If you've been following this blog for some time, it's no secret that I get a little in to planning parties. Give me a good theme and my wheels start turning, dreaming up color schemes, food ideas, and little details that personalize and coordinate together. In my second life, I'd do this kind of thing for a living. I love brainstorming different ideas, organizing the corresponding outlines and to-do lists to make sure it stays fun and not overwhelming, watching it all come to life the day before the party, and of course, documenting it all with colorful pictures that the kids can look back on and remember. I come across blogs more often not that criticize what's become labeled as "Pinterest parties" and that kind of thing drives me crazy. Do what you love, be the best parent you can be, and realize that parenting comes in all shapes and sizes. I love being inspired by other moms out there who have particular strengths similar or different from my own and try to not let myself go to a place where I feel inadequate, or worse yet, put them down in order to make myself feel better. The older I get, the more I realize how important every minute of the day is, and there's just no time to dabble in things that don't make me feel good. But I digress...
I will admit, though, that when I look back at Cruz's first couple of birthday parties, I went a little overboard. :) I had more time, of course, with just one little person in my life, and was also in what I call an exploratory phase. :) I didn't really know what I liked to do or what worked well as far as parties go, so I just did a little of everything! Needless to say, I ended up with a lot of leftover candy, favor bags, unworn party hats, and more cake than any of my non-sweet-toothed extended family cared to choke down. Little by little, I scaled back, focused on the small details I love to create, and tried to personalize it to highlight what Cruz (and now Mila) love the most. Cruz's pirate party, last year's superhero party, and Mila's baptism party are some of my favorites, and this year's baseball party might have just topped them all.
I start dreaming up my parties early, and create a list of things I can work on little by little when I'm feeling creative or find myself with a half hour of free time. I refuse to throw a party if it's going to get in the way of enjoying the true importance of the occasion, and have found that I can do so much ahead of time that it never really feels stressful. This year was the first year we could host our growing family in our new house, a house with much more room than we had in the past. It was also a little daunting, as I had gotten so used to doing things a certain way in our old house. Because I was planning for a new space, I was forced to be more creative with the supplies I had made and it was really rewarding to see it all come together.
The other really fun part was that Cruz's party came the Saturday after the Cubbies won their first playoff game at home in twelve years. When Cruz decided he wanted a baseball party shortly after his little league season ended, we had no idea the Cubs would have quite a run in the post-season. Not only were they well on their way to the playoffs, but we also got to watch them win the second game of the NDLS the same night we celebrated Cruz. It couldn't have worked out more perfectly and definitely added to the excitement of it all. And to top it all off, the weather was perfect.
Using the Cubbies' colors, I went with a vintage baseball feel for the party. I made a baseball banner with some burlap and craft paint and added a lot of baseball pictures of Cruzer over the years. I also made a felt pennant banner with some pre-cut felt pieces from Hobby Lobby and some bulletin board stickers, as well as a big wood C & 5 that I painted and added some red "thread" with permanent marker. Other than that, I added a lot of baseball stuff - old gloves from my parents', balls from t-ball, shelled peanuts, and Cubs paraphernalia from around the house. It was simple and easy to make look cute.
The focal point of the party was my vintage concession stand. I ordered a banner from this site on Etsy, as well as these vintage snack bags from Amazon. The simple cupcakes and most of the baseball fixings -- peanuts, popcorn, Big League Chew, Baby Ruth candy bars, and Cracker Jacks, were from the grocery store. I also found these mini Mexi-Coke bottles at Hy-Vee that said "Superstar" and them, and they looked so festive with red and white striped straws. The concession stand was a hit with ages young and old! And I loved that Cruz blew out five candles on a cupcake tower instead of ordering a separate cake.
For games, we kept it simple. Cruz adamantly requested "Pin the Donkey on the Tail" repeatedly the week before. We played several games of hot potato to the song of "Go Cubs Go." And we spent some time coloring some baseball printables while I got the food ready. Everyone wore their favorite sports team attire, which made for a lot of red and blue with all our Twins and Cubs lovers.
The food spread for this party might have been the highlight of the day. It was so great, it deserves it's own post. :) But here is a hint...
After games, food, presents, and birthday cupcakes, I heated up some apple cider and the adults settled in for the Cubs game while the kids played with all of Cruz's new stuff. It was relaxed and fun, with a Cubbies win to top it all off! Afterwards, I sent the cousins home with favor bags filled with baseball cards and chocolate. It was a really great day, celebrating our five year old with our people.
Much more on our birthday boy coming soon. I am so behind!