Calvin's Dumbo Themed First Birthday Party

Posted by Carly Morgan on

We finally threw Calvin a party for his 1st birthday. As you might remember, I was out of town for his first birthday so he sort of took a back burner position while I recovered from my worldly travels. We also held the party up a little bit since Kyle's mom and our niece were planning a visit for early August and we wanted them to join us. Rather randomly, they happened to be in town for Eva's first birthday, so that means they're two for two!

I knew that I wanted to do a Disney theme, so we kicked around maybe doing a Toy Story party or a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party, but ultimately we decided that those themes were a little more "preschool" than "first birthday". So, Dumbo won out because it's about the cutest movie ever and it just happens to be about an amazing little mister who loves his mama. Sold!

We decided to keep it family-only because I didn't want our friends to feel like they were being invited just to add to Calvin's stash of toys. Plus, family alone was 22 people, which is perfect if you ask me, and I have years of tiny human parties ahead of me. Having the majority of guest be all grown up is a huge plus right now.

We did move it to the backyard since the new play-room-in-the-living-room layout of our house isn't very conducive to parties. We have a nice little yard but it's designed around the four of us, so I ended up pulling out some furniture from the house to create seating areas.

I wanted people to be comfortable in different parts of the yard and I'm actually a huge fan of the "indoor furniture outside" trend. I'm not going to drag a velvet couch out into a field or anything, but I much preferred pulling our vintage yellow formica kitchen table out of storage instead of setting up a plastic picnic table.

Also invited to the party - the couch from the play room and the old trunk from the den (decorated with a bit of Dumbo Disneyana).

Some of the other Dumbo decor elements included copies made from an old Dumbo picture book I bought at an antique store years ago. I framed some of the illustrations and used others to create a paper pennant that hung over the food area.

As you can see, some of Calvin's 1st birthday portraits made it to the pennant as well. I also tossed a bunch into a little brag book and then ended up mailing out some of those copies with the thank you notes after the party. You can get a little mileage out of a cute mug like his!

The kids had their own area at the party. We brought out some of our larger stuffed animals (wearing party hats from the new Oh Joy Target line) and Kyle picked up a circus tent at IKEA. We also got a plastic wading pool and filled it full of balls, which created the first ball pit that Eva's been able to enjoy without worrying about the lurking food allergies that might be in there. It was a bit of an investment (who knew those balls were so expensive??) but it has since moved into the playroom and the kids are enjoying it daily.

Having the kids area over by our little swing set turned out to be a big help. There weren't that many kids at the party but it still gave them a place to run around and be crazy without interrupting conversations or knocking over food tables.

The food might have been the most fun of all because we got to play with the circus theme. We went super easy and relied on pizza for this one because I have learned in the past that I do not enjoy being stuck in the kitchen over a hot stove when these parties begin (as it always happens). Pizza along with a simple salad and some soft pretzels were fine for dinner and we had sugar galore for dessert: cotton candy, candied apples, chocolate cupcakes, rock candy, bubble gum, animal crackers, pink elephant sugar cookies, and some zoo animal short cakes.

The really fun thing about the food was that it really supported the theme of the party and helped out the decor. I put a few glittered plastic animals on the chocolate cupcakes. The tables were covered in admission tickets that my mother-in-law taped on by hand. The paper goods were all from the Toot Sweet collection. Lots of the serving dishes were picked up at the thrift store, like the planter I used to hold the bottles of pop.

Calvin was a bit themed, himself, although I did restrain myself. I almost bought him a full-on Dumbo costume off of eBay and then I strongly considered one of the Dumbo pieces from the Disney Baby line even though it would have been way too warm for comfort. As it was, he ended up wearing a light linen shirt from Janie and Jack with some new suspender-ed jeans from H&M. So he was a little bit vintage, but not a full on circus elephant. See? I'm a model of restraint.

The party went really well overall and I learned a few things. I think the different party spaces were nice because we all had somewhere to relax at any given time and everyone moved around a lot. I also liked the kids area, as I mentioned, and I really liked getting the bulk of the food delivered instead of trying to cook a big meal on top of everything else. It gave me more time to relax and actually talk to our guests for once.

There were also a few fails. I sprung for extra large balloons to tie to the chalkboard sign, but out in the open you couldn't tell that those ones were larger so that was a bit of a waste. The bubble machines running under the sign were also a semi-flop. The kids loved the bubbles, but they ran out of solution very quickly and once Calvin realized they were over there, he was really only interested in dumping them out and sticking his fingers into the motor.

Also, it turns out that candy apples are really lovely but practically impossible to eat. All of the kids were drawn to them, but as far as I know only my youngest sister actually finished hers. I always thought they were chewy like caramel apples, but they are truly candied so getting to the apple inside is like making your way through the largest Jolly Rancher ever. Pretty as props, but probably not making the dessert list again any time soon.

All in all, it was a good first birthday party and Calvin actually had a very nice time crawling around and exploring. I know he won't remember it, as many people were quick to remind me when I was stressing out over which shade of blue was "Dumbo blue", but I'll remember and he'll have the pictures. If he ever wonders if his mother loved him enough to candy perfectly good apples and render them completely inedible, I'll have photographic proof that the answer is: Yes. Yes she did.