Mia’s 1st Birthday Party {You Are My Sunshine Theme}

Here it is, the MOTHER of all blog posts! This one’s a doozy. Get yourself a cup of coffee/tea or a refreshing cold drink (depending on the weather) and bask along with me in Mia’s first birthday post.

So you’ve already seen Mia’s “smash cake” photo session that my mom and I threw together in my backyard for my then-almost-one-year-old daughter, Mia. She officially became a whole year old on Saturday, April 27, 2013…3 weeks ago. We celebrated her special day by having close friends and family (31 adults, 8 babies/kids) over at our home in the later afternoon for food, drinks, music, sunshine, cake and company. It was a beautiful and warm day with temperatures in the low to mid 80s. A few guests even enjoyed our swimming pool to cool off. I hope everyone enjoyed themselves. I know it sure meant a lot to us to have so many shining faces there to share in Mia’s special day, her first birthday.

I decided to go with a theme for the occasion. Ever since Mia was born, I’ve sang to her. No, I’m not a good singer by any means but I don’t let that stand in my way. One song, in particular, that’s been a huge part of her past year (especially when it comes to nap time and bed time) is “You Are My Sunshine.” I love that song and have serenaded Mia with it almost every day of her life. It just made sense to me to incorporate it in her 1st birthday. I kept the decorations in the colors of grey, yellow, white and touches of blue/turquoise.

I’ve never planned a party before. We’ve had a few summer gatherings and potlucks at our house but I didn’t put much thought into them. They were usually last minute and without any real planning or any decorations. This was my first time not only planning a party, but planning one at our house and it was the first time I’ve ever decorated or set up the backyard in any organized way. I had no idea what to expect as far as how many decorations I’d need, where I was going to display them all, how many balloons I’d need (how long does it even take to inflate them all), how many tables and chairs I would need, where I would set them up, how much food do we need to buy, what would make for a good menu, how many drinks I’d need, what drinks I would serve, etc. I had started “planning” for Mia’s 1st birthday 4 months in advance. When I say “planning”…I mean “pinning.” You can see Mia’s 1st birthday Pinterest board to see where I was going with it, visually speaking. My Pinterest research was time consuming as many of you Pinterest fans can attest to. I think I spent a little too much time in this phase as there are endless ideas on Pinterest and it’s ridiculously easy to get carried away.

My next phase of planning involved extensive research on the cheapest online party stores to order my decorations from. It came down to a few. Of course, I couldn’t find just one store that had the cheapest everything. I found that one store had the cheapest balloons, while another had the cheapest paper lanterns and another had the cheapest table cloths and party favors. I’ll share with you my findings at the bottom of this post. I made my own invitations to save money. It definitely didn’t save me any time since they took a few weeks to finalize and mail out. However, it was worth it because I love how they turned out. Once they were done, I began making small pieces of artwork that matched our sunshine theme to display at the party. I put some in frames I had found at garage sales for $1 a piece and spray painted them blue.


I also made a special birthday hat for the birthday girl along with some other paper decorations (triangles for flag bunting, etc). All of my preparations were done, btw, during Mia’s nap times, Daddy time and any spare minute I could grab my hands on in between working 4 days a week. I was a busy bee, a chicken running around with my head cut off and any other animal comparison that describes a very rushed and stressed out woman. But that’s who I am, I love art and being creative and I’m a sucker for the details…especially the ones that are personal and done from the heart and with lots of love. My girl’s worth it.

As the party date quickly approached, I realized that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. After all, I was the only one planning this thing and I still had an entire house and a large yard to clean up and put in order…both of which had been neglected for quite awhile. I had so much on my plate, I unfortunately didn’t get around to making and doing all the cute and fun ideas I had in mind for her party. I had a pretty specific vision of how I wanted everything to look so it was difficult to delegate jobs to lessen my load. My saving grace, really, was the immense help from my powerhouse team of Grandmas! Dominic’s mom came into town from Kansas for Mia’s special day and stayed with us for about 5 days. Both her and my mother played such a vital role in the success of party day. They helped with anything and everything, including cleaning, baking, shopping, funding, decorating, food prepping and babysitting. I’m so grateful for all the help they gave because frankly, without them I don’t think I could have pulled it off. THANK YOU, Team Grandma! Uncle Chris and Daddy Dom helped by contributing their time and muscles to clean up the backyard, set up tables, chairs, climb ladders and Uncle Chris filled all of our helium balloons. THANK YOU for all of your hard work. Grandpa C (Dom’s dad) loaned us some much needed tables and he, along with Grandpa L, contributed to the food fund, THANK YOU for that. It definitely took a village. I forgot anyone, specifically, I apologize. I have baby/mommy brain, permanently. Just know that I’m thankful for your contribution.

So let’s get on with the pictures, shall we. Unfortunately, my lack of picture taking lately leaked into party day. I was so busy getting ready (didn’t shower until the time the party started) and setting up even after the party started that when I finally realized I had yet to take a single photo, most of the food had already been dug into and a lot of the baby guests (and parents) were inside the house. I’m so bummed that I didn’t get pictures of all the guests or capture some priceless moments of Mia mingling, playing and socializing with the other babies in her play area (aka our living room), or even a photo of her and I together! Seriously, fail. Next time I just might have to hire a photographer. That’s not a bad idea for a baby gift, have a group of guests contribute to paying for a photographer for an hour or 2 rather than buying toys/clothes! Here’s the best of what I captured that day…



I really love these paper lanterns and the birthday sign I made for Mia. I used Mia’s “smash cake” photo shoot photos to decorate the food table. I had meant to add cute $1 tin buckets I found at Target in matching colors and fill with flowers to add more decor to the table but I completely forgot about them.


We set up a “build your own sandwich” station, complete with croissants, tortas, turkey & ham, cheeses, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo & mustard. Also on the menu were crackers, pita chips, hummus, spinach & artichoke dip, chips, a fruit platter, a veggie platter with ranch dip, banana and peanut butter roll-ups (so easy to make and a hit with the kids!), Grandma C’s cheesy creamy corn dip, and Grandma L’s potato salad. Refreshments included water, lemonade and white sangria that I made for the first time and loved.


I found this picture frame at a garage sale for a couple of bucks and I spray painted it yellow and silver. I then used a black, thick poster board and some metallic pens to create an all-about-Mia, 1st birthday display!



I had saved a bunch of baby food jars (so many uses for them, don’t throw them out!) and dipped them in paint, turned them upside down to dry and I got this drippy-paint effect that I think is kind of cool. They looked lovely as mini flower vases to brighten up the tables were guests sat. I made little, no-big-deal goody bags for kids to take. They included blank puzzles (draw your own design), yellow shades, stickers and a mini bottle of bubbles.


I displayed photos, in order, from Mia’s 12 months of life using string and clothespins along a fence. Sitting on the ground below is a piece of art I created (saw the idea on Pinterest) using colored pencils of the words “Let the Sun Shine In.”


I numbered silver doilies 1-12 to show each month that passed in photos.


My brother filled the helium balloons and had the idea to tie a bunch to the top of the umbrella poles and let them fill the underside of the umbrella. Shade was an absolute must (umbrellas and easy-ups) in the heat of the day.



A few of our birthday guests and Mia’s baby gfs, Abby and Zoey.



Uncle Chris and Kristen.


Mia loves chomping on strawberries and drinking from her big-girl-water-bottle.



There’s my birthday girl! I found her dress off of Zulily…love that site!



Mia’s first experience with sidewalk chalk. She loves the stuff. She adds a few lines and dots to our backyard almost every day.


Here’s a good shot of the 1st birthday hat that I made for Mia, that she refused to wear for even a second for a decent photo.


I made all of the cupcakes from scratch, along with the icing. The cupcakes on the left with blue frosting are vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting and were delicious. The cupcakes to the left with yellow frosting are lemon with lemon cream cheese frosting and were even more delicious…at least that’s the feedback I got from the guests and I’d have to agree, as well.




Here’s the only photo I got with my daughter on her birthday (guests may have some on their cameras, if so…send my way!). I still can’t believe I did that. Yup, it’s decided…photographer at all future birthdays FOR SURE!


I recreated the rose cake I made for her “smash cake” photo shoot with the vanilla buttercream frosting and I found the yellow cake stand at Home Goods.




Team Grandma! (left: Dominic’s mom, right: my mom)


This woman is Mia’s most favorite person ever. She’s even above ME on the totem pole. When Grandma L is around, no one else matters. She must be giving her all kinds of goodies and treats when she watches her during the week….MUST be ;)


Team Grandpa! (left: Dominic’s dad, right: my dad)


Uncle Chris (my younger brother) & Aunt Lisa (Dom’s older sister).


Daddy Dom finally got Mia to crack a smile after about 10 minutes of everyone trying to get her attention or make her laugh. I think he was on his hands & knees in front of her, either barking like a dog or pretending to sneeze…can’t remember.


Mia and her body guards (left: Roxi, 9 years old, right: Rancho, 1 year old). Daddy Dom had a ball in his hand held up high…which explains their intense stare in the same direction.



At the end of the night, we opened presents with Uncle Chris & Auntie Kristen and our friends (who stayed the night) Paul & Rana (and their 2 1/2 month old Joelle, aka JoJo).


Whoever gave her tissue paper, you hit the nail on the head for best gift! Mia loved it!


Mia actually opened a gift all by herself (okay, we helped a little…but it was mostly her).


Ribbon was her second most favorite gift of the night.





She got a cute art table that opens up to keep paper and supplies inside. Mia wanted to get inside, too.


Here are photos I found from Pinterest that I had every intention on recreating or was inspired from to make Mia’s party even more personalized and fun…but didn’t get around to doing :( Click on the photo for the source.

I wanted to make my own cupcake stands from plates or from gift wrapped boxes. I even bought the cutest wrapping paper to do this with, but never opened them.



We have a long driveway and I had planned on drawing some cute arrows all the way up from the street, directing guests into our backyard from the side gate and even adding some decorations along with the drawings. Nope, didn’t happen.


I had bought lemons to slice and add to some larger, glass vases and some mason jars that I have along with some flowers. Did I use them? Nope. They went to waste.

lemon jars

I wanted to add a giant number 1 (like the #5 below) to our front door (I had cut it out, too…but hadn’t decorated it yet) along with balloons and flowers. Our front door/porch area stayed bare.

birthday entrance2


birthday number

I had asked Daddy Dom to make a simple, basic lemonade stand as a picture prop in our backyard for the babies . Didn’t happen.

birthday entrance

I had cut out a big, fat stack of triangles from different colored paper (for flag bunting) and I had my mom punch holes in their corners so that I could string them across the front of the food tables, or along the side of the gates, or in some trees…I don’t know exactly where I would have hung them, but we ran out of time and didn’t use them.

birthday bunting

 I had also purchased some yard decor at the dollar store, like pinwheels, that I never used either.

I do feel that Mia’s party was a success and I think, I hope, that our guests couldn’t sense my chaos behind the scenes and my stress levels and enjoyed themselves. Her party was sweet, darling and special. Even though it was missing a lot of what I had envisioned, it was still something to smile about and be proud of. It was also a learning experience and I’m so relieved it’s all over. With that being said, Happy Birthday to my darling, beautiful daughter! I love you, as do all the guests in attendance at your party. I know you won’t remember a darn thing from that day, but I will and I it will forever be the most special in my heart because it was your first of many and it was put together with so much love from so many caring and loving hands.



Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream fosting

Lemon Cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting

Banana and peanut butter roll-ups

White Sangria


White Hanging Fans -Party City

Caribbean Hanging Fans -Party City

Yellow Hanging Fans -Party City

Turquoise polka dot hanging fans  -Oriental Trading Co.

Silver Paper Lanterns -Oriental Trading Co.

Yellow Paper Lanterns -Oriental Trading Co.

White Tissue Balls -Oriental Trading Co.

11″ Bermuda Blue Balloons -Birthday Express

11″ Yellow Balloons -Shindigz

11″ Silver Balloons -Shindigz

11″ White Balloons -Shindigz


Yellow with White Polka Dots Cone Hats -Birthday Express

100 Pack Silver Forks -Birthday Express

100 Pack Silver Spoons -Birthday Express

Striped Flag Cupcake Picks, Yellow -Shindigz

Bermuda Blue 12 oz Plastic Cups -Shindigz

Striped Paper Straws, Gray -Fine and Dandy Party Shop

Silver Round Table Covers -Oriental Trading Co.

Yellow Plastic Table Covers -Oriental Trading Co.

Goofy Smile Face Stickers (included in goodie bags) -Oriental Trading Co.

Silver Hexagon Bubble Bottles (included in goodie bags) -Oriental Trading Co.

Yellow Shutter Shades (included in goodie bags) -Oriental Trading Co.


 In return for sharing all of Mia’s 1st birthday fun AND my sources for nearly all of the party stuff and recipes with you, pretty please would you give us a VOTE (once, daily) before you go? It takes only 2 clicks to keep us ranked in the top 25 over at Top Baby Blogs (click here for voting steps if you’re confused)! No prize, just much desired publicity. Btw, like our new voting banner below? Made it myself ;)






  1. Thanks

  2. Florianna says

    What a nice party! I’m planning my daughters 1st birthday party and the theme is also “You Are My Sunshine”. I love it because it’s very neutral since we’ll have little boys and girls at the party. I also got a dress similar to the one Mia is wearing, I love it! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks so much for staying long enough to leave such a nice comment, Florianna! This definitely was a simple enough theme to work with. Happy early 1st birthday to your little! And good luck with the party :)

  3. What a beautiful party!

  4. Her first birthday was wonderful Misty!!! You did an AMAZING job! The decorations.. the food.. perfectly laid back! And I DO have pics of you and your munchkin on my phone!! I will have to get them to you!!! xo

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