On Gavin's first full day of life, I sat in the hospital bed holding my newborn baby boy, surrounded by my family and several nurses, yelling for Bodemeister to win. He placed, and I realized that Gavin's first birthday would be on a Saturday, and thus on Preakness. I started planning his birthday right then and there.
Crazy? Maybe. But oh! What a fun birthday party we had! I knew from the start that I wanted Gavin's party to be all about Preakness - the horses, the flowers, the drinks, the betting, the partying... All of it! I knew there would be fake Black Eyed Susan flowers (fake, as they're not in season in May), so a few weeks before the party I made my way to Michael's. Only to discover they didn't have fake Black Eyed Susans. So I bought some paint and a paintbrush and faked my own fake Black Eyed Susans. The turned out fabulously!
My mom flew into town a few days before the party to spend time with the kids and help out with things. She turned my fake flowers into a beautiful wreath for the door. Bonus: it's Steelers colors, so I can use it this fall!
You may remember I flipped out over invitations for a while there... I really wanted the invitations to reflect the horse race birthday party I was planning. And all I could find were cowboy invitations. Don't get me wrong - they were adorable. Just not what I had in mind. As I was just about to lose my mind completely, I clicked over to Paperless Post to see if they had anything at all. They did!
Meanwhile, my mother had made gorgeous hobby horses for all of the children attending the party. They were shipped to my house in a cardboard "corral" (painting box). I kept them hidden from Laura until the big day. I loved seeing her reaction to the horses! I'm hoping my mom will share a tutorial on these hobby horses. They were not overly difficult to make - and are just wonderful to see in action (pictures further down the post)!
I printed some jockey silks from a Word document, and wrote "Happy Birthday Gavin." My mom and I stuck them to some scrapbook paper pennant flags and strung them on yarn for a banner.
I found these fabulous jockey hats on Amazon for a few bucks. The description was a little confusing as to how many hats would come (four or six) - for the record, there were six hats per order (I got twelve!)
I made Gavin's t-shirt on Zazzle, after scanning his invitation at a very high resolution and then editing out the green background. My photo editing skillz aren't fabulous, but I got the job done. I was really pleased with how the shirt turned out - and I did it really last minute, and Zazzle still got the shirt to me on time!
Gavin took himself right over to his birthday present the moment it arrived, climbed on top of it, and began to tear open the wrapping paper. So we just followed his lead and ran with it. Gavin opened his presents as they arrived, and couldn't have had more fun with the paper and toys. This present is a car tower for "Little Wheelies." Laura loves racing the cars down the two spiral routes. Gavin loves lifting the elevator up and down and up and down and up and down... Thank you to my in-laws for such a fun toy!
I wanted the food to be authentic Maryland. So I ordered catering from a yummy pit beef place near us. Pit ham, pit turkey, pit beef, shredded pork, potato salad, cole slaw, BBQ sauce and buns for 25 adults - for a really reasonable price! The best part: they delivered the food! I am so glad I went the catering route. I made some Maryland crab dip, cut up some fruit and veggies, and didn't have to worry a thing about food the whole day.
So for drinks, of course I had to serve the Black Eyed Susan punch!! It was just as yummy as I remember from my Preakness Infield experience back in the day. Yum! We went through this whole drink dispenser, and had to make some more! We also had lemonade, iced tea, soda and beer just to round things out.
So I went a little on the crazy side on Gavin's cake. I ordered a horseshoe-shaped cake pan, having seen a really cute cake on Pinterest. Nate was convinced I was making a toilet cake - ahem. I had a vision of the cake covered in Black Eyed Susans. But again with the whole not in season thing... Thankfully (crazily?) at Michael's, I found some sugar daisies in the baking aisle, as well as some yellow and black edible paint. That's right! I hand painted sugar flowers for a one-year-old's cake! My mom rolled her eyes at me so much while I was painting those flowers. But you know what? I think they were gorgeous and totally made the cake! Sidenote: sugar daisies aren't actually all that tasty to eat.
Laura made a special crown for the birthday boy to wear on his birthday. He didn't keep it on as much as she would have liked, but it was pretty adorable! She was so proud of Gavin all day. I have had so much fun watching these two the past year. They really are so close!
Gavin could not wait to get his hands on that cake. He tried to grab the candle, but settled for a fist full of chocolate instead.
After we got Gavin cleaned up (he needed a full bath, mid party), we took the kids and hobby horses into the yard for the first running of the Toddler Preakness! It was HILARIOUS. We had a "track" for them to run... and not one toddler went the right way! We ran at least five races before the kids just dissolved into giggles and tag. We didn't have the best weather for the party, but we made do for those races - and I'm so glad we did! The races were just as fun and silly as I had hoped they would be!
Laura had also requested a game of "Donkey on the Tail" in the weeks leading up to the party. As it was a horse party anyway, I was happy to oblige. I took that edited photo of the horse from the invitation, converted it to a PDF, and chose the "poster" option in the printer settings at 600%. Sadly, the kids didn't like being blindfolded, so it didn't work as well as I thought it might, but it was still cute.
Gavin had a really special and really fun first birthday. So yeah, I went a little crazy with it... but I don't regret a single aspect of that party! Everything was perfect. From the invitations to the cake, I am so pleased with everything we did to celebrate our little boy!
Disclosure: I was not compensated in anyway by any company for anything I did for this party. I share brands and companies simply because I was so happy with the results, and I'd like to pass that along! However, if any of these companies wanna talk, I'm listening ;-)