The Curated Planner: Ella’s First Birthday

I’ve taken my fair share of personality tests and my favorite and probably most accurate result has been from the Myers-Briggs test. I’m a proud ISFJ, the Guardian or the Defender, depending on which site you go to take it. I was reading more about my personality type last week and this line stood out to me: “ISFJs take infinite trouble over meals, gifts, and celebrations for their loved ones.”

This stood out to me last week because I was in month three of planning my daughter Ella’s first birthday party. And let me tell you, those three months felt like infinite trouble. Fun trouble, sure, but definitely never ending. But the ending came on Saturday when Ella’s party finally arrived. It was a dream come true for me. None of my fears were realized but all of my ideas and visions were. When starting to plan the party, I knew I wanted to make what I could myself. First, it’s more cost effective. And second, it’s always been a goal of mine to become craftier. But most importantly, I wanted to do something special for Ella. I know she won’t remember that day but I just imagine her looking at pictures of it years from now and just knowing that I worked really hard to make something special for her. And it was a special day. A busy, fun, pink, messy, totally special day.

Colors: Pink, white, and gold

Theme: Ellaphant is Turning One



We’ve been calling Ella “Ellaphant” pretty much since she was born so this was the obvious theme to go with. Home Goods, Target, and especially Hobby Lobby were a treasure trove when it came to elephant paraphenalia.



Most of the items on this drinks table, we owned before Ella was even born. The only purchases were the two elephants (both from Home Goods).




My favorite details on this tray are the peonies in the pitcher (The pitcher is from Anthropologie, the flowers were a great find on Etsy) and the utensil jars. I wanted to dress up the clear jars and since I didn’t trust my painting abilities, I thought it would be a cool place to stick pictures.


Besides Ella, this cake was the most celebrated. It’s a white white chocolate bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes and it was delicious. I made the cake topper out of straws, washi tape, and curling ribbon.


This number one balloon seemed like a visually effective but also easy centerpiece. To make it more personal, I tied my favorite picture of Ella to it.



I desperately wanted to try an ombre icing effect somewhere- the cupcakes and Ella’s cake were the lucky winners. (The elephant toppers are from Etsy but I saw an elephant shaped hole puncher on Amazon so next time around, I’ll try to make them).


Ella’s cake was absolutely a product of inspiration in the moment. I made the 8 inch round cakes and pressed one of our glasses to make these circles. I didn’t anticipate how crumbly the sides would be so I decided to only ice the tops, and not the sides.



The party favors were simple but really pretty, I thought. Mason jars, washi tape, curling ribbon, and all the gold-wrapped chocolate I could find.




On either side of the couch, I had these 24 inch round balloons that I thought would be more whimsical than the normal balloons.




I guess this banner kind of makes it seem like I’ve been planning this party since Ella was born. I’ve been taking these chalkboard pictures every month to track her growth. I’ve been making a little photo book to put them in but I thought it would be fun for everyone to see it for themselves. I found the chalkboard elephants at Home Goods, which seemed like too good a chance to pass up. I didn’t know what to do with them– they were the black in a sea of pink, gold, and white. But my little sister Caroline had the great idea to hang them around the door knobs going into the sunroom.




This display happened because I happened to have a bunch of prints of Ella and a bunch of patterned card stock. For weeks, maybe months, I was trying to figure out where and how to display them and I’m really happy with how these mini photo books and counter turned out. Ignore the messy kitchen in the background.








Of everything I had to plan, I was probably most nervous about the activities I’d chosen. I made a sort of makeshift photo booth, which turned out to be a lot of fun for the adults and kids. I found chalkboard placemats at Anthropologie and thought it might be fun for everyone to color so I also printed out different pictures of elephants for people to draw. The activity most important to me though involved the E notebook (also found at Anthropologie). From my bridal and baby showers, I have journals that my friends and family filled with advice and notes of love to me. I had this idea to give Ella (and any future kids) a similar journal for the people in her life to write notes to her on each one of her birthdays. It’s something she can keep forever.




Honestly, the party could not have been a bigger success. Every vision I had came to life just as I imagined and none of the fears that possessed me during the months of planning were realized. Even little things, like Ella keeping her crown on the whole time or there being the perfect amount of food. This was the first real party I’ve ever planned and it awoke a passion in me I didn’t know I had. I know every birthday won’t be like this but I figured her very first one should be special for the both of us.

P.S. If there’s anything you want the source for that I didn’t provide, just let me know in the comments.

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