Baby Birthday Party Guide: How I Planned Ethan's 1st Birthday Party


Ethan is my firstborn and this was his FIRST birthday celebration! I felt that I had to throw a party to celebrate the one year that we have been through with him since the day he was born – it was kinda like the husband and I shouting out loud in joy "WE SURVIVED!"

As you know from my pregnancy story, he wasn't a planned baby and so his arrival caught us off-guard. We weren't in the right mindset to be parents but we did the best that we could and well.. things turned out pretty great after all!

I didn't have a baby shower and I didn't organise a baby's first month party either. So this was the first baby party that I had ever planned. It was nerve-wrecking because I had all these thoughts in my head about what could possibly go wrong, what if it clashes with his nap time, how to make the party baby-friendly, how to keep both adults and kids entertained?

All in all, without saying, the party went well. We didn't have a very big party. The venue could fit about 100 pax but we chose to keep it small and cozy, so we invited about 60 of our close friends, colleagues and family. It was a great idea because I had the opportunity to mingle and speak to everyone. People who were there, we knew them well and we wanted them to BE THERE to share our happiness – we didn't invite acquaintances, so no awkward small talks (YES!).

Due to the nature of my work, I was lucky to have a few clients who were willing to collaborate with me. There were of course some items which we had to pull out our wallets and pay for on our own. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about having expenses. I am sharing about this point because I want to talk about budget in this guide as well.

As parents, money is a BIG factor. Kids are expensive. We found ways to cut corners while planning for this party and I am going to show you how we did it in this post!



#1 | Venue

Venue, venue, venue. It's all about the venue. A venue can make or break a party. If your house has the space to host a party, then do it in your house! It is free, more flexibility, no rules and regulations... although, the after-party cleaning process can be quite a bitch.

I spent quite some time searching for a suitable venue. It didn't help that I started my search pretty late and most places were already snagged up by weddings. I did look at hotels, but damn... they were pricey. I did like the idea of having a "free" hotel room if we did book a function room for the birthday party – but the husband wasn't game for it.

Leow + Chew Family

In the end, I went with Civil Service Club @ Tessensohn and NO REGRETS BABY! The location was the most centralised that I could find, pricing was reasonable and the space was exactly what I wanted! I have this thing against pillars and low ceilings because they don't look nice in photos and they make me feel claustrophobic. I booked two function rooms to fit 8 round tables and it cost me about $780++ (not including table cloth).

The booking included tables, chairs, sound system, mic and projectors. You'd be amazed by how some venues charge extra for these items and the bill can go WAY UP THERE.

They do not have a standard list of caterers that you have to get your food from, so you are free to chose and cater from whomever you like!

OT Friends

SQUAD

There is an additional point about CSC @ Tessensohn that I would like to add. I LOVE my coordinator, Jacqueline Tang. As some of you might know, I had to postpone Ethan's birthday party because my husband's grandmother passed away just a few days before the party. Jacqueline went above and beyond to help me find a new available date so that I could host the birthday party in December, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I have had my fair share of horror stories with event coordinators, hence when I am able to meet and work with such a nice and dedicated professional, she deserves a mighty good praise!

Did I mention about how caterers are allowed to enter the venue an hour prior to the actual booking time just to set-up? And how I arrived an hour and a half earlier than my booking time to check and decorate the place and I was AMAZED to see that everything was already done and set in place! The air-con was already turned on, the room was cool, the tables were placed and arranged, chairs organised and table cloths laid. They also gave me two rectangle tables for administrative purposes and the mic was already set up and neatly placed on those tables. Damn, good job you guys! I was seriously impressed.




#2 | Decorations

Happy Birthday

We did the decorations all by ourselves. We just did a little bit so that the venue wouldn't look too bare. The husband and I bought some balloons, a portable helium tank from Lazada, some ribbons, and then we blew them up on our own.

So here is how you cut cost. You would be shocked to find out how expensive balloons can be. We bought these "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" foil balloons from a value-dollar shop in our local neighbourhood. It cost us about $5.90? The same set of balloons can be found in Kiddy Palace for TRIPLE of that price. I shit you not. We also bought two packs of varied colour balloons from the value dollar shop for $2.90 per pack – we only picked out the blue and silver ones to blow up because we wanted to fit the party's colour theme!

We did drop by a SKP store at Chinatown to pick up some party supplies. Mind you, their party supplies are nice but also pretty expensive. I bought a pack of 5 blue balloons (YES, FIVE) that had gold confetti inside. This pack cost $6.50. Each balloon was about $1+... expensive. They did look very pretty though when they were blown up. If you have some free time on your hand, you might want to consider DIY-ing these confetti balloons yourselves. You can definitely save on the cost and get a whole lot more confetti balloons than just five.

Helium balloons

As mentioned earlier, we bought a portable helium tank from Lazada. I got this idea from my friend's husband who planned a surprise birthday party for her! He knew her love for helium balloons so he bought a helium tank, a couple of balloons and decorated the house with the blown-up helium balloons! He bought his from Qoo10 and well, I am not a frequent customer of Qoo10 and so I wondered... could Lazada have it too? (They practically have EVERYTHING and thus Lazada is one of my all-time favourite shopping sites!)

On Lazada, they have portable helium tanks of different size and different price (ranges from $30 - $60) from different sellers. You should have a rough idea of how many balloons that you intend to blow up and do keep in mind that you might lose some helium in the process of blowing the balloons so do cater for the loss!

I am so happy that we had helium balloons during the party because 1) it looked pretty, 2) it kept the kids (and some adults) entertained!

Hot Air Theory

I was very fortunate to be sent a Hot-Air Balloon by The Hot Air Theory (T.H.A.T) and I had requested for the special balloon to be delivered on the day of the party.

It played a great part as a decorative piece during the party – some friends came forward to take pictures of the pretty balloon/floral arrangement! The best part about it was that I could carry it home as a momento of the birthday party, and that was exactly what I did.

Happy Birthday Hot Air Balloon Floral Arrangement

You would be amazed by the longevity of this "hot-air" balloon! It lasted for almost a month and could probably have lasted longer if my cheeky son hadn't burst it. Because they gave me baby breaths – which are essentially dried flowers – this arrangement is one that can last for a really really long time!




#3 | Birthday Cake – Bob The Baker Boy

The star of any birthday party, the cake. I hesitated for a long time on this one. I have never been a fan of cakes and don't have the best impressions of tiered cakes – owing to the reason that over the course of my 26 years, I have had my fair share of tiered cakes that looked great but did not taste so great.

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Cake)

So, when I did my research on birthday cakes, I came across Bob The Baker Boy. Now this bakery caught me by surprise because 1) their buttercream cakes look so darn pretty, 2) they had an amazing amount of positive reviews with many moms raving about how delicious their cakes were. I reached out to BTBB and to my surprise, they agreed to collaborate with me and sponsor Ethan's birthday cake!

The theme for Ethan's party was Baby Shark and so naturally, the birthday cake was designed around the theme as well. They created some baby shark & pinkfong figurines with fondants... and sheesh, would you just look at that amazing artwork!

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Cake)

Bob The Baker Boy (Baby Shark Fondants)

I had seen so many baby shark birthday cakes online but this artwork by BTBB is a whole new level and the best that I have seen so far! So many of my guests walked up to take a closer look at the tiered cake, were impressed by the realistic artwork, wow-ed in amazement and snapped a few photos with their phones. I gotta admit, it felt great seeing all of the positive impressions that the cake made on my guests and I was glad for having found and chosen Bob The Baker Boy.

Bob The Baker Boy (Belgian Chocolate Cake)

Moving onto the cake flavour, I went with their best-seller "Belgian Chocolate" and oh my gosh, as a non-chocolate lover, IT IS SO GOOD. Everybody at the party was surprised at how delicious it was and loved the cake – my best friend went for second helpings. The chocolate cake wasn't too sweet, sufficiently rich in cocoa, moist and fluffy.

The only thing that I wish I could change was for one of the cake tier flavours to be "Strawberries & Cream" – a diabetic-friendly option. Yes! You can make the request for a double flavour and so guests can have a choice between two cake flavours. I have already made a mental note to myself that the next birthday cake (which I am definitely ordering from BTBB) to have Strawberries & Cream and another one of their custom cake flavours!




#4 | Food & Drinks

A happy guest is one who goes home with a full & satisfied tummy. For my buffet catering, I went with Manna Pot, a catering service that has over 16 years of experience in the industry. Manna Pot offers catering for birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, corporate events and more.

Buffet Table Layout

Buffet Table

Buffet Table

For birthday parties, the buffet catering comes with a thematic styling of your choice. They will offer you FOUR themes: Nautical (which is what I chose), Barnyard, Hot Air Balloon and Jungle.

As for the food, you can choose between a standard menu, high tea or mini buffet (note: this option does not come with a set-up). I went for their high tea menu as the timing for my party was from 2-6pm. Here is a look at the food and drink that I chose:

Fried Rice
Yang Chow Fried Rice

Mee Siam Goreng
Mee Siam Goreng

Chicken Wings
Honey Glazed Mid Wing

Siew Mai
Siew Mai

Honey Prawn Dumplings
Honey Prawn Dumplings with Chilli Dip


Prawn Fritters
Tempura Prawn with Wasabi Dip

Quiche
Quiche Lorraine

Muffins
Mini Muffin

Nachos with Cheese
Nacho with Cheese Dip

Dessert
Ice Jelly With Peach & Lychee

Bird Nest Cordial

Overall thoughts, the food was well-received! Before the halfway mark of the party, we ran out of Siew Mai and only one-third of the Honey Prawn Dumplings were left. Manna Pot was generous with the food portion, especially for the carbs. The Mee Siam Goreng was so good, I went back for it THREE times!

Everybody loved the Nacho with Cheese Dip (movies, anyone?), it is a brilliant snack to have at a party! As for dessert, we went with the safe option of Ice Jelly With Peach & Lychee. It was very obvious that there were no complaints about it because when the party ended, that bowl of dessert was empty LOL.

The husband and I decided that we can be a little adventurous with the drinks option hence we chose Bird Nest Cordial. I think everyone enjoyed this small change – my sister raised an eyebrow when she saw it, she went "Hmm. Bird's Nest. Interesting." She poured herself a cup, took a sip and commented "Nice" with a nod of approval and walked away happy. :)




#5 | Dessert Table


Happy Birthday MiniChew

I don't mean to boast, but the dessert table that I got from Divine Artisan was pretty damn awesome. My Baby Shark Dessert Table looks GREAT – probably the best Baby Shark dessert table that I have ever seen – and the dessert was super yummy too! I was so surprised by how well it was taken!

Dessert Table

I chope the dessert table for awhile because it was so pretty and worked great as a backdrop for photo-taking LOL, but the moment that I opened it for consumption, my guests flocked towards it, took a couple of desserts that they fancied, went back to their table to eat and CAME BACK AGAIN for second rounds!!

By the time that the cake-cutting ceremony was supposed to happen, my dessert table was actually pretty bare LOL! You can scroll back up and look closely at the photos! Desserts that were well-received are the Earl Grey Macarons, Fruit Tarts and Tiramisu Shooters.

Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread Cookies

Tiramisu
Tiramisu Shooters

Oreo Cheesecake
Oreo Cheesecake Squares

Meringues
Meringue

Early Grey Lavender Macaroons
Earl Grey & Lavender Macarons

Fruit Tart
Fruit Tarts

Cupcakes
Fondant Cupcakes




#6 | Goodie Bags

I hate for my guests to go home empty-handed, hence in collaboration with Yolky Chips, all of my guests got to go home with a pack of Yolky Chips! If you've never tried Yolky Chips before... YOU SHOULD. I fell in love with their potato chips at first try. Available in 3 flavours - truffle, spicy and salted egg yolk.

Yolky Chips + Hot Air Theory

I LOVE ANYTHING TRUFFLE, and for the longest time ever I wondered why there were an abundant of truffle fries available (like seriously, so many caf├ęs! Even Mac had their own rendition of truffle shaker fries for awhile) but no truffle chips in the market. Yolky Chips filled the gaping hole with their yummilicious truffle chips.

Because I had three flavours to give out, I came out with a little game for my guests. As part of the pre-party preparation, I cut out small squares of red, yellow and green paper and chucked them into a black cloth bag. Each coloured paper represented a pack of Yolky Chips in its respective flavour (RED = SPICY , YELLOW = SALTED EGG YOLK , GREEN = TRUFFLE)

My guests were required to shove their hand into the "Bag Of Unknown" and decide on their own "chip" fate. Some of them freaked out and refused to do so, thinking that it was some kinda prank lol.

If you are looking for inspiration for your party goodie bag, try Yolky Chips! You won't regret it. Their chips are really really good! You can pick up a pack of Yolky Chips from Cold Storage, Giant, Redmart or Naiise stores.


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This pretty much sums up all that I have to share about Ethan's 1st Birthday Party! I know I had a splendid time with my guests and because we kept it to close friends & family, I had the opportunity to sit down and catch up with people – unlike my wedding where it was mostly "hello" and "goodbye".

If you have extra money to spare, I would highly recommend you to hire a photographer. The day would go by so quickly and you are so busy chatting with people, liaising with the different vendors, chasing after kids... you'll need the photos for you to help remember the details of this day.

Check out my Instagram stories of the birthday party here.

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