Just recently, my daughter turned one. To celebrate such a momentous occasion, the H and I threw a big shindig and invited most of our closest friends and family. While the party was quite successful, and everything turned out beautifully, I am so glad it is over! Haha! Don’t get me wrong–I love throwing a good party every now and then, but I have to admit, I think I may have gone just a tad overboard for this one. Haha!
The last party I planned for which I totally made “career” was my wedding, and that was over three years ago! It was mostly DIY–the H and I had a hand in making a lot of things for the wedding such as the invitations, the misalettes, packaging for the souvenirs, the table numbers, etc. etc. While it was time-consuming and a bit tedious to do, I totally liked the warm and intimate feel it gave to our special day. I actually still get a lot of comments from guests who loved all the personalized touches. The fact that these people remember all those details is both touching and affirming 🙂
I wanted to inject the same personal touch and intimate feel to my daughter’s big day. Quite a tall order since we practically had a guest list equivalent to an entire barangay (ok, ok, I’m obviously exaggerating, but there were really a lot of guests). While I knew I wanted to design her invitations, the name tags, as well as other party items, I also knew that there were many other details involved and much more work to be done to get this party going. For those of you who are novices at party-planning, take it from me, it’s no joke. From hiring caterers to planning the program, to renting the sound system and buying the prizes…my head was spinning! Even though I had done this successfully before, I knew I needed expert help to execute this party just as I had envisioned it.
One of the first (and smartest) things I did aside from reserving the venue was to hire an event stylist. I came across the work of Bambi Hernandez of Alice’s Wonderland as I was researching the internet for a party theme.
Bambi is a design genius!!! While the cost of hiring her is not for the faint at heart, I can definitely say that she is worth every peso and more! The styling of my daughter’s party was so beautifully executed, and so much more than what I had envisioned. And even if we worked collaboratively for this event, I totally could have left Bambi alone and she would have come up with the same beautifully styled affair. She is that good! Check out her blog, aliceswonderlandbambih.tumblr.com, and you’ll see what I mean 🙂
The next thing I did was to book my photographer. I was looking for someone who did vintage-type photos–yung kinda desaturated slash faded effect. Again, I came across the work of Karen Ilagan as I was researching online, and immediately fell in love. Thankfully, she was available on the day of A’s party.
Looking for the right caterer was a bit of a challenge for me. Since my theme was Chinoiserie or French-Oriental, I wanted the food to be a mixture of both chinese and french fare. Try finding a trusted, professional yet affordable caterer with an extensive menu in Manila and believe you me, you are out to get mighty frustrated! As I called caterer after caterer after caterer, I was getting a bit discouraged that I wasn’t finding one that could serve my needs. Either their menus were restricted to just one type of cuisine, or they charged an arm and a leg for merienda cena buffet.
Finally, one of my friend’s recommended her “suki” caterer, CenterTable. They had catered all of her daughter’s birthday parties, so I was pretty familiar with their food. Question was, would they be able to cook the items on my menu. I immediately called their office to inquire, and to my delight, they said they could 🙂 To make things even better, when I was given the final quotation, it was well within my budget! Hooray, problem solved!
After the catering hullabaloo, my next challenge was to plan a program for the party. Even from the inception stage, I already knew that I wanted this party to be different. I’m actually not a big fan of children’s parties, especially the cookie cutter ones. I hate loud music, and hosts that scream into their microphones. I also find it sad when parents resort to formulaic activities, when there is such a huge opportunity to be creative. So as I planned the program for this party, I tried to give my guests a different experience from their usual children’s parties. I hired a theatre group and an arts and crafts company to take charge of story-telling, games, and creative projects for the kids. I also hired a calligrapher who wrote out the guests names in Chinese characters. They got to take these home as souvenirs.
Other details that I had to plan for were the photobooth, as well as my cake supplier. For the photobooth, I went with a company called POOF. While their rates are pretty high, I liked the fact that my guests could choose from 4 different lay-out designs. They also offered a photo/guest book in one of their packages, and instead of the usual picture holders or magnets, guests could take their pictures home in bagtags. These served as added souvenirs for the adults.
For the little one’s cake, I decided to go with my default cake supplier and friend, Angela Colet of Swell Sweets. She makes the yummiest fondant cakes, and they look really good too! I think she did an awesome job with A’s cake, mini cupcakes and cookie lollies.
In keeping with the French part of the theme, I also added some macarons to the dessert buffet. I ordered mini macarons from Christa Mendiola upon the recommendation of my good friend M. The macarons were so yummy and as expected, a big hit amongst my dessert-loving family and friends. They were so good, the H is planning to order another batch just for us 🙂
After all these major details were finalized, the rest of the party planning was a breeze. Even better, the party went off without a hitch! My guests loved the decor, they complimented the food, they devoured the desserts, and the kids totally enjoyed all the activities. Mission accomplished!
Taking a look at my photographs, I have to admit that despite the stress (plus the fact that I spent an arm and a leg 😦 ), it was worth it! Planning this party allowed me to design and be creative–two of my passions. I’d also like to think that the H and I were able to give our little one the birthday party of her (or rather MY–haha!) dreams. When she grows up and looks at her pictures, I hope she realizes how much her mommy and daddy love her so much 🙂
It’s just too bad that the next “big one” will be six years from now when A turns 7. Oh well… But then again, I guess it’s never too early to start planning 🙂