Sophie has been obsessed with horses for a long time! By now, she has done at least 7 pony rides (on everything from miniature horses to horses way taller than me!). She’s calm and confident around them, while still being careful. Bjorn told me he has already resigned himself to the fact that he will probably be buying Sophie a pony someday. 🙂 This is all so fun for me because I loved horses as a young girl, too, but never really pursued riding or had close experiences with horses (until I took lessons as a 25-year-old!).
RELATED READING: Sophie’s Woodland-Themed First Birthday Party
Anyway, Sophie requested a “horse-uh” (what she called horses) party for her 2nd birthday and I jumped right into the planning! This party was a blast to plan, prepare for, and host! With Sophie having an October birthday, a horse theme worked perfectly, because I could use a lot of current fall/harvest decor – things like hay bales, apples, pumpkins…it all worked pretty well with a rustic, farm-type theme. We kept it relatively small – just Sophie’s immediate family and her grandparents and aunts/uncles and her cousin. I think she had a really special day and got to enjoy a lot of horse-themed fun!
In today’s blog post, I wanted to share some photos from the birthday party, as well as the food and decor. (For me, the parties I plan mostly center around food and decor. Since this was a family party with mostly adults, we didn’t play games and instead focused on delicious snacks and good conversation!)
Planning the Party:
Around two months before Sophie’s party, I started looking on Pinterest for ideas. I also kept ideas for food and decor on my Evernote account (a free note-taking account/app that syncs across devices). I wanted to plan ahead quite a ways for this party, because I was pregnant and wasn’t sure how tired I’d be by the time the party happened! So I perused the Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Target websites and was able to order some items well in advance (like the miniature hay bale you’ll see in the photos).
Sophie’s birthday falls right in the middle of the crazy busy harvest season (mid-October) so we host her birthday party very early in October each year in order to ensure that Bjorn can be there!
I like to design things myself when I can. I’m no artist, but I love using my free account at Canva.com to make invitations. For Sophie’s woodland-themed first birthday party, I had purchased some gorgeous deer and forest clip art from an Etsy shop called Flora and Bear. It was totally worth it, so for this party I knew I wanted to do something similar.
I found some beautiful watercolor horse clip art from an Etsy shop called Paper Sphinx and that’s what I used to create Sophie’s horse invitation this year.
Here’s what her invite looked like, when I was finished designing and tweaking it! I like how an invite hints at a party’s theme – it makes the anticipation extra fun, I think! If you’ve read Sophie’s first birthday party post, then it may look a little familiar to you – I guess I have a certain style I like to go for with invites, haha! (Of course, this had the address and “RSVP to:” at the bottom but I’m leaving that out for privacy purposes.)
Horse Party Food and Drinks
- Cupcakes. I didn’t have custom cupcakes made. These are from the grocery store – but Hy-Vee makes seriously good cakes! I used the clip art horses I’d bought to design and print little cupcake toppers. It was just another nice way to incorporate the horse theme! I love purchasing clip art online because I can really get my money’s worth out of it when I use the clip art to create other things, like these cupcake toppers.
- Veggies and Dip, and Apples with Caramel Dip. Apples are always a “Sophie request,” so I wanted to include them in her birthday party! And the veggies are just there to counteract all of the sugary treats! 😉
- Donut Hole Croquembouche (tower). My best friend made this for a party she hosted and I was in awe! A croquembouche makes a beautiful statement piece at a dessert table! I used this blog post to help me plan out the croquembouche and then my awesome sister-in-law actually helped me put it together. I believe I ordered a 17″ tall styrofoam cone from the Michaels website. We didn’t need as many toothpicks as the instructions recommended, though. Sophie LOVES donut holes, so this was another fun way to include her favorite foods in her birthday party.
- Cheese Platter. I had purchased a horse-shaped cookie cutter from Amazon in hopes of making some horse-shaped sugar cookies, but in planning this party, realized that we had way too much sugar going on! Ha! So, the cookie cutter got redirected into simply cutting out slices of cheese. 🙂
- Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwiches. This is a super easy chicken salad: just made from cans of canned chicken, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar! Bjorn also minced dill pickles and added them to our chicken salad this time, which turned out really well! And serving the chicken salad in croissants really elevates it into more of a “party food.” I wanted to serve something that felt more like a main dish, since some of our guests had traveled to this 2 pm party over lunchtime.
- Cake. Even though we had cupcakes, I wanted Sophie to have an actual birthday cake that we could light candles on! I had visions of a very light pink layer cake. However, once I baked and assembled the cake (into 3-4 layers) and began to frost it late at night the night before, I realized I didn’t have enough light pink frosting! (It was a tall cake!) I had to run to the grocery store before the birthday party and buy whatever pink frosting they had. All they had was more of a hot pink, but it turned out okay. I had taken Sophie to a local farm & fleet store and let her pick out a few Schleich brand horse toys, including the one she wanted to sit on top of her cake! This black horse is the one she picked. 🙂 Later on in the party, we lit two candles and had Sophie blow them out after we all sang to her.
- Nilla Wafers with Pumpkin Dip. Another sugary treat! 🙂
- Other little snacks: my mom brought her amazing “Texas Caviar,” which is basically a cold, tomato-y bean and corn dip eaten with chips. I also set out candy corn and a couple types of olives.
- Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate. A yummy and rich hot drink, prepared in the crockpot!
- Iced Apple Cider Punch. This recipe seemed perfect for a fall party! I’m pretty sure we doubled it in order to fill our large glass dispenser more. I also offered cold water bottles on the side.
Horse Party Decor
- Photos. I always like to include photos of Sophie at her parties, especially in these younger years; it’s amazing (and so sweet) to look back at little Sophie throughout the last year! I ordered them online for pickup at Walgreen’s (such a great option!) and got a great deal. Then I hung rows of photos around our dining room using twine and tape, so people could look at Sophie’s adventures from the past twelve months! Most of the photos were 4×6, but I did order some 8x10s of Sophie on her various pony rides throughout the year.
- Painted Mason Jars with Fresh Flowers. I’m not usually a fresh flowers kind of person but I did buy some baby’s breath to display in some mason jars. Sophie helped me to paint the six large mason jars on a warm September day! I painted them with cheap acrylic paint – I went with light pink, light brown, and dark brown to keep with a girly but rustic color scheme.
- “This Ain’t My 1st Rodeo!” chalkboard. 🙂
- Miniature hay bales (from Michaels), miniature pumpkins, and small Schleich horse toys.
- “Happy Birthday” cake topper for the birthday cake.
- Horse stencil pallet art. I was pretty proud of this art piece, since I’m not naturally very crafty. I’d ordered a horse stencil from Amazon, and a simple pallet from Michaels. Then I just spray painted the stencil onto the pallet with white spray paint! This was a fun piece to hang in the dining room and add to the overall horse theme.
- Giant mylar horse balloon. I would’ve liked to buy Sophie even more giant horse balloons but they are so expensive, because of the cost of helium! Having this one totally made her day, though! For whatever reason, she named him Archie. 🙂 Archie was played with for many days after the party!
- Rose gold and pink tassel garland. I love the idea and the overall look of this; however, I should warn you that the rose gold tassels are made from a different material that is much harder to fold! I ordered the “DIY” kit from this Etsy shop, although there is an option to buy the garland already assembled. I hung this garland in the doorway between our dining room and kitchen.
- I also hung a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” burlap banner across the wide walkthrough area between our living room and dining room.
- I got to leave out much of our fall decor for this party, since a lot of it went well with a horse theme! You can read all about our simple fall decor in this post.
- This isn’t really “decor,” but I did want to mention: Sophie wore a gorgeous lacy dress with a tulle skirt that I bought from another mom on Kidizen. Kidizen is my FAVORITE place to buy my kids’ clothing. It’s a way for moms all around the U.S. to buy and sell new OR used kids’ clothes! Her awesome brown cowgirl boots (which she called her “cow boots” were also from Kidizen). You can get $5 to spend for free by using my referral link! I highly recommend this free app! Kidizen is amazing.
That’s about it! I hope you enjoyed seeing our sweet Sophie’s 2nd birthday party! And if you’re planning a birthday party – or even a horse party – of your own, I hope this post brought you a bit of inspiration or ideas for your own gathering! Thank you for reading! 🙂