Before this post had even been written, it took a twist within its tale. When I imagined writing this post, I envisaged it to be a descriptive piece about how I made beautiful (in my humble opinion, ha!) party invites, how I created a garden party to be proud of and how I went about planning the naming day to celebrate Baby Lighty’s first birthday. In many ways, this post still is just that, but in other ways it’s also had a bit of feeling added to it. Little did I know that my own high expectations would be thwarted by the weather, that all of that bunting I so dilligently cut out for our 30th birthdays and recycled for Baby Lighty’s first birthday would hang limp and soggy on a day when I’d imagined us enjoying drinks in the sunshine. Ah, the great British summer: that’s why this post has a twist in its tale!
So here goes: this is how we celebrated our little boy growing up, by throwing him a Disney’s Up! themed first birthday party, and how the rain tried its hardest to stop play…
All the planning began three months before the big day, when Mrs Lighty started designing the invites. As I mentioned in my baby shower post, I strongly believe that a good party invite sets the tone of the day up nicely, and so I used some free clipart images to create an invite which would introduce the Up! theme to our guests. I always like to do something a bit different if I can though, and this party time around, the quirk was to do with the guestbook. You may be wondering where the jump from invite to guestbook has come from, but the two are linked, promise!! I’ve always been a bit disappointed by the lack of response traditional guestbooks have got on the day of previous parties, so I thought I’d shake things up a little this time, and included a piece of coloured card with every invite. On the back of each invite were the following instructions:
As [Baby Lighty] will be too little to remember the day itself, we’d really like to build him a scrapbook filled with love, fun and memories that he’ll be able to treasure as he grows up. To help us to do this, we enclose a piece of card. We would love it if you could fill this with something personal, which we’ll then stick into his scrapbook. This can be anything you like: a story that you’d like to pass down to him, a drawing, a family recipe, a photograph, a memory from the past year of his life, a poem, a special message…anything that takes your fancy, and we’d love you to be creative if the mood takes you! If you could bring your completed card with you to the party, we’d very much appreciate it, and remember to sign your name(s) on your creation!
Once this idea had planted its seed in Mrs Lighty’s mind, I needed to find a suitable guestbook to house the pieces of card that I hoped people would return on the day of the party. I searched high and low, but it wasn’t until I got into conversation with my friend Becky from Retro from Scratch that I got the answer I was looking for. If you haven’t come across Becky’s beautifully upcycled notebooks already, you can do so here. She takes books which have been loved by previous owners but may now have seen better days, and rebinds them with new paper to make them into gorgeously vintage inspired notebooks. I’d originally asked her if she had any Up! annuals or books that I could use as a guestbook, but after a bit of a conversation as to what I was after, it came to light that Becky could make me an adventure book, reminiscent of the one in the film. Not only this, but she could bind it with a chunky spine so that it wouldn’t be too thick to close once the guesbook entries had been stuck in! We had some fabulous entries on the day, including photos, poems and even a felt version of the Lighty family!
From here, I turned back to the Pinterest boards that I may just have started collating even before Baby Lighty was born (I do love my party planning and my pinning!!). I knew that I wanted the day to be colourful, in line with all of those brightly coloured balloons from the film, and I also knew that I wanted the idea of the ‘spirit of adventure’ to be present on the day. I therefore bought lots of brightly coloured bunting and garlands, and of course we knew that we’d include plenty of vibrant balloons on the day, and the latter idea of adventure was luckily fulfilled by recylcing a lot of the decorations I’d made for our travel themed 30th birthday party three years previously, including the meters of map bunting I’d made from an old road atlas and a globe that I’d picked up a car bootsale. We also found some free printables online, for Carl and Russell cardboard figurines, and vintage Up! inspired posters.
Two of the little quirks that I wanted to include as part of this party were originally intended to replace party bags, although I did eventually cave and do party bags too: one was a bubble station, and the other was a Paradise Falls Fund filled with chocolate coins ready to be raided. The paradise falls fund was easy, especially as Mrs Lighty has a bit of a thing about collecting unusual glass jars (something which drives Mr Lighty potty!). When Mr Lighty therefore announced that we still had an oversized glass jar in the garage which I’d saved from something or other, I knew that it would be perfect with a ‘Paradise Falls Fund’ sign and a luggage tag asking people to help themselves. I created the bubble station by filling a wicker picnic hamper with tissue paper and of course bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles of every shape and size! I had this vision in my head of being able to capture beautiful photos on the day filled with these whimsical bubbles floating here, there and everywhere, but as you’re about to read, the weather put pay to that.
As part of the celebrations, we also wanted to incorporate a naming ceremony. Both Mr Lighty and I wanted something fairly informal but which recognised how much Baby Lighty means to us and our extended families. I looked into hiring a Humanist celebrant to conduct the service, but there wasn’t a huge amount of choice in our area, plus it didn’t feel overly personal to us. I therefore asked Mr Lighty how he would feel about asking two of our friends, who I knew would be just perfect for the task at hand, to perform the ceremony. He said he thought it would be a great idea, and so we nervously asked them last Christmas. Fortunately for the Lightys, they said that they’d love to be involved, and so I set about writing a ‘script’ for the service. I think this is why I wanted friends involved rather than a stranger, as the script could be tailored to us. I did some research, and found this post on Hitched.co.uk. I was really grateful for this fellow mum for sharing this post and freely letting others borrow from it, as it gave me a good basis and format to form my own script, which can be found here. We had decided some months ago that even though we weren’t having a religious Christening, we still wanted to call Baby Lighty’s Godparents ‘Godparents’, as it had the formal importance that we felt was needed for the role. As part of the promises that they were to make on the day, we wanted to give them something symbolic to recognise how important we see them being in Baby Lighty’s life. To go with the Up! theme, I therfore ordered some Ellie inspired Grape Soda badges, and mounted them onto little cards, which were then put into brightly coloured envelopes and given out to the Godparents as part of the service.
And once all of these little pieces were done, I think we were pretty much ready to go…
On the day of the party, after weeks and weeks of stressing about the weather, having bought some mini marquees just in case, it looked like we’d got away with it. Yes it was overcast, but it was relatively warm, and – most importantly – dry. We therefore set about decorating the marquees with the coloured bunting, garlands, the map bunting and strings of photos of Baby Lighty, showing him as the tiny baby he was through to gorgeous one year old he is now. We may have had a slight hiccup when we realised that the helium cannisters we’d bought for the balloons didn’t actually include the balloons themselves…something pretty much crucial to an Up! themed party, and something which therefore saw Mr Lighty dashing to the shops an hour before the party started!! Yes, we were still inflating balloons as our guests arrived, yes we did have to rope in the Godparents to help us out with them (why else did we choose them to be Godparents?!) and yes, all of our parties are this disorganised!
As our guests arrived, they started to fill the makeshift pews we’d set up from the garden chairs we had begged and borrowed from friends and family. I like to think that the ceremony seating had an electic feel, but I’m not sure you can pull that off with mostly plastic patio furniture!! I’d emailed the cermony script to our two friends a few weeks prior to the party, and when I asked them if they needed me to do anything more with it, or whether they’d sort it out between themselves as to who was saying what, the answer I got was “No, it’s all sorted!” – which was exactly what a stressed Mrs Lighty needed to hear! Mr Wrighty and Mrs Jacky did a fabulous job with the service. Baby Lighty’s Great Aunty Tempy read Wisdom, from Proverbs 8, and Mrs Lighty may just have written and read a little something about why we chose the Godparents, which Baby Lighty’s Godmother, Miss Swifty, later on said she knew it would make her cry the minute I started reading it! All in all, the service was lovely and just what I wanted: it was informal, personal to us, involved our closest friends but still had enough meaning behind it to make it special.
And we got lucky with the weather for the naming cermony. For after that, we weren’t so lucky. The heavens opened just after the service finished, and all of the effort Mrs Lighty had put into making this party so perfect was washed away. The map bunting hung limp until individual flags started to peel off, the colourful garland fell down and our friends and family were all huddled together under the mini marquees or watching on from the conservatory. The little display I’d created with the bubble station, the guestbook, the globe and a framed photo of Baby Lighty had to be taken indoors to the safety of the dry before I could even take a photo of it. All the visions Mrs Lighty had of a lovely garden party – complete with kids both big and small playing with the giant jenga and oversized skittles that I’d bought for the occasion – vanished. Suddenly it was a cold, wet, disjointed gathering of people with no garden party in sight.
Of course, all of our friends and family said that they’d had a lovely time – whether that was the case or whether they were just being polite because they could see how disappointed I was, I don’t know – and we did manage to get everyone into the house to sing Happy Birthday to Baby Lighty (the story of how the cake also came to be slightly rubbish is another story for another day), but I still felt so disappointed that my vision hadn’t come off.
I know that this is mostly due to my own overly high expectations, especially after all of the work that went into planning and organising the day, and I am trying to look at the positive: we managed the naming ceremony outdoors and that part of the day was pretty much perfect and just as I’d imagined it. I guess it comes down to what I tell Mummy and Daddy Hatchy every time they get caught by an ash cloud / their car breaking down in Germany / a plane going tech when they go on one of their many travels: if you’re going to travel that often, eventually something will come up to thwart your holiday plans. And if Mr and Mrs Lighty are going to throw a party as often as we have done, eventually we will come across rubbish weather which will rain on our party’s parade.
So it didn’t quite happen as I’d imagined, and a big part of me does feel like I’ve let Baby Lighty down, as daft as that may be. But at the end of the day, let’s take into account that 65 people turned up last Saturday to wish Baby Lighty well. He has 65 people in his life that love him enough to make the effort to brave the rain and enjoy the party no matter what. And I think that’s got to be a measure of a successful party.
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