A Simple Woodland Themed 1st Birthday Party
When you have your first child, everything is intense and new. You are on a terrifying learning curve but you get through it and have some wonderful times with your wee one. When the time for the first birthday party rolls around, you may feel the need to go a little crazy. I went for a huge, professionally decorated cake with a mini smash cake for Timothy. I invited loads of people to my parents house and we had a big dinner surrounded by 1st Birthday themed balloons and every other 1st birthday decorations we could find at Party City.
The birth of my second baby was also intense but I sort of knew what I was doing. Sure, everything hasn’t gone smoothly but since I am a human being raising a couple human beings, that is fine. I know for an absolute fact that I am a good mom. I may not do play groups, baby music classes, baby swimming lessons or anything else that ‘they’ say you should do to make sure your baby has a good start in life. I feed, cuddle, sing to him, tickle, chase, love, and play with my second little rascal and I only have glancing moments of feeling a little bad about not getting him out to all that organized fun.
For little Kit’s first birthday party I wanted to host it at my house since travel with my crew is a supreme pain in the ass. I had wanted to do a woodland themed party so I began my Pinterest search. I searched and found some nice ideas but 99% of those ideas looked like a ton of work and some serious crafting skills would be needed that I do not possess. One quick trip to Michael’s and I had found some adorable figures and mini trees. That was my cake topper done and dusted. I ordered some crepe decorations, paper plates and cups from some online store that had a cute woodland picture on them and a plastic tablecloth. These things combined with my wooden serving platter and some woodsy looking Christmas and Easter decorations (a reclining reindeer and a bunny made of straw) rounded out the rest of the decorations.
If you want to go over the top with a birthday party, that is great. I love attending them and I’ve thrown a couple myself. There are innumerable ways to throw a birthday party the right way. It can be a quiet movie night with just family and a store bought cake, or a bouncy castle extravaganza with a Pinterest explosion of decorations and party favours. Throw a party with love, and a sense of fun and it will turn out great.
For Kit’s party I made the cake and cupcakes myself and the only reason I got the piping bag out was because it is the most efficient way to put icing on cupcakes. There were no buttercream bunnies, or other forest creatures for me.
For the meal, I made the food with the adults in mind since they made up the lion’s share of guests. We had a taco bar with barbacoa beef and pulled pork. I set up two crock pots to have everything nice and hot with the toppings running along my counter. The pulled pork was made a couple day ahead of time and only needed to be heated through. The barbacoa was prepped the night before and dumped in the crockpot that morning. I had juice boxes for the kids and my big drink dispenser full of water with lemon and lime slices. There was also wine and beer – of course. Sitting forgotten in a tin were these adorable woodland themed homemade marshmallows that I’d made earlier in the week with a mind to give to any kids, young and old. I’m still kicking myself for forgetting to put those out.
Not everything went as planned. I had wanted to take lots of lovely pictures of all the guests and Kit in his adorable bow tie. I was very busy and quietly stressed out so I forgot to take many photos. The weather did not cooperate at all. It was so dark and gloomy at 2 o’clock in the afternoon that it felt like evening. I had to dress Kit up in his little outfit later in the week to get the birthday photos I had wanted. I’m pretty sure that the photos of the cake with the candles on it was taken with a flash. I can’t remember but the photo isn’t as good as I wanted.
Somethings may not have gone as perfectly as I had set up in my mind, but the cake and cupcakes were excellent. I have discovered what the best chocolate cake recipe is, as have many people. It is Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake. I won’t be posting the recipe here since it isn’t mine, but please click the link to head over to the Food Network site and print off the recipe. Keep it and use it every time you need a proper chocolate cake. Trust me. It is perfection. I want to note that the batter for the cake is very runny. Don’t be alarmed, you haven’t screwed it up.
I don’t follow Ina’s icing recipe because I have found what is simply the best chocolate icing. I don’t like super sickly sweet things, which is why I hate fondant, but I love cream cheese icing. I now only one kind of icing for chocolate or vanilla cakes. It is a combination of a basic chocolate buttercream with half a package of cream cheese added. It is chocolate icing that has excellent flavour and the cream cheese sneaks in behind with the flavour of a cheesecake. I doubled the recipe for Kit’s party and used half of it on the chocolate cake and the other half to top vanilla cupcakes.
For full disclosure, I have not discovered the perfect from scratch vanilla cupcake or cake recipe. I use a box mix and I love it. If you have a recipe that is as good or better than the box mix, then let me know. I’ve tried a couple and they have left me sorely disappointed.
However you throw a birthday party, whether it is large or small, enjoy it along with your guests. If you are a blogger like me, don’t worry about it being perfectly photographed at the detriment of being a bad host. Just be present at your party. Yes, I would have loved to have taken more pictures but I chose to talk to my guests, have a couple glasses of wine, and enjoy hosting a lovely crowd at my home.
Leave a comment with your best party tip or that elusive recipe for excellent vanilla cake.
A combination of a simple chocolate buttercream recipe with cream cheese.
- 1/2 package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with an electric hand mixer, add the cream cheese to the bowl and beat for 30 seconds. Then add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds or until the butter and cream cheese are very well combined.
- Add the icing sugar and turn the mixer on very slow or you and your kitchen will be covered in icing sugar. When the icing sugar is mixed in well enough so that it won't create a sugar cloud, gradually turn the mixer up to a medium high speed. Beat it well for 2 minutes.
- Turn it down low again (or off if using a hand mixer) and add the melted chocolate that has cooled enough so that it won't melt the icing. It should be only slightly warm to the touch.
- Blend that in and then blend in the vanilla and milk.
- After everything has been added, turn your mixer up high again and beat for 3 or 4 minutes. It will get very fluffy. It is now ready to ice your cake or cupcakes.
If you need to make it ahead of time, just keep it in the fridge and let it come back to room temperature before icing your cake.