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I cannot believe that our sweet little girl is already one! Her birthday was on Friday and the Gavin household was a frenzy of busy activity as we prepared for her first birthday party. She and I spent the day running all over town getting ready for the party and visiting a few special people. It was a long day and I didn’t have a chance to take her milestone photos until late afternoon.
The milestone photos have been a challenge ever since Dessa learned to crawl, but milestone photos with a toddler are something else entirely. Especially a toddler at the end of a very long day. Rob was nearby to try and entertain Dessa while I took her photo and to keep her from falling off the bed. We didn’t come close to nailing the perfect first birthday milestone photo, but I love all of the outtakes so much.
All of these photos were taken within a ten minute time frame. As you can see, Dessa’s emotions run a bit hot and cold these days. I’m certain that we have many, many more of these over-the-top cranky moments ahead of us this year.
We were saving Dessa’s first cake experience for her birthday party, but we had to do something special to celebrate the occasion. So we all took a walk to our local ice cream joint for a special treat. Dessa got her very own cone (without the ice cream) and she was in heaven!
We also captured the perfect first birthday milestone photo. Finally.
Seriously, how precious is this girl?
Dessa’s First Birthday Party
Dessa loves dogs, so we decided to throw a dog-themed birthday party. I had every intention of shooting photos of the house decorated for the party and a few of the theme details, but things were crazy and busy and I focused more of my attention on being present for Dessa’s big day. I did snap a few detail photos along the way, so I will be sure to share those at the end of the post in case you’re curious!
Once we put our great big one-year-old daughter to bed on Friday night, it was time for some serious party prep. Most notably – slaving to make the cutest dog cake ever. If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you may have seen the Stories I shared of the cake making process. I found a great tutorial on the Betty Crocker website, which broke the whole process down into very simple steps. I knew I could handle assembling the dog. It was the artistic frosting that had me worried, but it all turned out perfectly. The process took far too long and I may never bake another cake again, but it was worth it! I also baked Dessa a cute little smash cake and a batch of cupcakes with the extra batter.
Saturday arrived at last and our friends and family came to share in the celebration. I promise Dessa was having more fun than she let on. My little introvert is always reserved when she is in a room full of people.
Dessa’s youngest party guests loved playing with the giant “WOOF” mylar balloons that I had purchased.
After everyone had lunch, it was finally time for cake!
At this point, Dessa was less than thrilled to be back in her high chair after finishing a meal and she was very skeptical of the cake.
Dessa didn’t really have any interest in eating the cake, but she fed some to Rob and eventually warmed up enough to fling the pieces around.
There’s my silly girl!
Dessa also discovered that frosting makes great hair gel. Her hair was a stiff, sticky mess for the rest of the day.
After cake was consumed and tossed about, it was finally time to open the presents! It was no surprise that Dessa just wanted to play with the papers and be left alone.
Thankfully, Dessa had several helpers under the age of seven that volunteered as tribute to help with those presents.
I’ve been craving simplicity for several years and all of my desires to live with less have intensified since becoming a mother. I read the book “Simplicity Parenting” a few months ago and it reinforced all of my beliefs that children don’t need mountains of toys or books to be happy. Rob and I had tucked a quick note inside of Dessa’s birthday party invitations requesting our loved ones to consider clothes, experiences, or money for college as gifts for Dessa. I was so incredibly thankful for the thoughtful gifts Dessa received from our family and friends. She received a few toys that are developmentally perfect for her, as well as a handful of books and enough clothes to keep her stylish this fall. She also received money for her education, which Rob and I have a special plan for – hopefully we will be able to share our thoughts on college money in a future blog post. It was the perfect balance of gifts for our sweet little girl.
So what did Rob and I purchase for Dessa as her first birthday gift? We bought her this adorable puppy pop up book. Dessa received a farm book in the series at Easter and loved it so much that it’s now falling apart. As soon as I saw that there was a puppy version, I knew it would make the perfect gift for her. I also have plans to order a new custom board book like the one I created for Christmas as a belated birthday present. I don’t like to overwhelm Dessa with too many new toys or books at once, so it will work out perfectly that the board book will arrive in a few weeks, after the excitement has worn down from her new birthday gifts.
Puppy + First Birthday Party Decor
I didn’t go overboard with the theme for Dessa’s birthday party, but I did purchase a few small items to make the day extra special. I found the most adorable dog theme printable custom invitations on Etsy that were perfect for the party.
Once the invites were sent, I just had to knock out the decorations. We went with a pink, teal, and purple color scheme with pops of black and white. All of the paper products came from Party City. It was fun to mix polka dots, solids and stripes for little pops of fun. Dollar Tree sells the most adorable large plastic dog bowls that are black with pictures of white dog bones along the outside. I bought several of them to hold chips, ice, and other snacks for the party. It was such an easy (cheap) way to make a fun statement. I also splurged and bought silver foil balloons that spelled “WOOF” to place on the gift table. The letters were larger than I expected and I was thankful to have such a long table to hold them!
There were several children in attendance and I wanted to do something special for them as well. I’m not the type to rent a bounce house or make elaborate goody bags as party favors (because I seek simplicity), but I wanted to send a small gift home with Dessa’s cousins and friends. Luckily, I discovered a 12-pack of stuffed animal puppies on Amazon that I used for a simple “adopt a puppy” basket. All of Dessa’s young guests were invited to select a puppy of their own to keep and the price was just right for our budget.
The puppy theme was super-fun to set up, but I didn’t want to overlook the fact that this was Dessa’s first birthday. I had 5″x5″ square prints made of Dessa’s milestone and holiday photos from her first year of life. I have treasured every single one of these photos and I loved the gorgeous print quality from Artifact Uprising. I clipped each photo onto some lace ribbon that was left over from our wedding to create a photo bunting, which I hung across the mantle in our living room.
I am so in love with how it all turned out! Such a simple decoration, but it was so charming strung across our mantle.
How is it possible that an entire year has gone by?
This past year has been simply amazing and we can’t wait to discover what the next year has in store for Dessa and our family. We have one final milestone card left in in the package and it’s the milestone I’ve been most excited for her to conquer. I just keep waiting ever so patiently for my big girl to say “mama” for the first time.