Anatomy of a party

This week my daughter turns eleven, a fact that makes me happy and sad at the same time.  But I'm not here to wallow in the nostalgia of it all, no, today I'm here to talk about important stuff.  Today I'm here to talk about the party.

Ten years ago, when she turned one, I was a nervous wreck about her party.  You see, back then, I wasn't much of an entertainer.  In fact, I didn't entertain at all.  I don't think my husband and I ever threw a party prior to her first birthday.  We barely even had people over to dinner.  That's saying a lot when you figure we'd lived together for almost a decade before she was born.

Oh how things have changed.  Nowadays, I entertain.  I entertain a lot.  Thanksgiving?  Yeah, I host that.  Christmas?  Yup, that'd be me.  And the birthday parties? Well, between my two girls I've thrown 18 in the last ten years.   At some point this went from being a job I dreaded to one I enjoy and--dare I say it?--actually look forward to.

I think part of it is that as the girls get older, I no longer need to schedule the time as strictly as I once did.   When little kids come to a party, they expect activities.  You need to have them planned.  You need back-ups in case the planned activities fail.  And you need to know that no matter how carefully you've planned, things probably won't go the way you've envisioned them..

With eleven-year-olds, you plan the food, the decorations, a very loose schedule and they fill in the blanks.  In other words, you get to do all the fun stuff.  Today I thought I'd share a few pictures from the party, sans the guests (people might not appreciate me putting their kids' pics on a public blog) and sans my kids (as I haven't decided if I want their pictures on a public blog ;)

My daughter, I'll call her Emmie, wanted a sleepover.  Sleepovers are her favorite thing in the world.  There was no theme per se, so we just bought decorations and food that suited our fancy.

I think the best way to tell the rest of the story is through pictures.  Enjoy!

Given that it was a sleepover, I set up the treat table to look like a bed.  I simply layered a pink table cloth over a white one to look like sheets and a comforter.  Then I fashioned a pillowcase out of an additional pink tablecloth.  (I fit it around the pillow, stapled it and then turned it inside out.  Voila!  Instant pillowcase.)  Then I added a teddy bear for an authentic touch.  I wish I had taken a close-up of what was on the table.  In lieu of a cake, my daughter wanted to let the girls decorate their own cupcakes.  I set out portion cups with gummies & sprinkles for decorations, and each girl got a cup of chocolate and a cup of vanilla frosting.  

Here are the cupcakes going into the oven.  I got the recipe here and the cake was quite good.  I wish there had been cooking directions for cupcakes, but by the second batch I think I pretty much got it ;).

And yes, I do have the world's worst and ugliest oven.  It's also the smallest.  This is a problem  for the woman who does Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc.  If you'd like to be a part of the petition to get Elena a new oven, I will happily provide you with my husband's email address.  No really, I will.

The dining room is where the girls actually ate.  I had so much fun putting up the garland and hanging the crepe paper.  And the cute paper goods came from Shop Sweet Lulu.  If I still lived in Chicago, I would find her store and beg (or bug) her until she agreed to let me work there.  And then I would spend my wages on her merchandise.  

The dining room got a little out-of-control with the addition of the giant balloons/place cards which floated above each girls' chair.  But oh boy were they ever a hit!

I had to include a picture of the punch.  The recipe came from a party-planning book belonging to my daughter.  (I decided to start her young; she will throw her first party before age 33--but preferably after she moves out of my house ;)  To make the drink, mix frozen limeaid concentrate with lime-flavored sparkling water and add fresh berries.  Kids love it and it's not quite as sugary as soda.

In the playroom we set up what we like to call "the giant bed."  It gets bigger every year.  We put a bunch of mattresses on the floor and voila! Instant slumber party.  The girls love it!

When the party was over, each girl picked one of these...

From here...

They contained these...

...which were also a huge hit!
(Order your own HERE.)

Check back in August to see what we do for daughter #2's birthday.  



  1. That's it you have to help me decorate and party plan. You are my go to gal! I love your sense of style!

  2. Seriously A., any time! I would love to :)

  3. I love the straws & the cupcake liners!
    What a great idea for loot bags (Mad Libs)...I wish I had thought of that!

  4. This must have been before I feel in love with you and your blog. I am so glad you shared it today so that I could experience it. I love this adorable party for 'Emmie' :). Even over a year ago, you were a pro at putting together parties.


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