Growing up, we didn’t have big birthday parties or spend a ton of money, but I always felt loved and appreciated even more on my birthday with all the little things my family did to make the day feel special.
Fast forward to now, three kids deep into my adult years and that that feeling of showing the love has translated to my obsession with making my kids first birthdays extra special. So with my last ever first birthday for one of my own, I was determined to give her the same treatment the other two got, even with COVID-19 restrictions cramping our traditional birthday party style.
Luckily for me, we have one of the coolest, most creative party planners in the Valley as a part of our writing team here on EVM, and at our writing retreat a few months ago, a plan was hatched.
While trying to keep to some normalcy almost a year into our lives with COVID, I racked my brain on how I could pull off a COVID-safe party that friends and family would feel comfortable with. So I took a page out of the latest trend book and we threw a upscale bee-themed party out at Charming Pony Farm and had a fantastic time.
Charming Pony Parties is sweet family run farm located in south Gilbert. They have been a local staple here in the valley and their business was hit pretty hard due to COVID. But, rest assured their ingenuity has added some fun little extras to the table as special options for birthdays and special events.
It’s a farm, so there’s ample space for kids to roam and run, and social distancing was easy. There’s a beautiful princess castle, and a pirate ship, for kids to play on and most importantly, animals galore.
From goats to chickens and ducks, a few alpacas to the beautiful rescue ponies, many guests were surprised just how one-year-old friendly a pony party could be. The owner, Christy, patiently brought out animals one at a time and let all the babies pet, look and even feed everything from a bunny to a pony! She was so patient with the babies meeting the animals.
And for sanitary concerns, all of the play structures are cleaned and sanitized. Plus, she offers a washing station for before and after your encounter.
The farm its self is charming and has its own princess theme that is the most turnkey angle, if you’re looking to keep things super simple.
Being the “going the extra mile when it comes to birthdays” mom, I had a very specific theme in mind and enlisted the help of contributor Kate, co-owner of bloom + blueprint, to add her own colorful inspiration to pull the party together, and she beyond exceeded our expectations!
Kate took the girly, upscale vision I had of a non-traditional (i.e. not the boring and overdone yellow and black) bee theme that I had in mind and put a glam blush and sage custom twist on it, making it anything but boring.
Why bee theme? My little girls middle name is Bea and Kate and her team brought out the most epic stand-up pieces with her own slogan “I just took a DNA test turns out I’m 100% that Bea.” She also paired the stand-up pieces with stunning florals and balloon garlands. I was floored by their attention to detail.
For the long table family style vibe she allowed me to put my own touches into the mix like using honey bear containers as drink cups and specific cutlery. Everything was on point and elegant, for an upscale farm party that I will never forget.
The Food: Picnic at the Farm
Normally, I host and cook myself for birthday parties, but by the third kid, let’s be real, I had zero energy to do all of that, but I also wanted to keep it budget friendly.
I may be the last person to realize this, but Walmart does party trays in their deli! I feel like that should have been a no-brainer, yet I had no clue until I was at another birthday a week before and they had ordered subs (and they were so good!).
I was sold on the idea. I’m all about finger food, especially with it being a one year olds party, so I ordered up a tray of sliders (which I highly recommend) they were a hit so easy and super cheap.
We had more than enough with a medium try and it fed 20 guests (both kids and adults). I added simple fruit and veggie tray (you can never go wrong), single serve chips and drinks. I did made bee-themed sugar cookies as a sweet treat for our guests, which was a labor of love.
Now I know I’m one of the few out there that when something comes into my head, I just can’t get it out until I see it through, even if it ends up costing me more. I know the rational isn’t there but it’s the curse of being crafty.
That being said, months before I got down to the last minute and panicked about not having anything accomplished for the party, I picked her bee theme and I thought wouldn’t it be “the year of COVID” appropriate to do the party’s take home gift as homemade soaps! So, I set my sights on learning how to make my own soaps.
I took a few more trips to Hobby Lobby than my wallet would have liked, but at the end of my adventure into soap making I came out with the cutest bee themed layered shea butter, honey, vanilla and oatmeal organic soap bars that were so special just for our guests to take home and remember celebrating with us. Throughout the process I actually found a love of making soaps hope to gift more in the near future.
We hope this helps you find inspiration for your kid’s parties as we ease back into celebrations after COVID!