Molly's 1st Birthday Party

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I have this no-Pinterest policy for birthday parties; as in, I try not to look at "inspiration images" or anything when planning/scheming to keep myself in check. So far, it's served me pretty well in the effort to keep birthday parties low-key. As I've mentioned before, we have a fair amount of family that lives in town, so we have been doing a family parties with a few friends and cake. It's a good recipe.

Despite trying to keep it simple, I manage to devise several little craft projects in the eleventh hour that end up being fun and cute but required a late night beforehand. Worth it, of course!

Molly had a really great time, I think! She is rarely (if ever) the center of attention, and you should've seen the joy on her little face when we all gathered around and started singing to her.

She started bee-bopping, clapping and smiling, not really believing it was all for her. It was the best.

Probably six months ago, Jonathan and I were talking about Molly's birthday, and Jonathan threw out the idea to do a "Molly Madness" party, it being March and all. (The day of the party, there was a smidge of confusion on my part when I came home from Party City with basketball plates and blue balloons, meeting blank stares from Jonathan. He was just thinking we'd use that name for the party only and still have a girly one-year-old birthday party. Oh well.)...

With help from my insanely talented friend Hannah on the Molly "avatar," here's what I came up with for the party invitation (the blurred stuff is our address--ya know...):

For some reason, I gravitate toward red as a party color for my gals thus far. Not really sure why though, red isn't my favorite color or anything? I threw this blue/turquoisey in as an accent color, hoping to subtly allude to our beloved Tiger blue. But I didn't really think about it too hard until a couple of days before the party, and ended up using more light blues/oranges. Who knows.

The big picture window in our dining room always makes a great backdrop and sort of blank canvas for decorating during birthday parties! So, using the Mollytar (Molly avatar?), I came up with a little banner with Molly's name and some basketballs (wink), and then ended up doing a paper-triangle/bunting thingy to string up above it. I made a quick template on Illustrator of two attached triangles so we could just cut them out and fold them; then traced them on a bunch of different patterned paper I bought at Michaels. My sweet husband did most of the cutting (ah, true love). Then I folded and double-stick-taped the doubled-triangles over some baking twine. (Of course most of this happened close to midnight the night before the party. Oops.)

Unfortunately, this is one of the better photos of the banner(s), and balloons (so hard to photograph a window):

Banner prep:

Then the little cupcake toppers...oh man. Too much cute.

Yall, the cake. Oh goodness.

My sister and I had made this deal of not eating desserts from New Year's Day until Molly's birthday/her birthday (which is the next day). And we did it! But of course, I'd been fantasizing about Molly's cake for actual months and decided to make my favorite, carrot cake. I waffled too long on ordering it from our fave Muddy's along with the cupcakes or not, and ended up making it myself. I'd been really intrigued by this recipe for a while, and decided to go for it. Unfortunately, my first pass at the cake was during the banner-making hullabaloo... I forgot to add a few key ingredients and had to throw it in the trash. Yes, that was a little painful. Not to be defeated, here is try #2:

It sunk a little in the middle for some reason (?), but oh my goodness. If you need a good carrot cake recipe...look no further! I left out the raisins and the nuts for supply reasons and small-child-crowd-pleasing reasons, and it was still SO delicious! Also used pre-shredded carrots to save time and thank goodness. I did the crumb coat of frosting she mentions and wow does that trick work! Where have you been all my life, crumb coat?

The cake redo definitely upped the day-of stress level but it was so worth it. I love having a birthday cake with candles, you know? Even if you do cupcakes, it still makes everything so festive. (Side note: we ended up changing the party time to after naps because of what else? a basketball game, so I had a little more time the day-of than you might think looking at the invite.)

I love using colorful candy melts as an easy way to make a cake look "decorated" but all you do is buy whatever color you want at Michaels and stick them on after frosting the cake. And between the cake, some blue polka dot balloons, and Molly's, Jules', and my shirts, the party was a bit more polka-dotty than I'd planned but it ended up cute and fun! (and who cares!)

One piece left! So worth the dessert wait.

Molly liked her cupcake OK, but didn't absolutely devour it. Both of my girls are really in it for the frosting, at this point. Seems smart to me.

Oh, and the hat! I made one of these for Juliette's first birthday, so did a repeat for Molls which included less trial and error (always nice). 

I used this template from Oh Happy Day!. The bottom layer of the hat I made out of card stock, and then I rubber-cemented the patterned paper layer on top of the card stock. Let that dry. Then I cut out a template of an outlined "1" printed from the computer (that font is Reverie--I think it's such a cute 1), traced it on some felt, which I cut out and edged in embroidery thread stitching, and then backed that with card stock (glued those together). Then I stapled the back of the hat together instead of doing the exacto knife cut-thing from the tutorial (you don't see it anyway and it's way easier). I made the pompom out of leftover yarn following Hannah's tutorial here, then pulled it through the top hole and just taped it on the inside of the hat. Then I rubber cemented the felt 1 to the front of the hat. Punched two little holes on the sides for the ribbon and tied little knots on the inside and voila! Elastic would've been preferable, but didn't have any on hand. It took me much less time to make this one than it did Juliette's, but it still isn't quite a super quick project with all the steps and gluing and things. So worth it though! And this probably cost me $1.50 or less on new materials (felt and patterned paper), since I had everything else on hand. I will treasure forever these photos of her in her birthday hat! (We were prepared with multiple cameras at the ready because she didn't want it on her head for very long, obviously). Whoa, that's a lot about a paper hat!

More party pics (handsome daddy alert):

Obvious iphone pic, but you can see the basketball plates, hee hee (and my pretty mommy)...

Thanks to my sweet sister for bringing the pigs-in-a-blanket ("game day" food, you know!) to go along with the beautiful fruit plate from my mama and this random punch I made up (cranberry juice, ginger ale, and the leftover crushed pineapple/pineapple juice from the carrot cake).

For those of you wondering how our stage-loving Juliette handled Molly's day--she exceeded our expectations! She "helped" blow out the birthday candles, but genuinely did not try to steal the spotlight at all during the party. We were really proud of her. She was a little confused seeing our traditional race car birthday banner up in the kitchen that morning, hoping it was "my turn to be 3." Not yet, sweet baby...

We took some pics of Jules in her crib on the morning of her 1st birthday, so we tried it again with Molly, who cried until Juliette climbed in there with her. Sweet sissies. I just love these two so, so much. I know she won't remember this fun day, but I will. It's fun to celebrate her.

Happy birthday my sweet Molly. The world is a brighter one with you in it.


  1. I am your cousin - your Mama and I grew up spending many Christmas eves and other fun times together because my Dad and your Grandfather were cousins and good friends. Your daughters are gorgeous and your blog is very cute and sweet.
    Katherine Howard Jones

  2. stop it! This is all so darling!!!! THIS is a pinterest post waiting to happen! (for real, put it on there). And your pics... sigh. I need a photographer in my family... Your family just warms my heart. Happy Birthday, Molly. You have the greatest set of parents (and the most adorable mom!) Hugs.

  3. perfection, Les! It isn't a party if you're not doing last-minute prep :)

    cant wait to make that cake!!


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