One year old parties happen to be a major event for most mummies. It is a milestone that calls for a celebration – be it big or small. Party planning is big business in the industry. Some planners charges from a few hundreds to a few thousands for the event, depending on how elaborate you want it to be.
Initially I was very tempted to hire a party planner. But the perfectionist monster got the better out of me. I don’t want to risk paying a hefty price tag and end up feeling disappointed if what they did is not what I desire. How difficult can it get doing your own party, right? Do you really need party planners?
I started with a theme in mind – Super Mario was chosen because there are 2 characters in this theme (Mario & Luigi). As father and son are both celebrating on the same day; this theme seems like a perfect fit. I planned to have a special march-in for the birthday boys; father would walk behind while the boy sits in his remote control sports car.
The planning started 3 months before the actual day. I would jot down ideas and search taobao for interesting buys related to my theme. I found super mario t shirts and caps, balloons, cake toppers, mushroom candles and other decorations. Some of the items I bought could be reused for future parties.
The other wonderful online resource is Google images. I search for other super mario parties and got more ideas on how to decorate my party. The multi-colour alphabets cut outs of the birthday boys’ names were inspired by one of the images I saw. I contacted one of the party backdrop designers to come up with a poster print out which measures 1.8 × 1.5 m. This sets the scene for the photo taking. I can also recycle the poster for other events since no names or numbers are printed on it.
While most people would settle for function rooms or restaurants with good food, I needed a place which can allow my dog to roam freely. Ah Bee (my dog) is an important figure in my family; I can’t possibly leave him at home while we celebrate without him. So we had to settle for a pet friendly cafe which offers decent food at an affordable package. Amongst the few places we have enquired, we are most comfortable with Sunray Cafe at Brighton Crescent. So the big day is confirmed and booking was made.
The birthday cake offers yet another challenge. I know of mummies who are quite willing to spend a few hundred on fondant cakes; unfortunately I am not one of them. I just wanted something which is decent enough for photo taking and within a reasonable price range. My guests are mainly adults, many of whom are health conscious and do not like the taste of cream or fondant. Much of the cake is left uneaten. I also chose not to cater for a dessert table since I have enough of other buffet food. However if you have many children at your party, you may want to prepare a dessert table. But do note that a dessert table which looks too good to be eaten will often be left untouched.
I prepared photo frames for display on the cake table. The photo frame (also a purchase from taobao) features 12 windows where you can slot a passport size photo of his developing face for every month. I painted cardboard numbers (Artfriend) and wood alphabets and did a miniature blackboard with liquid chalk (from Daiso). I also decorated the chalkboard with alphabets in breastmilk resin bearing his name plus two cute little feet and a heart.
Since we will be busy with the decoration and talking to the guests at the party, I engage an event photographer to capture the important moments. Just in case you are wondering where are these photos – they are still not yet ready when I am writing this post. So it is always good to bring along your handphone to snap some photos for sharing on facebook. I brought along my video camera to take a footage of the birthday march-in as well. On the actual day, we arrived early at the cafe to do up the decorations. The cafe staff were helpful in assisting us to rearrange the tables and chairs and sticking the party backdrop onto the wall. You can get Command damage free tapes from homefix and balloon stickers from Popular bookstores. The balloons from taobao come with a free hand pump. If you need helium balloons, you can either get them pumped at the florists or purchase a mini helium tank from spotlight. Some tips for DIY-ING your own party
- Start with a list of things you prepare for the party right from the start. I find that as I purchase more items, I tend to forget what I have bought. So a consolidated list helps me to remember and organise my stuff.
- Look at birthday photos of other mummy friends for more inspiration. I think it helps.
- Enlist help from your family and friends to take on different roles in the party – logistics, decoration, photography etc. Brief them early before the event to give them a heads up on what to expect.
- Set a schedule and plan ahead of time. I gave myself two weeks to fix up the nitty gritty bits of the party; such as painting the letter stands, printing out the photos for the frame and sewing fabric weights for the balloon. These minor tasks take up time and with a baby at hand, you may not be as efficient as you would like to be.
- Request your guests to rsvp. It’s easier to manage your seating arrangements and catering for food if you know how many people are showing up.
Finally, enjoy the planning process. It’s well worth it. One day you will look back at this day with fond memories and tell your little one – you DIYed his party.
Unfortunately, none of the above merchants have sponsored my party. I am writing this post based on my personal experience and review. If you have any queries, please post in the comments section.