Presents, cake, parties, wrapping paper, cards... The list goes on, and on. I think that in every household there is one main present purchaser. In my household, that is me, for two reasons.
1. I can handle shopping, choosing and purchasing better than B.
2. Being a Stay At Home Mum I have more time than him to get out and purchase (at least that's what I have heard- thankfully not from B or he would be skinned by now)
When I hand over the gift, I watch for the reaction (knowing whether I 'got it' or totally missed the mark), no matter what, I take pleasure in knowing that EVERY gift I purchase I have put the time, thought and effort into, whether they are "right" or not.
This year, I have my little girls first birthday. Yep, numero uno. I have spent the last two weeks consumed by the worry of getting the perfect gift, holding an "appropriate"party and making sure that the effort that I put into Miss 2.5's first birthday, goes into Miss .75's birthday, without the criticism that I went overboard.
THE BIRTHDAY PRESENTS:
So, I have spent hours tucked up in bed of an evening scouring the web for ideas for presents. I want something age appropriate but also something that Miss .75 will love and use and play with. Even though I know that she won't remember her birthday, I still want to know that I have put in the same effort and thought. So, what to get, what to get... I have looked at my trusty go to websites and even some new ones. If you are also stuck for ideas... Here, have a look (and please don't be shy in sharing your ideas).
Tiny Me - Fabulous gifts that can be personalised
Lime Tree Kids - Beautiful store with LOTS of kidlet friendly items (and some mummy ones too)
Pandora - gorgeous idea for Charm Bracelet.
Toys For Kids - This is a great online website for ideas
Made It - Made it is an Australian online "home made/crafted" website. When you search there really are some gorgeous gifts.
Learning House - if you love Wooden Toys (I know I do) then this website has a gorgeous range of items.
Being that I really don't know much of the Sunshine Coast and I don't really get a chance to go for a "wander" I don't know many cute kids stores that I could refer you onto. Certainly if there are any ideas hit me with them and if you need ones from Hobart I can help, but here, not so much. I believe if you can get an item down the road- go there, even if it required more effort than sitting in front of the computer. If we don't support local businesses, they will simply disappear. You will be surprised how much effort and help some places will give you. Simply for being in their store.
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY:
For Miss 2.5's birthday party, we chose a local park, that was fully fenced. We chose a theme (daddy wanted a castle cake for his princess- and it went from that). It involved lots of pink decorations and I cooked with all the food pink themed as well. I put a lot of time into getting this party right and I was pleased with the end result. After the party, as a general rule most of my family and friends told me they loved it and I should do this kind of thing professionally (I WISH) but there were also a lot of comments that I had gone over the top with Miss 2.5's birthday. I will let you judge for yourselves.
Fairy Bread, Sandwiches, Pink Marshmallow, Pink Lamingtons
White Chocolate Strawberries
Party Guest Book
Now I don't deny that this birthday party is very pink and maybe I did go over the top. Maybe you have hosted a party and have had similar feedback. Be proud of what you achieve. Remember that you are not doing this for anyone else but your little prince or princess, everyone has different likes and dislikes which it was makes us fabulously individual. I thought that given this was the first party that I have ever done for anyone, I did quite well. I was proud of it. I had pastel pink plastic tablecloths and bright pink plates and cups, all available from The Party People, Discount Party Warehouse or Spotlight. White ceramic plates and glass bowls from Kmart. I got the noodle boxes from The Party People. Bright pink cloths from a dear friend (they were tab top curtains- am sure they would be available from Spotlight). I got the ribbons for the party boxes from the local newsagent and Woolworth's supermarket. I got the textas and shaped card from Kmart.
This year we will follow the same method. We will pick a theme and venue and we will go from there. This year I have access to many more stores and services *wink wink*.
I believe that the cake is the centrepiece of any party (bar the birthday boy/girl) and I took great pleasure in creating my centrepiece. I still have some practice before being a "pro". I am very lucky that a dear friend lent me her Kitchen Aid for Miss 2.5's first birthday (I loved them before, but MAN I was on a mission to get one after that day).
B had said that the only thing that he wanted for the party was a castle cake. A castle cake??!!! How the hell was I going to pull that off? I started hunting and googling and saving recipes. It just so happened that Donna Hay had recently released one of her Kids Party issues. I was in the habit of collecting her books and spotted it- I had a bit of a flip through in the newsagent and saw this cake. It was perfect! I adjusted the cake ever so slightly (I used a little bit of food colouring in the fondant to cover the cakes and subsequently had to make all the other pink embellishments just that little bit brighter).
For the party we had (may help give some ideas to all you mummies), Fairy Bread, Pink Lamingtons, Pink Meringues, Chive, Cream Cheese and Ham sandwiches, Pink Marshmallow cups, White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Little Frankfurts in Dinner Rolls, Party Pies and Sausage Rolls and of course Pink Lemonade. Now initially I was stubborn and I WAS going to do all the cooking myself. Thank god for Mrs B. She insisted on taking some of the things that just needed heating and brought them to the party. It save time and my sanity. My advice is, that if you are a control freak like me the BEST thing to do is to ACCEPT someone's offer of help. If you can't bear to relinquish all control then you get your friends to help you heat things, like the party pies and sausage rolls. It's one less thing to stress about then and it makes others happy to know that they have helped.
Now, my cooking didn't go to plan and in ridiculous heat (and in a house where the aircon in the main space had, had a heart attack) with an oven on constantly things melted, didn't set, got too hot and burnt or I simply got distracted. As you can see below the first batch of lamingtons were a disaster and the pink meringues... well they weren't pink. I think that it was at this stage that I may have had a mini meltdown and thrown my hands in the air claiming that I wasn't doing this and clearly I wasn't cut out for it. To which B looked at me with bemusement and said "so, we cancel the party then???" Well I think it was that statement that made me indignant and determined not to allow him to be right.
Do you know what? At the end of the day- I was happy with it. Little Miss Birthday Girl was happy with it and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
PARTY PLANNING TIPS:
1. Be organised. About a month in advance order any decorations (or cake tins), that you require for the special day. Sometimes when you order something it can take time and particularly when ordering online give yourself some time to look at the product when it arrives and if need be replace. If you are ordering internationally- give yourself another month on top to allow for any delays in customs or mail delivery.
2. Make sure that any food you are making will survive the heat (or cold). I chose to make sweets predominantly but allowed for the fact that inevitably there were going to be more adults than children at this party. I would also recommend just double checking that there are no food allergies or intolerance's and if there are providing an alternative. Another really good ideas is to write on a tag, what ingredients are in the item that you have made. This allows family and friends to make the decisions for themselves too.
3. When the party favours and bags arrive, get them done straight away and when things are complete put everything "party" related in a box ready to go. It makes it much easier when packing the car. Plus that way it is one less thing to worry about and it is all in one place.
4. Take the time to read the recipes and write yourself a little "plan" or "timetable". There will be times when whilst one item is cooking you can be preparing another. Make sure that you allow yourself the morning of the party to apply any finishing touches (and finishing touches only) to food so that if anything goes wrong you may have an hour spare to fix it (I can assure you this would have been handy). If you don't need to fix anything it allowd you to have a nice morning getting ready for the party.
5. Have a list of everything you need to take and pack the car the night before. If you are paranoid like me pack it first thing while hubby (or wifey) are getting the children breakfast. As you place things in the car, tick them off your list. Make sure you have some plan about the party set up (and delegate jobs if needed) so that when you arrive and are setting up your guests aren't arriving at the same time. I didn't have that setting up plan and it ended up being a team effort at our party.
Take some time at the party to photograph your efforts (and make sure your camera hasn't been handled by the birthday boy/girl- makes for smudged pictures) and look at your guests. I guarantee that they will all be enjoying themselves and each others company. It will never be perfect (something I need to still come to terms with) but that doesn't matter. It will still be amazing. At the end of the day you may be lucky enough to have a little one year old passed out in her car seat clutching an unopened energy drink (that you were surviving off) and have the satisfaction of knowing that although it was a crazy day, and yes he/she is only one but they still had a good time.
Enjoy this moment. Pour yourself a wine when the littlies are in bed and celebrate everything you have achieved.