It’s funny how unexpected projects often turn out to be the most interesting ones to work on. Take, for instance, the time I helped design stationery and decor for a two-year-old girl’s farm-themed birthday party. Sure, it’s a little different from the kind of work I’ve been doing lately, and no, I don’t think I do know any two-year-olds personally, but it was a perfect fit.
Andrea, Amanda’s mother, is a glowing ball of Brazilian joy and energy, and had one million and ten ideas to make her daughter’s party memorable. (Maybe not to Amanda—how much do you remember from the day you turned two?—but when Amanda is older, she’s going to love to look at photos from her birthday.) She needed some help getting it all done and narrowing it down to just the one million best ideas, and I was glad to help.
So we jumped in. First, we did the invitations, pictured above, which started with some two-inch-high sketches, pictured below.
Essentially, that illustration anchored a lot of the other design, leaving us free to put everything together. I had a hand in crafting some of it, but Andrea took on most of the job herself, from ordering decor to assembling displays and setting up an adorable party room. Do you see the little straw hats on the back of each chair? Those were for the kids to wear!
The cake was very fancy. I loved the way the bakery made the invitation graphic out of (I think) royal icing, and then made the top tier a 3D barn. So cute and matchy!
Speaking of matchy, Andrea wanted to be thorough, and loved the idea of branding the bottled water. I made a quick label for “Pure Rain-Fresh Amanda’s Farm 100% Natural Spring Water” and added some raindrops to the main illustration. Andrea had them printed, cut them out, stripped the old labels off, and rewrapped about 100 water bottles for her guests. The effect was marvelous.
Every visible inch of the house was transformed for the day. There was a balloon arch outside and a sign on the door, and the foyer boasted a little paper farm, a rocking horse, a huge basket of bandannas for the kids, and a wall display with a custom sign and a bunch of cowboy hats. There was a huge mimosa station in the corner of the living room, with another custom sign. The kitchen was of course stacked high with tiers of snacks and hors d’oeuvres. And the party room was fully Amanda-branded, down to the napkins, which Andrea had found in a matching blue gingham and secured with stickers of Amanda’s face.
There were tiny animal cracker baskets decorated with ribbon and flowers, and miniature milk bottles with Amanda stickers and colorful striped straws.
These candy jars were simple to put together, with just fabric, pinking shears, hot glue, and raffia. Oh, and custom labels, of course!
Andrea made goody bags to look like cows and chickens by cutting the shapes out of colored paper and gluing them all together. How cute is that? And all the mothers received scented bath salts to take home in jars similar to the candy jars, with the addition of itty-bitty plastic spoons. Everything took time, but doing it this way not only kept costs way down, it was also a lot more sweet and personal than it would’ve been if everything had come from the party store.
Here’s the happy family enjoying the outdoor festivities. Oh, did I not mention the outdoor festivities? Considering how much love and effort had gone into the decor inside the house, more than half the party was spent outside, which should tell you something. As you can see, the back yard was also decorated in a super cute farm theme, and Andrea had hired a traveling petting zoo—with pigs! baby pigs! three days old! as big as your fist!—and a pony ride for Andrea’s little friends to enjoy. The yard was bustling all afternoon with delirious toddlers, assorted bunnies, and poodles so eager you’d swear they were working for tips.
It was a huge success.
When it came time to thank the 40+ families who came out to enjoy Amanda’s party, Andrea and I had discussed sending out a postcard to match the original invitation. The plan was to repeat the illustration, changing only the text on the banner. At the very last minute, I texted Andrea this sketch:
This is the postcard that ended up going out instead.
(Notice that the pig is slightly smaller in this illustration than on the invitation. That’s because I had seen how small the pigs really were. THEY WERE SO SMALL.)
So I’ll tell you one thing: Not only did I have a ball, as usual, doing these little illustrations, but my eyes have been opened. I used to think elaborate party decor had to be expensive and stuffy. Now I’ve seen firsthand what can be achieved by a creative and diligent hostess who’s driven to make her party memorable on a (relative) budget. Watching Andrea come up with ideas, talk through options and produce this astounding event gave me a taste of the fun side of event planning, and now I want more. More tiny milk bottles with colorful straws. More branded napkins. MORE.
(Speaking of more, there actually is more to see from this party. Andrea posted a bunch of party photos, including shots of the petting zoo, over at Hostess with the Mostess where they can inspire thousands of other creative moms.)
I don’t have any milestone life events coming up, but I’m sure any excuse will do. What happens in April? Jefferson’s birthday? Perfect. That gives me a month and a half to figure out where to order 40 powdered wigs and make some Pursuit of Happetizers and Bill of Rice Krispies Treats.