One Year, BIG Party!
Remy turned one back in May, and we had a party to celebrate the year we all became a family by having a shindig in our neighborhood park. We debated, to have a party, or not to have a party. After running it over and over, it only made sense TO celebrate such a monumental time in all three of our lives as well as invite all the loved ones, friends and family from both sides, who have watched Remy grow and been there to support and love us through it all.
So, here's a few things I learned about throwing a party for a one year old. Remy has a lot of little friends around her age and we were so lucky to have been invited to their parties too! There were park parties, indoor playground parties, recreation center parties, house parties and even a traditional Korean style first birthday at a restaurant. I also did a little research and asked my mommy friends for tips beforehand. Here's a roundup of ideas for if and when you plan to host a party for your babe turning the big O.N.E.!!!
Budget: Whether big or small, start with a budget and stick to it! Ours was small, but even the smallest parties cost something. Between the food, cake, plates and utensils, simple decorations and favors, (our venue was free), we spent about $350. (That does include the two special gifts we bought for her.) Think creatively and smartly on how to borrow items, or reuse what you have. We borrowed two ice buckets to keep the bottled waters and drinks cool. I made the decorations and favors myself, and my talented sister made and bought her smash cakes!
Theme: This isn't a must, but it helps wrangle a million ideas and keeps you focused and on ask, and back to that budget. We called Remy a little lamb in Arabic and she would make the sound, bah-bah, so we naturally came to the idea of a lamb theme. It was also convenient that her birthday came a little after Easter, so I purchased little Lindt lamb chocolates and pastel M&M's front he Easter aisles in April for the thank-yous. The lamb theme also sparked my creativity when it came to decor.
Place: Pick a place that is easy to clean, affordable (or better yet, FREE), kid friendly and FUN for YOUR baby! I know this is one of the hardest parts in deciding on whether or not to have a party. You are inviting so many different guest from all age groups- cousins, friends, children of family and friends, and that doesn't always match up to the likes and interests of babies. A venue or place with different areas or an outdoor space (weather permitting) are best. The party is for your babe of course, but you do have to keep in mind that the little guests coming need occupying and entertaining too.
Decorations: Be crafty! Or, enlist your crafty friends and family to help! I could have purchased tissue pom pom balls to hang from the tents, but instead, I found a YouTube video and figured out how to make them myself! About twelve sheets of tissue paper, some string and voila! I used a lot of tissue I had, I save wrapping from everything, and I purchased a few packs of tissue paper from Target. For favors for the kids, I purchased bubbles, and then made pom pom lambs for the tops. I placed them in a basket, purchased at the thrift store, added green tissue paper, for grass, and placed near the drinks for the kids to grab and have fun with. I decided last minute to make fresh floral arrangements for the couple of tables we had set up when I was at Sprouts and spotted the loveliest sunflowers and tulips! I had a ton of glass jars, another thing I hoard, and I added fabric and ribbon and made the same pom pom sheep, glued them onto Starbucks coffee stir sticks and stuck in the arrangements. I only bought three bouquets I think, and I mixed them up and added fresh lilac and those snowball blooms from our back yard to fill out the bunches. At the end of the party, I gave these vases away to Remy's grandmothers and aunts as a special thank you. The thank you favors for friends were the lamb Lindt chocolates in cellophane baggies, which I had, with a note that said, "Thank Ewe" and a few pastel M&M's thrown in. I bought the candy and the twine, from the dollar bin at Target, but I had the stationary and the baggies. I bought pink and yellow party plates and napkins from the Spritz line at Target. You get way more than you would at the dollar store, and by the time I had the party, they were on clearance. I had a few pink tablecloths from my baby shower, but I did buy one pink and white polka dot tablecloth from Safeway for $5. The cake stands were made by my talented sister and mom for my baby shower, and I borrowed them for this party. The little lamb cake toppers were made of clay, made by talented sister! I made the flag banners on the cakes with fabric scraps I had and glued them to those wooden Starbucks coffee stir sticks. I also made Remy's flag banner for her high chair. My ester maser her party hat! They sell for about $16-$20 on Etsy! My sis is so talented...
Food and Drink: We decided to go cheap on the food since we had a park venue, and a ton of kids and family, and decided on pizza. You can get a whole pizza from Little Ceasar's for $5 and have them cut it "party style" to maximize the slices. We bought bottled water and sparkling orange and lemon waters. My brother and his wife actually brought a ton of chips and dip and soda which was really sweet and rounded out the table of snacks! Not the healthiest, but who says parties have to be granola?!
Cake: We decided to order a few smaller cakes from Wjole Foods. We ended up getting the Tiramisu which tasted delicious at the time, to us anyway, but looking back it might have been too unique a flavor for most. Not sure, but to be safe maybe stick to a classic vanilla or chocolate. My sister made Remy's lamb smash cake and was really sweet and bought another cake from King Soopers in case we ran out of the other three. Guess what, we had more than enough cake! We had TWO whole cakes left over! What a waste! Next time, I will order less cake. Seems like babies and kiddos share with their parents.
Entertainment: This can be tied into the venue. I had bubbles and the playground at a park to keep kiddos occupied! I didn't have music, but I think the chitter chatter between friends and family meant they were all having a great time without it. A balloon artist would have been fun, or a face painter, but these are costly. So consider your budget! Another place with built-in entertainment could be a local swimming pool or indoor play space like Monkey Bizness. If your party falls in winter, indoor games and themes like camping, slumber parties, candy land, or arts and crafts are all fun. I saw an adorable sledding party theme on a blog that was held in the middle of winter in Canada, complete with a hot cocoa station at the top of the hill and red and black checkered cake!
Guests: This one is tricky. I originally thought it would be nice to just have a little park playdate with her baby friends and their mommies, but then who are we kidding?! Not inviting Tete and Nana and the aunts and uncles that we are so fortunate to have in town?! We of course both have large families, so this naturally made our party a little larger, but that didm;t stop us from wanting to invite all of our friends and family friends who have shared in the joy of parenting with us! You could have smaller groupings of people but then that would mean more planning and more parties. We decided it was best to do one big party.
Party Planning for a Baby: Plan the party at a time that is just after a nap so they are fresh. No matter what time slot you give this party, you will most likely go over. You can't exactly kick people out of the park or your home, so be prepared to handle a fussy baby who is tired, or have a plan to escape with the guest of honor to whisk them off to a quiet corner to nap. Luckily, Remy was a total trooper and she actually did not nap at all this day. I tried to have my mom put her down while we were setting up at the park, but she never went down! I rushed home to get her in her party dress, nursed her and brought her to the park at 11 am and we didn't get home until after 3 pm! Not a single meltdown! This is not always the case, I understand. So have a stroller, a pack-n-play in the corner, or a blanket or some plan for napping. Have a bottle of water. If they are still nursing, wear your nursing clothes and have your cover ready to go or have your formula bottles ready. If baby is on solids, bring baby food! Remy was not eating the pizza we served, so I brought her baby food in a Tupperware and fed her as needed. Plan for diaper changes and teething. One year old birthdays also coincide with a nasty teething schedule. Teething tablets and Baby Orajel were at the ready! Have backup clothing and wipes or wet wash cloths for cleanup for after the smash cake. I brought a couple wet wash cloths in a Ziploc freezer bag and had wipes. Baby toys and tethers to occupy, and sunscreen and sun hats if outdoors. HIGH CHAIR! Bring your high chair to the venue! Needs no explaining. Have someone else take photos!!! You will be WAY too busy toting baby around and still caring for them the entire time while managing to keep the party flowing and engaging with guests, you will inevitably forget to get a pic of you and the baby! Try to take the photo of you and baby and family BEFORE the party drags on too long. We knew this going in, but it still didm;t happen! We took a photo of all three of us AFTER the smash cake. Ideally, get a few of you all early on.
In the end, we all had such a great GREAT day showering Remy with love and celebration for her first year of life. We adore her beyond words and measure and I don't regret for one second at all that we had this party for her. We won't do such an elaborate party every year, but one is BIG! We want to thank all of our family and friends who helped us with the party, and have supported us and loved Remy whole heartedly. We are so blessed, Remy is so fortunate to have so so many people around her that care so much!
Please feel free to add in the comments any tips you may have for for hosting, planning or throwing a birthday for a one year old!