Little Italy Party

Nella’s birthday is Wednesday, but we had a little Italy party over the weekend, the theme prompted by her love of spaghetti.

With beloved little friends and piles of meatballs, we celebrated four amazing years and all the good to come.

Party Snippets:

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Spaghetti cupcakes from Hello, Cupcake cookbook (it’s vanilla frosting piped as noodles, Ferraro Rocher candy balls rolled in low-sugar strawberry preserves and white chocolate “parmesan” shavings

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Dash slept through the entire party and showed up just in time to tear the sign down at the end.

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A few party details if you’re interested in throwing your own version of an Italian party:

Favors: Make Your Own Pizza Kits filled with small jars of sauce (jars from Michael’s) and sandwich bags of mozzarella, dough and pepperoni  (paper bags and striped paper liner also from Michael’s, label created and printed at home)

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Decorate a Pizza Cookie: We baked big round sugar cookies for each child to decorate.  Small pizza boxes are from Oriental Trading.  Pizza toppings: red frosting, white chocolate shavings, mini M&M’s and gummy candy

Pin the Meatballs on the Spaghetti:  Draw a big bowl of noodles on foam core board and a separate pile of meatballs on red card stock.

Other Items: Italian Menu Board, Italy flag napkins, Italian flag toothpicks, mini Italian stick flags

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Sharing more on celebrating 4 years later this week.  Thank you to all who have recognized the efforts of the NDSS by contributing to Pay It 4Ward and for your continued commitment to recognizing both the abilities and needs of those with Down syndrome.

I was reminded after Nella’s party of something I wrote shortly after Nella was born–a raw beginner’s reaction to the Welcome to Holland poem regarding special needs: “there is no law that says I can’t get out of Holland and if the planes out are halted and I want to go to Italy, I’ll take these damn wooden shoes, smash them into splinters and use the wood to build a dingy on which I will paddle through the English Channel, so help me God, with Nella and Lainey strapped to my back until I land in Italy. And I will eat gelato and take pictures of the Roman Cathedrals and, by Golly, I will write the map of Italian tourism if I so choose.”

We love Holland.  We twirl in tulip fields and dance in wooden shoes.  But we ate gelato this weekend and created our own little Italy too. I’m just sayin’.


Leave a Comment
  1. Beautiful! Love all the attention to details that you put into your children’s parties. Been following you since your story appeared in AOL, almost four years ago. Time flies! Thank you for sharing your life with this little place called the internet!

  2. What an awesome theme for a birthday party! SO MUCH FUN!!!

  3. That 4th picture is so precious! Happy birthday to Nella. She is beautiful!

  4. That 4th picture is so precious! Happy birthday to Nella. She is beautiful!

  5. That looks like a fun idea. Was it messy? I have the advantage of summer babies, I could do it outdoors 😛

  6. Oh goodness – what a sweet party! I love that the fam was all dressed in stripes for the party :o)

  7. I LOVE THIS! Happy happy 4th birthday to beautiful Nella. Your parties look like such fun. All my boys have birthdays right close together (3-24, 3-25, 4-24), so we usually do a big group (family) party, but the oldest is now in 2nd grade & we’ve had a separate “friends” party for him, usually at the YMCA so they can play off all their energy. (Wow, what a run-on sentence.)
    Those cupcakes seriously look like spaghetti. I had to squint to see that they weren’t.
    Thanks again for sharing my IG picture last week, and for your kind words on IG & Twitter. I’m dusting off my wooden shoes and not feeling too bad about it. <3

  8. What a sweet birthday party idea. I am usually overwhelmed by themed birthday parties; we are more of a low-key birthday party-throwing crowd. It seems so many of them look over-the-top and expensive to boot, as well as time intensive, but this looked totally do-able and cute. Plus at the age of 4, kids are actually appreciating the little details. And what kid doesn’t love to make their own pizza/cookie?!

    The cupcakes were beyond adorable! I had to take a second look to see that they were in fact cupcakes!

  9. Thank you…thank you! We recently just received diagnoses for one of our boys and your authenticity has been refreshing! I am so thankful I just happened to come across your beautiful photography and was able to read about your story. I went right away and got your book from the library. Thank you Kelle!

  10. Love your party details!! Such a special celebration!!

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  12. I’ve never taken the time to comment on someone’s blog before, but I just feel compelled to tell you that I LOVE you attitude toward life and your heart towards your children and how you really do celebrate the small things. All 3 of your children are just beautiful and it is such a pleasure to read about your adventures with them. Your pictures are gorgeous and I marvel at how you embrace life. Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom with us. I wish you all the best.

  13. Such a fun party theme! Love Nella’s fashion-plate pout, and the note about Dash. So funny. Happy Birthday Nella!

  14. That picture of Nella with the sauce is so like her mama. Little bit sassy and having fun. :) Love it!

  15. What an adorable and unique party theme! Love it!!

  16. Kelle….
    I am supposed to be writing. Working. Not reading/commenting on this Blog!! But I’ve been absent from it because I strained my right knee eight days ago. I am slowly yet surely in recovery…. 😉
    Those spaghetti cupcakes!! As a writer–unpublished–I spend lots of time describing things. I have one word. Wow. Plus three more. I. Want. One!! ;-D
    “‘there is no law that says I can’t get out of Holland and if the planes out are halted and I want to go to Italy, I’ll take these damn wooden shoes, smash them into splinters and use the wood to build a dingy on which I will paddle through the English Channel, so help me God, with Nella and Lainey strapped to my back until I land in Italy. And I will eat gelato and take pictures of the Roman Cathedrals and, by Golly, I will write the map of Italian tourism if I so choose.’.” Very good!! 😉

  17. What a fabulous, original party! Kelle you ought to consider having a party planning consulting gig on the side…is there no end to your creativity!! The kids must have had a fabulous time. Love Dash’s finale entrance lol!

  18. My goodness, how cute! I’ll definitely be trying those darling spaghetti cupcakes in the future!

  19. The details, the analogies…just awesome.

  20. So fantastic, creative and cool. I hope Nella had a blast and that her fourth birthday is a lovely one! And yes, those spaghetti cupcakes are totally awesome. :) I received Hello, Cupcake a few years back but have never fancied myself the creative type with food . . . hmm. You’ve inspired me!

  21. I love this whole little party! And the pizza bag idea is adorable! :)

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  23. Happy Birthday Nella! What a beautiful celebration for a beautiful little girl. :)

  24. I feel like the party was equally inspired by your love of all things striped! :) Love love love it!

  25. Nella and I share a birthday, so Happy Birthday Nella! You picked a great day to be born. I have enjoyed it for 53 years!

    She is just adorable and what a wonderful party!



  26. I really love everything you do for your kid’s birthday’s. It inspires me to pick up on it whenever my son gets a little older. Although I do not have the creativity level as you, I can swing something! It is very creative how you come up with all these every year. I envy it. Great job! By the way, Dash is adorable.

  27. I admire your creativity!! What a cute party idea! THIS should be your next book: all of your creative and awesome entertaining ideas! :)

  28. LOVE – especially those cute pizza cookies. I’ve never seen that, but so cute for the kids! Another beautiful party – thanks for sharing. I love the grace in which you rock & radiate happiness :)
    Tejas hugs,

  29. AWESOME PARTY!!! Cannot believe “our” Nella is 4 years old! (hey, some of us have been here since BEFORE her birth!) – she has grown into such a beautiful, amazing, happy little girl. Thank you, Kelle & Brett, for sharing her with us. I just can’t seem to get enough of her – love the picture of her posing after finishing off a plate of spaghetti! :-)

  30. Your parties are so incredible!!

  31. Another great party. Happy Birthday Nella. I like the sassy picture of her. I can’t believe that Dash slept through the whole party. Love all your ideas.

  32. What an adorable party theme! I LOVE Nella’s cute spaghetti face!

  33. What a great party!! You are so talented in the creativity department!! Nella is such a sweetheart, Happy Birthday Nella!!

  34. Brilliant idea for a party! How fun!!

  35. You never fail to amaze me with your birthday party ideas. This is so cool – I think you could write a book on all the kids parties you’ve done so far! Love it and your family!

    Cheers – Joolz xx

  36. Oh my gosh those spaghetti cupcakes are incredible! Congrats on reaching this milestone. My friends adorable daughter who has Down syndrome is turning four this month too. I just lent her my copy of Bloom and she’s hooked! Keep on inspiring people with ur positive attitude and creativity!

  37. Longtime reader…never commented before.

    You are sickening. Your exploitation of your child’s disability for your family’s financial gain is abhorrent. I would go into detail but my comment will be deleted so quickly that it is not worth the time.

  38. Nella’s hair is getting so long! Beautiful pictures. Glad you all had fun celebrating. Weather looks gorgeous over there. We had a whoppin’ high of about 55 degrees yesterday and it was glorious. Back down to, ah you know, 6 degrees today. Brrrr! Happy early birthday sweet girl!

  39. I love this theme and all the details; the cupcakes, the pin-the-meatballs-on-the-spaghetti, the menu sign, it’s perfection! Happy 4th Birthday Nella!

  40. Again you have amazed me in more ways than one, love all the photos, love the birthday party ideas, most of all LOVE that Nella’s turned 4 and she looked just as Beautiful as ever. One lucky girl and one lucky family to have each other. Happy Birthday Nella, can not wait to help you celebrate each and every one yet to come.

  41. As a new mama of a child with DS (our son was born in November and diagnosed at birth too), I just have to say thank you for your comments on the “Welcome to Holland” story. I couldn’t agree more! Why not still Italy?? Thanks for your inspiration. You give me hope.

  42. I love this idea! Looks like it was a huge success! I love the picture of you and Nella blowing out her candles. So sweet!

  43. Beautiful party to celebrate Nella!! Love those cupcakes! So cute!

  44. You have the cutest ideas for birthday parties. So cute. First pic of Nella, adorable. Dash looks quite proud of himself of tearing down the sign. Ha!!!

  45. girl of my own heart :). awesome birthday party

  46. So, so sweet. Happy Birthday all around. Favorite photo is Nella slurping up noodles. So beautiful.

  47. I am amazed at your creativity!!

  48. Kelle, when I first saw that you chose an Italian theme for Nella’s birthday, I immediately thought of what you said about Italy re: Holland. What a wonderful party–happy birthday to Nella and to You! xo

  49. Awesome party! So unique, just like you and your precious family! Great job! Happy birthday, Nella!

  50. Nice! Happy birthday from actual Italy!

  51. So super cute – and ORIGINAL! Happy Birthday to Nella. 4 is the cutest age ever. enjoy it!! :)

  52. You are the queen of throwing amazing parties. This one takes the cake! How creative!! So different and unique…I stand in awe of you today. :)

  53. I’m just saying…Brilliant…

  54. Beautiful as always. And…..I just can’t believe little Dash will be one in just a few short weeks.

  55. Love and acceptance is the passport. You’ve got enough to go wherever you want.

  56. The comments aren’t working on your sweet “Zip, Zap, Zop” post! I just wanted to leave a comment and couldn’t, wanted to let you know in case you don’t already know!! Happy birthday to precious Nella!!

  57. I love this! So sweet :)

    My little man also loves spaghetti and is turning six, maybe I can add some mobster to his party though, LOL.

  58. You are incredibly creative and talented! What a great theme and everything is so well done. I may come up with a unique idea on occasion, but then it never comes out as well as I imagine. Thanks for the inspiration to keep trying!

  59. Your reading comprehension skills are so below average that I sincerely hope you never go back into the teaching profession. You obviously do not understand what “Welcome to Holland” is about. Holland represents being parent to a child with special needs. That’s you. You are so dense. You will never be in Italy. You can’t be as long as you have Nella, so get the fuck over it.
    I know you have’t accepted that Nella has Down Syndrome. It’s mind boggling how these bored stay at home moms find you to be inspiring. What have you done that is of any value. You had a healthy kid with DS and nothing else. You ask people to donate to the NDSS, while you sit on your ass taking pictures of your feet. What do you give?
    It’s sad how people look up to someone that can’t accept their child for who she is, doesn’t give their kids any privacy, sacrifices their children’s safety for a buck, posts inappropriate pictures of their daughter on IG (you should have had her taken away from you), uses their daughter’s diagnosis to get cash, and is so obviously narcissistic and fucked up that she shouldn’t have been allowed to breed in the first place.
    You, Kelle Hampton, are a disappointment in the eyes of all of us SANE mothers of children with SN. You’ll realize very soon how difficult it will be and quite frankly I don’t believe you could handle it. Hopefully Brett or your nannies have a brain in their head and aren’t deluded enough to think that if you ignore that she has Down Syndrome that it will go away.

  60. Jessica’s comment made me giggle. I cared for a child for over 7 years who is completely non-communicative, will always be in diapers, and shuffles tiny steps instead of walking. That little boy has been on family vacations to 5 continents and over 15 countries (including Italy). The family takes no nannies with them, they just pack a few extra things to help keep him happy. So don’t worry, Italy is well within anyone’s reach. You want it, you’ll make it happen.

    To your credit, it must take a lot of talent to both exploit your child with special needs while also somehow ignoring it completely. Clearly, Jessica and Tracey both believe that what the world needs is more people keeping their personal stories to themselves and sharing nothing, ESPECIALLY if it helps you provide for your kids in some small way. It goes without saying that nothing brings about real change like silence and self-pity (well, maybe trolling blogs on the internet, but that is it!).

    Kelle, you produced 3 totally beautiful kids who will no doubt continue your legacy of making the best in difficult situations and not allowing others to dictate your limitations…and I for one hope they inherit your nice feet because I never had such luck!

    Keep blogging and writing those books! Your optimism is totally infectious! : )

  61. It’s funny how all the haters criticizing Kelle’s blog seem to know a lot about Kelle’s family, children, photos, feelings and everyday life. They obviously read and absorb everything written here in order to spit out their hatred. They were not invited nor forced to visit here yet they can’t seem to pry them self away. They are consumed with so much hate, jealousy and bitterness at their lot in life that the only release they seem to get from their miserable lives is to go on the attack here and use foul language..always a sign of poor communication skills. We are laughing at all the misfits, catty, crazy, anonymous trolls who obviously never learned how to love or enjoy life. Typical bullies feel empowered with their acid tongues. Attacking Kelle here will not change one iota of your miserable existence so best to move on if this place adds to your misery. Bye, bye and good riddance! Kelle…carry on!

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  63. And spouting the same “you’re jealous” bullshit won’t do anything either. The only reason any of you say that her criticizers are jealous is because YOU envy her. You obviously think that there is something in her life to envy. How sad. Can you not see how fake she is? Open your fucking eyes. Admiring her just shows how much of a mindless sheep you are.

  64. I’m the mother of a SN child, and while I advocate for my own child (getting her the help she needs), I don’t raise awareness or money, so I’m doing less than Kelle (who has raised quite a bit). I don’t think there is anything wrong with just existing and enjoying and raising your child. There is no hard rule that says you have to do things a certain way just because you have a SN child. To me my daughter is just my daughter.

  65. My brother has DS and he has always love spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread. In the last year or so he has developed a love of spaghetti and meatballs and really likes to cook it. That looks like a fun party and I love those cupcakes. Happy Birthday beautiful Nella!

  66. Happy Birthday Nella :) !!! Beautiful party!!…. Ti dico un “segreto” da italiana…in Italia non esistono gli spaghetti con le polpette :) ! Kisses

  67. Happy Birthday sweet Nella :)

  68. Happiness breeds more happiness with some hope mixed in.
    Misery breeds more misery with some stagnant bitterness mixed in.
    I choose happiness.

  69. Kelle, I understood what you were trying to say about the Holland poem and how nothing has to keep you in Holland and away from Italy. You weren’t being literal but instead you were saying that just because Nella is all Holland she can grow up in Italy and be in Italy (be and do the typical things that typical children do even if it’s at her own pace). So you are going to take her there and you certainly have. Just like I landed in Italy not Holland when my daughter with DS was born, even though I love the Holland poem. I know you are aware of the challenges that Nella will face because you have said it in the past, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t live a perfectly normal life at her own pace. That does not make you delusional, it makes you a good mother. We encourage our children to achieve higher and if they don’t or can’t that’s okay. So you keep on living in Italy and those of us who are not filled with anger will understand what you are saying. Thank you for raising money for DS. My daughter and other kids with DS will benefit from the money you and others who do fundraisers raise. A lot or a little does not make a difference, every bit helps. If people who do a little bit to help were to be discouraged because of all the critcism they receive for doing something special, our kids would be the ones who pay going forward. All the best on Nella’s happy Birthday and best wishes from one mom of a child with special needs to another.

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  71. Oh me oh my… I LOVE your parties. They are always so simply beautiful, tailored perfectly for your babies. I wanted to comment on Zip, Zap, Zop, and thank you for writing that. I swear when you write about Lainey, I am reading a story about my own 5 year old blondie. My husband and I don’t always see eye to eye on tough love. I always want to scoop up my girls, tell them how perfect they are, and tell whatever is causing them tears, to suck it. I just want them to feel protected forever, but I know they need to learn these things. Thanks for sharing how you help Lainey through tough times. Lucky gal, she is!

  72. Kelle,
    You are awesome. Let the haters hate. Be like Beyoncé and wake up in the morning and “shake haters off.” I know you are a pro at this as I have searched your blog from time to time to get your advice on how exactly to NOT let this kind of stuff bother you.

    Ahem. Anyway, Nella’s party was awesome!!! Such great ideas!!! Nella is beautiful and I am so glad that you’ve “shared” her with us. You have given me a window into Down syndrome that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and I find you and your family to be inspiring. I come here to breath in your positive vibes and you never let me down.

    I went back and read the “Welcome to Holland” poem. One could have written the same poem adoption, about accepting the fact that your body won’t allow you (read ME) to have a successful pregnancy and experience childbirth. I would have read that and thought, “Really? This clearly is not my destination. I think I’ll take a luxury cruise liner around the continent and enjoy this crazy, if turbulent at times ride!” My journey as a mother has been more spectacular than I could have ever imagined and I am so glad I didn’t let the change in plans get the best of me. I would have missed out on the most special, amazing and rewarding journey of my life.

    Basically, what I’m saying is that I agree with you wholeheartedly. You are awesome.

  73. Poems are pieces of art that are meant to be interpreted by the reader in a way that will touch their hearts and open their minds. Kelle’s interpretation isn’t ignorant. She fell in love with Holland and wears her beautiful, intricately carved wooden shoes through Italy with pride. I love you Kell.
    Brooklyn Dorothy.

  74. Some people need CHILL PILLS. Sheesh.

    Your parties always look beautiful, Kelle! I noticed this party seems more low-key than Lainey’s and I love that, because I remember you once mentioning that Nella isn’t too big on large crowds. You obviously care about your babies a lot and do everything you can to create special memories for them.

    I think those that leave mean comments on here really misunderstand your perspective, and it’s a shame. I hope you can continue to ignore them by remembering that you have lots of fans that LOVE your blog! :)

  75. This party is simply original, detailed beautifully and most of all fun for Nella and her friends. I think what others who are reacting to this post need to remember that it’s about the child, not the business or the brand or the pinable moments. You do these parties out of an enormous love for each one of your children. Nella is blessed as are you.

    Happy birthday Nella girl.

  76. I am just OBSESSED with this party idea and all the brilliant details. OMG Kellie you have outdone yourself. There’s simplicity to it, but also the cutest most original details. WOW!!!!!

  77. Cute party idea! I remember reading your post about Holland shortly after my daughter was born with Down syndrome. I could completely relate to it! I loved that you created Italy for her party :). Happy Birthday Nella!!

  78. Kelle,what’s your fave Bon Iver track? I don’t know much about them but I love the songs that I have heard. Good band,dreamy music :-) x

  79. Sooo cool

  80. Jessica and Tracey – Does being cyber bullies help you sleep better at night? Didn’t your parents ever teach you that if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all?

    Beautiful party, Kelle! Thanks for sharing.

  81. What a fantastic theme! I love the attention to detail. The kids must have had a ball! Thanks for sharing!!

  82. I am a longtime reader and I have always found your blog to be heartfelt and honest. There will always be haters, especially in the cyber world, but just remember the good always outweighs the bad.

    Oh and I love Nella’s birthday theme, so sweet. I am always inspired by your creativity. :-)

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