Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tom Sawyer And Huckleberry Finn Birthday Party

This is my newest and absolute most favorite boys' birthday party, and I am so thrilled to be able to share it with you! {photography by the brilliantly talented Inga Finch of Inga Finch Photography}

You may remember we had a giveaway a few months back for a couture custom party design package. Brandi Brownthe fabulous wedding planner of Brandi Brown Events, won! She requested a Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn custom party design for her darling boys' first birthday party. It was so incredibly unique, I simply couldn't wait to dive right in--I was up for the challenge!

I immediately re-read the books, watched the original films, and tried to think of how to create a scene for the guests that made them feel like they were riding down the Mississippi River with Tom and Huck on a raft--maybe hopping on a steamboat ferry for a gourmet meal, or eating pie on an Aunt's front porch while cooling off with a glass of lemonade.

Of course I wanted it to have the look and feel of the Mississippi River, and feature creatures Tom & Huck would along the river banks, like alligators and snakes. Cat tails were a perfect item for decor, as were barrels, jugs, and lots of burlap. Taking cues from different scenes and adventures throughout the tales of Tom & Huck, little details for the party design (including activities) were created to make sure it was a truly extraordinary experience for the birthday boys and all of their guests.

And most importantly, the party needed to reflect details of Brandi and her husband's life, and the many brilliant moments of their boys' first year. Knowing it was a brunch, I suggested foods like biscuits and quiche, huckleberry jam too, of course!

And when asked for the perfect party favor, there was no question in my mind: A hardback copy of the Adventures of Tom Sawyer or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn!

This was one of the absolute most joyous parties to design, however I dare not take most of the credit. I merely gave my vision and inspiration, my design for the party. I shared my very best ideas with Brandi, but it was up to her to execute them. And when she shared with me the first few images from the party, I was completely blown away.

Brandi created this party, and made it party perfect. She brilliantly added so many of her own unique ideas and vision for the event, and every single detail was designed beautifully. Some of my favorite elements by Brandi: The burlap sippy cups; the different mini pie stations; the Mark Twain entertainer; the corn-cob pipe; the creative names for the menu items-I could go on forever with all the amazing details she created for this party, but I will let you see and read about them below.

Brandi is by far, one of the absolute most gifted children's party planners I have ever, ever known, and she technically isn't one (...yet)! I hope that she soon will be, because with this extraordinary gift and talent, anyone would be beyond lucky to have her plan their child's party (if you are interested in working with Brandi, don't worry, I have her contact info below--I would hurry, no doubt she will be booking up quickly if she can handle children's parties on top of the weddings she designs with such grace!).

It would be an absolute dream to have Brandi design me a party--that is just how much I adore her work. She astounded me with these photos from the party showing what an incredible vision she had for it as well as her high level of perfectionism in the executing of carrying a theme throughout every detail of a party... I have a feeling you will be blown away, too.

Brandi was kind enough to share her story of the party, and I want to share it with you:

{Development Of The Theme}

"When I found out I was expecting twin boys, I immediately started to think about the nursery and what I would do with it. I knew I wanted it to be a fishing theme, since my husband loves to fish and couldn't stop talking about all the trips he and his boys would be making on the new bass boat he suddenly needed to own. Steve is from the Midwest and I'm a very proud Southerner, so as I started to think about the theme, and the different elements I wanted to incorporate in it, the Mississippi River sprung to mind and then naturally....Mark Twain and his 2 famous boys...Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. It was perfect! Two mischievous boys who love to fish on the great river that connects my part of the country to my husband's. Nothing could be a better fit. I started looking for fabric and literally stumbled on TS/HF fabric on EBay. It was fantastic! And it served as my inspiration for the nursery.

"Fast forward a year and the boys' first birthday was quickly approaching. I had always wanted to carry the TS/HF theme into their birthday parties - esp their 1st - but I just couldn't get started. I am event planner, this is what I do, but I was stumped. I needed some inspiration and I just couldn't find it. So I decided to put the theme off and go with something I could do easily - a circus. It was almost too easy. And I wasn't thrilled about it at all. I like new and innovative ideas and a circus theme just wasn't working for me. I knew it would be ridiculously cute, but it wouldn't have the same oomph a TS/HF party would.

"I found Kate Landers online during one of my Google searches for children parties. I fell head over heels for her work. The "Madeline" party almost made me wish for a girl. It was gorgeous. I started following Kate on Twitter. And then one day she announced she was giving a couture party away. It occurred to me that if anyone could spark my imagination, she could. I entered and won. I was super excited to work with her."

{Designing A Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn Party}

"The theme is tough and a little daunting, but Kate dove right in. She even watched the original movies. As her ideas started to come in, I was not just sparked, I was lit up! Just as I was hoping, Kate's ideas were incredibly creative and they served as just the right inspiration I needed to make this party unique and one-of-a-kind.

"I spent the next month pulling it all together, working with some incredible vendors and taking advantage of family vacation locales to look for the perfect elements. To my great excitement, I found more of the TS/HF fabric I had fallen in love with and used in the nursery! I couldn't believe it. And once more, it was in a different color scheme - green, brown, cream and red - my exact colors for the party! I knew then we could pull this off. Things were falling together so perfectly!

"I wanted every detail of this party to be theme-appropriate. A major pet-peeve of mine is having a theme and it not be carried throughout the event. So I was determined that everything from the invitations to the food to the activities and all in between relate back to Tom & Huck.

{The Invitations}
"After an exhaustive search for burlap invitations, I came to the conclusion that I was just going to have to make them myself. Nole, of the Oh So Beautiful Paper blog, suggested I stitch burlap to card stock. Great idea, except I don't sew and I don't own a sewing machine. So I had to come up with Plan B. Wood was going to be a major element in the party given Huck's raft, so I decided to glue burlap to thin pieces of balsa wood and attach the printed invitation to it. Kate found the fishing silhouette, but it was originally a single boy, so I had a graphic designer create the mirror image motif to reflect the twins. With Kate's help, the wording was taken care of and I found a great font online. The paper was found at Michaels and a local printer printed them for me.

"Kori Clark of Paper and Pigtails helped design all the buffet and beverage tags, as well as the favor stickers. I used craft punches and a sticker maker from Michaels to make them. I found the tree trunk place card holders on Etsy."

{Designing the Buffet Table}
"Inspired by Kate's to-die-for Woodland Fairy party, I wanted the buffet table to mimic a riverbank. I used a chocolate linen to represent the muddy waters of the Mississippi and a burlap topper to represent the sand.

"We filled the table with grass and cattail arrangements my mother made and river rocks. I found a catfish, bass and bullfrog stuffed animals at Bass Pro Shops that I thought would give the table a whimsical feel. This is a party for little boys, after all!

I found all of the old serving pieces in an antique store in Chickamauga, GA, a small town outside Chattanooga, TN, where we vacationed this summer.

"I wanted the food to be things Tom and Huck might have eaten themselves, but with a twist.
Since we were starting at 10am, I wanted brunch style food that was also be kid-friendly.

We served fried fish fingers, fried chicken strips, cheese grits, bacon and ham quiche, potato casserole and biscuits with huckleberry honey & jam, strawberry jam and Tupelo honey.

"For beverages, we served lemonade, milk, chocolate milk, sweet tea, lemonade & vodka and beer.

I had burlap sippie cups custom made for the little ones and we used mason jars for the older kids and adults."

{Creating The Dessert Table}

"The dessert table was a blast to put together! Inspired by my inquiry about burlap invitations, Nole blogged about other burlap items she'd come across and loved. One was custom burlap pennant banners. I fell head over heels in love. I contacted the artist through her Etsy shop and she was able to make a banner for the boys AND she handpainted the silhouette onto a pennant, as well. It turned out beautifully! We will use it for years to come.

"[My bakery] baked mini cherry and apple pies...

and 3 different types of cookies - oatmeal raisin, peanut butter and sugar (which they decorated to look like watermelon!).

"I wanted to add old-fashioned candies to the dessert table, too.
I did some research on the types of candy that was sold in general stores, thinking Little House on the Prairie, during Tom & Huck's time - the 1840s. I found salt water taffy, peppermint sticks, root beer sticks and lemon drops.
Chickamauga also had an incredible general store that was chock full of wonderful candies! I cleaned them out. My favorite were the lollipops they sold that were incredibly unique. I had hit the jackpot!"

{The Birthday "Cake"}

"Kate thought of a "pie cake". I thought it was brilliant! So my local bakery created a gorgeous cake that looked like a huckleberry pie.

"For the smash cakes, my baker created small cakes that looked like Huck's raft. They turned out great!"

{Table Design and Decorations}

"I really wasn't enthralled with the idea of tables and chairs. Seemed boring to me, almost too practical. I had used hay bales at past events and loved the look. I knew it fit perfectly and I came up with the concept of a "hay couch". Would give people a place to sit and set their drinks down, plus they'd be low to the ground for the kids. It also gave me a great palette with which to use the glorious fabric!
I also found all the old blue Ball jars, lanterns and jugs in the antique stores of Chickamauga and Ellijay, GA, another stop on the family vacation."

{The Party Favors}

"For the favors, we gave each family a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was important to me that our little guests know the stories of Tom & Huck and so giving them the books was a no-brainer."

{Activities and Entertainment}

"With most of the children coming being older than the boys, I knew I needed activities that would keep them entertained.
Kate and I had discussed bringing in live animals and the Tallahassee Museum was a perfect solution!
I asked them to bring animals that Tom & Huck might have encountered around the river. They brought an alligator, a snake, an owl, a turtle and a bullfrog. The kids loved the animals.

"Since having the kids interested in the books was such a priority, I hired a local actor to come dressed as the great author himself, Mark Twain, to tell the stories of his two main subjects. The kids were enthralled and I heard several comment that they couldn't wait to read the books."

{Dedications and Gratitude}
"I am so thankful to Kate for her crazy creative mind, dedication and encouragement. Further, this party wouldn't have happened but for my mother. She was such a huge help with the execution of the party, as were my mother-in-law, sister and very best girlfriends. And, of course, my husband, who gave me free reign and didn't ask too many questions. Bless him.

"I know my boys won't have any tangible memories from this party, but I am really glad I went all out for this one. I don't have any photos of my 1st birthday and it thrills me to know my boys do of theirs and I hope they cherish them.

My boys are a true gift from God and I want them to know how much we celebrated them and gave great thanks that day."

A TREMENDOUS thank you to Brandi for sharing her amazing party with us! It is always a gift and blessing to see a design and swarm of ideas come to life. Brandi is a true treasure and has a gift so rare, I am glad we each have the opportunity to view it and behold it.

I strongly encourage you to visit Brandi's website here.

I also think you would greatly enjoy checking out her blog for more details (Yes! There is more!) on her party here.

I also want to make a special note of thanks to Inga, who did a brilliant job of capturing the very best details of this gorgeous party, and sharing her beautiful images with us. I strongly recommend contacting Inga if you are looking for an extremely talented photographer! Thank you Inga!

I hope you too will see this as a fabulous example of what wonderous parties you can create, as Brandi did, using inspiration from one of my custom party design packages!


Jennifer Birkhead said...

So very, very stylish, sophisticated and cute all the same time - love it!!!

Sandi said...


Taylor Madison Inspirations said...

Absolutely gorgeous! You out did yourself and all the attention to detail is amazing. Love it!

Taylor Madison Inspirations said...

Wow! Amazing party, I love it!

Ivona said...

Wow Kate, I saw this party on the photographers website and was completely stunned with it. I should have known you had your hand in desigining it :) Is there any way you could check with Brandi if it's okay to forward her email to me? It is not on her website or Facebook and since we are in the same area I would love to be able to get in touch with her. I left her a comment on FB but she doesn't seem to check it as regularly. Thank you so much. Ivona

Shelley@DivinePartyConcepts said...

I of the cutest boy parties I have seen in a while!!!

Chris @ Celebrations At Home said...

This is absolutely amazing! I love the rustic design!

Rach said...

Wow, themed to the T! Every detail so thought out.

Affection for Detail said...

One word... GENIUS!!

Anonymous said...

I have never seen anything so well put together! I am amazed my the creativity! Congratulations!

Imjustagirl said...

WOW!! Absolutely amazing!!

Lorena Cagnotti said...

I love it! Congrats!

Unknown said...

love the classic theme-you did an amazing job!

Kori Clark said...

I adore this theme and every element you and Brandi came up with!! What an amazing party!!!

Alexis said...

Stunning and Unique, really amazing!

Unknown said...

wow...i'm seriously speechless over this party. the details are amazing and so well executed. LOVE it.

Christi Bennett @ pisforparty said...

Ummm.....this party is stunning!!! You had such wonderful ideas and the hostess did an amazing job as well!! Thank you for sharing the gorgeous photos and lots of great party details.

Cari @ Socially Circled said...

LOVE the table design!!!

Enchanted Expectations said...

love this party. This is the best and only Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn Party I have every seen. Pure Perfection!

thelittlebeanboutique said...

this party is too die for!! It is so lovely and the details.. I want to go to THAT party!!

Julie Kieras said...

As an English teacher, I LOVE this theme! :) Way to go! It looks perfect!
julie @

Unknown said...

"Tom Sawyer And Huckleberry Finn Birthday Party" I've never met such a happening but it looks like it came out great. Congratulations and Happy Birthday!Rent A Car

Kristin said...

Absolutely stunning! The theme and attention to detail- just perfect and so lovely!

Nicole (Bellenza Party Suite) said...

What an awesome theme! And the details look amazing :)