Shep’s first birthday party

30 September 2019

After the semi-disaster of June’s third birthday party, Shep’s first go-round was a sweet relief! Simple, fun, and spent with our favorite people, it was everything we were hoping it would be. Thankfully, the birthday boy seemed to feel the same way :) I have a few pictures to share, if you’d like to see!

Pullen Park carousel ride

Right off the bat, Shep, as opposed to June, has one major thing going for him: his birthday is in the summer. Yes, it’s hot in North Carolina in July, but we’re used to hot. In January, you could get a 65-degree day, but if you don’t, you can’t very well ask people to gather outside on a chilly 40-degree day. So, an outdoor party is pretty much out for her, and indoor parties can get reeeeeeally overwhelming really quickly in our house. The open concept of our downstairs is great for our family, but when you add 5+ guests (especially kids!) into the mix, it’s a lot.

Pullen Park birthday party

All that to say – the best part about this party from the start was that it was NOT at our house: we rented the Carousel Pavilion at Pullen Park. Pullen is a Raleigh city park with an adorable carousel (built in 1900!), little boats June loves, a train, a wonderful playground, and more. We love visiting as a family and knew it would be the perfect fit for this party!

Pullen Park Carousel

From Our State Magazine

We invited 25 guests and about 20 could come, which was wonderful! As you might expect for a first birthday, the guests were mostly family members and our friends, since Shep doesn’t really have friends :) Both sets of our parents, my sister and her fam, and several of our dear family friends joined us.

On the agenda? Drawing with chalk, blowing bubbles, playing in the trees next to the pavilion, and eating. We also took a mass ride on the carousel before cutting into the cake (the tickets were in lieu of a party favor!), and that was a big hit.

chalk message

The party was from 11-1, and this was our menu: pizza from our favorite Oakwood Pizza Box, homemade fruit salad, applesauce pouches, cut veggies and dip, cake, and little Bluebell cups of ice cream. We also had water, juice boxes, and LaCroix in a cooler.

chocolate birthday cake

The cake was a lucky find: we had been to a bridal shower earlier in the month that served a multilayer chocolate and vanilla cake covered in chocolate ganache (like this!), and it was delicious!! The hostess shared with me the unlikely source: an IGA grocery store! For $20, it was ours – and every single bite was devoured on-site.

first birthday smash

We went with a very light carousel theme to match our location, and balloons, a few tablecloths, fun star plates (inspired by the ceiling of the carousel), and party hats rounded out the decor. The crowning glory, though, (and really the only detail of note) was my party hat animals. These guys turned out SO CUTE! Playing off the invitation (which played off the carousel animals themselves), I crafted the tiniest party hats for our Schleich collection. It was surprisingly easy – I just made a little template to pump them out assembly-line style, and attached them to the animals with hot glue (they came right off without a hitch after the weekend).

party hat toy animals

I’ll finish with that invitation. I went with a sweet postcard from Minted – they always have the perfect design for everything, no matter what I’m looking for! Love them so much.

carousel party invitation

Thanks for taking a peek, friends! Currently debating whether we’ll do a fourth birthday party for June in January… I was pretty set on not doing one this year, but after experiencing Shep’s, she’s hot on the idea. Fingers crossed I can convince her to do something fun instead with just one friend or her cousins!

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September 30, 2019 7:40 am

Happy birthday to your sweet boy! A carousel party would be a dream come true for my kiddos! So much fun!!

September 30, 2019 8:59 am

Yas Pullen Park! My daughter’s third was in the same exact spot, as were many of my own birthday parties and my surprise high school graduation party! The best. So easy and fun!

September 30, 2019 9:25 am

I don’t have kids yet, but sometimes I see birthday party posts and think, “Wow, that’s nice but it looks like a ton of work and completely overwhelming!” Shep’s party gave me the total opposite feeling- everything looked so meaningful and simple! Pullen Park is such a special place and IGA 10-layer chocolate cakes are the BEST.

September 30, 2019 10:07 am

Looks delightful and M would have loved to have been there! Glad Shep had such a great party. Fingers crossed for a successful follow-up in January!

Kelly Strawberry
September 30, 2019 11:06 am

Love the simple theme and cute party hat animals!! Happy birthday Shep!

October 1, 2019 9:31 pm

This is just the cutest! Those little party hats! And his smile says it all in the first pic!

October 3, 2019 11:28 am

So cute and fun! It looks like it was a blast and that cake looks yummy!!