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Puppy Birthday Party

Last weekend we hosted 40+ family and friends for Emmett’s first puppy birthday party! It was a pawsitively perfect day. And yes, you can expect some puppy puns throughout this post. You’re furry welcome.

In case you’re wondering, I went with a puppy themed first birthday party because Emmett’s nickname is Puppy.

puppy birthday party invitation

I kept the birthday boy’s outfit simple– a French bulldog shirt (complete with beret — hah, get it?) and jeans.

And because he’s a member of this family, and we have the best of luck, Emmett ran into the corner of a wall the day before his puppy birthday party, resulting in his worst facial injury to date.

Puppy Birthday Party Food & Drinks

To stay on-theme, I put together a hot dog bar. Because we needed to feed 40+ people, I purchased the hot dogs and buns from Costco. For the hot dog bar we had chili, cheese, ketchup, mustard, banana peppers, onions, sweet relish, and dill relish. For the non-hot dog lovers, my mom made meatballs.

puppy birthday party food

Instead of throwing the condiment bottles and containers on the counter, I put the condiments into smaller mason jars.

hot dog bar

We also had a veggie tray, fruit, and Scooby snacks.

puppy party foods

My mom made her famous spinach dip (recipe here— it’s a crowd favorite!) and I put out some pupcorn, fetch sticks, and pawtato chips.

puppy birthday party foods

The drinks were simple because once I got this to this portion of the party planning my brain was kind of fried. So lemonade, water, and a juice boxes it was!

drink station


For the dining room table, I wanted to keep things low enough so that people could see each other and chat. So I used a faux grass table runner topped with stuffed animal dogs, two gigantic tennis balls, and a glass cylinder filled with dog bones. I scattered the table runner with tennis balls and dog bones.

I also opted to use real tablecloths. They’re more sustainable than plastic tablecloths, they look better, and they’re fairly inexpensive.

puppy birthday party

I wanted to dress up the window behind the table, so I opted for a balloon garland and “Let’s Pawty” balloon banner.

puppy themed birthday party

lets pawty balloon banner

This was my first time creating a balloon garland. It turned out great! But when I was finished, my hands smelled like latex for 16 hours– a smell I don’t particularly like. And our house smelled like latex until we got used to the smell. So just a warning if you also don’t like the smell of latex.

Shout out to my friend, Taylor, the balloon garland master, for coaching me through the assembly. My favorite piece of advice she gave me was “Put your perfectionism to the side for a minute.” Hah! Which was so true.

I did a balloon garland tutorial!

birthday party balloon garland

During the puppy birthday party, someone approached me and said, “You didn’t buy all these stuffed animal dogs, did you?” Yeah no. I purchased a couple of the stuffed animal dogs (like the adorable basset hound below), but most were from my personal childhood collection or borrowed from friends. My mom found and brought about 20 of my Beanie Babies from the 90s.

puppy birthday party decorations

Puppy Cakes & Cupcakes

My console table, which typically holds my plant collection, was converted into the cake table. I used a blue tablecloth that will fit our dining table, but I folded it in half to fit the console table. We had pupcakes, a 10″ cake, and smash cake.

Using photos to decorate for birthday parties is something I love to do. I used the smash cake photos from Emmett’s first birthday photos to create a number 1. I did something similar for Owen’s first birthday, which was barnyard themed.

first birthday party decoration

The puppy cupcakes were almost too cute to eat. I kept things simple and went with chocolate and vanilla.

puppy cupcakes

For the big birthday cake, I asked the cake baker to create a shaggy 3D dog on top. She coordinated the polka dots to the party invitation colors.

puppy birthday cake

Emmett’s smash cake had a fondant puppy and number 1 on top. While he was indulging in his cake, I had to take the puppy away because he put off the head and I was afraid he would choke. But it was funny for a second when he grabbed the dog and bit its head off.

puppy smash cake

Emmett was the sweetest as everyone sang happy birthday to him, breaking out in a little dance.

first birthday party cake table

I created a massive E by using a portion of the ridiculous amount of photos I purchased because I got sucked into the whole “Spend $XX to get free shipping!” ploy. I caught Emmett walking up to the photos and kissing himself a handful of times.

letter made out of photos

In an attempt to accomodate as many people as possible, we put out two card tables. To dress up the tables, I cut two squares from the other faux grass table runner I got. I topped the faux grass with dogs bones in a glass cylinder surrounded by stuffed animal dogs. I did the same thing to create two centerpieces on our island, but I filled glass cylinders with tennis balls instead of dog bones.

puppy birthday party centerpiece

puppy party centerpiece

Paw-ty tip: Put a smaller glass cylinder or jar inside the larger one, and then add your filler. This allows you to use less, stretching the amount of filler you have.

puppy party centerpiece with bones

I decorated our mantel with puppies and a happy birthday banner. Emmett loves that not-to-scale pug I bought for the party.

puppy themed birthday party

Puppy Party Favors

Our entryway dresser was turned into the favor table. Since some of Owen’s friends attended the party, I had puppies for them to adopt and take home.

puppy birthday party favors

I made an insane amount of puppy chow to give away as favors for everyone else. I know some people call them muddy buddies, but it’s called puppy chow here, and it fit the theme so…

Because I knew we’d have kids in attendance with peanut allergies, I made two flavors– chocolate & peanut butter and cake batter.

puppy birthday party favors

I’ll share the cake batter puppy chow recipe later this week!

puppy chow birthday party favors

Paw-ty tip: Use baker’s twine to create a photo clothesline. Pin photos to the baker’s twine with mini clothespins.

I did this with Emmett’s monthly photos.

first birthday party photo display

And I did it with some of his first birthday photos. See, I told you I’m a photo freak.


invitations and paper products (digital downloads) … Kim Nelson Creative via Etsy

puppies … Amazon

balloons … Amazon

Let’s Pawty balloon banner … Party City

white tablecloth … Amazon

light blue tablecloth … Amazon

faux grass table runner … Tablecloths Factory

giant tennis balls … AliExpress / similar

tennis balls … Walmart

basset hound stuffed animal … Amazon

bulldog stuffed animal … Amazon

pug stuffed animal … Walmart

high chair garland … Target dollar spot

Puppy birthday party! An adorable puppy themed first birthday party! Lots of cute ideas!

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  1. Cheryl Newton says:

    No post-smash-cake photo? I feel deprived. Seriously, thanks for sharing his day with your readers!

  2. OMG sooooooo cute! I love all the pictures you incorporated and making the photos into a 1 and the letter E! I’m stealing that idea for my sons 1st birthday. I’m a photo freak too!

  3. I love your emails and superb decorating and party skills but I’m lost when you call your son puppy.

  4. Such a cute theme! My son had his first birthday last week with a party animal theme. Nice to pick themes while they’re young and can’t pick for themselves 😉

  5. Cute party! I’m wanting to do a bunny theme for my daughter (“some bunny is turning one”), but am a little worried it will seem out of season in September. I hope you do a balloon garland post!

    1. I did a bunny themed party for my daughter’s first birthday (several years ago) and it was also in September. “Some bunny is turning one” is so cute and I wish I had thought of that…

      I recommend scouring and stocking up on bunny themed items now until after Easter. Hopefully you can find some good after-Easter sales.

  6. This is adorable! Is it weird that I don’t have kids, but have dogs and want to save this idea for the next “Puppy Bowl” party instead of a Super Bowl party? Also, maybe I completely skipped over it, but where are the large drink containers from?

  7. Adorable and original. Loved it.

  8. This is so awesome. I love your parties, Chelsea. Wish we were friends IRL so i could come to one! 🙂 in a non-stalker way i promise.

  9. I love the puppy theme! So cute, and those cupcakes are paw-sitively adorable! Your balloon garland looks great, too. I made my first balloon garland for our girl’s first birthday, but I didn’t have a problem with my hands smelling like latex (unless I got used to it?). Love how everything turned out, Chelsea! And Happy First Birthday, Emmett!

  10. Is there a spot where I can see how to make my own balloon garland?

  11. Rachel Steck says:

    So amazing! You are SO good at parties!

  12. Seriously awesome party!!! WHERE did you find a baker to make such darling pup-cakes? I LOVE them!!!

  13. Love it all! Is there a tutorial for the balloon garland? It’s beautiful and such a nice touch!

  14. Kristina Hudson says:

    Wow, what a beautiful first birthday party! So well thought out. The pupcakes are adorable!

  15. That baker of yours deserves a huge shout-out for the adorable pupcakes and cakes she made! LOVE them. Your party was adorable and it looks like your son had an amazing celebration. Happy Birthday!

  16. OMG, I want to do a kitten theme party for my daughter and your ideas are adorable. I’m not good in baking, but It’s not a big problem. I will find a great baker to make this party awesome too 🙂 Thank you for great idea.

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