Summertime Party!

Amy Slusher Photography

I’ve always looked forward to June because two of my favorite things coincide, planning my daughter, Chloe’s birthday party and blooming peonies! The best part is incorporating my garden peonies into the party itself.

During the planning process, Chloe and I always worked well together. She enjoyed creating and personalizing the goody bags while I researched whimsical party decorations and treats. Up until recently, the biggest disagreement was cake versus cupcakes. Chloe would request a birthday cake while I tried to convince her to have cupcakes instead (it was basically an issue of comparing my mad cupcake skills to my frustrating cake frosting/decorating skills).

However, a few years ago, Chloe dropped the ultimate bomb and decided that she didn’t want a birthday party. After many tears, I decided to pull up my big girl panties and throw myself a big ol’ Pink Flamingo birthday party the following month. That’ll teach her… right??!!! It was perfect because I was celebrating a milestone birthday and my young nieces were in town and ready to party! We had everything from a birthday party hat making station to a home made photo both to a big inflatable pink flamingo and swimming pool.

So, when Chloe decided that she wanted to celebrate her 16th birthday this year with a party, I was beyond thrilled! Now this is the part of the story that goes, “be careful of what you wish for.” As a mother to Chloe, my main goal is to raise a happy and confident young women. Well, I may have over done it in the ‘confidence’ department, because that girl knows what she wants and does not back down. Plus, it doesn’t help that she is a teenage Gemini….so she changes her mind regularly (the Gemini part means that she changes her mind even more than the standard teenager)!

At this point, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that I faced many challenges and battles of wills when planning a party for said confidently-fickle daughter.

Amy Slusher Photography

When and Where Inspiration Strikes

When brainstorming ideas for Chloe’s birthday, she (eventually) decided that she wanted her party to reflect the brightness and warmth of summer. So, a sunny, citrus themed pallet was established and the planning commenced!

The month before the party, I was living every literary romantic’s dream of visiting the city of love, Paris. While there, I took the opportunity to find inspiration and little pieces of Paris that I could infuse into Chloe’s party. Musee de l’Orangerie, beautiful gardens and galleries. Colorful tea tins, French chocolates and French country inspired linens, straight from Monet’s garden!

Amy Slusher Photography

Setting the Stage

When visualizing and brainstorming for the party, I knew that I wanted to create a backdrop with bright pops of color. While I love incorporating colorful balloons, I wanted to take it a step further and add a new dimension to the backdrop.

Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography

I like to stretch myself creatively, and for this party I decided to do one of those fringe-streamer-pinata looking backdrops flanked by two hanging balloon/fringe sections. I even started the backdrop portion before I left for Paris, since I had no idea what kind of timing and potential trouble shooting that I was dealing with. Here is a great tutorial on how to achieve the backdrop portion.

Note: I did my backdrop slightly different, where I pinned several horizontal rows of streamers, where I double the individual streamer pieces over duct tape. Unfortunately, it looked thin and a bit transparent in places. So, I recommend using the plastic fencing (per tutorial) for the backdrop for a more substantial effect. I did, however, use the plastic fencing for the two hanging side sections, and was very pleased with how they held up.

Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography

More Pops of Color

In addition to the streamers and balloons, I gathered some colorful straws, glassybabies and more fun things that I had around the house. While I always try to support local businesses, when planning parties, I also ‘shop’ my own home for my party table-scapes and vignettes. This is also where investing in some glass dessert/appetizer plates come in handy, as they go with anything!

Amy Slusher Photography

Natural Elements

Natural elements are a great way to provide additional texture and dimension. The lemons, limes and oranges were the starting point with the theme, so they are a natural choice in creating the vignette.

No entertaining table is complete without flowers. And since Chloe’s birthday is in June, we always find a way to incorporate the ever inspiring peony! The color of choice is this Charming Coral. This softer color is a nice contrast to the brighter citrus colors.

Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography

Natalie, of Pozie by Natalie, suggested these coral ranunculus to add to the mix. I completed the look by adding my own pink peonies, California poppies and boxwood cuttings from my garden.

Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography

The final floral piece is this beautiful white peony. Chloe was very specific when it came to her birthday cake. She requested a lemon cake with my homemade buttercream frosting. In regards to its presentation, she wanted it simple with some lemon peel shavings, a dusting of yellow sugar sprinkles and a large, fluffy white peony to top it off.

Since this is a birthday party, the cake is naturally the guest of honor at the festive party table. And, as previously mentioned, Chloe wanted the cake to be simple. The beauty of this is that the elegant white cake, with its simple adornment, stands out among all of the bright color!

Amy Slusher Photography

Edible Elements

While I’ve mostly mastered the art of making and decorating cupcakes, full on cakes are another story. It’s that whole crumb-layer frosting bit that always throws me off.

After baking a lemon cake and watching many YouTube tutorials, I pulled my hair up in a messy-bun, rolled up my sleeves and dove into the matter at hand (after washing my hands, obviously). While I was successful in doing the initial crumb layer frosting part, getting the final layer of buttercream frosting all nice and even was challenging. In order to save time (and my sanity), I opted for the natural naked cake look. Which was a nice juxtaposition to the surrounding explosion of colors. Plus, Chloe liked it, and that is what really matters.

I’m also loving the natural elements of charcuterie styled cheese, fruit and plate paired against the bold colors of the fruit and veggie platter. It’s so easy to incorporate the food into the visual decor elements of your party.

Wha-la!

I truly love the process of bringing all of the elements together. And this visual impact of this celebration gives me all of the happy feels, just like the day my baby was born! Cheers!!

Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography
Amy Slusher Photography

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