When her daughter, Birdie, was just 6 weeks old, Kenna O'Brien saw a rainbow-colored dress embellished with birds and decided, "This is Birdie's birthday dress." Some ten and a half months later, the theme still fit -- "Rainbows really suit her super-joyful personality," says O'Brien -- but the dress was way too big. "Birdie is such a peanut," laughs O'Brien. "She ended up in a white dress and rainbow accessories." Like the rest of the party, it works!
O'Brien used decorations that would keep revelers busy, such as crayons and pinwheels. She spelled out "Hello" in felt letters that came on garden stakes, which she found at Michaels craft store. O'Brien loves party-planning and has made it her business through MissPartyMom.com.
O'Brien's neighbor in Orcutt, California, Hannah Henry, owns a business called Hannah's Cookies and Treats. For these, Henry tinted white cake mix and icing with gel food coloring and baked the cupcakes in extra-large paper ketchup cups purchased at a dollar store. Airheads Xtremes Rainbow Berry Sour Candy (cut in half) sit on icing "clouds."
These sweets took patience but they're easy-peasy: Just spoon layers of liquid JELL-O and Cool Whip into plastic cups, refrigerating between layers until firm. (Thin the Cool Whip with liquid JELL-O to make it pourable.) The parfait signs, like all the printables, were created by O'Brien's pal Jodi Broglio. You can order a custom package on Broglio's Etsy shop, JolioDesign.
"With over one-hundred guests, we wanted a meal that was cheap, easy, and something that everyone likes...and who doesn't like tacos?" says O'Brien. The balloons were tethered at different lengths by fishing wire to create a rainbow effect.
Sippy cups, filled with sunglasses and a package of rainbow-colored Goldfish crackers, were personalized with each baby guest's name in metallic marker.
O'Brien filled a $5 inflatable baby pool with two bags of plastic balls ($10 each) from Walmart to make this ball pit. "Birdie loved sitting in the middle with her little friends," says O'Brien. "It was just $25, and she's still playing in it!"
The party's surprise smash hit: an Italian Soda Station. Two neighborhood tweens filled mason jars with vanilla ice cream, a choice of flavored syrups and 7-up. "It was a last-minute idea and people were lining up for them!" says O'Brien.
Originally published in the July 2013 issue of American Baby magazine.