You may recall that Mo was born less than two hours after her cousin Will: he just before midnight, her just after. They don't quite share a birthday, but it only made sense to celebrate with a joint party. My sister Emily and I began "planning" awhile ago, if picking a date and location count as planning. We didn't do the bulk of the preparations until shortly before the party because we wanted to keep it relatively low key.
The guest list included only family, but we have a pretty large family, plus all the in-laws, so it quickly grew beyond what either of our homes could accomodate. We (or I should say she, my sister, because I still insisted it wasn't necessary, and she is incredibly generous) rented a room in a township hall, we ordered pizza, and we got some help from family with salad, beverages and desserts. But the fun part was pulling together all the decor.
We weren't really interested in doing a big theme party, and I don't like to spend a lot of money on decorations that can't be reused. So we went with "polka dots and stripes" and based everything around that general idea.
Will wore stripes while Mo wore polka dots. (And yes, we coordinated their outfits. Like we wouldn't!)
We boughts some pretty inexpensive plates and napkins at Target that had stripes or dots on them, and we also found little cardboard treat boxes that we filled with Sixlets (dots) and Twizzlers (stripes).
Mike's Mom is an incredible seamstress, and she made these bibs for each of the babes.
Em and I decorated the "smash cakes" (I think I kind of hate that term) for Mo and Will. We made box cakes with white frosting, and used sugar sheets to cut out shapes.
Other than that, we just bought some fun and colorful things to put around the room:
(Those eventually were hung from the ceiling.)
I also made these faux chalk boards for each of the kids, inspired by a Pinterest find. They cost only a few bucks and were fun for me to make.
(Please ignore the fact that I spelled finicky wrong. Nobody seemed to notice.)
We also displayed their monthly photos, and below that is the onesie we had everyone sign when they visited us in the hospital after Mo was born.
When we got to the hall we discovered the furnace was broken. It was FREEZING in there, and we spent the first 30 minutes trying to figure who to call about that. Eventually enough bodies showed up that it warmed up a bit, and later we managed to get ahold of someone who brought a couple space heaters. The other major mishap was that Em's high chair was missing its tray, and we really wanted them to be in side-by-side chairs for the cake fiasco. Luckily our other sister saved the day and brought a third high chair to use.
We started with food, then let the babies tear up some cake.
Mo really got into it...
...and even wanted to share with everyone else.
Will was a little skeptical...
...but was happy to share with his Mama.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the party - cake kisses:
My niece shares a birthday with Will and was going to turn 12, so we made her a special cake too. We presented it to her and we all sang, and then she shocked all of us by digging in like the babies did!
After everyone had dessert, we opened gifts. We did not want the focus of the party to be the gifts because we're trying to teach our children about appreciation instead of entitlment, so Em and I sent an email to invited guests, explaining our approach. We knew we could never stop people from bringing gifts all together, and that wasn't the point, but we wanted everyone to know it was truly not expected, and also to give them another option if they were interested. This is what we said:
By now you should have received an invitation to celebrate the first birthdays of Will and Mo. We hope you can join us at their party in a few short weeks!
We wanted to let you know, very sincerely, that we don’t expect gifts for the kids. Our children are greatly blessed with so much love, and they already have everything they could need or want at this age. As parents, it is important to us to teach our children gratitude and simplicity from a young age, and so our party for them is meant to celebrate their lives with love, not just gifts. Therefore, please know we are sincere when we say gifts are not required, nor expected, nor needed.
However, I will add that we understand that half the fun of gifts is in the giving, so if you do bring a gift, don’t worry, we won’t be banning them at the door. :)
(And if gift-giving is your love language, but you don’t know what to get a one year old, Mo and Will would gladly accept donations to their college funds. Checks can be made out to their parents who will deposit them into a special account set aside for their futures!)
There's no good way to deal with the gift situation, but that was our best attempt. And as you may have guessed, they still got a crazy amount of presents.
(That's just Mo's pile!)
They did receive many donations to their college fund, and they also got some toys and clothes. Mo's favorite thing was a little stuffed puppy that came with a college fund donation from her Great Grandpa and Grandma. She hugged and nuzzled this thing for a long time, and now has it in her crib.
Even though we kept her up well passed her naptime, Mo stayed in good spirits the whole time. On the way home, she crashed, and even after we moved her to her crib at home, she slept well into the evening. It was really sweet to see her enjoy herself so much and then sleep like an angel.
It was a fun afternoon, and I'm so grateful for all the people that love my daughter. She really is so blessed to be born into such an incredible family.
I can't believe my baby is ONE!
Happy birthday Momo!