Since One Awesome Momma had just recently moved from WordPress.com to a self-hosted site, why don’t we celebrate it for a bit? And what better way to do a celebration than to do a post about a party, right? Let me share with you all the details of my son’s safari-themed birthday party that we threw for him last Saturday.
Photo taken from here.
Location – I didn’t want to host the party at home since we only live in a tiny apartment so there’s not going to be a lot of space for the kids to run around in. The first location that came to my mind when I was planning the party was the same park where we had our daughter’s first birthday party in. Not only did I love the convenience of living very close to it, but the park has a really nice view of the lake.
We rented one of the available shelters at Lake Fairfax Park. If you’re interested in reserving a picnic area here, you can go here to view the different picnic areas that are available for reservation. Just click on the “Click for Availability” link below the picnic area that you have selected to display the calendar for the chosen picnic area. Once you’ve confirmed that your party date is still available, go ahead and fill out the reservation form that you can find here. Once completed, you can either email the completed form on the email address indicated on the form or fax it; then you can either mail your check to the address they have on the form or fax your credit card information. When I had the shelter reserved, I emailed the completed form, then paid using credit card over the phone; I just had to let them know what my payment preference is when I sent the email.
You are not allowed to staple anything or use a nail anywhere but can definitely use tapes and strings to hang stuff. And, of course, you are required to clean up your decorations and/or mess after the party.
The location is really nice and the shelters are properly labelled but still guests find it hard to find the shelter. The shelter is big enough to accommodate up to 60 guests. There is a grill that can be used if you want to as well. I really love this place but found it really hard to put decorations up because of the wind; it kept blowing the decorations away so we had to make sure that everything was fastened properly (you will see in the pictures below how strong the wind was). Not to mention, we really had to keep our fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate and won’t rain on us (which it didn’t so I was very happy).
If you’re interested in reserving a picnic area in any of the parks within the US, do check out their site or call them to know more about their reservation policy.
Invitation – When my son was baptized earlier this year, I found The Paper Violet Shoppe in Etsy where I had the invitations and favor tags made. I really loved Danielle’s, the shop owner, designs and how easy it was to work with her; I felt like she just immediately knows what I want. So needing an invitation for my son’s first birthday party was a no-brainer; I didn’t even bother looking elsewhere, I contacted her right away and asked if she had done a Safari-themed invitation before. Working with her was as easy as me telling her which elements I wanted to be in the invitation and then a few days later, she’d have a design that I’d LOVE.
I highly recommend her for any design needs that you may have. For all the times that I have worked with her, she has never let me down. In fact, I did approve the invitation proof she had sent me when I was going through something and was, of course, distracted that I didn’t notice she had used a tiger when I really wanted a lion (it was my mistake, my original request was to use a tiger) and had asked her if it could still be changed. She told me she had already started printing them but changed the tiger into a lion and re-printed them without any issues and no extra charge. Isn’t she amazing?!
Cake – I found Teresa’s shop, Dolce Ladybug, from one of the Facebook groups that I am a part of and immediately fell in love with her cake designs. Working with her has been a breeze as well – she gave me a design proposal based on the invitation and was also willing to adjust the design so it aligns with our budget. We were supposed to have a smash cake for my son but has recently found out that he’s allergic to eggs and peanut (see the full story here) but we had it cancelled because she doesn’t do egg-less cakes; she happily added a couple of animal cake toppers instead. She doesn’t do delivery though so the cake has to be picked up which isn’t really a big deal.
I liked that she continuously checked with me on how the cake traveled after we picked it up, how it held up during the party and how it tasted. I LOVE how the cake turned out and everyone was raving how delicious it was. Unfortunately, the leaves started falling off immediately after we put it out of the fridge and by the time we were about to cut it off, most of the leaves have fallen off. I did tell her that when I talked to her the night of the party and she was very apologetic and had told me that was the first time that happened and made sure that my next order will be perfect.
Outfit – I contacted a bunch of different shops when I was looking for someone to do the outfit that I had envisioned for my son. Other than the price, I decided to go with Sweet T Designs because of Tiffany’s, the shop owner, responsiveness and quality of work (based on previous clients’ reviews and previous work available on her Etsy shop). She did send me a couple of proofs before working on the actual item to make sure that it was exactly what I wanted. The outfit turned out to be exactly what I had asked for and the quality is really good.
Chalkboard – I LOVE having these birthday chalkboards; it lets all the guests at the party know important details about my son and then, after the party, we have another beautiful keepsake that we can hang on our wall. There wasn’t a bunch of customization that I needed for the chalkboard because the design that Michelle of in Joy Prints already had was perfect for what I wanted. I started contacting her a few months before the party to ask several questions about the design and layout and she had been consistently responsive. The turnaround time was really fast after I made the purchase and had given her all the details; I got the final product on that same day so I just had it printed and framed. Everyone, including myself, loved the chalkboard; they couldn’t stop talking about how it was perfectly designed.
Note: I may receive commissions from clicks or purchases made through links in this post.
Happy Birthday Banner – I got the safari-themed Happy Birthday banner from Posh Party Patterns. The original listing was using alligators and I had wanted that to be replaced with elephants and Rebecca, the shop owner, did it without any issues. She even offered to add an age (1st) between “Happy” and “Birthday” with no extra charge. The banner turned out to be really pretty and the quality is really great too. Although it did arrive with some parts that have been folded out probably during shipping, it’s nothing that I couldn’t fix.
I then placed 6 animal-printed balloons (3 on each post) where I hung the Happy Birthday banner because no party is complete without balloons.
Table centerpiece – Since the tables are long (size of 3 picnic tables), I decided to put 1 huge animal head balloon in the middle of each table and had animal centerpiece sticks created by Opulent Owl Boutique to be placed in a mason jar on both ends of each table. To keep the centerpiece sticks in place, I was originally planning on using shredded paper. But on the week of the party, we’ve decided that something with a bit more weight would do the job better so I got some acrylic vase fillers from Amazon.
Guest Book – I didn’t want to do the traditional guest book for my daughter’s first birthday party last year so I had an acrylic picnic basket with wooden apples and bananas made by Fusun of Hop Studio. The product was delivered fast and it turned out really good; I was very happy with it so when I was planning my son’s first birthday party, I got in touch with Fusun and asked if she would be able to make a safari-themed one for me. We discussed a couple of options but decided to go with a lion’s head for the acrylic frame which would house the wooden animal head cutouts. The shipping was quite expensive since it’s from Istanbul, Turkey; but personally, I thought it’s going to be a great keepsake and I probably won’t be able to find something like it so I decided to go ahead with it.
The turnaround for the safari-themed guest book was fast, just like my first order. However, the lion’s head arrived damaged. I was really disappointed because of how expensive it was and was worried that the replacement won’t arrive in time for the party. I contacted Fusun right away and told her what happened; she sent me a new one 2 days later and got it a few days after that. She worked with her supplier to make sure that they finish it as soonNow that is a really great customer service; I highly recommend her. If you’re looking for a unique guest book alternative, you won’t go wrong with acrylic guest books.
How does this guest book work? The guests are supposed to write their message for the celebrant on the wooden animal head cutouts and put it in the acrylic lion’s head. When the party’s done, you can either display it somewhere on your house or hang it on a wall. Pretty neat, right?
Favors – I saw an inspiration from Pinterest here and here, and liked them so I decided to use it for my son’s party but modified it a bit. I still did the animal crackers and put them in a clear plastic party box, had the favor tag customized and matched the invitation by The Paper Violet Shoppe and put an animal finger puppet on top using double-sided tape. These didn’t travel well as the animal finger puppets had fallen off by the time we got to the park so I had to re-do them; but these were a huge hit!
Which shops do you go to the most when you need stuff for a party you’re planning? I’d love to hear about them.