Archive for the '1st birthday party planning' Category

Feb 12 2011

A 1-year birthday party that took a week to write up

Published by Karol under 1st birthday party planning

Sadie is one! And I’m still recovering.

Before I get into all the details of the planning and the party, let me start with the one negative. I had to seriously limit the guest list for the party, due to the space constraints of our chosen restaurant. I’m glad we chose the place we did, the amazing Graffit restaurant on the upper west side, but there were a lot of people we didn’t get to invite that we would’ve liked to have been there. I can’t dwell on it, obviously, but in a perfect world our perfect restaurant would’ve been big enough to invite everyone who would have wanted to be there.

In my imagination, I am one of those people that submits their parties to sites like this. I am colorful, creative, artsy, thoughtful, adorable.

In reality, I am none of these things. Ok, ok, only slightly adorable.

When we were planning our destination wedding I surprised myself with little creative touches. Our invitations were a message in a bottle. The reply cards were boarding passes. Our seating cards were real luggage tags. I also came up with lots of cutesie stuff for the gift bags we gave all our guests and other touches like our awesome poker player cake topper. I was inspired by all the wedding blogs and Martha Stewart and, let’s face it, a destination wedding isn’t rocket science to turn into a theme. There are no first birthday party blogs (other than Kara’s Party site linked above which would be a stretch for even most normally creative people). Martha doesn’t really do kids.

The first thing I did was pick a theme. When Sadie was a newborn, we figured out a weird trick to make her stop crying. We would extend her straight out like she was flying and, because it reminded us of Superman(girl), we would call her SuperSadie. It kind of stuck and so I decided the theme of the party would be Supergirl. It turns out, Supergirl isn’t exactly…current. The last Supergirl movie was made over 25 years ago. And Superman is totally 5 years ago too. So it was a bit of a challenge to find materials to match my theme. It wasn’t like walking into a party store and asking for Dora the Explorer. The reaction I’d get when I’d call party stores was “Super what? No, we don’t have that.”

My good friend Cora Flaster, an amazing web designer, made the invitation for us. It was awesome and metallic-y looking:

Then, an invitation company in Brooklyn (which we found because my brother went to high school with one of the owners–I love connections like this!), Letters & Lace spruced it up for us, added rhinestones and printed them up. It came out very cute.

Then I took to my two favorite sites, Etsy and Ebay. I ordered Supergirl balloons, plastic Supergirl rings (which ended up serving as balloon holders) and fake tattoos (which served as gift bag decorations).

Fake tattoo on a gift bag:
Kiddie gift bags

Balloons still at our apartment (we got a helium tank at a party store):

My most inspired touch, in my own humble opinion, was what went inside the gift bag. We gave each kid a t-shirt or onesie, in pink or blue, with the Superman or Supergirl logo on the front and their SuperName on the back.

This is Sadie making a funny face in hers:

A wrinkled shot of the back:

The t-shirt version for boys:

We got them from Etsy seller Babytalk. She did a great job with them and got them done and shipped quickly. Because, as I mentioned earlier, I’m slightly adorable, I had onesie versions made for all the pregnant ladies attending (with the name on the back if one had been chosen or SuperLastname if not). An attending couple only told me their happy news a few days before the party and still Babytalk got the shirt finished and sent over in time.

The final creative touch was that I baked Sadie her very own little smash cake. I am inspired to all things edible by the wonderful Smitten Kitchen site and she made her gorgeous little boy a monkey cake for his birthday. I actually used a different recipe from her site and free-handed the decorating part. I think it came out pretty well, especially for a cake actually meant to be smashed into by a 1-year old:


Sadie's smash cake

I had made a practice cake earlier in the week and we put it in front of Sadie to see what she would do. That cake she smashed. The one at her party she just stroked and licked the icing, just like a little lady should do when being watched by a crowd of people.

The smash cake photo above and the rest of the photos in this post are by the incredible photographer Matthew Adam, who also was our wedding photographer. Matthew has my highest recommendation. He is super talented and just a great guy to have around.

The party was really fun, despite the fact that I didn’t get to spend much time with…anyone really. In a very weddingy kind of way, I didn’t sit down, I didn’t eat too much and spent a lot of time looking for my husband (and he for me.). At one point, overheated and needing some air, we went out to the doorway and Matthew caught a pic of us about to kiss. Don’t awww all at once:


Graffit is just gorgeous with really original artwork on the walls:

Graffit, UWS

This is actually the wife of the chef, Jesus Nunez. He told us he wanted her on the wall because that’s the only way he could look at her all day. Seriously. Aww.
Graffit, UWS

They have this great, airy room in the back which we used as the kid area (I provided the table cloths thinking the kids would make a mess, they really didn’t):


The food at Graffit was excellent. We’d been there for dinner a few times and really loved it but the brunch was amazing too. I highly recommend them. They really rocked our party. The food was perfect, the service was stellar and they made a special pink Sadie drink just for our party:


It was delicious and I wish I hadn’t been too frazzled to ask what was in it as I’d love to order it again.

We had gotten two cakes from Baked, a bakery in Brooklyn which had come highly recommended from, um, everyone that ever tasted anything from there.

The white one is a Red Velvet cake and the dark one is their famous Sweet&Salty cake:

Listen, people, I don’t really do Red Velvet, I got it because my husband loves it. And let me tell you: WOW. No, really, wow. I’m still thinking about that cake. I thought I’d be all over the Sweet&Salty one and while it was good, nothing but nothing will ever keep me from that Red Velvet cake again.

For entertainment we got a magician, Joseph Fields:


He was excellent, kept the older kids entertained with his act and the younger kids loved the balloon animals and his bunny.

Sadie had a great time. She’s the kind of baby who perks up when the doorbell rings, and is disappointed when it’s the Chinese food delivery guy and not someone coming to visit her. She’s the first grandchild on either side so gets a ton of attention from everyone. A party full of people all wanting to hang out with her? And she gets to eat cake? Ok!












I wanted to say a few words at the party but before I knew it it was over and Sadie was taking a 3+ hour nap (unheard of for her–can we have a birthday party for her every weekend?). What I wanted to say was this: I’ve heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” a lot in my life and what I learned in the last year is I don’t know about the village but for us it takes a family. I’m so grateful to our whole family in the role they are playing in raising our daughter. Whether it’s Hebrew music with her safta, Russian books with her babushka or the various amazing things she’s learning from her aunt, uncles and saba, it has been just wondrous to have everyone help us so much in raising our beautiful baby. We try to say thank you as much as we can but on this day I want our family to really know it: we love you and we feel blessed and thankful for everything you do. I also want to say that while it’s moms who get so much of the credit (and perhaps blame) for the raising of a child, my husband has been the most incredible father I could ever imagine and I’m eager to share the blame, I mean credit, for everything Sadie will do. He is amazing with her, and amazing to me. I love you so much, S, here’s to growing our family together.

Thank you, and goodnight. :-)

11 responses so far

Jan 19 2011

What does RSVP mean to you?

Published by Karol under 1st birthday party planning

I’m knee-deep in party-planning but I had to share one piece of advice for all the mothers who will come after me and take part in the insanity of kid birthday parties: include an RSVP card for people to send back to you.

For the rest of my days, any time I will send out an invitation for Sadie’s birthday, even if it is a $2.99 for a ten pack of invitations to her 4th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese, I will include an RSVP card.

I love my friends, really, bless them, but the responses I’ve gotten have included “got the invite” and “thanks for the invitation”, which are great except it means a follow-up question of ARE YOU FREAKING COMING? And, if so, how many are you?

So yes, parents of the world (and, hell, party-planners who are not parents), save your sanity and time and include RSVP cards. As my husband says every time we make a Sadie-related error “her first time, our first time.” So true.

4 responses so far

Jan 01 2011

Baby’s first bash

Published by Karol under 1st birthday party planning

I’m planning a wedding. Did I say wedding? I meant, a baby’s first birthday party. I can’t help but be reminded, though, of when my now-husband and I planned a destination wedding in about 3 months. The madness, the details and the lack of sleep all seem very familiar.

True, I’m up at 9am on New Years Day when everyone else (read: Sadie and my husband) are asleep because I’m jetlagged and still on European time. We spent an amazing 8 days in Scotland and Holland (no, Sadie didn’t get to come, we’re not sure her grandmas could handle a week without her). But the truth is I tossed and turned last night with the same nightmares that gripped me during wedding planning. Menu, seating, invitations, favors, guest-list, space issues, entertainment, seriously– kill me.

I’m not a super-detail-orientated person and, as my friend Lisa pointed out on my wedding blog a million years ago, I’m not much of a planner. I make plans a few minutes before I do something. We booked our Scotland/Holland trip 4 days before we left and that’s actually longer than we normally have between booking and travel.

And yes, I hear some of you out there in baby world saying don’t make a big deal of this, your child won’t remember this party 20 minutes after it’s over (my big joke about this whole process is that it’s a surprise party for Sadie so sssshhhh don’t tell her). But in my universe, in the Russian-Jewish world of Brooklyn, first birthday parties are a huge deal. My parents had my brother’s first birthday party at the best Russian restaurant at the time and we were seriously, seriously poor. You just do it, there’s no question, that’s it.

Of course, 27 years ago, when my parents threw that 1st birthday bash, there weren’t so many options. You called your favorite restaurant, made a reservation for 50 of your closest friends, and had yourself a party (in Russian culture it would be a very vodka-based party). There was no child entertainment. In fact, I’m pretty sure my brother and I were the only children. Favors for guests? Laughable. Decorations? Vat? Zis is a beeyootiful restaurant, vat decorations? It was a different world and yet there is a real expectation that we follow in a similar tradition as they did.

Part of me is happy to, obviously, or I wouldn’t do it. I want the big party to celebrate my baby’s first year on this planet. I want her to have a smash cake and a theme and the prettiest little dress ever. I want everything for her. I want it to be perfect, and exactly how I imagine it. So sleepless nights for the next month it is though I keep promising myself not to overdo it.

If anyone has suggestions on anything at all–great party ideas, kids entertainment in NYC, or just a number for a good shrink, please leave them in the comment section.

5 responses so far