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ava's ice cream social - first birthday party!

I'll admit... there was a point (probably around the time I was cutting out and assembling the 3 foot paper ice cream sculpture), when I realized I had gone too far. But I was in too deep. Too much time and creative energy had been committed and there was no turning back.

Fast forward one week, and the look on Ava's face when she laid eyes on that paper ice cream cone made it alllll worth it. Who am I kidding...? That little girl didn't care about the photo booth props! That part was for me. Because if we're being honest, first birthdays are about celebrating our littlest family members with a big party they'll never remember, with all the people who loved and supported us through those first trying weeks and months. Because we did it! We made it though the, "Oh shit what did we do?" phase, and moved gracefully into the, "This tiny human is the best thing that has ever happened to us" phase. And now it's time to memorialize the biggest milestone in this little person's life.

Here are photos and details from the day! The striped dress I'm wearing reminded me of an old-school ice cream parlor, so I thought it would be perfect for the party! You can shop it HERE! I'm linking many of the other sources within this post, but if you see something I've missed, feel free to ask for details in the comments!

Ava got, not one, but TWO cakes on her special day, because we took some first birthday photos before the even party started. I put her in a little tutu onesie from Old Navy, and of course, her gold sparkle party hat from Presh Toast. After this, we gave her a quick bath, washed the cake from under her chin and between her little fingers, and put her in her second party dress - a sweet little flutter sleeve number from Juja Bean Kidz.

I loved being able to get some nice photos of our little family, before the craziness of the party began. Stephany Fashempour did all of our family and party photos for the day and she totally knocked it out of the park. I'm putting all of our favorite shots in a Layflat Photo Album from Artifact Uprising (one of the absolute best places to create professional looking photo books). I can't wait to look back on these special moments we'll cherish for years to come!

Since Ava had never eaten processed sugar before, I spent some time looking for the perfect smash cake recipe, suitable for a one-year-old (low sugar, no artificial coloring, etc. etc.). I ended up going with this Apple Spice Cake from Simple Bites - complete with light pink cream cheese frosting, dyed naturally with pureed beets.

What's funny (and slightly ironic) is that I left the cream cheese out of the refrigerator too long, (while bringing it to room temperature for the slightly lower sugar cream cheese frosting), and had to pull out the sugariest-of-sugary-frosting in a can I had lying around my baking cabinet to frost the cake. So much for avoiding processed sugars! Ah well, our little girl only turns one ONCE!

NOW on to the decor! My absolute favorite part of party planning is picking out and DIYing all sorts of fun decorations that make the party feel cohesive without being overly theme-y.

We decided on the ice cream social theme, but I didn't want to go the super-traditional-seen-it-all-before-route with the ice cream decorations. So I found some SUPER cute paper ice cream sculptures from Moon Picnic, and based the theme around that color palette: light pink, lavender, light yellow, mint & chip, with some pops of coral.

If you want to make your own geo ice cream cones, you can download the pattern from Mr. Printables below!

Geo Ice Cream Cones (desktop download)

I busted out my Silhouette die cut machine to incorporate these colors with tons of pennant flag banners and photo booth props for the big day. This was a fairly easy way to bring the theme together while making the house feel a little festive... all without breaking the bank.

You can download the pennant flag pattern below!

Pennant Banner (desktop download)

The photo booth was another easy DIY project that was a BIG hit -- I think almost every guest made it to the booth to pose with a silly prop and, of course, with the birthday girl! For the backdrop, I simply taped white kraft paper to the wall, and then hung streamers from the top. Every few streamers were twisted and taped at the bottom, to give some dimension. The letters HBD in gold (short for happy birthday) added a little glitz, and the cat-eyed glasses, sparkly crown and gold and mint ice cream cone props added all the glam.

I found the CUTEST party favor idea on Oh Happy Day, and had so much fun making these DIY gum ball ice cream cones, for guests to take home at the end of the party.

I love flower arranging, so putting together vases of beautiful blooms, featuring some of the party colors, was a fun project for me the day before!

The ice cream bar was definitely the centerpiece of the party. It spanned across the entire kitchen island and offered loads of ice cream toppings, sprinkles and sauces. And because this party was just as much for the adults as it was for the kids, we served Moscato Floats alongside its tamer counterpart, the Root Beer Float. These were a BIG hit, and even though I barely got around to eating the Subway sandwiches we brought in for lunch, I managed to mix up and knock back a couple of these tasty drinks throughout the day ;) (this sounds worse than it is - the cups were small and this sentence is here primarilly for your amusement).

We even found an "Ava" Souvignon Blanc with the cutest little gold and blue label. It was a must-have for this special day.

Family and friends came from near and far to celebrate Ava's first birthday, and I really couldn't have asked for anything more. Little Ava enjoyed the day, enthusiastically digging into *both* birthday cakes, snuggling up with our guests, enjoyed some quiet time in her playpen, (there WAS a lot going on... 'What are all of these people doing in my house?'), and finally conked-out for bed at 7pm. Her very first over-the-top birthday celebration was a smashing success.


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