Throwing a 1st birthday party for your little one can be fun and easy, as long as you keep an eye on your budget and time. Here are 5 tips on party planning that may seem obvious, but it’s one of those things where you learn through experience.
For our twins first birthday last year, we did a Smurfs theme. The Smurfs were a much-loved favourite cartoon for people who grew up in the 80s, and we added two new Smurfs to the family: Giggly Smurf (Little Mister) & Wiggly Smurf (Little Missy).
We set a budget for the Smurf-tastic party which included food, decorations and cake, and tried to keep things reasonable. After all, the first birthdays are for the parents so it wouldn’t matter to the babies what the decorations look like. All they care about is being with their loved ones and being fed!
The colour scheme for the Smurfs party was, of course, royal blue and while. I purchased two unopened rolls of plastic tablecloths in those colours on Kijiji (Canada’s version of Craig’s List) from a girl who had bought too much for her wedding. We had blue, white and silver balloons, blue streamers and coloured posters of the Smurfs along the wall.
As for the decorations, we found it difficult to get Smurf products in the stores, and this was after the big release of the Smurfs movie in July 2011.
Tip #1: choose a party theme that is easily available in stores for one-stop shopping like Disney Princesses, Cars, Toy Story, etc. Or search online for easy homemade decorations.
Luckily we found this official Smurfs website with games, activities and printouts of Smurfs decorations. We printed out a cute 3-dimensional Smurf bus, and 3-D Smurf houses. I bought some “official” McDonalds Smurf figurines from a local online store (yes, people sell those things) and voilà! Although it was a bit of work to cut and assemble, we had our very own Smurf village centrepieces at minimal cost.
It was mainly adults coming to the party, but for the few kids that would be there, we had loot bags. I purchased the gift bags from Michaels (yellow for babies, pink for girls and blue for boys) before I thought of what to put in the loot bags. The bags ended up being so large I felt obliged to put a lot of toys in there!
Tip #2: Know what you will give out as loot before you buy the loot bags themselves. Keep it simple like a book or packaged toy. Kids don’t need much in loot bags.
Knowing that many parents don’t like their kids eating candy, I went to different places like Walmart, Zellers, Party Packagers (now called Party City) to get toys for different ages. Although, all the loot bags had a few Hersheys Kisses chocolates, if not for the kids then for the parents!
Tip #3: Go to your local dollar store first because they sell many of the same items as party stores, and you get more for less!
For the baby loot bags, there were Baby Mum-Mum crackers, Little People figurines, soothers and a few other baby-friendly items like mini board books. The girly loot bags had Disney Princess hair clips & stickers, Hersheys kisses, stickers and of course a little Smurf figure. For the boys there was a Smurf figure, Cars paddle & ball playset, and 3D paper race car.
We ordered out the birthday cake from the same place as our wedding cake. The main dishes came from our wedding caterer, Rinag Foods and the rest (appetizers, side dishes) was made by family. The menu included:
Veggies & Dip
Beef Biryani (beef with rice) *catered
Butter chicken *catered
Roti (Indian flatbread)
Birthday Cake from Orleans Bakery
“Smurfberry juice” (fruit punch), pop and tea
Tip #4: Order the birthday cake from places with an in-store bakery, like Loblaws or Independent Grocer. They have a huge book with different cake themes for under $30. Although the Smurfs cake was amazing (inside & out), when there’s kids involved it doesn’t matter to them whether there’s buttercream filling with fondant on top.
Finally, for their outfits, I bought a cute blue velvet dress from Sears for Missy and a blue 3 piece suit for Mister. Everything was set. We had family and friends helping with the setup and with getting the twins ready. The only thing we didn’t count on what the one thing that could go wrong: two sick babies.
A few days before the birthday bash, both M&M got bad colds. The party still went on but our poor babies were sniffly and very uninterested in the birthday cake & candles. They were more into drinking Smurfberry juice and chewing on plastic spoons. Although they weren’t in the party mood, at least they were both a good sport and managed to stay awake the whole time.
Tip #5: Make sure the birthday boy or girl (and the parents) gets plenty of rest in the days leading up to the party!
Would we do a birthday party like that again? If you ask Mr. Mama, he would probably say no. That said, their second birthday is coming up!