When I was pregnant, I loved envisioning future precious moments with my child— our first family hay ride, looking at holiday lights, and celebrating birthdays with family. But when Lucy was born, she didn't give one hoot about Christmas carols or pumpkin carving. What? Babies don't like carving jack-o'-lanterns? Come on!
Well, my dreams finally came true when we celebrated Lucy's second birthday. I thought she might explode from excitement! I could not have been happier! (Of course, I was also glad she didn't actually explode.) She kept pointing out all of the stars, running around with balloons, and squealing with excitement about every little detail I had put into the day. When it was time to blow out the candles, the pure joy on her face made my heart melt. This was it! The moment I had been waiting for since I started this whole motherhood thing.
We had a wonderful time celebrating Lucy's second birthday, and I really enjoyed putting together all of the special elements for her small family party. Scroll down to check out how I made everything, including the marquee moon sign above, the star garlands, and fancy little candle holders.
We settled on a moon theme for our toddler's birthday party because of her undying love for the moon. She enjoys pointing it out in her children's books and outside in the night sky. In fact, the moon was the first thing she ever pointed out and called by name (except for ball, Mom, and Dad). So it was an obvious choice, and something I knew would be fairly easy to execute in terms of birthday party decor.
I'm not a big believer in extravagant children's birthday parties, but I definitely wanted to make Lucy feel special by putting together some inexpensive things I knew she would love for her special day. It took a bit of work and some helping hands to get everything finished in time, but the little bit of work was worth it when I saw the joy on her happy little face!
For the cake, I made a two-layer 8" carrot cake and frosted it with my favorite cream cheese frosting that I dyed turquoise and yellow to match the rest of the decorations. Other treats included brownies cut out into star shapes and sugar cookies cut out in the shape of crescent moons. To make the crescent moon cookie cutter, I just bent a round cutter into the shape I wanted since I couldn't find the right size crescent cutter in stores.
The recipes I used for the cake and cookies are my favorites after trying out many recipes in books and online. Check them out below:
–carrot cake from All Recipes
-cream cheese frosting from the old Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book (similar recipe here)
We also had a veggie tray and my mom made fruit kabobs with melon and grapes. The kabobs were originally supposed to include melon slices cut into star shapes with grapes in between, but we decided there was too much waste in between the shapes, so practicality won out in the end. If we had room in our fridge, we could've saved the scraps for smoothies or something. Maybe the next time I throw a star party. (I'm hoarding all of these decorations for someone's baby shower some day!)
For the main meal, we had pizza pies (okay, okay… so it was just Pizza Hut pizza), as a delicious nod to the Italian romantic classic "That's Amore". "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…." You know the one!
I wanted to stay on theme with the colors of our beverages, so I bought some Jones Soda in Berry Lemonade Soda and Cream Soda flavors. They were a big hit!
When I was planning the party, I was trying to think of all the sky-theme treats we could have, and believe me— there are a lot! Blue cotton candy, for instance. But like I said, we weren't trying to do anything too lavish for a two-year-old, so we kept it simpler than my crazy imagination had planned.
For the table runner, I took a yard of blue polka-dotted fabric and cut it into strips, using the extra fabric to decorate the drinks bucket and utensil bucket. This little project was a little time-intensive because I ran all of the strips of fabric through a serger to piece them together. But if you wanted the same look with less work, you could just make the long strips of fabric (I connected 3 shorter strips to get the long pieces) and lay them on top of a fabric table cloth. The table runner helped tie together all of the decorative elements in the room, I think, so it was definitely worth the time— and I'm sure I'll use it again some day.
Just look at that face! Definitely made it all worth it! And let me reiterate how much I enjoy finally being able to plan a birthday party for a kiddo. This is the moment I've anticipated since reading my first American Girl magazine back in 1994. Check out the craft instructions below!
As far as signs go, I'd say this one was remarkably easy. I had originally intended to simply cut a piece of foam board into a circle and paint it to say happy birthday with a crescent moon balloon hanging off to the side a bit. Somewhere along the line, while buying foam board at the craft store, I decided to step it up a notch and make a marquee sign.
-1 piece of large foam board (size depends on your desired outcome)
-paint (I used this blue and this yellow paint.)
-LED string lights*
*I suggest using LED lights to avoid this project becoming a fire hazard.
-pen or pencil and medium-size Sharpie marker (for making holes for lights)
Step One: Begin by cutting out the circle for the background of the sign. I drew the circle with a compass much like the one I used for this mirror DIY. Then I cut it out with an X-acto blade on top of a cutting mat. I used the circle I had cut as a template for the crescent shape.
Step Two: Paint the shapes with spray paint. I used this multi-surface paint they sell at craft stores.
Step Three: Make the holes for the lights. First, use a ruler to mark out the distance between each light. Use a sharp pencil or other object to poke holes through the marks you made. (I started out using a drill for this, but it was kind of shredding the foam board.) I ended up making the shape of the holes by pushing a medium-size Sharpie through them. It made the perfect snug fit for the lights.
Step Four: Push the lights through the holes and secure the wires with duct tape.
Step Five: Stack pieces of scrap foam board to give the lights some buffer space (see in above image). Connect them to each other with permanent glue, and then also to the back of the crescent piece. When the stacked foam board glue has dried, put glue on them to attach the crescent to the background piece. Place books on it to weight it down until dried.
Step Six: Paint your message onto the sign. I drew it with pencil first and went over it with white acrylic paint and a paint brush. It's not perfect, but I don't think Lucy minded!
I spent quite a bit of time in front of the television punching out stars from cardstock, but it turned out I made way more stars than I needed! Making the garland was as simple as running the cardstock stars through the sewing machine with space in between each one. They were hung from the ceiling by taping the first star with white duct tape. I also stitched some stars onto ribbons to weigh down the Mylar balloons.
This project was the most visually effective for sure! The room wouldn't have looked half as magical without them.
To give space between the stars, lift the sewing machine foot and pull the star you just stitched away from the machine. Place another star under the foot, lower the foot, and pull the previously sewn star as you begin sewing the next one.
Sewing paper will dull your needle, so you may want to use a designated needle for paper stitching, and you should definitely swap out the needle with a fresh one before stitching fabric again. You can use a medium-weight needle for this star garland unless you're sewing through something thicker than cardstock, like chipboard.
MAKING THE GOLD LEAF HURRICANE CANDLE HOLDERS
I wanted something somewhat substantial to decorate the middle of the table, so I made three hurricane candle holders to place on top of golden stars I got from a party store.
-glass or plastic hurricanes
-gold leaf kit (includes sizing, metal leaf sheets, and sealant)
Step One: Place masking tape onto wax paper and punch out star shapes. Then peel the masking tape stars off of the wax paper and place onto the hurricanes in your desired pattern.
Step Two: Cover the hurricane and masking tape stars with a light coat of sizing. Make sure you've used high quality masking tape or the stars will pull away from the hurricane during this step.
Step Three: After the sizing has set up (about 30 minutes), place the gold leaf sheets onto the hurricanes. Once the whole area is covered, rub the leaf into place with a soft cloth, then peel away the masking tape stars.
These hurricane candle holders were such a nice touch to Lucy's party, but I know I'll use them again for other holidays and events. They were seen at a friend's wedding last weekend! I love a party craft that can be used time and time again. -Mandi
Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.
Wow, this is a beautiful, just-simple-enough party, and a gloriously complete tutorial. Love it! Thank you! I also love the white cabinet in your dining room, with miles and miles of little doors. So pretty. If there’s anything you can tell me about that cabinet, I’m dying to know!
You say you aren’t a believer in extravagant children’s parties, but you pulled off a beautiful and perfect DIY party! You did such an amazing job and I love every single detail… how special ? Your little looked unbelievably happy, kudos mama!
I wanted something somewhat substantial to decorate the middle of the table :*
Wow awesome.My princess is surely going to love this for sure.Making gold leaf candle holder idea is really amazing.Will definitely try this.
Hey there! I actually did all the work myself without any help. I made the sign a couple of days before the party, and punched out the stars the week leading up (in front of the tv). I baked the cookies the day before the party, then the morning of the party, I hung everything, sewed together the star garlands, baked and frosted the cake, then ran to the store to get balloons. My mom did come over to help cut the melon the day of the party, but otherwise it was a solo job. Not too much work, but a couple hours here and there to make stuff. -Mandi
Hi Liz! Sorry for the late response. I didn’t use battery powered lights. I used white tape to hide the wire/tape it to the wall coming down from the sign. -Mandi
What a gorgeous party, your little girl looks so happy! Go Mumma!!!! xx
So beautiful! This is definitely something I can see myself doing!
This is just lovely – and what a darling theme! Your photos are just beautiful! xo – R&R
You say you aren’t a believer in extravagant children’s parties, but you pulled off a beautiful and perfect DIY party! You did such an amazing job and I love every single detail… how special 🙂 Your little looked unbelievably happy, kudos mama!
I will definitely be saving this for inspiration 🙂 Love it all!
The Things She Sees
Your party looks beautiful! I agree that spending a lot on parties is unnecessary – with a bit of work it can just look expensive instead!
I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS! And look at the very happiest little face! SQUEE!
Every single detail is absolutely adorable!
I’m just blown away by the amount of work you all did! Incredible! How long did it take you to make everything? Is there hope for a mere, lowly, single blogger?
Hope you have a beautiful day!
the bbb blogger
Holy cow, looks like you put a tonne of work into this, and it turned out beautifully! Such a unique theme.
This is such a cute idea! And your photos are amazing x
All of the details are so beautiful!
this would be a cute baby shower theme too!
I agree for a toddler an over the top party can be very overwhelming. By the smile on her face you did it perfectly. Love the sign