I have a series of posts lined up wherein I drag you through the painstaking details of take you through the many layered and involved steps when it comes to planning Lyra’s annual birthday party. I’ll explore why I plan so meticulously (and then fail miserably trying to achieve it) in a future post.
But before we get to Birthday Present, I figured I may as well take you through Birthday Pasts. Especially seeing as how my peek through my archives reveals that I’ve never shown either of her birthdays on this site. We’ll blame it on an annual PTSD relapse that I’m hoping to avoid this year. No guarantees, but sometimes the only way out is through.
So let’s have a look at Birthday: Year 1.
I had big dreams for Lyra’s first birthday party, few of which came through. I was twelve months in to what would turn out to be a twenty-month long recovery process from my surgery, a period that I was told would take about six months. I couldn’t believe that my baby was already a year old and walking, while I was so knee-deep in misery. I felt like I’d missed half of that year.
To be honest, I just couldn’t get over the fact that I had to deal with the nagging incision pain, the incontinence, the ICU flashbacks, and the reality of a one-child future, while trying to nurture and guide my infant. It was all unfair, and it sucked that I wasn’t going to have a chance to get it right with the next child. So while I wanted to acknowledge her birthday in a thoughtful, meaningful way, I just didn’t have the mental energy to pull off more than a little bit of homemade food and a picnic with family and friends.
Theme: Stripes and Polka Dots
I’m sure my concept for this theme was inspired by one of the many striped and polka-dotted cakes sculpted on episodes of Food Network Challenge. I wanted something feminine but not over-the-top girly, and that would work well with the crowd of mostly adult family members. I imagined stacks of polka dotted and striped gifts and all of the guests similarly decked out.
In the end, Lyra wore a polka dot dress, I had on a striped skirt and we sat on a striped beach blanket. A few balloons were tied with polka-dotted ribbon, and I think we had stripped napkins. Other than that, the theme was minimal. The party was about eating food and watching Lyra fall in love with her first cupcake.
Here’ a link to some better ideas, in case you’re interested in throwing a stripes and polka dot themed party.
Here’s what I served (I actually found my original saved prep list). All of the dressings were handmade. The chicken was seasoned roasted and sliced by me. I used a box mix for the cupcakes, after a homemade recipe failed me. The buttercream was handmade.
- ciabatta + grilled chicken + pesto & garlic aioli + arugula + sundried tomato + provolone
- kaiser roll + roast beef + cheddar + olive oil dressing + romaine + caramelized onion
- multigrain bread + brown sugar bacon + turkey + swiss + romaine
- orzo pasta salad with roasted vegetables and feta
- assorted chips
- black and white cupcakes with chocolate buttercream
- bottled water
- fresh squeezed lemonade
- iced tea
I really wanted to make everyone a picnic lunch in a labeled gabled box as I had seen on Jordan Ferney’s site, but the cost was too prohibitive for something that (a) would be discarded as trash, (b) would barely register with my guests. So in the end I labeled plain white sandwich bags and outfitted each one with a sandwich, napkin, fork, and a deli container filled with pasta salad.
This is the best picture I have to show this set up, because after all the hours of food preparation, I was too exhausted to think about using the camera. So, I relied on everyone else to take pictures. And the only people who take pictures of food and folded napkins at parties are the party planning obsessed. And that’s okay.