CONGRATULATIONS! Turning one signifies a new milestone and an achievement unlocked! For mothers, celebrate your 1st year in this career of a lifetime. For fathers, this would probably set you thinking if you’re ready to expand the brood. Heh! And for the little one, well, they are probably too young to know what a party is about. But when they do know (in a couple of years or less), photos will be
evidence memories of that first party. Welcome to #VeraOnederland – Vera celebrates her big one; thank you for being a part of it :)
Party planning can be easy yet stressful. Just like the idea of deciding the colour of baby’s new room and how to dress it up, understanding your partner can make a difference in the project dynamics. Scratch that, make that understanding both of you, would help make the teamwork smoother. Here are some party planning tips from our own experience and suggested timelines for you to kickstart the plans! In fact, whatever age your bub is at, these party tips might come in handy for you too.
A) Foundation Work – Team Assessment
I know this sounds so…. corporate and official. Guess it might be 职业病 (occupational disease) Haha!
#1 Know your strengths and weaknesses
It’s helpful to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses because both of you will be working on the party planning together. Understanding this aspect allows the right tasks to be delegated to the right person – although it’s just the two of you. Between Hubs and I, for sure daddy’s the crafty one so he gets to spearhead the décor, party games (Handmade Pinata, anyone??), gift wrapping and setting up and decorating the dessert table etc. For moi: event detailing, colour theme/dress code, design of DIY invite and food tags, birthday cake and cake pop ideas, activities for kids, adult engagement ie games and prizes. Of course, there are areas where both work on together such as shopping for the goodies to stuff in the piñata, dessert table planning looking for balloons, sourcing for suitable tableware for dessert table, décor items and prizes, venue considerations, theme etc. Divide and conquer!
#2 Expect disagreements
As with everything in life, put 2 humans together and disagreements are expected. Then again, even a solo person can find disagreement with him/herself. Should there be disagreements, take it like adults. Stay cool and calm – it’s just a party PLUS it’s a happy occasion. So, chill!
#3 Understanding your bubba
Is there a certain time for your little one’s naps? Does she dislike big groups and noisy environments? Will he at ease with too many strangers? The star of the day must be comfortable on her special day – don’t risk meltdowns on this special occasion in full monty of strangers she probably ain’t gonna remember, but THEY will remember.
B) Let’s Get the Party Going
Now, the actual planning starts. Details, ahoy!
#4 Decide on the expected guest list
Immediate families aside, some guests are probably must-invites (your child’s godparents/nanny), including some who might have declared to be invited way before. It’s entirely up to the parents/family, sometimes it may be a touchy topic when it involves the extended family so out of respect, some older folks will be invited unless the plan is to keep it very small. A nice intimate settings can be very meaningful for this special day. Well, unless you’re a celebrity or have tons of moolah to spare, no one’s stopping you from throwing a Dinner & Dance-like celebration. To track details, Excel comes in handing for putting down the names of those whom you’d like to invite and don’t forget the kids too – knowing the most accurate number makes it easier to manage crowd or unexpected surprises. Always ensure that guests revert if they will be coming alone/with a partner/with kids/any other adults, if so, how many. If the numbers of kids are getting large, it’s good to plan some activities to keep them entertained too. This will help you in arranging ample food too. For us, we listed the ages of children too, to ensure that there will be enough high chairs (if needed) and baby snacks at the dessert table. Essentially, it’s about being prepared and hopefully be able to cater to everyone – or at least, that was our intention :)
#5 Work the maths
Is there a budget to play with? This can help to keep things within control. Unless of course, there isn’t a number in mind. Besides food, remember to consider costs for décor, birthday cake, goodie bags, games and activities, venue rental (if applicable) and prizes for games played and any other peripherals. All in, if the numbers get too mind-boggling, look through the different areas and consider if there are alternative options e.g. invite a smaller group instead? scrap the extra décor elements if the venue is already nicely decorated? do away with a simple sit-down ala carte meal? Of course, if budget isn’t an issue, go all out and splurge or do whatever you like, whatever makes the family happy :)
#6 Do on-site recee
Shortlist a few venues for consideration and drop by to visit. Seeing is believing so both of you can have a better understanding of how the flow of things might turn out. Is there enough space for strollers? Any toilet amenities? How would my guests seat themselves within this given area? Should we pre-arrange their seating (for large groups)? Are there enough high chairs for their kids? What are the food options for the party – any vegetarian meals needed? Do we need to book the whole area or just use partial of it? Area for décor – walls? tables? chairs? If you’re planning on having a dessert table, find out if the place has tables to spare or you’d have to provide your own. Diaper changing amenities – any washroom/diaper changing facilities? Space constraints – do you need extra space for games? Look out for hazards like a glass door that kids can run into. We had the cafe lock one of the glass doors to minimize the possibility of such accidents. Accessibility – carpark? buses or nearby MRT? The last thing you need is a missing aunty who went around in circles looking for your party – she’s gonna remember it for the rest of her life, and it’s probably not a good thing. The venue we had comes with a carpark in front of and behind the café and parents could also scoot back to the car for diaper changes easily. There were buses that stopped right in front too, making it convenient.
#7 What is the time now, Mr Wolf?
3 matters relating to time: “Time of party”, “Duration” and “Timeline”. With reference to #3, avoid baby’s nap times if possible. Else, let your little one sleep in abit more on the day of event to catch up on time. Parties usually cover a meal time – brunch, lunch, high tea or dinner. Alternatively, babywear your bubba when the Z monster hits so the party would not affect his usual nap routine too. A tired bub can turn cranky and fussy, so might be good to work around this. Also, decide on the duration of the event: a typical one sits around 3-4 hrs and of course, this is entirely up to the parents and also dependent on the venue regulations. Additional costs may come into play if extra hours are needed.
As for timeline, here’s a rough outline:
2-3mths before party day – Look for venues and enquire on availability. Book once decided. Usually, a deposit is required to secure the booking. Once it’s confirmed, you may wish to start informing families and friends to give them a heads-up so they can make time to attend.
1mth before party day – Send out invites to guests. Request for RSVP at least 2 weeks prior to event day. Follow up if needed. Confirm birthday cake and other goodies that require a 3rd party to prepare.
3 weeks before party day – Hunt for décor items, get them. Start looking for appropriate clothes if there’s a theme or desired look.
1 week before party day – Follow up with guests who have yet to RSVP. For older kids, if child is prone to unfamiliar places anxiety, may wish to bring them to the venue to “familiarize” them with the surroundings and share with them what will be happening on their birthday e.g. people singing birthday song, clapping, giving presents etc. Purchase goodies for piñata, pack favour bags (if applicable)
The night before/actual party day morning – If you’re planning some décor for the venue, check with venue owner on the preferred timing for party setup. We did partial of the work the night before, and continued with inflating helium balloons and setting up the dessert table the next morning. Kudos to Daddy who went down early on the actual day to run everything with my sister and her bf :D That brings us to #11!
Party Day: Keep to the same routine for baby, prepare her as if you are heading out on a normal day. Make sure she’s a belly happy bubba before the busy day starts. We nursed in the car right till we reached the café.
#8 Fillin’ those tums
If you’re planning it at a café or restaurant, the food part is well-taken care of. The next thing to do, would be to decide on the menu. If a separate venue is in mind e.g. function room at condo/community club/private clubs, catering makes a convenient option. Do check with venue owners if external vendors are allowed or strictly applicable for internal vendors. Sometimes they have a preferred caterer that they have a partnership with, or if there are restaurant/eateries within the premises, the kitchen could prepare event meals, so you shave off a headache too. With menu planning, it relates back to the earlier point #7 about “time”. Would it be a lunch/high-tea/dinner? That would contribute to the decision of food offerings, number of courses, budget too.
#9 Decide on a theme
A theme is nice to have but definitely not compulsory. Keeping things manageable is important since both parents will be juggling party planning in addition to their everyday commitments like work. Once a theme has been decided, consider other pointers such as extent of theme to be incorporated as that would contribute to the budget in mind and preparation effort needed too. Remember: the more things there are, the more mind-boggling it will be. If it’s going to be a Hello Kitty theme, will that mean all balloons will be cute kitties or just a few? Will the birthday cake be a 3D Hello Kitty or just a fondant or printed visual? Will the (disposable) cutlery for kids be Hello Kitty too? It’s nice to map things out to have a good overview of what to expect and prepare. Planning is just a third of things; preparation makes up the other third… hang in there! For baby V, we kept it simple: pastel theme was our choice, so most things were in pastel shades. We even had a dress code for guests, but it’s usually the kids who will join in the fun :P So, don’t be too anal lest disappointment sets in.
#10 Game, activities & prizes
Once you’ve a rough gauge on the expected turnout, if the group has quite a few kids, you may consider having some games so they can enjoy. We had over 20 kids and their mean age was 4.5 years old, so we planned simple party games like Passing the Parcel and Musical Chairs. Prizes were prepared, so there are surprises for the kids to take home too. Initially, we set an activities area and mummy prepared some kids activity worksheets to keep the older kids entertained while their parents enjoy the food and catching up with each other, but it was more of a back-up plan in case the children got bored. Guess mummy worried too much. LOL. We had a “Best dressed” award for 2 winners, with prizes for the family. Just our way of engaging and appreciating the ones who made an effort :) Lovely leather goods as adult prizes courtesy of Ditto. And all the lovely kids who came for Vera’s party, received a customized name magnet or keychain from the lovely mummy at New Baby Singapore :) The highlight of the games was definitely the Pinata, which hubs painstakingly handmade – YES!! He’s the crafty dad, and enjoys such hands-on stuff, so that brings me back to #1. All the older kids were thrilled and queued for their turns to muster up their strength and hit the piñata. Will be putting together a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own piñata – so stay tuned! And, if you are thinking of leaving the entertainment to the professionals, this might come in useful to those planning parties or events in 2015! Zephyhdom has kindly extended a special discount off their party packages just for our readers – find out here.
#11 Get extra help
Party preparations are only half the battle won – the actual day (sounds like wedding day, eh??) calls for execution of your plans so running through the event flow would help put things into perspective and anticipate any overlooked areas. Once the party starts, both parents will be busy receiving guests, saying hello, thanking them for their time, catching up with friends (if you’re extending to a larger group), chatting with families and relatives (if the extended family is invited too) so basically, both of you will be wearing a smile and yakking throughout. Definitely helpful to get extra hands on that day if it’s going to get busy – a friend who can help take photos, someone to manage the dessert table, someone to keep the angbaos and gifts (could be in your own handbag or your parents). If you’re having it at a café/hotel function room/country club/the likes, the event coordinator will be coming to you or your hubs and vice versa. Oh, and don’t forget your little birthday prince or princess – most likely will be with either parent. But if the parents need to dash to the loo/grab a bite (yes, don’t forget to eat!), engage in conversations, handing baby to someone who knows how to manage him/her can be a great deal of difference. You wouldn’t want her screaming from across the room in a stranger’s arm, when you’re in the washroom! If things are kept simple with an intimate cosy meal and a tight group, it’s much easier to manage (and less stressful!), so do keep that in mind.
C) Time to PARTAAAYY!
#12 Expect the unexpected
Everything can be planned and thought of right down to the smallest details, BUT, things will not go 100% as expected. Things might happen – guests who RSVP-ed may pull a last minuter, guests who suddenly show up, kids crying, birthday star getting cranky (which is normal since out of the blue, suddenly everyone is fighting to carry him?), stained clothes etc etc. Just take a step back and BREATHE. Enjoy the party, leave the stress behind and have a jolly good time on your baby’s big day. Afterall, it’s a celebration of parenthood too!
#13 Don’t forget the birthday star
Things will get busy especially if there are many situations going on during the party. But please do not forget your little one whom the party was prepared for. He or she may be overwhelmed by the excess stimulation or tired from being passed around the group. A little quiet time with either parents can help calm those nerves. If she’s hungry, offer food (either homemade, snacks like fruits or biscuits or café food since she’s turned one). Baby V got a tad sleepy and we nursed in the car and get some time away from the noise so she could have some quiet moments. Once done, she was back to her active self :)
And, to our little baby doll who charmed her way into our hearts when we first laid eyes upon her, may you always be filled with happiness and innocence, live life to the fullest, blessed with healthy body and mind, and love daddy and mummy for as long as eternity! :)
Are you ready to party on? Let us know if these tips were helpful. Do share your own tips as well! :)