She Says… Boo Hoo

I have been dreaming of planning Owen’s birthday parties since before he was born. I LOVE to throw parties. I love the planning and the coordinating and the cooking and the decorating and the little teeny tiny touches that make the event special and different and personal and awesome.

Clearly a 1st birthday party is more for the parents than the child. Seriously. Owen’s perfect day right now would probably involve taking long naps, eating fruit all day and an unlimited amount of toddling around and climbing stairs. He doesn’t care about parties (though he IS Mr. Social and LOVES being around other kids), and he certainly doesn’t need cake (never had anything remotely like it so he has no idea what he’s missing). But there will be a party. And there will be cake.

While I love the idea of a theme party, I just couldn’t settle on one that was both personal to Owen and parent-friendly. I don’t feel the need to cover my living room with Elmo or theme the day after a movie he’s never seen. Not yet. There will be many years of character-themed parties in my future, I’m sure. Rather, I honed in on the idea of an adult party that caters to Owen’s favorite things. I found an invitation online that totally grabbed me (check it out on my Pinterest page), and then Benjamin and I set out to recreate it in a more personal way.

We are so happy with how it turned out.

Since we have negative free time right now between working, moving and, well, living, we decided to skip the steps of printing and gathering addresses and just email it out to our friends and families.

I hit send and anxiously awaited happy replies.

:: Crickets chirping ::

One by one the emails trickled in. “Oh no! We’ll be out of town that weekend.” “Sorry we can’t make it, we have family in town.” “Bummer. That’s the same weekend we’re going on vacation.” Even Benjamin’s parents couldn’t make it. My visions of cupcakes and party food and decorations started to feel kind of silly if no one was going to come.

And I had a flashback to when we figured out Owen’s due date when we first discovered we were pregnant. Benjamin had said, “Oh no! Poor kid. He/she will have a summer birthday so no one will be around to celebrate with him/her.” Whereas my first thought was, “Lucky duck! He/she will get a pool party every year!”. I guess we were both right, but I did NOT give Benjamin’s point enough thought at the time. I mean, not that we could have done anything about it at that point. But you know what I mean. I just didn’t think it would be an issue.

Fast forward to now. It’s an issue.

So I’m putting my “It’s his 1st birthday and I want it to be perfect and on/near his birthday and blah blah blah” attitude behind me and rescheduling the party. Score 1 for Owen. He gets TWO CAKES.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to make an oat-free, gluten-free, dairy light cake that actually tastes delicious. I’m thinking cupcakes so all of my guests don’t have to eat gluten free cake. That and the fact that though I’ve made many batches of cupcakes, I’ve never made a cake. That’s right, I’ve never made a cake (from scratch). I don’t even own round cake pans. So at least this year I can avoid facing that fear.

How did you celebrate your little one’s first birthday?


27 responses to “She Says… Boo Hoo

  1. Awww, I feel bad for Owen! Not that he knows any better, but that is depressing that no one is around!
    I don’t own cake pans either. A whole cake, from scratch scares me. Anything larger than a muffin/cupcake pan scares me actually!

  2. Aw poor Owen! No matter what you still need to do a party!!

    My husband’s bday is tomorrow and I am surprising him with a picnic with friends followed by bocce on the lawn across the street from our building. I invited 20 people and up, 4 are coming. No worries though because it will still be a party!!!!

  3. That IS a bummer but wise of you to reschedule — and maybe do something special for your family the day of. We’re in a similar boat–Maya’s first bday is December 18 … we have NO family in a 1,000 mile radius and it’s right before Christmas and Hannukah (I’m Jewish) so I’m sure we’ll always run into challenges arranging her bday parties too. So we’ll just celebrate the three of us for now! 🙂 Adorable e-vites BTW.

  4. We had Faith’s party late because of my 50K on the same weekend as her birthday (I’m an awesome mom, huh?) Well, she didn’t know it was late and she enjoyed her ice cream cake. By enjoy, I mean smeared it around and then cried because it was cold and it was nap time by the time we cut the cake.

  5. My older son’s birthday is right after Christmas so scheduling birthday parties is kind of a headache. Weekends before Christmas are out of the question, and a lot of his friends have their birthdays around the same time so the weekends after Christmas fill up fast too! And it’s kind of tough (for a kid) to get all your presents for the entire year in a one week period.
    I’d say for the first birthday, since Owen won’t know the difference, you could have the party when it works for you. He’ll still have a blast!

  6. Cute! I saw another blogger that was using this same invitation/idea for her baby boy’s 1st birthday too, just last week! it seems like a great idea. 🙂

  7. Two of our kiddos had grandparents and their aunt for their first birthdays. One of them, we lived far from ‘home’ and it was just us. No one came at all. We took pictures, had cake, and presents. It tuned out nice, and knowing her personality it was probably the very best first birthday for her.

  8. Love the invitation! We had a little get together at the beach the week prior to Eli’s 1st. Nothing big, just burgers, beer & the beach. And cake. He was very excited about the cake!

    Here is a gluten-free cupcake recipe from Joy the Baker (my favorite foodie blog):

  9. It will be special no matter who is there or when you do it. He’ll only have one first birthday party! Cupcakes are just as much fun as a big cake too. Easier for little hands 🙂

  10. we’re having a party with some slip and slides and baby pools. it will be hot so i thought that would be fun. but no one is RSVPing ‘no’ or ‘yes’ so i might have to start hunting people down!!!!!!

  11. I’m marrying a celiac next year, and we’ve decided to have wedding cupcakes instead of a cake as well. For one, then we can have some GF/some with wheat, also I think cupcakes are *way* more fun, and often more delicious!
    Also, my birthday is at the end of June, and I had to resched my birthday party this year too — everyone was vacationing no one could make it. 😦

  12. Elizabeth McCracken

    I am a summer baby too, so I feel for ya, Owen! The best thing I did was eventually let my friends plan my birthday, that way they all could come because they set the date and I just showed up! Have a great party, and I can’t wait to see the pictures.

  13. I hear you. My older kids are August 3, and it’s definitely a pain in some ways to have the summer birthday. Friends are out of town, family is all over the place. I end up checking with two of my closest friends to find out when they’re leaving town in the summer and planning around that. (Not to mention we’re often traveling around that time, too.)

    First birthday, we were at my family reunion in IL, so we got a big cake and some balloons and the crowd was already there. Second birthday was similar. Third, we were home, and had a few of the kids’ friends over in the backyard for cupcakes. This year (four) is the first time we’re really doing a Birthday Party. We booked it where they take gymnastics, since we will have just gotten home three days earlier and I was not going to throw something together on my own (and we had to do it that one weekend, because then our closest friends are leaving for two weeks).

    Anyways, yes, I hear you. The summer birthday can kind of be a pain in the ass.

  14. I agree with Sarah R. It will be special no matter what. With that being said, we are in the same boat. Zack’s 1st Birthday is Aug 3. I sent out “save the date” emails June 1st hoping that would give people enough time to make arrangements if they were interested. I think about half the people said they were going to make it…as of right now. We also are having more than one party. My family is 2 hours away, so we are having a pool party there, and then a friend and neighbors party the following weekend. My hubby and I have winter birthdays, so we were excited to be able to plan the summer party, but who knew it would be so challenging? Maybe winter birthdays aren’t so bad!

  15. Check out for gluten free cake recipes galore.

  16. My daughter’s birthday is August 7, and I’m rejoicing in the fact that–while other people can’t make a birthday party here at home because they’re on vacation–I’m also on vacation, so can travel to spend her birthday with family in other states! It will definitely be a special 1st birthday!

    Babycakes is a pretty famous bakery in NYC that makes gluten-free cupcakes. They have some cookbooks, and one of their recipes is here:
    I haven’t made the cupcakes, but plenty of other gluten-free pastries from their cookbook, and they’re great!

  17. Oops! I think I gave you the wrong link for the cupcakes … I think it’s this one:
    The other link ( is also fabulous for gluten-free.

  18. I think O is exactly a week older than Elle, and we’re not having a big bash for her. But we *are* heading north to visit both sides of our family this month, and NO ONE is around. I always get together with college and high school friends, and DH is trying to arrange gatherings with his hometown friends, and everyone is heading out of town on vacation. I totally feel your pain there. And I fear I will feel your pain for future July birthday parties.

    But Owen won’t know the difference, and you’ll get mad time to practice the cupcakes and cake … I love the invite, btw. Party planning FTW!

  19. Well, apparently my first post didn’t post … I posted that my daughter turns 1 on August 7th, and while it’s true that many friends would not be able to make it to a birthday party because of vacation plans, I’m so glad that I can take vacation to celebrate with my family in other states! It’ll be a birthday to remember.

    The cupcake recipe I posted above is from Babycakes, a pretty famous NYC bakery known for their gluten-free recipes.

  20. I was like you thinking “yay pool party birthdays!” and Cameron’s grandmother isn’t going to make it to his party, so I can see how it’s going to be a yearly issue in some shape or form. I know what you mean about wanting to put all of the thought and personal touches on the party and want to share it with everyone and it’s disappointing! I don’t think we’re going to have a big turnout, but our plans are going to be a BBQ type party & I haven’t settled on the exact “theme” but I have it pictured in my head!

  21. Kate! You have got to try these cupcakes: They are AMAZING. I sub coconut oil for grapeseed oil, but that’s about it. You won’t know they are gluten free. They are yummy!

    So sorry about everyone missing his bday party. I can’t believe he is going to be a year old!

  22. Hi,
    I’ve never posted, however I do enjoy reading your blog & reading about your adventures!
    I’m a July Momma too & often struggle trying to gather family/friends for our son’s birthday celebrations(his bday falls on the 2nd).
    I’m an active member over at constant chatter – we like to call it CC. There are a LOT of great resources, info., concepts!, sites/links & pictures that many of us have posted of our little ones FIRST Birthdays( found in the ‘All Things Family’ Thread)! If you have time, please check out the link posted below, for “First Birthday Pary Ideas”.!
    You have a cute family! Have fun planning Owen’s FIRST birthday party/celebration! Looking forward to seeing what ideas you come up with! You’re right! Planning a first birthday party, IS more for the parents. 😉

    How did we celebrate our child’s first?—–>

    With a big ol’ party[roughly 50 ppl.] with many of our loved ones & friends! We held his party, about a week or so later than planned from his acutal birthday-since it falls on Fourth of July wknd.. We rented a clubhouse out for the entire day. Some of the kids were able to swim. We had ordered some food out, but we mostly made everything & my MIL(mother in law) had helped, quite a bit too. I DID make my son’s first birthday cake. It was a rainbow cake. If I can find the link, I’ll share it w/you!-(hence the Gluten free). I also made cupcakes as well as his birthday rainbow cake. Just recently, I baked Cupcake cakes in Cupcake cones! Very simple, but fun to do!
    I had made SURE I kept up on his baby book & brought that to his party to share w/our loved ones & friends. I had *wished* I had made a video/slide show of our son, but at least we had pictures to share. My husband & I did bring a few baby pictures of ourselves. I’m sure that others got a kick out of seeing those & some similarities between the both us and of our son.
    I had made a candy display for people to eat and enjoy. Candy for the kiddos @ the party & for the adults as well. I had purchased these clear plastic tins/sm. buckets & filled them w/fun candies & stuck photos of our son on them. I placed ribbon on the handles of them that had said Happy Birthday! I also made a Candy Gum Drop tree. I had placed reg. sized gumdrops on wooden shiskabob sticks[it was a great centerpiece as you entered]. Very neat indeed, but a PITA to do! We also had balloons….lots of them! We tried to stick to summer colors/primary colors, although I did purchase a few balloons that had our son’s name on them & some that said Happy Birthday & had the Number ‘1’ on them!
    I had created special touches & put together several poster boards [tied with ribbon to hang] w/picutures of JUST the 3 of us(husband, myself & son) from our son’s FIRST year. It contained all of the events that we, as a family, celebrated together. I really put a lot of blood, sweat & tears, into those poster boards. I hope to have those laminated, since my son enjoys looking at them now! I had used some scrapbook items[from Creative Memories] & backdrop colors, stickers[that I picked up from Jo-Ann Fabric] & labeled beneath the photos! The other ones had pictures with ALL of the important people (family members only-Grandparents & his Aunts/Uncles & his cousins) in his life with him. The last one/month was special. Each month, (preferrably, on the day he was born) I took a picture of our son w/the same object [we used a penguin toy-a.k.a. “Mr. Penguin”]. It was fun to look back at THOSE pictures! By the end, he was almost bigger than, Mr. Penguin! The last picture of the 12mos. year series[that I took], we put a “Happy Birthday” hat on the penguin as well as, the birthday boy. We had Family photos taken on his ACTUAL bithday of just the 3 of us & also of the birthday boy separately. We were able to display THOSE pictures at his party(see above at the beginning!) & were able to hand some wallets out from his birthday photo session! I had made a special ‘happy birthday’ banner & brought that to the photography studio & it served as a Great BACKDROP for his pictures.-that’s been great, as we’ve been able to reuse & recycle! We also brought along Mr. Penguin to his photo shoot to bask in the limelight & share w/our son. 😉 Super cute! It was a fantastic celebration & boy OH boy, were we ALL exhausted!
    Whew! ….sorry for the book! Enjoy the planning process & have fun at it!

  23. We have similar issue…my baby’s 1st is on august 1. I too have been dreaming of planning the party since before she was born…before I was pregnant! We decided to have a Sunday brunch. Our theme is just little butterflys and dragonflys with fuscia pink and yellow accents…no crazy cartoons for us. We will cater more to our guests needs since baby doesn’t know the diff yet.

  24. The invitation is SO stinking adorable, and so perfect.

    Hannah obviously won’t hit one until January, but I have a feeling that people will be holiday’d out by then, so we aren’t planning to do much in terms of a huge thing this year. Next year, definitely. Instead, we’re going to have a tiny fondue party at the Melting Pot with our closest friends and family. My mouth is watering already!

    My little brother was a July baby, and they always had really, really early pool parties for him right after school let out, so that all his current classmates could come.

  25. 1. Gluten-free cake can be delicious, and nobody would know the difference. Here are all the cake recipes from award-winning gluten-free food bloggers Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. I’ve never had any recipe of theirs that hasn’t been fantastic. No need to make multiple cakes.

    2. I too have a summer birthday. As a kid, I was always at camp for mine (I haven’t spent a birthday with my family since I was five; I’m 26 now), but my mom always made sure that there was cake for every single camper (she brought it in), some sort of party favor, and a present for me. Some of my best memories ever (and definitely a sign of how much my mom loves me). Then I’d have a huge birthday party three months later in September. Owen may never have all his buddies around for his birthdays, but I’m sure they will all be wonderful.

  26. As a late December baby my parents were pretty good about splitting up the holidays and my birthday. I never felt left out. I also REALLY like the idea of a party for the adults. As long as the child gets love and cake there’s no reason the adults should be subjected to a kids’ party.

  27. We just celebrated my Dani’s first birthday…it wasn’t the over-the-top full-of-homemade-touches princess celebration at our house that I had envisioned, but it did turn out to be a lot of fun, for the kids AND the parents (who doesn’t like amusement parks and arcades??) – I blogged all about it here: .

    Summer parties are kind of tough, but if us Mommas just relax and go with the flow – you’re totally right – kiddo is gonna be happy pretty much no matter what, as long as he gets to do his toddling/bottle drinking/snuggling. Have fun!

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