STRAIGHT OUTTA GOTHAM: A Fun Superhero and Super Villain Halloween Party - With A Modern Twist!

modern_superhero_party.jpg

...And just like that - BOOM, we’re back!

It’s been some weeks...err, okay, more like months (sorry!); since I’ve been able to check in with you guys and update our little home here on Petite Plus One, but if you follow me socially you will know that I have been insanely busy with SO many things! One of those being planning and throwing @LittleMrGray’s 1st Birthday Bash!!!

A post shared by Roselyn (@roselynm) on

That's right - our baby boy turned The Big One on Halloween, and his birthday celebration was nothing short of amazing! The party was SO MUCH FUN! I literally began planning it in April when @LittleMrGray was 6-months old and ramped up all of the efforts to bring it to perfection in the last 2.5 months! Since I planned the entire party solo, it literally consumed every ounce of my free time - which wasn’t much! Between an insanely hectic transition at my office and a vibrant toddler-in-training; the planning demanded late nights and consumption of would-be sleep hours, but alas it came together!

 

Not Your Average Halloween, Baby!

Our son Grayson, came into this world naturally on his due-date, Halloween; so of course that means we have a lifetime of costume affairs ahead of us with no questions asked.

In my family, first-birthdays are a HUGE deal. They're more of a celebration for the family as a whole, and for making it through a great first year with their new addition; so I was certain that this celebration had to be special. That means, we had to make it an affair to cater to everyone - adults and children alike...no standard play spaces here!

 

Time To Save Gotham: Dress For The Part(y)!

 Gotham City's Finest!

Gotham City's Finest!

We set our theme this year to be Superheroes versus Super Villains. We easily decided for Grayson to be dressed as a baby version of the infamous Dark Knight aka Batman, and his dad and I dressed as opposing villains: I as Poison Ivy, and he as Harvey Dent aka Two-Face. Since it was a Halloween costume party, we asked all of our guests to dress up as well! There was no obligation to stick to the theme, which worked out great because everyone got super creative! There were so many great costumes and we were super happy to see everyone of all ages participate in the dress code one way or another!

@LittleMrGray As Bat Baby!

 Grayson as Bat Baby

Grayson as Bat Baby

Once we had our theme set in stone, it was time to begin planning. Hours, turned into days, and then into weeks of seeking inspiration for this party's overall look and feel. I knew that I had to incorporate a few different elements. For starters, there was our obvious theme; and to add - there was the need to still incorporate Halloween elements as well as age-appropriate nuances that reflected Grayson.

So here is where we hit our first challenge! Red. Blue. Yellow.

Upon days of searching, I quickly discovered that working with any comic-style theme becomes an obstacle when:

  • the subject itself is typically much more mature and less relative for a 1-year old; and
  • you completely hate primary colors, which is exactly what every standard comic-style party I came across was loaded with

The primary-color palette drives me insane, and I couldn't find a superhero or super villain that resembled Grayson in any way! So what did I do? I set out to do it my own way!

I discovered an awesome graphic designer and illustrator who I worked with to create custom graphics for me, in the direction I desired; and recreate a softer more age-appropriate version of our superhero of choice. This was the moment our adorable illustrated version of Grayson in full Bat Baby garb, was created into the cutest drawing I have seen!

Jasmine Estrada - http://jasminestrada.com/, designed this unique and fun baby illustration for us along with all of the rest of the graphics incorporated into the party. After expressing to her what I wanted, and what I wanted to stay away from; she was able to work with my ideas to quickly bring them to life.  This included revamping the entire superhero/super villain color palette by eliminating the red/blue/yellow primary-color madness, and instead shifted to a soft turquoise, gray, some black, white and yellow. The illustrations and color concept gave us a more modern and hip way to display everything we were after.

You've Got Super Mail!

A post shared by Roselyn (@roselynm) on

Once we had our graphics down, it was time to create an amazing invitation letting everyone know it was time to party! Of course, there was not one single ready-made invitation in all of the internet that met my desires, simply because we had so much to incorporate! Also, I was firm on wanting to deliver something extra special to our guests, and moreso the children specifically. I'm very old-fashioned when it comes to things like mailings, and I know that nothing leaves a better first impression or sets expectation like a beautiful invitation in your mailbox. As much as I love relying on technology, I just can't jive with the world of Evites, Paperless Post, and the likes. The goal was to create something that would get our recipients excited the minute they saw it - and we did just that!

I worked with Canadian-based craft artist Colleen Tyler of Maple Syrup Designs for five whole months to bring Grayson's party invites to life! Revision after endless revision, I designed these one-of-a-kind pop up invitations that included all of our party's components and Colleen worked her magic day and night to carefully piece all 90 of them together by hand! We were able to feature our adorable little Bat Baby,  a handful of mini superheroes and super villains; we also featured spooky Halloween components like bats, pumpkins and ghosts; and we even included spooky Halloween "Ice Scream" on each invitations to give way to the announcement of where we were hosting our party!

Once the invitations were complete, I provided the finishing touches to each invitation. The entire invitation suite consisted of the invite itself packed carefully in black box mailers, on a bed of blue crinkle-cut paper which was wrapped with coordinating tissue paper. To accompany the invitations; we tucked each of them in with various superhero and super villain masks for our guests to play with, as well as some yummy Pop Rocks candy to get the party started early! It was literally the delivery of a party in a box!

 

Seeking The Best Venue

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

So, I live in NYC and because we live in an apartment (like most residents in this great city do), it means that to host a party you will almost always have to find somewhere outside of your home to do it.

I began the search for a venue to have Gray's party and it immediately became the most annoying process ever. For starters, I did NOT want a standard play space or bouncy gym at all for this party. Nothing against anyone who chooses these kind of venues for their children's parties, but for this specific birthday - it's just not what I wanted to do. Secondly, we have large families and so many friends that have invested themselves into our son (lucky kid!) over the last year, so this wasn't just going to be a quick 25-person gathering; we weren't leaving anyone out!

After looking at various loft spaces, kid-friendly venues and such, I decided to revisit an ice cream parlor that I had checked out prior which is fairly new in NYC. CoolMess is a super cute and unique fun ice cream parlor and restaurant located on the Upper East Side; where the highlight of the venue is that you can create, churn and eat your very own ice cream. In addition to the ice cream making, you can also enjoy amazing burgers and shakes, and satisfy a sweet tooth with a wall full of candy to choose from. I thought that it would be cool to explore since the majority of our guests had not been nor heard of the space, and it would offer something different overall to our guests.

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

Normally, CoolMess will host small-group parties during business hours which are usually 90-minutes and for about 12 children. I needed more than that however, so after many talks I convinced the owners to let me buyout the venue for the day, to host a 4-hour affair, to accommodate all of our invited guests (a cool 115 people to be exact!).

All of our guests got the opportunity to make their own ice cream to their liking, and the children were allowed to go on a candy spree from their immense candy wall. In addition to the sweets provided, CoolMess offered our guests an amazing spread of yummy chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches and fries for the kids; and beef burgers, turkey burgers and chicken sandwiches and fries for the adults. We also had CoolMess set up an open bar as well, and featured three theme-appropriate cocktails to the adults as part of the selection:

superhero_cocktails.jpg
happy_tot_superfoods.jpeg

Lastly, because this was a party for guests of all ages, we couldn't host without having something for our tiniest, but certainly mightyest participants in attendance. Therefor, a Super Baby Food station was conveniently set up to fuel our youngest mini baby heroes with a healthy organic option that included a basket full of HappyTot Superfoods Organic Vegetable and Fruit Blend Food Pouches for those at the starting phases of exploring solids.

 

Decor! Decor! Decor!

superhero_batman_party.jpeg

So for months, I became obsessed with party-planning inspiration pages on Instagram and party posts on Pinterest. Like, this is all that I breathed at one point! I was drawn to viewing thousands of images and posts so that I could get inspiration on how I wanted to decorate.

Initially, I was going to hire a professional party decorator, but everything is a business right? So, I decided that there had to be a way to get it all done and mastered by me. Not to mention, I'm also a big control freak, so every time I interviewed a new planner and they seemed like they wanted to drive the creative ship away from my ideas, it made me cringe.

IMG_6309-X2_preview.jpeg

Once the artwork rolled in, and my backdrop was designed I began to put out ideas onto sketches and started planning mock setups in my head. This allowed me to get a vision of what kind of displays I wanted, the desserts I wanted to feature and the overall styling of the space.

With CoolMess specifically, in it's every day set up, it is a venue that is very heavy on the pink so I knew that I had to incorporate as much blue and green and yellow hues as possible to steer away from anything too feminine.

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

Our backdrop was printed in Miami, and it's a full cloth backdrop that's 10-feet by 10-feet in size. This was amazing because the cloth allowed for it to not only print better, but also did not reflect any lighting or flashes when being photographed.

IMG_6225_preview.jpeg

I adorned the backdrop with two white sheath drapes on each side, and worked with local balloon artist Jessica of Willy'b Balloons to create an 18-foot balloon garland in coordinating colors and additional balloons to fill our ghost table pillars. I ordered additional star-shaped mylar balloons in blue, turquoise and silver to place at each table around the space.

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

The cake and desserts sat on a beautiful "ghost table", or rather acrylic table which I rented from Exclusive Luxury Rentals here in NYC, that allowed everything to seem as if it were floating; and to continue - I ordered acrylic risers from Amazon to display various sweets and other components. The blue 4-inch and 8-inch cake tiers were ordered on sale from Wayfair and we used those to display cupcakes and cake pops. Finally, we used gray trays to display cookies which I found on Jet.com.

Lastly, our precious Bat Baby needed his own little place to sit, and while CoolMess does offer highchairs for its baby guests, they're your standard pull-up-to-table highchairs. So, I brought in our own Joovy Nook highchair (which already coordinated and is amazing by the way) and had a custom ordered birthday banner made in coordinating colors, which I ordered on Etsy, to adorn the front of the chair. This allowed for Grayson to sit next to his cake table and enjoy his own sweets and foods.

 Bat Baby Facts

Bat Baby Facts

I also designed Grayson’s 1st year birthday poster which I displayed with fun facts of where he’s at right now at this stage, that people may or may not know about. The poster, which was 3-feet in height stood next to his high chair propped on a super sturdy, yet collapsible easel that I purchased on Amazon. 

No Tricks, All Treats!

IMG_6222-X4_preview.jpeg

We went all out when it came down to providing the sugar! Aside from the venue provided ice cream and candy, our dessert and cake table was loaded; so loaded that we had THREE cakes instead of ONE!

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

  • Our Magnificent Trio of Cakes

We had one large 3-foot tall cake (literally, taller than Grayson himself and measured 3.5-feet once on its stand!) that was made out in the shape of stacked Lego blocks. The "blocks" of cake each included included a different type of theme-appropriate montages with the bottom tier being a skyline, the center tier featuring our Bat Baby, and the top tier featuring a bat silhouette adorned with Grayson's name made out of fondant Lego-style letters. Our baker included mini superhero Lego figures strategically placed all around the cake which, if you look closely, you will see  leads to a mini superhero battle at the very top! Along the sides of the cake we had comic words featured like 'Pow!' and 'Bam!', and our main cake was accompanied by two 6-inch diameter "mini cakes" that were turquoise in color and also adorned with comic words and each featured an upside down ice scream cone to adorn the top, which 'dripped' along the sides. As for flavor - the top and bottom blocks of our main cake was filled with passion-fruit, and the center was filled with guava. For our mini cakes - one was filled with passion-fruit and the other with guava.

Batman_Returns_-_Poster_2.png

To add novelty to Grayson's already extravagant cakes, I was dead-set on finding a unique way to present it on and searched high and low for something special. Eventually, I stumbled upon vintage party favors from 1992 (!) on eBay which were actual packs of play money from The National Bank of Gotham (all in small-face notes too, lol!), that were  made for the 1992 Batman Returns which featured Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, and Michelle Pfeiffer! I bought every pack I could find, and stuffed an acrylic base with it! This worked perfect because since a HUGE plot of nearly every Batman movie, revolves around protecting the City of Gotham and it's National Bank of Gotham, we essentially were able to display that Grayson, and his cake, already had saved Gotham City and its precious coins! Literally - Grayson's cake was sitting on top of the money of The National Bank of Gotham! The best part was, that displaying this was almost a hidden gem for those in-the-know; so literally every time an adult walked up to glance at the dessert table to take a peek, they noticed the familiar old-school faces of Batman, Catwoman and Penguin, and their faces instantly lit up with nostalgia! So many people asked us how on earth did we get something so retro on this modern-day-baby's cake table; it was definitely a highlight for sure! This was a really fun and unique touch too because Batman Returns is still my favorite Batman movie, and the very first Batman movie I ever got to see during my childhood. Everyone loved the presentation and our guests were blown away by how cool birthday cakes could be! All cakes were deliciously and perfectly made by There Should Always Be Cake located in The Bronx, NY!

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

  • Our One-Of-A-Kind Cupcakes & Lollipops

We had two-dozen cupcakes and fun superhero lollipops made by the amazing duo at EatGoodNYC. One dozen of the cupcakes were all focused around the party theme and featured awesome baby superheroes and villains, and the second dozen featured different references that captured Grayson's first 12-months. The cupcakes varied in design with some including pictures of Grayson turned into comic strips, actual 3-D sculptures of Grayson's face (known as the Selfie cupcake) and also mini figure sculptures of items more meaningful to Grayson such as a baby pumpkin with a pacifier, some of Grayons's unique nursery toys, and comic blurbs saying 'Little Mr. Gray'.  Flavors included: strawberry, red velvet, ube (purple yam), vanilla and green tea. They were all a HIT and everyone was so impressed by the attention to detail; literally every person who grabbed a cupcake paused to admire and snap a photo before socially sharing what they were eating. They loved the references and knew exactly what each different piece of art was and why it was featured! Worth noting - EatGoodNYC has made and designed these cupcakes that are worthy of being called edible art for the best of the best including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MTV, Beyonce, Supreme, Complex, Vogue, Nike Cara Delevingne, Pharrell, Gigi Hadid, Kate Bosworth, The Roots, The cast of Hamilton Musical, and so much more. It was an HONOR to have them bake our amazing batch! EatGoodNYC is located in Astoria, NY.

 

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

  • Cake Pops, Dessert Shooters and Rice Krispy Treats

The talented Yari of YarisCakes made our beautiful cakepops, Rice Krispy treats and dessert shooters; two-dozen of each. She was able to create the most amazing and coordinating standing cakepops - which were adorned by comic blurbs and lighting bolts and topped with Batman straws, along with Rice Krispy treats that also featured comic blurbs and expressions as well, and delicious Tres Leche and Cheescake flavored dessert shooters that were adorned with gray Batman masks and yellow lighting bolts. YarisCakes is based out of Ozone Park, NY.

 

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

  • The Most Perfect Tasty Cookies In Life

When I was thrown my baby shower, my planner featured the most heavenly tasting cookies that were adorned in the most beautiful coordinating detail that I have ever seen. You can see exactly what they looked like by clicking here, here, here, and here! After begging my amazing shower planner for the vendor reference, I just knew that I had to absolutely work with this baker to have her design cookies for Grayson's birthday - and she did! Tonilyn of Tonilyn's Bakery designed two-dozen cookies for Grayson's birthday that absolutely surpassed any expectation that I had! She featured our amazing Bat Baby in every way and incorporated our entire them into the design! These cookies are always so beautiful and they taste like the most amazing little sugar biscuits you will ever come across! Tonilyn puts so much thought and detail into her work that it's like literally you see her heart and soul in every single design! I am always so happy with her and her dedication to  each of her projects! Although she is NOT located in NYC, she DOES ship her orders, all of which are packed with much care and LOTS of bubble wrap to protect each and every piece of your order! Tonilyn's Bakery is located in south New Jersey and more than just cookies, she makes cakepops, cakes and more!

 

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

  • Everything Else!

I made our custom water bottle labels and featured some on our cake table and throughout the guest tables as well. I find that parents always like to have these so it's always a great thing to feature! I also ordered glass milk jugs from Oriental Trading and filled them with blue-coated chocolate candies which were accented with black and white colored candy canes as "straws", and I ordered yellow buckets to fill with silver gumballs - also which went into two tall apothecary jars as well, in which I stuffed our lollipops in. Lastly - to give the table a baby touch, I ordered and displayed two plush Batman teddy bears, each in different colored Batman uniforms, on the table alongside the cakes. This final touch really tied in our design and helped bring the necessary baby feel to the table with everything that was already on it. 

 

Photo Bombs & Snaps!

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

So, all of this planning and executing of what I felt like was the best 1st birthday ever, only meant that I absolutely had to make sure that as many memories were captured! Besides - we need these memories to last a lifetime - for everyone!

 

I always find photo booths so much fun, and continuing the tradition initiated at my baby shower, it was only right that we brought back the same booth that everyone loved and that comes from Shake and Share Media! The booth set up is an open-air style booth which means multiple people can get in the picture and take group photos. I love Shake and Share Media because they're booth provides amazing high quality images! I also love that they always offer our guests unlimited photos and prints, as well as quick social-sharing abilities directly from their preview kiosks! In addition to the still shots each guest took, there was also the option for moving GIF images that people could share as well! I personally designed and created the graphic templates that each of the images printed along with as well as the graphics that adorned each moving GIF image. In addition to designing those I also designed the photobooth props that were used to resemble comic blurbs with fun and unique sayings that would be individual to Grayson. Shake and Share Media is a big go-to vendor here in NYC for many celebrity and red carpet events and after having them service events for me, it's no question as to why! Shake and Share Media is located in Long Island City, NY. 

So with a fun photobooth successfully in place, the final touch needed to keep up with the social demands, was a Snapchat filter! I personally designed two for Gray's party so that people had options and were able to utilize as they captured their moments for Snapchat and their Instagram stories!

To add to the booth and social images, I also hired a professional photographer to photograph the party by the name of SueAnnette Nunez of Sueannette Photography; who is also the purveyor of all of the amazing images in this post andddd my super close friend Jeremy Richardson was on location to capture video footage from our party which you see up top!

 

Here Comes The Boom!

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

All of this set up demanded an amazing DJ (no Spotify playlist here!), and we got just that! I booked my friend Tiffany McPherson, otherwise known as TiffMcFierce who's more than just a girl that knows how to use some turntables! Tiffany, whom I've known since the age of two, is the first woman resident DJ at Madison Square Garden and also a regular key feature at Beautycon LA. As someone who’s audience centers around multi-genre and of-the-moment, Tiffany was able to provide four complete hours of censored music bliss with a mix that had all of our guests on their feet, regardless of (walking) age! Music aside, the highlight was seeing so many of the kids genuinely interested in what Tiffany was doing, and her engaging with each and every one of them during her sets and even showing them her craft! Once Tiffany was done with her set it was noticeable to all of us that not only were there children who left their inspired by her and her skills but she left equally inspired and motivated by the children she engaged with as well!

 

Because Every Child Is A Superhero

 (Note: Click the arrows to view images in the slideshow above.)

Of course the usual kiddie party involves the basics: cake, food, music, and favors - which are usually take home bags or boxes filled with candy. We covered all of that for sure and then some [*check*, *check*, *check*!], but we wanted to ensure we did something a little different for our party favors. We wanted to incorporate something that would continue the good time once our little guests got home! That's when I came up with the idea of these awesome Superhero Kits!

For some time now, I've been following the initiatives of Genius of Play which is an amazing non-profit organization dedicated to play initiatives in child development brought to you by The Toy Association. Genius of Play focuses on sharing and promoting tips and ideas on how different methods of play can encourage creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, confidence and other skills that will serve children throughout their lives. That said, I created these amazing Superhero Kits that were a huge hit with everyone that received them! I ordered a huge assortment of various superhero, villain, and even different princess capes and masks online; and separately ordered the packing gift boxes by bulk as well as the craft ribbon. Each of the gift boxes which had clear window panes so that each child could see what was inside; was adorned with yellow ribbon and label tags made by me saying Grayson Turns One on one side and Happy Halloween on the other. Inside each box, I included a note for each parent highlighting our reason behind gifting a cape and mask and spotlighted the Genius of Play mission; specifically noting the benefits of what a simple cape and pretend thought of superhero ability did for their child. Additionally, according to a new study, science says kids are born with a love of superheroes! Needless to say, as soon as we handed out our gifts to their recipients nearly every child opened their box right then and there. It was so amazing to see all of these little caped heroes right before our eyes and team up their newly discovered super powers with one another!

 

Our Grand Finale - Fun For Everyone (Else!)

The party itself went off without a single hitch. Everyone, young and older, enjoyed themselves and we still have people talking about how much fun their families had! It was honestly a party to remember and one unlike anyone had been to. From the venue, to the theme, to the dress code, all of our feedback revolves around how fun and different it turned out to be! I couldn’t be more pleased!

As for Grayson however - well, let's just say that he didn't enjoy it so much. I keep hearing it's the “1st birthday curse” apparently - or at least that’s the old wives tale...who knows. Let's just say however, that on our way to the party he threw up in the car and all over his first Batman costume. When we finally got in the area, I cleaned him up and got him changed into his second costume (always have an outfit backup, because these things happen!) but he still wasn't happy. Once we got to the party, I kid you not - this poor baby cried from start to finish. I strategically planned to arrive 30-45 min into the party so that I could keep Gray at his happy and tolerable stretch of time which is around 3.5 hours before he gets sleepy but it all kind of backfired once he got sick in the car.  I initially thought it may have been the "car sickness" that threw him off, or maybe the lack of naptime? Perhaps all of the costumes? Or just all of the people? Meh... In all honesty, we may never be able to blame just one factor, but what we do know is that we ended up nursing a baby with a fever a full 24 hours after the party and then eventually made our way into the emergency room which had us there so many hours to which we rang in his actual birthday! Yep - in the very same hospital where he was born; talk about full-circle experiences! Low and behold, our brave little Bat Baby had been coming down with a bad cold all along and it came to surface at his very own birthday party. We spent a week post-party battling his first cold ever, and then the following week trying to nurse ourselves since we caught it from him. Needless to say - we were all trying to get back our super powers one way or another!

 Super Mom, Super Dad, and a Super (but grumpy, at-the-time) One-Year-Old!

Super Mom, Super Dad, and a Super (but grumpy, at-the-time) One-Year-Old!

So now that it’s over (thankfully!), would I do it again? I gave it a long and hard thought...

...for the amazing time everyone had, the smiles on all of Grayson’s mini-friend’s faces, and the memories created around the celebration of our baby boy, absolutely yes! Besides, vomit/colds/meltdowns/ER stays - we survived! :)

Xo!

Ros

P.S.: Know someone who will appreciate the ideas captured in this post? Then Share on Facebook, Like, Tweet and Pin on Pinterest using the buttons below!