We’ve had a one-year old for a few months now, and just like the birthday decorations which were up until one week ago still hanging in our living and dining room, I’m a little late in writing this post. Since he doesn’t know how to read yet I think he’ll forgive me…
Our rule for birthday parties is; the jubilārs gets to invite as many guests to his party as he is years old – except on first birthdays. First birthdays are for the parents, and since we hadn’t hosted a proper party in some time, I fell into the pinterest hole and started planning Camp Vilis! It just so happened that my parents were in town, so I had some help with the execution and logistics of hosting, not to mention four extra hands and two more photographers! Thank goodness we had some fabulous weather and could enjoy the backyard.
We had put out some things to snack on for when the guests first arrived including trail mix, granola bars, and a fishing tackle box full of gummy worms, lures and little carabiner compasses. The guest book was set, ready to be signed. Pieces of burlap were rustic and easy tablecloths, covering the main buffet as well as the tables we had set up outside for seating. These birch bark napkins and branch & twig pencils made for a theme-fitting yet functional addition, the pencils coming in handy for the first activity.
I had tweaked a nature scavenger hunt to feature more items easily found in our backyard, and soon the kids were racing around searching high and low for pine cones, cicada shells, beetles and fairies. (To see the original hunt, click here.) A few of the kids preferred to have a bag with to collect stuff, although it’s important to stress to them not to collect mushrooms, berries, or anything alive.
The backyard was set up to keep the kids entertained once the scavenger hunt was finished. We had a couple of tents filled with comfy blankets and pillows, and stocked with books to go with the theme, but the sandbox, playground and mud kitchen proved to be just as attractive to the little campers.
Roberts was manning the grill (with a bit of help from a friend) and soon we had shish kabobs and watermelon on the table. The veggie-kabobs were a big hit – we’ll make more next time!
As you probably know I love making the cake for these themed parties, and Camp Vilis was no exception. To make the flames I melted lifesavers in the oven on parchment paper, letting the result cool before snapping into triangular pieces. This has to be done soon before serving, as the candy tends to soften over time or in the fridge, resulting in sagging flames. The hardest part was getting those toasted marshmallows on the plate – it was a sticky, gooey endeavor!
The kids gathered around to sing happy birthday to the guest of honor, and then we helped him blow out the candle on the kliņģeris (Latvian birthday bread) his vecmamma Inga had made for him. I think Vilis polished off an entire piece of cake!
We lit the bonfire soon after, offering the kids (who definitely had not had enough sugar) a chance to roast some marshmallows and make s’mores. Poking the fire with sticks soon became a favorite activity, energy levels renewed after the second round of dessert!
A huge thank you to my parents; the party would not have been nearly as cool (and all the guests would have left hungry!) if not for you and all your help: starting with the supplies, ending with your presents, all the work in between. It was such a fun day spent with friends, all the prep work done ahead of time enabling me to enjoy the party, and to spend more time with the birthday boy. Happy 1st birthday Vilīt, you’ve got a big year ahead of you!!!