Love, Joleen: Guest Blogger: The Blue Swallow | First Birthday Party Planning

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guest Blogger: The Blue Swallow | First Birthday Party Planning

Hey there Love, Joleen readers! It's Carmen from The Blue Swallow and I'm so honored and excited to be back again with you guys. I'm here to share a little bit more mommy craziness and fun from planning our son's First Birthday party...and what to do when older kids come!
That's us smiling after almost 4 months of chaos trying to plan our little man's First Birthday! If you can't tell I had some more hair loss in the upper right corner... If you're anything like me, I plan, make lists, check them thrice (not just twice), and stress on the day of the event. I had no idea that planning a party would be so intense, yet honestly rewarding. Though our son, Kai had no idea what was going on, I still felt like I needed to set the right tone for the rest of the parties to come. Right? Despite the theme, color scheme, and party favors our biggest challenge was what to do with all the other kids coming? The difficult part of celebrating turning the big #1, is that everyone else coming usually is past that age. I initially had the attitude that the party was for Kai, so everyone else needed to just focus on him and his special day. Then with a glass of wine (thanks honey) I realized that Kai wasn't going to be doing much of anything and that would leave for a very boring party. So we switched it up and added a few things to accommodate our older guests. This is how we had a great party (I could be biased):

1. Location: Choosing your location is key if you're expecting a wide range of children at your event. We rented a nice gazebo at a park and it was near a playground (within eyesight) so the kids had something to do while the adults talked and ate (because that's what we do haha). It was nice to have some space as well, I know the guests enjoyed the beautiful weather.

2. Party Hats/Favors: Since the theme was Yo Gabba Gabba goes Nautical (that's common right?) I decorated these sailor hats I had gotten off of Amazon. I used them as table decorations, but they were a big hit with our older guests. Each child could identify with the characters and wore them proudly the who time! I didn't realize they would be such a hit, but the hats also allowed the children who didn't know each other make new friends. I even accommodated the party favors based on the age of the children. So infants received board books and puffs, for toddlers play-dough and accessories, and for the older children coloring books and stickers!
3. A Group Activity/Game: Whether it's "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" or a craft, do something that keeps everyone's hands busy. For us it was a pinata. You can't go wrong with whacking an object in the air and getting free candy (it works every time, promise). This was probably the highlight of my day aside from watching Kai smash his cake. We did smallest child to the oldest and they all cheered each other on until the candy finally came bursting out (I love this picture).
4. Add some fun for You: I had no idea that my husband had arranged for someone to bring Corn Hole boards to the park! In the midst of my chaos, I almost forgot my adult guests too! Sure we all love to talk and eat food, but depending on your location it's nice to have some options. So this is just a small side suggestion for those who want to enjoy themselves as well.
5. Last, but not least - Keep Your Party TIMELY. Know your child and that nap times are essential still. I had the party at 11:30am since I knew Kai's need to rest around 2pm. Yes this did entail me providing lunch, however, I did do a bit of a potluck with our families and had each person bring an item so we shared the load. I don't like planning parties that are too late in the day where I feel like I can't do much after the event, so this time was perfect. This allowed for the party to naturally end on it's own, without me feeling bad that I had to leave and get the birthday boy home for a nap. So whatever time you choose, work around your child's schedule - trust me every mom at the party was grateful to leave at the same time.

Overall this party was great, it didn't become so overwhelming that I felt I didn't get to celebrate the most important person of all. The location, timing, and flow of activity was key and kept everyone entertained including me! 
Thanks so much, Carmen, for sharing these great birthday party hosting tips!! Benjamin's birthday party is just a few weeks away so amidst the biggest work season of the year, I am running around like a crazy person trying to make sure that everything is ready! If my presence here over the next month is a bit sporadic, that's why. Oh, and if you haven't seen it already, I was a guest blogger myself on one of my favorite boy style blogs, Tiny Gentlemen, earlier this week. I shared my advice for mothers raising boys and discussed my own approach and experience

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