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In the realm of party planning, 1st birthdays can be an overwhelming occasion. For some, the thought of having a party for a baby who won’t remember anything seems pointless. For others, celebrating that one-year milestone is just another happy reason to gather family and friends and make a day of it. Whether it’s big or small, coordinating a classic theme for baby makes for an unforgettable time.
As one who is usually in the school of thought that big parties should be reserved for major occasions, our babe’s first year was just that. He had an extraordinary first year where he spent time in a hospital and with numerous specialists, undergoing more tests than I could count. Aside from the happy occasion of celebrating that 1st birthday, we all needed a reason to celebrate.
Deciding on a Sweet Theme
Part of the fun in party planning is creating a unique theme, one that would resonate for not only the baby, but also with the family. Beyond the usual cast of baby-centric characters, I am always drawn to themes that invoke creativity and fun. While planning the baby’s birthday, I saw ideas ranging from “Little Man” to “Apple of My Eye” themes, where every single party supply imaginable was coordinated. Whether or not you need personalized water bottle labels to remind guests of “Baby’s 1st Birthday,” sometimes it’s the fun details that make a big difference. We didn’t have to go too far when choosing a theme for baby’s party. Because we are major fans of Candy Land due to his stay at the hospital, we opted to make it a sweet-centric day. As much as I hoped to make it about the board game and not about candy alone, it was inevitable to avoid sweet treats in the celebration of my sweet boy.
Details and DIY
I know for a fact that the baby will never know how much thought I put into his party unless I tell him when I show him pictures when he’s older. But, for me, being creative is cathartic. Perhaps I’m one of those annoying Pinterest people, but I was creative before I became a mom. Admittedly, I will turn to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, but I will always make it my own. It’s not about creating a picture-perfect birthday because, really, who has time for that? It’s about easily creating something fun within your budget. If you’re trying to one-up your kid’s birthday party, then you’re probably doing it all wrong.
And speaking of easy, not everyone is a DIYer. Even though I am, I found that I don’t have the patience to create my own graphics, said the girl who designed her own wedding invitations as well as those of many friends. And that’s why Etsy is my favorite for, well, everything! Through an easy search, I found a number of fun Candy Land-themed party packages. I found a birthday party invitation that I could have personalized and printed on my own printer or at a local store. Within a day of purchasing the file for the invitation on Etsy, I had the file for the invitation uploaded to Costco’s photo department and the final product in my hand. I was able to email some invitations and mail out other ones as well.
Beyond the invitations, I found a seller who had an affordable package for cupcake flags, straw pennants, and personalized banners. Again, I could print all of these items at home at my convenience. This method is highly recommended if you know your way around your printer and don’t mind the cost of ink and paper. Another alternative to this are the equally fun store-bought supplies. I’m finding more and more stores are staying competitive to this personalization and Etsy trend—Birthday Express and Party City come to mind.
Food and Fun
At a year old, many babies are barely eating solid foods. Aside from meeting baby’s dietary demands, it’s always great to have a fun spread for the crowd. I always aim to make my kids foods beyond chicken nuggets and hot dogs. At our house, the whole family eats the same thing for every meal, but when it comes to partying, it’s always easy to have finger foods that everyone enjoys. For baby’s party, as an alternative to burgers, I made beef tenderloin sandwiches with an herb mayo and offered a variety of breads. Both adults and kids enjoyed this option because it was basically a steak sandwich. Chicken and cocktail sausages were on-hand as well as my mom’s signature Lumpia!
Games and entertainment are a fun addition, depending on the crowd. Since we had a smaller crowd with a handful of family friends and were hosting at a neighborhood clubhouse, I decided to hire a balloon artist for an hour. It was a memorable splurge that brought the kids lots of smiles and laughs, especially my balloon-loving babe.
Let Them Have Cake
As motherhood evolves and I watch my longtime friends afar via Facebook, one common denominator for many in my friends list: everyone loves cakes. Whether they’re baking it themselves or buying these massive creations at a store, cakes are often a focal point of many of their parties. I opted to make a small cake with the Candy Land game pieces and a few aspects from the game. With all the time spent working with the fondant, I should have just ponied up the cash and bought one. I loved the way it turned out but definitely did not love all the effort I put into it. I love well-made store-bought cakes. Even better, I love friends who are exceptionally good at baking fun cakes! Want an easy alternative to a personalized and store-bought cake? Buy a plain sheet cake from your favorite baker and add a YouCake cake topper. If it’s your thing, don’t forget that cupcake or smaller cake for baby’s smash cake!
Goody Bag Galore
Goody bags conjure up anxiety and annoyance in my circle of friends. From those tchotchke plastic toys to noisemakers to tiny rubber things that breed when you’re not looking, goody bags can be fun, and then . . . not so much. I found that my money was always well spent for goody bags that include edible items. Cookies, cake pops, and candy in small doses seem to make my guests smile.
In the end, planning a classic birthday party is all about creating a celebration that works for you and your family. For us, Candy Land embodies the fun we had in the hospital playroom and the sugary sweet baby who smiled through the hardest of days. Though we have since donated several bags of leftover lollipops (from Pinterest centerpieces that never materialized) from his January party, it’s the awesome memories that we captured with friends and family that made this celebration that much special.