Hard to believe that our darling Lillian July is a year old! You can see the post about her arrival here! What an incredible year it has been and we could not be happier! We had the most special birthday party for her, really as a thank you to our family who has been so helpful, loving and supportive to us this first year. 

Bringing people together has always brought me great joy and I am fortunate that it is easy and enjoyable for me to do. I really don't get stressed and have been lucky enough to plan large scale events at various times in my career (read more about that here).

While I have event planning experience, there was something unique about planning Lillian's first birthday. I really had to pause and think about what I envisioned. We have been fortunate to attend a lot of first birthday parties, from very tiny to big in size, and I have found wonderful things about each party so it was fun to plan Lillian's birthday. I am thrilled to say it turned out exactly as I had hoped- intimate, special, and fun.

If I had my dream and unlimited budget I would have hosted #Lillianpalooza in Sonoma and made it a three day pool party (as originally brainstormed here). I mean, I felt like I had so many people I wanted to invite to thank for being such an important part of our lives. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we wanted just family. And while it was difficult to not invite all of our friends, I think it worked out (you're not mad, are you?). The tipping point in this decision was when I was talking to Claire about her wedding (something we do often because it was AMAZING!) and the thing she said was that for her wedding she just wanted a certain feeling. A feeling of love and warmth. And that is exactly what we experienced at our wedding and exactly what we wanted for Lillian's birthday.

Here are my quick tips for planning a party, wedding, dinner, etc. and then I will share some new tips I learned through our experience planning Lillian's party.

  1. Set your budget. How much do you want to spend? Decide that before falling in love with a venue, menu, decor.
  2. Find your venue. Indoors? Outdoors? Close? Destination? Venues usually take up the largest portion of your budget.
  3. Set your date. Find a date that your venue has available.
  4. Invitations. Order invitations or use Paperless Post.
  5. Decide menu, entertainment, decor. We went to a friend's birthday party and they hired a music teacher to play for the kids! It was SO fun!!
  6. Order desserts, goodie bags, miscellaneous items.
  7. Pay deposits to vendors, venue, etc.
  8. Create a timeline of the event.
  9. Enjoy yourself at the event!!
  10. Send hand written thank you notes.

So, here is what I learned in planning my first 1st birthday party!

  1. Think about your goal. Jesse and I wanted a small get together so that we could really enjoy ourselves. We knew that if we had a big party we wouldn't be able to be with Lillian or really visit with guests. Our goal was to keep it easy, simple, beautiful and special. 
  2. Rent what you can. I didn't want to purchase a bunch of items that we would only use for the party so we rented the linens from La Tavola Linens on Sacramento Street (follow La Tavola on Instagram for major event inspiration). We rented Glassy Baby votives for the tablescape and Claire put peonies (same as my wedding bouquet).
  3. Desserts matter. We got most of our desserts from our favorite bakery, Noe Valley Bakery on 24th Street. We love their M&M cookies and love that there was hardly any mess. Rather than spending a lot of money on a smash cake, I just picked up a pink cupcake from Susie Cakes. Our favors were small bags of kettlecorn with stickers of all of the nicknames we have for Lillian. We had these same bags as our wedding favors!
  4. Get a group photo. We have a group photo from our wedding (you can see here) and I love looking at it hanging on our wall and wanted to capture the guests at the party. 
  5. Eat cake first. We didn't do this but I think it would make a lot of sense to sing Happy Birthday and have Lillian eat her cake before the meal. We have been to a lot of birthday parties and by the time the cake portion comes around the adults are so excited but the kids are exhausted-- hence Lillian's epic yawn
  6. Enjoy yourself. I am so grateful that we honestly enjoyed ourselves at this party. We purposely planned it to be stress-free and with the help of my sisters our set-up was a breeze. The worse thing in the world is to worry too much about details or things that don't matter and take you away from enjoying yourself. Also, my biggest tip is to take photos of the set-up and your little one and family photos in the beginning and then just enjoy the rest of the party (I mean I am setting up and inadvertently photobombing as Jesse is photographing). It is not fun to try and take photos during the party. If you're having a big birthday bash I would hire a photographer to take photos so you don't have to worry about it at all. If you took maternity or newborn photos just hire them again.
  7. Dress to impress. The theme for the party was pink gingham and when I saw this dress at Dottie DooLittle I fell in love. It was quite pricey and I waited on it, searched a little more but eventually came back and purchased it. Yes, it was just like a wedding dress experience. And truth be told, it was three times the cost of my dress (!!!!) but I mean Jesse has to practice what it is like when his daughter finds the perfect dress for a big day!
  8. Etsy. Papersource. Target. Those who cannot do, buy. That is my philosophy. And while I think a lot of people are into creating the "perfect" details for the day, my philosophy is to find that sweet spot where everything is cute and makes you happy. I think there is a tipping point (and mine is a lot lower than other bloggers ;) ) when trying to make things "perfect" is a real pain. With so many Ls in Lillian's name I had to buy three sets of banners. But I loved them so much that we ended up hanging the Lillian banner above her bed (which feels safe because we didn't have anything over her bed because I am so afraid of an earthquake shaking something off the wall and falling on her!!)
  9. Balloons. Everyone loves balloons and Lillian can play with them for hours.
  10. Thoughtful gifts. We thought we were going to surprise Lillian with a great 4-in-1 tricycle but my brother Danny upstaged us with Steph Curry basketball shoes for Lillian. Sometimes bigger isn't always better! We also had the notes from my baby shower to open (see that post here)
  11. Bring your own high chair! We purchased this simple white Ikea high chair for my parents house in Sonoma and when I saw it I knew it was perfect for the party! I think it was $20! You have to get it for your party because it is a great height and simple and easy to decorate.


Just remember that the most important thing is to have a special celebration of your little one and guests at the party!!!!!


Lillian's Dress: Dottie DooLittle

Kettlecorn: Peter's Kettle Corn

Table Cloths: La Tavola

Votives: Glassy Baby Rental

Location: Presidio Golf Club Cafe (where we had our rehearsal dinner)

My dress and shoes 

Photography: Jenna, Tim Curran, Jesse Pedersen, Caitlin Kavanagh, Me