first birthday / lifestyle / parenting / party planning

Winter One-derland on a Budget

winter onederlandIt’s true that a one year won’t remember their first birthday and they probably won’t care if you throw them a party or not but for us his first birthday party wasn’t only a celebration of Wesley but also a celebration of us making it successfully through our first year as parents. We stayed in on New Years Eve and our own birthdays so if we wanted to have a celebration for Wesley’s birthday after a year of getting in touch with our inner hermits, who can blame us right? Our two biggest hurdles in throwing a great party were 1. money and 2. space. We ruled out renting a space, because of the cost and we figured that being an hour away from all of our guests would probably cause the guest list to slim down itself. Our apartment ended up being a bit crowded but nothing too overwhelming. I went with a Winter One-derland theme which actually worked out great as far as our budget went. Here are some of the ways we made the party special without breaking the bank;

winter onederland5I went on a post-holiday scavenger hunt to find all the heavily discounted decorations that weren’t overly christmasy. So we got a lot of incredibly cheap blue and silver snowflake and snowmen decor that really helped to amp up our apartment. We added a touch of love to our decorations by making a couple of handmade items. I made a high chair decoration by tying ribbons and scraps of tulle and burlap to a burlap ribbon. My husband drew a personalized birthday sign to put on our front door. winter onederland3I also set out his baby book (which I confess we haven’t been very good at filling out) so that people could leave him birthday messages. After that we hit up the dollar tree to supplement our nicer decorations with more generic blue colored party decorations. Even though we used some dollar tree decorations, the decor didn’t scream cheap because of all the other more personal touches we had in the decor.winter onederland4

We skipped making an expensive meal or ordering pizza and instead set up a self-serve finger food snack spread. (The party was in the afternoon between lunch and dinnertime.) I thought about things that my little guy would love snacking on and just went with that. So we had bagel bites, cupcakes (in addition to the cake), and a homemade veggie platter with bell peppers, cauliflowers, baby carrots, broccoli, celery, and mushrooms. I could have made dip for the veggies but I went the lazy but yummy route and served green goddess dressing with them. I also set up a modest hot cocoa bar by making hot cocoa in the crock pot.winter onederland2

Asking for help from family and friends is another big way we kept to our budget. Everyone we know is good at doing something and most of your loved ones are more than willing to help out, especially if you consider it their birthday gift to your kiddo. My father has a nice camera and he took pictures (we haven’t gotten the copies yet but the ones I saw looked great). A friend of mine loves decorating cakes and offered to make Wesley’s cake so we took her up on it and ended with the most amazing cake ever. I’m a bit biased because she also made my wedding cake, but truly she did a fabulous job.

winter onederland7We also made his birthday extra special by setting up a tee-pee we saved up for in his playroom the night before so that we could surprise him with it in the morning.  We filled it with the balls from his ball pit that he recently started to outgrew.  It was a lot of fun playing with him in the morning.  Our day was busy but we took the time to send a special picture for my best friend (who lives in my hometown back in California) because Wesley shares his birthday and his middle name with his godfather.  He was never baptized but if we were into that stuff, Andy would totally be his godfather.  winter onderland7

The only truly awkward part of the party was opening the gifts(that we told people they didn’t need to bring) because Wesley decided he wasn’t interested in opening them himself and it does feel a little weird to open your child’s presents mostly by yourself while he crawls away to play with another baby.winter onederland8winter onederland6

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