Posts Tagged ‘party planning’

From time to time I’ll get an email asking me questions about my kids’ birthday parties. I know, I’m as shocked as you are. I’m not the best at party planning, but I find myself very handy when it comes to delegating duties and hijacking other people’s parties and making them my own. According to Pinterest pins, I seemed to pull off his party better than her party, but what do they know?

So if you’re getting ready to celebrate your baby’s first birthday, have no fear, today I’m going to reveal the secrets to planning a first party with the least amount of stress.

There are a few things to decide before you even begin the planning process.

planning First birthday party1. Do you want to go all out (meaning a theme, some decorations, several attendees), or do something low key (a few guests, a small get together or celebration)?

2. How much do you want to spend? Have a budget in mind so you can make shopping decisions easily.

3. What’s most important to you? Keep this in mind as you plan.

Once you’ve answered these three questions you can get to planning. Decide on a location, make a guest list, and start making a shopping list. For each of my kids’ first birthday I wanted to be able to invite all of our friends and family members and make it memorable (for us, cause let’s face it, they aren’t going to remember). Here are my 5 party-planning tips to keep in mind for a first birthday party.

1. Location Location Location
Since Lil’ J has a summer birthday, we did her first birthday party outdoors at a splash pad. I didn’t need as many decorations since we were at a park, and there was lots of entertainment. We still had a theme, but aside from the food and goodie bags, it wasn’t a huge display.

bday-party-21Big T’s party was at our house, but I had a blast decorating for it, and having a specific theme. It was the first party we’d had at our house (because we had just bought it a few months earlier) and I loved not being tied to a small window of time for party set up and take-down. Don’t stress too much about entertainment because kids are plenty happy just being out of their own house and being kids.

2. Keep It Simple Where You Can
After you’ve identified what’s really important to you, keep things simple where you can. Whether it’s with Facebook and Evite invitations instead of the paper kind, or buying the cake instead of making it yourself. I also hit up the Dollar Tree before going to the big box party stores for supplies because I could find a lot of what I needed there for $1.

3. Timing

Keep in mind nap times and your child’s mood before and after. We tend to plan the parties either in the morning before nap time, or in the afternoon, just after nap time. I usually don’t schedule them to last much more than a couple hours because it seems to be plenty of time for play time and cake, and the kid’s attention spans are good for about that long.

4. The Perfect Gift
You know your kid best, and chances are you have an idea of what your child would love for their first birthday. I, however, have been surprised with what stood out for favorite gifts for my kids. I tend to lean towards toys they will love and use for a while and typically don’t go all out on an expensive gift since the party in a way, is the main present.

I like a variety of toys from simple to the more advanced. Are you going to surprise him before or after the party? We tend to open gifts after the party and save more time for playing, but some people like to watch the birthday boy or girl react to the gift.

One of my favorite gifts for Lil’ J was a wooden peg toy set. A friend of mine painted it herself, and it was a long-loved toy teaching colors, hand-eye coordination, and matching skills. Lil’ J loved taking the little “people” out and putting them back in over and over. You can pick up these plain wooden pegs at a local craft store and paint them assorted colorful colors. I actually am working on a new set for my son now.

Fisher price laugh and learn chair fisher price laugh and learn chair

A more advanced toy that’s fun for new 1-year-olds is the Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Chair. My son loves anything with music, and small places to sit, so this was an immediate win for him. I love that the features and games on it adapt to his age as he gets older. For instance right now on Stage 1 he does little prompts with animal sounds and noises. Stage 2 has more Q & A prompts with pointing out numbers and shapes, and the third stage encourages imaginative play.

Toys like each of these are fun in different ways, and sure to keep their interest for a while.

5. Capture the Moment
preview Jayda turns 1 253_edited-1

Birthday Card 1

With each of my kiddos I wanted a whole photoshoot to celebrate reaching their first birthday. For Lil’ J we had a cake smash photoshoot, and for Big T, we set up a photobooth that went with the theme of his party. During the party you may want to hand your camera over to a friend so you can focus on enjoying the party yourself. You don’t have to go all out, taking some pictures as he or she dives into for some birthday cake may be all you want. But please, please don’t forget to get a shot of you with the birthday child. I am still so upset that I forgot to get a family shot of us together on Big T’s birthday.


Did I miss anything? Do you have tips for planning a first birthday party? Let me know what you think in the comments. Everyone who comments before November 22nd will be entered to win a Fisher-Price Smart Stages Chair like the one I mentioned above.

Good Luck!

Tips for PlanningFP insiders logo



This post was sponsored by Fisher-Price as a part of a multi-month partnership bringing my tips to you. However all opinions and typos are my own.

So, I’m going to let you decide if this Dr. Seuss party was Pinterest-worthy or not. I happen to think that I pulled it off spectacularly, but it wouldn’t have been possible without help. To me that’s the secret of party-planning… Getting help. And I don’t think I did a single detail of this party alone.

Dr Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme

Dr Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme: birthday boy hat

Starting with my invites. I knew I wanted to do a Dr. Seuss Party theme from the book Oh The Place’s You’ll go. I had ideas in my mind, but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull it off. One day I just decided to go for it, and when I found a $5 basket that would PERFECTLY serve as a kiddy hot air balloon basket I knew it was on.

So home I went with my $5 steal, and I got balloons to tie to it. Word to the wise: Don’t try to take 10 balloons home from the store, it’s not safe.  I had to pull over and have my husband rescue me from my balloon-filled passenger seat.

Dr Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme: places you'll go party invite

Once I had the picture taken, I searched for the perfect invite. I found one from this etsy shop. Boom. Invites done.

Dr Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme, places you'll go welcome sign

My sister Lauren helped me make the “welcome” sign outside the door that actually didn’t say welcome, but some funky directions that went with the Dr Seuss Party, Oh The Places You’ll Go party theme. She made fun of me for placing it that way, saying I should have put down up and up down, but whatever.

My friend Hope has a Cricut and she helped me make the Happy Birthday banner, and extra flags that I used on the wall.

Dr Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme, birthday month-by-month banner

Another friend, Laura, makes adorable photo banners, so she sat down with me to make his month-by-month photo display.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; hot air balloon lanterns

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; kid you'll move mountains places you'll go partyDr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; hot air balloon lanternsDr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; elephant banner places you'll goMy mom and sisters came in for the party, and they wanted a hand in helping. My mom helped me turn colorful lanterns into hot air ballons. My sister Kimberly gave me the idea to turn the extra bunting into an elephant/held flag. And from the beginning I wanted to make a mountain rage featuring the famous words in the story: “KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!” Even Lil’ J helped with that creation.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; oh the places you'll go decoration

I used some leftover poster board to make a little airplane “banner” for a plane we had. It looked perfect on our bookshelf below a US map I got from Hobby Lobby.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; birthday party puffsA woman from my ward has a little bakery called Dough Girl Bakery, and she made the gorgeous pastries you’re about to witness. Believe me, they tasted as good as they look.
Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; oh the places you'll go cupcakes Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; oh the places you'll go cupcakes Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; marshmallow pops chocolate covered pretzels Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; oh the places you'll go smash cake
Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; oh the places you'll go party foodI gave her ideas and sent her pictures of the type of cupcakes, and dipped pretzels and giant marshmallows I wanted and she totally exceeded my expectations. She also made the cutest little smash cake that Big T loved.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; first birthday boy

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; messy baby eating smash cake

For a second.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; messy baby smash cakeI’m not sure if he had a sugar rush or if cake got in his eye but after a few fistfulls in his mouth he was done.

We had water and rainbow sherbet/sprite mix.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; birthday party goldfish bowlDr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; birthday party grape kabobsDr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; Happy Baby puffsDr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; happy family party foodDr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; happy baby party food

Adults and kids loved the sweets, but we also had other yummy non-sweet food. We ordered chicken croissants and ham pinwheels from HEB, and my sister made purple and green grape kabobs. Happy Family sent me a bunch of toddler snacks for a promotion I’m doing on BabyCenter and they worked perfectly as healthy snacks for all the kids. The organic animal cookies and yogurt puffs were a big hit.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; oh the places you'll go party favors

The party favors were another idea I came up with on my own. I’d been saving babyfood jars thinking I’d make rainbow cake in them, but it was too overly ambitious for me. I ended up filling the bottom with Easter-colored jellybeans (that went along with the theme) and topped them off with jellybean cotton candy.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; places you'll go party favors

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; birthday party display favors

A neighbor let me borrow her gorgeous goblets that I filled with the other favors… Play-dough and bubbles.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; oh the places you'll go birthday book

I bought an extra copy of Oh The Places You’ll Go and used it as a guestbook. Looking back I wish I left a sign asking guests to leave a piece of advise or well-wish, but it’s ok.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; places you'll go photobooth

We also inflated more balloons (this time with a balloon tank) and attached it to that basket again for a little corner photo booth.

Lastly, I bought a rainbow inflatable pool (that my mom inflated with her own lungs!) and 300 balls for a little ballpit for the kids. They got a kick out of it. It took him awhile to warm up to it. We had it up for a few days before the party, and now, a few days after he’s finally climbing in and out, tossing balls about.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; birthday party ballpitI’m not thrilled about having 300 plastic balls that at any moment can end up sprawled across my house, but hopefully we’ll put them to good use, and this summer, can get good use out of the pool.

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; baby day 365Oh, and after wrapping up the party, we took his last 365 photo. So that project is a wrap!

Dr. Seuss Party: oh the places you'll go party theme; mommy and me first birthdayOverall I think it was great. My one year old had a blast on his big day, and I tackled a party like never before. Planning ahead and getting help made the biggest difference. I’m already excited for my daughter’s birthday in July!

And of course I had to capture the scene on video. If you don’t watch the whole thing just watch the first 10 seconds and let me know what you think of my new intro. Believe it or not that was the trickiest part of the entire project!

What do you think of the party? How did I do?

I’ve been in denial long enough. My son is turning ONE. I feel like I just had him a few months ago, not 11 months ago. It seems like he just started crawling, and now he’s trying to walk. I just snapped a picture of his first tooth, and now he has eight. Time has flown by much too fast, and it’s time I accept it.

Big T is probably my last baby. And I LOVE babies. Have I mentioned that? This stage he’s in right now… The happy, non-moody; Crawling, not running; Compliant, non-picky-eating; Babbly, not talking my ear off and constantly asking “why?” stage. He is so much fun and I just never want this to end.

diy Hot air balloon kidSince this will probably be the last first birthday party I throw, I’ve decided to plan ahead and try to put together something I’ll be proud of. That’s right. Me. He won’t remember any of this. But I will. I’ve decided to do party theme based on the Dr. Seuss book “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” I love that book, and it has such a great message for both my kids, especially for my son on his first birthday.


I don’t have everything set in stone yet, but I know we’re having it at my place, and that I want to have a little photobooth. My bright blue wall will come in handy as a sky backdrop. I bought a basket off craigslist for $5 that works as a perfect little kid hot air balloon basket. I tested out the area yesterday photographing pictures for his birthday card. Choosing a favorite was much harder than it should have been.diy-hot-air-balloon-partyI’ve decided I’ll use extra photographs and outtakes as decorations for his party.

I’m also pinning other party ideas like crazy… A tiny ball pit/pool area, maybe a popup tunnel, and lots and lots of snacks. I love the cute pastel rainbow theme and colors of the book, and luckily Easter candies and decorations use the same kind of colors, so hopefully finding party items won’t be too hard.

rainbow cake in a jarjello boat

I’d also like to tackle at least one Pinteresty food project. I’m thinking either these jello boats, which look awesome, or this rainbow cake in baby food jars. I’ve been saving baby food jars just in case, but I’m thinking of filling them with cotton candy or Hersey’s kisses as a party favor instead. Only because cupcakes and other finger foods won’t require forks, and I’m wondering if adults will find them small. Then again, cupcakes are small too so never mind.

Other ideas on the menu: Pigs in a blanket, fruit kabobs, chocolate covered pretzels, popcorn, marshmallow pops,  goldfish. Basically a lot of sweets and junk food.

Aside from decorations and food, I’m chewing on an idea for a time-capsule like project for his birthday. Maybe a tradition I start for him. Perhaps I’ll have party guests give him a piece of advice on video, or mention a memory from the year 2013, or both. I’m workin’ on that.

If you’ve had party successes with decor, food, entertainment, whatever, please share! I want this to be a non-fail.

So, you’re the princess of procrastination and you want to throw a birthday party? Oh, you want it to be tomorrow? Well, don’t worry because the queen of procrastination is here to help. I did it and you can too.

In order to pull this off your going to need money (this isn’t a party for $50 or less) and helpful friends. Lucky for me I have both. A friend of mine offered to make a photo banner for Lil’ J’s party and it was my favorite detail of the day!The first thing you need to do is grab a calendar. Identify the nearest holiday. That there is going to be your theme. Now if you happen to have the unfortunate luck of a birthday near Labor Day or a boy who’s not into a Valentines themed party, default to a beach/hula party. Just trust me on this one. Ours is obviously the 4th of July so stars and stripes it is.

Secondly, one word: Evites. It’s greener, and perfect with your in a pinch. I wanted a little more pizazz for my party so I looked at a few etsy designs for inspiration to make my own. I normally would consider buying the design but since I needed it LAST WEEK the turnaround times didn’t work for me.

Third, find a friend who is throwing a party the same day. Tell them that was the same time/place/theme you were thinking and bum off their party. I wish I was kidding.

Hopefully your kid has a summer birthday and you can easily host it at a pool or park. If think indoor, and easy. Whether its your house, a bounce house play land, or modern day Chuck-E Cheese (I don’t know why but those seem old school to me).

Scour Pinterest. Look for ideas involving your party theme. No, you aren’t going to be able to pull off half of these things, you waited too long. But find ONE easy thing you can pull off in about 15 minutes and do that. That’ll be your ticket to looking like you spent a long time planning this party.

4th of July food ideas via Pinterest via I’mSimplyMe

For me, I made a flag fruit kabob with marshmallows, strawberries and blueberries. These things got snatched up like hot cakes and every kept raving about how awesome I was for making them and asking “how do you have the time?!” Boy did I have them fooled!Next, hit up the Dollar Tree and to crazy getting all of your decor. Everything is a dollar do you don’t have to feel bad. Don’t forget to pick up your goody bag supplies.

Then, call in the catering. I called the local deli and when they informed me they needed 24-hours notice I told them my daughter’s birthday party was TODAY in my most desperate voice. They obliged. Score.

Next, as your running out the door to the party yourself, pick up some cupcakes and a personalized cake at your local bakery (they can personalize it while you wait). Homemade stuff is so overrated.

Show up to the party, set the food out and let the people entertain themselves at the pool, playground, or fun place your party is hosted.

Hopefully it works out as well for you as it did for me. A 4th of July theme was my “party theme lifeline” I thought I’d save for a year where I totally procrastinated and… I’ve now used it up on year two SO… Hopefully I’ll be better at least the next few years.

I wanted to do a school bus theme and rent a tumblebus but the only one I could find wasn’t available until way after her birthday and it was $200/hour. I thought I’d rather spend that kind of money once she’s old enough to remember. By the time I decided this it was end of June and I had a week to throw a 4th of July part or else it would be a 4th of July party AFTER the 4th and I’m not that bad.

All of Lil’ J’s friends showed up and despite the cloudy and windy weather for the first half of the party, everyone still had fun.

Lil’ J had a blast swimming with her daddy. And there was plenty of food and decorations. My ONLY regret was that I myself didn’t get to play with her as much as I would have wanted. I didn’t realize the pool closed at 7. That was just when everyone was leaving and I was thinking “ok now I’ll go swim with her.” Then they blew the whistles and it was time to go. Despite so much being taken care of, I still felt the need to play hostess and I probably played with my kiddo the least.

Not to say she didn’t have fun. At one point she ran up to me, gave me a big hug and said “Thank you mommy! Thank you mommy!” I got a lot of photos, and helped her drink all the juice and eat all the cake she wanted.

Good thing is her actual birthday is tomorrow (ok now it’s today), so I’ll have a chance to make up for it.

We are in Utah this whole week for a family reunion (sans husband, so pregnancy is a definite NO this month). I’m excited for her to play with her extended family she rarely gets to see. Including one of her aunts who flew in from Atlanta for EFY this week. Family events like these were fun as a kid then got less entertaining the older I got. Now that I have my own kid to bring, it’s fun again.

Tomorrow (ok so technically now since I’m still awake) is her big day! I won’t be sad. I can’t be sad.

Happy birthday baby girl. I promise next year I’ll get a head start on your party planning!

Ok, not literally. Although “botox” may be something I add to my list if I’m not pregnant by September.

My blog got a face-lift though. I’m no longer on blogger and you are checking me out from my brand spankin’ new WordPress blog. I was anxious about switching for months, YEARS even. But I finally had the last straw when several people said their comments weren’t saving on my blogger blog. Don’t mess with my comments!

I didn’t know what I wanted design-wise but I had this photo by Rebecca Loren Photography, that I had taken the day of Lil’ J’s baby blessing and I’ve always loved it. I have it on my blog business cards, and thought it would be a nice evergreen header that fits the theme of my blog no matter how big she gets, or how many babies I have (though I’d love to take another with two babies once another gets here).

I’ve connected with so many blog designers over the years that I’ve thought about working with if I ever switched to WordPress, but when the time came to pull the trigger, I actually used a blog designer I sorta just fell into the lap of through a facebook group I’m in. Her name is Sarah, and she’s a sweetheart. I was REALLY nervous. And I probably told that her a million times. But she was gentle. I did all of the back end work with the transferring and redirecting (though she does that too, I just was trying to save my pennies, plus I liked feeling in control of that) and she did the design and coding. I thought it would take a couple weeks but she had it ready to go in a day, so I rushed to finish my end and here we are today! Hopefully you found your way hear seamlessly, and nothing too important is missing.

I’m hoping this way makes it easier for me to reply to your comments and find the blogs you’re actively writing in, and return comments (you add your blog URL to the comments versus me trying to find it through your blogger profile).

I’m loving that I have more space for photos, and the clean slate in my sidebars. Speaking of photos, something I want to start doing is photo tips, so if there’s a burning question you’re dying to have me to answer, let me know! The first one I had requested is a post about my comparison between my 50mm 1.8 lens and my new 50mm 1.4 lens.

That may be in a couple of days though because right now my #1 priority is planning a birthday party in less than 24 hours. Yes, you read right. I haven’t bought a single thing for her party yet and it’s tomorrow. If I manage to pull this off, I’ll definitely be documenting my success in an epic post. Pray for me people!

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget


I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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