A backyard birthday tea party + how we manage birthday parties in our family

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Last month in early September our baby girl turned “6”. SIX you guys. I’m only kind of dying inside every time I acknowledge that she’s completely out of the toddler years and fully into little girl mode. We celebrated her with the party she’d been dreaming of having for this past year. And I’m only a month late, which for me is like technically early. But, here’s a peek (actually way more than a peek) of Liliana’s backyard birthday tea party + pony ride.

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Thank goodness for friends (particularly ones who own florist shops and others who are photographers, and know how to set up a party), a husband who is super handy (he built these low tables the morning of the party) and willing to do anything for his baby girl (really any of us) at any time, for family who always step in when I need it and IKEA. Seriously, between a quick ikea stop and the target clearance section I was able to find basically everything I needed to make my vision of L’s backyard Tea party come to life.

Liam had a football game the day of L’s party and it really only left me with less than two hours to prep, set-up and make sure everything was ready before her little friends started to arrive. And without all the help from my village this party would not have been ready on time. And thankfully I was able to whip up a quick crown for my girl just minutes before her party started.

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Soon “tea” was getting passed around by the girls and little plates were getting filled with tiny sandwiches, fresh fruit, madeleines and the sweetest most perfect little tea party desserts one could ever dream of from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. It all looked so good that L’s big brother Aden couldn’t help himself and joined in for the tea party along with our kitten, Milo and our pup, Bella. Who are both never far away from Liliana and could quite possibly be the best little pets that any little girl could have.

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Watching Liliana and all of her little friends just simply enjoy themselves around a table snacking, giggling and toasting their tea made me realize again just why we make such a special effort to celebrate our children’s births like this. If you follow me on instagram you may have already heard me touch on our birthday party theory. Being a large family, we only have a few select parties for our children growing up. With 6 kids, it was just completely unrealistic for us to have a birthday party for each of our children every year. So shortly after we came together as a family we realized really quick that we would need to set a precedence with birthday parties, or we’d go broke. And ultimately, I feel like doing fewer parties with more meaning just makes them all the more special.

**If you’d like to hear what’s worked for us as far as birthday party balance is concerned read on to the next paragraph. If not, keep scrolling down to the very last paragraph here before more party pictures.** 


We generally only have a handful of actual parties for our children as they grow up. And I like to start them at an age where they can retain the memories from it for forever. For us that’s usually been around age 5 or 6. The next ones really don’t follow any schedule or pattern, but usually theres another one around age 8-10, followed by one that I think is such a poignant time is children’s lives. Ages 12-13. Our go to for a party for that age has been a fun overnight hotel stay with a manageable amount of friends (around 8).

I think it’s so important for your children to know just how much they mean to you at that crucial junior high age. That can be a rough spot for them. (i mean, do you remember junior high? it was kind of the worst stage of growing up for me) The awkwardness of trying to figure out who you are while you try to not get food stuck in your braces as you’re sitting next to a cute kid at the lunch table, but then you get so nervous because they are actually talking to you that you freak out (out of fear or pure excitement. you can never be sure how to tell what emotion means what, because one minute you’re fine and the next you’re having a full blown melt down because your mom looked at you wrong that morning. you know, that side-eye look where you don’t know if you’re in trouble, or if she just found out that you got the part in the school play. but really she’s just looking at you in pure confusion because she can’t figure out how or why you cry when you can’t find your pants that are hanging out in the pile on the floor in your bedroom that could grow it’s own colony of super funky bacteria or why you get so pissed when you can’t find your band shoes that are literally sitting 5 feet in front of you, but you just can’t seem to find them so you run around blaming everyone else but yourself because you just know that your little brother touched them and did something with them when in all reality you set them right where they are eventually found by that side-eyeing mom who really just wants to tell you that she loves you, but doesn’t really want her head bit off or a cry fest to happen so she just gives you a slight smile and walks away. phew…) and bolt, tripping over your backpack on the way and spill your lunch tray all over them. Yeah, that’ why I think it’s good to do a party at that age 😉

The next age we celebrate is usually 16, and then it’s followed up by the last one of them all while still being your child but straight turning into a full blown legal adult…18. These are just years that seem to work for us and our children. And not all of them have had big parties on all of those birthdays, sometimes we have just celebrated them a bit bigger than we normally would have ;). On years where we don’t have a birthday party we celebrate as a family with a meal & dessert chosen by whoever’s birthday it is. It simple, quiet, and usually just what is needed for them at the time.


From nearly the very first time Liliana saw our backyard at our new home she’s begged to have a horse. Her reasoning is completely valid, as our excuse before was that we didn’t have a yard big enough. So, to make this party more special for Liliana we decided to grant her ultimate wish of having a real live pony in her yard. I mean, I’m pretty sure that was my dream as a little girl too at some point, and since this age seemed best suited for a live pony at her party, her backyard tea party included a pony ride as well.

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After all the girls had their share of pony rides around the yard, Liliana opened her gifts from her cute friends and then they all ran into the pool house for a swim. And of course these little girls can never not end their swimming time without getting in the hot tub which was the perfect way to end any party.

Again, I can not express again how grateful I am for our family and friends. It was so nice to know that while I was sitting & watching all the girls swim, others were tidying up plates, food, etc. When my big kids were younger I used to feel like I had to do it all when it came to their birthday parties. You know, make the food, cake, cupcakes, decorate, and then run around trying to snap pictures too. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that delegating out things like having someone else cater food, or make the dessert is such huge help. I’m so thankful that The Sweet Tooth Fairy was there to make all of the darling sweets and cake for Liliana’s party. It truly took such a load off of my shoulders knowing that it was not all up to me. Also I can not express how amazing it was to have a photographer at Liliana’s party. It made it so easy for me to just be there and take in everything and not have to worry about capturing the magic that was happening because I knew my girl Sam from Samantha Broderick Photography was capturing it all and more.

Before we knew it is was starting to get dusk and while all of Liliana’s little friends had gone home her family and friends were still here and ready to sing happy birthday to this darling baby girl of ours on her day. She smiled and she blew out her candles and still hasn’t told me what she wished for.

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Happiest 6th birthday sweet Liliana. We hope you had the party you dreamed of and know just how much your mama and daddy love you. xx

 

Sources: The amazing desserts were all made by Megan from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. L’s dress can be found here. The tables were made from two of these table tops. We then added 4×4 in posts cut to 14 inches and attached with L brackets. Most of the party supplies (like everything on & around the tables) are from here. The cutest and paperless party invitations can be found at Paperless Post invitations. And last but not least all of these beautiful photo’s are by Samantha Broderick Photography.

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