This 3rd birthday celebration is the culmination of a photographer mom with a fab eye for design and a venue near and dear to the family’s heart. That mom is Shannon Von Eschen and with the help of Ashley Nicole Events, she crafted a third birthday celebration at the family’s tree farm with loads of greenery from Bare Root Flora and s’mores front and center. Basically it’s every kid’s dream and maybe a few grownups too (ahem, me). Head to the vault for even more.
As a mother who’s also a photographer, I tend to only want to throw parties that have an abundance of style, details, and a sense of over-the-top decor. So, even though Eli was turning THREE, I wanted to create a space that would not only bring our families together, but also tell a story and create a sense of “home.” I love curated spaces with clearly-defined color palettes and though I slept hardly at all the week prior, the whole day was worth it.
My husband and I own a tree nursery in Boulder so I chose to host his birthday party once again at “work” in an old barn on our property. The party was planned within one month’s time on my part, but because it was held at “work,” it was a bit easier than holding at a venue since I could prep, plan, style, and design it in-between clients and editing while still being with Eli during the day. (He was even able to nap in the next room while I set up all the decor!) But the best part about these parties I throw are how many family members of mine pitch in to bring my visions to life. My father helped me build almost everything pictured that’s made of wood. As a master carpenter, I’m lucky enough to have him work for me…so, when I have a vision, he can make it come to life using some old tree and his hands. I wanted this party to feel like you were deep withing a forest. So, along with bringing in 30 live Christmas trees (which, even for me as a tree farm owner, was harder than I’d though given that I needed them months before most lots are open), I wanted feel-good forest decor: A campfire with a s’more station, a bench with cozy blankets for sharing, a wall of ferns, a rustic, mushroom & fern cake, hand-made tree puzzles, a hot chocolate & cinnamon bar, and old, wooden tables covered in forest greenery with copper accents that highlighted the most perfect color palette of the great outdoors. The fire-pit, the tables, the wooden trays, the cake stand, shelves, candle holders, wooden figurines, the wooden crates, the picture frames, the wooden signs, and the tiny “DIY” evergreen trees, were all hand-made by my father.
My sister-in-law and mother made most of the delicious & styled “forest” foods for this party, while my grandmother (Eli’s great-grandmother), planted the wooden-log planter that sat as a centerpiece on the main table. She hand-picked each tiny fern-like piece and to this day, I cherish it! My close friend Robyn, with Bare Root Flora, custom designed smaller, wooden-stump pieces, and one very large planter of greenery and forest finds that decorated the dessert table. And my brothers spend long hours with me into the morning after work helping me set it all up…moving every last fern branch and evergreen tree into place.
The wooden candle-holder and mini trees, were all made from beetle-kill wood and older trees had had died in the flood at our tree farm. The “seats” for the tables were old stumps from trees at our nursery, and I used old drying racks of my mother-in-law’s to hold a string of Edison bulbs. A hand-made woodland animal–with interchangeable antlers!– sat at each table setting to greet the children who arrived, and after building their own tiny trees to take home, they “roasted” marshmallows and made s’more after s’more all afternoon.
The whole idea for this party started with an image I’d taken in Montana of a forest floor filled with pine-needles, ferns, and mushrooms blooming along the shadows of the fallen trees. From the simple joy a hike or just a walk through the forest brings, this vision came to life before my eyes better than I could have imagined! And though I hadn’t intended it to be as big of a hit as it was, Eli’s requested a fire pit at his “next party.”
Photography: Shannon Von Eschen | Event Design: Ashley Nicole Events | Event Design: Shannon Von Eschen | Floral Design: Bare Root Flora | Cake: Leaf & Crumb | Invitations: Lana's Shop | CreekSide Tree Nurery: CreekSide Tree Nursery | Fern Log Centerpiece: Bernice Krause | Food Prep & Styling: Kendall Von Eschen | Name Cards: Lana's Shop | Signs & Drink Labels: Taryn Eklund Ink | Smash Cake: Martha Crabbs | Vintage Stamps: Viginia Sauder | Wooden Decor: Frank Crabbs