(Links for items throughout article - most products were purchased from Amazon - and can be found together on this shopping list).
We had already come up with the theme for Kennedy's thirteenth birthday before she even turned twelve, but with COVID precautions keeping most of her friends at home - we thought it best to put that (top-secret) idea on reserve, and opted instead for a smaller shindig, alongside our usual new-place trip.
It's funny - since Kennedy was a little girl, she absolutely "hated surprises" and wanted to have her hand in ever single aspect... but since London, she handed the reigns over to me, with a carefree "I trust you." (Can't blame ya, kid - but don't expect me to top that one anytime soon). Anyway, when we took off on our Road trip, "My Adventure Book" in hand - I decided an "Up!" themed birthday would be the perfect time-capsule memory of this strange Coronavirus era.
I wanted her celebration to be mature (read: teen-approved trendy) while still true to the film, so we avoided games and overly-themed treats, and went instead with a sort of camp meets pastel rendition of the movie we all know and love.
I won't get into how this was supposed to turn out, but let's just say I almost experienced my first cake fail, and wish I would have gone in with the end-result from the onset. It's simple. Chocolate cake cut into the shape of Sapphire Falls (this one is covered in fudge and filled with chocolate covered strawberries - icing recipe, cake recipe here, though ours is a bit modified, as it had full chocolate covered strawberries baked inside of it, and was cut to be in the shape of the mountain, versus a neat circle).
For the waterfall itself, I used Wilton's blue decorating icing and topped it with Wilton's sparkle gel --- the best part was, I didn't even need to use a tip; I literally took a spatula and spread the icing in the waterfall shape I wanted, then shellacked the sparkle gel on top, to make it better resemble flowing water.
When I was buying a few party items for K, I came across this pencil holder at The Disney Store and thought it would be a good cake-topper-meets-keepsake that she could use to remember the day by. The only problem was it is SUPER HEAVY, so I cut down a six inch cake circle to the size of the house and inserted a single support road to hold the weight.
Finally, for the birthday candles - we used "13" sparklers.... (Honestly, I did this because I thought it would pop the balloons and be funny/startling to photograph, but it did not... #pyroproblems).
The Snacks Display:
A few days before this, Kennedy took a BuzzFeed test and got Russel as "Which Character are You from Up!" so I knew I wanted everything to lean very "Wilderness Explorer." For this reason I stuck to neutral wood platters, a two tier farm tray, and wicker baskets, setting everything else upon trunk slabs.
I repurposed a few mule cups to pull in some copper tones and wrapped the cutlery to look like Russel's necktie, then made a WE bolo tie to secure it.
We did a make your own trail mix bar, and set out a bunch of flavors from Favorite Day (my vote goes to Dark Chocolate Espresso, and Kennedy liked the Monster Trail Mix best). I emptied each flavor into paper lunch bags, then labeled them with a chalk tag.
We also did birthday themed granola bars from MadeGood and a Make Your Own S'mores Station, and to make it a little fancier (and stick to my color palette) we used Hu Bars in a few different flavors. Kennedy LOVED the cashew butter option. And we filled the tiny silver pales with "Snipe Bait" --- cause well, I mean, I had to.
Simple. Balloons. Balloons, balloons, and more balloons. I know they look complicated, but I swear, balloon arches require zero artistic talent and are such an easy way to decorate a space.
We did a cascading rainbow, versus arranging them in a random mix of colors, and some of these bad boys were about four feet tall (if you had heard one of them pop, I swear you would have called the cops and reported gunfire). And of course, this called for giant rainbow numbers - because you really aren't an American Teenager, if you don't do a birthday boomerang, shaking these bad boys.
Kennedy's main "present" was back-to-back Up! bounding days at the parks, so for our tiny celebration, I wanted to keep things simple. I found a "Take me to Paradise Falls" shirt at the Disney Store (it's sold out now, but I like this one even better!) and paired it with a grape soda/badges bow we found on Etsy... Cause you and me... we're in a club now.
Wrapping Paper and Presents:
Sticking again with the Wilderness Explorer theme, I did most of the presents in a plain orange paper with green bow, then wrapped others in maps and vintage national park posters from Paper Source, and created a printable of merit badges, to use as gift tags.
But I did do ONE present in the brightest, most childish balloon wrapping paper that I could find cause, she's STILL A KID, DAMN IT! And filled that box with her bounding outfits and accessories for the day.
(The wilderness must be explored, ca-caw, ca-caw, rawrrrrr.)
It was the best way to celebrate small. Remember, adventure is out there - so go make a new one.
PS: If you decide to recreate your own version of our Up! shindig - most of the products have been listed together on our associate page. Purchasing from our direct links funds our creative budget (and supports Kennedy's Loungefly addiction) - so from the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate it!