We recently celebrated my 30th birthday with a backyard party. The theme was all things sparkling with lots of gold and silver mixed in with pink, black, and white. It was a big birthday for me this year so I wanted to really focus in on all the details to make it a memorable celebration.
It has been a personal goal of mine to find a balance with entertaining and blog work. I love to put effort into parties I throw but over the last couple of years, there has been extra motivation to do more for the sake of blog content. Though this can be a fun and creative challenge, often times I have found myself overly stressed or fighting with my husband because I get sucked into the perfectionist part.
So since this was a big celebration, I intentionally started planning the party much further in advance. I started looking for ideas, buying items, and prepping things I needed to make weeks in advance so that when it came to the week and day of, I was not overwhelmed with it all.
We often set up the food buffet style. This time around I wanted to create a more tiered buffet line, much like you would find at a wedding or catered meal. Instead of making the table one sided with taller serving platters in the back and shorter in the front, I put the tiers in the middle so that lines could easily go on both sides.
To make sure I have enough serving wear for all the food, I make notes of what food goes where. This is also especially helpful when putting food out, as sometimes things can get hidden in the back of the fridge and forgotten to be put out.
And to give you a taste of our reality in our home, these tables were up almost the entire week before the party (Even with my nephews over! Did I mention I started watching my four month nephew the week of the party?! This was not planned this way. It was crazy but made for some serious auntie boot camp!).
We ended up only being able to get in and out of the kitchen one way. My husband is kind and patient about it. But it is easy to see a pretty party online and not remember all the behind the scenes work that goes into it.
I also set up two round tables in our dining room so that I could set up two different tablescapes I would be using. Downsizing our dining room proved to allow some well needed extra space for the party planning!
One of my biggest creative challenges is that I often do not get ideas until I start working on the project. So for past parties, I would get all these big ideas as I set the table just hours before the party, which did not give me enough to time to make or add extra elements that were unplanned for.
By setting the tables ahead of time, I was able to move things around, primp, and add elements as I went, giving me plenty of slow creative time.
For the tables I used black and white striped fabric and gold wrapping paper. To give each table setting a little bit of fluff, I used coordinating napkins and made tassel drink stir sticks.
For the centerpieces, I wanted something that would provide big impact for a small price. I decided that I would make a cake for each table along with flowers for a large centerpiece. Making the cakes took extra time and planning ahead but by using a box cake and can of frosting, they were inexpensive and easy to prepare. Plus, because the presentation was so nice, everyone raved at how good the cake was!
For the cakes I frosted in between the layers with frosting that I tinted pink with red food coloring. I went to the flower mart with my mom to show her flowers I wanted to use as well as picked up the silk flowers that got put on the cakes.
For the flowers I used a variety of vases and containers. Using this gold monogrammed mug from Anthropologie was my favorite! The gold detailing made for an especially pretty centerpiece.
I had not originally planned to use as much black and white stripes so I was pleasantly surprised to see how wow-worthy the contrast of colors worked with the sparkling theme.
While I was setting up the tables I noticed that the corners of the fabric kept on blowing up on to the table in the wind. I had a few extra tassels that I had made for banners that I safety pinned to the corners of the table cloths. Even though the tissue paper was so light, it was just enough weight to keep the fabric from blowing around. Plus they make the tables extra festive!
We hung tissue paper fringe on the hanging outdoor lights. I also found these gold 30 balloons at Party City. I hung a few extra tassels on the balloons to dress them up a bit. Chairs were set out on the grass for decoration as well as a place to hold gifts and a place for me to sit and open them. I brought a few pillows out from the house that worked well with the contrasting black and white look I was going for.
The black and white striped napkins I found at Target and the straws I ordered on Amazon. I bought a variety of tissue paper from Walmart, Dollar Tree, and Hobby Lobby (which were used for the fringe on the lights, tassel banners, and tassel drink stirrers). The gold wrapping paper and black and white striped fabric were found also at Hobby Lobby.
The cakes were a little tricky to store. I made them on Thursday and the party was on Saturday. One or two got a little messy with the frosting in between the layers but nothing I could not fix. For me, the risk of falling over cakes was worth making the time to bake them ahead of time. They took a good majority of the day to bake so making them two days in advance worked well. Covering them in cake stands kept them moist.
I went with turquoise napkins on the black and white tables. Even though they were not the part of the color scheme, I liked the added punch of color that played off of the flower greenery.
A few people played off of the sparkling theme bringing gifts and cards covered in pink and sparkles!
I put together a balloon arch with a decorating strip I found at Party City. We blew up the balloons with our mouths (versus helium) and used string to hang. The strip has little holes that you put the tied end of the balloon through. It was handy to be able to make ahead of time but we found that helium would have allowed us to put the arch out in the grass, floating on its own, as I had originally hoped. We were forced to put it on the porch as that was the only place that we could hang it from. We tried putting it over the lights but it made the arch more squared off than I wanted.
For drinks we served water and pink lemonade with sugared frozen strawberries (defrosted) to go with the lemonade. I put out plates underneath the drink spout to hold spills. It's a little detail but one I had not thought of ever in the past. Trying to keep those table cloths white! I dressed up the food tables with tissue paper tassel banners.
The balloon arch provided a pretty little welcome to guests entering the backyard from the house.
The tissue paper fringe on the lights is very easy and inexpensive, but it takes a long time to hang! We staple gunned each and every one of those up!
We have lucked out the last few years in having nice weather for late August. Just enough of a subtle wind with plenty of shade keeps guest slightly cooler. Though I, on the other hand, was a hot sweaty mess from running around all afternoon!
Of all the decor, those balloons were probably my favorite.
I unfortunately did not get very many photos of the food as the sun was beating directly on it by the time we were ready to put everything out and eat. But we served a sliders bar with all kinds of yummy fixings along with some traditional barbecue type sides.
Little things like cute picks in the sliders and french fries in cups gave for a nice display. We also had macaroni and cheese in individual mason jars, tomatoes and mozzarella on tooth picks, veggies and ranch in jars, and fruit on a tiered stand.
I like to use real plates when we entertain so I have about forty white plates in various styles. The Dollar Tree is a great place to pick some up in a pinch.
I used more tissue paper tassels to decorate the table. And we spread out the food over two tables instead of trying to cram it all into one.
A few photos from my other camera with a wider angle before guests arrived.
We had about forty guests which included plenty of kiddos. We have never had this many kids in our yard before! They were a lot of fun! Here they are playing duck duck goose and later in the evening they played hide and go seek. Children would go missing and then we would see them all come running out of corners of the yard and bushes! It was so funny and such a blessing to watch. My heart was full knowing adults could sit and enjoy conversation while the children had the freedom to run free through our yard. Seeing our home being used in a new way definitely filled my cup.
For my birthday cake, I just grabbed one of the larger cakes off of one of the tables to put candles in. I moved the flowers down to the cake stand so it still was fully decorated. I considered baking a separate candle cake but I was so over baking by then! I found these sparkling candles at Party City to continue with the sparkling theme.
Since each table had it's own cake, we came around with plates and a cake knife for them to serve themselves. I also prepped ice cream in little plastic cups. I made a pink tinted magic shell (using vanilla chips) for the ice cream topped with glittery gold sprinkles. Everyone was impressed and thought it was so fancy. Fooled again. It's all in the presentation I tell you!
Of course we had a little photo booth set up. We set up our camera and remote for guests to take their photos (tutorial here). I found this gold backdrop at Party City and we used props I bought last year from Target.
And as the night grew on, the lighting began to show off.
I tried to match my outfit with the party wearing a blouse and skirt I picked up at Forever 21. It worked out perfectly but I had a terrible experience at Forever 21. Cheaply made clothes and a terrible return policy...let's just say I will never be shopping there again. Excuse the public service announcement.
As the weeks go by not much has changed since I turned 30. Instead I feel full of thankfulness and blessings. I am blown away at the kindness and support of my family and friends. And I just feel grateful to have another year to look forward to of joy, growth, and celebrating life.
The party went by in a flash as I poured so much into this party only to end over a few hours. But as I look back and share these photos I am reminded of this season I am so blessed with. I love to create, I love to celebrate, and I love to be able to share it here on this blog. Thanks for celebrating with me from afar from behind your smart phones and computer screens. I hope you leave inspired to celebrate yourself and spread a little beauty into your world.