And just like that, William turned ONE. I can’t believe how weepy I’ve been about the whole thing. I’m not really even an emotional lady, but something about this milestone hit straight to the heart. The realization that I’ll never be able to swaddle him into a tiny burrito again is resulting in flat out ugly crying….
The past year can be summed up as “we just did.” Read: we had no idea what we were doing. We’ve been figuring it out as it comes. We’ve watched our tiny baby grow and change into an actual human little monsta who gets into everything. We’ve been amazed at how quickly the stages come and go and then on the next one. He’s made our hearts mush. Absolute mush.
I couldn’t imagine his first birthday without an adventure-y camp theme. Because one: he’s been our biggest adventure and Mr. A and I love adventure and two: William already has this curious nature beyond that of your average toddler. He loves the outdoors and doesn’t just explore, he examines things with scrutiny. He watches you and then figures out how it work. He gets giddy when he figures something out and of course claps for himself. It’s so fun to watch his little brain tick. He has an explorer’s heart and I hope it stays with him always.
More details and how to’s after the click!
We kept his first birthday small and just invited immediate family and a few close friends. This cute little invite set the tone, but didn’t tie me down to a specific set decor. I designed the simple postcard in Inkscape and printed it out on heavier card stock on my home printer. Sending as a postcard cuts down on envelope and postage costs. I used a bright yellow as a way to add some pops of color into the blah tan and army greens of the camping gear I already had and planned to use for decoration.
In addition to using items I already have, I mix in a few DIY projects. I started with laying out stuff I already had that would fit my theme: the lantern, cooler, cardboard deer bust, yellow frame, thermos’ and then hit the thrift stores for a few others: the chalkboard wood slices (I did have to paint these with a chalkboard paint, but there were TONS of them) and some fabric for the high chair. Thrift stores are a perfect spot to look for props and the cost is relatively the same as buying a tacky piece of plastic from the party store.
DIY projects came next and are a great way to infuse and customize your party. I started with the CAMP WILLIAM banner (check out this post for instructions). It allowed me to use more bright colors and insert a camp element. I also made a little garland to tape around the edge of the high chair tray out of the trees from the invites and paint chips from the hardware store. I had Mr. A cut down a branch from one of our trees and cut it into equal sized pieces and lined them up in a wire basket. So easy and added a height element to the tablescape. The rest of the space was left for our hot dog bar and other food served in camping serveware which was decoration in itself.
For the menu, I went with your classic camping cookout fare and looked for ways I could infuse William’s favorite foods. Think sweet potato salad, corn on the cob, hot dogs for days and of course ice cream.
Menu and recipes included: A build your own hot dog bar (complete with bacon wrapped and plain hot dogs, avocado, pineapple salsa, chili, cheese, pickles, onion, peppers, mustard, ketchup, ranch, bbq and saurkraut), corn on the cob, sweet potato salad, veggie chips, grapefruit sangria and s’more ice cream sandwiches. The s’more ice cream sandwiches were actually SO easy to make- I took a scoop of Rocky Road ice cream and smooshed it between two graham cracker halves, wrapped it in saran wrap and popped them back in the freezer. The ice cream kinda softens the graham crackers, but still adds that cookie texture to the ice cream with every bite (bonus makes it so much easier to eat).
With the laid back vibe and intimate guest list, we kept seating the same and just tossed a bunch of picnic blankets and lawn chairs in the yard circled around our fire pit. We had a fire going and a few little games for the kiddos who were there. Each kiddo got a fun camping straw cup filled with gummy bears.
We had people grab food as they got there and once the first to arrive and eat were done with their plates, we set Will up for the main event, the cake smash. This was another DIY that I’ll share more about in a later post, but it was so fun to watch him of course first examine the sprinkles, start taking them off one-by-one and then just dive into the frosting. After the cake smash, we started a fire and had him open a few gifts while people continued to munch and enjoy the campfire.
Happy Birthday my little William, our happy camper. We can’t believe you’re one. Every day you amaze us more than the last and we can’t wait to see what this year will bring. Our thoughts are constantly filled with hopes and dreams for you; you are our first thought in the morning and last at night. Our love for you is vast and unmeasurable.