gracie’s party animal birthday

homemaking, motherhood, Uncategorized

8Q5A7547 (1).jpg“She wont remember it.”
“But we will!”

Corey and I had this conversation a dozen times in the weeks leading up to Grace’s first birthday party! Admittedly, I probably thought about her party way too much, but I truly wanted her feel the joy that she gives to us every day. And OK, I love to throw parties… and this was definitely the most fun and colorful one I’ve ever hosted!

We had the party at 11am to try to work around typical nap times, so we had brunch style foods. The menu consisted of ham and cheese sliders, chicken and waffle sliders, parfaits, pasta salad, deviled- and red-beet eggs. Desserts are pictured below! Sadly, when Grace woke from her morning nap that day, we noticed she wasn’t quite herself. As the party progressed, we realized she had caught a cold! We felt so sorry for her, but she was such a good sport.

Aubree Shannon graciously spent time out of her weekend to come take photos, and I am so thankful she did! Here are the photos she took of the decor, the cake smash, and a few quiet family moments!

*I purposefully left out photos of our family and friends at the party – we are planning to share those photos privately 🙂


The wreath we had hanging on our front door the day of the party! I made this with 2 large packs of balloons. sewing pins, and a styrofoam wreath mold. We already had the “G” in Grace’s room, so overall the cost to make this was around $20 (these sell for $60-75 on Etsy). What I love about a DIY like this one is that it can totally be imperfect and you honestly can’t do it wrong!


I fell in love with this print – I purchased the PDF on Etsy, had it printed at OfficeMax, and framed it in a Target snap frame. Instant downloads from Etsy are my favorite! Pom honeycomb garland is from Target also.


I made the birthday hat from scrapbooking paper, and made the tutu for around the high chair. The tutu was SO easy to make. I was shocked at the cost to purchase one– $30-50! I bought 1-inch white ribbon and 25 yards of white tulle on a spool. I wanted the tutu to be 12 inches from the top of the high chair, so I cut 24-inch pieces of tulle and looped them evenly around the ribbon using this method. It was SO easy and it was $12 for the materials.


Allow me to introduce you to JoJo, our beloved stuffed giraffe who has quickly become Gracie’s BFF. She is so limited with her words, but she will point and say “JoJo” and loves to “pet” and say good morning to her. With the party animal theme, we thought JoJo would be good emotional support for cake smash time 🙂


Balloon garland: Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Had I known what a huge pain it would be, I would have put one balloon on Grace’s high chair! It took over 4 hours… and there were 6 popped confetti balloons. CONFETTI balloons. The tutorials I looked at were not helpful and glue dots popped the balloons. I ended up super glueing in the extras last minute!



I spray-painted these Paper Mache letters white, and the 1-12 month garland was a $5 Target find! Grace’s monthly milestone pictures were taken each month with her Chloe cuddle + kind bunny that her aunt and uncle got for her for her first Christmas! If you haven’t heard of this company, check them out. 1 doll purchase provides 10 meals to kiddos in need.


These ostrich and giraffe canvas prints are not typical staples in our living room, nor did we buy them for the party! They usually have places in Grace’s play area in our basement and were purchased from Home Goods.


Found this idea on Pinterest, but wrote the poem myself. 🙂 All of the animal printables above and below were *FREE* on Caravan Shoppe!



Grace’s naked cake and cookies were made by The Paisley Pair. We were so in love with them! The animal toppers on her cake were Schleich brand. I made the party hats using this tutorial.


I saw these milk bottles on Pinterest. I thought they were so adorable. So I purchased a dozen and then last minute purchased a dozen more. Do you know how many of these were used at the party? 3! I don’t know what I was thinking. No one wants to drink room temperature milk. Please learn from me. Save your money. Save the milk. Throw the mini donuts on a plate and call it a day.



The main foods were ham and cheese sliders (which were also easy to put together the day before, then coat with the sauce and throw in the oven the morning of) and these chicken and waffle sandwiches pictured. We ordered a small catered tray of Chick-Fil-A nuggets, and I popped the waffles in the oven to put these together the morning of the party. So easy!


Since we had a ‘brunch’ hour party, we had Dunkin’ cold brew and Starbucks hot coffee. It was SO easy. I purchased these packs and made the cold brew the day before. Buying the hot Starbucks traveler boxes was worth it – no need to make pots of coffee during the party and no line for the Keurig. Plus, the boxes of coffee come with cups, lids, stirrers, cream, and sugar — and keep the coffee hot for 3 hours!


For party favors, I purchased these mini jars in the under $5 section at Target. I spray painted the lids white and superglued these animals to the top! I added some twine around the jars, and filled with frosted animal cookies.

Now for my absolute favorites…

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Trying to share the cake with JoJo!



When it was time to get Grace changed and cleaned up, Aubree came back into our bedroom and asked if she could snap photos. With the rush and constant go-go-go of the party, I was so thankful she did! These pictures ended up being my absolute favorites.

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I definitely feel like us mamas put an impossible amount of pressure on ourselves to make our kiddos’ birthday parties special. In the world of Pinterest, the ideas are so endless. There are definitely things I would have done differently in hindsight:

  • I wish I would have skipped the arch. It was honestly the only part of the party prep I didn’t enjoy!
  • I started planning Grace’s party so early. Like – 3 months before – early. It resulted in me buying various items and changing my mind so many times. The whole party truly came together in the 2 weeks before. It would have saved me so much time and saved us money if I had just waited and then committed.
  • I would have had less sweets. We had SO many leftover cookies, chocolated-dipped oreos, white chocolate-covered pretzels, mini brownies… I think the cookies and donut holes would have been plenty for the time of day!
  • I would have skipped the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. They just weren’t super good. I loved them in theory, but they were not practical. I would have also skipped the milk bottles.
  • I regret not trying on Grace’s birthday outfit before the party. Her actual outfit lasted 5 minutes before the cute little suspenders on her denim skirt were falling off her shoulders! I was kicking myself for not picking something more practical. It’s an outfit. Not a big deal. But Corey said her shirt reminded him of this… If you know Corey, you’ll appreciate this. Ha!

The one thing that I am 100% so happy we invested in was hiring Aubree to take photos. She captured Grace’s personality so well, along with other moments of the day with family and friends. Best of all, I felt like I was truly present all day and honestly didn’t pick up my phone once. If you are on the fence about hiring a photographer for your little one’s first birthday, DO IT! And if you’re local, contact Aubree!

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the items pictured for a party, please reach out!

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far! It was such a blessed day and it was so fun to be able to share it with you.

Dear Gracie

motherhood, Uncategorized

Dear Gracie,

You are my sunshine.

I know our little family has this routine going, and it is all you’ll ever know, but I should confess that things were not always this way. Before you, our house was a lot quieter, our Friday evenings were spent on the town, and rarely were we home, it seemed. Before you, I’d never changed a diaper. Holding newborns made me sweat. I have never been a morning person before my first cup of coffee, as my past co-workers could attest. I thrived on routine, and showed no flexibility.

But then you were here. And I was so unprepared. I knew only as much as the full day of birthing class could pack into my brain. Yet, holding you was so effortless. Changing diapers became second nature. I’m still not a morning person… and I may grumble all the way to your room if it’s time for you to nurse being the sunshine has kissed my face, but then I see your wild hair and 3-toothed smile while you bounce up and down excitedly and I find the energy from Lord knows where. And baby, you got me staying up late writing again… a passion I thought I had lost.

Being your mother has been the hardest and easiest role I’ve ever had. When it comes to loving you, getting up at all hours of the night, braving the crowds so you might get a chance to see the jelly fish swim, or starting a dozen holiday traditions because I want you to grow up with the sweetest memories with Dad and me … it is so easy, even when it’s really hard.

You are fearless and determined. You take a while to warm up before you’ll reach for someone, you must study people first. You only know how to say a few words – mama, da-da, dog-dog, no, ‘nana, yea –  and yet you communicate with us and always find a way to make your point, be it with an eyebrow raise, scrunched nose, wave, clap, or pointer finger. My goodness, sweet girl, you have got the sass, but you have also got the most innocent smile.

This year, Lord-willing, you will learn to walk. You will eat one of my chocolate-chip Christmas cookies. You will throw tantrums at new levels. You’ll push me. You will test me and challenge me and my patience in ways that I never could have imagined. And sweet daughter, I will love you for all of it, just the same – no, probably more.

I look ahead to days that will come. I think of birthdays that we will celebrate as a family. I daydream of putting your drawings up on the fridge and the times you’ll help me dry dishes in the kitchen. I dread the day you’ll come home from school with a crush. And the day you feel shame for the first time. I wonder who you will be. Whoever you become, I pray you will be God-fearing. I pray you will be happy.

I hope I can show you grace. I pray I can teach you God’s word, though I am so inadequate. I pray that you’ll know how strong you are but always act with humility. That it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. That you’ll know when to lead, and when it’s appropriate to follow, too. I hope you will be the kind of friend that people can depend on. And when the skies open, I hope you’ll look up and laugh at the raindrops like you do now. I pray you will know that I think you are magic. I pray for your health, your growth, and that when you rest your head at night, you’ll feel fullness in your belly, the warmth of your grey flannel sheets, and that you will always feel safe and loved as you close your eyes.

My Gracie, God placed you into our care and that has been a gift we absolutely cherish. You have changed us for the better.

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.