Birthday Breakdown

26 Mar

Invitation-5x7-Penguin-LexiMarie1 2

I think along the road during the first year of your child’s life there are so many decisions to be made for your little one.  From the very hard (work vs. stay at home) to the easy (what she should wear today).  Everyday I am making decisions for my daughter and one of the decisions that we made for her is to have a big celebration(s) for her first birthday.  Now that the celebrations are over I can see the upside to have a small gathering with cake and some pizza and maybe inviting the grandparents for their birthday (nice, low key and easy).  I think our mentality all along this first year is the more the merrier.   We have invited so many people to watch our child grow through weekend visits, Facebook, monthly emails, vacations, etc that it didn’t seem to fit our family to not include all of friends and family to celebrate her first birthday.  After we made the decision to have a bigger party we quickly realized that in order for us to accomplish this we needed to split up the parties for our family (one party for my family and one for the hub’s family).  This will not be the case for all parties, but for her first birthday and the size of the parties we felt this fit was good for us.  (If we could have made one party work I think this is the route to go because two parties just adds double the planning, double the budget and double the stress).  When I was looking at first birthday parties I found a ton of pictures, but not a ton of information to go along with pictures of what to do/not to do for a first birthday.  I learned so much and the next time we have a birthday bash come our way we will be better prepared!  This post is a longgggg post so if you don’t care about the details of a first birthday party feel free to gaze at the birthday snapshots instead.  If you love the details then keep on reading!

The initial steps we took for the celebrations were: Pick a theme (penguins!), create the guest list, ask families if we could host at the grandparents house, and make a to-do list.  Two of my pre-planning errors were (1) I obsessed over Pinterest too much to try to find inspiration for the details of the party (2) because I scoured Pinterest I found myself getting stuck and not purchasing items early enough in fear I would find something bigger and better

Breakdown: Decorations

   as she customized all the decorations in the colors I was looking for and did a fantastic job on the invite above.  She was so easy to work with and really quick to respond any time I was having issues opening up a file.  She helped create the theme and make everything look so cohesive!  The decorations were a big hit and that had a ton to do with her printables! Other decorations were from Iparty, Target, and Michaels to help create the festive party theme! Things I was glad I bought for decorations: Balloons, printables, streamers, festive buckets for forks/knives/other food items, banners.  Items I could have done without: cake topper (one ended up coming with cake–but a great 1 year birthday keepsake!), tissue paper lanterns, festive paper plates (could have done with just plain paper plates), and 1st birthday cut outs for walls and table.

Breakdown: Kid Friendly Items (non food)

We didn’t have a ton of kids for the first party and we had more kids for the second party, but hearing from others it is nice to have something for the kids.  For the first party we had printable sheets that were penguin themed (thanks Sara for the idea!) and I didn’t think it would really be a hit–but it was!! It wasn’t anything too intricate, but kept the couple of kids occupied while the adults were chatting in the living room and it wasn’t messy.  Even Lexi enjoyed coloring the penguins! For the second party it was at a house that a kid lived in and so there were tons of crafts to do (on top of the printables) and a kitchen set area and other items that the kids could play with.  I think the blog Young House Love talked about having items out to play with that a large group could play with rather than just a select few and I agree! The kids first found the bouncey ball thing (no clue what it was called) and there was only two and instantly became the thing everyone wanted, but didn’t have enough of.  I will be keeping this in mind for future parties.  I also made a lot of thought into the party favors and an expense that really added up very quickly.  I made the penguin bags to go with the theme, which was really fun!  I made bowties for the boys and pink glitter bows for the girls.  Inside the big ticket item was penguin cake pops  , rockstar glasses, and tattoos.  I also had skeleton note pad, penguin marker, animal stamps, tiara for the girls, bracelets for girls, and a couple of other items.  This area of the party can add up quickly so next time I will be a little more strategic with my favors. Items I could have done without: penguin cake pops, smaller bags to have less to fill up.    if I kept cake pops for future parties I would use the penguin cake pops as part of the desserts rather than in favor bags as they would have been cute to display and adds another option for dessert.

Breakdown: Kid Friendly Items (food)

As far as kid friendly food we got mini cups to put snacks for the kids to eat (goldfish, cookies, pretzels, fun fruits) and so this was more manageable for kids (and their parents) then just shoving their hands into big bowls of potato chips.  We also did fruit on a stick (bananas and strawberries) and they were a huge hit at the first party (second party they were placed off to the side so people didn’t know they were there).  I might do a different fruit other than bananas as they turned quicker than I wanted, but overall a huge success having kid friendly items.  We also did pizza and subway sandwiches that were easier for kids and gave a healthy/non healthy option for the parents to choose from.   Items I could have done without: cupcakes, salad at one party, smash birthday cake, and chex mix.  Cupcakes I thought would be more kid friendly and everyone wanted the cake! My mom said that no one really would eat the salad at her party and I said no we needed it and she was right as no one ate it (moms are always right!).  Smash birthday cake was a disaster at my mom’s as she was just overwhelmed by an entire cake and cried and cried and cried.  Giving her a big slice of cake at the other parties went off so much better (and better for our pockets!). We also did a strawberry shortcake dessert on her actual birthday and that went over SO WELL and was a little healthier option than cake. Another miss was we tried to put out a different type of snack besides potato chips and pretzels and we went with Chex Mix and no one really touched it at both parties.


Breakdown: Slideshow/Pictures

I love taking pictures all year long of Lexi and so I knew that I wanted to have some memories surrounding her birthday.  I procrastinated this a bit and so in the end didn’t do as much as I wanted with pictures–but enough to make it sappy/memorable. I put up the monthly photos that she took with Mr. Giraffe (stuff animal giraffe)  on ribbon that people could look at through the months how she had grown.  I sent these in an email and so most people at the party had seen the pictures, but it was fun to see them all in a row! The big hit was the slideshow that I started with my monthly pregnant pictures and then birth and through the months.  It was 20 minutes long that I made through IMovie and I worried people wouldn’t want to sit through a slideshow that was that long–but people indulged this momma and watched the video!  This video took foreverrrr for me to make and so I could have cut down this time if I made a folder of pictures I wanted to use for the slideshow in advance. We timed it for after cake and when people were eating dessert and it worked out really great and didn’t drag as I think 20 minutes was a good amount.  It is a keepsake that I will love forever and will give a copy to Lexi one day and it was one of the major things I wanted to do for her birthday.  I wanted to make a book to show at the birthday party, but I really wanted her 12 month photos to be in the book and that couldn’t happen with print and shipping time.  I am glad that I waited and could put a little more time into the book.  Items I could have done without: nothing for this category.  Just enough.

Breakdown: Desserts

For one of the parties I had adult favors of gourmet popcorn, which was a huge hit–but I think it would have been great to be out with the potato chips and such so people could try it out at the party. (we did S’mores and Chi town flavors)  It could even have been put out with the dessert in case people weren’t really into cakes.   It was unique to the party! Like I said previously we had cupcakes there, which we didn’t need as the cake was enough for both the adults and the kids.  I think this one though I totally miscalculated based on who was coming.  My family isn’t huge on desserts and so the cake was mostly wasted and individuals enjoyed more of the lunch items and the opposite is true for the hub’s family.  Same size cake and we almost ran out of cake at the second party AND we had ice cream! I think desserts depending on the crowd needs to be adjusted for the people who are coming.  Do most people take cake at your family parties? Most say no? Most want to nibble on cookies or other desserts? I did the food/desserts all the same for both parties for ease, but I think if I could do it again I would have customized it a little bit more for the crowds we were feeding. More variety in desserts I think.  Lesson learned, but all were fed and happy.  Items I could have done without: cupcakes, cupcake fondant toppers, and gourmet popcorn (nice bonus but certainly not needed).


Breakdown: Her Outfits

One of the bigger stresses about the party was what she was going to wear.  Do I do the big birthday party dress or a tutu with a shirt that goes along with the theme? I thought a long time about this and if I should have a different outfit for each party, etc.  Big life decisions, right? So in the end I went with doing a tutu, with a shirt that had a penguin in her theme colors with the pink bow in the hair like the invite. Actually an old high school friend has a business called LuLu Bella Children’s Boutique so I contacted her and she did an awesome job! Since I couldn’t decide I had about 3 weeks prior to her first party to get this custom made and she did it all in that time frame and it arrived early! Well made tutu and shirts! Loved it all!  I decided on the same tutu for both outfits, but different shirt (one in pink and one in white) because I was afraid she would get the shirt stained with cake and not be able to wear it the following weekend.  IT WAS A GREAT CHOICE!! I loved her outfits and how she looked with a tutu! She looked so festive and really went with the theme! I bought black fancy shoes for the birthday parties, but they arrived and didn’t fit so we went with her puma sneakers.  Blessing in disguise as she was running around and it was nice she wasn’t breaking in new shoes on the day of her parties.  I also bought a crochet hair band to go along with her outfits.  She didn’t wear it all the time, but when she did it looked fabulous!  For a bonus I knew that by the end of the party she might want to change or if he outfit was a mess from the cake and so at Carters I got her a penguin outfit that went along with the theme as well seen here! She ended up needing the outfit for one of the parties and people loved she continued to be dressed in the theme.  oh the little things in life…

The parties overall were a huge success since they were the first ones that I had ever planned from start to finish and she had a big smile on her face (for the most part!).   The weather cooperated through all of the New England storms that we had and everyone was able to enjoy themselves and celebrate Lexi. Did we go overboard? Yes, surely we did.  Did she love it though? YES! YES! YES! Did I love planning all the cute little details? OF COURSE!!! I would certainly do the parties all over again for her, but I am much looking forward to a laid back (and one party) approach for her 2nd birthday!   Two of my day of party errors were (1) getting to the houses late the night before therefore waiting until the morning to put up decoration and prep the houses (2) not having someone write down what she got as a couple of gifts got mixed up in the flurry of opening with a toddler.

To all you moms out there who put on these parties effortlessly hats off to you because I broke a sweat a couple times planning these parties!!! HAHAHA! (I earned a nice tall glass of wine at the end of each party that is for sure!) Happy Planning!


One Response to “Birthday Breakdown”


  1. Memory lane | Sweet Sweet Nothings - May 21, 2013

    […] 1st birthday bonanza! […]

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