For the first year of his life, Ben Thomas slept in a nursery full of British memorabilia, a theme his mother Erin chose because her brother lives in London. Deciding it was only fitting to incorporate the same iconic elements into Ben’s first birthday bash, Erin, a professional party planner, started planning more than six months in advance.
After booking a photographer and researching details in order to custom design everything, she sent out red- and white-striped invitations, featuring a double decker bus and royal guard.
Nearly 100 hours of party prepping later, 30 guests arrived at the Thomas’ home in Richardson for a look at Erin’s hard work. At the front door they found a Styrofoam wreath wrapped in red ribbon to resemble a stop in London’s underground railway system. Once inside, they grabbed handmade polka-dot party hats wrapped in blue rickrack and marveled at a chalkboard-style poster listing Ben’s measurements and favorite foods and toys.
The royal party began with a feast of English-inspired finger foods, including shortbread cookies, sausage and cheese quiche, and bacon on a stick. Erin used a Financial Times her brother sent from London to make paper cones to hold French toast sticks and served a berry tart labeled “fruit pizza” that resembled the British flag, “fish and chips” (a fish bowl full of Goldfish crackers and potato chips) and red M&M’s in dishes spelling out B-E-N. To wet their whistles, kids sipped on “royal juice” (fruit punch) and parents enjoyed “Pimm’s punch” (a popular alcoholic beverage with fruits and mint).
While stomachs settled to make room for tea and cake, guests stopped by the photo booth to pose with the birthday boy. Wearing a blue- and white-striped outfit that his grandmother got him in London, Ben smiled as guests used props such as mustaches, crowns and feather boas while taking pictures against a polka-dot backdrop.
Later, while Ben poked at the small chocolate smash cake, guests enjoyed both chocolate and vanilla layers of the main cake, topped with a Mini Cooper and adorned with some of London’s most famous icons, including Big Ben and a red telephone booth. British guard-shaped biscuits from Two Chicks Cake Tricks were also available, served with a spot of English tea. As party favors, Erin had designed a red- and white-striped mug for each person to use, complete with the names Ben calls them by.
When teatime ended, guests packed up and headed home, toting their new personalized mugs and looking for another reason to celebrate with tea and biscuits.