It’s my party and I’ll try if I want to

How to host a one-year-old’s birthday party successfully

Holly's party 1

Last Friday was my gorgeous baby girl’s first birthday *sob* – she’s growing up so fast! Just before she was born, I had this quaint picture in my head of what her first few birthdays should look like: mommy would be at home unwrapping presents with her baby, baking goodies in the kitchen, assembling party packs and generally being Nigella and Martha-esque. I wanted to be able to give my baby the kind of birthday and party I always had when I was little. And, on the whole, things pretty much went the way they were meant to go, so I thought I’d share my tips and plans with you.

Owl1I decided on an owl theme for her party because she (read: I) loves owls. I found that having a theme helped guide me in terms of cake, decorations, party packs and gifts (she’s going to have an owl-themed bedroom in our new house). Fortunately, the whole woodland creatures theme is on trend at the moment and everything is easily available. Tip: Pick a theme with easily available goodies. I recommend steering clear of characters that have gone out of fashion years ago like Popeye or Betty Boop. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to find decorations and things.

Paper lantern owl

Paper lantern owl

Because I work full time, I started making decorations and party packs in the evenings a couple of weeks before the party. I’m not terribly good at crafts and my Mister often had to rescue me from the dark recesses of glue-and-glitter hell and finish off my crafts (that picture certainly didn’t match up to what was in my head!). Tip: Don’t make decorations if you’re not very ‘crafty’. I was a little more successful with my party packs: I bought little party boxes from a toy shop that was having a sale and put stickers, a little chocolate, a soft sweet and a toy inside. I decorated the outside with a little picture of an owl so I didn’t have to pay a fortune for themed party packs but the boxes were too small for a packet of chips (party-pack fail). Tip: make sure your party packs are big enough to contain what you want to pack into them!

Check out essentials.co.za for more fab cake recipes.

Check out essentials.co.za for more fab cake recipes.

 I asked people I’d invited to the party to help me out with food and things. My mother and mom-in-law helped out with making sandwiches, quiches, sausage rolls, mini meatballs and the soup (it was freezing cold!). And I asked my sister-in-law, who is a magician with baking, to make Holly a cake. It was amazing AND delicious. I was really lucky because buying a birthday cake can really eat into your budget. Tip: Don’t make too much food (I had heaps left over) and rope in people you know to help with snacks.

I’m really fortunate to work with very talented people and I asked Tahra, our art director to be the photographer. She took the most amazing photos and I didn’t have to worry about missing out on the party while running trying to capture those special moments! Tip: Ask someone else to take photos so you can be entirely present at your child’s party.

Park

Because we’re still waiting to move into our new house (read my blog post Early Retirement from February 2013 for context) and are currently staying in a retirement village with my mother-in-law, we had to look for a venue to hold the party. Ideally I would have liked to have had the party in my own house, in my new garden with our covered patio and my own kitchen but life throws these little challenges at us to make us stronger (serious first world problems, I know). So we decided on Delta Park. It’s really lovely there: there’s a children’s play area and swathes of rolling lawn for the kids to run around and exhaust themselves. Tip: We have some amazing free resources and venues in this country. Do a little research before you hire a kids’ party venue. It may take a little more preparation, but it can also save you a bundle.

And finally, try to enjoy yourself. A first birthday party is really for the parents and family – your baba is not going to remember it and is happy rolling around on the lawn, eating leaves and tearing up wrapping paper.

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