My beautiful grandson, Sebastian Darby – you may call him Bash – just turned one.
Back in the day, the Cuban baby’s first birthday party was something you celebrated in a big way. I sometimes wonder if, after that first eventful year, it isn’t a great collective familial sigh of relief.
First Year – DONE! Yes! High fives all around. He’s alive and healthy and we have all survived the first year of his life. We’ve got this!
Of course, you know that we love to celebrate ALL THE THINGS. So Sebastian’s First Birthday quickly became An Event.
Amy, Lucy, and I put our heads together – well, technically, we put a group text together, but that’s not important right now – and stalked Pinterest for ideas. Amy loved the concept of an UNO Theme. Because UNO. The game. But 1st birthday. And Spanish. Oh, you know…
Amy and Sebastian visited Lucy in Austin back in March, where they took a bazillion photos and Lucy created an invitation of him in a bright red UNO logo shirt.
Then we collaborated on the wording. Again, thank you, God, for group texting. Amen.
We’re excited to celebrate Sebastian turning UNO! Join us on Sunday, May 28th for his first fiesta. Dinner and games begin at 5pm at The Darby Home. Don’t SKIP it! It’s gonna be WILD!
Because UNO Game! – SKIP. WILD. Get it? Oh, you know…
Isn’t this just adorable?
I have these super happy memories of my Cuban childhood birthday parties. There would be all kinds of finger food, and every kid got a box of all the sweet and savory. Yes. A box. It was genius.
Back in the day it used to be an old-school pink bakery box. Each one was packed with pastelitos and cangrejitos (not even going to attempt to explain that one) and all the delicious things. Trust me on this.
Although it’s a little labor intensive before the party, it’s a beautiful thing when you have 50 people to serve. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Cubans know how to throw a party.
I decided I wouldn’t mind assembling sandwiches, but I didn’t want to be doing a bunch of cooking. So sandwiches it was! Plus, that meant I wasn’t going to be doing all the heavy lifting.
I enlisted my family and my dear friend, Haylee – she has a wonderful gift for organization and cracked the whip to keep the assembly-line moving. Also, she makes a mean ham sandwich for a Jewish girl. (Thank you, dear friend.)
We had 4 kinds of sandwiches for our guests: roast beef & cheddar, ham & Swiss, turkey & provolone, and peanut butter & jelly for the kids.
Our local Pavillions makes fantastic potato salad and chicken salad, so we got a few pounds of each. We also ordered fresh baguettes and picked all of those up, along with the meats and cheeses, the morning of the party so it would all be as fresh as possible.
Full disclosure: I agonized over the decision of how many options we should offer – being the good Cuban hostess (who excels at making herself crazy) I wanted everyone to be happy with every. single. thing. I wanted my guests to have alternatives and feel satisfied, but I finally came to that “you can’t please all of the people…” moment and decided to commit to my choices and call it good.
The “vegetarian option” was a green salad with our favorite creamy Italian dressing packed inside.
Each sandwich box was packed with:
- a sandwich, potato or chicken salad.
- kettle chips in small bags (they stayed fresher and didn’t break as easily as regular potato chips).
- small packs of mustard and mayo.
- a container of M&M’s.
I made tags in Photoshop and punched a hole in the corners. We tied the food boxes with red and white string. I was super pleased with how adorable they all turned out.
We filled some big plastic colorful tubs with ice and sodas and had a couple of beverage dispensers with ice water.
Our UNO theme made the decorating pretty easy. Primary colors everywhere. I always put up decorative lights and flags at the beginning of summer. This year they were red, yellow, green, and blue. We got a giant UNO game and hung those cards up with the flags and all over the yard.
They also have mini UNO cards (who knew? I think they were from Amazon) which we we taped onto toothpicks and put into mini-cupcakes which we bought at Walmart. It was just before Memorial Day and the cupcakes were decorated red and blue with star sprinkles.
Amy and I went back and forth on this. She thought they looked a little too “Americana” and tI felt like no one would think twice about the red and blue (or even the stars) once we got those cute UNO cards into them. I was right. Success!
I found a double shelf (minimally damaged and easy to repair) at Hobby Lobby for a super discounted price and thought that would be a cute way to display those mini- cupcakes.
On the two tables we had a collection of kid games that our guests could jump right into and they did!
- UNO (of course)
- Chutes and Ladders
- Let’s Go Fishing!
- Connect Four
It was a wonderful, easy ice-breaker idea and there was no skill-level to master. Total party win.
Amy had a beautiful cake that looked like a card from the UNO game and also a smaller cake for Sebastian to mess with.
There were, as I said before, mini-cupcakes, and the M&M’s in each box, which was awesome as there was pretty much something for everyone.
The Cake Smash
Leaving a one year old with a cake to do as he will makes for a fabulous photo op. I have to give mad props to our photographer, Dan Shalaby who almost injured himself getting the shot. Above and beyond, my friend. Kudos. He also took all the beautiful shots you see in this post. Again, thank you so much.
At one point, Sebastian couldn’t figure out how he had gotten the sticky stuff on his feet. It was so entertaining to watch him mess with all that frosting. We never even got around to singing Happy Birthday, but believe me when I tell you that this was waaayyy more entertaining.
The party was an absolute success.
Our guests all raved about the genius and delicious lunch and wondered where we had had it catered. *takes bow* The prep took the most time, but during the actual party we were all able to spend time mingling and partying without fretting about getting more food. And yes, we ended up with leftovers.
Let me just tell you that those sandwiches were pretty delicious the next day when we spread butter on the bread and pressed to grill them in a panini grill. Like Cubanos. Boom!