Last year after Eden’s big 1st birthday bash, I made a vow that we would do something much smaller for her 2nd birthday. I stuck to that promise and I am so thankful that I did. With everything going on in our lives we needed some fun, but we needed it to be as relaxing as possible. Our solution was a family party at my parents house (also our current residence…oh I have SO MUCH to fill you all in on). My goal was to not spend much except to buy food. I can say that the only thing I spent a couple bucks on that wasn’t food was Eden’s scrap tutu…and even then most of the fabric was scraps I already had. All decorations were things I had on hand. Wow, did that ever feel nice.
Another goal I had for this party was to abide to the “real food” rules. Meaning, no artificial, highly processed foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Yes, this even included dessert. I have had so many people say that it’s too hard to please the guests and too much work so they end up just buying the hot dogs, pizza, sugar loaded cake, etc. just because they didn’t think it was possible to have a great birthday party without the junk. I can say it was a success and I am so happy that I stuck to the promise I made to keep the party “healthy” while still satisfying everyone (no food left = big success to me). The nicest thing was, we all felt good after the party. Usually, eating a bunch of junk leaves me feeling sick and tired. Not this time! I’ll fill you in on what we did for food in a bit. Let’s get to some photos shall we?
The drinks we provided were flavored waters and iced tea. I found the “recipes” for the flavored water here
. I made the Pineapple Mint (slightly sweet and refreshing) and the Citrus (without the oranges since my mom is severely allergic…it was just as citrus water should be, tangy and wonderful). We had to refill it quite a lot, but the flavor maintained its strength the whole time. In fact, we continually refilled it over the next couple days after the party and while the citrus one became way too bitter, the Pineapple Mint still had its sweet flavor. Great addition to your fridge!
The food. So easy. I did one of our favorite meals, taco salad. I love the versatility of it and how it can satisfy everyone, no matter what they like. I cooked up some grass feed beef (for those of you that want to know, we love Painted Hills meat at Roth’s). During the week of the party I made refried beans and black beans using the crockpot. If you haven’t made your own beans you are missing out. You save money, they are free of any additives, and they taste great! Other toppings: tomatoes, corn (we BBQed it a few days prior and cut it off the cob), olives, homemade guacamole (I love making guac..its my favorite thing), local cheese, Trader Joe’s organic corn tortilla chips, Nancy’s sour cream (local to those of us in Oregon…great stuff!), Trader Joe’s salsa (its the cheapest one and we absolutely adore it), and I think that’s it! We tried to buy local and/or organic when we could.
We also had a giant fruit salad with watermelon, grapes, pineapple, and strawberries. There were also carrots and hummus. I even had some warmed up corn tortillas for those who preferred that over a salad.
My biggest tips for planning a real food party? Pick a menu that doesn’t require a lot of work (parties are already enough work!). Write out EVERYTHING you will need ahead of time so you have an organized list (I ended up having to go to 4 stores to get everything I wanted, but I would recommend planning better than I did so you can make less trips). Prep everything you can beforehand. Some things are better left to the moment you need them so be sure to only prep what can sit for a day or two. If someone wants to help, let them! I had people going to the store for me, chopping food, setting up stuff on the tables…accept the help!
I kept the decor simple. Again, it was all stuff I already had on hand (except the flowers). I grabbed a thing of flowers at Trader Joe’s while I picked up food and then separated the bunch into vases. Easy. The garland you have seen only a million and one times on here…I use it for everything. It’s next time will be in the kids room. I also had a paper garland that my sister-in-law had given me which we draped around the deck rails. A bunting I had graced the deck rails as well. One table had a vintage lace tablecloth and the other (the farm table we are still working on) had a burlap runner with doilies overlapping each other. We threw up some tissue paper pom-poms that we have collected from multiple parties to give some life to a corner of the deck. It wasn’t much, but it was perfect for what we were going for.
Eden made this face for every gift she opened. Even if she was pulling out tissue paper. It was so fun seeing the joy on her face. Such a far cry from last year’s birthday where she cried the entire time.
That’s my girl, using her muscles. Of course you saw a photo of all of the wonderful people who came to celebrate with her and helped us announce our newest addition 🙂
Eden had so much fun and I am so thankful I went with my instinct to keep it simple. We have had a lot happen to us over the past few months so it was nice to be able to relax and spend some time with family. We needed that more than they all probably knew. I’m hoping to share some more about our baby…and how this baby is already keeping us on our toes very soon. Right now, I’m just focusing on Eden’s birthday because birthday’s are a big deal around here. Time to get moving on her 2 year photo shoot so you can all see those photos next!
Thanks everyone for hanging in there with me while I try to get myself back into blogging again. I have missed it.