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Sep 18, 2016

Wild One! First Birthday Party

I'm only about ten days or so late posting this, but our sweet little Dawson turned one! He has such an awesome personality and fills every day with so much joy. He is absolutely the piece that completed our little family. I like to call him the caboose on our crazy train...because that's how I feel most days!

We celebrated his birthday a few days early since most of our family members had some free time over Labor Day weekend and it worked out perfectly! I'm pretty excited to have a kid with a warm weather birthday, since our other two have birthdays in December and January, and it's hard to do much outdoors with them. We still have really fun indoor parties but I have always wanted to plan a party with a camping theme.

I'm calling this our Wild One! Party, as I kind of blended a few ideas together. When I was pregnant with Dawson, I found the cutest wall art from Hobby Lobby that incorporated teepees, arrows, and a baby fox. I'm kind of obsessed with that whole theme and when I saw this teepee at Target in their Pillowfort line, I had to have it. I'm probably more excited than Dawson is about it right now, but I keep telling myself that someday he will love it. 

Ever since Dawson was little bitty and started making noises, his signature sound has kind of been a deep, throaty growl. It sounds pretty funny coming out of a baby, but cute too, and I call him my baby bear cub. So, of course, I had to pick up a little stuffed baby black bear to decorate. So the entire theme morphed into this wilderness camp idea and it was perfect.

Most of the decor were things I had one hand. Including a canvas drop cloth I had left from when I recovered our dining rooms chairs. It was the perfect table cloth. I had all of the galvanized metal trays and utensil caddy already, as well as the Mason jar drink dispenser. I did pick up this red camping lantern which was pretty inexpensive as well.

The only thing I really made for this party (besides the food) was the cake stand. I have had this dark wood candle stand for probably 10+ years. I found a wood disc in the woodworking section of a local craft store (or you can buy it online here) and then just glued the wood onto the candle stand with hot glue. The pennant letters are wood and have the letters painted in white. I found them at Hobby Lobby. I already had Dawson's name letters hanging in his bedroom, so I just added the "CAMP" banner for the party.

Dawson doesn't have any food allergies, but since we have many family members with multiple food allergies on both sides of the family, I was going to make everything as allergy-friendly as possible. I was really trying to make this as simple as possible, so I made a double layer chocolate cake using a King Arthur Flour boxed mix and used this dark chocolate frosting recipe but just subbed out the butter and used allergy-friendly shortening instead. Since the boxed mix called for eggs, I also made some vegan cupcakes using gluten-free flour.

For the campfire decoration on the cake, I played around with so many ideas for the logs that didn't end up working out, so I eventually just whipped up some more chocolate frosting but used coconut milk instead of water from the original recipe which made it lighter in color. I used a large round tip and just piped it on the cake. Then I melted some safe chocolate chips and drizzled that on to look like marks in the "wood." The result was not the exact effect I was going for, but it worked out okay.

The flames on the cake were super simple. I just laid a bunch of red, orange and yellow Jolly Rancher candies out on a silicone baking sheet and popped it in the oven until they were melted together. I used a knife to swirl the colors together a bit, then let it cool in the fridge. Once it was cool, I just broke it into different sized pieces and stuck them onto the cake vertically to look like a campfire.

For being a quick, thrown together party, I was really happy with the end result. And our sweet, adorable little boy loved the chocolate frosting and all of his gifts. We loved being able to spend the day with all of our family and grilled out for dinner afterward with everyone who was able to stay. It really was a relaxing day/evening and we were thrilled to celebrate our big one year old!

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