I went a little overboard for our little girl's first birthday. I surprised myself by how into the planning I was, because I can procrastinate with the best of 'em. I had never been this excited about planning anything before, not even our wedding! Planning things has always seemed like work and, much like going through labor (which also means work), I wanted no part of it. But this was a labor of love and I ended up enjoying every minute of it.
I picked the You Are My Sunshine theme when she was just two months old. The song had been on my mind since my brother-in-law TJ's wedding to Rebecca that took place in Virginia that previous fall. The outdoor wedding was at a time when the change of season was just starting to be reflected on the leaves of the trees dotting the rolling hills behind their ceremony. As the beautiful bride walked down the aisle with both her mother on one arm and her father on the other, that song played, and I fell in love with it all over again. A favorite from my childhood, it was so poignant to me because I was loosing my Mother right around the time I found out I was pregnant. The absolute worst time of my life happened to coincide with the most joyous, and I already felt and knew that this new life was making me happy when my skies were the darkest grey.
I built her theme around that song and the favors that I had decided to make. I wanted to crochet her favors for three reasons: My Mom taught me to crochet, my Mom crocheted for me on my first birthday and because making something for her guests just held more meaning. Here's what my Mom made on my first birthday.
It was always part of my childhood narrative that my Dad blew up 100 balloons for my first birthday, and Mom would proudly recount that as evidence of how much I was loved. So when my girl was just two month's old, I found this tutorial on how to make three-dimensional suns. See, when I told you that my Mom taught me how to crochet, I meant that she tried to teach me. I never really learned enough to read my own patterns, and mostly only know the basket weave pattern that we worked on through her illness. Because she was taught by her grandmother, Mary Mangan, I did not want to loose this tradition and not be able to teach my girl. I figured committing making 50 of these was a good way to hold myself accountable. Although I was almost regretting it over the past month when I had to make one per night (they took about an hour to make!) to stay on track, I now know that pattern well enough to be able to watch TV or talk while I do it. Thankfully, my husband's cousin stepped in to help by stitching all of the points on for me, otherwise I would have fell short.
The next thing I did was pick the color scheme: Bright pink and yellow. While some "You Are My Sunshine" themed parties include a pretty teal, I didn't want to worry about matching. At least 8 months out, I started picking up decorations in those colors and stock-piling them in the other room. This way, my husband, who does the finances and prides himself on being "financially responsible" wasn't really aware of how much I was spending, since it slowly leaked out instead of disappearing all at once.
One of the first things I did was but fabric in her colors and cut them into strips for bother her high chair and a banner that I wanted to make. Hobby Lobby became my home-away-from-home, and I was really excited to discover their spring line of decorations were exactly the colors we needed. Quickly realizing that you have to plan far out, those decorations were all gone before spring even rolled around, and I bet you right now they're setting up for fall.
My next mission was to find matching outfits for us. Again, I was inspired by my Mom, who made us the outfits that we wore for my birthday. I also needed to find a party hat similar to the one I was wearing. That's where Etsy came in. While I did want to make as much as I could, there is no way I would have had time to make everything. Here is the shop where I found her party hat, and here is where I ordered our matching tutus.
This coincided with the time I was misdiagnosed with melanoma, and I was completely distraught. At a loss and powerless to assuage my very real fears of leaving her without a mother too soon, my husband asked "Is there anything at all that will help you this weekend?" I thought about it for awhile and answered "Well, honestly I think one thing that would help take my mind off things is if I could have like $400 or $500 to order some things for her party." And the Etsy shopping began.
When the day of the party came, I was surprisingly stress-free because I had been planning it for so long! I put up many of the decorations over a month in advance (like the photo collages) so there was not too much to do on the day of.
Because we had so many guests, it was hard to visit with everyone, but for many friends who live farther away, it was their first time meeting out little girl, and so I'm glad that our guest list was long!
What People Ate
We had a taco truck, with unlimited tacos. http://www.mytacoguy.net/
What People Drank
Lemonaid, water, beer, wine, punch.
Cake, of course!
Each guest received a crocheted sun with a tag attached that read "Thank you for brightening my day! Love, Autumn" Tags purchased at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/252697237/you-are-my-sunshine-party-favor-tags?ref=listing-shop-header-3
Activities / Games
We had a face-painter for one hour, and then a balloon artist.