Our Very Hungry Caterpillar

(So yes, I wrote this post six months ago… But I never put photos in and hit publish. Partly this because I didn’t have great photos from the party and kept hoping some would miraculously turn up [Dan actually had a few which I got eventually], and partly because things got really hectic in August and continued to be hectic, like, forever. But I’m trying to work on a few of those old, never-finished posts and a birthday post is definitely one I want to publish!)


Rowen’s first birthday party!
Our sweet baby turned one, and we had a party to celebrate!


Mom, Dad, and the Birthday Boy!

For some reason (probably because I’m a nerd) I really wanted to do a literary theme for Rowen’s first birthday. I was going back and forth between Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle, when Dan pointed out how cool the art in The Very Hungry Caterpillar is, and I was sold! I found all kinds of fun stuff on Pinterest and it turned out super cute, and perfect for our little (and very hungry) guy.

I bought it on Etsy for $5.50 and printed it myself on cardstock. I found matching envelopes on Amazon (although you could probably get them at Michael’s for cheaper; since we live so far from town I get a lot of stuff online. Yay Amazon Student!)

Very Hungry Caterpillar Invitation - First Birthday Boy or Girl Printable Party Invite Custom Personalized Card Supplies - 4x6 5x7 1st

This is the example from Etsy and not the exact invitation, obviously, but you get the idea.

I decided to have the party in the grassy area in the middle of our neighborhood (since we live in college housing, they do the watering/upkeep of the shared areas, while we’re responsible for our yards. And by ‘yards’ I mean ‘weeds and dirt’ because we live in California, and we’re busy/poor students.) There are picnic tables and a big tree and it’s a pretty area. I went to claim the the area in the morning, but I needn’t have bothered because all the neighbors were out of town (…which also cut down on the guest list, because there were at least nine kids I though might come, so that was a bit of a bummer. Saved us money on food, I guess.)

The pretty outside! Also:

Above our heads, Dan hung these pretty lights (from the Target Dollar Spot)


Dan took this picture, thus the actual depth of field ๐Ÿ™‚

On the tables, we had:
Tablecloths, plates, and napkins from Party City (online) – the watercolor dots are Carle-esque without being too theme-y. (Also, they were 1/3rd the price of the licensed ones.)


Marcia helping me set up. Boys generally being cute.

I made a caterpillar banner from Rowen’s monthly photos. I printed the pictures at home and the body is made from construction paper and laminated (turns out the laminator hates rubber cement, which is why the head looks funky. I didn’t have enough laminating sheets to redo it.) (Also, I cheated and took the 1 Year photo the day before his birthday, haha.)


I ended up taping it to the bench in front of the food table

After the party, I put it up on Rowen’s wall and he still likes looking at it:



It’s so long it has to wrap around two corners, which is why I couldn’t get it all in one picture!

The gift table looked like this:


I made this informational print about Rowen, which I wrote a whole post about and will link to it when it’s published:


I also made this little sign asking people to sign the first page of a hardcover Very Hungry Caterpillar book, one of our gifts to Rowen. Dan spray mounted a piece of printer paper (cut to size) inside the front cover so people would have a place to write.

book poster.png

(Funny story: this is where internet shopping led me astray. I ordered what I thought was a hardcover TVHC and ended up with THE TINIEST BOOK EVER PUBLISHED. Seriously, it’s almost to small to read! Damien ended up with the teeny book, I passed Damien’s board book version to Rowen, and the big hardcover version lives on the living room bookcase.) (Also, the other day I was in Barnes and Noble and saw a large board book version of TVHC, which really would have been ideal but I couldn’t find it online. So if you’re looking for one, they do exist!)

Damien and my dad bought the balloons for Rowen – so festive!


Also, let’s not forget this adorable birthday photo (the print was free with my Groupon, and my mom brought the big frame – thanks Mom!)


Soooo cute!


Rowen was especially appreciative of the cute birthday baby ๐Ÿ™‚

I made a felt banner to put around Rowen’s high chair while he ate his cake. You can see the banner in action in the Food section (conveniently located right below!) but here’s the whole banner hanging on Rowen’s wall:


Of course, the fun with a TVHC party is eating all the food the caterpillar ate (preferably without the stomach ache.) Well, we didn’t have all the foods, but we did have:

  • Cheese (with butterfly crackers, of course)
  • Pickles
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • ‘Oranges’ (…they were Clementines, which are better)
  • ‘Caterpillars in Cocoons’ (aka Pigs in a Blanket), which kinda fulfilled the ‘sausage’ category (except the hot dogs were either vegetarian or turkey dogs)

All the bowls/etc were either from Party City, the Dollar Tree, or my kitchen.

The sodas were Izzes and I used frozen water balloons for ice, which probably would have worked better if I had a bigger bucket (or fewer sodas, or smaller balloons), but Damien did enjoy throwing them in the road and watching them explode after the party. ๐Ÿ™‚


I kind of love how the cake turned out! It was super easy but looked cute. All the cake mix was Pillsbury and pre-dyed, so no one’s mouths or hands turned colors. (The frosting, obviously, was pre-dyed as well.) I bought the smallest spring form pan from Joann for the head, and green cupcake cups (also from Joann) for the body. (The green cake mix/cups/frosting was kinda tripping me out. LIKE HOW MUCH GREENER COULD IT BE?!) I didn’t frost the head, since it was already red and was going to be Rowen’s smash cake (less sugar = good.) I drew on a face with icing and added pipe cleaner antennae (which, of course, Rowen tried to eat.)



I also had a chocolate espresso cake, for several reasons, but most importantly: my dad’s birthday is two days before Rowen’s. ๐Ÿ™‚ (It also was gluten free AND was something the caterpillar ate, although I don’t think that cake was caffeinated.)


One of my grand ideas was to make a bean bag toss, only you would be tossing bean bag food into the mouth of a hungry caterpillar. This would have been really fun if I had done it right, but I totally didn’t. I remembered to save big cardboard boxes to make the caterpillar head, but I forgot to buy paint, so we had to make due with fingerpaint…which really didn’t work. I also ran out of time to sew the beanbags shut (which were felt and actually really cute) so I tried to glue them shut – and if you’ve ever tried to glue felt you know how successful that was. (I’ve never really had a successful time gluing felt so I don’t know why I keep trying. Actually, the high chair banner turned out pretty good, but it didn’t have to put up with the abuse of being thrown repeatedly.) As a last resort I brought out some plastic food from the boys’ play kitchen and supplemented the leaky beanbags, but none of this turned out like I had planned. Oh well.


Turns out this is the only photo I have that includes the bean bag toss – you can see a lone sad watermelon slice there that apparently didn’t make it into the mouth.

Oh, and we had a butterfly piรฑata. (I know. For two kids. Remember those nine out-of-towners?) I tried a pull string piรฑata, since it was for a baby after all, and it was actually really fun. All the adults took a turn but we didn’t find the right string until literally the last pull, which I guess prolonged the suspense. (Also, there was candy in the piรฑata but we didn’t let Rowen eat any of it. Mean parents!)





Damien was a willing helper come unwrap-the-presents time, haha. (He also was happy to help Rowen test out the toys!)

Rowen got many wonderful presents from our family. His biggest present was actually a present to the entire family:


Rowen in the sandbox with Bapa (I’m so sad this is blurry!)


Damien in the sandbox. You can see the ‘roof’, and the seats fold over the sandbox to keep it safe from wayward kitties. It’s really the coolest.

Damien and Rowen get to spend hours digging and playing, and Dan and I get to enjoy the peace of two happily occupied boys. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our first present to Rowen was the signed/message-d Very Hungry Caterpillar book; we also got him a pop-up play tent, which we set up at the party and was a big hit with both boys. (My favorite thing about it? It folds completely flat for storage.)


Oh, and a random note about clothes: Rowen’s cute Birthday Boy jumper came from Walmart, and Damien made his tshirt at preschool for something completely unrelated to this party. It was a fun coincidence ๐Ÿ™‚

Most importantly of all, Rowen had an amazing time at his birthday party – and we, of course, all love to see him happy. Here’s to another amazing year with our amazing kiddo!


Love my sweet one-year-old!


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