Goose celebrates her first birthday this week so we threw her a super fun, eco-friendly, Beatrix Potter-themed party on Saturday. Here's how we pulled it off:
Making sure the party supplies were eco-friendly was important to me. I was delighted to discover Susty Party supplies. The plates are made out of food pulp, the straws out of recycled paper and the silverware out of birch.
Avoiding plastic was my highest priority, so I decided to decorate with actual tree branches, paper and a bunch of burlap and gingham fabric. We held the party at my parents' house that has two 14' tall columns supporting the ceiling of the large party room. I wanted to turn them into whimsical trees but wasn't sure how to make it happen. Thankfully, my clever husband and uncle figured out how to strap pre-drilled boards to the columns, wrap them with crumpled brown kraft paper and wedge the branches into the holes to transform the polls into very fun trees. They also wrapped blue painted paper to the tops of the poles to simulate sky. We then hung paper lanterns in the branches and a paper banner between the two to give the room a storybook garden feel.
I love party hats, but for a Beatrix Potter themed party, I just couldn't picture us all wearing cone hats. Instead, I opted for rabbit ears which I staged in the goodie pails. I decided to present the goodie pails right away at each child's place setting, rather than leave them until the end. Each pail contained the following:
- 2 edible veggie crayons from We Can Too
- 2 sticks of veggie sidewalk chalk from We Can Too
- 1 copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit
- 1 set of bunny ears
- 1 mini pot of daisies to grow at home
- 1 Beatrix Potter printout to color
- 1 pinwheel
I've thrown several parties in my day, and my trademark is themed food names. I don't consider it a proper party unless the food is named. Truth.
If you look through all of the Beatrix Potter books, she offers a huge selection of ridiculous character names to work with so it was fairly easy for me to come up with names like Hunca Munca Hummus.
I worked the theme into the beverages too. In the Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter sneaks into Mr. McGregor's garden, eats too many veggies and goes home with a stomach ache. His mother, Mrs. Rabbit brews him a pot of chamomile tea to drink to settle him down. This made a perfect starting point for the beverages. My mother-in-law found the Celestial Seasonings Vanilla Chamomile tea that we brewed and served over ice in eco-friendly glass mason jars. Super duper refreshing.
Another element that makes for a successful party: themed mixed drinks. This took a little while to figure out since I wanted the drinks to be garden-based, while still being tasty and easy to mix. The crowd-pleaser was the Gentleman Fox. Adding pomegranate and lime juice to a cranberry and vodka adds a fantastic pop. Again, to stick with the theme and to avoid plastic party cups, we also served these drinks in mason jars.
If you have access to a trained bartender, USE HIM! Our good friend, Russ, is a pro bartender who offered his services for the party. It takes the pressure off of the hosts to get drinks mixed for guests.
Naming a food is one thing, presenting it in a way that sticks to the theme is another. My ground rules for the food for this party were the following:
1. No meat
2. Ask yourself, would a rabbit eat this?
3. When in doubt, serve it on a wooden cutting board
For Mr. McGregor's vegetable garden, I spotted the mini fencing at Joanne's Fabrics. My husband figured out how to line a cutting board with it. To avoid the inevitable mess of a communal bowl of salad dressing, I opted to fill little paper cups with ranch dressing for easy individual snacking.
As a health-conscious crunchy mama, another headache of mine was figuring out what sugary treat to serve at the party. I know cake is the standard fare, but Goose has never eaten cake and I'm not in a hurry to introduce it to her. So in the end, we decided to serve pies: traditional, sugary fruit pies (apple, peach, cherry and key lime) to the adults, and special no-sugar-added diced fruit pies to the babies.
Goose was presented with her beautiful diced fruit pie (with a candle sticking out of the top of the strawberry), made with love by her Oma. After four huge handfuls of fruit, we had to cut her off, for fear she'd barf on her dress. The pie was filled with her favorite flavors (apple, peach, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg), so she thought it was amazing. No cake or sugar needed.
The floor at my parents' house is tile, not conducive to little walkers (or in Goose's case, crawlers). So I wanted to designate a soft play area where I could keep the youngest guests occupied. I happened to have a green shag rug from IKEA rolled in our closet that kinda looked like a patch of grass. I plopped a basket of Goose's toys down that would be fun for all ages to play with. My favorite addition to her toy collection is the Habaland Block Set. Each solid wood block is beautifully painted.
The green carpet, placed in the center of the room, allowed the adults sitting around the perimeter to observe the spectacle of five kids going wild when Daisy, the most docile bunny on the planet, made her appearance.
The babies were free to pet Daisy, feed her veggies and chase her around the room. It was very good fun and pulled the theme of the party together beautifully.
As far as Goose was concerned, she didn't notice the themed drinks or the picket fence around the carrot sticks. All she knows is that she got to play with her friends, pet a rabbit, eat her favorite foods and get hugs and kisses from all of her grandparents. But a first birthday isn't really FOR the baby, it's for all of the loved ones who gather together. So looking back on it, I feel the party met everyone's needs. Including the planet's.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GOOSE! We are so proud of what an awesomely green baby you have become!!