So, here it is, finally: the long-promised post on our kiddo’s first birthday! This party was so much fun! I really enjoyed putting it together, and I’ve included some free printables (see below) for your own use, if you like what we did.
(*Please note: Our free printables are for personal use only. These are not licensed products. We do not own the Finding Nemo characters; they belong to their copyright and trademarked owners. Please see our Disclosure Statement for more information.)
The first step was to pick a theme for the party. Although a first birthday means the kiddo is too young yet to have any real interests or opinions, I did want to try and do something I thought he would enjoy. We entered him into swim lessons when he was six months old, and although he’s never been fond of getting his face wet (not even in the bathtub), he does love to splash around in the water. (It makes him giggle hysterically; it’s adorable!) So, the idea for a “splash party” was born.
Next, I wanted to do a theme for the party to unite all the invitations, decorations, food, etc., so that’s how we came up with Finding Nemo. Again, as a one year-old, our son doesn’t really have a concept of who Nemo is (and has never seen the movie), but I thought it went perfectly with a party featuring water play.
Note: My general feeling on first birthday parties (and this hasn’t changed after hosting one, maybe only solidified it further), is that the party isn’t really for the kiddo. Yes, it’s his birthday we’re celebrating, and hopefully he’ll have some great photos he can look at one day, but the reality is that a one year-old is never going to remember this special day.
So why celebrate it? Well, in a nutshell, it is still a huge milestone! Not just for the babes, but also for the parents! Think about it – one year ago you were holding in your arms for the first time a tiny helpless creature that could barely keep his/her eyes open. And now, a year later, you have a toddler! A maybe walking, maybe talking, but definitely moving and exploring (and barely napping) toddler! Plus – guess what? – you made it! You survived year one! And all of that is definitely worth celebrating. (Plus, parties are just plain fun!)
So, in honor of this kiddo, his parents, and what he seems to love to do, this Finding Nemo splash party was born!
I designed these after doing a thorough search on both Pinterest and Etsy. I was originally thinking I would just purchase his invites (and save myself a lot of work!), but I couldn’t find a Finding Nemo invite that said exactly what I wanted. So . . . I made my own!
To download a free fill-in-the-blank version of this invitation, click below. I made you all two versions: one with the age of “one” filled in, and one with a blank fill-in for the age in case you wanted to use these for a different age birthday.
Once I decided to do the invitations myself, everything else followed from there. I wanted everything to match, so I just made a small modification to the invites to make all the food tents and labels (see below).
The decorations came from raiding my own craft supply. I have a ridiculous amount of paper on hand at all times (although not as much as fabric . . . did you know that character fabrics go “out of print”? Meaning, if you think you’re going to want to use it someday, you better buy it today, because it might not be there tomorrow. And this is why I have more fabric than I will probably ever actually use. LOL) So, anyway, I decided to raid my own craft supply and cut out orange and blue fish (Nemo and Dory!) from paper I had on hand.
To make the fish, I did a google search for fish outlines, adjusted the images to the sizes I wanted, and printed them directly onto the craft paper. Then, I just cut them out and glued on some large googly eyes. I love the eyes! It really makes the fish.
The birthday banner was made by layering circles cut with some paper punches I had on hand and more of my paper stock. ( I used 1 3/4″, 2 1/2″, and 3 1/2″ punches.)
I added on the lettering with navy blue colored alphabet stickers. The Nemo characters were printed onto cardstock and then cut out and glued onto the layered circles.
To make your own banner, you can always do a Google search for Nemo characters, or visit Anything In Cards Etsy shop to download PNG files with transparent backgrounds.
Okay, back to the fish – I put natural-colored fish netting (purchased at Party City) over our bay window to “hook” the fish into as well as some blue-colored fish netting (purchased at Amazon) over the porch railings with more fish. (I used blue outside so it would show up well against the white railings.)
We also had a sign outside pointing toward the “beach” (our back deck) made from a decorative life preserver and construction paper.
Also in the bay window, I printed out and framed two 5x7s of the “Keep Calm” promotional posters that were released with the movie. (I searched for these on Google and then adjusted the image sizes to fit the frames.) In between the framed posters, I put a stuffed Nemo toy that we had purchased for the birthday boy.
We had a “baby safe zone” in our living room for little ones (or their parents) who might need a break from being out in the yard. We decorated this room with an over-looking octopus made from a balloon and paper streamers.
To decorate the food tables, I used white table cloths that we already had on hand, and cut one of the blue fishnets in half. (I had ordered three in total – two for the porch and one for the food tables.) I used one half for the food table and the other half for the dessert “table” – our kitchen counter.
At one end of the dessert table, we set out the plates, napkins, and utensils. In keeping with the beach/ocean theme, I used some metal pails I’d found at Target’s Dollar Spot and wrapped them with blue and orange ribbon. The plates and napkins are the Caribbean blue color from Party City.
We chose to go with simple foods that could be served buffet style, and we gave each one an “ocean” themed twist. For the main dish, we offered sandwiches – “Peanut Butter and Jellyfish” for the kids and “Submarine” sandwiches for the grown-ups.
The PB&J sandwiches are cut out using a fish cookie cutter. You could really use any fish cutter that’s approximately 3.5 – 4 inches for this, but if you’re interested – here’s the one I used.
The “Submarine Sandwiches” are deli meat (some with ham and some with turkey) on mini sub rolls.
For sides, we did a “Seaside Snack Mix,” a “Seashell Pasta Salad,” a “Shark Food” fruit salad, and a crudités platter with “Seaweed Dip.”
The “Seaside Snack Mix” is made with ocean themed ingredients: Fritos for “ocean waves,” Cheerios for “life preservers,” oyster crackers, cheddar Goldfish crackers, and light and dark blue M&Ms to represent water. In keeping with the ocean/beach theme, I served the mix in a metal pail found at Target’s Dollar Spot and lined it with parchment paper. I layered some blue and orange ribbon around the pail and glued it on using a hot glue gun. Then I glued on top of the ribbon a label I printed on white cardstock. (See below for free printables of the food tents/labels.)
The “Seashell Pasta Salad” was made with a combination of medium and small pasta shells, sliced green olives, sliced grape tomatoes, green peas, and Italian salad dressing. I served it in a trifle bowl that I decorated with blue and orange ribbon (same as the Seaside Snack Mix) and a printed food label. (See below for free printables of the food tents/labels.) I also hot-glued the ribbon onto the trifle bowl. The wonderful thing about hot glue is that when the party was over, I just peeled it all off – ribbon, glue, and all! It comes off glass really easily. (I learned this trick DIYing centerpieces for my wedding!)
The “Shark Food” fruit salad was originally supposed to be spilling out of a watermelon shark. But my grocery was out of watermelons, and I figured, in the end, it was one less thing I had to do if I just put some fruit salad in a bowl and called it a day. I did end up cutting little fish out of the cantaloupe using mini fish cookie cutters, but otherwise this is just your average fruit salad. The concept, though, was to play off the idea from the movie of Bruce the “vegetarian” shark claiming “Fish are friends, not food.”
Finally, the “Seaweed Dip” is really spinach dip. I found this really tasty recipe on Pinterest, and it got devoured! I made an octopus to sit on top of the dip out of some red bell pepper. I made the body by cutting the top third off one pepper, and then using a second pepper to slice eight “legs.” The eyes are leftover candy from making our Nemo cookies that I “glued” onto the pepper with a couple dabs of dip.
For drinks, I did a play on different kinds of “water.” We had “ocean water” (Kool-Aid Blue Raspberry Lemonade), “Fresh Water” (water bottles), and “Tank water” (iced tea). The last is a bit gross of an idea 🙂 , but I wasn’t sure what else to call the iced tea to keep with the theme!
Click the links below for free printables of the drink and food labels:
For our cake (and cake smash) we served cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting dyed blue to look like ocean water. I topped each cupcake with a Goldfish cracker to represent Nemo.
The cupcakes were baked in Finding Dory cupcake wrappers (Dory party supplies are what’s out now – merchandising for the new movie). To display them, I bought a plain cardboard cupcake stand and hot-glued around the outside some Finding Nemo ribbon I bought on Etsy from Ribbon Biz.
Because this was a first birthday, and I knew we’d have many more adults in attendance than kids, I wanted to offer two kinds of favors – one for the kids and one for the grown-ups. Because I went through the effort to learn how to do decorated sugar cookies for mine and my husband’s anniversary this year, I decided I needed to put that newfound knowledge to some more use! Although I am really terrible at drawing, I figured a Nemo cookie would be pretty simple – just a few stripes – so I decided to do that for the adult favors. (I made enough for the kiddos to all have cookies too!)
Also for the kiddos, I did beach buckets filled with bubbles, squirt toys, and either a Nemo board book (for the under 3 set) or a Nemo play-pack (for the over 3’s.) All was purchased at Target’s Dollar Spot. (I was especially thrilled with the board books we found for a dollar! That would have been a great favor all by itself, but we’d already bought the buckets. 🙂 )
I put a favor tag on each made from more of my stock of craft paper. These are layered circles: the outer circle is a scallop (3 1/2″) punched out of our Ocean Background free printable (click the link for the printable). The center circle (2 1/2″) is punched out of neon orange card stock. And the inner circle is the actual Favor Tag (click the link for the printable) punched using a 1 3/4″ circle punch.
For our “splash zone” we set up the back yard with various water play activities, including an inflatable baby pool with Finding Nemo squirt toys , nest and pour cups, and some inflatable beach balls.
(Note: I bought all our backyard water play “toys” on discount through Zulily, but since Zulily does flash sales, they’re no longer available through that site. I provided links to Amazon here for illustrative purposes, but if you visit your local Target or Walmart – especially right now – you’ll probably be able to find all kinds of baby and toddler water play items on clearance!)
And, for the bigger kids, we provided some squirt guns, along with a re-fill tub, and a pail of homemade bubble solution with bubble wands.
We hope you enjoyed taking a look at this party! Stay tuned next month for when we reveal our Spider-Man dinner party for grown-ups! (It’ll be the husband’s turn to celebrate a birthday.)
And check out our Party Ideas Pinterest board for geeky party inspiration for both kids and adults!
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