the birthday fiesta

Hi friends! How are you? Hope you’re enjoying the week so far. We are back in the swing of things after the weekend, and enjoying this bit of fall in the air. V-town finally got the memo, so it’s been fun to break out the sweaters and booties. We’re also recovering from this weekend’s fiesta to celebrate the Pilot and Penelope’s birthdays!

I wanted to start this off by saying that in preparation for the party, one thing saved the day: jumping castle rental. It turns out that the rental period was FOUR DAYS, so we had an enormous 2-lane slide and bounce house in the yard all weekend! They came and set them up Friday afternoon, and didn’t take them away until late on Monday. The girls LOVED IT.

Jumping castles

Ok, the parents did, too. [The Pilot and I may or may not have had races down the slides after the girls were in bed.]

Pilot and Liv on the slides

Jumping with the girls

The girls had the best time jumping around, and it made it super easy to cook and prep for the party. I had the patio doors open and could see them the entire time I was cooking in the kitchen, and I didn’t have both of them crawling up my legs asking me to make them random snacks. #winning

For the party, we thought it would be fun to do a fiesta theme with some Tucson favorites, especially since many of our friends here have lived in Tucson at some point.

Taco "Twosday" banner

(Banner is here.)

I’m a huge fan of outsourcing things for parties, but we ended up making all of the food. We don’t love the Mexican food here in town, and I really love cooking, so it was fun to play some music and prep while the Pilot grilled all of the meat outside.

Chopping dat meat

55 people had RSVP’d, so I wanted to make sure we didn’t run out of anything! Thankfully, we had leftovers for days.

How I prepped for such a big party at home:

Friday: Made the beans (I think it was 6 bags of dried pinto beans? The Instant Pot cooked each batch in 25 minutes!! It’s magical, I tell ya.), started soaking the fruit for the sangria, made the salsa (4 batches of the Pioneer Woman’s recipe <— our fave)

Saturday: Grilled all of the meat (12 lbs. of chicken, about 5 lbs. of steak), chopped the veggies for toppings (tomatoes, lettuce, onion),

Chopped tomatoes

(See the iguana hiding out there? Liv has been scaring me with him lately.)

made the enchiladas (I use a recipe similar to this one and made a triple batch), chopped fruit for the fruit cups (mango, pineapple, honeydew, watermelon).


Sunday: finish the sangria, make the queso (it was SO GOOD. I’ll do a recipe post on it if you’d like! It was Velveeta, charred poblano peppers, pico de gallo, etc. in the slow cooker), make the rice, warm the food (and warm the tortillas), and set everything out!

I ordered some of these catering sets from Amazon and they were clutch. They kept the food so warm and were really inexpensive. For all of the food on the table, I had backup trays in the oven warming to easily swap out. 

Enchiladas, chicken, steak, rice, beans, taco toppings, and tortillas.

Prepped food

Prepped food

Fruit cups with Tajin and lime on the side.

Fruit cups

And in the kitchen, queso with chips and salsa.

Eating tacos

To drink, we had margaritas, sangria, Mexican sodas, beers, waters, Honest juice pouches, and Lacroix in coolers in the backyard. 

Birthday game face:

Miss P birthday game face

I topped the tables outside with sarapes, mini piñatas, chicle in little bowls, succulents planted in cans (I just used the tomato cans from the insane amount of salsa),


and bowls of chips and salsa. While I was outside decorating the tables, P walked out and said “Mama! You make my birthday party so cute!” and my heart burst into a thousand pieces.

with megan

(My beautiful friend Megan!)

The jumping castles were a huge hit, and the kiddos ran free while the adults ate, drank and chatted. We took a break for the kids to hit a taco-shaped piñata,

Taco pinata

and then it was time for dessert! Originally the Mix’s froyo truck was going to come and do froyo, but they ended up having a generator issue. The owner was so cool and helpful about the whole thing, and instead, they dropped off 50 containers of froyo plus tons of toppings. It was perfect!!

Mix topping

Liv jackson and bubba

And just in case everyone wasn’t totally hyped up on sugar, we had cake and cupcakes, too. 


I’m so glad that we were able to celebrate the Pilot and P’s birthdays with so many wonderful friends. While we definitely missed our families, we’re thankful for friends who have become like family. After the girls went to bed, we sat on the patio eating chips and salsa and talking… and then maybe had some races down the slides haha.

It was a great way to celebrate two people we love so much. <3

Birthday buddies

What was your most memorable birthday? When you throw parties, do you do the food yourself or order it? I usually like to do a mix. 

Hope you’re enjoying the day! I’ll see ya soon. 



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  1. Eva on October 24, 2017 at 7:53 am

    Damn that food spread is imPRESSIVE!!! I am not a wife/mom yet but you = #hostessgoals !!!

    Side note— who is Peta lol?! Am I missing something??

    • Kelster on October 24, 2017 at 9:11 am

      I’m wondering the same thing!

      • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 9:17 am

        It’s his nickname 🙂 it’s a long story haha

    • Christine on October 24, 2017 at 10:24 am

      I wondered the same thing about Peta 🙂

      This looks amazing!!

      • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm

        haha yes i should have pointed that out!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      thank you so much!! <3!
      it's his nickname at work. i should have mentioned that hahah

  2. Stephanie S. on October 24, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Oh my gosh, I am super impressed – what a party!! I can’t believe you did all of that yourself! You could be a professional caterer/event planner. Everything looks so fun and delicious 🙂 And I love P’s comment about making her party cute! Adorable.

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      thank you so much, friend! my aunt and nana used to own a catering company.. i was crossing my fingers this weekend that i got a little of that in my genes 😉
      hope you’re having a great week so far!

  3. Tiffany on October 24, 2017 at 8:09 am

    What a beautiful party Gina! I absolutely LOVE the succulents and centerpieces. You did such an awesome job. Impressive!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      thank you, tiffany! it was fun to put it together 🙂

  4. Laura @ Laura Likes Design on October 24, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Your party spread looks like it was professionally catered — you guys did such a nice job!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      thank you! it was so much fun <3

  5. Carrie this fit chick on October 24, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Oh my gosh, you are a meal prep goddess! I need to rent a bouncy slide– that looks like too much fun!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      thank you so much! you totally should. it was so fun haha

  6. Aubrey on October 24, 2017 at 9:06 am

    This is amazing!!

  7. Virjinia Harp on October 24, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Wow! I’ll agree with the others, your buffet spread looked amazing! I’ve never hosted a party before but I figure I would do a mix of the two. I can cook HUGE batches of desserts easily. Not so much with regular food lol.

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      thank you so much!! <3

  8. Blair on October 24, 2017 at 10:46 am

    What an awesome theme and I would’ve never thought about the warming sets on Amazon. Def keeping that in my mind for the next get together!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      they were so awesome! i’m excited to use them again 🙂

  9. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups on October 24, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Awesome party! Everything looks amazing! I love doing a Mexican spread for parties, but since we have lots of good Mexican here, I will usually make beans, salsa and guac, and buy mini chimis and tacos. Glad everyone had a nice time, great job!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      yes, that’s the way to do it! in tucson we would have just gotten calle tepa catering again 🙂 the best

  10. Amanda on October 24, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Wow! You make a party with 55+ guests look so easy! I hope you had fun, too, and your stress behind the scenes was manageable. 😉

    As for the iguana hiding in the kitchen, funny story about that: when we were kids, my sister received a plastic alligator as a gift. She would constantly hide it to scare my dad since he scares easily. Jump-worthy spots included under his pillow, in his armoire, and on the floor in the shower. We’re in our 30s now, and my dad still gets startled by that alligator.

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      thank you so much, friend! yes, it didn’t feel stressful at all. it was so much fun 🙂
      loved that alligator story! i’m interested to see how long the iguana thing lasts…

  11. Nicole Kump on October 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Awesome party! Wish I had your hosting talents! Glad your kids had a fun time, and Happy Birthday to Peta from Afghanistan! Glad you’re not here and instead with your family!!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      thank you so much! i had no idea you were out there!! let me know if you miss anything from the states and i can put together a little goodie box for you <3

      • Nicole Kump on October 24, 2017 at 9:22 pm

        Thanks! I just got here about 2 weeks ago. It’s not as bad as my last location, and they have Wi-Fi so I can still read your blog All I miss is almond milk and pita chips

  12. Janice on October 24, 2017 at 11:49 am

    I’d be in recovery for three days after prepping and hosting a party like that yet you make it seem so effortless (and fun). Great job! How have I missed that enchilada recipe? I know you’ve posted it before and it is now on my radar to be made soonest.

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      thank you so much, friend! and yes, you need some enchis in your life 🙂

  13. Jamie @ madrediem on October 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    PLEASE post the queso recipe! My son loves queso but I’m too intimidated to try it and I’d love to be able to make it for him.

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      k i’ll definitely post it!

  14. Amy Ramos on October 24, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Love this!! Happy birthday to the Pilot and happy early birthday to P.
    I now want tacos!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      thank you! it IS taco tuesday, so i think you need some 😉

  15. Mama on October 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Major props. I would be so stressed out trying to plan for that many people. You did an awesome job!!

    • Fitnessista on October 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      thank you so much! surprisingly, it didn’t feel stressful at all. it was a lot of fun to put it together! i think it helped that i took like a month to compile ideas and order things as needed.

      • Mama on October 24, 2017 at 6:49 pm

        Good for you!

  16. Jenn on October 24, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    What a fun birthday! Really inspirational in terms of organization and fun! I may or may not have taken many notes for when the 2nd birthday rolls around in our house 🙂

  17. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on October 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Wow what a spread! My birthday is next week. I feel like I should hire you to do mine. Not sure what the BF has planned. No telling with men! 😉

  18. Emily on October 24, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    #hostessgoals Seriously, well done! Everything looks amazing – you’re my new party planning inspiration 😉 And I love the sentiment behind it — taking care of and celebrating the people we love.

  19. Melissa on October 25, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Agree with everyone else. I rarely comment but this is amazing. I feel like this is your true calling! I also love that it wasn’t super generic or pretentious but was super professsional looking! Love the potted plant idea!

  20. Vanessa on October 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I love the whole spread you did here!!! Amazing and impressive. Definitely what someone else said…… #hostessgoals 🙂

  21. Erika S. on October 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    OMGosh…cooking for so many people would’ve given me so much anxiety…but you planned it perfectly…those fruit cups are calling my name! And…now I’m craving tacos! If you’re ever in the Northern Virginia area you must try Taco Bamba…so, so good!

    When I do parties I I usually make all the food myself and ask my friends to bring bubbly (or wine). I typically will provide a few bottles and make punches too. I take help from the store (i.e. pie crusts) where I can and will usually ask a friend to help me set up. I typically bake and cook most of the food day of so it’s super fresh but do all the prep work in advance (washing, chopping, marinating etc).

    If I’m doing something more casual potluck is the way to go…hahahaha!

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