An Inside Look At My Party Planning Process (With Grit & Grace)

My baby girl just turned ten months old and I have to tell you, I am feeling the first birthday party pressure.

There is a lot of pressure to have Pinterest-perfect birthday parties for our kids these days, and it would be a good thing if we all just relaxed a little bit.  You know what my favorite birthday party memories were?  Decorating with whatever we could find in the cupboard and having relay races with my little group of friends.  I think it doesn't have to be big and fancy to be memorable and fun.

But this is her first birthday party.  As much as I think we should let up on the party pressure, there is a place for adorable, themed parties too.  She won't remember it, but I will, and I want it to be pretty for those pictures that she will no doubt be looking at someday.

My main goal for August is to get my baby's first birthday party planned, so I am not completely stressed out in September!

I wanted to share with you my party concept and what I have so far.  I am open to any suggestions you might have too!


For Clarice's party theme I wanted something that seemed fall-ish, but that I could also do with girly colors.  I am going with a "woodland" theme for a few reasons.  

For one thing, woods seem like an integral part of Autumn to me.  I feel genuinely sad for people who don't live near trees in the fall.  We live in the mountains, and the colors are gorgeous.  I don't want yellow and red, because that's too much fall and not enough "girly", so I am taking the yellow and using coral and mint as additional colors.  I think it will all tie together nicely to feel like fall without having to incorporate pumpkins.

I am considering also adding an "afternoon tea" element, which might sound like too much, but I have gorgeous tea cups that would add to the decorations nicely.  I'm still debating on that aspect, but tea is so girly, and best enjoyed in the fall as well, right?

Photo Session

My dear friend who normally does such a beautiful job on our family photos will most likely be on bedrest in September - so it's up to me!  I am planning taking Clarice's one year old photos by myself.  I ended up doing a one year session for Clyde too, so this isn't my first time, but it does require a bit of planning.

First, I have to scout out a location.  My ideal vision includes mountain scenery and vast arrays of yellow aspen leaves, but with four little kids we are somewhat limited on where we can hike.  I am going to spend some time driving around mountain roads this month to see what I can find, and if I do find a nice backdrop we will have a mid-week photoshoot to avoid the leaf-lookers.

(My parents' driveway in the fall.  Huh.  Maybe we should just do pictures here.)

If my ideal vision doesn't pan out, I have a backup location - the same place we did Clyde's photos, a park with rustic old buildings that always look good in photos.

The final thing I have to do for Clarice's session is find some outfits for her to wear.  I have family picture outfits planned, including these dresses for Gwen and Clarice.  I am eyeing this tutu for her individual pictures, and I'd like to find a colorful headband for her cake smash (like the birthday headband I used for Gwen's photos).


1.  Address and send out invitations.  Thankfully I already got these beautiful invitations and party decorations from Minted, so this part is easy!

2. Look for some coordinating fabric for decorations.  I just want to find some fabric to tie around mason jars, lay out on the food table, etc.  Fabric is so cheap, and so easy to customize to our color scheme, and I think it will help tie everything together.

3. Figure out the menu.  This is the part I am most stressed about.  I can't decide which direction to take the food - should I focus on matching the colors, or should I try to come up with some sort of woodland theme to the food?  Maybe a little of both?  Or should I focus on afternoon tea treats?

4. Find a birthday present.  I am seriously considering getting her a zoo membership for her first birthday, but I'll be on the lookout for something she can use day to day as well.

5. Purchase items for one year photos.  See above.

6.  Oh yeah, and finish remodeling our house.  I am hoping to at least have the cosmetic stuff done before her party - for obvious reasons.  Finish trim, install railing, and possibly paint.  I may have to lower my expectations here.

What I Don't Have To Do

I do not have to worry about Clarice's cake!  My sister is a talented, self-taught cake decorator.  She made Clyde's rubber ducky cake, and I have been telling her my ideas for Clarice - I think it is going to be amazing!

That is all I have planned so far.  It may seem a little disorganized or complicated, but you have to understand guys, I love planning first birthday parties.  I love getting creative with my themes, I love putting everything together, and I love photographing it all for posterity.  It's messy because I am still in the creative process phase, but keep an eye out on my blog Instagram and I'll keep you updated as I start to pull it all together.


It's time to link up YOUR August goals!

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