Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

It’s a joy to look back at the evolution of Zora’s parties as captured on this blog.  On her second birthday, just two short years ago, I declared myself a lover, not a planner, and outlined all the reasons why I didn’t “go all Martha Stewart on the occasion.”  Still, I hinted that bigger things might be in store the following year.  Turns out, I kept her third birthday party super simple, but went all out for a sendoff on the eve of our move to Austin.  Fast-forward to Zora’s 4th birthday last month, and we’re now bonafide party animals.

We invited new schoolmates, neighbors and friends over to our place to celebrate Zora’s big day.  I designed the backyard party around the ABCs–animals, books and crafts, that is–and sought the help of Austin’s finest to pull it all off.  They didn’t disappoint.

First of all, shout out to Tiny Tails to You, Austin’s Traveling Petting Zoo, for phenomenal service.  I discovered them on the BookPeople website and figured that if they were a vendor of choice for Texas’s largest indie bookstore, they would suit me just fine.  I hired them sight unseen and they delivered adorable little animals in apple baskets that enthralled our preschool guests–and parents too.


The inimitable Austin Catering team, lead by Kristin Stephens, carried the party theme over to almond butter and jelly-phant sandwiches, animal-shaped macaroni and cheese (in mini mason jars!), and more. I did my part and topped Ann’s Kitchen cupcakes with animal crackers. 😉


Y’all know I take my books seriously and incorporate them into every affair as gifts, party favors or entertainment.  Zora’s farewell shindig had a storytime segment, complete with a black cowgirl tale. This time around I gave each guest a copy of “Happy Birthday, Bunny!” by Austin author Liz Garton Scanlon as a parting gift. (Catch Scanlon at this year’s Texas Book Festival.)

Thanks to bbgb in Richmond, my go-to children’s bookstore, for hustling to fill this rush order.


The theme carried over to the craft tables, where I set up a bookmark-making station in addition to the popular butterfly design shop.  Other fun party touches included a giant “four” “balloom,” face painting and a pinata.  


A good time was had by all and I’ve already got visions of tea parties, Halloween extravaganzas and superhero fetes dancing in my head.

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