“Twinkle Little Rockstar” 1st Birthday Party

For our son’s first birthday, we did a twist on Twinkle Little Star for my music-loving baby!

When my firstborn turned one, I absolutely wanted to make it special. I know it sounds kind of silly, but as a child, I already loved planning birthday parties, and it was always one of the things I was looking forward to be able to do as a parent! And here I was, finally getting to planning my first one!

I knew I wanted to make it unique, fun for him, enjoyable for our guests, and most of all, to reflect an aspect of who he was.

Very early on, he had shown a love for music. Not only was music a part of our daily life, it was also embedded into our routines throughout the day. His favorite one at the time was Twinkle Little Star, and so I thought he would enjoy that as a familiar theme. He was also already demonstrating a natural sense of rhythm (which over time has continued to prove true!) as he loved to dance and could keep up with a beat. And because he seemed to be a little extravert, dancing and enjoying making those around him laugh, I made a twist on our theme and called it “Twinkle Little Rockstar.”

Our little music-loving chubster
We introduced the theme in our Paperless Post invitation

While I wanted to go all out in celebrating him, I didn’t want it to be just a big show; I wanted to make it still meaningful, enjoyable, and age-appropriate for his “peers” at the time, who were the other babies in our Mommy-and-Me class that had journeyed with us through the year. Because our space options were limited due to living in LA at the time, it had to be an outdoor event that we could hold at our local park, so I tried to consider activities that would work for that setting.

With respect to decor, I wanted to ensure it was celebratory of my son and our first year journey, to tie it in to our theme, and at the same time, to make our guests feel appreciated for coming by creating an atmosphere where they could feel like they could rest and relax a little bit. Most of the attendees would be other parents themselves, and in this season, hauling the whole family out with all the baby gear was quite the ordeal. I wanted to make it feel worth their while, that they were able to – for a moment – still feel a little bit like themselves.

Food – that was going to be a big challenge. When my son was six months old, we discovered he had multiple severe food allergies. Going to events was already difficult for us, and even though he wasn’t necessarily going to be eating all of the foods, I was determined to ensure that we served safe foods so that he could play freely for once, as opposed to having us hover over him with vigilance and wipes.

And finally, again, out of appreciation for the effort our guests made to attend, I wanted the kids to have something fun to take home that they could play with and remember the event by (as much as one year olds can remember in the moment!), that represented our theme, which in turn was symbolic of some of the unique aspects of my son we were celebrating.

So without further ado, here is how it turned out!

Welcome table at the entrance of our space

At the entrance, we wanted to set the stage for the event. We had a sign that stated our theme and we incorporated a few favorite images from our milestone shoots throughout the year (yes, we were suckered into the “first year” package when we first saw our newborn photos). We also made a simple board that featured his monthly milestone photos taken from my phone. My husband (who is also artistic and has an eye for design) actually did some of the floral arrangements (thanks Trader Joe’s!).

We had a little “welcome” sign made off of Etsy; I wanted it to be something we could continue to repurpose even after the event, and to this day, it now sits in the entryway of our home!

Since the event was in the middle of a public park, we did want something to anchor the party and be a center point. So for a backdrop, we strung up tassels between two poles were we able to bring in. The poles were also what we used for the string lights, which we wanted to have as the timing of our event was right when Daylight Savings shifted and the sun would be setting early.

Given that the event was at the park, we decided to lean into the location and make it feel like an upscale lounge-style picnic. (I swear this was before those fancy picnics were a thing!)

However, to keep it in perspective that, hey, this is a kid’s birthday party, we made sure the decor still represented him. So throughout the area, we placed many of his favorite toys, so that as families ate, their kids could stay entertained.

One of my son’s favorite things to play with were balls of all sorts of shapes and sizes, so we made sure to have plenty of balls lying around! Beach balls, rubber balls, and as you can see below, a ball pit!

We also brought our outdoor play pen, again filled with some of his favorite toys. It was also strategic as it gave some of the parents a little bit of a break, if they wanted to put their kids in there so they could have their hands free for a minute to grab a bite.

For the food, I ended up finding a catering company that was able to work with us in preparing a bunch of safe allergy-free options – a tough feat, as we had to exclude dairy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. We had gluten-free quinoa cakes, stuffed mushrooms, avocado rolls, fruit skewers, vegetable skewers, vegetable crudites with an assortment of safely prepared hummuses (no dairy-based dips), and I also made some gluten-free zucchini breads.

The desserts weren’t all allergy-safe, but this was served later into the evening and we made sure to remind the grown-ups to use extra care. We also had wipes on hand for everyone to use.

Here is another shot of some of the lounge areas we set up. We wanted to make it suitable for the park but also very comfortable and family-friendly, so our friends could take a little breather!

For his very first taste of cake, I had originally attempted to make an allergy-free smash cake. It was my first time baking a cake that was gluten-free and vegan and it completely didn’t work out, because the night before, it fell apart as I was trying to transfer it into a box. I quickly had to pivot and ended up making a gluten-free/vegan cupcake instead, since it would at least have the wrapper to hold it together. I think the culprit was the lack of egg to hold it together; who knew how critical eggs were!

Our little guy was absolutely mesmerized when everyone started singing.

Here is our little chubster blowing out his very first birthday candle!

And of course, his first taste of cake. He was a little unsure, but got the hang of it pretty quick!

Sadly, I guess I forgot to take a photo of our party favors table that day, but you can see a glimpse of it in one of our friends’ hands here. We had little tins with each child’s name on it, and inside, we gave out star-shaped infant sunglasses, an allergy-safe star-shaped rice krispie treat I made, and a musical-note shaped teething toy.

So there you have it! Our little guy’s first birthday party! I hope when he grows up he’ll be able to look back and see my heart in it!

And an extra special thank you to my dear husband Daniel, for understanding my love language and helping make my vision come to life in a number of ways, from helping with setup and photography to camping out to reserve this public space at 6 AM in the morning that day!

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