Jacobi’s first birthday took place February 23 and it was a hit! It’s amazing how fast those few hours fly by when you spend so many more hours putting together the bash. I’m so excited to finally share all the fun details of the party.
I found the venue, a nature center, last year and Mr. Pen and I fell in love with it! We would be able to rent a room for the party, but the rest of the nature center would be open for our guests as well. My inspiration for the entire party theme was based on the fact we were having it at a nature center. There is a beautiful wall mural just outside the party room that helped me choose my theme: woodland animals. This theme came easy to me as J’s room is decorated in owls – we were able to repurpose a lot of decor!
I wanted to put a spin on it as it’s a fairly common theme, and I didn’t want a replicate of something too overdone. I decided to make it modern, and it was a fun challenge to mix the two styles together. In the end it worked beautifully and I love how it came out.
All photo credit goes to our amazing and uber-talented photographer Vanessa!
I designed everything for the party! I drew every animal, added a modern twist by applying a chevron background and added them as fun details to the party. Each table was a certain animal: mason jars were tied with twine and adorned with a cutout of each animal – toadstool, fawn, raccoon, fox, bear, hedgehog, and squirrel.
Each place setting was finished with a kraft paper placemat, wood fork, colorful napkin, a bookmark favor and something for the guests to fill out in lieu of a guestbook: “Wishes for Jacobi.”
On each table was a centerpiece of branches arranged in quart mason jars, freshly pruned from my parents’ yard and tied with burlap. Additionally there were small jars of crayons for guests to doodle on their placemats.
My food menu was carefully planned — I needed it to be budget-friendly but also easy to eat party food. I didn’t even realize this until the day of the party, but everything I served was gluten-free… down to the last chocolate cupcake! The food was a hit and I received many compliments.
- quinoa fruit salad
- deli meat, cheese and tomato skewers
- assorted nuts
- colorful vegetables in individual cups with bleu cheese and ranch dressing
The dessert table was my favorite set up of the entire party. Something about cake and cupcakes is so adorable and fun to arrange! We served gluten-free, sugar and dairy free black bean cupcakes with cream cheese frosting in chocolate and vanilla flavors. J’s smash cake was the same – Mr. Pen had a blast decorating it! It may not be perfect but I love that not every little detail has to be. Mr. Pen also made this amazing cake stand out of trunk pieces and branch wood. He is so skilled and it turned out so cute! It was one of my favorite details of the party.
I also set up a mini Photo Booth by hanging a chevron fabric backdrop and making woodland animal face mask props.
Even though we’re not Korean, I really wanted to do a doljabi. I thought it was a fun and cute idea. We veered a little from the traditional doljabi and instead chose career paths based on things we already had on hand.
I bought a $15 easel from IKEA and used items from around the house to put it all together. We had everyone at the party vote for what they thought J would choose.
I loved incorporating such a fun tradition from another culture into J’s party! Since both Mr. Pen and I have no real heritage to identify with (I think we just have to say 100% American now!), it is really neat to learn about other cultures and ways we can adopt new traditions.
Oh, guess what J chose?! Right after choosing the stethoscope, he picked up the calculator, to which guests commented he would be a smart doctor! I sure hope so! haha!
Since we hired a photographer, we really wanted to make good use of it, and she was such a sport doing all the the things we requested! In addition to photographing the party, she also did some family photos for us and agreed to photograph a cake smash!
J was so dainty while eating the cake and would only take tiny little bites and nibbles, but he still managed to get so messy. I love having these pictures to look back and remember such a special day.
The venue was so spectacular. In addition to the gorgeous room we rented (with the beautiful huge window facing the woods!), the rest of the building was equally as beautiful. They also coordinate birthdays for older kids, bringing in woodland animals like owls and doing a scheduled day of fun!
We had the venue from 12-4 pm. We used the first hour to set everything up and the party start time was 1pm… however Mr. Pen was a little late with the Man of the Hour so it was pushed back half an hour. Our timeline for the day looked like this:
1:30 – welcome guests and eat
2:00 – Doljabi
2:15 – cake smash
2:45 – family photos for the Pen Family while guests roamed the Nature Center
3:00 – open gifts
3:30-4 – cleanup
The day went so fast! But it was so fun. Some friends who knew how much effort I was putting into planning the party kept reminding me J would never remember this day and it didn’t have to be so extravagant, to which I say J’s first birthday is more than a pretty party and traditional birthday celebration. This party, to us as a family and those near to us who attended, was a true celebration of life and the blessing of the life God has given us! J is truly a spectacular child and this has been the most tremendous year of my life! It’s celebrating motherhood, fatherhood and being a family; it’s celebrating health, happiness and all the years to come we have to look forward to. This birthday celebration to me was all about rejoicing and sharing in how much we love J and how he is our entire world. I love birthdays. I want to make each and everyone special to show my son how he is such a gift to me.
Lastly I want to share just a couple of the lovely family photos that Vanessa captured for us. I will cherish them forever and already have the frames to print them and hang them in our living room!