A First Birthday, Many Thank You’s


A handful of people have asked me questions like, “How did you know you wanted to be a mother?” or “Did you always know you wanted to have kids?” since Olive was born.   Not sure I can say how I knew, but the truth is I have always known I would be a mother.  Understandably, this is not always the case for every mama and papa out there, but for me, I knew.   This sort of lifelong “knowing” has greatly taught me about my own instincts.  Being a mother was  something I always knew I wanted to be.  Excited about a new life that Matt and I would create, and obviously excited for seeing my own child grow and wander through this world, I was also incredibly intrigued and curious about how I would change.   Olive Julia has not only given me constant, heightened and welcomed enlightenment, but she has also helped shape me into a better and more well-rounded person, and I deeply, deeply thank her for that.

Last June, we celebrated our sweet lady’s very first birthday, and it was a big “Thank you” to Olive, but also to all of our beloved friends and family who generously carried us through our first year as new parents.   I wanted her birthday to be a warm gathering of friends and family.   After all, I don’t think Olive would be the sweet and good natured baby she is without the love and support of our extended family.  This birthday was for all of us. Many people have asked me to share the details of her birthday on B&Y, and I am happy to do so.


Olive’s first birthday party theme was inspired by summer farmer’s markets.  Being born on the first day of summer, and seeing as her mom and dad love spending time at our local markets, it seemed to fit.  I wanted the atmosphere to be comfortable where folks could picnic on the lawn, mingle by the drink table, and choose veggies and fruit as if they were at a local market.


I wanted to the party to be authentic yet tasteful.  The eye candy was the farmer’s market table which I set up exactly as you might see at a traditional market.  I purchased seasonal fruits and veggies from our local market and beefed it up with a few items from the grocery store.  I used a variety of baskets including small bushels and  other similar containers for berries and the like.  Using plywood and paint from Michael’s, I painted signs for the market.  I free wrote the letters to make the signs look like believable side of the road signs.  In addition, I bought bulk canvas bags and sprayed them with a fabric paint using a tree template.  These bags served as sacks for the farmer’s market treats that guests were able to fill them to the brim as goodie bags for the party.   A chalkboard sign indicated each guest to fill a tote from the market before they left the party.  A friend helped to supply the bunting, balloons were purchased from a local party store, and I bought a few items from Kara’s Party Ideas .  We spread blankets along the lawn, each accompained by balloons, party horns, and sidewalk chalk.


Matt grilled up dogs and burgers.  I made 3 side dishes including Alice Waters Summer Vegetable Salad, a garlic potato salad (Erin, if you are reading, this is your recipe from a few years back) and a sweet and savory slaw.  For dessert, I made blueberry hand pies for all everyone.  Olive had a special pear hand pie for her “cake” to fit in with the theme, but also to avoid blueberry stains!  Another chalkboard sign indicated the menu.  The drink station included a homemade lavender lemonade and classic sodas I bought from a local, boutique candy store.  We had green river, 312 root beer, and even sarsaparilla sodas.  We made sure beer and wine were plentiful, and I also encouraged the adults to add a topper of rose or sparkling white to the lavender lemonade…that was a huge hit.  Lastly, we indulged on a snow cone machine from Amazon, and purchased Jelly Belly syrups, cones, and straws.  The snow cones were a huge success!


Considering this was mostly an adults party, my sister-in-law and I organized a relay races for all guests.  This was the highlight of the party! We started with egg and spoon, moved on to potato sack races, 3 legged race, and ended with a picnic basket relay where each team member and to empty a basket, set a place setting with plates, silverware etc, put on whatever costumes pieces were in the basket, blow a party horn and then return to my sister-in-law, Allie,  for a slip of paper that indicated how you must return to your team after repacking the basket (i.e. moonwalk, crabwalk, disco, grapevine and so on).  Prizes for the winning team were homemade cookies made by my other sister-in-law, Jenna.  She made “Olive O’s”- a cookie inspired by the beloved Oreo as well as brown butter, chocolate chip cookies.  Yum!  We also had Bags and horseshoes set up on the side of the yard.

Her birthday was a huge success despite the sweltering early summer heat.  Everyone who attended brought lots of love, smiles, and good vibes.  Miss Olive made it through the whole party without napping, Grammy and Grandpa survived a backyard full of balloons, party favors, bubbles and food, and mom and dad felt proud, accomplished, and fortunate to celebrate their first year of parenthood.  Miss Olive- we love you!  Any suggestions for this year’s theme?  Have a question about some of my DIY projects or recipes?  Put a comment below!  Before you go, check out some of our photos from Olive’s first birthday party.