I really felt this was the birthday party that was never going to happen. On top of celebrating it 3 months after her actual birthday, we had to cancel the original party due to weather — which of course ended up being the perfect evening for it. By the time party weekend came, I was more than ready for it. The one thing I didn’t plan for was Rosie getting into chocolate the night before and vomiting all over the house. I spent 2 hours cleaning up after her and never would have gotten the food made without Marco’s help. He was a godsend and I freaking LOVE that man. He is amazing.
The party itself went off without a hitch. From the vendors to the photographer to weather and the doves, the girls had a terrific time at Daniela’s party. A nearly complete list of vendors follows the photos along with links to their shops because hands down, thats the most asked questions. If I missed something and you’d like to know where I got it, feel free to email me!
A big thank you to Alyssa Shrock Photography for managing to capture the special moments in spite of the chaos of ten 11 year old girls running amuck. Alyssa jumped right in and the girls loved her, hamming it up for her camera :)
Another HUGE thank you to my birthday party sponsors. I don’t get paid for mentioning them here, but I do want to thank them for the free or discounted products and services they sent my way. Most are local and I am blessed to have such amazing local businesses to support.
Publix at Twelve Oaks Plaza
London Home Designs
Sarasota Dove Release
Olive & Cocoa
Jerome’s Wooden Arts
One thing that took me by surprise this year was that I wasn’t the only one FB’ing and IG’ing the party. Watching the girls whip out their phones and iPods (and shouting out wifi password requests) to snap pictures and upload them to social media really cracked me up. They even created their own hashtag! Daniela has had an iPod for a few years now but hasn’t really shown an interest in social media so it was hysterical watching her friends light it up.
Eating outdoors proved to be a little tricky because the spot we wanted was behind our house and across the street. Not a long walk at all, but when you’re bringing trays of second (and third) food helpings along with water pitchers, it feels so much further. I’d do it again in a heart beat because it really proved to be the perfect setting for an evening garden party.
One concern I had going into the party was that the heat would be a little too much for Ivy and Bean, our little zebra finches. In an attempt to keep them as cool (and alive!) as possible, I didn’t take the birds outside until we all walked over together. The girls really loved this because it gave them the chance to ooh and ahh over the birds before eating. Ivy and Bean were a big hit :)
Outdoor Birthday Tip: Plan for problems lighting the candles! We really struggled getting the candles to light in the breeze and ended up staging a few”blowing out the candles” pictures before actually getting them to light. It was really good for laughs.
The highlight of the party for each of the girls was our white dove release. Daniela and I really wanted to release something and had initially looked into butterflies, but sadly the butterflies are usually harmed in the release and fly off to an early death. We couldn’t stomach that. Then we thought about dove releases. A quick google search turned up some options, but because of the later hour of the release (6pm) the birds wouldn’t be able to fly home before dark. One of the companies I called suggested talking to a local funeral home and getting their dove release partners. That is how I found Sarasota Dove Release. From the beginning, Jackie, the owner and dove trainer, was a fabulous help. Not only did she work around our changing dates, but she walked me through the dove release process and taught me so much about the birds! The girls were enthralled with her doves and she was wonderful about answering questions and talking to the girls about the doves. Each girl was given a dove to hold and release, and I love the picture of Daniela’s face when the first dove flew off — you’ll know it when you see it :)
Next came the little photo shoots. I first did this with Daniela’s Paris party and the girls had so much fun with it! It’s been a regular feature at each party since. The girls do a couple fun group shots which is great to get them loosened up in front of the camera. After that, each girl gets her own photo taken (which I print off and mail with thank you cards). I love the extra personal touch of those individual photos and I’ve gotten great feedback from parents on that too. I usually email those photos to parents as well so that they can frame them if they’d like. The pictures are always gorgeous.
In lieu of goodie bags filled with candy and plastic trinkets, we usually do a craft that the girls can take home with them. This year we made these jars via the inspiring Pinterest and they turned out adorable. I couldn’t have predicted how much the girls would enjoy that craft. I don’t have any pictures of that because, well, the photographer went home and I was a little busy with the girls :)
At midnight the girls had a silly string fight and now, nearly a month later, I still have a strand of it swinging around and around on a ceiling fan blade. I’ll get up there eventually.
I went to bed around 2:30am and all of the girls were still up and at em. One thing I’ve learned from doing lots of sleepovers is to dedicate one room to sleeping. If a girl is ready to sleep, she can go into the guest room and sleep in peace. Girls who want to stay up must respect the other choice and stay out of the sleeping room. After having sleepy girls crawl in bed with me because they kept getting woke up, this little tip has saved all of our sanity :)
As much as I love these parties and the planning with Daniela that leads up to them, I’m always happy to see them end too. The next morning after all the girls go home (and before Marco finds his way home), Daniela and I have a little tradition of snuggling up in my bed and talking about the party. Not just the execution of it, but the dynamics of friends and cliques and situations that arise. Daniela is an incredible peacemaker and we are blessed with an outstanding group of girlfriends, but late nights and sugar overloads can lead to frustrations and short fuses. Usually once during the night someone feels left out or gets their feelings hurt but those girls are so quick to band together and spread love. They feel each others’ emotions and handle each other with such care. It makes me heart nearly explode with pride! Adults could learn so much from these little girls.
Despite the schedule changes and Rosie getting sick, Daniela celebrated well and felt the love of her friends and family around her.
She is a special little thing and celebrating her birthday is one of my favorite times of the year. But it’s not just about the party. The celebration is of Daniela’s birth and who she has become in the last 11 years. For those who just stumbled upon this post not knowing much about us, I did not give birth to Daniela. For that I am eternally grateful to her mom, with whom she has a beautiful relationship. Though a part of me will always yearn for the opportunity to rock tiny little newborn Daniela, I am incredibly thankful for the gift of knowing her at all. She knit her way into my heart and I couldn’t possibly love her more if she were born of my own flesh.
And with that, Happy 11th Birthday Daniela!
Publix | Cake and cookies
Peach and Pearl | Tinsel drink stirrers
The TomKat Studio | Giant, round balloons
Onor Fashion | My pink dress
Chasing Fireflies | Daniela’s dress
Bebe Luv Boutique | Dani’s birthday hat
Jerome’s Wooden Arts | Picnic Table
Joyfolie | Daniela’s shoes and my shoes
London Home Designs | Floral napkins
Sweet Lulu Shop | Confetti poppers and tassle bunting
Olive & Cocoa | Large, tapered candles
Spector Home Furnishings | Chandelier