"Special. Original. Different. These are a just few words that came to my mind when I was planning for little treasure first Big-Day. Any mom or parents who just had or remember when they had their first child will understand where I am coming from. Pinterest being my go-to for almost anything creative (especially for parties), I jumped on it to get my creative juice going and "Ta-da"! In a few minutes, I came across some really neat pictures of nautical parties and I fell in love. My parker would have a nautical-themed first birthday. I was super excited but… wait… How do I start planning for it? What should I start with?
My friends and I already hosted my baby shower so remembering that helped me bring down the stress level. I had to tackle that in an organized manner. First thing First, what do I need in terms of decoration? I started making a list based on the pictures I saw on Pinterest and started to hunt online. Ordering everything was super easy (even though at time I wasn't able to find a place that sold excatly what I wanted so I had to either think of an alternative or completely scratch the idea). The thing that required most of my time was finding everything to order while at the same time, staying within budget. I was extremely lucky to find someone who sold a box of their stuff from their nautical themed party (Yay!!! ;) - and some were even home-made (like the triangle banner we put across the table) and that was definitely a big time saver. A quick word of advise for anyone who want to host such party: order everything a month or a month and a half for all the items that you want for the party, this way it gives you time to order anything else you feel is missing. Also when you slowly start to put everything together, you have a better sense of what other things might need/want.
Another challenge I had was to stay within budget as, as much I dearly love my little one and at times wanted to go all-in, I had to remember as a mom, I had to be and to stay budget-conscious… so I was able to resist my urge to blow out my credit cards. Keeping that in mind really helped me to stay away from some items and to try to thing more creatively to try and keep costs down while hosting an awesome party. I ended staying within my budget of $500 including the cake, cookies, macaroons, decorations and rental of the community centre. And… judge by yourself, even with such a limited budget, the party was awesome and everyone had loads of fun and my friends kept congratulating me on how well organized the party was and how awesome my décoration looked.
I am really glad on how the party turned out and when the photographer we hired for Parker's pre-birthday shoot (see the awesome photos here) asked me if I was willing to share how I put such an awesome party together, I was more than happy to share my experience as I thought any mom can benefit from it. A few other words of advises:
Budgeting and tips for saving Setting a budget definitely helped when planning the party, knowing what to look for and at what price range helps you eliminate the many options there are available out there. I fully took advantage of using eBay and craigslist to find most of my supplies and decorations; also the dollar store was a life saver!
Have a photographer One thing I regret was that I wasn’t able to take more pictures because we were all so busy trying to stay on top of everything and making sure everyone was enjoying the party. Designating someone to take pictures or even hiring a student could be options for those with smaller budgets. Just someone who you can trust to get all the shots you want!
Plan a menu Theres no need to spend all your time in the kitchen to prepare the food for the party as long as the plan for the menu is simple. Sandwiches, pasta salads and lemonade are always a good choice. I ended up ordering a cake to make things easier and there was a specific design I had in mind for Parker’s party that I could not do myself.
Relax and have fun Things don’t always turn out exactly how you plan things but as long as everyone is having fun then it was all worth it. Try not to stress out about all the small details and take time to enjoy the party you put together!
Location If I had a choice, I would say hosting the party at home would be ideal, however when space is limited, I had to consider other locations. Community centers, restaurants and indoor play centers are good options that aren’t too pricey.
Plan around naptime For my little one, when he doesn’t have his afternoon nap, he can be a bit cranky, which make its hard to enjoy the party; I took that into consideration when choosing the time for the party. Also think about setting a time limit, anything longer than 3 hours might be too long for children to enjoy.
Keep it small I wanted to invite as many people as I possibly could for his first birthday, but I had to think about the fact of catering to so many people would take away my time to enjoy the party. Also Parker won’t even remember this day so anything over the top would only be for me.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read it through and please don't hesitate to share it or to post any comments or suggestions."