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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Caroline’s Rainbow Birthday Party

Another year has flown by in what feels like an instant! Somehow our baby girl has turned four, and she is not much of a baby anymore. She is smart, articulate, spunky and vivacious. We are so thankful that she is ours!

We spend a lot of time doing art in our house. Both kids love to draw and paint, and we always encourage it. If Caroline were an artist, there is no question that the ongoing theme for her current body of work would be rainbows. This girl draws and paints rainbows 90% of the time that she sits down with a piece of paper. Given her love of rainbows and bright colors in general, and her bright and bold personality to match, a rainbow party seemed like the perfect way to celebrate her fourth year.

An extra special part of our celebration this year was that my wonderful friend Courtney and her daughter Clara were visiting from Virginia spending spring break with us, so they were able to join in the party! We had SO much fun with them (and I especially loved having Courtney around to help with party prep – two bloggers who love hosting parties is so much better than one! Seriously, she was a huge help.)

This is a matter of personal preference but sometimes with party themes, I see a tendency to get way too fixated on making every component of the party adhere to the theme. For a rainbow party, it does not have to look like a rainbow threw up on every plate, cup, napkin, and decoration. You don’t have to make rainbow fruit skewers or rainbow cake. It is fun to think outside the box! I wasn’t feeling the idea of rainbow foods, but I did think it would be fun to make a food for each color of the rainbow. This worked out beautifully and ended up being a nice spread with many foods that Caroline loves. The menu included:
Roasted tomato and mozzarella skewers
Classic mac and cheese
Deviled eggs
Cucumber bites
Blueberry brie crostini (recipe coming soon)
Blackberry chèvre salad

I loved all of the bright colored plates, cups, straws, etc. while I was shopping for party supplies so I ended up just buying a random assortment of bright colored things that I thought would look pretty together. I loved the way it turned out!

Also, let’s talk about the balloon arch/swag/whatever because I know lots of people will want to know how we made it! I nervously contemplated this thing for a looong time before deciding to attempt it. I was worried it would be really hard to make or that it wouldn’t turn out well. Wrong on both counts. Thanks to the instructions from The House that Lars Built, this worked out pretty well. These hand balloon pumps, and three adults blowing up the balloons, made the whole process go pretty quickly. My caveat is that there is a bit of a learning curve that comes with making one of these. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. I assembled it the night before the party and for the most part, it held together. However, I think when I got near the top, I wasn’t connecting enough balloons to the supporting structure and instead was just sticking them to each other. The red/pink part fell apart overnight as a result of this, and eventually fell apart during the party (but we were having too much fun to really care.) We were able to rig it back together somewhat but next time I make one of these, I will be more diligent about sticking plenty of balloons onto the wire before building up and out from there. Still, totally LOVED the way this turned out and more importantly, so did Caroline. Every time she ran into the room before the party, she would shout “I LOVE MY BIRTHDAY PARTY!” So sweet.

The one really rainbow-y thing that I did for the party was this macaron tower. I have wanted to make a macaron tower forever, but wasn’t sure where to find the tower itself (obviously, Google found me one in 0.002 seconds) and also was wondering if it would be worth the effort. I did end up having to make several batches of macarons and do careful calculations to be sure I had enough cookies of each color, but this was actually a pretty fun project and everyone really loved this! Especially once they realized that each color was a different flavor. I may do a separate post with a little more detail about this and more macaron pointers if anyone is interested. After making so many batches recently, I think I have gained a few more useful tips on making macs.

I usually try to have one or two organized activities for kids to do at the party, but coming up with them is not my strong point. Eventually I settled on a super simple craft for making a rainbow using half a paper plate, finger paints, and streamers. The kids had a lot of fun with this and made all kinds of rainbows, some more classic and some more abstract. I loved watching them work!

After the craft was finished, we did what was arguably the simplest and most fun birthday activity ever – dumping balloons on the kids from up high. We had a huge number of balloons left over from making the arch (definitely better to have too many). I remembered one year when I was little, maybe three or four, my nanny woke me up from my birthday nap to a room full of balloons covering the floor and I thought it was basically the most fun and exciting thing ever. With that in mind, we (i.e. Ben and my brother Steve) gathered up the balloons in bedsheets and trash bags, we had the kids stand under the balcony, and then they let the balloons fly. Indeed, this was apparently the most exciting thing ever. The shrieks and laughter were deafening and chaos ensued for the next 15 or 20 minutes. It was hilarious.

So fun watching them go nuts over the balloons! Also, instant party favor.

 

Again, I just have to say how wonderful it was to have Courtney and Clara there with us.  What a special treat. Courtney, you were ridiculously helpful! We make a great team. So glad we remembered to get a photo together this time! (Not usually our strong suit.)

Oh, and it wouldn’t be a party without cake, right? Caroline requested a cake “just like the one” I made as a past birthday cake for a friend. I have a huge canvas print of in my office (pictured in our old kitchen here) and she asks for that cake a lot…so, I made it happen. The cake layers are my funfetti cupcake recipe baked in two 9-inch cake layers and the frosting is my favorite whipped vanilla buttercream.

Shine on, sweet Caroline! We love you so very much.

Vendors/Resources:
Shop Sweet Lulu – plates, napkins, cups, straws, balloons, candles
Sucre Shop – spoons, forks (not pictured)
Simple Baker – macaron tower
Sur La Table – drink dispenser (mine was on sale in store – maybe try and see if yours has a sale as well)
Target – drink stand
Crimson Tate (my fave local fabric store – holla!) – Robert Kaufman fabric to cover the table – going to try to make a dress or skirt with it now that the party is over
Boden – Caroline’s dress
The House that Lars Built – balloon arch tutorial
Amazon – balloon pumps, glue dots, gel colors for macarons

  • What an awesome awesome birthday party! Caroline is so lucky to have such a wonderful family and friends. Happy birthday Caroline!

  • Alison Grimshaw

    Spectacular! Thank you for sharing a peek. :)

  • Emma

    Yes please, to the macaron tips!

  • It is absolutely a much better idea not to over express the party theme everywhere. I like your idea of arranging a party theme according to the likes of the kid, it is a more elegant way than simply throwing a birthday party theme over a besty carton hero…

  • I just showed this to Clara, and she said, “I can’t wait to go back there soon! It will be Caroline’s birthday again!” Seriously, we had the best time ever. I wish we could hang out for every big event, but I’m sure glad we got to be there for this one. Love you guys so much!

  • Lanette

    Just gorgeous! I would love a post on those macarons. So pretty.

  • Kelli

    Annie, this is just the best!

  • Emmy Bradley

    Everything looks beautiful from the decor to the food. Love it all! And aside from the party stuff, I’d love to know the name of your beautiful wall color?

  • tara

    yes to macaroon tips ! ive made a few times but would never make for a party without a back up cuz i have so many problems and feel like i cant count on them to turn out enough.

  • I gasped when I saw the macarons. Amazing! That’s one baking project I’ve been terrified to try (just macarons, not the tower!). I love all the color and those balloons are awesome. You always seem to throw such nice parties!

  • annieseats

    Thank you! You should give them a try. They are really not that bad (especially with the Italian method).

  • annieseats

    Hmm – maybe it looks like it has a hue because of the balloon swag. It’s actually just a basic white – something from Benjamin Moore but I can’t remember the shade off the top of my head. If you are truly interested in it, let me know and I’ll find it for you!

  • annieseats

    Thank you so much :)

  • annieseats

    Aww, so sweet. Love you too!

  • Linda Drury Freeman

    I just spent the last hour or so looking up ideas for my daughter’s rainbow themed party and then this post was at the top of my blog reader. Destiny, it appears. It never occurred to me to do a macaron tower. I think I found my excuse to finally try them. Did the different flavors correspond to the colors?

  • Emmy Bradley

    Thank you for the response. Amazing how it looks like a beautiful grey wall. Maybe it’s the bad lighting on my laptop!

  • Elisabeth

    Gorgeous party! My kids would absolutely love playing with all of those balloons, too.

  • Melissa Brooker

    The party looks amazing! I wish I was there haha. The macarons literally took my breath away, how gorgeous. Man, can you ever throw a party! Your girl is just too cute for words! Time sure flies! My nephew just turned 3 and it feels like he was just born! Annie you are a kick ass mom! Andrew and Caroline are so lucky to have you.

  • Leah

    Is the punch strawberry lemonade?

  • Laurel Nippert Miller

    Your party posts are my favorite. I love your philosophy on themes and I completely agree. Would love to read more about your fabulous macaron tower. Thanks .

  • Ruth

    Thank you for all the wonderful food & party ideas. You are so talented! I always look forward to your postings. AND, Caroline—-she is precious. Your pictures pull at my heart strings.

  • annieseats

    Thank you Ruth! You are so sweet.

  • annieseats

    Thanks Laurel!

  • annieseats

    Just lemonade with strawberry slices in it.

  • annieseats

    Aw Melissa, you are too kind :)

  • annieseats

    Oh, well, in case you are looking for a fab grey, I think the most wonderful of all the grey paints is Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. It looks beige on the swatch but goes on a perfect warm neutral grey. I have it in many rooms of our house – it is my fave!

  • annieseats

    Yes, I did a different flavor filling for each color. Such fun!

  • Emmy Bradley

    That is a fab grey. I love it as well. ☺️

  • Annie, your party posts are my absolute favorite! It looks like everyone had such a wonderful time. I have to agree with Laurel, your philosophy on themes is so on point! Thanks again for sharing your lovely work. (And a big happy birthday to Caroline)

  • Ali @ Solano’s Kitchen

    Gorgeous party, Annie! Your kiddos are lucky to have you as a mom :) Caroline is just adorable!

  • Chelvi

    You are soooo talented and smart from the party idea to getting that beautiful dress for Caroline. I love those rainbow macarons. They look so pretty. Any time I try these they become a bit watery and spread flat once baked. I used a drop of liquid food coloring. I am thinking that might have caused the issue…

  • Branka Snajdar-Mismas

    Would love to hear from you on how to make macarons! Please consider a post!

  • annieseats

    I linked the step-by-step post on the method of making them in this post, but I plan to do a follow up with additional tips and things I have found helpful.

  • annieseats

    Thank you so much! You are so kind :)

  • Mary Cook

    Would LOVE a follow up post on macarons with extra tips. Tried them for my daughter’s christening and still had quite a bit of trouble getting the foot on them and keeping them from cracking

  • Such a FUN FUN FUN party!! I love how you picked a theme, but didn’t go CRAZY sticking to it in every aspect. So much less stressful and more fun that way. I vote for another mac post! I can use all the tips I can get.

  • gailwerner

    Oh man, this is so incredible! I love the way you put your heart into these parties, Annie! You are so wonderful at this!

  • Christina

    I agree. You make it seem so easy, they look perfect! I love to cook and bake, but I’m afraid to start on macarons.

  • Oh my goodness this party looks like it was so much fun! Nothing better than a sweet smiling birthday girl!

  • Brie Torbeck Caron

    I’m thinking about making a balloon arch… how long of chicken wire did you need?

  • annieseats

    It really depends on how large you want your arch to be. Chicken wire is sold in rolls so we just bought one and cut it to the size that fit our space.

  • Ashley

    Hi Annie! This party was wonderful. I’m going to attempt the balloon arch for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party and wonder if you recall approximately how many balloons you used? Just hoping to get some idea so I know how many to order, for example dozens, hundreds, etc. Thanks for your help!

  • Annie

    I can’t remember for sure but I would guess something like 200? I know we had more than we needed but that was definitely preferable than not having enough. Have fun!