February 16, 2014

Our Little Mermaid Is One!

Theme - Little Mermaid/Under the Sea:
There are so many great themes to choose from for a little girl's party.  I always wanted to do a girly under the sea party, and since my daughter has red hair, I figured it would be fun to throw in some Ariel for good measure.

The Decor

I tied balloons to golf tees, and I placed them at different heights (from shortest to tallest) on both sides of the path leading up to the front door.  I also set up a bubble machine.  I wanted our guests to feel like they were going "under the sea" with the water getting deeper and deeper.

Then I hung curled ribbon from the ceiling.  When I was in a sorority, we used to cover the ceilings in curled ribbon for rush (to create the effect that the ceiling was covered in balloons).  I loved the festivity of the ribbons.  I also have fond memories of sitting on the couch with my sorority sisters curling lots and lots of ribbon.  Because I did not have hundreds of sorority sisters at my disposal to curl ribbon, I tried to keep the ribbon in strategic areas instead of covering the whole ceiling.  I had a lot of help from friends who came over and hung out while we curled lots and lots of ribbon!  My kids loved watching the transformation as more and more ribbon went up.  They also liked playing with the ribbon!

I wanted to hang fish or other sea life from the ribbon, so it looked like fishes swimming in the water.  I had a hard time finding something online.  There were lots of paper cut outs, but none of them were in the colors of my party, and most of them didn't look great.  I did not want to spend a fortune to get pretty fish, and I did not have time to make fish.

Then I got lucky!  I went to Target to check out the Christmas clearance sale, thinking maybe I could find some ornaments that looked like bubbles and to see if any chance they had sea life ornaments on sale.  I didn't really expect to find anything, but I dug through the bins.  I could not believe my luck when I found sequin fish and whales.  I cleaned out every Target in my area of their fish and whale ornaments.  The cashiers all must have assumed that I was decorating my Christmas tree full of sequin fish and whales.  They all looked at me like I was crazy (one even commented "hmm, you like fish, huh"), but it was worth the judgmental stares I got at each checkout line.  I was so happy with how it turned out!

I also got under the sea and little mermaid wall decals.  I didn't want Ariel all over the place, so I put up under the sea decals on most of the walls, and placed Ariel strategically around the house (so you didn't see her more than once in any room).

I find decals are a great affordable way to add decor to a party, and they are so easy to remove from the walls they can be reused later (my kids' bathroom is very likely to get an under the sea makeover soon and Ariel has been added to the walls of the playroom).

To continue the under the sea feel outside, I tied lots of balloons to golf tees and spread them around the edge of our yard so that they looked like bubbles.  I also had a very large bounce house that had a little mermaid theme and that helped add to the decor outside.

A good friend help me make a tutu for my daughter's highchair.  Then we strung some of the extra fish ornaments from the tutu to tie in the under the sea theme.

Finally, I got turquoise linens for the tables to add to the under the sea theme.  I filled small fish bowls with goldfish (these were actually the same centerpieces I used for my son's first birthday).

The Food

The menu consisted of:

  • Submarine Sandwiches (decorated with Little Mermaid cupcake toppers)

  • Cheese Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Chinese Chicken Salad (with chicken on the side)

  • Israeli Couscous with Dried Cherries and Apples

  • Potato Salad
  • Edamame and Carrots with ranch and onion dip 

  • Fruit Salads (strawberries with kiwi, cantaloupe with grapes, honeydew with blueberries, pineapple with raspberries, and watermelon)

I never can find the time to do lots of printables, but I love food signs.  It avoids everyone having to ask you what something is.  These days there are so many different allergies and food preferences, so I think guests really want to know what it is they might be eating.  One of my favorite pinterest finds were the idea of buying corner tiles from Home Depot and using them for food signs.  They are both easy to use and reusable!  This time, I decided to add a picture from the invitation of my daughter as a mermaid.

I also did a goldfish snack bar.  I filled buckets with different flavors of goldfish (original, pizza, parmesan, pretzel, natural colors, and best of all - smores!), yogurt stars, non-dairy yogurt melts, and baby mum-mums. Who knew how many flavors of goldfish there are!  I also had to go bags on the table so guests could make a to-go snack before they headed home.  Needless to say, I have a lot of left over goldfish (good thing my son wants a shark party!)

I wanted to get beach buckets to put the fish in, but I had a hard time finding the colors I wanted.  A friend was kind enough to let me borrow some buckets she used for her daughter's first birthday.  I added labels to each bucket so everyone would know what flavor was in each bucket.

The Entertainment

I ordered a Little Mermaid Bounce House, which helped entertain the older kids.  I also had blankets out with tons of toys for the babies.  It was so much fun to see all the babies playing next to each other in our yard!

Baby Naming

We were struggling with when to do my daughter's baby naming.  I didn't want to do it right after she was born, because I was exhausted.  Then, it was my son's birthday, and I didn't want to do both parties back to back.  Then the celebrations started for my brother's wedding - showers, bachelorette parties, the wedding, and before I knew it, my daughter's first birthday party was only six months away.  Then someone suggested that I do the naming at the first birthday.  Brilliance!  We did not have to invite everyone twice, and it really added something special to my daughter's first birthday party.

We chose a Rabbi who is also a Cantor and has a beautiful voice.  She also teaches the music class at my son's school, and she is great with kids.  Before the ceremony, she got the kids singing and dancing.  They had a great time.

We had everyone stand in a circle in our yard during the ceremony.  Then the Rabbi suggested that we have our son help his sister perform her first mitzvah.  We passed out coins to our guests before we got into the circle, and we had my son collect the coins.  We set aside the coins, and when our daughter is old enough, she will choose which organization she wants to donate the money too.

My favorite part of the ceremony was that we had each of our immediate family members (together with their families) give our daughter their blessings and wishes.  


For my daughter's smash cake, I got a small aquarium cake from a local grocery store.

I also made small cupcakes for the kids (I find they are never patient enough to wait for the cake to be cut, and they don't need more than a few bites of cake - most of them just want the frosting).  I put the marshmallow fish from the smores goldfish pack on top of the small cupcakes.  Then I made some larger cupcakes for the top.  I made some mermaid tails (from melted chocolate), and use the image of my daughter as a mermaid as the centerpiece for the cupcakes.

I also got sheet cakes (plain but delicious), and I had someone cut the cake in the kitchen while we were singing happy birthday so that it could be passed out right after we finished singing.

The Favors

If you have read any of my party posts, you know I am not a big fan of favors.  Despite my general anti-favors attitude, I was excited about the favors for my daughters party.  My daughter always has a bow in her hair.  She gets a lot of compliments on her bows, and our friends often ask us where we get them.  I decided it would be fun to make bows for the girls, but I needed to tie into the Little Mermaid theme.  I printed out pictures of Ariel, cut a slit by her hair and slid in the bow.  For the boys, I printed out pictures of Prince Eric, cut slits in the picture, and slid in a bow tie.  I think most of the guests have gotten use out of the favors.  They were very inexpensive (I spent less than $1 per favor).