I’m so excited about today’s post! There was a lot of thinking and dreaming involved in planning Sophie’s first birthday party. I’m not one of those people who knew the theme immediately upon learning they’re expecting (haha), but I watched Sophie grow and thought about her interests and likes in order to come up with this party theme! (After all, this may be the only birthday that she isn’t requesting certain themes! Mama got to dream this one up!)
RELATED: Sophie’s 1 Year Update!
I love any excuse to throw a party. I know Sophie won’t necessarily remember this first birthday party, but I want her to look back someday and feel so loved by the fact that her mama took the opportunity to throw a little party for her. 🙂 I wouldn’t say I’m a fabulous entertainer, and I don’t throw hugely extravagant soirees, but I do love getting people together and planning out fun snacks and drinks! When an actual theme is involved, my day is made! 🙂 Do you like to plan parties, too?
How I Picked the Woodland Theme
I settled on a floral woodland theme since Sophie loves animals so very much! I originally considered just an “animal party,” but I felt that theme was too broad and we’d just end up with random animal decorations everywhere. Sophie also loves things like trees and leaves, and a ton of her stuffed animals are woodland creatures, so that helped. Finally, her birthday is in October, and a woodland themed party in the fall was super easy because everything is all foresty/woodlandy in the stores right now! It wasn’t hard to find fall decor that could double as woodland decor.
How I Planned For the Party
Around a couple months before her birthday, I started a Pinterest board for party inspiration. I grabbed a little notebook and began to write down possible decor and food ideas. (That’s the main way I plan for parties. Get the food and decor nailed down, and your party is basically all set! Sophie’s still really young so we don’t have to worry about things like party games or favors for friends.)
I waited until we were visiting my parents to actually start buying things for the party, since my parents live close to a Party City store, Michael’s craft store, etc. It took a bit of problem solving, since I originally picked up way more for the party than I needed to, haha. I’m so glad I gave myself some time before her party (at least a week or two!), because it allowed me to lay the decor out on the dining table, assess what I truly needed, and make any necessary returns! I’d definitely recommend giving yourself time before the party to lay things out and reevaluate!!
We decided to keep her birthday party rather small this year. It makes life easier for everyone! So we just had Sophie’s grandparents and her aunts and uncles (and baby cousin!) there. Since October means a busy harvest season around here, and Sophie’s birthday is October 16, we had her party about 9 days before her actual birthday. It was such a sweet afternoon!
Okay, let’s get into the actual details of Sophie’s woodland first birthday party! I’ll link or describe whatever I can!
Woodland Birthday Party Invitation
^^ Note: Underneath the date on the actual printed invitations, I listed our address and then my phone number for RSVPs! ^^
I had purchased this woodland clip art (a deer, a deer with flowers, a bird, and mushrooms) from an Etsy shop called Flora and Bear. The whole set of them only cost $4! I had finally decided to purchase the clip art because nothing I was finding online was what I had in mind. (I really wanted this watercolor look!) I’m so glad I went ahead and spent the $4 on this. I really got my money’s worth out of it! I used the deer, bird, and mushrooms throughout the party decor to keep with the woodland theme! 🙂
I designed this invitation using my free Canva account, which I use for my blog graphics. I love Canva so much!
Woodland Party Food and Drinks
I labeled most of the food and drinks with labels I made out of folded card stock, using the cute clip art I’d purchased!
- Cupcakes. I didn’t have custom cupcakes made or anything. These were just store-bought from Hy-Vee! (And delicious!) I got chocolate and vanilla. My sis-in-law Signe and I made these woodland animal cupcake toppers using the clip art I mentioned above, card stock, double-sided tape, and toothpicks!
- Cake balls. I made both vanilla and chocolate cake balls, and dipped them in almond bark with either pink or green sprinkles. To make them fit the theme more, Bjorn drew dashes onto lollipop sticks with a black Sharpie (not on the parts that would touch the food, though!), to make the sticks look like birch trees! We kept these frozen until the day of the party.
- Hedgehogs. These are donut holes dipped halfway into melted chocolate, then rolled in brown sprinkles. Then I drew eyes and a mouth on with melted chocolate and a toothpick. That part was a struggle, haha – but they still turned out cute enough that I put them out! 😉 The only thing about these is, brown sprinkles can be harder to find, so make sure to give yourself time to find or order some!
- Acorns. These were so fun! A little time-consuming, but great with the woodland theme. The acorns are made from mini Nilla Wafers glued to Hershey’s Kisses with chocolate frosting, and mini chocolate chips glued onto the other side!
- Forest berries. I’d purchased some clear plastic snack cups from the grocery store and all we did for these was fill the cups with some fresh strawberries and blackberries. 🙂 My parents helped out by wrapping the plastic cups in what are actually supposed to be cupcake wrappers. I’d ordered these birch bark cupcake wrappers on Etsy but my cupcakes turned out to be too small. But I love the effect of the birch bark on our forest berries cups, and I’m so glad we still used the cupcake wrappers!
- Veggies with dip!
- Apples and caramel dip. My mom brought these! 🙂 A perfect fall or forest-themed treat to add to the table.
- Potato salad. Also something my mom brought to help out! She makes an amazing potato salad.
- Twigs. This was the easiest part of the party prep, haha! It’s just a bowl of pretzel sticks with the “Twigs” label. 😉
- Chicken salad croissants. Our party was at 1 pm, so I knew it wasn’t exactly a lunchtime gathering…but since some of our guests were traveling at least a couple hours, I thought they may appreciate a light meal option if they didn’t get much of a lunch! I just went with a really easy chicken salad sandwich recipe that I’ve made for years: canned chicken mixed with a splash of apple cider vinegar, mayo, and salt and pepper. It’s a “to taste” recipe that’s easy to ad lib; you can always add cut-up grapes or even green olives or pickles, although I just kept it more plain this time. To “elevate” the simple sandwiches a bit, we served them in a pretty stack of croissants cut lengthwise! I have to say, these turned out even more yummy than anticipated! Isn’t that funny? Now we’re thinking croissant sandwiches need to be at our next gathering, too! 🙂
- Apple cider punch. This apple cider punch is another example of a fun fall recipe that easily worked as part of our woodland theme. I found this recipe on Pinterest. My husband and sis-in-law were in charge of this 🙂 and they did an awesome job! They kept tasting it and determining if it needed more orange juice or more apple cider. So you’ll have to taste it and judge how tangy or sweet you want your punch! I should note that they give you the option of a couple different kinds of juice. I chose to use pulp-free orange juice because I like orange juice in punch! (I also set out cold water bottles for those who didn’t care for punch.) We served the punch with some special woodland-themed paper straws that I’d found. To save money, we just used our own glasses to drink out of, and our own silverware, etc. but the straws lent a nice touch!
- Sophie’s smash cake. I made her a banana cake, using my grandma’s banana cake recipe that my mom gave me! It was extra special because when I turned one, my mom made me a little banana cake with that same recipe, too!! 🙂 I made Sophie’s cake egg-free, just in case that would upset her stomach, using a “flax egg” instead. It was super easy and really yummy, too! For a “frosting,” I mixed plain Greek yogurt with a couple tablespoons of maple syrup. It was thick enough to really coat the cake and get that thick frosting look! Sophie is a cautious girl and loves to be clean, so she was hesitant at first, but eventually really dug in once we helped her get started! 🙂 I bought her this “One” cake topper (just the cake topper, not the banner) from an Etsy shop – you can find it here!
Woodland Party Decor
I’ll just list the decor that I purchased or that we used around the house for the party. Some things we purchased, and others, we already owned!
- Woodland stuffed animals. It really helped that Sophie has a good number of stuffed animals that easily go with the woodland theme! Bjorn helped me by setting them in various places around the lower level of our house: the stuffed cardinal up on the curtain rod of the windows, a stuffed rabbit on the couch, a bear on a table, a stuffed deer on the piano… It was an easy way to decorate! 🙂
- A “Happy Birthday” banner. I didn’t feel like buying a banner so I just printed out huge letters onto card stock and we cut them out and strung them up on some string above the wide archway from the living room to the dining room. It was simple but it did the trick!
- Photo timelines. This was something I’d been looking forward to doing for a long, long time! After all, I’ve been taking all these photos for Sophie’s monthly updates and I wanted to see them all together! I’ve done two major themes for her monthly photoshoots: first, with the letterboard that states her age, and second, over in her rocking chair sitting next to her stuffed bear! So the night before the party, I got all of these photos (5x7s) strung up in order! I displayed the monthly lettterboard pictures on one wall in the dining room by the food table, and the photos of her with her bear on the opposite wall. I like how photos at parties allow people to have something to stop and look at, whether it’s for something to chat about, or just something interesting to look at while you wait for the line to move as you get your food! 🙂 All I did for these photo timelines was order the photos printed as 5×7 sizes, and purchased some twine and some cute little clothespins to hold the photos up!
- A large copy of Sophie’s invitation. I just printed out the top half of the invite (since, obviously, people wouldn’t need to know the address, date, etc.) and put it in a frame on the food table! It was an easy way to stay with the woodland theme and continue to use that darling clip art!
^^ You can see several of these woodland animals more clearly in this photo. This is how I set things up before the party, so we’d know where to place everything! ^^
- Woodland animal decorations. These weren’t as kid-friendly, but they sure were cute, so I displayed them amongst the food and other decorations on the table! I found these darling creatures on 50% off sale at Michael’s (the craft store), so they were just a few dollars each. I’m so glad I picked them up!
- Greenery. Nothing says forest more than decorating with a variety of greenery! I purchased two large green garlands from Michael’s to drape across the food table. I also added a small bouquet of faux flowers.
- Tree slice. I love tree slices in party decor, but they can be quite expensive! I only bought one to use for Sophie’s smash cake!
^^ This is how everything looked late in the evening, the night before Sophie’s party! Lots going on! ^^
- A tissue paper garland on Sophie’s highchair. I saw so many of these online, but they were very expensive! And then when I thought I found a good deal, it turned out to be a DIY kit. So, I DIY-ed it myself anyway. I bought pink and white tissue paper but ended up just using pink to decorate her high chair. I followed this tutorial. My garland wasn’t professional quality by any means, but it turned out cute, I think!
- Woodland animal balloons. I bought these off of Etsy as well! There aren’t a lot of woodland balloons out there, so I was thrilled to find these cute creatures! I got this set of 5, which included a squirrel, fox, hedgehog, raccoon, and owl. Sophie LOVES balloons so much, even to the point of reaching for them and saying “baa ooo!” so we knew we had to involve balloons in her birthday party. I took them in to get them filled with helium and the woman helping me said we wouldn’t know how much it’d cost until we started filling them. We filled the fox balloon…and it was $14! Yikes! They are very large balloons but that was a shock! So, Bjorn graciously filled the rest of them with his lungs. 😉 We were able to tape them up around the house and they ended up being super cute anyway. And Sophie still had one helium fox balloon. 🙂
All in all, when it comes to party decor, it’s important to remember that the food itself is a major part of the decor! It’s what people will notice and what they will be looking at a lot! 🙂 So, I had to remind myself that since I was working hard to make some cute, yummy food, I didn’t need to go crazy on the rest of the decorations. I focused mainly on the food table and then on a couple photo displays on the wall! There was no need to decorate every inch of every room downstairs at our place.
Sophie had a blast opening up her presents! She’s really at the perfect age to tear (delicately, haha) into gifts. She sure finds tissue paper fascinating! I know Christmas will be a lot more fun for her this year!
One of her gifts was a rocking horse from my parents. Sophie is obsessed with horses right now, so it made her day! But she’s been playing with all of her new gifts lately, and enjoying each one!
This party idea could easily be adapted into less of a floral woodland theme and more of a lumberjack/woodsy theme! It’d be SUCH a sweet baby shower idea, too! And if you have an older child, you could tweak it and make it a woodland fairy party with sweet little fairy games as well.
I hope you enjoyed this peek at Sophie’s first birthday party! It was a lot of fun to plan and to decorate for! We all have such sweet memories from this day!