A few months ago, when we started thinking about Nora’s 2nd birthday party, I wasn’t sure what to do for a theme. It was Michael who first mentioned that we should draw inspiration from the Disney/Pixar movie, “Up!”

Nora loooooves balloons. “Boons” are pretty much one of her favorite things ever. When my dad was visiting in March, he bought Nora “Up!” and now she loves that, too.

For the party, I started Googling for ideas, and we soon decided to go with it.

{Invitation by Etsy seller Fancybelle}

We had a grand plan to do a much smaller birthday party than last year, and although it was smaller, it wasn’t much smaller. We had invited a bunch of friends last year, in addition to our large families, but this year we basically let our friends off the hook and stuck with family. It still amounted to 40+ people (including children), so I had my share of “OMG What were we thinking?!” moments in the week leading up to the party.

To further complicate matters, the weather was a little less than cooperative. In the days before the party, we got a ton of rain here, and our backyard—in which we had been hoping to host the party—was essentially a swamp. The temperature for the day of the party was also on the cooler side, so we ended up having to move the party into our house/garage. Was it the picture-perfect affair I had planned in my head? No. But Nora had the time of her life. And that, my friends, is all that matters.

I struggled for a really long time about what to do for a cake. There are a ton of beautiful, truly incredible “Up!” birthday cakes out there in the land of Google. But given that we were just finishing up our floor project and things were otherwise busy, my goal was to be kind to myself and do only what I could easily manage. What is the most important part of an “Up!” birthday cake?

Balloons. So that is where I focused.

I loved how this turned out. And truthfully, it was one of the easiest cakes I’ve done. Lots of layers, though, as you’ll see in a minute. :) I frosted the whole thing with sky blue buttercream, not even trying to make it smooth and perfect. I figured a few imperfections just gave it some texture and character. We bought a ton of miniature gumballs, and I painstakingly cut each of them in half so that they would sit better on the cake. When I tested one by putting it on whole, it didn’t hold onto the frosting as well, and the ones on the side looked like they were going to slide off.

Just so you know… cutting gumballs in half is a little dangerous. Ha. I had to hold them in between my pointer finger and thumb on my left hand while “sawing” them in half with a paring knife in my right. Thankfully, no trips to the emergency room were necessary. The candy coating on some of the gumballs cracked a little bit from the pressure, but once they were all on the cake, you couldn’t really tell. Once the gumballs were on, I was unsure of what I was going to do to finish the whole thing off. At the last minute, I came up with the idea of writing out Nora’s name in a sort of “cloud style,” and wrapping balloon strings around them. A few fluffy clouds around the perimeter, and I called it a night.

Everyone loved the cake, but the real surprise came when we cut into it.

I didn’t think to take a picture of it until it was half gone, so it’s not looking so hot here. But you get the gist. It looked really cool. (Thank you, Pinterest.) To do this, I made two batches of white cake, then divided each batch equally into three parts. I added Wilton gel colors to achieve the rainbow colors, then baked each separately. Sure, it was a little more work than a regular cake, but it wasn’t bad. The only catch with making a cake with six layers? You need A LOT of frosting. I think I ended up making three batches.

Anyway, back to the party.

We brought Nora’s little house out of the backyard swamp and into the driveway for the kids. We also needed it as a prop—see the balloons on top? Just like Carl and Ellie’s house. Well, kinda. ;) Oh, and I also made that giant balloon banner in the back there. It was pretty easy, except for the fact that I blew up almost all of the balloons by myself. My lungs were seriously spent. {Tutorial here. Thanks again, Pinterest.}

I also made this cool balloon wreath for the front door. (You guessed it: Pinterest. Tutorial here.) The problem? When we moved the party into the garage, people were entering through there instead of going to our front door. I wanted to make sure it was seen, so I ended up having it on the door leading into our garage. Problem solved. This was time consuming to make, but it’s a really fun decoration, and one that I plan to bust out in celebration of birthdays—not just Up/balloon themed ones!–for years to come.

This year, I was smart and planned the party around Nora’s nap. She woke up just before people started arriving, which was perfect.

In the beginning, the weather was still really gloomy, so most everyone was hanging out in the house. The playroom came in handy, that’s for sure. Check out Nora’s birthday crown, made for her by her daycare provider, Mary. Super adorable. And she was obsessed with it—wore it for the entire party, and after. In fact, she didn’t take it off until bathtime that night!

By the time we served pizza, the weather was improving, so everyone eventually moved outside. SUN!

We did gift-opening in the driveway. Nora was really into it. She kept ripping into gifts and grabbing things out of bags before I could even get to them, ha!

The basketball hoop (from my in-laws) was a big hit. She audibly gasped when she saw it. LOVE.

With our big 2-year-old girl. Amazing.

After presents and cake, we thought people would take off, but surprisingly, most people stuck around for quite a while longer! The kids were having a blast running around the front yard playing with each other, and the weather had officially turned into a beautiful fall day.

Then we started handing out balloons. Oh, did I mention that we had lots and lots of balloons? I mean, it was an “Up!” party. It was a necessity. :) We ended up getting one of these Balloon Time at-home helium tanks. It was only $20ish at BJ’s Wholesale Club, and it was a large tank—the ones that fill approximately 50 balloons. We ended up getting more than 50 out of it, so I made several balloon bouquets and had them scattered throughout the house, on our mailbox, etc.

For favors for the kids, I found balloon bags (Target) and put just a few little things in them. (After attending my cousin’s daughter’s birthday party this past weekend and seeing everything she stuffed in there, I feel like a huge loser. But oh well, what can you do… I didn’t want to give them candy!) The bags had little “Adventure Books” in them that I was able to download off of Disney’s website, as well as a bunch of stickers, and a box of raisins. Yeah, I know. Kind of lame. I’ll try to do better next year. :)

(At least Ryan loved his Adventure Book.)

Eventually, people did start drifting out, and soon we were left with just us, my mom, and my in-laws. We continued to hang out outside, letting Nora play with some of her gifts and her other outdoor toys while we chatted over beers and a bottle of wine. We let Nora stay up quite a bit past her bedtime because she was having so much fun… and so were we. Perfection.

When we finally did head back indoors, we ripped down the balloon banner and brought it inside. My mom had fun “wrapping” Nora in it and playing a version of “Ring Around the Rosie.” So funny.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. It’s such a privilege to get to watch you grow “Up!”


11 Responses to Nora’s “Up!” Themed Birthday Party

  1. Lena (Wishing on Stars) says:

    I think this is so cute Heather! I love the cake!!! You did a really great job and Nora looks beyond happy :-)
    I think the favor bags you handed out to the kids are perfect. Candy doesn’t need to be given out all the time and they already had cake. What you gave them was plenty and I’m sure they enjoyed it. It’s better to send them off with things they can actually play with and learn from and in my opinion snacks that are healthier. And I’m sure the parents appreciated it as well.

  2. Chelsey says:

    What a great party, Heather! I am in the process of planning my sons first birthday party and love looking at other party successes! Quick question…what is the blue car-like toy that Michael is pushing Nora in?

    • Hi Chelsey, thanks! The push car is from Step2. My mom got it for Nora for her birthday last year. I believe they carry them at Buy Buy Baby, Toys R Us, etc. Nora loves hers.

  3. What an awesome party for a beautiful little girl! I love the balloon banner. I think I might need to do that for my own daughter’s birthday next summer. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. What a cute party! I especially love the cake you made…that is so creative and colorful!

  5. Nat says:

    What a fantastic party! You are very talented! Can’t wait to see what you do next!

  6. cannot get over how adorable this party turned out!!! super impressive cake!

  7. amanda says:

    LOVE! I am going to do an “UP” theme party this year too. :) If I may, what size cake pan did you use, what size wreath, and how many balloons did you use? :) I had thought about layered cupcakes and then lay them out on foiled cardboard (like a bundle if balloons) too. :)

    • Hi Amanda, the cake pans were 9″. And I’m pretty sure the wreath is 18″ but not positive. It took A LOT of balloons. Like 300-400. But it really depends on how you do it. I guess I just really packed them in closely together! :)

  8. ebony says:

    SUPER CUTE PARTY! My soon will be turning one next month. I couldn’t help but notice the cute alaphbet on the wall-super creative!Did you make that?

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