TJ’s Top Gun 1st Birthday Party

Maverick, Goose, Ice Man… just to name a few of the characters created in the awesome movie Top Gun (1986) that swept the nation when I was a kid. When I heard that Alex, a very accomplished graphic designer, had thrown her adorable son TJ a Top Gun themed birthday party, I was intrigued and had to interview her. What a cool 1st birthday theme… I mean who doesn’t love a leather bomber jacket and some aviator sunglasses? TJ’s Top Gun 1st Birthday Party

What inspired the theme of your child’s party?

Top Gun is my husband’s all-time favorite film (I love it too, it’s just not my #1) and when our son TJ was born, we created a non-traditional birth announcement that looked like a Top Gun movie poster.

Almost a year later, when we were discussing potential themes for his first birthday party, nothing really got our creative juices flowing. My husband often asked if we really needed a theme. It’s his first birthday, so it’s not like he’s going to remember it. Ultimately we agreed that the theme was only for us, and we were perfectly okay with that.

Then it hit us one day, we could totally do a Top Gun theme and make it a lot of fun. So, that’s what we did.

What is one element of the party that you are particularly proud of?

While I am really proud of the invitations that I designed, I feel truly blessed that my oldest brother made the cakes for the party. He wasn’t able to be there, but he still took the time to bake and decorate two cakes for his nephew. He even took the time to assemble each one of the mini model airplanes that adorned the two cakes. I know it took him a long time to do.

Did you work with any vendors? If so, who? And what did you like or dislike about them?

Image by Michael Tebow Photography

We did most of this on our own. I designed and assembled the invitations, address labels, iron-on t-shirt graphic and favor bags. I used folded note cards and envelopes purchased from Staples.

We purchased little airplane kits, custom engraved dog tags and mini rubber duckies dressed as pilots from Oriental Trading. I also bought a few pairs of cheapie aviator sunglasses, plastic paratrooper guys and some write-on dog tags from Party City.

My younger brother took most of the wonderful photos you see. He’s just starting his photography business in the San Francisco Bay Area and takes wonderful photos of kids and families: Michael Tebow Photography.

What was your favorite moment/part of the party?

When we were all singing Happy Birthday to my little man, he was looking around at everyone totally confused. Then when everyone started clapping, he finally smiled. Oh, and I thought it was hilarious that my brother made a little cake especially for him to smash and he refused to even touch it.

What was your birthday boy’s favorite part?

Since he couldn’t talk just yet, I’ll have to guess that he simply enjoyed being able to run around with the other kids who were there. He could have cared less about the cake, the balloons or the presents. He just loved the freedom.

Image by Michael Tebow Photography

Can you give any advice to mamas that are planning a party for their little one?

It’s never too early to get started, especially if you plan to DIY a lot of stuff. I had a lot of party items that I wanted to include (centerpieces, photo props, napkin rings, buffet food labels) but I didn’t get started until a couple of weeks before the party and was slammed at work a few days before the party. So whatever I had completed the weekend before was all I was able to use.

For any future parties that are equally large, I will get started MUCH earlier… no matter how many strange looks I get from my husband.

Image by Michael Tebow Photography


Food - Safeway and 99 Ranch Market catering
Decorations and favors - Oriental Trading and Party City
Location - a friend let us use her HOA’s clubhouse. It was only $100 to use and was perfect for our crowd of approximately 50 guests. Included tables, chairs and a small kitchen.
Photography - my brother Michael Tebow Photography
Cakes - my other brother, Patrick
Invitations, t-shirt graphic, water bottle labels, and favor bags - me, Alex Tebow Designs
Invitation supplies - Staples

Costs - I really have no idea. We saved a few bucks when I worked on the paper goods because I used scrapbooking tools that I already owned (paper cutter, adhesive, etc). I only paid for portions of the party; my parents and my in-laws paid for portions as well. My best guess would be between $300 and $500 total.

Go ahead and drool over this awesome party! I know I did!!!

Image by Michael Tebow Photography

Image by Michael Tebow Photography

Happy Birthday TJ!


4 Responses to TJ’s Top Gun 1st Birthday Party

  1. Pingback: Halloween DIY: TJ’s Top Gun Costume | Mama Say What?!

  2. I would love to use the invites that ya’ll used for my sons 5th birthday party. Any chance you can post them as a printable or post the contact info to order them from your brother?

  3. Hi Kristen,

    I designed the invitations myself and have them for sale in my Etsy shop if you’re interested.

    And for the invitations plus additional items:

  4. I LOVE that onesie!! Where can I get my hands on one of those for my little man’s 1st birthday party?

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