Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sunny Days...

I love birthday weeks for so many reasons, but I think especially because I pay attention more.  Every tiny detail about your child becomes important simply because it reminds you of the day they arrived in this world and changed yours forever.  I read an extra book before bed, I play a little longer, I kiss those cheeks a little more, and I allow a piece of birthday cake for dinner simply because it just feels right to do this week.  

This past weekend, we braved the cold and celebrated Cruz's 2nd birthday with the most fitting theme possible --- Sesame Street.  Cruz identified a love for all things Sesame about nine months ago, and I've been dreaming up plans to bring this show to life in our own backyard ever since.  And while it's true my boy loves a lot of things --- school buses and trucks and apples and musical instruments, Elmo, Abby, and the gang on Sesame Street have a way of lighting up his very world and leaving him utterly enamored on a level all on its own.  I wondered if it would be a phase, but almost a year later, the furry friends on Sesame Street have continued to have a very special place in my sweet boy's heart (especially Elmo and Abby).

In another life, I would love to plan parties for a living.  Not big, overwhelming functions, but small, simple, and special get-togethers complemented with sweet details and unique trademarks that make each party stand out in its own, memorable way.  I'm a sucker for the small details, which if done right, always seem to outshine the bigger things in the end. 

My party planning process starts with a seed, usually planted early in the beginning of my summer vacation.  Then, like most early seeds planted in the ground, they need to time to develop underground, unseen to others, making sure they have the right conditions needed to sprout and grow and flourish.  And then, just like that, the seed sprouts and all hell breaks loose.  The small seed begins to blossom and flourish, and grow in ways that surprise even the planter.  And while many of its blossoms are healthy, beautiful, and important to the seed, other blossoms grow unnecessary weeds, and need to be trimmed, or scaled back (usually with a shears or a budget or husband).

My goal for this party was to create a sweet, simple, and vintage version of Sesame Street.  While it was important that Cruz recognize his favorite show in the party details, I didn't want the cheesy, bold, and oftentimes gaudy renditions of Elmo and Big Bird plastered everywhere in the house.  I wanted bright colors, I wanted a vintage flair, and I wanted clever connections to the show through my food, games, and decorations.  So, I watched Sesame Street with greater focus, looked for the themes, symbols, and trademarks that best described the show, and got to work throwing a 2nd birthday bash together that seemed to be quite the hit with even my youngest viewership...

So without further adieu, Cruz's 2nd Birthday Party, brought to you today by the letter 'C' and the number '2'...

My decorations for this party were big on color and simple on design.  I went with bold reds and yellows, bright blues and greens, and tried to incorporate lots of 'Cs' and '2s' to go along with Sesame's letter and number of the day theme.  My diy balloon wreath made a bold statement in the center of the dessert table, and the 'C2' in the middle are wooden letters from Hobby Lobby that I spray painted and hot-glued directly to the wreath.

I did a lot with mason jars filled with simple vintage toys I had around the house: wooden blocks, crayons (Elmo's favorite, of course), gumballs, and peanut M and Ms.  I had lots of fun picking out colorful scrapbook paper, and made yards upon yards of old fashioned paper chain links and circle-shaped table confetti I punched with my 2" circle punch.  The white tablecloths were a nice balance with the rest of the color, and I found colorful plates, napkins, and utensils at Target.

My favorite decorations ended up being the chalkboard backdrop, these gumball machine centerpieces from Kara's Party Ideas blog, and ribbon streamers.  I'll save the diy deets for another post, but in the meantime, don't throw away your terra cotta pots :)

I actually added the chalkboard to the table when I discovered the sun was getting in the way of my pictures!  The black board and messy fonts played nicely against the white tablecloths, and was a fun conversation piece for guests.  I have plans to do one every year with all of Cruz's favorite things... 

Sesame Street Inspired Door Sign courtesy of 11cupcakes 

Twine, tiny clothespins from Hobby Lobby, and a year's worth of Mom's favorite images created the perfect backdrop to the present-opening stage.   

And last but not least, even Beau got in on the party planning action.  Wandering through the aisles of Lowes one day, Beau put together the pieces of a pretty convincing Sesame Street street sign.  This statement piece, paired with some mystery guests' footprints, welcomed our guests to the party and spread the word to the neighbors that there was indeed a party going on right here.  

For food, I wanted easy treats and Cruz's favorites.  Last year, we grilled burgers and hot dogs, and I spent hours in the kitchen making salads and baking pans of Cruz's favorite mac 'n cheese.  This year, however, we went easy on food, ordered Cruz and Elmo's favorite, pizza, and had fun pairing lots of sweets with their television-inspired character...

We had Oscar's 'Trash' Mix (Grandma Mary's amazing chex mix), Big Bird's Birdseed (candy-coated sunflower seeds), Elmo's Goldfish Crackers, Fruit on a Stick, Cupcake Cones, pizza, a plate of cookies for Cookie Monster, and my favorite, Slimy's Dirt Cups (chocolate pudding, Oreo crumbles, and a single gummy worm, displayed in clear push pop containers).  We had juice boxes for the littles, Jones' soda for the bigs, and last but not least, an amazing double layer birthday cake created by Delicious Design Cakes here in Waterloo. 

This year, I wanted to play some games with the kids, and thought Cruz would have so much fun getting to experiment with fun little obstacles and activities inspired by his favorite characters.  The games ended up being a huge hit, and Mr. Hooper's Store was the grand finale.  

First, they hunted for loose change in Big Bird's Birdseed Hunt...

Then, they helped clean up Oscar's mess by seeing how many paper wads they could sink in the trash can...

Next, it was a blind-folded duck hunt in Ernie's Rubber Ducky pond.

After they found their duck, they took a break at Elmo's Coloring Station and colored a picture for Cruz in honor of his birthday...

And last but not least, they drank some milk and decorated their very own cookie at Cookie Monster's 'C is for Cookie' station.
After playing some games and collecting their 'Cruz Bucks,' the kiddos got to spend their hard earned cash at Mr. Hooper's Store.  They shopped til' they dropped and went home with everything from chocolate dipped Oreos, to play-doh, to 'C2' crayon molds I made from old crayon pieces.



This party was a blast to put together, and like always, I'm sad it's come and gone.  We've celebrated big, and now, I'm looking forward to a special birthday and quiet celebration with Mom, Dad, and the birthday boy later this week.  There so much more to say, and so much more to celebrate!


  1. Soo fun! Looks like you guys had a super great time! And after seeing that party, you should definitely work on being a party planner!

  2. Okay seriously. This is the cutest idea!!! The games look like so much fun, I love the chalkboard (big surprise, right?) And that picture of Cruz holding the 123 Cruz Street? Absolutely adorable.

  3. What a great party!! You worked so hard Ash & it was such a fun day! Cruz was so adorable!:)



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