Our best-est couple friends, Colin and Jo, are about to have their first baby. Yay! Last month, I co-hosted a baby shower for them. Here we all are. Everyone looks happy except Oliver, who resents being forced to stay still for eight seconds.
My amazing co-hosts, Roxanne, Sarah and I agreed that a children’s book theme shower would be appropriate for our well-read guests of honor.
After cruising through Pinterest for inspiration, I designed the shower invite to look like an old fashioned library card. I downloaded some cool stamp-style fonts to get the right look, and color printed the invites on manilla-colored tagboard at a local copy shop. Certain details about this invitation have, obviously, been modified to protect people’s privacy, but this shows the layout.
The buffet was divided into a sweet section and a savory section. The sweet section also acted as a kind of decorative display, with a Cat In The Hat cake at the center.
Jo’s favorite flavor cake is Red Velvet with Cream Cheese frosting, so I made “Thing One and Thing Two” cupcakes in that flavor. My daughter helped me make blue fondant “hair” and edible white chocolate nametags for each cupcake. Children’s books were propped up everywhere, and formed a major part of the party decor as well.
For chocolate lovers, I had dark chocolate cupcakes with caramel Italian meringue buttercream. The buttercream was tinted then covered with decorator’s sugar and the cupcakes were arranged to make a Very Hungry Caterpillar display.
And finally, we had a platter of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie Cookies. I broke with the book just a bit and made chewey oatmeal chocolate chip cookies because they are some of my favorites.
The Cat In The Hat Cake
At some point in planning this shower, I got it in my head I wanted to attempt a really cool, children’s book inspired cake. Again with the Pinterest. Now, I am honestly not a particularly good baker, and I’d only worked with fondant twice before I made this cake, and it didn’t turn out that great – did you know fondant can melt right off a cake?
So there was a good chance this could have turned into a cake wreck situation, but I figured I’d give it a shot and just make lots of cupcakes in case the cake bombed. (Hence the multitude of treats on offer.)
I started by sketching a three-tiered Cat In The Hat inspired cake and got to work making a ton of marshmallow fondant, chocolate cake and chocolate ganache (bottom tier) and red velvet cake and vanilla buttercream (hat and teapot tiers).
Then, I just took it step by step and checked the intergoogles whenever I got confused. I’m pleased to say I think it turned out pretty great! Actually, not to brag, but I’m really proud of myself for pulling this off because I’d never made fondant before and I’d only made one multi-tier cake before this. It was so fun to learn those new skills.
Pretty cute, huh?
The fish jumping out of the teapot is pure marshmallow fondant that I made several days before the party and let kind of dry out at room temp. The black details on the fish (and the rest of the cake) are made with edible black marker – basically food dye in felt-tip form.
The hat was stacked and shaped deliberately to be crooked, but that was only obvious from certain angles. Bamboo skewers helped hold the tiers together.
After shaping and spackling the cake tiers with a mixture of buttercream or ganache and cake crumbs (depending on the tier), I had a smooth surface over which to apply my layer of fondant, tinted as appropriate to the tier. I did get a few minor cracks at the edges of the red fondant covering the hat, and on the hat “brim” but I tried to just take my time and all in all it went on pretty smooth.
All the food was designed to be children’s book themed. We had:
Green Eggs and Ham – Herbed Deviled Eggs topped with Prosciutto.
Very Hungry Caterpillar Fruit and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs Chicken and Pineapple Teriyaki Meatballs. (Broke out the Crock Pot cause I’m not afraid of goin’ retro style, yo.)
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Coconut Curry Grilled Chicken Skewers
Strega Nona Pasta Salad with Pesto, Spinach and Tomatoes
and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cheese and Salami.
Decor – Children’s Book Inspired Paintings
I thought it would be cool to have really big, graphic decorations. I used to paint quite a bit, so I broke out the ol’ brushes and some large canvases I had in storage and created paintings inspired by iconic children’s books. I managed to get four done (The Very Hungry Caterpillar was planned, but I flat ran out of time).
I painted Oh, The Place’s You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, a classic if ever there was one. (I just copied the cover.)
Two paintings (a sort of a diptych) were modeled after the illustrations in the adorable kid’s board book Quiet LOUD by Leslie Patricelli.
And the last painting was inspired by the absolutely charming book, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. My co-host Roxanne (a recent new mom herself!) liked this one so much I sent it home with her to use as decor in her baby’s room.
I also picked up a dozen potted gerber daisies from Costco. My dad ran all around town on the day of the party looking for the perfect covers for the pots, and found them! So we had these fun, high-color flowers in complementary pots dotted all around the house. It was very (and I can’t believe I’m about to use this word without irony) whimsical.
I kept favors pretty simple. I bought new 4-ounce mason jars (this size is perfect for so many things!) and filled them with M&Ms. Then I made a cute label for the jars – “Food For Very Hungry Caterpillars” – and stacked the jars pyramid style by the front door so guest could take one on their way out. (I keep these inexpensive labels on hand for making labels for my home canned food. You can read more about that here if you want.)
I also made bookmarks using office tags and business cards.
I printed a Dr. Seuss quote about reading, along with various Dr. Seuss clipart characters I found online, on standard printable business cards, laid out like this:
Then I just glued the business cards onto large manilla shipping tags.
Crafts and Activities
On the invite, we asked folks to bring a children’s book instead of a card, and I think everyone obliged. We had bookplate stickers set out so that people could tell the new baby why the book they selected for him was special.
My co-host, Sarah, procured a bookcase and a bunch of paint pens. We asked guests to sign the bookcase as a functional keepsake for Colin and Jo.
Co-host Roxanne set up a huge table of scrapbooking supplies, too, and guests took turns making ready-to-go scrapbooking pages for various events in baby’s life.
We didn’t play any games, per se, but we did ask guests to make some fun predictions about the baby:
I had a blast getting my Creative Girl on with the cake and the paintings and the graphic design stuff, the guests of honor were appropriately showered with gifts and love, Jo’s belly was rubbed about a million times, the guests had a good time, and everyone ate, drank and was merry – a successful event, I’d say!
Do you enjoy throwing parties and showers? What’s the most fun part of entertaining for you?25
Tiny Gardener says
What an excellent job you did on the cake and party materials! So creative and professional looking!
Thank you! It was really fun for me – something a little different than what I normally do.
Oh my goodness! You are ridiculously amazing. I feel like swearing about the amazing effort, talent & love you put into this, but its a baby shower, so I won’t.
That cake is fucking ridiculous, esp. for your first time. Oops!
Dixie, you can always drop the f-bomb on my site. 🙂
Jody Prestine says
Awesome!! Absolutely awesome! Wish I had a friend like you!
That is incredible. What wonderful friends you all are! That looks like such a fun afternoon and the amount of time, attention and love that was put into the shower must have been overwhelming.
We just think the world of these friends. They are wonderful people, so it was great to be able to help them celebrate near-parenthood.
Lisa Cotter says
Amazing! Love the whole idea, concept, and planning. Everything turned out gorgeous…
Thank you Lisa!
Oh my goodness gracious! What a fantastic party and delicious treats. Can you share your chewy choc-chip oatmeal cookie recipe please?
Erica / Northwest Edible Life says
You know, it’s probably not very impressive to admit this, but I follow the recipe on the back of the Quaker Oats box, leave out the cinnamon and raisins and add in good chocolate chips. And I try to just slightly underbake cause I like them chewy. They turn out great.
You are amazing! I’m impressed all over again. We love you guys! Thanks for hosting the most amazing shower for Baby C.
Love you guys!
Kathy Radigan says
I bow down before you!!!!!! This is amazing Erica, just gorgeous, and your cake has left me speechless. Wow!!!!
WOW! Wow and Wowsers!!!!
You are amazing. I can’t see a professional company doing a better job or having half as much talent. The art, the details, and I LOVE the theme!
Super kudos to you!
I was a professional caterer for awhile, so the food part I’m quite comfortable with, but I’ve never done much pastry work. That was a stretch for me but a fun stretch. But I’d never do parties like this for money – only love and friendship. 🙂
I won’t be surprised if this ends up on the cake wrecks site as one of her truly impressive cakes. Super fun!
Hah! What I learned doing that cake was that you should give yourself a lot of time. It took about a week to get all the components made and ready, and I had time to redo certain elements that didn’t go right on the first try (I learned, for example, that you cannot put cream cheese frosting under fondant). Maybe it’s just because I’m an inexperienced cake maker, but if I’d tried to do it in one day it would have been a total cakewreck for sure.
Elizabeth F says
Very, very nice. I follow CakeWrecks and I know I will NOT see you on there as example of a wreck. Books are always a great present, no matter the age. I am getting ready for the start of the Summer Reading Club at our small library…”open for 2 to 122″. My theme this year is cookie related.
Love that idea. We are very pro-book around here. Books AND cookies? Win-win.
Wow. Just wow.
And… I had no idea 4-ounce size mason jars existed. Are those wide mouth or narrow/standard? (I’m not sure what the proper word for not-wide-mouth is!)
They are the standard (narrow) width. They are the perfect size for so many things it you have kids – just the right portion size for a bit of apple sauce or yogurt or whatnot.
Wow! Very creative. I love all of the personalized touches! That Cat in the Hat cake is very impressive!
This is brilliant, and perfect timing. My mother is throwing me a book-themed baby shower in just over a week. I love the bookplate idea!
Ien in the Kootenays says
If I were not so fond of you already I would seriously hate you now. What are you, some kind of crafty Martha Stewart super woman?
dr. Dave says
You are so amazingly talented.
What is Wheaton’s Law? I asked my lawyer brother and he doesn’t have a clue.
Amazing! I bow down to you, fondant cake maker! And the paintings! The baby predictor was a great touch. He’ll really enjoy reading those some day.
Jo Burleson says
I am so going to use this for my sister-in-law’s upcoming baby if you do not mind!! I am so absolutely amazed at the theme and the execution of it!! This will be so perfect!! Thank you so much for sharing!!
Holy shit. Just….holy shit. That was one amazing shower. It makes me want to go find some pregnant friends so I can throw one like it for them (don’t worry, I won’t do it). Great job!
Damn girl, you outdid yourself! That was a lot of love put down for that party, nice work!!
Anisa/The Lazy Homesteader says
Great party – amazing cake! But my favorite part are the bookplates. LOVE this theme.
You had me at the invites….
At first I was like, that’s embarrassing, she obviously bought that cake which is the centerpiece of everything. My jaw dropped when I realized you MADE it! I think you have a new career at your fingertips…
Wow, I love the Cat in the Hat cake,. It looks a very professionally created cake.
Callie Peterson says
I love the bookplate stickers! Did you make those or order them? Would love to know if you have a template or place to get them – throwing a book themed shower in 2 weeks!
Rebecca Rodgers says
These are some unique and creative ideas! I am trying to put a baby shower together for my SIL, and I love the owl bookplates. Can you tell me where to find these? I have looked online, but am having a hard time locating this particular one.
I made them with clipart off the internet! Sorry, wish I could be more help! But if you have good graphic layout software, they were simple to do. I just printed them onto large size mailing label paper.
Hi! I really loved your Baby Prediction Game Printout. Any idea where I can find it? I would love to have it at my shower. Thanks!
Faye S says
This is great, Erica! I’m throwing a book-themed shower and I’ve been really worried about guests buying the same books, especially as they’ll be putting book plates in them, and they won’t be returnable. I thought about setting up a blog or a registry of sorts, not listing books that are wanted, but rather just listing the books that guests have already purchased, and have it open to comments from guests so that they can post new books they’ve bought. Did you worry about duplicates, and do you have any ideas for where I could set up such a list that would be easy for guests to add to themselves (so that I’m not doing all the work)? Thank you!
Hi Erica, I stumbled on your blog when I googled “Book themed baby shower.” I love all of your ideas! Would you be willing to share the invite you created? I would love to use it for the shower our book group is throwing.
This shower was absolutely AMAZING…I’m interested in the invites, can you give me any information on how to possibly make a replica of this.
Wow. this is amazing. How did you get the paint colors for the “oh, the places you’ll go” painting? i was going to try that one myself…hoping that it turns out half as nice as yours 🙂
Thank you for sharing your ideas! I am trowing a children’s book themed baby shower soon so this really helped! I would love to use your invitations. How can I get them? Thanks again!!!
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I would really love to have that pasta recipe with the book Strega Nona…. With the pesto spinach and tomatoes! Can I get that please?
Just wondering where you found the bookplate stickers or if you made them. Thanks!
This ifo is priceless. Howw ccan I find ouut more?