Abby has been talking about her 5th birthday party for AT LEAST six months, probably more. And even though my introverted-self doesn’t naturally love to host parties, I am learning to love my children in the ways that they crave. In the ways that make them know that they are seen and known and understand and appreciated.
For Abby in this stage of her life, that means parties.
Sparkles. Glitter. Sprinkles, A request for a chocolate “princess kitty cake.”
My concessions to myself? Only a few very special friends were invited to keep the size less-stressful for me. Important women such as Abby’s grandmother and aunt were invited, as I can’t imagine Abby’s childhood so far without these amazing women pouring into her. And I decided to support as many small businesses and remain low waste with my party decor. No small task when your girl loves everything showcased on the Target glitzy party decorating aisle.
Perhaps you are a mama with a party coming up or a friend who needs to throw a bridal or baby shower. I want to share a few tips and resources that I’m learning along the way, as well as highlight a few small businesses that are a DELIGHT to work with and support.
Plus, Abby continued to exclaim the morning of her party: “This is the best day…the best cake…the best party…EVER.” #MomWin right there 😉
So, without further ado:
First, evaluate what else is on your plate and decide how big of a party you desire to manage. I think six little girls total in our smallish house was perfect. Perhaps that would be too few for you, or perhaps you are throwing a shower and know that you will need more space. Take this number into account at all times. Perhaps you plan less activities or less food/favors etc if you are planning for a larger crowd.
Second, decide on your venue. For me, hosting in my own kitchen and living room was part of what made some of the memories so special. On the flip side, certain crowds, ages, vibes, and personalities may find that hosting at a separate venue (with perhaps less set-up or clean-up) is easier. I truly believe hosting a party should bring joy even if you are an introvert like me, so make this decision based on what’s in your wheelhouse. Keep it simple and don’t overthink it.
Third, there are some creative online invitation options. Some of my favorite designs are from Paperless Post, but there are truly multiple sites out there with free or inexpensive design options. Online invites are eco-friendly with no paper waste and (usually) less expensive. Plus, it is simple to communicate with guests as needed once you have an email list going. I will say though that nothing beats out a hand-written thank-you note, so I’m still old school in that arena.
Fourth, decide what you want to spend your party budget on. Most of us don’t have all the money in the world to spend on a party that will essentially be over in a couple of hours. And even if we did, I personally would rather spend extra money on vacations (dreaming right there, people), items for our house that will be around for years, coffee, and bourbon. I realize your list will be different, but my point remains: a party is not where I want to blow the entire month’s budget. At the end of the day, I loved hiring the sweetest teenager from church to take party photos (she is beloved by my daughter anyway), so I could be present with Abby and our guests that morning. I also purchased lots of fresh flowers (that I’m still enjoying around the house). Abby’s dream cake was definitely NOT made by me. And, there were some sparkly, decor accessories that the sweetest party planning boutique sent me. I plan on continuing to send them my business for the coming years.
Fifth, decide on a doable theme and what decor items you want. This list may be nearly non-existent or fairly extensive depending on your personality. At five, Abby gravitates to all things girly, so a princess theme was easy. Then, look around your house (and the house of friends 😉 ) to decide what items you can repurpose for the party. Children’s chairs, my farmhouse window frame, spring wreaths that I made, borrowed teacups and plates, and my own dishes/silverware played heavily into our theme. OBVIOUSLY, there were lots of mason jars festooned about. Then decide what you want to purchase. The more you are able to reuse these items in the future versus just throw them away after one-time-use the better. If possible, avoid non-recyclable materials. Once again, there is balance in all things. Find what fits you, brings joy, and makes the day feel special for you and your event.
Sixth, and final tip, support small businesses with your purchases when possible. As a small business owner myself, this is near and dear to my heart. And, honestly, I am amazed how many small business owners have become online friends after working with them. For Abby’s party, three small businesses played key roles, and I’m so grateful for the magic they provided for Abby’s party.
If you are local to Colorado, Downright Sweet Treats is owned by my dear friend Tkale Ribble and funds International Down Syndrome Adoption. As she writes, “This bakery was founded on the idea of helping fund the Ribble’s next adoption, and bring a positive light to Down Syndrome itself. Down Syndrome is down right beautiful and the inspiration for the name: Down Right Sweet Treats; hoping to bake the world a happier place.” Beware that her cakes are widely acclaimed, and she books months out, so make sure to schedule with her early.
Then, for ALL events in the future, I plan to continue to work with Ellie and Piper Party Boutique. First of all, everything sent to me was absolutely stunning. Paper flower crowns, unicorn horn crowns, and glittery crowns were the special touch that this party needed to make my daughter’s heart extremely happy. I believe she rotated through and wore all the crowns and tiaras during the course of the morning. And our “tiara station” for Abby’s friends was a huge hit.
But, Ellie and Piper is so much more than a party boutique. The owner of Ellie and Piper experienced two miscarriages and named her magical shop after these two babies. In Tina’s own words:
I’m sharing my story because 1) I want other wishful mommies-to-be who may be suffering in silence to know that they are not alone and 2) I don’t want my unborn babies’ memories to be lost with time. Ellie and Piper is for the two special little angels that I will meet again one day and when I formed this company, I had the intention of celebrating them every single day. In my mind, I am a mother of three. Thank you for supporting our small business and celebrating life with Ellie and Piper.
Memories of my own two lost babies rise fresh to the surface as I think about the pain (and deep need to celebrate life) that their losses created. Tina is brave, and her boutique is a beautiful celebration of life. As she reminds us, “I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for our family. My daughter is my pride and joy and I love her with every fiber of my being because she’s my miracle rainbow baby.” Ellie and Piper describes themselves as a boutique that adds “a little more sparkle, a little more shine, and a little more joy to WOW those loved ones.” Check out the plethora of themes and options from this shop. Darling, unique, and sweet don’t even begin to describe them. (P.S. The Easter shop has launched and is adorable plus I happen to know that a line of office supplies are coming. I’m giddy.)
Another sweet feature at Abby’s party was Kid Licks 100% edible nail polish. The party girls had a crafting station with wooden picture frames to paint and supplies to “decorate” their nails. I love everything about this USA-based, small-batch company. They have earned rave reviews nationwide and are the “new kind of nail polish.” As we strive for a completely non-toxic home, Kid Licks polishes are an adorable way to let Abby paint her nails to her heart’s content.
Kid Licks is different than regular polish. “Regular nail polish is full of some nasty things: acetone, toluene, formaldehyde and DBP, to name a few. Even special nail polish made for kids is usually made from petroleum resins like polyurethane and acrylic co-polymers. Kid Licks is food based, made of 100% edible ingredients, and removes with alcohol, soap and water so there is no chemical nail polish remover to use.” Plus the purple and pink polishes spoke directly to Abby’s princess heart. I highly recommend them!
And, finally, I can’t thank my mama friends enough who have mothered in the trenches of baby years with me, and now have celebrated with Abby on the cusp of kindergarten and the coming big changes in our family. I couldn’t do this journey without this village. I was on the verge of tears multiple times through the morning, as the girls giggled and posed and dressed-up and painted, oblivious to the tender emotion in the room. As all the women gathered around the six girls and prayed for them, my heart was full to overflowing. Abby’s birthday gathering was not just the party she needed, but also the celebration that I craved. I will treasure these memories…that chocolate cake…those glittery tiaras and pink nails…and that precious time of prayer. I’m smiling as I type, which is always a very good sign. 😉 I’m sure I will also be crying later. Such is motherhood. Such are memories.