Welcome Aboard! A Nautical Birthday Party for a 1 Year Old Girl

Content and Photo courtesy of Christina Enriquez, Guest Post for The Bubbly Hostess.  Thanks to Christina for also recently writing a column about her daughter’s birthday in the The Southeast Valley Ledger for me!

When it came time to plan my daughter’s 1st birthday party I felt a bit conflicted. Being that she is my only daughter and my last baby, I wanted to go all out and all girly but felt I couldn’t because all of my friends have boys.  I didn’t think that a bunch of little boys would be too thrilled to attend a sparkly, girly tea party. So the search for a party that would appeal to both boys and girls began.  

Thank heaven for Pinterest! Of course that’s where I started my search. I headed over to Kara’s Party Ideas Pinterest page and searched her boards. I finally came across this adorable nautical birthday party that was submitted by Nellie Leis of nellie*design. Nellie Leis planned a super cute nautical, shabby chic event full of mason jars, sails, and sand for her daughter Navy’s 1st birthday party. Nautical birthday for a girl named Navy, perfect right!? After looking through all the pictures and details of the party there were a few key elements that I just knew I had to incorporate into my own event. Of course I’d put my own twist on it all and make it my own.  Here’s how I did it.

One element that had to be the same as the nellie*design event was one that I believe sets the whole tone for any event, the invitation! It’s the party’s first impression.  The invite that inspired it all for me and began my party planning was simple and sweet. The front of it was white, with two navy colored lines and a cute pink anchor. The back of the invite was navy in color and adorned with tiny white polka dots. I ordered these personalized invites from Nellie Leis’ own Etsy site.
I printed my invites through overnightprints.com, postcard style with rounded edges. I mailed them off to our family and friends in a shabby chic flat, Kraft paper bag from Bahana Splits Boutique on Etsy that was covered in white polka dots and sealed shut with a simple stripe of pink chevron or stripped washi tape. So many of our guests contacted me simply to comment on how adorable the invite and packaging in which it was presented was.

When the day finally came to celebrate the inevitable, my baby turning one, guests were greeted with a homemade “Welcome Aboard” sign that had the familiar navy stripes and pink anchor.

Our tiniest of visitors were greeted with a goodie bag. Each brown with white polka dot paper bag (from Target) was embellished by a handpainted navy anchor and the name of each guest stamped onto it. Anchors and paint were purchased from Michaels. Making sure that each guest received the proper bag was essential due to each favor being personalized. The children received a white sailor cap decorated with a patch that sported his or her name. The sailor caps were purchased on Amazon and I commissioned Kari of Handcrafted by Kari to make the name patches that I attached to the caps. I owe a BIG thank you to her. Kari of Power Ranch is responsible for all of my favorite elements of our day. Not only did she provide the patches for each child’s sailor hat, but we also purchased my daughter’s birthday shirt and perfectly paired headband from her at a fraction of the price of many Etsy shops.

Welcome Table and Party Favors


Handcrafted Name Tags for Hats and Birthday Girl Shirt

I loved the way the hats turned out but I’m sure the kids loved the candy even more. Of course it wasn’t just any candy and of course it wasn’t just thrown in each bag. Pink, white and blue M&M’s filled baby food jars that were obviously cleaned and adorned. After cleaning each emptied jar I painted the lids first with a coat of primer and then two coats of navy spray paint. After allowing a day for each lid to fully dry, I then added a 2”, scalloped edge circle that was either punched from pink and white polka or chevron paper and finished with a 1.5” navy anchor.  

OK – some real fun stuff, the décor! I used navy and white patterned fabric to cover a few areas but since that gets expensive I also used some plastic table covers. My favorite of all the décor would have to be the “Happy Birthday Addison” banners I made using a Cricut machine. I alternated navy blue and light pink papers and patterns of stripes, chevron and polka dots. I thought it would be a bit much but I think they came out great and party goers thought so as well.

I also really loved the pink and white roses that were around the house. I used large mason jars as vases and wrapped twine around the tops of them, the twine also held a white and gray anchor to the “vase”. Mason jars were also used to display candy for guest and held utensils.  

Straws and Candy

For food I served up the S.S. Sub Sandwich, that’s nautical right? I also provided chips, potato salad, pretzel goldfish, vegetables and a “boat” of fruit. I really wanted to make a watermelon boat like the one in the Nellie Leis inspiration party but quickly found out that only small watermelons where available this time of year. Luckily my wooden salad bowl was boat shaped enough. I used a melon baller on my small watermelons and also threw in some strawberries and blueberries to keep the color theme going. To top off the boat look I added a “sail” with words “S.S. Addison” stamped on it. I made the sail with a wooden dowel & piece of white 5×7 cardstock. I simply punched a hole at the top and bottom of the cardstock and fed the dowel through both holes. The same technique could also be used to make food cards.

Sometimes the simplest of details make the biggest impact and get the most response from people. Guests washed all the goodies down with some amazing strawberry lemonade made by my mom and little brother. It was delicious! Like Nellie Leis, we dispensed our awesome drink from non other than a giant Mason jar, well a Mason jar drink dispenser that I found on Amazon. People loved the drink dispenser and lemonade of course.
Food and Cake Table

Mason Jar Dispenser Full of Strawberry Lemonade

Obviously the best food of all, the cake, was a big hit. My daughter especially loved the smash cake that I made her. The main cake was pretty large but I’ve never been shy to eat left over cake for breakfast so we went big. The cake was two tiers and each tier was composed of 3 layers. The bottom cake was three tiers of strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting covered in white marshmallow fondant and pink sugar polka dots. The top cake was chocolate with cream cheese frosting it was also covered in the same white marshmallow frosting and wrapped with two navy blue sugar stripes. My sister did a great job on the cakes.

My daughter’s smash cake was something I wanted to do all on my own. I made her a two tier chocolate cake, iced it with the same cream cheese frosting that covered the other cake and frosted it using a petal frosting technique I found on Hot Polka Dot in pink frosting. At first she wasn’t sure about the cake so she sheepishly poked it, tasted it, approved it then dove in! She had a blast, it was so cute but cleaning put the mess wasn’t so cute. Totally worth it though.

The Cake!

Birthday Girl and Her Smash Cake

Besides watching my daughter dive into her cake, our other forms of entertainment came from the great people at DreamlandBouncers. We have been renting from them since my sons first birthday and have always had great experiences with them, I highly recommend their services. For this party we rented a bounce house and cotton candy machine.  My son would not get out of the bounce house, except for cake time that is. I hadn’t intended for the guest to make their own cotton candy but when they saw how much fun I was having doing it, they wanted to join in on the fun.

Watching my party go from a vision in my mind to a great event is always fulfilling. I can’t wait till the next one and hopefully I have inspired you go throw your little one a nautical party as well.

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Comments (2)

  • Beautiful Party! I LOVE the way everything turned out. I saw a link back to my site from here and am so happy to have found your blog. I love everything you did with your daughter's beautiful nautical themed birthday party and am so happy my little Navy's party was able to inspire! Mind if I post this to my businss' facebook page? Sincerely, Nellie Leis of nellie*design

  • Nellie Design – I'm happy to hear you found my blog! A friend of mine actually did this as a guest post for me. But you may certainly post this to your FB page! Thanks!


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