We recently celebrated our daughter, T’s first birthday, also known as WE SURVIVED the first year of parenting. Yay!
I’ve been planning this party for months…maybe several months…maybe shortly after she was born. I’ve never been much of a party planner but I was so looking forward to planning this event for my sweet little girl. I quickly decided on the theme: A Summer Picnic. I then recruited the help of my Mom and sisters–party planning enthusiasts.
My Mom gave me Trophy Cupcakes and Parties! I highly recommend this book. Jennifer Shea shares delicious cupcake recipes while outlining the best way to plan parties. She highlights the main items of an event in a way that will help you to brainstorm your party ideas. Following her party planning guide, I listed my ideas for T’s Summer Picnic Birthday below:
Theme: Summer Backyard Picnic
Decor: Bunting Banner, fresh cut flowers–we got gorgeous flowers from Whole Foods Market, mason jars
Color Palette: Red & white gingham
Bites: Fried Chicken, vegetarian wraps, grated carrot salad, cucumber dill slaw, baked beans and potato chips
Dessert: Birthday cake, ice cream sandwiches, melon salad
Sips: Homebrews, wine, water, lemonade, iced tea and juice boxes
Entertainment: yard games and bubbles
Favors: Strawberry sugar cookies
There was no way that I was slaving over a hot stove in the soupy, humid summer heat. The main dishes were catered. Fried chicken from no other than Federal Donuts located in Philadelphia. I couldn’t have been happier with this decision. Fed Nuts provided choice pieces of perfectly fried juicy chicken (we got the buttermilk ranch and naked flavors), three glazes, spicy pickles and of course, HONEY DONUTS! My guests devoured every last piece of cock-a-doodle.
We needed a vegetarian options and there wasn’t even a second thought on this one. We sought the delicious culinary skills of Be Well Bakery & Cafe. My guests could pick from three light but hearty wraps: Hummus & veggies, California (cream cheese & veggies) and cranberry apple walnut. This was the perfect addition to a summer picnic menu. Often wraps aren’t that exciting. However, my guests kept saying that they were sooo good and yummy over and over….and over again. Thanks, Be Well!
My mother and I made all of the sides. The only rule was that it could not involve my stove or oven. My Mom suggest her famous baked beans (unfortunately a secret recipe). I said, “Cold sides only!!” but I didn’t say, “No crock pots”. So the baked beans made it on the menu. The guest were grateful. Most important, the birthday girl loved them.
I wanted light, make-ahead side dishes. Carottes râpées or grated carrot salad, is a french salad found in many cafes. It’s very basic. Mine was made with grated carrots, walnuts, raisins and vinaigrette. I also chose a coleslaw made with cucumbers and dill. We also served a variety of Mrs. Vick’s Potato Chips.
For dessert, we served a summer shortcake from Zake’s Cafe in Fort Washington. I had this cake at a friend’s 40th birthday celebration. I was sold after the first bite but continued to eat two large slices of cake just to make sure. I threw together a melon and mint salad and also had the classic ice cream sandwiches to offer. Speaking of sweet things, my sister got the cutest party favors from Velvet Sky Bakery in Jenkintown, PA. They created yummy and beautiful strawberry sugar cookies which we displayed in wooden berry boxes.
As for drinks, I wanted to keep that simple: red and white wine, water, lemonade, iced tea and of course juice boxes for the kiddos. However, my beer snob husband proclaimed that we would only serve a selection of his homebrews because he refused to serve anything but quality beer at his baby girl’s birthday party. It was so sweet how enthusiastic he was about crafting beer for her birthday celebration. He even came up with originial names in honor of Miss. T. There was the Not Napping IPA (self explanatory), the Little Bear Saison (a nickname), and the Dog Dog Dog Dog Brown Ale (To commemorate one of her first words).
The decor was easy because my Mom happen to have everything I was looking for to create a summer picnic look. She provided red and white gingham table cloths, many mason jars for flower arrangements, drink dispensers, glassware, really anything you could need. We joke that she needs a shed to house all her party equipment. Although we’re serious. We needed a few elements to really make it stand out as a picnic. We used paper boats instead of plates as the vehicle for the picnic feast, red and white patterned paper straws, and chalkboard signs for the menu. One extra special touch was that my mom had saved the bunting banners that she and a friend had made for my baby shower when I was pregnant with T. They were used to celebrate her pending arrival so it felt right to use them to honor her first birthday.
I hope you enjoy the photos of T’s Summer Picnic Birthday. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the carottes râpées, cucumber dill slaw and melon & mint salad recipes.
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