April 16, 2014

Forest Pirates and Crinkly Wings: Baby’s First birthday

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Your son or daughter probably isn’t going to remember their first birthday, but that does not mean that their first year on earth is not worth celebrating. In fact, my mother once described my first birthday as my most important in her eyes and therefore most stressful because she knew in years to come it’d be down to her, family and a scrap book of photos and stories to tell me all about it. For me, my mother’s feelings about my first birthday were a novel way to think of it which lead me to consider what I might do for my own daughter’s first birthday.

Every party needs invites, especially when the birthday girl (or boy, as the case may be) isn’t yet articulate enough to invite their nearest and dearest. For a lot of people invites refer to a stack of pink or blue written slips filled like paperwork over the course of an afternoon. This doesn’t have to be the case. There’s a couple of ways, I can think of, to approach party invitations.

You can inject some excitement into the hand-written invitation in two ways; you can make you own to give your party invites that added special touch or you can splash out on some especially well designed invites like those I opted for from www.partycare.co.uk. I chose to buy invites because, personally I’ve no artistic flair (cake making aside). Party Care were able to supply all my party bits and bobs, actually; they stock some brilliantly kooky fancy dress costumes for the older kids and have a section dedicated to baby’s first birthday supplies…not to mention cake decorating supplies too. Perfect!

Which leads me on to the second thing you’ll need for the perfect baby’s first birthday party…a baby.  Ok, seriously though, number two on the list is the cake. Have you thought yet whether you intend to buy or make baby’s cake?

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Now, cakes are where I come into my own. I can’t wait for baby to be old enough to show her the pictures of the cake I made her, but I still had a lot to think about . I made and decorated baby a Moomin cake. Its creation required supplies though. If you’re working to a tight budget, be warned, making your own cake can appear a cheaper option, but if you’re intending on using coloured icings and cake decorations, expenses can quickly escalate. Hence, purchasing a cake can actually cut costs, half the stress and guarantee you get the result you want. A popular alternative to making your own cake is the ‘photograph cake’, available from most  ASDA supermarkets.

Being baby’s first birthday, many families choose not to bother with a theme. It’s understandable and more than likely that your adorable toddler-to-be is only going to fill that fairy costume with cake anyway. Theme or not, you can’t escape decorations though. Have you thought about balloons, table cloths, bunting?

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Personally, I did opt for a theme and fancy dress. While my little bundle of trouble might not appreciate being wrapped up in ribbon and crinkly wings, her older cohorts certainly did. So, I turned to the good people at NetMums to help me to come up with ideas that would compliment my Moomin cake and eventually decided on an ‘Enchanted Forest’ theme. We painted trees on lining paper, cut them out and stuck them about the house. We devised games, such as ‘pin the berries on the bramble bush’ and stuck (soft) sweets to the trees so the kids could pick them like fruit. Plus, keeping a theme somewhat vague allows guests the freedom to think up their own ideas and get the older kids involved too. We had ‘forest pirates’, fairies and even a hedgehog turn up.

The last thing I did in preparation for my daughter’s birthday party was both the most boring and the most important –safe guard your house. You will never have enough cocktail sausages and cake to stop the little ones from trying to chew their way through, well, whatever they can. Also, with all the dancing and general bopping about both the kids and adults were doing by mid-afternoon our mahogany armchair arms could’ve presented a real hazard, had we not thought to move the furniture to the edges of the room and create space for everyone.

Another ‘health and safety’ issue we faced was allergies. There will always be at least one little one with a food or bubble mixture allergy. Find out, before you begin writing shopping lists, who likes what and who might swell up at the sight of peanuts. During children’s parties, there will always be moments in which not every child is being watched too closely. I don’t mean to scare anyone, but it’s just the truth of the matter. A moment is all it takes. Hence, I found the best way to avoid a birthday blowout (or worse) was simply to omit any food stuffs which figured on the allergy list. You’re going to have enough to contend with come the party, don’t add ambulances to the list.

And last but not least, have fun, get involved and worry about jam stains tomorrow!

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