Ciao Bella! Blake’s First Birthday Deets

Blake was completely fascinated by the balloons!

Our amazing little love nugget turned one just a couple of weeks ago! I know right? I decided I wanted to pull something together and celebrate this special milestone in Blake’s life, but it was also important to me to not feel even the slightest bit stressed. I thought I would share my strategies and some entertaining tips for how I managed to execute a fun little party for sweet Blake in the midst of these “uncertain times” also known as a global pandemic.

Blake & I snuck out for a quick picture before our friends arrived, and before she ripped her dress, LOL. She is my daughter for sure!

I wanted to “make it nice” but avoid a Real Housewives style meltdown a la Dorinda Medley. You know what I’m sayin’?? As any parent alive these days knows, we have had a lot on our plates lately, so my strategy here was to keep things as simple as possible. I chose one detail to focus my energy on and personally execute – the flowers. This is because it was more economical to do them myself AND I could do this at night after all three girls were in bed and I could just pour a nice glass of wine, turn on some music, and chill (and arrange flowers, of course). And, I enjoy it!

Loved how these turned out, and carnations last for weeks with fresh water!

I almost always turn to Globalrose when I am entertaining because it is just so simple, affordable, and quick. They have tons of options in regard to what type and color of flower you are looking for, and you can easily schedule when they will arrive on your doorstep. For Blake’s party we decided on an Italian theme (more on that below) so I selected carnations in an assortment of reds and pinks, rolling with an American-Italian restaurant theme.

These Italian tomato cans are so much fun to keep on hand for a quick decor option!

I hesitate to even call these flowers “arrangements” because all you have two do is trim the stem, plunk them down in the tomato can, and add water. Seriously! I keep these empty tomato cans (that I used for Harper’s 1st birthday also, btw) on hand because they are such an easy, quick and fun way to put some flowers together and can also double as a utensil caddy! These red and white checkered tablecloths from Amazon are also a super simple way to dress up the tables, keep the Italian restaurant theme going, and just toss them in the laundry when all is said and done. Someone smeared spaghetti sauce all over your tablecloth? It cost $10, who cares? Easy peasy!

These tablecloths are the best! I am telling you NOTHING stains them.

I love to designate an out of-the-way corner of the kitchen counter (everyone ends up in the kitchen anyway, right?) for a DIY drinks station. For this occasion I was serving up aperol spritzes: an Italian wine-based cocktail, consisting of prosecco, Aperol and soda water with a slice of orange. It looks festive and tastes super sophisticated but it is quite easy to put together…and I love any reason to bust out my silver wine cooler that Keith’s Grandmother (and Blake’s namesake!!) gave to me many moons ago.

Aperol Spritz is a universal drink station because even the non-drinkers can whip up a Pellegrino with orange and have a special mocktail.

In fact, there were two drink stations set up – one with ice, cocktail ingredients, sparkling water, and glasses so guests can help themselves, and another self-serve station on the dining room sideboard with additional wine glasses and an abundance of select Italian red wines. I also like to go big here – who wants to run out of wine at a party? That’s the definition of a serious buzzkill.

Alllll the good stuff! Italian red wine is our favorite!

Nothing can kill a good party faster than “Hanger”…so, snacks. The day of the party I decided put out a cheeseboard because I wanted to keep a loose timeline for serving dinner. I had to pickup Blake’s cake at Publix anyway so I placed a deli order for some thinly sliced salami, mortadella with pistachios, and prosciutto. I happened to have some Pecorino Romano cheese and my favorite – the Syrah-Soaked Toscana from Trader Joe’s – on hand too.

It was my first time ordering this mortadella from Publix – it was a hit!

I rounded out the board with some good crackers, castelvetrano olives and hand-cut melon (honeydew and cantaloupe to be precise). And it ALWAYS tastes better to buy the whole melon, let it ripen, and then cut it up yourself – this is not an area where I will take a shortcut. As a finishing touch I garnished with some fresh cut rosemary from my garden. Quick tip: I always lay a piece of parchment paper down over my butcher’s block when I do a cheeseboard because it makes for such an easy cleanup – just pick up the paper and toss it the trash. Donezo!

Blake opening presents with her Godmother Jenn.
The kiddos chowing down on spaghetti while Blake is working on her balloon

I am a big believer in outsourcing where you can! Nothing pleases me more than making a meal for loved ones, but a little help in the kitchen can go a long way. And Lord knows I have served up enough meals with love over the last 6 months or so. Because this was a family party I needed to pull a meal together that was a crowd-pleaser and could accommodate taste preferences for ages 6 to 60, so naturally Italian food was the answer. This is where Riccardo’s on speed dial came in handy…not only did ordering delicious Italian takeout spare me blood, sweat, and tears slaving over a red sauce all day, but everyone loved being treated to a professionally cooked meal. Spaghetti & meatballs for the win!

Loved the little rainbow nonpareils sprinkles on this cake – so festive and fun!
The smash cake…which if you look closely you may notice got smashed when I dropped it in the garage unloading the groceries. Oops!

I ordered Blake’s cake from Publix. You get a free “smash cake” with the purchase of a birthday cake. Which is good, because it did not get eaten. Maybe it was the sprinkles that threw her off (but so cute, right?!) but she was more into picking the cake apart into little pieces and dropping them on the floor than putting any of the cake in her mouth. We even coaxed her to eat a few bites…no dice so into the trash can went the smash cake. To which Harper, my 6YO commented, “that seems a little harsh”. The running commentary from this crew definitely keeps me laughing.

This is Blake’s standard expression when Harper is goofing around, hahaha!

My ONLY regret is that we didn’t get a family picture. But I guess that is pandemic living with three kids these days! We are all just doing our best.

Happy birthday, Blake! We couldn’t possibly adore you more.

xo,

Virginia

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