Modern State Fair Birthday Party
September 11, 2014
Birthday PartyKids PartyOutdoor Weddings
Every year we throw my daughter, Audrey, a birthday party. The kind of party that leaves her mom (me) with glue gun blisters, heat exhaustion and a few new strands of gray hair. You might remember her 1st3rd, 4th and 5th ones. Well this year, we took a break from the madness. Umm, right. Have you met me?? Instead, we cranked it up a few notches and ended up with the cutest State Fair celebration a girl could ever want. Blisters and heat exhaustion included. Photos by the lovely Ruth Eileen.

Audrey basically wanted a mash-up of all of the parties that she's been to. The only caveat was that there had to be pink and there had to be animals. So we went with a Modern State Fair inspired fete, complete with bright poppy versions of our favorite state fair games, a baby animal petting zoo, fabulous state fair food and balloons, balloons, balloons for days.

We figured that creating a cohesive design would be far easier if we had a distinct palette. We settled on bright pink, teal, orange, yellow, gold and black. All signs would be in black. Balloons in our primary three colors: pink, orange and yellow. Then, subtle teal and gold accents tucked in to round it all out. I went through 2 cans of each color of spray paint but the end result was that we really created a birthday "brand" of sorts that made the design SO much easier to execute.

We served your standard state fair inspired food and if I'm being honest, I had the whole she-bang catered. Which was a little pricey but saved me a million moments of stress and allowed me to just be at the party. That said, all of the food choices were items that could be bought ahead, cooked ahead and kept warm for the party with the right supplies. Corn dogs, chicken on a stick, sliders, corn on the cob and strawberry skewers. With tons of dipping sauce.

We looked at the party in phases and that helped dictate how much entertainment we needed. For the first 15 minutes, the kids would play on the swingset. Then the Barn Babies would come and set up shop for an hour. After that, the kids would eat. Then play the games and take photos, then lastly, get their "prizes" and hit the road. Of course, we knew that the kids would want to play games while eating, and swing while petting and we just let it happen. But we guided them through each "activity" as best we could in chunks of about 30-45 minutes.

What started as a snack idea basically became another form of entertainment for the kids. They loved scooping their own popcorn, mixing and matching flavors and of course, stuffing their mouth with as much popcorn as humanly possible. This was SUCH an easy project. I bought already popped bagged popcorn, then gussied it up. Loop d' Loop was fruit loops and white chocolate, S'mores was milk chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow, Birthday Cake was white chocolate and sprinkles, then we had White Cheddar and Caramel that I bought pre-made. Bada-bing-bada-boom.

One of the things that I loved about this party was having a dedicated photobooth. I always email pictures of the children after the big day to the parents so it was nice to have a space to make sure we got at least one great shot of every kid. We filled the booth with fun, innocent props like oversized glasses and hats, plus some adorable DIY mustaches and lips that we'll share more of later. These images turned out to be such a cool keepsake for our family and for our littlest guests.
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After the kids played all of the games and had their photo taken, we had them fill up their goodie bags with prizes that we hung to an official prize board. We made custom bags that had cotton candy poufs on them (made from batting) and filled them with tiny decks of cards, plastic trophies, tiny stuffed animals, miniature painters palettes, jolly rancher lollipops (just melted jolly rancher candies with sprinkles and a lollipop stick), and the grand finale...tiny goldfish soaps that looked like real bags of goldfish!


White Coffee Tables: IKEA | Pillows: IKEA & DIY | Favor Items: Party City | Cans for Can Toss: Ace Hardware | Bottles and Box for Ring Toss: Container Store and Old Wine Bottles, painted | Buckets for Water Balloon Toss: IKEA, painted | Chalkboard Backdrop: LemonDrop Backdrops |  Large 3' Balloons: Balloon Warehouse  | Popcorn Containers: Party City  | White Popcorn Table: Our desk from West Elm | Beanbags: DIY with gold fabric