How-To: Plan a Successful Birthday Party in One Week!

I never really thought of myself as a party planner, but I not-so-secretly had so much fun planning Calvin’s First Birthday (aka the ultimate fiesta!) I am a project manager by day so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that planning something for my own life could be kinda fun too. I’ve never really been that into this sort of thing until I had a child – now I want to give him the world 24/7 (spoiled much!?) I even did a craft (see banner below.) Who am I? It’s also kind of true when they say it’s really a party for the parents, lol! I wanted to make sure that our friends and co-workers we met during our time on the East Coast had a great time. I’m so thankful for every one of the relationships we formed in NJ and I really wanted to get everyone (and their kids) together at once for some fun.
For the longest time, I kept putting off the planning for Calvin’s Birthday. I could blame this on procrastination (which is usually the case) but we really didn’t know if we’d be in OH or NJ for his special day. We found out on 2/9 that we’d be moving on 2/27, so I had approximately ONE WEEK to pull together this party for 2/18. Miraculously I did it, and we had about 40 people there to help us celebrate. Why didn’t I wait till we moved back? I was pretty adamant that my first child WOULD have a party on his actual birthday…first time mom probs.
Did I order all of our decorations off etsy? No. Did I send out custom hard copy invitations? No. Did I make all the food? No. So yes, I took some shortcuts in order to make this happen, but I believe the outcome was just as great.
Here are my recommendations for pulling a successful & affordable birthday party together in 1 week–because sometimes that’s all the time we got!

Have a Theme and “Vision” in Mind

(^I made this banner with string, glue, sparkly green paper, plain letters, and gold foil decal paper from Hobby Lobby!)
This one is important to determine first, because all party aspects will revolve around the theme – invites, food, decorations, dessert, etc. Honestly, almost any theme you chose for a small child’s birthday will be cute. First I wanted winter ONE-derland, then I thought we’d do a safari theme, but ultimately decided on a “First Fiesta.” I’m very glad we didn’t chose a winter theme because it ended up being 75 and sunny day of!
Once I made that decision, the other aspects started to fall into place. I knew exactly what e-vite to pick, I knew exactly what to look for in terms of decorations, and the food/drinks became easy to choose as well. This is really random, but once I found a table cloth that fit my vision (see below), the color scheme fell into place and I just had to find other items I loved that matched. Allow yourself some time in the party and/or craft store to walk around, brainstorm, and come up with your own ideas. Remember, you don’t have to replicate something you find on pinterest for it to be awesome – you can have your own vision and build upon that!

Table Cloth
Lantern Lights
Easel Chalkboard – On Sale!

Send Evites

Do you know how much time and money I saved by doing an evite? It was honestly the quickest, easiest and smartest thing I’ve ever done. I downloaded the evite app (yes I did it all from my phone!), found a fiesta themed invite (I would’ve liked to customize a bit more but this did the trick), loaded in the date, time, and a special message, and then started sending out. The best part – I didn’t even need to gather everyone’s personal email addresses. You can send the invites via text message and then when the person RSVP’s they provide their email. From this point forward, you can send group messages to the list that your invitees will receive directly to their email, add photos, and even send thank you notes via the app after the party (this one is still on my to-do!)

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Find a Neutral Location

Have you ever hosted a holiday, dinner, or gathering in your home and you decide that suddenly this is a good time to re-arrange, remodel, and buy new items to make your abode look “cooler?” Yeah, me too. Now I’m aware we were moving and hosting in our home wasn’t an option, but I KNOW the stress of making our home spotless + the stress of having a great party would’ve sent me over the edge. If you can, find a neutral location where you can host your party. We ended up renting and having the Fiesta at our complex clubhouse, which I highly recommend. If you don’t have a clubhouse, someone you know might, or you could ask a friend or a relative (hello aunts & uncles!) if they wouldn’t mind hosting for you. I think that this takes the pressure off a bit and allows you to focus more on the actual reason you are having the party.

Outsource the Food

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Choosing the food for a Fiesta was a no-brainer (which is honestly why I ultimately decided on this theme.) We love Mexican food and drinks so we went with Moe’s Catering, Coronas & Margaritas! I had heard great things about Moe’s Catering services and I can concur it was simple, affordable and yummy! I saved a ton of time and stress by ordering food that I knew everyone would enjoy and would be ready on-time.

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Margarita Glasses
For dessert, my Mom helped us make homemade cupcakes and we decorated ourselves.
Cupcake Stand
Because I started planning his party last minute, I didn’t have time to order a custom smash cake for Calvin. Actually, if I’m being honest, I tried calling the only custom cake company I knew of in the area 3 separate times and they never got back to me. Alas, I decided to take matters into my own hands. You can’t have a first birthday without a smash cake. The plain white cake below was already made & purchased from Stop & Shop – I scraped the generic balloons off the top and re-iced with white icing. I decorated myself with the candles, sprinkles, mustache decals (edible) & maracas for detail. Ta-da! A $15 custom smash cake.
img_2603^we cut a strip off the table cloth to decorate his highchair (my sister’s brilliant idea!)

Enlist Help Day of the Party

This was so key – I didn’t realize until after the fact how helpful and necessary having help the day of the party really was. It’s possible to plan on your own, but setting up, talking to guests, taking care of your child(ren) + food/drink/trash upkeep, plus final gift, food, and trash clean-up on our own would have been near impossible. I’m so thankful my family completely helped clean up and load the car while we were still able to enjoy our guests. Lastly, you will probably have friends offer to help or bring items. 99% of the time you will say no, but if you truly need something, it’s okay to take them up on their offer.
For the rest of our party photos, I posted part one here last week.
I loveee seeing all your little ones birthday celebrations, so keep ’em coming! What theme did you go with? What were your time savers in the planning process?
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5 Habits To Develop in 2017 for a Healthier, Happier YOU

Hi Friends! How are you doing? Are we surviving the beginning of the year?
It’s ironic I’m sharing this post today on health as Calvin has been sick all weekend. Luckily this is only the 2nd time he’s been sick…ever, but this means we aren’t used to seeing him like this and we want our lil’ Calvin back. We went to the doctor and he just has the really bad cold that’s going around…so guess who else has it now? Yours truly. Isn’t this true to life though – you’re feelin’ good, feelin’ good, and then a detour comes along, which can throw a wrench in the entire week. January…you’re winning, but not for long…
I shared this instagram post last week about my new year goal. It’s not something I WANT to do – it’s something I NEED to do in order to keep my sanity. Or did I lose it along time ago? My goal this year is to put my physical and mental health first. I seem to have put myself on the back burner for too long at the end of 2016 and honestly it’s really taken a toll on every aspect of my life. I know I will write more about this in the future because I’m realizing just how important making time to take of yourself truly is – and how easy it is to not. Having kid(s) means having to deliberately set aside time for yourself – one of the biggest things I’ve had to overcome as a new mom. So, in 2017, I’m making this a priority.
There are 5 things I started committing to consistently and I already am starting to feel a bit more grounded & on track for the year. They all seem like common sense but are super easy to slack on or forget in the midst of such busy, busy weeks!
|Keep Fresh Groceries in the House|
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Anyone who knows me well knows that I really dislike grocery shopping – one my least favorite activities, but so important! It’s kind of like going to the gym…once I’m there, I don’t mind doing it! Shopping on the outside parameter of the store and having fresh, natural ingredients in stock at home guarantees you’ll have something healthy to grab or make at any time. It’s the best decision for your health and your wallet. Now that Calvin is starting to eat “real” foods it’s really stretching us to make sure we have a surplus of good food ready. It’s one thing if we slack on our healthy eating momentarily, but we cannot for Calvin. Honestly, in the busyness of 2016, we ate worse than we should have, and slacked in this area big time. Craig usually goes to the grocery but I am going to try and take on this responsibility more often and make it a weekly (quick) trip.
What are some common items on my grocery list?
Organic, lean meets (chicken, ground turkey, turkey burgers) – we probably only eat red meat once a month
Carrots, raspberries, bananas, peppers, lettuce, avocado
Bagged salads – easy to grab for lunch (choose ones with oil based dressings)
Natural lunch meets and cheese from the deli section
Brown rice, oatmeal
Steam fresh vegetables – so easy for dinner sides!
Red Onion (one of my favorite ingredients for cooking), Cilantro
Cheese sticks/Eggs/Yogurt – vanilla greek or the 100 cal greek chobani mix-ins (so good)
Salsa, hummus, guacamole
Organic Beech-nut baby foods and pouches – I try to buy organic or natural while I can still control what he’s eating!
Whole wheat tortillas & english muffins (with PB is one of my favorites)
Calvin’s current favorites? bananas, cheese, raspberries

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What am I missing? Any recommendations?
|Keep a (visual) Calendar|
img_1864^not the fanciest, but it works!
Get a monthly dry erase calendar and put it somewhere you look every day. Mine is on the countertop in the kitchen and I use it to write down appointments, events and most importantly, plan workouts. This is much like writing your goals – if you jot them down, you are more likely to commit and see  it through. It’s not the end of the world if I miss a workout as I will just adjust the schedule, but this is helping to keep me accountable.
It also helps on the days that you just DON’T want to get moving. You can look back and see how far you’ve come that month and use it as motivation to keep going. Check off the days as you go. Put up pictures of what inspires you, or write out a new favorite quote for that month. Get creative, and keep it in front of you! The quote that is helping me this month: “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” I have to do these things for myself and keep up with them in order to provide for and be the best me for the others in my life.
Get mine here.
|Make Coffee at Home|
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I think we are all guilty of going through phases where we buy coffee every day, aka me on maternity leave and then for a few months after…. this is another habit that is bad for the waist line and your bank account. If you drink coffee every day, make it at home! I have a 30+ minute commute so I like to take that time to enjoy my coffee. Since I only need one cup, I have the single serving Keurig. Get a to-go mug that you love, take 2 minutes to pop in a k-cup (hello Starbucks from home) and buy natural ingredients for fixing. My personal favorites are natural creamer & either Organic Honey or Organic Blue Agave as a sweetener (in very small doses because these are still added sugars) Say this with me: I WILL STOP USING ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS. There are already enough hidden sweeteners in the foods we eat, don’t add them into your daily coffee where you can actually control the ingredients.
|Drink More Water|
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GUYS. I also don’t like drinking water. What’s wrong with me? Sometimes I feel like my thirst button doesn’t work. This year I am MAKING myself drink more water. For my energy levels, my skin, my hydration and overall well-being. I noticed I was starting to get headaches every day around 3 pm and often felt nauseous. And no, I’m not pregnant again – it was because I wasn’t drinking enough water. I have also been trying to get in the habit of drinking a large glass in the morning before I eat or drink anything else and then at least 50 ounces throughout the day. I have noticed a huge difference in sustained energy.
Using a cup that holds 20+ ounces and has a straw makes me drink the most. I’m loving these type of cups: Plastic Mason Jar Tumbler.
|Be Present|

Sometimes I get anxious that I haven’t been present enough mentally during this time in my life. As an extreme multi-tasker, it doesn’t always allow me to focus on ONE thing and take it all in. Having a baby, a full time job, a blog, a fiance…the list goes on and on of different areas that need my attention each day. I want to try to minimize the things I’m trying to do at once and BE PRESENT. I want to make a conscious effort to focus on one thing at a time – and remember that right after work, it’s strictly Calvin time where we can play and enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted. When I’m exercising, I’m taking those 20 minutes to give it 100%. When I’m writing, I’m not trying to answer work emails and vice versa. When I’m talking to Craig, I’m not browsing instagram. I definitely need to dive into this one a bit more – let me know if you have any tips for growing in this habit.

Okay friends, what am I missing? What are your goals for 2017? Any of these overlap with yours? I need to know 🙂 Catch up with you all soon!!

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