Archie's 1st birthday party

We had such a sweet celebration of Archie's first birthday, including great grandparents, big balloons and a cheery blue-and-yellow color palette. 

It doesn't feel like long ago that I was announcing the birth of our son; his first year zipped right by. 

I like to take full advantage of the opportunity to pick a theme for the first birthday party, before the child has a say in the matter. That said, I have had a ton of fun with the themes chosen by our girls, including fairies, Peppa Pig and mermaids. I try to keep birthday parties pretty simple, making some decorations and enlisting help on a few elements, though we did go admittedly over the top in hiring a mermaid for Maria's third birthday. And it was glorious.

One of my favorite sources of inspiration for a party -- or a nursery -- is a children's book, ideally a vintage one. And I've blogged before about the nostalgic significance of The Little Engine That Could. So that was an obvious, irresistible theme, and I ordered two copies of George and Doris Hauman's version in order to create a two-sided banner for party decor. 

I adore book pennants. The key, I think, is to make it as book-like as possible. Use the covers, show his name, include text.

Books make beautiful art! Don't be shy: snip, thread, experience the book in a new way! 

You can also make decor out of a single page. I taped this below a sconce and called it good.

I also taped a little-engine greeting to our front door using scrapbook paper I found on Train Party.  Super simple and festive. 

At every birthday party, I always display monthly pictures from the past year and make a little name banner below it. Archie's looked so cute and spring-y in the yellow and blue palette I pulled from the book. 

That boy was just about born smiling. #easypicturetakingformom

I found Little Engine party-favor bags on Train Party, which included Little Engine stickers, train tattoos and train-shaped lollipops, plus a couple finds from the Target dollar aisle. 

We used Little Engine blow-outs from Train Party too. (Guess that's the official term. I'm just gonna go with it. #notanexpert)

Check out the text that appears when you blow it! 

The best part about the party is that we got to celebrate with all three of Archie's living great grandparents. I was the bossy one prodding and pleading for a group picture, but how special is it to have this snapshot of Archie at his first birthday party with all his parents, grandparents and great grandparents?  

Another party picture that warms my heart is this candid of the girls loving on Archie. 

I mean, those fingers on that cheek. 

And -- be still, my heart -- that tiny thumb on that nose.

I love how cone-shaped party hats add a whimsical, old-timey charm to a party -- and of course, I try to color coordinate. #cannotresist

It's hard finding solid-colored party hats at stores, but I ordered these yellow ones off Amazon and then super glued blue felt cut into a number one and pom poms from Hobby Lobby for the birthday boy's hat. Super easy! 

I made the balloon garland using four-different sized balloons from Party City, which has a great selection of sizes in a rainbow of hues, including the Caribbean Blue I was seeking. The smallest balloons are 5 inches, which I needed a $20 Amazon pump to inflate, and the largest are 24 inches, which come four in a package. 

There are various balloon-garland tutorials out there, some of which require plastic hooks or arches, but I simply taped twine to the wall and then tied the balloons onto the twine with string, starting with the 24-inch balloons and filling in around them. The key is to use a lot of tape to support the twine; the balloons get heavy. (This just-use-lots-of-tape-rather-than-the-proper-tools approach is not unlike my flower-crown-making process.)

We ordered the birthday cake from HyVee. #makesomepartsoutsourceothers #knowyourstrengths

If you spend $25 or more on a cake, you get a free smash cake, which is normally $10. Their buttercream frosting is so yummy! The cakes look and taste great, made the morning you request pick-up. 

HyVee carries a lot of character and theme sheet cakes for children's birthdays, but I prefer the look of a round cake, and they can apply their character themes to a round double-layer cake if you ask. 

Initially Archie was reluctant to eat the cake. His big sisters happily showed him the way. 

And then he was a big fan. 

He even reached over to share some with Daddy. It was so sweet!

A first birthday party is not successful unless it's messy.

Check and check. 

We're just crazy about this little boy, who has brought us immeasurable joy the last 12 months. 


 Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and three young children in Inver Grove Heights. Write her at