November 8, 2012

B's 1st Birthday Party! (Disney-Pixar Up Movie Theme)

Our Mini-Carl captured by Brenda Van Photos :)

I honestly didn't put much (if any) thought into Bryson's first birthday party until about August. I was originally thinking a Texas theme - cowboys, oil derricks, Rockets, you know. The usual. A way to remind the kid of his roots.

While procrastinating some paper grading back in August, I got really inspired to get busy. I started Googling first birthday party ideas, but none were really clicking. I wanted something fun and unique that related to his first year in some way.

I'd received a mini-catalog of first birthday party supplies in the mail (how do they know?!), and I like the "little man" theme, but I wasn't interested in buying a set of 12 mustache plates for $50. (I'm exaggerating, but still.) I wasn't about to spend a bunch of money for a canned birthday theme. Just like his nursery decor, I wanted this event to be uniquely Bryson's.

Somewhere along the line, I saw an Up-themed party, with a bunch of balloons, a cupcake cake, and a few posters from the movie. CUTE! I thought. And since his birthday is one week before Halloween, he could dress as Carl and do double duty!

I really thought that was a unique idea. (Until I Googled some more and found Mr. Rizden Read, an internet sensation from 2011. Oh well.) I loved Rizden's costume and knew we could put our own spin on it, so I got busy with what else? A list and a PowerPoint of ideas.

A month or two of off-and-on brainstorming, planning, and shopping, a week or so of creating, and here's what we ended up with. Do note that you may need to watch the movie a time or ten to appreciate some of our details!

Invitations made by yours truly (inspired by one I found on Etsy).

Yes, there are Carl stamps, and yes, we used them.

Welcome to the party! Absolutely fabulous cardboard house built by Jerm and Justin, with creative direction from Nana and me. Originally inspired by this Pin, although we clearly built on that idea!

Unfortunately we don't have room to keep it at our house, so the house has moved on to a new life with some folks down the street. :(

The Browns (Est. 10-24-08...get it?)

Added some Carl pizzazz to the balloon wreath I made last month.

Banners! "Bryson is 1!" and a peek through his first year in monthly onesie photos. 

Found an atlas at Goodwill and tore out some pages to serve as the background, cut out some colored paper, Cricuted some vinyl, hole punched, and strung with twine!

[FYI if you're doing an UP party: I've seen a number of banners saying "Adventure Awaits," but the actual Charles Muntz quote is "Adventure is out there!"]

This is now hanging in his if we needed more wall decor. I couldn't throw it away.

Created our own Spirit of Adventure balloon, borrowed a globe from Aunt Court's classroom, and found a stuffed Dug online. Clouds added for effect. Boom!

Favors for B's friends included their very own adventure books, party hats, balloons with glow sticks (to weigh them down/be awesome), giant lollipops, and grape soda badges (in a pic below).

 I had so much fun designing these adventure books! Played with the image I found online and PowerPoint to get each little one's name on the cover, then used contact paper over the composition books.

Bryson signed each one and added some stickers too ;)

For his, we had each and every party guest sign it, along with special friends and family members as we saw them over the next few months. We wanted his adventure book to be like a yearbook, so they wrote down their own special memories of his first year. It's a treasure!

Closeup of the birthday cake - rainbow inside!

Note the clouds inventively created by my mom (Super Nana!) - made of crafter's stuffing, sewn together with a bit of fishing line for structure! So cumulonimbus.

UPcakes for all! Started with sky blue cupcake liners with white polka dots, filled with multi-colored cake batter, worked it out with fluffy white frosting, topped with fun balloon cake picks.

The rainbow lollipops are one of Russell's favorites, and of course Kevin the mama bird looooves her some chocolate, hence the Hershey's.

Here are the giant lollipops and precious grape soda badges! HUGE thank you to my dear friend (and DG big) Katie who created these for us. They were a hit! (Check out her Etsy store Urban Tomfoolery for even more fun bottle cap art!)

We also prepared our own rendition of Sky Jello, which was renamed to Tsunami Jello later that evening when the after-party turned into a statewide tsunami watch. De-lish.

FOOD! Glorious food, and more clouds :)

Note the tiny colorful dollhouse (another inxpensive Goodwill find!) anchoring those balloons and serving as the centerpiece on Food Island :)

Thanks to Brenda Van Photos for such a quick turnaround on our photos of Carl!

As you can see, the idea here was to have the kiddos stick paper balloons on the chimney, but we never did it. Best laid plans.

Daddy and Uncle Daddy were busy on the grill - just how they like it!

B had a blast playing with his friends in his cousins' playroom.

Thanks for the birthday boy bib, Maeva :)

Awww. y'all shouldn't have!

Do I get to try it or what?

Make a wish, sweet cheeks!

 Wondering why everyone keeps singing to him this week...

Three of my favorite October babies - Aunt Stacey flew in to surprise us on his birthday, and Aunt Courtney opened up her home for the party! Superstars.

He was very happy Nana and Pop could be there to join the fun!

Taste the rainbow (cake)!

Part of our Hawaii ohana - growing by the month!

Tutu and Nana cleaning up the chaos - we appreciate you!

Aaaand he's spent.

To further enhance the ambiance, we had UP playing in the playroom and his first year video playing in the living room. It's amazing how fast it has gone.

What a special night! We were so thankful we could share it with the people we love most on this little island. We are blessed beyond belief to have family near and far who love our little guy so much.

Thank you all for making this such a fun and memorable first birthday celebration!

Maybe next year we'll just order pizza?

Update: After seeing our fiesta pics here in the blog, the folks at PartyPail awarded us with this nifty badge and a special Disney-Pixar Up Party page to share our party idea with the world. Fun :)

AND - if you're still reading this, you'll probably appreciate our coordinated costume effort for Halloween just a few days later. I was Kevin (the Mama Bird), Jeremy was Russell, and of course, B was the star of our show, Carl.

And as the graaaaand finale, our encounter with REAL Carl.

The week after Thanksgiving, we went to Disney World, and (after some really creative asking on my part and a lot of magic on theirs) we got the REAL Carl to sign Bryson's photos and Adventure Book. We even got VIP seating at the Pixar Pals Parade so we could wave to him! 

NOTE: If you're reading this and I haven't posted those pics yet, leave a comment to remind me. They're amazing.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at!


  1. He is just so cute in the glasses photos! Adorable...Love the photo of all of you.

    1. Thanks, Bunny! I had way too much fun with the whooooole deal :)

  2. hey I have a question I would like to ask is there a way I can send you an email Nikki?


    here is my email:

  3. Hi there. I just saw your blog and it's amazing. My son will be turning 1 this year and we also want to do an up party. I see you made your own invitations and they are great! Could you maybe let me know where you made them, or would you be willing to make them for me and let me know how much you would charge? Thank you and hope you are well.

  4. Hi Nikki-

    You are inspiring. I am wanting to do an "up theme" for my lil boy's 1st bday at the end of the month. I started looking at ideas & came across your blog. I absolutely loved your up theme party decor and all. I want to ask you if i can use your some of your ideas for my lil boys bday party??
    I love that its simple, adorable, and SO fun, and that is what I am wanting to do. So if you could please email me, that would be awesome.

    Thanks So much for sharing this. - Aarika

  5. Absolutely, Aarika! Hope y'all have a great party :)

  6. Just GREAT!
    an amazing party for a little kiddo!
    thanks for these also lookin' into making an UP party for my son :)
    i greatly appreciate this post :)

  7. Doing an "Up" movie theme in a birthday party is so great! Kids loves those colorful balloons, cool birds and the blue white sky! Surely, that wonderful Disney party supplies made the kids felt that "UP in the sky happiness"!

  8. Your son is really adorable and I hope he had a great 1st birthday. My daughter is also turning 5 this month and I want to plan a party for her but not sure where. Can you help me with best party venues in Houston please?

  9. This is the most darling birthday party theme (and excellent execution!) that I have every seen! Well done! He is so adorable!

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