Monday, September 12, 2011

Abe's First Birthday Party

We celebrated Abe's first birthday almost a week after he turned one. He loves fish (that's one of the animal sounds he can make, and it's sooo cute), so I started gathering inspiration for a fish party a few months ago. 

Fish in a bag invitation.

The invitations were one of the last things I figured out. Our long drive to Nashville gave me a lot of time for brainstorming, and after deciding against trying to make these favors, I suddenly realized I could make fish in a bag invites instead! (More information on the invitations tomorrow, along with a free download!)

His cousins brought a pet fish as a gift!

Fishy photo booth.

We set up a photo booth with the goldfish piñata I made, and included some speech and thought bubbles for guests to write messages on. The kids mainly used them to interact with the fish

"Happy birthday, Abe!"

Being diabetic, I generally think in terms of healthy (as apposed to sweet) when it comes to party food.  I expanded on the fish theme by incorporating another one of Abe's favorite things - the beach! - to create a lunch menu that was fun and nutritious. 

Ham and Cheese Sandcastle Sandwiches

Beach Buckets of Veggies with Ranch Dip

Go Fish Jello Jigglers

"Lake Water" Lemonade

Goldfish Crackers

Sandcastle Sandwiches

(Go here to see how to make sandcastle sandwiches.)

Fish and Starfish Melon Skewers

And did I mention, it was easy? I was able to prep most of the food the day before, so I just had to cut the melons and make the sandcastle sandwiches that morning. My brother came early to help, and made a sub sandwich for the adults while I was taking pictures. 

Pasta Shells with "Seaweed" Pesto

Yellow pepper, carrot, and celery sticks.

Happy Birthday Bunting

I picked up a this stack of card stock from Joann Fabrics to make the birthday bunting, and used the scraps from the bunting to make sandwich flags and thank you notes for the party favors.

Submarine Sandwiches for the Adults

Blue Lemonade with Fish Ice Cubes

When we got married, my husband and I collected glass cream containers to use for centerpieces. The thick glass bottles were also perfect for serving drinks! I just covered the name of the dairy farm with stickers made from some of the same card stock I used for the bunting, and labelled one for each of our guests. I found the cute polka dot paper straws on Etsy, and made fish ice cubes using trays from Ikea.

Seashell Centerpiece

I kept the table decorations simple with just a couple jars of sand and seashells we've collected on trips to the beach.

#1 Cake with Goldfish Topper

I decided to do a #1 cake after seeing this sailboat-themed cake. I liked the flags and boats but didn't want to get too far off track, so when I saw these cake toppers I had to try to make one for Abe's cake! I basically followed her directions, but cut the tissue in a fish shape instead of a circle. Luckily I had just enough orange tissue paper left over from making the piñata!

Since I didn't have the time to bake a cake from scratch, I picked up a couple boxes of Devil's Food cake mix at the grocery store. For the filling, I used one package of chocolate pudding, but followed the directions to make pie filling instead of regular pudding (reduce the milk to 1 3/4 cups instead of 2). Easiest and yummiest cake filling ever! 

My husband ran to the store for me twice to pick up cream cheese frosting. I thought one container would be enough but in the end we used three, along with almost half a bottle of blue food coloring! Someday I'll learn to frost a cake without getting crumbs all over... 

It was fun watching Abe tear into his birthday cake. He did eat some of it but mostly just mashed it up and squished the frosting between his fingers.

This is his "I'm so excited" scream.

Blue Beard

I was glad I made his ironed-on #1 shirt from an already stained onesie because I know I will never get those blue frosting stains out!

The goldfish piñata.

When I saw this post about how to make a number piñata, I was immediately inspired. It looked so easy! No balloons, no papier-mâché - just cardboard, tape, and crêpe paper. Probably something I should have started more than a week before the party, but with a long drive up north and back, followed by a few days with a sick baby who spent a lot of time sleeping, I somehow managed to finish it in time for the party!

I was a little afraid Abe might get freaked out to see his cousins whacking the goldfish with a stick, but they gave him the first swing and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

Happy with his little pile of loot.

For the party favors, I found these metal pails in the dollar bin at Target (in just the right colors too), and filled them with homemade sidewalk chalk and a thank you note from Abe.

Beach Bucket Favors

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk

I wasn't sure if Abe was really old enough to appreciate a party all for him, but he really seemed to enjoy it, so I'm glad we put a little time and effort into making his day really special.

Abe's new fish.


  1. Wow, I'm impressed! This makes me want a fish party...or at least to throw one of my kiddos one :)

  2. That is a BEAUTIFULLY done 1st Birthday! Gorgeous! Where did you find the blue water lemonade recipe? I have little boy baby shower this Wed. was searching on Pinterest and found that! Wondering if you have a recipe! Thanks!

  3. Thanks! Vanessa, for the lemonade I just mixed up a batch of frozen pink lemonade and added blue food coloring to it, a drop at a time, until it was a shade I liked. The "Lake Water" part was just for the kids - I made it with clean tap water. ;-)

  4. Amazing! Where did you get the buckets for the veggies?

  5. I found tiny plastic Solo cups (same size as Dixie cups) at Target, and used a yarn needle to poke holes in the sides for the handle. I made the handle from cotton twine. The kids loved them!

  6. you are SO creative! this is such a great party!

  7. how about that super cute #1 cake? Did you have a #1 cake pan or did you just cut it out of a rectangular shaped cake? Was the pudding the middle of two cakes stacked?

    1. I made two 9x13 cakes, stacked them with a pudding layer in the middle, cut the cake down the middle, and made the #1 from the cut pieces. It was a HUGE cake! If I did it again, I think I'd only use one cake.

    2. thanks for responding so quickly! i'm excited to take a stab at this cake :) also, did you buy that happy birthday banner? i'm trying to find a free printable but etsy has the market on these apparently...

    3. No, I made that too. I cut triangles from 4x6 pieces of cardstock that I picked up at the craft store, then I added letters that were also cut from cardstock. I printed "Happy Birthday" on my computer and used the printed letters as a template for cutting the cardstock letters out by hand. Good luck with the cake! :-)

  8. Your blog is so cute and I love this post. My baby is 6 months old and I am already daydreaming about ideas for his first birthday party. After reading this, how could I not want to do a fish party? Thanks for the great ideas!

  9. I am planning a Shark-themed party for my son's first birthday in July and would like to try some of your ideas!! I LOVE the veggies in a beach bucket! The whole party looks amazing! Thanks for the inspiration

  10. Love your pinata - any pointers or tips on making that beauty!? My 7 year old has requested a fish party this year & for us it's just not a party without an pinata, but I have only ever made one - and it was a rectangle Perry the Platypus, so it was super easy! Thanks.

    1. Oh yes, I posted a whole pinata making tutorial right here:

    2. hey! I cannot access the link to the Pinata anymore. Its gorgeous and I was hoping to replicate it for my son's birthday. Any instructions please?

    3. The link is still active but if you can't get it to work try clicking on the "holidays" tab at the top of the page. It's listed under May and August. Or just do a search for "pinata" using the search bar at the top on the right side. It should pop up.

  11. Hi there!
    Do you still have the recipe for the pasta shells with "seaweed" pesto?
    Thank you so much! :)

    1. I just used my usual pesto sauce (found here: made with basil, not actual seaweed. ;-)