Since Milo loves beach balls and playing in the sand, we picked a cool little park known as Mother's Beach that has a grassy play area, some play structures, and a little patch of sand that slopes into the (waveless) harbor. The park is quiet and often empty during the week. Unfortunately, I picked the same day as a local elementary school that was having their end-of-year party! So there were a few busloads of kids at the beach part of the park, and we didn't end up going down to the water.
We still had fun, though! I chose a beach theme for the cake, favors, craft and decorations, and the kids had a great time.
Except for the cake, I decided that everything would come out of a bag, box or be ready-made at the grocery store. That was a great plan that relieved so much of the stress that usually goes into one of these events! I bought a big platter of deli-meat stuffed pita pocket sandwiches, pre-sliced fruit and then some kid-friendly & munchie snacks like animal crackers, chips and fruit snacks.
The friend who hosted my baby sprinkle (smaller than a shower!) had a really cute idea where she filled a kid's sand bucket with animal crackers and served it with a toy shovel. I filed the idea away in the back of my head, and pulled it out for this party. I bought a set of several buckets, shovels and sand molds at Wal-Mart (I know! I know!) for about fifteen bucks and, of course, washed them to use as food receptacles. I filled the buckets with the chips, fruit salad, animal crackers and packets of fruit snacks. I had also planned on turning a sand mold upside down and filling it with dip for the chips, but that didn't happen.
Along with the bright buckets and shovels I used a bright yellow tablecloth, bold colored plates and napkins, and I snipped a few fresh sunflower heads and spread them on the table along with some little sand molds. It was a cute, bright table.
The cake is where I decided to spend some time to make something special and handmade for my birthday boy. I really prefer homemade cakes to store bought ones, and I try to do homemade whenever possible. Of course, that doesn't always work out, but I really feel like so much more love goes into a homemade cake (even a boxed mix, like this one was!).
This cake idea came from two different Martha articles: Shark & Beach Cupcakes and the Sailboat Birthday Cake.
The sheet cake is a simple white cake, but I poked holes into it and poured Berry Blue Jell-O over the whole thing. Basic recipe is:
1 box white cake mix
1 6 oz. pkg. sweetened Jello, any flavor
Bake cake as directed on package. After cake is done, mix Jello with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Poke holes in cake with a fork and/or straw and pour Jello over cake while still hot. Refrigerate 2 hours and decorate.
I added blue food coloring to white frosting and spread it over the cake in a very textured swirl, then added some shredded coconut around the edge for the "seafoam." I also cut a little hole in the cake and put an "island" cupcake in there for the candle to go into.
Here are the pdf instructions to make the boat: click!
The cupcakes are made with Devil's Food Cake mix, cream cheese frosting, and finely crushed graham crackers as the "sand." I made the people out of cardstock, but I went ahead and scanned them and cleaned them up and they are available to download and print for your personal use here: click!
Since Milo loves to play with balls, I decided to find a ball-themed craft. Oriental Trading Company makes blank white beachballs that the kids decorated with permanent markers. Perfect!
I also ordered favors from oriental Trading Company. I was a little disappointed with the quality of the Mini Beach Play Sets, but at $12.99 for a dozen, how great can you honestly expect the quality to be? I spruced them up by wrapping a colorful little ribbon around them and punching out little circles full of Milo's cute face and writing "Milo, first birthday, june 17, 2009" on each of the sets. I also added a little pair of cheap sunglasses to each bucket, and I think that it made a very cute favor. They were the perfect size for our toddler guests, especially those with sand tables at home.