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  • Amanda

First Trip Around the Son(ny)

I am beyond excited to share all the details of our first birthday celebrations for Sonny! Due to several reasons, but mostly COVID still lingering around, his birthday looked much different than I could ever have imagined or wanted. Like many things over the past year we had to adapt to our "new normal". My husband and I are not big birthday celebration people. We do not celebrate our birthday week or all month long. We are content with a dinner out or getting away for a quick vacation (when possible). Even though we are more relaxed about our own birthday celebrations we did have every intention of having ONE big birthday bash to celebrate Santino's first year. Let's be honest, a first birthday is more for the parents than the actual child. It is a celebration of keeping a very complex tiny human alive! The first birthday marks a huge milestone, a major parenting accomplishment and should be a big deal.

Before I go into Santino's birthday celebrations I want to thank the people who have really supported us this past year. My parent's have been lifesavers. They have quarantined, babysat and helped more than anyone should have had to. My mom and dad helped make life with a newborn IN A PANDEMIC manageable. I know we would have figured it out and made it work on our own, but we didn't have to thanks to them! They are the reason we still have a weekly date night and I am able to have some semblance of a social life. My husband was also my biggest cheerleader and support. He may not change diapers or know how to use a Fridababy Snotsucker, but when I lost my job and became a full-time stay at home mom he had my back. I never had to worry and he supported my pandemic parenting choices even when he disagreed. Despite my best efforts (technically) Sonny's first word was Dada and they have an incredible bond. Thank the heavens for our family and good friends! The family that still recognized how important Sonny's first holidays were even when we couldn't celebrate together. Our family that made milestones special even when they were clouded by COVID. My friends and family that were only a call or text message away when I had a question or needed support. The people who simply sent a text to see how we were doing, checked in, or ask about Santino. These friendships and bonds are unbreakable. I am forever grateful for these people and the community we built for our son.

Last but certainly not least I will forever be grateful for my mischievous, curious, energetic, charismatic, wild child. Sonny may have "no chill", but he is a saint. He is our perfection. He completes us. Our world is forever changed by him for the better. We love our Sonny more than words can describe. Everything about Santino is magical and watching him grow will always be our greatest joy. No matter what his future holds we want him to be happy.

Now for the fun stuff...

Most parents have their children's first birthday photos taken with a cute theme and/or smash cake. Per usual I did not want that. I had to be difficult. My brilliant idea was to get Sonny's photos taken in the city with street art. I wanted something unique, urban and sentimental. We used my favorite street art as a backdrop by our first condo in Fulton Market. Luckily, Maria with LUMAnate Photography accepted my odd request and created some amazing photos I am obsessed with. We may have had to bring our own broom to sweep up broken glass, but the end result was incredible and really highlighted Sonny's personality. I used these photos for his birthday thank you cards too.


May 18 is Sonny's actual birthday and we spent the day taking him to the Shedd Aquarium. We rarely take Santino out in public places, especially indoors since he is unvaccinated and cannot wear a mask. Our friends took their son the week prior and assured us that COVID protocols were in place and we felt safe the entire time. I highly recommend going since Sonny had an amazing time. Even a one year old can appreciate brightly colored coral, beautiful fish, sea creatures, and petting stingrays! Tickets were booked in advance for a specific time slot and we paid extra (worth every penny) to park in a lot close to the entrance.


After the Shedd we grabbed a quick lunch at Greek Islands and headed home to host an intimate celebration with our immediate family. Just because it was a smaller event doesn't mean I didn't go all out. Our condo was covered in space themed decor and balloons. I decided on a First Trip Around the Sun theme. I went back and forth with several party ideas, but ultimately loved the correlation between his name and the theme.

I commissioned my aunt and her amazing cricut abilities to create a custom high chair banner and cake topper. As always, I used Britty Bakes for all our sweets and she did NOT disappoint. The cookies were almost too pretty to eat! I decided to challenge myself, and my mother, by doing our own balloon garlands. I found an inexpensive garland on Amazon that matched our space theme perfectly. The best advice I received when doing your own balloon work is buy an electric pump. I borrowed a friends and purchased my own double pump for his second event because I was so impressed with how quickly I could blow up an abundance of balloons! No party is complete without the perfect playlist and my friend curated the ultimate space themed music on Spotify for us. Our paper goods were from Michaels and since is was a small gathering we just had some appetizers, pizza, salad and sweets. Obviously, the birthday boy needed an outfit fit for the occasion and I went with the Peregrine Space Doodle romper in my favorite color. Black! I wore a NASA tee from Target to coordinate with the theme too. My favorite part of the day was seeing Sonny dig into his smash cake with zero reservations. It will always be one of the best memories in life.


Sonny's second celebration was ice cream themed! When we started to think about planning his party in March the reality sank in that we couldn't have a traditional event. We were still in the midst of a pandemic, the numbers weren't great, vaccines were not readily available, and I couldn't risk having to cancel the party or someone getting sick all because I wanted to have a first birthday for my son. Katie hosted an amazing cupcake food truck event for Remi's first birthday that inspired our party. It was a major success and everyone really enjoyed themselves! What I really liked about having a food truck was people could socially distance, the party was outside, and it had an open house feel where guests could come and go as they pleased based on their own comfort level.

I looked into several food trucks options for the party and ultimately decided on ice cream. We pushed the event back to June in the hopes of better weather and I loved the theme for decorations. I used evite for invitations since this wasn't a formal event and people could easily RSVP by clicking the link I sent. I have a very volatile relationship with the Post Office (DM me if you want the back story). I created all the invites on the Canva App that I uploaded to evite so they were custom and personalized. My parents graciously offered up their home for the event since they live in the suburbs. Our condo is on a busy street in Chicago that wasn't practical for this type of party. My parent's house was the perfect location! We used Sweet Oasis in Norridge for our ice cream truck. It was great to support a local small business and they had a variety of popular ice cream options to choose from. If you live nearby check them out! Once again my aunt went above and beyond with her Cricut! She made Santino's popsicle birthday banner and duplicated my ICECREAM tee from Nordstrom for Sonny's romper so we could match (duh). We hung a poster size print from his one year old photoshoot on the front door since the colors matched perfectly. We stocked coolers up from Costco with water, juice boxes, cans of beer and Truly for the event so people could stay well hydrated in the 90 degree heat! I purchased a spandex fitted tablecloth for our folding table from Amazon and it is one of my favorite purchases. It looked so nice and did not move, blow or rip the entire event. I highly recommend investing in one for future events and they come in a variety of colors. Thanks to Katie I had a balloon arch stand and tent for the event! We blew up 350 freaking balloons, thanks to our electric pumps, to make our balloon arch and garlands. Katie's balloon arch was relatively easy to "build". You can find them on Amazon or at any Party stores. Blowing up the balloons and tying them was the most time consuming. I used fishing wire to make the garlands for the stair railings. We used a professional company, TST Souvenirs, to create the 7 foot ice cream cone balloon. I was not confident in my abilities to replicate that no matter how many YouTube videos I watched. My made in China balloons from Amazon were no match for the sun that day and eventually started popping from the heat, but our professional balloons remained intake. TST made "Sonny's Ice Cream Social" sign by the ice cream truck too. I wanted some sort of lawn sign and eventually settled on ordering a custom SONNY from Amazon. For a fraction of the price of renting a sign I was able to purchase one I can reuse. We told our guests to come by anytime from 12-2pm to say hi and grab an ice cream. I was relieved the weather wasn't cold or rainy! It was scalding hot, but what better way to cool off than ice cream?!?!


We were so incredibly grateful for the friend and family who took time to celebrate Sonny's first birthday! I'm not the most emotional person, but was genuinely touched by how thoughtful and generous people were. After one wild and crazy year it felt amazing to celebrate. It felt wonderful to do something special for Sonny. I hope people had as much fun as we had.

When my baby shower got canceled I said I was going to make up for missing that event with a huge first birthday party. Now I tell Sonny I'll make up for his first birthday with a really nice trip to Disney in the future. I really felt like Santino, and myself, missed out on a lot his first year because of COVID. I refused to miss another memorable moment by canceling his first birthday. We did the best we could under the circumstances and are more than happy with how everything turned out. In all honesty organizing these events were stressful enough. I can't imagine if we had to plan something more formal. Food truck parties should continue in the post pandemic world in my opinion. No matter how you decide to celebrate a first birthday (big, small, food truck, drive by, traditional or non-traditional) it deserves to be celebrated!

XO - Amanda



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