March 1, 2012

A first birthday celebration

It was Harry’s first birthday a couple of weeks ago, so we planned a celebration for our family and friends, which co-incided with my birthday (we’re only two days apart). Now, I’m in my element planning parties. I have wasted many an hour marvelling in awe at creative kids’ parties on Pinterest. Like many other Pinterest members, I have a board dedicated to parties. I dig awesomely creative concepts and superb attention to detail.

BUT there’s a BIG part of me that’s ambivalent about elaborate kids’ parties, which are so carefully art-directed they look like they’ve stepped out of an editorial spread. And as much as I love all the decorations and insane attention to detail, part of me thinks that it’s all a wee bit gauche, and I mourn for the days of cheezels and fairy bread and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.

And I have to confess: I’m a bit over cupcake towers and candy bar buffets (seriously, do we need that much sugar?). But at the same time I wanted a fitting celebration for my wee son, to celebrate his first year with our family and friends. It’s a significant milestone, and as much as my husband and I wanted to celebrate surviving our first year as parents, we wanted to thank our families and friends who have supported us along the way. Finally, it was my birthday, too. Last year’s birthday was spent in hospital, drifting in and out on waves of morphine. It was time to celebrate.

So… what started out as ‘let’s have cake in the backyard’ morphed into something a little more complicated. There were some art-directed details (I couldn’t help myself – I’m an ex-magazine editor and my husband is a graphic designer, we have mad skillz!). There was a bloody cupcake tower. And yes, there were even three glass jars of sugary treats (dangerously straying into candy bar buffet territory). Oh dear.

But you know what? It ended up being a pretty good day. It was an Aussie backyard party. We hung my hand-made party hats from the rusty old hills hoist. The babies splashed around in the $12 shell wading pool from Bunnings (the best buy of the day). The jug of Pimm’s and the platter of fruit went down a treat on the hot summer’s afternoon. And by the end of the day, the birthday boy ended up completely naked, eating birthday cake for dinner. As all good parties should end.

The details…

Party hats
I loved the idea of handmade party hats – so old-school – and I was inspired by these gorgeous hats by The Sweetest Occasion (via Pinterest). They were made using this clever tutorial. I found some giant ric-rac in my mum’s trimmings collection, and I pimped out the rest of the hats with mini pom-poms. I cut out a felt number one for the birthday boy’s hat, and stuck it all together using craft glue and double-sided tape. Just a word of warning about fastening hat elastic – I used staples and sticky tape to secure them to the hat, but unfortunately most of them broke as soon as the kids put them on. Hat Fail. So I reckon you’d be better off using a hole punch and threading through ribbon so they can be tied on. But that’s more expense and time. Lesson learnt? Unless you’re up for hours of faffing around and maybe spending more than you’d like on something that will probably end up trashed, buy a $1.99 packet of hats from the supermarket. But they did look sweet, don’t you think?

Theme
We didn’t have a theme for the party, but I just chose three colours – a melon red, pale yellow and pale blue to tie it all together. I pinched this cute cupcake topper idea by Stacey from Elle Belle Blog (via Hostess Blog on Pinterest) and used it as a recurring motif on the invitations and party bags. I love that it has that ‘80s UK Smash Hits cut-out head look.

Party bags
We designed a label, folded it in two, and stapled it on to a glassine bag. I filled the bag with sweets, a balloon and some scratch-and-sniff stickers.

Birthday cake
The birthday cake was the numeral one from the original Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book (there was no way I wasn’t making a cake from my favourite childhood book), but instead of smarties I decorated it with my own mix of ‘edible confetti’, including a mix of small and large sprinkles, edible gold stars and sprinkle hearts.

Decorations
I decorated the backyard with a mix of paper lantern decorations, white bunting, and hung the paper hats with wooden pegs from the old Hills Hoist clothesline. I also filled a rainbow pinata with sweets and handmade confetti, which the older kids enjoyed smashing up. I also decorated Harry’s highchair with multicoloured streamers and balloons, which he loved pulling on.

Music
I loaded up the iPod with a cracking play list including Harry’s favourite albums:

Too Many Cookes’ Down at the Zoo
Teddy Rock’s Nursery-wave Party
Elizabeth Mitchell’s You are my Little Bird and You are my Sunshine;

as well as tunes by the likes of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Jacksons, The Supremes and The Monkees. There might have been some Belle and Sebastian, too. Sadly, someone forgot to press ‘play’ in all the madness…

{Photography by Lucas Boyd and Wee Birdy}

p.s. want more Wee Birdy? You can find me most days on Instagram and Facebook.


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  • Page Amber

    Oh my goodness, I am lost in this wonderland of life celebration . . . happy birthday little Harry . . .

    • Anonymous

      Thank you Page, that means a lot. Harry says thanks, too! xx

  • Kate Erbe

    Ahhh, what a great mum. It all looks lovely…and I love those personalized cupcake decs!!!

    • Anonymous

      Oh thanks Kate, that’s so kind. I loved his wee head on the cupcakes, too! xx

  • http://www.gourmet-chick.com/ Cara @ Gourmet Chick

    Huge congratulations on the first birthday celebrations. The hills hoist makes my heart sing!

    • Anonymous

      Ahhh, thanks Cara. I love the hills hoist, too! It was suitably ‘distressed’. xx

  • http://twitter.com/whatkatiedoes whatkatiedoes

    So cute. I love the big round paper decorations especially (were they made or bought?).
    This theme would work for a 28th birthday party too right?!

  • Karen

    Happy Birthday to you both! The pictures are awesome and Harry looks adorable with the hat on. :-)

    • Anonymous

      Ha, thanks Karen – I couldn’t help myself. xx

  • http://notestoafurtherexcuse.blogspot.com/ Diane

    Adorable! And I love that you made a cake from the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book!

    • Anonymous

      Ha! Thanks. I think we’ll have to do one every year now. I’m so glad they re-printed! xx

  • http://www.sneakymagpie.com/ Sneaky Magpie

    Happy Birthday Harry! What a cutie he is. My boy’s birthday is end of December and unfortunately I can’t do garden parties in London at that time of the year. Great crafty inspiration for summer parties though.

    • Anonymous

      Oh thanks Sneaky Magpie, you are too kind. Hmmm, it’s tricky doing winter kids’ parties, isn’t it? At least you can bring the Pimms out come summer! xx

  • Splendourandrouge

    What a lovely creative birthday!

    http://www.splendourandrouge.com

    • Anonymous

      With thank you Splendourandrouge! xx

  • coelhoculture

    o wow…so gorgeous!

    • Anonymous

      I’m so pleased you like it! It was a labour of love. xx

  • Lesley Raymond

    WOW! I don’t have kids but if I did I would wanna decorate like this. Incredible!

    Lesley http://byporchlight.blogspot.com

    • Anonymous

      Go on – I don’t think you need kids for party hats, pinatas and party bags. xx

  • Jenny Brent

    What an adorable party for an adorable Harry! looks like so much fun, wish we were there. x

    • Anonymous

      Oh Jenny, we wish you were here, too! Glad you like the party! xx

  • http://agirlastyle.com/ A Girl, A Style

    Ooh this is so cute!! I love that you’ve added so many wonderful details, yet it still feels like a fun kid’s party that isn’t afraid to actually be enjoyed (so many look to staged to mess up). Harry is one lucky boy (and what a cutie he is!)

    Briony xx

    • Anonymous

      Briony, you’re too sweet – and I’m glad you think it looks “enjoyed”. I was picking confetti out of the grass for hours afterwards… xx

  • http://bellissimakids.com jeanne@bellissimakids.com

    Wow. What a fabulous party! I grew up in Oz and miss the Aussie backyard party so much! I especially loved the little photographs of Harry stuck in the cupcakes. But really, everything looked perfect and I don’t know how you find time to do all that!

    • Anonymous

      Ha! I always have grand plans and then have to squeeze them into some very last minute late nights! So pleased you have fond memories of Aussie backyard parties. xx

  • stav

    durrrrrrrrr! I have been enjoying your posts over the year and have only just now realised who you are!!

    I am so oblivious sometimes, please don’t think me rude i had no idea you were weebirdy!!

    I only just worked it out by having a squizz at your instagram pics (which are awesome by the way!).

    The birthday looked divine, perfect in fact. xx

    • Anonymous

      Haha! Of course not, I’ve probably been a bit under-the-radar as I’ve been trying to balance the blog and motherhood. But I’m getting back into it now and will be doing more local stuff soon. Yeah! xx

  • Emily @ The Beetle Shack

    what a fab party for young Harry. I’m afraid all of my planning for young Olives first birthday resulted in a couple of pom pom flowers and a poorly iced cake. Boo!

    xo em

  • Muzmuzcreations

    Cute party…. you are lucky Harry was born in the summer (?)):.. My twins were born at the end of November and although we live in the South of Spain and it is relatively warm, it is not warm enough to have a birthday party outdoors.. I am alrady sorting out their 2nd birthday party and getting some ideas from blogs… Your hats are nice and easy to make… I used that sort of style for my Xmas trees!!!!.. Thanks for sharing… lovely grass, lovely pics!.
    http://www.muzmuzcreations.blogspot.com

  • shinny

    omg what a great job done by u………hats of to u mom…….it s very very lovely…….your hard work shows your love towards your kids……sooooooooooooo swwwwwwwweeeeeeeettttttttt……love u……

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