I wanted to share some photos from Vada’s third birthday party this weekend. We once again had the wonderful Katheryn Moran Photography come take pictures, and seriously folks, if you are having a big birthday party I can not recommend hiring a photographer enough! It takes the stress away from capturing the moments for you and for your guests. Our guests know that we will have a photographer there, and I love sharing all the cute photos of peoples children, and of Vada and all the decor I spent time on, its really the best idea.
This year we went with a bicycle themed party! We all got really into riding bikes this past year, and I thought it would be a great fun activity for all the kids her age to do on a cold November day. Because we asked all the kids to bring a bike or scooter to the party, we knew we needed a big open space. We decided to rent the Multi Purpose “gym” room at Bloedel Donovan, through the Bellingham Parks and Rec. City owned spaced are way cheaper to rent than private venues, and they always have tons of tables and chairs to use. This space was PERFECT plus it had great lighting because of the two walls of glass blocks, the white walls and high ceilings. Plus it has a huge parking lot and loading zones for dragging all the decor in.
The main activity of the party was obviously just riding bikes, but we wanted to add a few extra details to that. We made a wood bike ramp out of some scrap wood we had in our garage, we also bought lots of orange cones off amazon, and we made a large ribbon curtain out of PVC pipe for the kids to ride through. We used plastic construction security tape for the ribbons which was way more durable than streamers.
We also set up a big “Decorate Your Bike” table. I made a bunch of easy DIY handlebar tassels out of the same colored safety tape. We also had colorful spoke beads, cut straws for spokes, reflective tape, playing cards with clothespins, and I got cheap baskets at the Dollar Store and zip ties so everyone could have a bike basket.
The party was from 3-5, which is a little early for dinner time, but I figure the kids will all be worn out and go to bed early, so an early dinner wont hurt. My mom made two big pots of soup, Chicken Noodle and Vegan Curried Squash. We also had rolls with butter, big fruit platters, Baby Bell cheese, goldfish crackers, oyster crackers, and some dried fruit and nut balls.
For dessert I made bike sugar cookies (you can see more of my custom sugar cookies at Morgan G. Cookies), including some that stood on their own on a grass cookie. I also bought French Macaroons from Costco ($15 for 36!) and used an edible pen to draw bike tires on them. I picked up a box of pumpkin cake donuts just to keep the round theme going. Vada’s Nana made a pink strawberry birthday cake too! Trust me, the kids had PLENTY of sugar.
For beverages we went with New Belgium’s Fat Tire for adults. And for kids I got these awesome glass ombre bottles at Michael’s on super clearance, that I filled with organic Newman’s pink Lemonade. Plus a big dispenser of water with fun bike curly straws!
For decor I started with a color scheme based on a Julia Rothman fabric called “RIDE” which was orange, yellow, light pink and aqua. Unfortunate that fabric is discontinued but I manged to find a couple yards on Etsy. I made tons of easy bunting (I don’t even sew the edges, just cut triangles and sew onto thick satin ribbon). I also made my favorite easy party decor: Pom poms! Using cheap matching yard.
I knew the space was going to be huge, so I broke it up into sections, DESSERT TABLE, BEVERAGE TABLE, and BIKE DECORATE table. This way I could focus my energy. I found some great bike frames at JoAnns that I spray painted and put birthday party photos from Year 1 & 2 in. My grandma works at a thrift store and collected little bike figurines that I spray painted black and used on the cake.
This is the first year I went with cheap plastic tablecloths. I usually HATE these because they are thin and look cheap. I found the PERFECT matching colors at Target with their SPRITZ line, and shockingly they weren’t too bad! Id actually really recommend them to people. I also got the SPRITZ plates, and soup cups from the dollar bins! I made a few runners with the leftover Ride fabric to add flare.
To fill up some of the wall space I found some bike images on Pinterest that I saved in Photoshop and used the “stencil” feature to turn them into silhouettes and blew them up to a much higher resolution. I then took them to FedEx Office and used their Oversize self-service printer to print huge bike posters ($.79 a s/f). This made such a fun big impact for the price. I highly encourage it! I wish I could give credit to all the artists who did the work, but unfortunately Pinterest is not a good place to find original credits. I would never sell these, just using them for personal use and sending virtual THANKS to the original artists.
Lastly I borrowed that adorable blue cruiser bike from a friend. I told her I was going to use it for a giant centerpiece, and sure enough it was the hit of the decor! I thought I would distribute those pink balloons around the room, but when I was unloading decor I tied them on the bike so they wouldn’t float away, and then I realized how adorable they looked like that and I left them. The VADA letters were actually leftover from her first birthday and I just repainted them with craft paint.
We set up about 5 tables with chairs for people to sit and eat at, and Jay set up a little bike course, and then people just showed up and did their thang! For me, the best part of kids birthday parties is watching kids run around like maniacs, stuff their mouths with sugar, rip open gifts. So much of their little lives are following the rules and listening to their parents, and learning to be responsible and safe. But at a birthday party, I just love saying YES to everything! YES to juice, YES to more cookies, YES to running and screaming and fun! I love giving parents time to sit and catch up and let their kids just be free to be crazy. I love to feed people, give them special treats and activities all for free. I just love parties.
I’m not sure what we will do next year, and every year I tell myself “next year we will probably do a small party” and then every year it gets bigger and more grand. What can I say, I just love parties. This year I was able to plan this party with minimal stress, and I wanted to share a few tips and thoughts on this:
- If you don’t like to plan parties, don’t. Kids love cake and gifts, all the hoopla is for me, because I LOVE it, but Vada would be fine without it.
- HIRE OUT! I asked for help this year. Having my mom do all the food and keep it simple was such a life saver. And having Jay’s mom make the cake took that stress away too. I also asked my mom to help me set up, and I had Jay’s mom bring Vada to the party when it started. Ask for help.
- Rent spaces if your house is too small. When I got home from this party my house was still clean. Its so nice to not have the stress of a million people in my house. The only downside is that I have to pay extra for set up and take down hours. This year I gave myself more time than I had in previous years, close to two hours, and it really made the process much more pleasant.
- If you want to do a big party but aren’t sure where to begin, I bought The Alison Shows “Party with Alison” party planning course last year, and it has so many good tips to keep you focused. I also HIGHLY recommend her “Cookie Party” course if you want to learn a super useful and fun new skill: Sugar Cookies!
- Start EARLY! I picked a theme about 6 months ago. I got a large tote in my garage filled it with stuff I bought along the way. I paid for the venue months ago. No one wants to shell out a bunch of money at the last minute!
- Keep it simple. This year I reigned in the decor a bit, and I chilled out on doing an entire bike obstacle course for a couple ramps and orange cones. Kids moslty just like chaos.
- Hire a photographer!
- Read YOU ARE A BADASS and just get on a higher level. (;
Click here to see Vada’s Puppy Party 2nd Birthday
Click here to see Vada’s Apple of My Eye 1st Birthday