If you keep hanging out here, you’ll see how much I love to reuse and repurpose. One of the best decorations for Bitsy’s first birthday party was made from a shipping box. I used the great big one in which the play balls for the ball pit and toy fruit for the feed-the-caterpillar tossing game were shipped to make a big # 1 covered in pictures from Bitsy’s first year.
The only materials needed were the box, scissors, strong scrapbook glue (I really like Elmer’s Craftbond Scrapbook glue set, which I already had for baby scrapbooking), construction paper, and photo prints. Once you’ve completely unfolded the box, it’s easy to see how the flaps make a 1. Leave the bottom flaps and top left flap in place. Cut off the other side flaps. This decoration works for a first birthday party, no matter what theme you choose. I tied it in with The Very Hungry Caterpillar theme by making grass for the bottom out of green construction paper, and making some of the colorful construction paper circles into caterpillars, as you can see in the above image. This made a great entrance display beside the front door, along with a few balloons for the porch and some other purchased decorations. Most of what I bought came from Oriental Trading Company’s adorable The Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday collection, Michael’s, and nearby dollar stores.
These flower pinwheels were a lucky Dollar Tree find. They worked so well with the party theme and colors. I put three on each side of our front path. One of the kids liked them so much I let him take one home.
The “Best Day Ever!” banner at the dessert table and the cutouts on the food table, as well as some paper cake plates, napkins, a bib for the birthday girl’s smash cake and other cutouts at the entrance and around the house came from Oriental Trading Company. I was really happy with the quality, and they shipped much more quickly than expected.
Decorating, setting up activities, and picking up the cake from the bakery were the priorities on the morning of the party. Some of the food had been prepared the night before, and it’s okay to keep putting out food as guests are arriving. One thing I just couldn’t get done before I ran out of time was decorating Bitsy’s high chair the way I’d planned. I ended up just tying a few balloons to the chair. Really, that was all it needed. The spectacle of a baby eating her first birthday cake is cute enough without a lot of adornment.
My biggest takeaway to share with you is not to get too overwhelmed with the details. Do you think the party was any less enjoyable because I didn’t put butterfly wings or a caterpillar spelling out “one” on the birthday girl’s highchair? No! As long as you have some food, drinks, activities, and a cheerful atmosphere, everything will be fine. What really matters is celebrating the birthday of one you love and spending time with your guests, making sure they feel welcome and comfortable.
After the party, I kept a few of the decorations for memory’s sake–my husband wanted the photo collage “1” for his home office, and a few smaller items can be scrapbooked. Others I donated to my local public library. The staff were thrilled to have them. I can tell you from my own experience as a library paraprofessional and current Masters of Library and Information Science student that your library probably won’t be able to use your old books, but donations of materials for storytimes and arts & crafts will be very useful to the library’s children’s department. Just check with the staff before bringing in craft materials. Some libraries restrict certain materials, like glitter. If you give a Very Hungry Caterpillar party, or any other children’s book-themed party, please support your public library by donating decorations and craft materials rather than throwing them in the trash!
Throwing the party took some planning and a bit of hectic running around to finish things up in the hours before party time, but it was well worth it. It brought so much joy to my family and me, and we’ll always have happy memories of the day. Joy is best shared, and it was so important to me to share with others in our joyful celebration of this most precious year!