Okay, are you ready? This is the nearly a year in the making, three months delayed, almost did not happen this weekend, party of the century! Well, maybe not party of the century, but at the very least, a celebration of life, growth, and family. (Warning: copious photos follow)
Without further ado...
BACKGROUND: My son loves Peter Rabbit. I wish I could say this is a result of my reading him all of the beautifully illustrated Beatrix Potter classics, however that is not the case. My son loves Peter Rabbit because there is a new kids' cartoon featuring digitally animated characters, the "new adventures of Peter Rabbit." It's a really cute show, and follows a lot of the original story line. But, instead of delicate pastel rabbits eating radishes, there are a lot of brightly colored action scenes accompanied by a countryfied theme song that my son could sing you in his sleep. I can dig it! And, because my son's birthday is in the spring, I had this fabulous idea that it could be a garden party at one of our favorite city spots: The Garfield Park Conservatory.
PLACE: The Garfield Park Conservatory is a Chicago Park District gem that boasts one of the largest indoor gardens in the nation (not to mention, amazing outdoor gardens as well). Best part? It is free to visit year round, and has free parking! I take my kids here all the time in the winter when the doldrums have set in. The burst of lush green beauty is invigorating any time of year. They have a children's garden with unique plants the kids can touch, a big slide, and all sorts of events throughout the year. The room rental was nominal in cost, but had to be done waaaaaay in advance, due to the demand. So, when I say I have been working on this little project for almost a year, that's the truth. I jumped on the reservation as soon as I could. (And then couldn't use it. But that is another story you already know, and thanks to the wonderful people at the Park District, I was able to get it again this July).
|Photo courtesy of Chicago Community Gardens|
|Please note my daughter's creative fashion sense: the bunny tail is in her hair and the ear barrettes are on her dress :)|
PREP: When you have three extra months to plan for a party you already put together, well, let's just say things can get a little crazy. And by crazy, I mean, Pinterest and the craft store become your best friends, hahaha! I had an absolute joy finding cute little touches to make with the kids, leading up to the party. By far the pies de resistance was the carrot cutlery. I mean... really? Who has the time for this nonsense? I do, apparently.
|Plain colored napkins and utensils: Target. Green tub: Dollar store. The sign was made with scraps of construction paper, cardboard, and a white colored pencil. |
|Bunny tails?! Pinterest, why can't I quit you. Easy and cute.|
|"Party ears" instead of party hats came from the clearance easter section at Target awhile back.|
|I hit up Joann's spring clearance a couple days before the party and got a couple extra touches, all reusable.|
GIFT BAGS: I opted for these large-ish brown bags that come in a pack of 13 at Joann Fabrics. Because there were some craft projects the kids would be taking home, I wanted them to have a big bag. Also, yeah I kind of had to get them each a bunny in a watering can because, Peter Rabbit.
FOOD: I am proud that for once, I did not order a pizza for delivery and call it a day (though I love pizza, and kids probably prefer it!) Keeping with my theme (and also a budget), I made veggie trays. Very simple, cost effective. I added cheese, crackers, and hummus. Of course we had cake, from the same local baker I always use. She is amazing and can do any design.
|Garden plates: Dollar store|
But my husband, being the thoughtful person he is, surprised me with a bunch of full-stem radishes from the farmer's market. At which point I was already in full-on busy bee mode getting the kids out the door for the fiesta. I saw the radishes and snapped. "Honey! I said I didn't want them! That just makes extra work now, I have to prepare them. No!" (Yes, like most detail-oriented people, I can be such a pleasure sometimes...) So, the dejected radishes disappeared and then reappeared magically as table decorations at the party. My husband's great idea! Lesson learned, sometimes it's okay to give up the reins and let someone else surprise you with their innovation. (BUSY BEE).
And then, my favorite moment, the moment when my heart fills up with love and I get a lump in my throat. It always happens in slow motion for me. Everyone singing "Happy Birthday," I look around the room and see all of the friends and family we love. And my little guy, his face glowing from the flame of the candle. He blows it out and we all cheer. Another year. I know I go overboard with birthday parties, but I truly get excited about celebrating another year my babies are here. My kids are the best part of my life.