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February 12, 2023
After an epic ONE of a kind birthday bash for Mia's first birthday, I was already schemin' for her second birthday because whaddayaknow, planning parties is FUN as heck! I figured this might be the last year I can get away with picking the party theme without Mia's input (girlfriend already has lots of opinions), but I still wanted it to revolve around something she loves. My first thought was a blueberry farm theme because for a long time, I'm pretty sure she survived on a diet consisting solely of blueberries and air. But when she decided blueberries were no longer the main character (what is with toddlers and their capricious food choices), I turned to another favorite – a book we've read no less than 539 times (per day): "A Squirrel's Tale" by Richard Fowler.
Now if you're not familiar this 1984 literary classic, let me prep you: it's a clever, interactive book with a little cardboard squirrel that you slip through cutouts on each page as he goes along a forest adventure looking for his pile of nuts. It's ADORABLE, and trust me, you need it in your library. (Side note: the companion "There's a Mouse About the House" book is just as fun!) Add in Mia being obsessed with looking for squirrels on walks (it was one of her first words), and welp, we've got ourselves a party theme, folks! But it needed a little twist...
I started with a design mood board, just like I used to do with all my invitation clients, so I could set the tone for everything and pull from a cohesive color palette. It's really all about creating a "vibe" more than copying-and-pasting ideas.
Now one thing that almost threw me for a loop was the color palette. "A Squirrel's Tale" is very much an autumn book, so as I was gathering inspiration and thinking about how to bring this to life, it started feeling VERY Thanksgiving. AND I DID NOT LIKE IT. Once you add in all the fall leaves and warm colors from the book, it's felt basic and flat. I even bought some fake leaves, and immediately got the ick. This wasn't working for me. (the DRAMA, I know.) I wanted to add a funky little pizzazz just to give it some more depth. Why? Because I'm insane, and I love a challenge. I was very inspired by the color palette of the book and the throwback illustrations, so I started leaning into the 1970s vibes it was throwing down. But not like groovy 1970s, more like grandma's house 1970s. (There's a difference, okay??? Think those old floral couches, thick ugly carpet, dark wood paneling, etc.) That scrungy grandma green gets me every time, and I wanted to let that iconic chartreuse color shine! My love of vintage totally came out to play here, and I was stoked to have a reason to thrift even MORE vintage Pyrex. (IYKYK) Once I removed all the fall leaves from the mood board, it felt PERFECT.
I waited until the very last minute for her invitations because Christmas got the best of me, but I love how they turned out! I painted a cute "toddler" squirrel for Mia and added in some sweet floral and butterfly accents that I pulled from her custom pattern on the back. The floral pattern was my take on vintage fabric, and I could totally see it for a grandma couch. Funnily enough, that little yellow butterfly was used for her first birthday party too, which further solidifies my theory that butterflies are actually the perfect finishing touch for literally EVERYTHING. Anyway, I also designed a funky green pattern to bring in some more 1970s inspo. I had chartreuse envelopes in mind when I first designed this but they were BACKORDERED (which one of my stationer friends did that), so I went with the bright orange instead, even though I was very grumpy about it. The butterfly and squirrel stamps were the cherries on top of the whole suite, and I am a firm believer that springing for coordinating postage is worth it every time. I can't believe how perfectly the red squirrel stamps matched!!
As a self-proclaimed thrifting queen, I love any excuse to hit up every resale story in a 10 mile radius. It got a little bit down to the wire though, and so I expanded my search to antique stores because I really wanted to find a vintage crewel, and those can be hard to find. When I found the golden butterfly crewel, everything started to fall into place from there! I even thrifted the frame for my own watercolor squirrel piece for a grand total of $3. The embroidered Squirrel Nutkin was an Etsy find, and I then went down a rabbit hole of ordering vintage books for Mia's birthday gifts. Children's books from the 60s and 70s are some of my absolute faves because the illustrations are so sweet and well-done. They made the perfect gift for her too because I love to keep everything on theme!
For my white cabinet, I added one of my table runners and topped it with some vintage linens from my mom's china cabinet. (The orange flowers were perfect!!) I also cannot get enough of the melamine cake stands I sell at the shop, and with every color imaginable, it's easy to match a party theme. I topped everything off with Gold Tinsel Fringe Garland, a Mustard Felt Ball Garland, and a chartreuse velvet bow.
There's a part in the book where Mr. Mole tells Squirrel to calm down and have a cup of tea, so that's EXACTLY what we did! I found the retro-inspired tea kettle on Amazon, and the COLORRRR. I can't believe it's new and not actually from 1974. I added cutouts of the characters from "A Squirrel's Tale" around the party just to bring it to life more, and the little mole on the tea cart was so cute! I had Papa G. help make me a custom tea box by gluing extra placemats on a cardboard box, and he added some book cutouts of a mouse and teacup on there too. We used my Orange Sulphur Butterfly Stir Sticks in a Flower Power Rocks Glass from Talking Out of Turn so guests could stir in their honey sticks or sugar into their cuppa. And of course, the glitter star garland and custom fringe garland from Glam Fete brought everything together!! I'm now building out a Glam Fete garland collection because they have so much impact and just scream "IT'S PARTY TIME!" We love a garland moment over here. (Side note: I'm really embarrassed that I got the paper teacups and saucers from Amazon, but I RAN OUT OF TIME to get some from my favorite shop suppliers. However, they are pretty darn cute, so we'll let it slide.)
In true Cami fashion, I could not decide what I wanted to do for the tablescape, and I designed 3 different patterns for the placemats and table runner. (I just like to see what they look like before I decide, ya know?) I went with my brown vintage watercolor floral pattern from her invitations as the runner, and OMG, it was a SHOWSTOPPER. The colors just POP! For the placemats, I went with the green retro pattern, and I did a different place setting in front of each chair because Grandmas love a mismatched plates. (And honestly, I just couldn't decide!!) The Cafe Con Leche Checker Dinner Plates were a huge part of inspiration for the whole party because I thought they were so unique, and I really wanted to see them all set up in their glory. I layered them up with our Orange Papaya Dessert Plates to offset the other colors, and then used our Retro Peachy Vibes Plates (both sizes) as well. The design on these is so cool and funky! For Mia's place setting, I used our Groovy Floral Plates with a quintessential geometric throwback pattern. The Gold Stripe Starburst Napkins are one of my favorites for every theme because they just add the perfect amount of sparkle. I also made some custom squirrel napkins with my watercolor squirrel illustration to use throughout the party. For the cups, I used chartreuse, yellow and coral paper cups to create an ombre vibe across the table. I really enjoyed mixing-and-matching with all kinds of things for this party, and that would be one of my biggest tips when planning a tablescape: stop worrying about it matching perfectly! Make it interesting, add some depth, get weird...have some fun!
I had a blast thrifting little tchotchkes for the table, and I even made my nana and mom dig through all their cabinets because I just KNEW they had some goodies in there I could use, like linens and figurines. I thrifted the brass candlesticks (now a staple for my table!), and added orange taper candles with a pretty chartreuse ribbon bow because we are obviously in our bow era right now, and set up little bowls of nuts and treats.
I already had quite a few squirrel figurines, and this squirrel salt and pepper shaker holder is so special to me because it's truly a little piece of thrifting magic! Papa G and I found the squirrela and one acorn shaker in the floorboards of a barn from an old house my parents were flipping. Fast forward like 10 years later, and I found the other acorn salt shaker in a thrift shop!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! Anyway, here's a beloved little critter, so he was front and center on the table, along with a new copy of "A Squirrel's Tale" to play up the theme. (Our current one is VERY well-loved and fighting for its life thanks to Mia's reading excitement levels.)
I gave 2 Smart Cookies a moodboard to run with, and boy did they deliver! From squirrels to acorns to the cutest retro green plaid cookies, they knocked it out of the park. (And they taste even better than they look if you can believe it!!) They are definitely my go-to local cookie queens.
For Mia's birthday cake, I picked out one of the pre-made designs at Publix (Caramel Pecan Crunch Cake) because if there was ever a cake fit for a squirrel party, this was it, am I right? For extra little sweets, I decorated cupcakes with little "acorns" and "mushrooms," which were two of the easiest DIYs ever. For the acorns, all you need is mini nilla wafers, a Hershey kiss, and some chocolate chips. Glue 'em together with peanut butter, and BOOM, a perfect chocolate acorn! And then the mushrooms were simply raspberries squished on top of mini marshmallows! Mia really got a kick out of these.
I also made peanut butter buckeyes (which I have like ZERO photos of because I forgot what I was doing), and let me tell you, these were a hit. We don't even have any left to store for winter. (But for real, I think everyone ate at least half a dozen of these each!) Oh, and we had mini fruit tarts for the tea cart!
The fox cutout from the book was perfect for the food table since he says he's starving and could just eat a squirrel. (THE DRAMA) I thrifted the whole water tray setup, and the crystal pitcher was a whopping $5! I love the midcentury vibes. Papa G. helped me make all kinds of cute food signs cleverly using more of the book illustrations. I had a lot of fun playing up the theme with our menu:
If you didn't catch it, I had a trail of ant food picks carrying cheese/tomatoes/etc across the cheese plate (WHY DIDN'T I GET A GOOD PHOTO), and it was hilarious. How cute would these be on a picnic table??
For party favors, I used these adorable mini acorn purses and put an iron-on squirrel patch inside. And of course, everyone got to take home extra cookies! The kids all loved their acorn baskets, and they were just the right size.
I hope you enjoyed this little decor recap of Mia's retro "A Squirrel's Tale" birthday party! Of course, she is the real star of the show, and once again, she did NOT take a nap on her birthday. We're 2 for 2 on that currently. Who needs sleep when you're having this much fun?! Here's to another year of celebrating our sweet girl! God has truly blessed us, and we are so thankful for all He has given our family.
Here is the list of where you can grab all the fun stuff I used for her party! Almost everything is from right here in the shop! I truly love and use all of the products I bring in from other small makers...I hope you find something you love too!
@shopcamimonet Our little squirrel is two!! She loves the book "A Squirrel's Tale," so I took all the inspiration from there to make a groovy squirrel birthday party. 😍 #birthdayparty #partythemes #partydecor #secondbirthday #partyideas #squirreltok #partydecorations ♬ Live music, 70's folk rock(1001809) - Kids Sound
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