Birthday: Liam's First Birthday Party
Organised by: Mum Carolyn, with the assistance of many!
Location: Sydney Park – the south end overlooking the lake. Liam and I regularly visit Sydney Park, and trialled a few different locations during the weeks before the party. We settled on a cluster of small trees – providing part-shade and perfect for hanging decorations from!
Theme: We had a red/purple/orange/yellow colour scheme, all done on a cheap and cheerful budget, and I thought it was perfect!
Invitation: A few weeks before the party, we took some balloons up to Sydney Park at sunset for a little photo shoot. I’m afraid many balloons were sacrificed for the cause – I hadn’t thought to bring any ties, and they burst the second they touched the grass! It was lots of fun though...
Cake: My Mum made the beautiful bunny cake (which was always my favourite from the Australian Womens Weekly Children's Birthday Cake book - vintage collector's edition). The light butter cake was an ideal introduction to festive food, and we made some teeny tiny cupcakes from the same mixture with just a dusting of icing sugar for the babies. (Liam did get to sample the iced bunny cake too!)
Party Food: We had lots of help from our families with the food – my Mum made all sorts of slices and melting moments, and Martin’s Mum brought cheeses and cooked a beef fillet for little open sandwiches topped with cherry tomatoes and basil on slices of baguette. We also made open sandwiches topped with rocket, cranberry sauce and brie.
The day before, I’d invited my best friend and sister to my Mum’s house for ‘baking day’ so we could all cook cupcakes together, and they could also spend plenty of time with Liam before the crowd arrived the following day for the party. Cupcakes were vanilla with strawberry icing and raspberry and white chocolate – yum!
Liam’s Aunt Alena also made a stunning ‘melon garden’ with fruity flower decorations – so pretty! For the babies, we served finely sliced strawberry, rockmelon and watermelon which proved very popular. We’d also planned to serve tea and coffee during the afternoon (having brought our camping billy and a couple of coffee plungers along), but we didn’t have time to even think about it on the day!
Decorations: We used coloured paper plates and cups in red, purple, orange and yellow, matching cupcake patty cases, helium balloons and orange and red gift bags (each filled with a little nursery rhyme board book and a bath toy, or a craft kit I put together for the slightly older kiddies). I also made paper bunting stitched together from a variety of A4 papers, and red/white/pink paper moth garlands made from paper doilies which stretched between the surrounding trees & looked so pretty. My white bunny silhouettes were playing in the grass all around too!
My most ambitious project was a giant hand-knitted picnic blanket – one third ‘rose’, two thirds pale grey with random button holes filled with coloured felt balls. As you can probably guess, this one remains unfinished and I’m not sure it will be required next time round with a bunch of two-year-olds on the run! Perhaps if Liam has a little brother or sister, it might be finished for their first birthday party...
Tips: Giving friends and family members special jobs was both essential for making it all come together - it's a lovely way of involving everyone. If you plan to buy bread or other fresh products on the morning of the party, ask someone to do that too! I picked up fresh goods myself and we ran a little late setting everything up – which didn’t really matter, but I missed the opportunity to take any photos before the party (which was in full swing, and the afternoon went SO quickly once the guests started arriving).
The only other thing I’d do differently is to ask people to come chat and play, even if I looked busy. I know at parties, you always feel that you missed having a good talk to some people, but when you have to feed and chase your little one around, it’s even harder to do the rounds! I made sure I had loads of fun with Liam during his party, but realised afterwards that I should have shouted out to a few extra people to join me. (We had a few after-parties to make up!)
Oh, and lastly, I suggested to the whole family that they take some photos using my camera. I should have asked just one person, as I think they all thought someone else would be better at taking pics. They did capture the cutting of the cake though, and I did get my Mum to take a couple photos of the three of us, which are some of the best we have – so all happy here...
Something special: We all had a ball on the day, especially Liam, and we’re sure he knew it was about him. His great great Aunt was also able to make it which was really special. The weather was a miracle – we set everything up under the darkest sky you could imagine. We were sure the heavens were about to open, but in the end we had not a drop of rain. In the late afternoon, the sun even came out and the light was so beautiful.
Thank you so much Carolyn for your super-practical suggestions and party ideas. Head over to Indie Art & Design to say hi to Carolyn and check out her gorgeous Australian design finds and store. I know you'll love everything.
P.S.: if you would like to share your child's party (birthday, christening, baby shower, bar or bat mitzvah, graduation or any other event), I would love to hear from you. Head over to the Submissions page for details.
Images: Indie Art & Design