Sunday, November 18, 2012

The five key ingredients of a successful first birthday

1. Invitations 

We've all seen them. The professionally designed ones with your child's beaming face, shouting out that no expense has been spared here, this little one is clearly where its at. Yes I did sadly covert such an item. But I had no money. 

To save on cost I looked for cheap and cheerful options in the local shops. But with a choice of football or teddy related items I wasn't endeared. I will make my own I thought, stupidly. But I will be clever so they will look pro and that. Off to Funky Pigeon I went, armed with a beaming baby photo. There's a great choice of fun images- we went for a vintage circus kind of feel, and made postcards [oh yes. Saving the price of envelopes].

Even with postage they didn't break the bank. For something handmade that was quick and easy consider the Pigeon... Just don't do what I did and forget to save your creation, lose it thanks to dodgy broadband connection, shout, repeat whole process twice and go to bed wishing you'd chosen stupid football cards!

2. Remember that its baby's day.

What would they enjoy? Babies, well mine at least, is a creature of habit. If breakfast isn't ready at 7am sharp the whole street knows it. Given that play group is usually on the agenda for this mornings activity I decided to recreate it in my living room - with 8 mums and babies in 10 square metres, with all the toys, books and walkers that could fill any available gap. 
the calm before the baby-storm
Lashed with bunting the room looked at best like we were holding a toy fete, at worst, like we were trying to make up for the fact that it was our living room rather than some cutesy rural village hall complete with beams, nooks and the like.

It was noisy, there where at least five conversations being held at once, and that was just the babies. There was a swarm over the baby walker. All ten electronic noisy toys were singing out of time like a nightmarish toy story. And then, into the mix we added cake...

3. Feed baby cake 

I was determined that not only would I make a cake, it would be beautiful, delicious and super-easy to make. A tall order by anyones standards. Particularly after raiding the baking cupboard to find all the ingredients three years out of date. Yes that's right, I packed them all up and moved house last year without checking any sell by dates. In my defence I did have a four-day old baby at this point so at least I had a valid excuse.

So after an emergency trip to the supermarket at 3.45 pm on Sunday (note to self - never attempt this again, especially not with grumpy baby in the sling, there is pushing (mainly by the elderly it must be said!), it was not pretty). I had searched for a baby-friendly easy-to-make cake featuring baby's favourite fruit, strawberries. I found this one, with helpful step-by-step instructions that even a simpleton like me could follow. 

cream-based cake of joy
Despite getting a food processor as a wedding present I've need figured out how to use it, so plenty of elbow grease required. But it was worth it, two hours of baby-free time while bubba was at play group - I remembered what I used to do with my spare time before a baby cruelly stole it all away. I plugged in the iPod, reminisced about pre-baby non-nursery rhyme-based mp3s and had a fab old time.

providing healthy nibbles offsets tasty cake...
Whilst this is a hugely messy strawberries and cream combo, which is guaranteed to result in cream in the hair, eyebrows, noses of all babies involved, it was all gone by the end of the day- the fruit and cream perfectly setting off the not-too-sweet sponge. And at least it meant that bath time was sweet scented affair, once bubba had been de-strawberried...

4. Buy a gift

How hard can it be to choose a one year old a present? Well, if you are like me it took forever. I wanted something that would last. Could take a good chewing. Didn't make an irritating noise. Wasn't tacky and plasticy. Was environmentally friendly. and educational. And was cheap. Yes, you may say, the moon on a stick and all that. But I was lucky. A friend alerted me to a sale on over at Toys Naturally and for under ten pounds I found a good few ideas. 

great for mini movers and shakers
I settled on a cute little music set, then added another to my basket for future little friends birthdays. I definitely felt a little stingy as my gift was over shadowed [literally] by his grandparents gift of a Thomas sit and ride, but when the party chaos died down and we sat reading our books, we had a small percussion accompaniment that was music to my ears.

5. Remember your thank yous

Before I had a baby a main gripe of mine was when we sent baby gifts to new parents, or birthday presents, without a word of thanks. After surviving the birthday itself, and the days of finding straggling crumbs under cushions and mashed into toys, I just wanted to curl in a small ball and sleep. 

But oh no, the Thank You cards needed writing. Except I had no cards. Turns out its easy to imagine buying and making them. I even ordered a stack of craft bits from ebay, meaning I could put off writing them a bit more. Cards arrived. Realised I had no envelopes. Awaiting envelopes. Now realising have nothing to put on the front. Imminent ebay ordering needed again. 

general present excitement
Here's hoping they'll make it out before Christmas and I won't have aggrieved all my friends and relatives with a much-too-late thank you card that'll look like the baby made it. And don't even mention the need for Christmas cards. At this rate they'll be with you by Easter...