First birthday parties are for the parents {Rookie Moms Challenge #52}

I can’t believe it’s been a year! Beyond the fact that my son morphed from an amphibian-like newborn to a caveman toddler in 365 days, I can’t get over the fact that I’ve survived and kept him alive through all of those changes! Rookie Mom’s Challenge #52, “Celebrate Your Way” is aptly named – I’m a firm believer the first birthday party is truly for the parents, not the child. (Although I’m hoping someday my son Eli will look back at the photos and believe it was all out of love for his tiny little self that we threw a huge bash, rather than his mother’s self-indulgent tendencies…)

My husband and I decided to throw a pretty big party for our little one year old, inviting lots of our family and friends to help us celebrate one year of parenthood, er, Eli. Okay, both. But mostly parenthood. Let’s be real.

While we had lots of family staying in town for his party, it was pretty quiet the morning of his birthday, so we filmed waking him up (the CUTEST) and then threw balloons into his crib to celebrate. He LOVED it. They were a huge hit and we had so much fun watching him beat and play with them. Of course, I watched him super carefully to make sure nothing popped to protect him from swallowing any balloon parts and we had a blast throwing them in the air and watching them fall.

Crib balloons, a sweet surprise. First birthday parties are for the parents #rookiemoms #babies #birthday

Our party was scheduled after most children’s afternoon naps, from 4:30-7 p.m. and we ran it open house style. We had lots of young families coming, so we wanted to be sure they felt comfortable to come and go as they pleased. Since we hosted it at a community center, I and a few other people ran over a few hours before the party started to get everything set up and ready to go. Eli stayed home with Grandma to get his beauty rest, with firm instructions to be dressed and at the party by 4:30 p.m. (Seriously, planning this thing felt like I was planning a mini wedding and Eli was the bride.)

We kept everything super simple at the party, no real program and we also asked for no gifts – so there was no formal opening ceremony, but people were generous enough to still allow Eli to make out like a bandit. And to my surprise Mike and I were gifted with a few things as well. From wine and beer to movie tickets, people were so thoughtful to include us in the gifting (And they apparently share my view that the party is really for the parents. Right on.)

First birthday parties are for the parents #rookiemoms #babies #birthday

We did gather everyone together for about 10 minutes, and my husband gave a short little speech thanking everyone for coming to the party and he said some super sweet things about Eli and me.

First birthday parties are for the parents #rookiemoms #babies #birthday

Then before we knew it, it was smash cake time! Eli has a mild obsession with his pointer finger, so there was lots of that going on, poking and prodding the cake before he actually took a taste.

First birthday parties are for the parents #rookiemoms #babies #birthday

First birthday parties are for the parents #rookiemoms #babies #birthday

His cousin also jumped in there to give a play-by-play of Eli’s pointing and to let everyone know ten times over that it was Eli’s birthday. Which really meant, “Aunt Laura and Uncle Mike’s celebration of parenthood,” of course.

SMASH CAKE: First birthday parties are for the parents #rookiemoms #babies #birthday

All in all, the day was so fun and the time and energy to plan his party was totally worth it. I truly do hope Eli looks back on these photos someday and does see how much we loved him, even as a destructive, incoherent, unintelligible, adorable, sweet, sensitive toddler. On the surface, the party may have been to celebrate our survival as parents, but it would have never happened had this little boy never come into our lives – giving us so much joy, delight and happiness – and that’s what we were really celebrating.

First birthday parties are for the parents #rookiemoms #babies #birthday

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Frozen birthday party ideas

Frozen-themed birthday party ideas (for easy and cheap!)

Last night I made the possible mistake of inviting my kids to help me brainstorm what a Frozen-themed birthday party might look like. This morning I learned that Scarlett took that as a cue to start making her guest list — and her birthday is not for three months.

Though I may have signed up for something more complicated than I’m willing to host, we did come up with some fun ideas, and when I poked around the web, relying heavily on the Disney-enthusiast bloggers, I found that many folks have done brilliant Frozen parties already.

Here’s what my kids want to do:

Frozen birthday party activities:

  • Sing. Sing along to the soundtrack at the top of their lungs, obviously.
  • Build. Make snowmen out of marshmallows and toothpicks.
  • Draw. Do a drawing tutorial so that each child creates an Olaf. (We did this at a Disney museum exhibit with a Mickey Mouse drawing lesson and it was super fun.) I am pretty good at drawing, and after watching a couple YouTube videos (search How to Draw Olaf) I think I could provide a lesson that first graders could follow.
  • Build more. I love this fort-construction activity that would be fun for a smaller gathering by the talented Jillian of Mommy Testers. Make sure to click through to see how she attached the icy fabric to the Crazy Forts set.

Frozen birthday party activity idea: ice palace fort

Frozen party decorations:

  • Balloons. Decorate with blue and white crepe paper and helium balloons. I am a little bit famous for sending kids home with balloons as favors.
  • Special guest. This Olaf balloon is 41″ tall, less than $10, and can greet guests at the door.
  • White holiday lights. You have those already, right?
  • Snowflakes. Paper-cut snowflakes can double as an activity for older kids. If you need to know how to cut the best snowflakes, see Wendy’s tutorial.

Check it out: Sara at hosted a backyard party with themed crafts, activities, and food. I love that she used stuff most of us already have on-hand like holiday lights and paper snowflakes for Frozen decorations.

Frozen kids party decor -- easy and cheap!Sara also made these clever Olaf t-shirts for her boys.

How to make an Olaf shirt and other Frozen-themed party ideas

Frozen party food ideas:

Since I’m frequently overwhelmed by kids styled parties that seem to have 10 different dessert options, I’m tempted to suggest FROZEN food. Get it?

Instead, what I’d actually do is break from the theme and order from Chipotle so kids and adults can all build their own burritos and allow the kids to decorate white frosting-covered cupcakes with an assortment of white and silver sprinkles.

If you’re into a big dessert buffet, check out Amy’s tower of donut holes. But also a simple bowl of donut holes labeled “Snowballs” would work, too. (Eat them in the backyard, kids!)

Hanan at EatCraftParent has even more ideas for an inexpensive Frozen party on her blog. She did not, however, come up with the idea my 9-year old son had: He would like to rent an Olaf costume, in the scale of a sports team mascot, and sign autographs for the party guests. My daughter, presumably the guest of honor, suggested that guests crumple up paper into wads for a “snowball fight.” Creative, right?

Find official Frozen plates and stuff for your party or an Elsa costume or cape for the birthday girl on Amazon. (Affiliate link.)

Heather and I are headed to the Disney Social Media Moms conference tomorrow (follow us on Instagram to see us goof around with other bloggers against the backdrop of Disneyland) so I thought it would be a good time to share ideas for a Frozen birthday party. This post is not sponsored, nor is our conference attendance. Travel and conference passes were paid for by us. And please don’t tell our kids. They wouldn’t understand.