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ava's moana-themed second birthday

I can't believe our little baby is TWO! So to celebrate the occasion, we decided to throw her a little party with some of our local friends. Her first birthday party was more for us (celebrating surviving our first year of parenthood with tasty wine-floats, an ice cream bar, and a lot more adults than kids), but THIS year I thought it was time to transition to more of a kid-focused celebration.

The party was originally scheduled to take place the Saturday after her birthday, BUT the three of us came down with a stomach bug the day before (worst. timing. ever.) so we rescheduled for the first Saturday in April (parties are so much more fun when you can eat, drink and hug your guests!).

We decided to have the party at an adorable new indoor playground that recently opened in our neighborhood, called The Play Date. This play-space SO fun for little kiddos -- with endless creative activities, quality toys and a great indoor play-set. The space also features a curated boutique in the front, and two separate gathering spaces, ideal for special events like ours. The owner is a young entrepreneur with an eye for design - which made decorating the space SO easy because it is already so dang cute to begin with!


I wanted to design the party theme around something Ava LOVES, so the obvious choice was her all-time favorite Disney movie: Moana. But rather than going full-Disney, with Moana characters as far as the eye can see, I decided to make the theme a little more subtle; With lots more tropical palm fronds and fun bright colors, and some nods to Moana here and there.


I'll be linking to some of the party decor below, but the primary decorations were a fun tropical balloon arch that went over the dessert table, a couple DIY tropical leaf garlands, and the tiny tablescape on the kids tables. I also added a few simple touches here and there - like these little Moana boat-sail sandwich-picks (above) that adorned the croissant sandwich platter (download the free printable HERE).

Bamboo Picks for boat sails // Tropical Leaves for DIY garlands

This was my first time making a balloon arch and it was SO SIMPLE I fully intend on making many more to help jazz up future kiddo parties and friend's showers -- very budget friendly but they pack a visual punch! OH and if you decide to add one of these to your next party, be sure to pick up an electric balloon pump. I wish I bought one of these years ago.... it gives your lungs a break and inflates balloons with air in seconds.

As for the tablescape -- I went with some inexpensive 'wood grain' style palm leaf plates from Amazon, with cute and colorful Meri Meri dessert plates on top. I ran two greenery garlands I already owned, down the center of each table, and then added mini glitter party hats and party favor boxes to finish off the look! I got some some great party and party favor inspiration from a blog I found on Pinterest - click here to read the full post.

The party favors were super fun to put together. I stuck with the tropical theme, and tried to pick some items kids would enjoy, even after the party ended. All of the little goodies came from Oriental Trading Co. and Amazon. Links to my favorites are below.


Even though our venue, The Play Date, has enough activities to keep kids busy for hours, I wanted to include some sort of take-home craft the kids could all do together. I loved the idea of a candy necklace station because it's something all ages could enjoy (including the younger ones who were perfectly content watching and eating the Fruit Loops), it was easy to put together (just a box of cereal, a few different types of lifesavers and a chalkboard sign), and then the kids were able to take it home with them or enjoy over the course of the party!


So I decided to take on the task of baking and decorating 48 cupcakes instead of ordering a big cake from a bakery. I found a cute shop on Etsy that makes little fondant hawaiian flowers, and ordered 30. The rest of the cupcakes were decorated with blue frosting and dipped in crumbled graham crackers, to look like the shoreline. I recruited my cousin to come over to help me decorate and we knocked them out in about 2 hours. I was SO happy with the final product (here's the link to the cake decorating kit I used... it makes your frosting look SUPER professional).

So the next morning, Jordan loads up the car and my cupcake holder TOPPLES OVER and all of my hawaiian flower cupcakes smash into each other.... pink frosting smeared all. over.

I actually wanted to cry. But a few deep breaths and a butter knife later, the frosting was smoothed out and I was on the road, headed to the party. Maybe next year I'll just get a cake delivered!

We also made some Vanilla Wafer 'clams' (see the tutorial HERE) that were super easy (and even easier to transport ;)), and everyone LOVED them!


Ava's cute tropical dress and bloomers are from our friends at Hey Little Scout, her Hawaiian flower clip from is Etsy, and my super soft maternity dress is from Hello Miz. I got Jordan a Moana 'demi-dad' tee from Etsy for Father's Day last year, and it was perfect for this occasion!

All of the fun party details aside, Ava truly had the time of her life at her 2nd birthday party. She danced around with bubbles, flew down the slide at least 40-50 times, had a whole cupcake to herself (and a few clam cookies too), and got to hang with all of her little friends in one place. Seeing the joy on her face that day made all of the planning and preparation, scheduling and re-scheduling, so SO worth it.


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