So my little man turned ONE this week! And he took his first steps today! September has all-new meaning for me because of his birthday, and I thought a fall-themed party would be the perfect kickoff for my most favorite season.
Confession. I kept his party (relatively) simpler than his brother’s 1st birthday party (recaps here and here), especially now that we are a family of four with an all-new routine with my new job and the kids’ new daycare. It has been quite an adjustment. Invites were electronic, party shopping happened the day before, and we didn’t have time to crank out many of the dishes we had planned. But in the end, none of that mattered – Sage had a blast, and E keeps asking, “when can we go back to Sage’s party?”
I went for a “Bushels of Fun” apple theme using red and green. The homemade Happy Birthday banner was still up from E’s birthday (oops), so I just replaced the pictures of dump trucks and tractors with apple bushels. I blew up 30 red and green balloons the morning of the party while nursing Sage. Great way to almost make yourself pass out, I tell ya. I drew cute apple faces on the balloons and strung some around the house and scattered the others on the floor. Simple!
Our dining room table was already decorated for fall, so all I had to add was real apples to the pumpkin basket and this year’s handprints to our pumpkins – the boys add a handprint to their white pumpkins each year. We bought them at Michael’s and found the decorative candy apples at HomeGoods.
I framed a fall printable I found on a Five on Friday blog, hung a fall bucket list artwork that I designed last year, and taped up Sage’s monthly picture collage. I put a pumpkin and a basket of favors by the door, which I forgot to hand out to our guests as they left!! We did get to send home balloons with the kids, though!
We served 3-ingredient crockpot meatballs, homemade pretzel rolls, apple turnovers, Carolina Charm’s best pumpkin dip (served with ginger snaps, apple slices, and Nilla Wafers), macaroni muffins (better in theory than in execution), a fresh veggie tray, fresh apple cider, cake, and ice cream cups. Probably other fancies I’m forgetting, but the kitchen was very hectic in the last 30 minutes before the party – it’s all a blur! I completely forgot to take a picture of the counter-full of food, but I did manage to grab a pic of the dip before it was gone!
We bobbed for apples using tongs and butterfly nets! I saw the butterfly nets for $7.99 each at our toy story but then found them for $1 at Dollar Tree. If I could do it again, I’d buy a net for each child and let them keep them! It was rainy and wet outside, so we stayed on the back patio under our canopy. (That canopy has since gone the way of the wind after an unanticipated flash flood two days after the party!) The kids took turns transferring apples from one bucket of water to another. After the party, we let E bob for apples a few more times before pajama time.
Our friends and family were over-the-top generous with their gifts, and thank-you notes are on my to-do list this rainy weekend, I promise! My sister was so sweet with the present she sent! She wrapped the shipping box and filled it with GLITTER RAINBOW TISSUE PAPER and all kinds of toddler goodies! We took our time opening her present with breakfast – such a fun way to start a birthday!
We had Sage’s silhouette cut at our local toy store just in time for his party by the same man who did E’s 2 years ago. Once again, he was spot-on! We also gave Sage a set of wooden Hape blocks that we found during Target’s deep toy clearance sale last summer, along with a handful of fall books. E gave him a pack of Squigs that we’ll use for traveling and going out to eat.
I wanted something that would be easy to pass out to our friends and family, so we went with cupcakes and ice cream cups. But I just couldn’t resist making a smash cake for our little sweet tooth. This was NOT his first rodeo with cake by ANY means, but we’ve never put a whole cake in front of him. He did not disappoint!
I made cupcakes (spice and chocolate) into apple shapes by baking them with tin foil balls tucked behind the wrappers. (You could also use marbles to create the same effect.) My sweet husband dug all the green gum drops out of the bulk candy bin at the grocery store, and I cut them into thirds using cooking scissors.
I left a whole gum drop on the smash cake to make a large leaf. I used pretzel sticks for the apple stems. I used Carolina Charm’s tips for icing cupcakes (this tutorial has been a lifesaver for SO many parties!). After finishing Sage’s smash cake, it needed a little something, so I added a face with black gel icing and red sprinkles for cheeks.
Sage’s cake turned out smaller than I had planned after it broke in half while I was assembling it, but it ended up being the perfect size for his high chair tray. And honestly, it only stayed upright for a couple minutes, anyway…
And then it just exploded.
And he started kneading the cake like dough.
It was almost therapeutic to watch.
The face of a kid who LOVED his birthday.
Loved it! We marked his height on his new growth chart ruler, bobbed for more apples, and then it was off to bed for the birthday boy!