Real Party: Sunflower 1st Birthday!

My daughter Mia turned 1 recently.
Seriously, where did the time go?! This was the fastest year of my life thus far (which felt even faster since the year of my pregnancy was the slowest year of my life!).  She has brought us so much joy… of course we had to celebrate her 1st birthday with a blowout bash.  My friend Deb and I decided to throw a joint party for our little girls who were born 5 days apart.
Where we live in California the weather is pretty nice most of the year.  But around the end of November you just can’t count on sunshine. We had too many guests to fit in our little house, and a park was out of the question.  I stressed about where to have the party.  We needed a big space, but I didn’t want to blow the budget on a venue.
I finally decided to have the party at our gym. My husband I belong to a CrossFit gym. My husband actually coaches there, and we are great friends with the owner. If you aren’t familiar with CrossFit, its a workout that can be done with minimal equipment. Our gym is basically a warehouse with lots of open space. And better yet, lots of mats on the floor — perfect for a large number of the guests who are just starting to walk!
My main challenge was turning the bare bones, industrial space into a party appropriate for 2 little girls.
Here’s the before so you can understand my gravity of this task:

I also had to keep guests away from the equipment.  I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.  I decided to rent some stanchions and chains to rope off the party area to keep it on the mats.

In the end I think it came together quite well…

I love this picture. I feel like it captures the wonderful chaos of so many family and friends packed into the gym so well.  Makes my heart smile. 

Anyway, the reason why you are here: The details!!

It all started with the invitation. My vision was perfectly executed by Jennafer of Oh Creative One.

Isn’t it great?
I had them printed on brown paper, and used a rounded corner punch.

(sorry, iPhone photo — but you get the idea)

I had decided on this theme awhile ago, and thought I’d died and gone to heaven one day when I was randomly browsing at Gymboree and found a line of sunflower dresses on the sale rack.

I never get that lucky. But the stars were aligned that day and I snapped up the only 2 dresses left in their sizes. They were SO cute, and this mom was happy!
Ella’s grandma crocheted sunflowers for their hair.  (Thank you Audrey!)

My big chalkboard sign greeted guests.

I made some paper plate sunflowers for one of the sections of wall.  These were inspired by this, but I made a simpler version with just paper centers to save time. The stems are made from streamers. I borrowed the fencing from Akemi’s pumpkin patch.
I rented tables and chairs to scatter throughout the party area.  We had yellow tablecloths and burlap runners.  I had ordered some flower arrangements from a local grocery store that had sunflowers in them, and the order was messed up.  :( I ended up with these potted plants instead. No sunflowers, but I was just happy the colors were right!
I love to use party items multiple times. It helps me justify to my husband why is so important to store them in our crowded garage and attic also! The burlap runners were from here, but have also been used here and here. The centerpiece boxes were from here, but have also been used here.
If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know I love to use a children’s book as a guest book at baby showers.
I decided I will continue this tradition with her birthday parties. Each of the girls had a little station set up for their guest book.  I ordered these to use.
This was the biggest group I have ever have ever hosted for lunch. I struggled with the menu, but I think we came up with a great solution that was yummy and budget friendly.
I am terrible about getting photos when the food table is done. People are usually swarming it when the food gets out, and that was the case with this party. But here’s a picture of the set-up before it was all finished.
We served:
Grilled sausages (3 flavors) with buns, grilled onions, and assorted condiments
Green salad
Potato chips
Mac & cheese
And then we had clementine oranges and some applesauce pouches for people to snack on as well.
Monthly banners of each of the girls were hung above the table.
I made some food labels to match the invitation.
And I scored again at the Michael’s dollar section with these gorgeous sunflower clips. Easiest banner I ever made!
My husband must really love me because he agreed (with a little grumbling) to haul our reddish-colored wheelbarrow all the way to the gym so I could put drinks in it.
How could I not? :)
We had wine, beer, sodas, and bottled water.
Desserts were pretty simple since we were feeding such a large number of guests.
Deb made lots and lots of cupcakes and I made some simple yellow cake pops.
I did my standard display with the much-used shelf, but kept it simple with white linens and just did an accent of wide sunflower ribbon from the fabric store.
(You’ve seen the cupcake shelf here.)
Each of the girls had a highchair with a little cake I made and a few balloons.
(I know my party girl readers will understand how frustrated I was when I went to three locations the morning of the party to find yellow balloons. No one had any! After the 3rd stop I decided I was being ridiculous and just stuck with cream. Yellow would have been much cuter…)
My favorite detail of the party:
My husband and I made this photo wall out of piece of plywood. He attached legs to the back and cut holes. The I painted the simple sunflower design. It was SO cute to see all the pictures & so easy to make. I tried to get a picture of each family.
(I decided to just post one of me, Deb, and Lindsay messing around rather than post pictures of anyone’s kids. But trust me, it was cute.).
Party favors were yellow bubbles with custom labels (by Oh Creative One).
I was very happy with how everything turned out. It seemed like guests of all ages really had a great time.
Happy Happy Birthday Miss Ella!
And Mia…
We are so lucky to be your parents! 
Thank you for making this the best year ever! 
Happy Birthday!
Printables: Oh Creative One
Photos: Lindsay Little & Renee Padgett


  1. Unbelievable Sandi! What a wonderful birthday for your beautiful daughter! Judy and Strode

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