STEVIEPALOOZA 2022!

The time has FINALLY come!!!! I am SO excited to walk you through all the details of Stevie’s big, groovy, 70’s hippie-inspired first birthday bash! If you’ve been following me for some time now, you know how much I get a thrill from planning “larger than life” events and seeing my visions come alive right in front of my eyes. It seems like each event I do gets bigger and bigger so I guess it’s safe to say I have “no chill” – but all the more reason for me to get this post up and running so that you all can benefit from the inspo, the party planning tips, and of course – the local NJ vendors! Read on to get the lowdown and to view the gallery, shot by Little Nest Portraits NJ and edited by yours truly!

Let’s start from the point of conception – how did I come up with this “Woodstock Festival” theme? Well for starters, I’ve seen it done before. A little trip down a Pinterest search rabbit hole will find similarly themed events executed beautifully. But more importantly, there’s a whole lot of significance behind it for us. Stevie was born on September 21st. Otherwise known as “Earth, Wind & Fire Day”. (Do you remember? The 21st night of September….. if you didn’t sing that in your head, then you’re probably too young to be reading this blog post!!!) – When I was in labor, we had Good Morning America on the TV in the background. Every single solitary time they went to or came back from commercial, they played this song. It was a long running joke that day that the baby would come out to that song playing. Then we went and named her Stevie – mostly after her father, of course, but a little sliver of me likes to think Stevie Nicks, ultimate hippie queen, also had something to do with it. So combine Earth Wind & Fire with Stevie Nicks & Fleetwood Mac, you’ve got yourself one hell of a seventies playlist. I took that…. and ran! Does your party have to have this kind of significance? Absolutely not. You could simply just love the theme. But I thought that was pretty cool.

My planning for this party started very early, and I was initially looking to host it someplace that had a nice tented outdoor area, but I knew I wanted all the bells and whistles – a bounce house, a pony, etc. – and believe it or not, I had a very hard time finding someplace to make this happen. Either they were all booked up (now that September is the most popular Wedding month) or they had lots of restrictions on what kind of activities we could have on their grounds. So I took matters into my own hands, and decided to host it in our backyard. We hosted Stevie’s baptism here a few months prior, and it was less than half the amount of people, but it turned out very nice – so I took on the challenge of hosting again. We rented our tent, bar, tables, chairs & linens from A Party Pleasing Rental in East Hanover. They are easy to work with, priced well, and overall I’ve had great experiences with them each time I’ve used them. I also collaborated with Petite Seats on kids’ tables and chairs! I thought it would be a really cute addition to the aesthetic of the space to have her BEAUTIFUL farmhouse tables & rattan chairs right in the center of all the activities throughout the yard. I can’t even deal with the peace sign chairs… how perfect! The following weekend I went to another party that had some Petite Seats rentals, and they were equally as nice. Highly recommend having this to add to the vibe of your party! And since the party was not happening at an event space, I hired 2 young ladies as waitstaff, a friend of ours as DJ/Bartender, and a local teenager to “work” the bounce house. Do not attempt a party like this alone – you need to hire help for the day if you’re hosting! Even just the 2 we had as waitstaff were imperative when it came to grabbing supplies from inside the house, cutting and serving cake to 100 people, etc. Did I mention we had 100 people? Yeah…. we’re crazy.

Since I was really going for the ultimate festival vibes, I hired Spanky’s Gourmet Grub as a food truck! They have an award winning “Bacon Me Crazy” burger that our guests are literally still talking about. I had asked my father to handle some appetizers, and instead he really ran with the food truck idea and took it upon himself to hire Vinny Mozzarella – who literally sets up shop and makes mozzarella & prosciutto on the spot. Between these two vendors, we were absolutely stuffed to the gills at this party! Highly recommend a food truck for any outdoor event. It looked so nice to not have a bunch of buffet tables at the party, and it was a breath of fresh air to see our guests intermingling with eachother out in the driveway by the trucks. Great way to get people talking and also a great way to try some new local foods! I had the cheese steak (pictured below) and I think it might have been the best sandwich I’ve ever had. No joke.

Now let’s talk about the kids’ activities! Initially I was looking to collaborate with a company to provide a bounce house, but due to some strict rules & regulations buried deep within the contract I opted to purchase my own – and to this day, Indie still uses it in our basement. We went with the SMOL brand white bounce house, which comes with a really nice blow up machine and travel bag. It’s durable, it’s aesthetic, and I’ve been eyeing it on Instagram for a literal year now, so big shoutout to my hubby for letting me pull the trigger on that one!! Then we hired a face painter – Janice of Pixie Painters! I loved her work, and she was willing to design a board of choices that were specific to our 70’s theme. She understood that I didn’t want a bunch of Batmen & Spidermen walking around a theme party, and she totally delivered on some groovy designs. She even wore her bellbottoms! Bonus points, Janice! Then there was the pony ride. We hired Winding Brook Ponies, and they sent my kids a photo and personalized letter the week before the party, introducing the pony and letting them know the pony would be coming to our yard. I thought that was an incredible touch! Speaking of staying in theme, Teddy Bear the Pony was allowed to wear a beautiful flower crown… even the animals were in theme for this soiree! About half way through the party, we had a special appearance from Baby Bandstand! Fun fact: I knew Alyssa, the founder, from back in my theatre/performing days! She now resides here in the suburbs of NJ with her husband and two boys, and has since started this amazing program which offers classes for kids & toddlers, party entertainment, and even subscription boxes – all related to music & early childhood development! They ran with my theme, creating a set list that gives a nod to the 70’s time period, and the kids LOVED IT. They crowded around, danced and sang along, and it honestly was such a necessary “break” in the momentum of the party. I highly recommend this for any kids’ party. We got so many compliments and questions about this vendor in particular! The last “activity” was probably more for the adults but we sure did have a blast with it – Edie Mae Photobooth provided us with their new freestanding booth dubbed “Little E“! Guests got printed photo strips, but I also received the photos digitally – as well as GIFs which was my favorite part! Photo booths are a great idea, because as the hosts, it’s nice to look back and see how much fun your guests were having while you were busy making the rounds!

For invitations and signage, I used a few different vendors. I had Kaity of KWK Creative Studio do envelope calligraphy, place settings for the kids tables, and a few printable signs spread throughout the event. She is local to the Morris County area, and does really nice work! The Invitation Suite photos are some of my favorites every time I do a party. Pro tip: Even if you’re doing e-vites, just print ONE as a keepsake, hire someone to write out an envelope, and snap a beautiful photo for your memories. You’ll be happy you did. My invitations were printed through Zazzle, but I used an Etsy template that I tweaked a bit in Canva. I loved that the invite read similarly to a festival poster! I also used this invitation to give to every single one of my vendors so that they’d understand the aesthetic, the colors, and the vibe. Giving my vendors one strong cohesive visual is how I wound up with a strong, cohesive theme throughout my party. When it came to larger signage, I was so lucky to collaborate with my friends at AR Workshop of Westfield! I’ve worked with them in the past to discuss their DIY classes (which are super fun) but today I’m here to tell you that they also offer “Make It For Me” products that you can customize! A wooden entry sign, wooden signs by the bounce house and by the face painter made for such a unique touch. Our signage was so specific to this particular party, but you could easily do this in a much more generic way – a way that would allow you to use them over and over each time you have a soiree and even pass them down to your kids! Brilliant idea, all around!

It’s not a party without sweets – so let’s get into the sugary details! Our cake was made by my extremely talented friend Belina, of Two Sweet Bake Shop based on Staten Island. I sent her a photo of a cake, gave her a few adjustments, and she literally replicated it completely and exactly. Belina, you are unreal!!! This cake encompasses every single thing that I had in mind for our party (and it was also delicious)! Then we had custom cookies from another super local vendor, Le Petit Biscuit! I found Betsy on Instagram and I knew she had to be close by, but I was surprised to find out we are practically neighbors! Lastly, each child received a tie dye cake pop from Gina at Sweet Charlie’s Confections, based out of Bernardsville. Her business is going to be expanding very soon, and I’m so happy to see her talent growing and doing big things! She even made a few VW Bus cake pops for me and the girls, which we all very much enjoyed in the days after the party!

For favors, in addition to the individually wrapped cake pops for each child, I sourced some hats wholesale and I used Canva (again!) to find groovy logos and to make sure they were within the color scheme of the invitation. These were very well-received by our guests! I made sure I had some in kids’ size and most in adult size. I think they turned out adorable, and they’re favors people might actually use someday. I also put groovy sunglasses (found on Amazon in bulk) on the kids’ tables. I created a playlist of all 70’s music, and of course I made sure to set out my DIY Volkswagen Little Tikes Cozy Coupe as part of the decor! I slaved over this thing as a gift for Stevie (which Indie has since claimed) and I think it turned out really cute! One of these days, I’ll do a blog post outlining how I did it. But after this beast of a post…. I might need a break! Ha!

I decided to save some of my favorite parts for last – the vendors who tie it all together…. the party would have looked literally empty without them – huge shoutouts to Hope of Hopeless Romantics Floral, and Cathy of Cherry Bomb Balloons! These are vendors that I continue to hire time and time again because they go above and beyond to make sure that all of my events hit the nail on the head! Hope is an extremely talented florist who has recently branched off from a partnership to establish her own solo business! She used lots of daisies and rattan accents to ensure that each centerpiece matched our vibe. Cathy created the most beautiful, vibrant, boho, larger-than-life balloon garlands for beneath our tent, on our swingset, and on the bounce house. They are easily the focal point in every photo, and I cannot stress enough that without these elements, the party would have not looked the same. Both women owned, local NJ vendors that deserve ALL the business!!!

Phew…….. I think that’s it??? Of course there are little details like confetti, cake toppers, highchair garland, easels, cake stands, etc… All of which seem small but help to tie everything together – but any of the major aspects of this party have totally been covered in one of the many paragraphs above. I want to end by saying that we feel so lucky to be able to host an event like this on our own property, and more importantly, we feel blessed to have such wonderful family and friends who came out to show their love and support for our sweet Stevie Sage! She had a blast at her party, and I had a blast creating these memories for us! If you’ve been thinking about going “all-out” for a party but you feel overwhelmed, this is your sign to just go for it! It was worth every minute that I put into planning, and I seriously had the best time. I want to do it all over again!! Happy scrolling – and if you made it this far, thank you for reading along! Don’t forget you can follow along with us on Instagram, where you’ll find more of our day-to-day!

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