Rainbow-Themed First Birthday Party

It's no secret that I love rainbows.  When I was little and bored in school, I would doodle rainbows.  When I broke my arm and the emergency room had to set it with no pain medication, my mom told me to think of rainbows.  I organize my clothes by rainbow-order.  My classroom was full of rainbows.  My baby showers were based on rainbows.

If I get to choose a theme, you can bet it'll be rainbows.

So when it came time to plan Gv's 1st birthday party, I went with the obvious choice.

Fire Trucks.

Ha, no, your guess was correct.  It was rainbows.

We held the party at one of our favorite nearby parks.  It has an educational building with a screened in porch, complete with ceiling fans, water fountains, bathrooms, tables and chairs.  The best part is, there's no charge to use this space!

Although some people go all-out for birthday parties, we were really just looking for an excuse to have a get-together with our family and we planned to keep it pretty low-key.

I think parties are always more fun if you have some sort of theme to help bring all the elements together in a cohesive way, so I start brainstorming what I could (inexpensively & simply) do with rainbows.

I created an invitation that alluded to the rainbow theme, but really mainly focused on 12 months of cuteness:

Then I started planning the food, because, well, isn't that the best part of a party?  We held the event in the early afternoon and just wanted simple snacks to go along with the cake.  We also wanted the food to mainly be healthy - things we liked to eat anyway.

I decided to create a rainbow fruit platter and made a list of all the rainbow-colored fruit I could think of.  We took that list with us to the store and then used the current prices and what seemed to be in season to help us decide which choices to buy.  I loved the way it turned out:
Red - watermelon & apple, orange - cantaloupe, yellow - mango & pineapple, green - honeydew & apple, blue - blueberry, purple - grapes
I did the same thing with the veggie platters.  Funny thing is, it always seems to me like people usually eat more food off of the vegetable tray than the fruit tray, so I made two of these.  Plus, I figured the veggies would go faster with all the dips, but it ended up working the other way around.  I'm thinking that the fruit went so quickly because it was so hot out, but who knows.  I thought the veggie platters looked pretty cool, too:
Red - tomatoes, orange - carrots, yellow - peppers, green - broccoli, purple - red onion & cabbage

The big thing I wanted to do was create dips for each color of the rainbow.  For red, I used salsa.

For orange, a unique sweet potato dip:

For yellow, I went with plain hummus:

For green, a vivid spinach dip:

I decided to not worry about a blue dip, but created a purple one with kalamata olives:

Besides the vegetables, we had our favorite healthy tortilla chips and squishy homemade bread squares available for dippers:

We don't typically drink anything besides water, which we of course had available, but we knew most people would probably want some soda, so I excitedly picked out bottles for each of the rainbow colors from Publix:

Originally, I'd planned to make rainbow "poufs" out of tissue paper, but I later realized that decorations just weren't that important to me and so I settled on simply hanging a rainbow wind-sock from the house:

I found bubble bottles in just about all the rainbow colors and then printed out labels to go on them for party favors:

I'd planned tons of games (read about my love of games and some great ideas here), but knew that we might not have a chance to play them, which turned out to be the case.  Everyone seemed to be happy just to chat, so that's exactly what we did.

I didn't want guests to feel obligated to bring gifts, so I mentioned in the invitation that I'd have a scrapbook station set up so everyone could create a page for Gv to have for her scrapbook instead.  Besides relieving any gift-giving pressure, I knew that Gv's cousins would enjoy some crafting time and I thought it would be neat to continue the tradition every year for future birthdays and then combine all the pages into one big scrapbook for when she goes off to college or something.

I also thought it might be fun for the kids at the party to go exploring on a rainbow scavenger hunt.  I'm glad I came up with this idea, because about halfway through, the kids started getting antsy and their parents were thinking it would be a good idea to take them out for a bit of a stroll.  The scavenger hunt had them searching for something in each color of the rainbow as they walked around the park.

The cake followed the rainbow theme, too:

I think the party was a great success.  Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the food, Gv had a great time running around inside the confines of the screened room, and we had the opportunity to visit with some of our favorite people.  Here are a couple other photos of the day:
The food table, in all its rainbow glory
The birthday girl.  Wearing, of course, a rainbow onesie!

What do birthday parties look like in your family?  Do you usually do something fancy, something simple, or something in-between?  Do you prefer to create food for the party yourself, or find that it's more enjoyable to let someone else do the cooking?  Do you usually have a theme for your parties?  If so, how old were your kids when they started making requests of their own?  I'd love to hear all about your experiences - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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