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Andrew's First Birthday: Vintage Nautical Style

UPDATE: Thank you, Kathryn for the feature on Destination: Craft, and Keiko of Disney Baby!

Happy Birthday to Andrew!
It's party time! Baby is turning the big "1". How do you manage the frustrating role of planner, designer, and caterer WHILE attending to Mommy duties AND documenting the moments AND still be mentally present  all at the same time!?

If you've been in this schizophrenic Mother-of-the-Party situation, and have some advice for me, could you please let me know for next year? I didn't fully realize until that day what it would be like to tackle all these roles. Thankfully, I managed and we had a great day celebrating our little Monkey Pants!

Backing up. 

I'm pretty sure I went without sleeping, basic hygiene, or doing housework of any kind that whole week leading up to Andrew's party. I was on one big sweaty B.O. craft-a-thon mission.

Here's a tour through the crazy, intense, craft-tastic-ness that resulted in a fun and memorable 1st birthday, along with some money saving tips I learned along the way! :)

Ahoy! Vintage Nautical Style
Check out the inspiration board I created to get my juices flowin' and hone in on my theme. 
1. Shark Fin Cupcakes from Butter Hearts Sugar (love their name :), 2. Bunting from Betty and Barclay Etsy Shop, 3. Starfish Smores from Hungry Happenings, 4. Vintage Anchor Drawing, 5. Air Golf from Family Fun, 6. Nautical party mood board from Fine Stationary, 7. Big balloons from Geronimo Balloons.

It's My Party.
Let's admit it- baby's first birthday is really about MOM. Face it, Andrew is not going to remember it and doesn't care what goes on. It's more like a, "Congratulations! You Made It Through Your First Year Without Mommy Majorly Messing You Up!" party. I think I deserve some cake for that.

I love the classic look of navy and white. And Lord knows I love me a beach theme. Therefore Nautical it shall be. 
We can do Batman some other year.

Location, Location
Our backyard not being in party hosting condition, I chose a nice shady park to host the party at instead. I reserved a shelter with the city for $15/hour. 

Money Saver: 
Inexpensive or Free Party Locale

If your casa isn't in party hosting condition either, consider low cost Summer venues like the beach, community pool, or Grandma's house!

Do Me a Favor
For the kids I put these colorful party favors together.

$1 = Metal pails which I grabbed about a month ago from Target's Dollar Spot
$3 = Giant bag of Life Saver Halloween candy from Walmart
$2.38 = 16oz. box of Whale (not Fishy! :) crackers from Walmart. 
$0.50 = Beach shovel clearanced from Party City
$0.50 = Squirt gun, 2 for $1 from Dollar Tree for the older kids
$0.66 = Bath squirt toy, $4 for a pack of six from Walmart for the younger ones

All told each favor cost me only about $3!!

I made the label on PicMonkey using a clipart anchor and overlaying the name. Feel free to save and copy!

Vintage DIY Life Preserver
No nautical party is complete without a life preserver, right? Like most crafty things I attempt, there's no telling if it will come out awesome, or a complete mess. This thankfully turned out to be the latter. I am SO stoked by how it turned out! Plus it was FREE, made of stuff I already had around the house.

Large Foam Art Board from Michael's
1 Yd. Fabric, I used an old bed skirt, haha :)
About 10 yds. Thick Rope

I cut out a large 20" diameter circle with a utility knife. Then I cut a 15" diameter circle inside and cut it out. 
 I disemboweled an old pillow to get some stuffing, and wound some scrap material around to hold it in place.

 I laid some fabric over half the stuffing, trimmed it in a "U" shape, and taped it to the back, securing the stuffing as I went. I did the same for the top half.

Since I don't have a fancy Sillhouette (Christmas??) I printed out the letters for Andrew's name and birth date using "Boston Traffic" font from (a great font resource), and traced around the letters with pencil.

I laid down tape to make a perfect "X" for my rope later.

I painted the letters with craft paint, with an uneven coverage for a more vintage look.

The rope was the easiest of all. I just wound it 5 times around the top, bottom, and sides. I tucked in and hot glued the longer rope at each corner.
can't handle this... :)

Nautical Bunting
I made these to flutter in the breeze around our little gathering area. I went out to my local scrapbook store, oooh is that a dangerous place for me...! and chose a few nautical prints to play around with. I went for an "inspired by" look based on real nautical signal flags.

Money Saver: 
Color copies instead of Scrapbook Paper

Color copying is way faster and cheaper than buying and making all the flags out of scrapbook paper by hand. If you need a lot of bunting, consider making one set and having the rest copied on card stock!
I took my flags down to the nearest Postal Annex and copied 2 flags per page for $0.39. I taped them onto my 1/4" rope about 10" apart with clear masking tape.

Baby's First Year in Pictures
I've been taking Andrew's picture every month since he was born. I've told you how I thought it was going awesome, and then how it was almost a complete fail! I didn't give up though, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate these pics into my, I mean, Andrew's party somehow.

I took an old canvas, wrapped it in more of the bed skirt material, and hot glued the material to the sides.
To hide the seams I glued a ribbon around the edges.

 I painted on some colorful stripes using Painter's Tape and craft paint. I'd never tried that technique before, but it worked great! Like the life preserver letters, I left some areas with less paint to give it a softer, more vintage look.
I secured some rope (doggy toys from Dollar Tree!) to the front by punching through the canvas from the back and tying with wire.

I printed out the months in "Boston Traffic" font, and Andrew's milestones in "Dirty Daren", both from, and taped them to the canvas.
It was fun to have there at the party for people to read, and remember how much he has grown in just 12 months!

Splash Time!
Andrew LOVES water in almost any form- bath time, pool, in the kitchen sink, from my water bottle. He is crazy for it! I knew his party had to involve water.

Money Saver:
Plan themed parties toward the end of the Season

Unwittingly, I timed my Nautical themed party perfectly. It's the end of Summer, and all the stores are clearancing out their Summer stuff! 
I got these beverage tubs from Party City on clearance for $7 each.  We filled them with water and tossed in some water bomb balls, also snagged on clearance from Target.
Andrew and his cousin Judah thought this was pretty much the best thing ever for about 30 minutes, which equates to roughly 4 hours in Toddler Time. 

For the older kids, and adult "kids", we had a bucket of squirt guns handy and a beverage tub full of water balloons. It didn't take much for everyone to get in on the action!

Good Eats
My fantastic sissy-in-law Val is one of the most creative people I know. We were talking on the phone last week and for some reason she offered to make Andrew's cupcakes for me! Was it the stress in my voice? The fact that I told her I hadn't slept in a few days? we shall never know. But I was so grateful, and that leads me to another helpful tip.

Money Saver:
Ask your Sister-in-Law to make the Desserts

I understand that this might not apply to you if you don't have a Sister-in-Law, or if you have one who's not great with an oven, or that simply gets on your nerves.  The point is- don't forget to ASK FOR HELP! You don't have to make it happen all by yourself (talking to myself!), and I guarantee friends and family are more than willing to jump in and lend a hand!

Look what a "few" cupcakes turned into!! I love you, Val!

Shark Cup Cakes, with black cardstock fins
  Life Preserver Cup Cakes, with Life Saver mints and dye pen stripes

Rice Krispy Star Fish
One dessert I wanted to make myself were some star fish Rice Krispy Treats, thank you, Pinterest. 

6 c. Rice Crispies, generic brand is fine
3 Tbs. Butter
10 oz. Marshmallows 
Yellow and Red food coloring
Star Cookie Cutter

I made the Rice Krispies according to the recipe on the box, which you can find here. Once the cereal and marshmallows were mixed together well, I added some yellow and red food coloring to tint the mix a bright orange. My ratio was 50 drops yellow and 8 drops red. It turned my batch bright orange!

The orange gooey mix went in the pan and I let it set overnight. Next morning I cut out my stars with a cookie cutter and arranged them on a platter in a "net", none other than a trash can from Dollar Tree.

Now my guests can officially say 
I've made them eat out of the trash.

Love At First Bite
 We sang "Happy Birthday", and presented Andrew with his very own cupcake. 

This picture cracks me up, it looks like he's saying, "for me??" :)

He thought the squishy texture was pretty funny.
 I don't think he knew it was for eating. I gave him a lick of the frosting and you could see the look on his face change, "shuugarrr!".
This was followed by some serious chowing down.
 And now, more pictures of my kid stuffing his face and looking cute doing it.

Sailing to the Finish Line
There it is! The whole diy crafty Nautical madness. I'm glad it's over, but I'm planning on reusing the life preserver and flags. I feel a nautical toddler room in the works.

Oh my happy boy! Mommy and Daddy love you so much! We're so blessed to get to be this little guy's parents and that he has such wonderful Aunties, Uncles, cousins, and grandparents!
Do you have any 1st Birthdays coming up? How do you handle all the jobs you have to do? What are your party money savers?

I'm going to go rest now. Probably also shower.
<3 Alyssa

Click to:


  1. This is awesome Alyssa! Thanks for sharing!! <3

  2. 1st birthdays are the best!! My baby is 20 now, so it's been a long time since I've been to a 1st birthday. I LOVE anything nautical, so your post was so inspirational for me. I am going to try to make a life preserver like yours, but just write welcome on it or something and hang it in my entryway. Very cute!
    Ann @ Cairn Cottage (

    1. That sounds awesome! I see you love the beachy theme too, embrace it girl :)

  3. did an AMAZING job!! If you lived closer, I'd hire you to create my parties ;). But really, all of the details are adorable and perfect. Sounds like a lot of work, but it looks like it was all worth it!! Valerie did an awesome job on the cupcakes, too! You Wine girls are so crafty. We're doing a nautical theme for our baby boy's nursery, so thanks for some great ideas!!

    1. Kelley! That would be so fun, I'll meet you half way :)

  4. So amazing! Absolutely LOVE the life preserver.

  5. So cute! You did such a fabulous job! Thanks so much for linking up!

  6. Everything is so beautiful and fun! What a great theme and you really made it so unique. Megan

  7. Just adorable!! That one pic where you are kissing him is worth a 1,000 words. Save that forever!! Thank you for joining Home Sweet Home!

    1. Thanks for hosting Sherry, and yep, I'm saving the pictures for e-ver :)

  8. LOVE the cupcakes! Adorable! (New follower- found you through a link party!)

  9. This is a way cute theme! Love it! I'm featuring this tonight at the link party...thanks for linking up!


    1. That is so cool, thank you! I'll add a permalink to your post :)

  10. Alyssa-
    That was definitely creative - fun birthday party. I used to go all out for my kids' parties - especially, the first born, Jessica. Fun memories.
    ~Sandy A.

  11. I was very pleased to find this web-site.I needed to thanks to your time for this excellent read!! I undoubtedly having fun with each little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

  12. I'm confused on how to use pic monkey, I am the doing my sons first bday inautical theme and would love to monogram the party favors with the anchor you used.

    1. Hi! I'll try my best to give the basics. Save the anchor pic to your computer, then at drag and drop the pic into the "edit a photo" area. Then, on the left is a letter "P", click on it and you can add text onto the pic.
      Hope that helps, if you're still stuck, you can email me! clevernest(at)!

  13. Gathering props for a photobooth at a vintage nautical themed wedding. LOVE your instructions on the life ring! I am so excited!!! I think I am going to make 2 of them for the photobooth, one in navy and one in mint green since that is accent color for the wedding. Thank you so much for posting instructions on how to make these!

  14. Hi, I love this party. It's so cute and I love the DIY elements you did. I have featured it in my nautical party round up over at Little Handmade Party Company x


I love getting your feedback, and chatting about all things DIY!
<3 Alyssa

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