

My intent had been to attach a piece of paper on the back with event details, but we got some bad news just before leaving and by the time we left for OBX I had no idea on which day the party would fall.  So I scrapped that idea and used them as decorations at the party.  Event details were relayed by word of mouth once we settled on a date.  I love my family so much, not the least of which for still celebrating Bee’s special day even though our hearts were heavy with the previously mentioned bad news.

With five kiddos ranging in age from one to five, and sixteen grandmas/aunts/uncles/cousins, no planned activities were needed.  Just a basket of toys, some beach balls, and lots of fun running on the deck. Plus *someone* was showing off his walking skills:

For favors, I wrote names on pails with paint pens and filled them with goodies from the Dollar Store: bubbles, sand toys, and a beach ball.  Since the party was mid-week, I handed them out the first day there so the kiddos had lots of toys for a week of fun.

There were also baby goldfish crackers and some other goodies in cupcake liners for the kids to take home for a snack, though it was a little more humid than I expected and by the end they were a bit mushy.  (I’m only mentioning that because I like to keep it real, you know what I mean?)

But you all didn’t come here for decorations and outfits and favors.  Let’s be honest– you really want some dessert… which was cupcakes.  OF COURSE.

I baked up a batch of Betty Crocker vanilla cupcakes in the morning, and once cool got to frosting them (with premade frosting.  So easy).  Believe it or not, decorating them took less than 20 minutes and they were a huge hit, well worth that tiny slice of time!

For the “water” cupcakes, I used white frosting and colored it blue.  Using a pastry bag and star tip, I swirled the frosting around the top.  Then sprinkled on a few dolphin sprinkles and inserted a lighthouse toothpick at an angle.  Voila!  OBX cupcakes.  Originally I wanted to use slips of paper held up by toothpicks to look like sails, but this was way easier.  Plus I’d forgotten the paper.  Had to use what I had on hand!

For the “sand” cupcakes, chocolate frosting was the base.  The sand was crushed Nilla wafers.  There was no rolling pin at the rental house, so I used a gallon jug of water to crush the wafers in a gallon ziploc bag and was happy with the result, even if the sand was a bit “imperfect”.  It tasted yummy regardless so a few larger chunks of Nilla wafer did no harm.  😉

Like the impromptu cupcake stand?  It’s a chip and dipper covered with paper napkins on top of an upside bowl.  Again, necessity is the mother of invention– either that, or I’m just a nutcase.  You decide.

Next up, the menu.  I made the easiest party menu ever, a few old-standbys that thankfully did not let me down!  Each of these dishes (except the pita, which takes under 5 minutes to make anyways) can be made or prepped the day before, which means less time stressing and more time partying.  Plus I had some pretty great helping hands in the form of my sis and mother-in-law!

Here’s what I served, and I’ll post the recipes as soon as I unpack my Greek cookbook from the trip!

Fresh Fruit
Grilled Pita and Hummus
Chicken Souvlaki Kabobs
Tzaziki Sauce
Creamy Pasta Salad
Crab Cakes
A few more shots of the party, and my sweet birthday boy:

someone was NOT happy that her brother was getting all the attention…
And that’s a wrap!  Thanks for sailing away with us on this birthday adventure.  While it looked a bit different than my original inspiration board, the entire party was stress-free and a perfect way to celebrate my darling boy with 21 of my favorite people in the whole entire world.  Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!
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