Sunday, July 17, 2011

THREE Birds Reggae Birthday Party

I didn't throw Marisa a birthday party last year, so I was agonizing over what her birthday party theme would be this year. Toy Story? Princess? I just couldn't decide. So I asked Marisa what she wanted for her birthday and she said, "cake," "balloons," and "the thing that makes the sound when you go [makes blowing sounds]." That wasn't really much help on theme, but I took note. Then suddenly Marisa started singing "Three Birds," by Bob Marley. (Marisa has been listening to reggae since she was in the womb, so she can pick out a reggae beat on the radio and instantly yells out "It's BOB MARLEY!" ;) She makes us proud. hehe.) Anyway, I heard "three birds" and a light bulb went on since it would be Marisa's third birthday.
The great thing about this theme is that you can find the reggae colors, (red, gold, and green) just about anywhere, it's great for tropical backyards that have seen one too many Hawaiian themed luaus, and the colors and the music are great for boys and girls, men and women - it's universally pleasing. I had a TON of ideas for this I didn't get to execute and will share later, but for now here's what did go down...

First, the invitation. The invitation is always the starting point for me. In my head, I initially thought of drawing up three little birds and hanging cutesy birds and pom poms and stars everywhere...but as I started designing, I was inspired by a picture of Marisa on the beach and decided I wanted to go with more of a relaxed Island-of-Jamaica-vibe that featured the reggae colors. I decided to change up the wording to the song to create text for the invitation, and added a special die cut to the design to make the invitation a little more special. (*Note: This would also make a great ONE LOVE first birthday party invite!)

For decor, I just wanted to do something clean, simple, and laid back using old school party tactics. Balloons and streamers, home made food, home made cake, and good music. Red, Yellow, and Green balloons provided our pops of color and I created a backdrop of streamers alternating in the reggae colors for the dessert and drinks display. I also added some old reggae records and a few souvenirs we had picked up in Jamaica years before. We used grass table skirts to line the fence around the yard for an island feeling and went with crisp white tablecloths and wood chairs. Reggae music playing in the background set the mood. Unfortunately, as I was also the hostess, I couldn't get a good picture of backdrop for the buffet table, but it was made by purchasing and hanging red, yellow, and green plastic tablecloths from Party City and then topped with coordinating streamers in a messy way to almost mimic dreads. Instead of my usual buffet cards, I went with a simple chalkboard menu just as you might see in Jamaica.

Activities centered around water play so I provided water guns for the kids, a silly water hose with 12 nozzles that sprayed water everywhere in the yard, a water table, and of course there was the pool. I also bought party horns which the kids loved, and couldn't resist setting up a "Lively Up Yourself" photobooth. It's always fun to include props in a photobooth. I included some baby sized dreads from (you must check out their other wigs in addition to "The Bob."!!), a rasta beanie, sunglasses, and a Jamaican drum. We used two Jamaican flags for the backdrop. (Unfortunately in my rush to set up as Mommy, hostess, and photographer - I didn't place it in the greatest spot, and we had a few issues with the wind blowing up the flags. This, however, provided much entertainment for all the kids!

The food. I'll let you in on a secret...I really wanted to do this party just so I could serve "Buffalo Soldier Wings!" Here is the full menu:

-Buffalo Soldier Wings (ordered from Wing Stop, plus some plain chicken nuggets for the kids)
-One of Jamaica's staple dishes, "rice and peas" which is coconut rice with beans - very easy to make and cost effective. I experimented with my own method and will try to post that recipe later.
-Island Pork Tenderloin - everyone RAVED about this and it's also ideal for making for a crowd. Get the recipe HERE.
-Reggae Froots (a play on reggae roots) which were mini bamboo skewers of strawberry, pineapple, and kiwi chunks
-Rasta Pasta - tri colored pasta mixed with a bag of iceberg salad, cherry tomatoes, and pepperoncinis (*I left these out so the kids could eat it.) Serve with Italian or Ranch dressing.
-Rasta Pops - I used juices this time, but next time would make my own purees to add to the juice for brighter colors.
-Rasta Cake - I was inspired by a rainbow cake tutorial and made a three layer cake using white cake mix and dyed each layer to create the rasta colors.

And of course, we had to have some Red Stripe Jamaican beer on hand!

As a favor, I went old school again and made a CD for all of our guests. It was Sebastian, the crab from the Little Mermaid, singing reggae songs. It uncluded his rendition of "Three Birds" as well as "Under the Sea."

The party was a blast. Thank you to all of our guests for celebrating our special three year old. :) Stay tuned for more food/drink ideas for this theme! All stationery, photography, event design and styling by Jackie Culmer Photography and Design.


  1. Very cute! I can totally relate to your comment about the Buffalo Soldier Wings! Too funny.


  2. this is just adorable!

    one love ; )

  3. Thank you for sharing!!. Im planning on having my daughters first birtbday with the rasta theme.I love everything you did to your party!!. I am sooo gonna use your ONE LOVE idea....ur a genious!!...please email me with any ideas you can share!!!.
    Once again. Thanks for sharing.

  4. LOVEEDDDDDDDD the idea for the backdrop using table cloths and streamers !! I myself am planning a 21st birthday party for my cousin. The whole idea for the backdrop, the cake and the decor makes my job so much easier!!!
    Since my party will be in the evening and for an older crowd , I'll use black tablecloths instead

  5. This too cute! I love it! We will be celebrating my husband's 40th and our little one's 2nd - they share a birthday : ) - so I think this will be perfect! We are having a cumbia reggae band - Personal Use - (look them up!) - play - so all the more awesome.

  6. I came across this while google searching "One Year - One Love" first birthday party ideas. I'm currently trying to figure out how to style the invitations. I would appreciate any help you could provide. Thanks.

  7. Love this! Our daughter was born on 4-20 so we thought this would be a perfect theme for her upcoming first bday. Thanks for sharing!

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  25. Yess!!! This is wonderful! My baby absolutely loves Bob, she calms down instantly when she hears him (since day 1, it's incredible!). I'm planning her 1st birthday party, Bob Marley themed, and am so stealing some of your wonderful inspiration. Thank you.