This year, I also started decorating a few days before the party, which made a world of difference in terms of organization and what I was able to do. Usually I'm scrambling to finish up as people are arriving and I'm not able to do everything that I hoped, but this year I got it all done and then some. PLANNING AHEAD? BRILLIANT. WAIT WHILE I WRITE A BOOK ON THIS REVOLUTIONARY IDEA.
Unfortunately for Emmeline, her birthday is close to Christmas, so her birthday decor has to compete with Christmas decor. I took down a few decorations to make room for birthday things, some we just left up and pretended weren't there (the tree, the garland/ribbon on the bannister, the ornaments decorating the built-in bookshelves), and some we worked into the decor (wrapped wreaths with a flower garland, for example). Had I been a better planner and more ambitious, it would have been awesome to cover the Christmas tree in suns to go with the theme, but...no. Taking off all the existing ornaments to do that would be way too much work.
As with most of the other parties, almost everything I didn't have already was purchased from Oriental Trading Company. I linked to sources (not affiliate links!) but OTC tends to change inventory regularly so I apologize if items aren't available anymore. Also as with other parties, cheap was like number one priority for this party, so nothing was expensive.
The kitchen got very minimal decor. Some paper lanterns above the cabinets, a sun that would later be a pinata, a bowl of lemons and a yellow tablecloth on the table, and a string of paper lanterns in the doorway.
Most of the decorating took place in the dining room. For the area by the mirror, I left the Christmas wreath on the mirror and wrapped it in a floral garland we already had, added window clings we already had, and used washi tape to put a picture up. And some balloons, of course.
I used crepe paper and a paper plate to create a giant sun on one wall of the dining room, and covered a folding table with a grass-print tablecloth and used some tissue-paper grass and paper fences to display cupcakes.
I had regular sprinkle cupcakes, then baked six in silicone "pots" that we already had and stuck suckers in them as "flowers."
The sun was one of my favorite DIY projects since I've never baked a 3D cake before or used fondant like this (for Em's first birthday, I rolled it out and cut out snowflakes with a cookie cutter, but I've never used it to cover a cake). I turned a small mixing bowl upside down to bake the cake mix in for the main part of the sun, then cut graham crackers in triangle shapes and covered them with the fondant for the rays of the sun (I used fondant to attach a toothpick to each ray to stick it in the cake). I used marshmallow fondant - easy to make and work with, and delicious. I baked the cake and cupcakes and made the fondant the night before and assembled them the morning of the party. You can very much tell that it was made by someone who had no idea what they were doing but it was made with love and that's what counts, right? RIGHT.
Some of the cupcakes also had fondant decorations - I just rolled out the fondant and cut the numbers and suns out with cookie cutters.
Another wall of the dining room was covered with a collage of pictures of Emmeline taken over the last year. I could stare at this wall all day. It might still be up because I can't bring myself to take it down.
These mason jar cups and wooden sporks were left over from Carys's first birthday, and a friend surprised me with the paper straws (which suck for acutal use but are SO CUTE so whatevs). The stickers on the cups were just labels that I printed the pictures on. Actually, the little glass jars were from Target's dollar aisle, also from Carys's first birthday.
I made some ruffled streamers and a little tassel garland to decorate a corner where Em could blow out her candles. I used this tutorial to make the tassels and this one for the ruffled streamers. The wine rack had a couple decorations (all of which we already had) and I stuck the favors (really just leftover things that wouldn't fit in the pinata) in the cubbies.
The sitting room houses the Christmas tree, so I only really decorated the buffet. I got the banner from Steals.com when they were having a 25% off sale (one white set and one craft paper set) and will use it for many occassions to come. I again wrapped a Christmas wreath with a flower garland, hung up copies of her birthday invitation, added some pinwheels that we already had, and decorated the ceramic Christmas deer with party hats and bows (this was totally Carys's idea and I was 100% on board). I also used the washi tape (which originally came from Target's dollar aisle) to make an "E" inside the wreath. I saw the little "you are my sunshine" wooden plaque project on the OTC website and decided to make it - super easy.
The entryway got a wreath (a wooden form I got on sale from Target for <$3, wrapped with yarn, and stuck a picture behind), some tissue paper pom-pom balls, and a few things on the entryway table.
I printed the two "you are my sunshine" prints, already owned the "Hello, Sunshine" print, and covered a wooden "E" in tissue paper. Actually, CARYS did the "E" almost entirely by herself.
I loved how the living room turned out. Another banner, some streamers, and some paper fans on the mantle. I used the stocking holders that were out for Christmas to hang paper fans and display four pictures of Emmeline from the past year.
Probably no one at the party even noticed, but when I saw this pillow cover on Amazon for insanely cheap, I had to grab it for the party. Yes, I should have ironed it or something but honestly I didn't even think of it because who irons a pillow???
And some pics from the important part of the party - the people and the birthday girl.
The pinata was so fun! We didn't have a great space to do it indoors (plus I wasn't sure if Emmeline was strong enough to break it) so I cut a big flap in the back, attached six long strings to the flap, and then loosely taped the flap back in place. When it was time to do it, each kid got a string, and they all pulled on the count of three to release the candy and small toys (I used this OTC mix to fill the pinata).
Yes, that is a container of baby wipes. It might have been her favorite present. She's obsessed with wipes.
She immediately had to put the dress on, and immediately started pushing the stroller around.
I can't believe my baby is two. It's okay to cry over that, right?