Having a baby is no mean feat, and the first year is an exhilarating and exhausting time of milestone after milestone, as baby grows and develops right before your very eyes. First he flips, then he crawls; soon he’s on his feet, and takes his first steps! Before you know it, those first twelve months have whizzed by in the blink of an eye, and his first birthday is just around the corner…
Now, you may be the perfect party planner who has all the details of this special day ironed out and arranged weeks or months in advance. In fact, I know someone who started planning her baby’s big do a whole six months earlier! But for most of us, we hardly have the time to plan tonight’s dinner, let alone a party that involves invites, food, presents, guest lists and so on… so we’ve put together a simple go-to guide you can refer to if you are shopping for ideas and don’t know where to start.
Step #1: Decide on your priorities
If we had all the time in world, and all the money in our wallets, then sure, the sky would be the limit for our little do. But most of us have limited time, energy and cash to spare, so discuss with your spouse what’s most important to you and set a budget for the event.
If spending time with family and allowing them to enjoy your child is the main thing, then keep the friends invited to a minimum, or even just make it a family event.
What if you have a truckload of friends you want to be part of this big day? Why not have two parties – one for family and one for friends – so it doesn’t get too crowded or overwhelming for baby?
Or maybe you’ve got the perfect picture of your party that you’ve been dreaming of since you found out you were preggers! Bunting, balloons and the most awesome cake are what you’d rather spend yourselves on. That’s perfectly fine as well.
Everyone who’s anyone will have their two cents to contribute to how they think the party should be run. Decide on what your priorities are going to be, and don’t sweat the stuff that isn’t that big a deal to you and your spouse.
Step #2: Confirm the guest list
Here are some questions to ask yourself when coming up with the guest list: Will it be just immediate family? Extended family? How many friends do you want to invite? How many children are expected to be there? (Do they need a play area, or baby chairs?)
Step #3: Confirm the venue
If you are expecting several elderly relatives, it would be wise to include tables and chairs in your event, and to have it indoors where it’s cooler. On the other hand, if you are inviting several families with young kids, having an outdoor area for them to run about and let off steam would be ideal.
For indoor venues, consider booking a restaurant, holding it at home, asking your parents or in-laws to host the party at their place, booking a condominium function room or checking out indoor play spaces like Fidgets and SingKids for party options.
Step #4: Book your vendors
What’s a party without some awesome food? Now’s the time to scout for a caterer and/or cajole that friend or relative who’s a kitchen whiz to whip up a spread for you. Whether it’s a brunch, lunch, tea or dinner affair, the internet is your link to a host of companies.
Remember that you’ll also need to think about what your one-year old (and all his little friends) will be chowing on, and make the necessary arrangements accordingly. Alternatively, you can let the parents know that the food served will be ‘adult’ fare, so that they have the option of bringing any particular foods for their children to eat.
Step #5: Invites, cake, decor and AOB
You have the option of going paperless these days, and with all that’s already on your to-do list, this is what we recommend! At the very least, you can simply shoot out an SMS or email to your guests and get them to RSVP by phone or email. If you have the time and energy to spare, you can even design a simple jpeg or pdf invite that’s easily sent out.
You’ll also want to think about décor, especially if you’re having the event in a big room/place. A quick trip down to your local SKP store will settle this efficiently. That said, there’s a lot of fun in DIY, and that would be a great way to involve your child in the party prep. Think crepe paper chains, recycled paper bunting and lots of balloons! Get inspired at ohhappyday.com
There’s also the cake to consider. Will you bake or buy it? Fresh cream or fondant? And goodie bags for the kids – within your budget? Daiso and your nearest supermarket are great places to find small treats for the little ones.
Then there is the whole possibility of games and/or entertainment. Again, this is really not a priority for most one-year old parties, since your child is too young to expect anything of the sort and will be perfectly happy being passed around by your guests! But if you do want to have some amusement, you can hire a balloon sculptor for the day, or rent a bouncy castle for the older kids.
Step #6: Prepare your kid for his first party!
When all’s said and done, it’s your kid’s special day, so don’t leave him/her out of the loop in your excitement! Be sure to tell him what the party is going to be like, who will be there and what you will do. At least he won’t be totally overwhelmed on the actual day itself, and will understand that it’s HIS special day.
That said, be prepared that many one-year olds howl when its time for the mandatory “Happy Birthday” song, cake-cutting and candle blowing. It’s probably the first time they’ve had all eyes on them, and the experience of too much attention can be very uncomfortable ad even frightening for them!
And here’s a last point to note. This being your child’s very first birthday party, you may wonder if it will set the precedent for all his/her subsequent parties, and shiver in fear at the prospect of pulling off such a massive event every year. A good thing to remember is that, in Asian families at least, a child’s first birthday is a major milestone to be remembered (similar to the full-month/manyue) with a bit of fanfare, so most families would expect some sort of celebration. But you can always decide to keep things lower key and smaller scale for the following years, if you want to that is.
By Dorothea Chow