Wednesday, October 03, 2012

A Birthday Picnic

Lila turned ONE just a few weeks ago, as did her little buddy Nico, the son of our friends just a few doors down. The two babies have been friends since even before they were born; Nico's mama and I went on post-dinner walks together when we were pregnant. The babies were born only a week apart and we all thought it would be fun to have a joint first birthday party for them. That way we could share the fun while splitting the work.

There seems to be a trend with birthday parties having a theme- jungle, princess, cowboy and so on. When the subject of the birthday party would come up, people (even my mother) asked me what the theme would be- and I was flummoxed. The theme is "birthday", I told them. Balloons, cake- isn't there already a theme to a birthday party? Now, I have to acknowledge that some parents go to great lengths to throw fabulous themed parties. I took Lila to a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" birthday party recently and it was super cute. But it is all too much work for me.

In the end, we figured Lila and Nico would each have about 20 guests, and there's no way 40+ people could be jammed into either of our apartments even with creative rearrangement of furniture, so we rented a pavilion in a local park and hosted the party outdoors. So our party ended up having a theme after all: PICNIC!

The Venue
Having a late September birthday at a park was very exciting. When we were planning this, I was worried about the weather and kept asking Nico's mum to discuss a rain plan. She waved me away saying "You're such a pessimist. Think positive- we're going to have great weather". Later, her husband told me that they had an outdoor wedding and she didn't have a rain plan even then! Well, I don't know what to say except that our party day turned out to be simply fantastic- it was a Goldilocks day- not too hot, not too cool, not too sunny, not too cloudy.

A beautiful park in St. Louis called Tower Grove Park has several historic pavilions; we rented one of them for our party.

The South Humboldt Pavilion, built in 1871.
Having a picnic takes care of the entertainment. We were surrounded by lush lawns. A few blankets were spread out so the crawling babies could have a safe place to play. The older kids ran around. Some of the grown ups played impromptu football games. We had beach balls and frisbees so everyone could run around and enjoy the park.

The Food
The menu was a diverse one. A portion of the food came from local restaurants- a large tray of samosas and a 5-foot Italian hero sandwich. The rest of the food was home made.

For appetizers, we served chips and vegetable sticks and several types of dips: creamy ranch dressing, sweet potato hummus, pimento cheese and a 3 layer dip with sour cream, refried pinto beans and guacamole. Of these, the sweet potato hummus was the biggest hit. Several people told me they loved it. I used this simple recipe, only sauteeing the sweet potato in a cast iron skillet instead of roasting it. It makes a huge batch!



Then there were the salads- pesto pasta salad overflowing with vegetables, Asian-inspired noodle salad with raw vegetables and a peanut almond dressing, a rice salad with corn and avocado, a potato and egg salad and a raw zucchini salad with parmesan shavings. Here are links to some of the salad recipes: pesto pasta salad, noodle salad, zucchini salad.


We had several types of cakes- tres leches cake, a chocolate sheet cake, lemon bliss cake and no-added-sugar date cupcakes. These were the cupcakes that the babies got to devour (and devour they did).


On one side, we set out some kid-friendly food in the form of cut up fruit, cheese cubes and mini crackers.


That was a lot of food and I'm happy to say that all of it was enjoyed and none wasted. When guests left, we invited them to take home food if they liked. We brought home leftovers to enjoy over the next few days. V's coworkers got lots of cake!

Party Favors 
We wanted guests to have a little something to take back home, and ended up making reusable sandwich bags (slight modification of the pattern in this tutorial) stuffed with sugar cookies. I started sewing the sandwich bags and it was so hard to get sewing done with Lila underfoot. Nico's maternal grandma rescued us- she came into town, took over the project and expertly hammered out 20+ bags in 2 days! This nice lady saved me from many hours of midnight sewing. The adorable cookies were made by Nico's aunt, a baker in Florida- butterflies for Lila and guitars for Nico.



         

 

All in all, it was a wonderful way to celebrate the babies and marvel at their first year, in the company of friends who we will miss dearly when we move away from this city in a couple of weeks. Both Lila and Nico enjoyed tumbling on the lawn, being passed around from guest to guest and at one point, they each snuck in a power nap too!

Since this was an afternoon celebration with food and friends, I'm sending it to Anita's Mad Tea Party. And since the deadline went by several days ago, at this point you can safely picture me as a dapperly dressed white rabbit rushing by with a pocket watch muttering, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!"...


79 comments:

  1. Oh how nice is the them and location! Looks like nice weather you had. A very happy birthday to Lila! Gosh she is already one!

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    1. Yes, she is already one and no one is more shocked than me!

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  2. Happy Happy Birthday to Lila. She is one already. And those goody bags are beyond adorable. Nothing like a birthday in the parks. It is convenient and every age group finds something to do.

    I would have hated it if I were one of your friends in St.Louis and you had to move. I am glad I know you virtually and nothing changes even if you move to the farther corners of the earth. Hoping I will get to meet you in person one day.

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    1. Oh, I very much hope to meet you in person too! Right now I'm so grateful for e-mails and skype and the rest of the technology which will let me keep in touch with my friends in St. Louis.

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  3. Awww!! This is all so so lovely! You won my heart all over again! :) I agree, birthday parties these days have turned into major events, with themes and entertainers and what nots. A 'Birthday' themed birthday party - that kind of thing makes me want to give u a hug! :) The birthday picnic looked so wonderful and the menu was fabulous. The cute little cookies for favors in those adorable sandwich bags is such a lovely touch. Lots of Love and heartfelt blessings to Lila and Nico, time sure flies with these angels in ur life. My best wishes to you on your move, you will make friends wherever you go. I am sure like many of your readers I too wish you were moving in my neighbourhood :D well...someday I hope!

    Love,
    Priti

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    1. Thank you for the sweet note, Priti. I'm definitely hoping that we can create a close community of friends in our new home like we managed to do here.

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  4. Happy Birthday, Lila!

    What a wonderful idea to have a picnic! The tables must have groaned under that wonderful spread of food! The cookies are so adorable!
    Happy to read in the end that they are coming my way too!

    All the best for the move!

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    1. Thanks Anita! I wish I could have really invited you all to this mad tea picnic.

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  5. Happy birthday to dear Lila and Nico! The cookies really are very cute! Love your party ideas with the dips, salads and sandwich bags! Cheers!

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  6. Belated birthday wishes to Lila & Nico. Picnic party sounds like a great idea. All the dishes look so healthy and delicious.
    Good luck with the upcoming move.

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  7. Happy Birthday Lila & Nico! :)
    That sounds like such a fun party with a fabulous spread of food :)

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    1. Thank you! It really was fun and everyone seemed to enjoy the food.

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  8. A very Happy (belated) Birthday to Lila and Nico!
    First birthdays are so much fun ( more for the parent, don't you think?)
    I remember S's first, we had it in the park too, all our guests had a blast! the kids specially loved it as they could run freely and most importantly, 'picnic food'! ah! that was 4 years ago, how time flies :)
    The home made bags are adorable and the cookies, oh my! how cute are they!
    Hugs to Lila!
    Woof to Dalu dada!

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    1. Oh yes, this first birthday was for us to celebrate the fact that we survived the first year, and more importantly that the babies survived our inexpert parenting :D

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  9. Belated birthday wishes to Lila. I totally forgot to wish her on birthday :((. Amazing party there Nupur. Loved reading about it.

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    1. Thanks Shilpa! Wish you and your little one were here.

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  10. :) wow,..what a party ,luved the theme nd everything,,,belated birthday wishes to your daughter,,

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  11. Happy first birthday to baby Lila and her friend Nico! Picnic party sounds like a lot of fun - especially if you had great weather. I love the idea of sandwich bags and those cookies are absolutely adorable!!

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    1. Yes, it worked out only because of the great weather- the days before and after the party were all so rainy!!

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  12. Everything looks soo nice :) I cant belive even my baby is an year old! I had heard my elders saying kids grow fast, now I really understand what they meant :) I love your party favors. Even my customers LOVE reusable sandwich bags, and I sew for my shop during my baby's naptimes.

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    1. Mona- you sew so well- I really like the stuff in your shop. In my case, I can't sew while Lila naps because she naps on my lap! I do read lots of books and magazines while she naps but can do little else.

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  13. Happy Birthday to Lila and Nico! The picnic sounds like it was a lot of fun :) Good luck with the move!

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    1. Thanks Bala! Wish you were here!

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  14. Happy Birthday Lila and Nico! Sounds like an amazing birthday party Nupur. Have a wonderful year of motherhood.
    -- Rehana

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  15. Belated happy b'day to dear Lila and Nico! What a lovely way to celebrate. All party favours are really nice and thoughtful! Love to Lila. xx..

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  16. Happy Birthday to Lila! It must have been a lovely party. Thanks a lot for posting it.

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  17. What a lovely post...felt like a part of the celebration just reading about it...A very happy birthday to lil Lila and Nico. Its so awesome that you had it in a park and that the kids had fun..Theme parties are big here in India too and I have seen parents spend exorbitant amounts of money in a party and sometimes the kids don't even enjoy it so much...parks and open places are the best places to do this...And you sweet potato hummus sounds very interesting, will definitely be trying that

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    1. Oh the sweet potato hummus is very tasty- I think you will enjoy it. Theme party or not, I guess what kids and adults enjoy most is the socializing and the food. One might as well keep it simple!

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  18. HaPpy bday to lila and nico..kudos to you for pulling off such a wonderful bday party...not and easy feat with a baby in hand...

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    1. We managed it only because we had help from Nico's family- his grandparents and uncles and aunt!

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  19. Belated Happy Birthday to Lila and Nico ...that is some celebration .I really loved the party favours ...really unique and useful.Love the spread you had . Could u post recipies for the salads and the recipe for tres leches and date cupcakes pls ...as and when your schedule permits. Good luck on the move.
    roshni

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    1. Roshni- I have updated the post with links to some of the salad recipes.

      The recipe for tres leches cake is a family recipe belonging to my friend and she doesn't want to give it out. There are other tres leches recipes on the internet that are very good.

      As for the date cupcakes, I used this recipe (left out sugar and nuts) and made 12 cupcakes instead of one large cake:
      http://www.bongcookbook.com/2011/01/eggless-date-cake-goodness-does-not.html

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  20. Happy b'day to Lila and Nico! That was one great birthday party Nupur! Yummy food, great weather, good friends. I absolutely ADORE those lil guitar and butterfly cookies. Just the cutest thing ever! Those bags are a wonderful idea too. All you talented folks, how much I envy you :)

    Preeti

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    1. Don't envy us! Join us in the crafty fun instead :) This all comes from sheer enthusiasm!

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  21. Belated Happy Bday to dear little Lila and Nico.. What a lovely spread of delicious food..looks like bday party was superfun and enjoyable... Best Wishes and God bless u

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    1. Thank you for your sweet wishes, Rujuta.

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  22. The picnic sounds perfect! Love the party favors! I always theme my son's birthday just because it makes me so excited and enthusiastic to plan it!!!

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    1. Well, that's an excellent reason to have theme parties- because you can get so creative with the planning. So what sort of themes have you done?

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    2. For his bday, I did not have a theme - just blue was the colors. Second bday was a truck party. I don't go all out but just plan games, favors, balloons and decorations to the theme. The third one was a Bug party. I enjoyed this so much and I think my son did too! Because he kept talking about his bug bday party for days afterwards. I made a lady bug cake and organized bug theme games. My plan was not to order everything off the web but try to make it myself (made lots of butterflies, snails, caterpillars etc). I guess this is how I try to force my creative side out! I have been meaning to post pics of my party on my blog. When I do I will send you a link.

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  23. Belated Birthday wishes to Lila and Nico!

    Love the spread which has everything for everyone. I'm gonna try Sweet Potato Hummus, seems unique. I like the idea of handmade gifts for dear ones. The guitar and butterfly cookies stole my heart. :)

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    1. Thanks, Ashwini. I was definitely trying to make sure that everyone could find some food that they liked. And we HAD to have handmade gifts because we both love crafts.

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  24. Wow a year already, congratulations on a very very special milestome Nupur and very happy birthday to Lila and Nico.

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    1. Thanks Sreelu- yup, major milestone for me :) surviving my first year of mommyhood.

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  25. Belated Birthday Wishes to Lila and Nico. What a wonderful Bday party! Food looks amazing. I am planning to try the eggless date cake soon. I have a 21 month old daughter - hopefully she will like it.

    Jui

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    1. Jui- both babies LOVED the date cake. It is definitely worth a try.

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  26. Happy Birthday Baby Lila & Nico !!!!
    What a wonderful Picnic Party - The food spread, party favors, cookies & the location was just awesome !

    Hope Dale is doing great ....
    Good Luck with your move Nupur !

    Love & Hugs to Dale & Lila....
    Leena

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    1. Hi Leena! Thanks so much for all your good wishes!

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  27. Birthday Wishes to Lila and Nico :)
    Loved your birthday picnic right from the theme to the food and lovely bags.. cookies are my favorite.
    frankly, I would not dare to have a party outdoors in september.. loved your friend's optimism

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    1. A party in September in St. Louis is actually a fairly good bet because generally the temperatures are pleasant. July and August are traditional picnic months but here they can be too hot. It was rain I was worried about and we didn't get any.

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  28. Such a lovely post Nupur. Happy B'day to Lila and Nico...It's unbelievable Lila is already a year old. Times flies....
    Love the food, theme, party and picnic in the park. These are the most precious moments and I am so glad you had an awesome time. I like the take home gifts you all made. I would have loved a butterfly in my sandwich bag too :-)

    Regards
    Mina.

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    1. Mina- yes, time does fly! It was fun to have a party and think about the year that sped by.

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  29. A very happy birthday to little Lila and her friend Nico! How fast time flies..

    Picnic spread is just beautiful and love the idea of mixing home-made food with some help from store-bought.

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    1. Thanks! Your baby doll will be reaching this milestone very soon, right? Yes, our plan to have 2 catered "big snacks" and fill in the rest worked well and everyone went home with a full happy tummy.

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  30. hi nupur

    many congratulations to u n V, first bdays are mostly for parents...i totally loved the theme....u r too creative in every thing you do....u didnt mentioned dale babu in the post...wht was he upto?

    Wishing Lila n Nico lots of creatively funfilled bdays!
    love
    mauli

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    1. Thanks Mauli! Dale is retired from public life these days; the poor little fellow prefers staying home and relaxing rather than being outside with crowds.

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  31. Happy, Happy Birthday to dear Lila. She is one, really ? Are you sure ? Wasn't it that she was born just six months back ? Do check ;-)

    The picnic looks wonderful and love those different cakes

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    1. I checked! I checked several times!! :) It is weird and paradoxical because I feel like she was born very recently but that she has been part of our lives for ever.

      Your date cake makes a frequent appearance at our celebrations as you can see.

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  32. Lovely post and a lovely party. I agree that sometimes the thought of organizing something is more overwhelming than the actual organizing itself :-)

    We also made sure there was baby food and child friendly food at Atreya's first. Our learning was from another party we attended where there was simply no food for kids.

    Happy 1st to Nico and Lila. So you went back to celebrate? Nice.

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    1. I've attended a couple of parties too where there was very little for Lila to eat (this was before she was eating most "grown up" foods). So having some fruit etc. made me feel like all little ones could have something to snack on.

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  33. Happy 1st Birthday to Lila. That's a nice, well thought out party/picnic menu. In a few years Lila can come here and read all about her 1st and many more Birthdays!

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  34. Such a beautiful venue for little Lila's birthday! Great food and I particularly liked the return gift, how cute. Belated birthday wishes to the little doll.May God bless her always.

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  35. Just wanted to thank you for the lovely encouraging comment on my blog - all the good vibes will definitely help me today!

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  36. Happy birthday to lila - looks like a great party with lots of yummy food and gorgeous sandwich bags - we had a small celebration for Sylvia's first birthday and still remember it fondly - I tend to focus on food for birthdays - and a few balloons for entertainment - loved a birthday dinner at a pizza parlour recently where they gave the kids some little balls of dough to play with while we waited for pizza

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  37. Happy Birthday to Lila! Looks like a wonderful party too!

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  38. one year already! time flies when you are having fun... happy belated birthday to lila and nico. lovely birthday celebrations... loved the cookies!

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  39. Hi Nupur,

    This is my first time commenting on your blog, but have been follower for a while. My youngest son's(we have 3 boys) birthday is fast approaching and I am so grabing some of your ideas for his birthday celebration.

    Thanks for all the inspirations.

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  40. Wow, what a treat! Happy Birthday Lila... how time flies. Saw your pics at Manisha's FB page. Hope you're settling in OK at the new place.

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  41. oooohhh tasty treats...loved each of them :)
    cheers
    DFZ

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  42. That was really a wonderful treat ... Love d join party n wonderful treats!!!

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  43. Kudos on all that effort! Everything looks fantastic. It must have been hard to do what with juggling a one year old and other things. Most new parents I know have things catered.
    I love your blog. I love the recipes. They make me yearn for home. Such a beautiful place.
    Wishing your little Lila a happy and wonderful second year!

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  44. You are so super talented. Your blog is always a source of pleasure and instruction!

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  45. Lovely to read about this Nupur!
    Wishing Lila a year filled with more discoveries.
    Hugs
    Nandita

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