1st Birthdays: Party Ideas & Tips
An entire year has zoomed by since you welcomed your tiny bundle in to the world - it’s madness, we know! So now it’s time to start thinking about celebrating their 365-day existence with some good friends, yummy cake, and a nice bottle of bubbly. Cheers!
Despite your baby not having the faintest clue as to what all the commotion is about, first birthdays are a very special occasion nevertheless, especially for the parents, and of course, the family photo album. Don’t forget, it also marks a proud milestone for you: as Ma and Pa, it’s your one-year anniversary since you entered parenthood!
As parents of nearly-one year olds, there’s no doubt your days are hectic and overloaded with tasks, errands and ‘round-the-clock parenting. So with your busy schedules in mind, we’ve made it easier for you by brainstorming ideas for venues, decorations and cake, along with a few extra tips. Whether you’re after a small get-together with some relatives and close friends, or even a huge bash, don’t worry ‘cause we’ve taken all options into account.
Who to invite?
First things first: there ain’t no party without the party people, so you’ll have to sit down and figure out who makes the cut. Will it just be a family and close mates thing, or are you inviting old friends, neighbours, colleagues and acquaintances? Will they solely comprise of adults or will there be babies and youngsters?
This will tie in significantly with the venue and how many people it can accommodate. Once you have a rough estimate of the number of guests, it’s advisable to research venues that are available for bookings first, before sending invitations and setting concrete plans.
When to throw the party?
Bear in mind some of your guests will have work or family commitments, so you should choose a day and time that’s convenient for all. Let your single guests have a lie-in after their night in Lan Kwai Fong and throw the party in the afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday. You will have to plan around your baby’s nap times so they don’t snooze through their own bash, and the same goes to your fellow parents and their babies or toddlers who you’ve invited. Make sure you give them plenty of notice and send the invitations early so they can plan ahead.
Keep in mind that for a first birthday, it’s best to keep the party quite brief - just a couple hours tops. Don’t let it drag on any longer than that, as the little ones will be on their last legs.
Choosing a venue
This part is the biggest headache in the process; the rest is much easier to sort out. To start off, take a look at your guest list and assess the space you’ll require accordingly. If you’re only organising a small party, you may be able to host it at home (depending on the size of your flat). However, you should consider the mess you’ll be left with at the end; if it’s on a Sunday, see if your helper is available to assist you.
If you are having the party outdoors, make sure there are changing and nursing facilities close by for you and your fellow mums. Don't forget to pack your baby changing kit and find out where exactly the facilities are located for those emergency situations!
If you're inviting a lot of people or you’d rather avoid using your house as the party venue, then here are some ideas you can look into:
A residential clubhouse: Do you (or any of your friends) have a communal clubhouse in your building? If so, is there a rec room you can hire for a few hours? This would be very convenient as it’s literally just downstairs, making lugging all your supplies from A to B a lot easier, or if you’ve forgotten or need anything else from home you can go up the lift and voila!
Private member’s club: Are you a member or know anyone who is a member of the Football/ Cricket Club, American Club or any others with function rooms? These are great venues because not only can you organise food and drinks through them, the club staff will be on hand to help you out!
Child-friendly venues: Click here for some indoor play areas that accommodate parties and events
Outdoors / public venue: With the seasons changing and the heat and humidity simmering down, why not take the party outside? There are many public places that are perfect venues for parties, like Cyberport Waterfront Park, Repulse Bay Beach and children’s playgrounds! It might be a bit of a hassle packing up all the supplies but at least you don’t have to worry about bookings! If you’re heading to the park or beach, make sure you bring a big mat or blanket that the kids can play on.
Organising food & catering
If you have youngsters coming 'round...
- make sure you stow away any fragile ornaments and hide any sharp or portentially dangerous items
- childproof the rooms; cover any sharp cabinet and table corners, get some door stoppers to avoid trapped little fingers, and lay down soft mats over a spacious floor area where they can roll around and play
- keep your kitties and pooches in another room during the party for their own safety and in case any guests are scared or allergic
Depending on how many people are attending the party, there are a few ways to organise a nice selection of nibbles and snacks. Your guests are not coming to the party to stuff themselves full; in fact, they'll probably eat very little. So all you’ll really need are a few finger-food type snacks like chicken wings, mini sausage rolls, cheese, cold cuts… you get the idea. Now, consider the following ideas:
Make it: If cooking is your forte and you have some free time, why not give it a go? There are countless websites offering great party snack recipes out there, plus your guests will be super-impressed if they’re homemade!
Potluck party: Ask each of your guests to contribute and bring something small for the party. Not only will you avoid having to worry about making anything, there will be a great variety of dishes.
Order in from a restaurant: If you’re having a small party, you could always order in a few large pizzas or party platters from your favourite restaurants. Just make sure they can accommodate and deliver your order beforehand so you’re not left stranded on the day.
Don’t forget to stock up on plenty of booze for the big kids!
Go through a catering company: For larger parties, food catering is a good way to go. There are so many caterers and private kitchens across Hong Kong. Here are some with great reviews:
- Gingers A1 L/G, Hing Wah Mansions, 2 Oaklands Path, Midlevels; 2964 9160; www.gingers.com.hk
- Magnolia Private Dining Shop 5, G/F, 17 Po Yan St., Sheung Wan; 2530 9880; www.magnoliahk.com
- Tastee Gourmet Asia Company Ltd. Unit G, Block 2, Kingsford Ind. Building, 26-32 Kwai Hei St., Kwai Fong; 2409 8389; www.tasteegourmet.com.hk
- Percys G/F, 68 Catchick St., Kennedy Town; 2855 1882; www.percys.hk
The cake: order or bake?
Steer clear of choking hazards and foods containing nuts (in case of allergies)...
The birthday cake is by far the most important step in planning all of this. Again, if you love being in the kitchen, have some spare time on your hands, and own an oven and utensils, what’s stopping you from baking it yourself? You can add that special, personal touch since you know your baby better than anyone else. If you choose to go with this option, there are some great baking supply stores in town. From fondant and sprinkles to chocolate buttons, sugar flowers and frozen berries these shops stock everything you’ll need to bake a masterpiece:
- Sweet Decorations 13/F Simpson Comm. Building, 137-139 Johnston Rd., Wan Chai; 2892 2033; www.sweetdeco.hk
- I Love Cake Shop H2, 188 Wan Chai Rd., Wan Chai; 2671 2644; www.ilovecake.hk
- Baking Warehouse Unit E, 4/F, Lladro Centre, 72 Hoi Yuen Rd., Kwun Tong; 2172 6916; www.bakingwarehouse.com
For most of you though, we bet the last thing you need on your to-do list is to bake a cake. So give yourself a break and place an order at one of these cakeries or cupcake stores - you definitely won’t be disappointed (just look at the photos on their websites)!
- Complete Deelite 2/F, On Lan Centre, 11-15 On Lan Street, Central; 3167 7022; www.completedeelite.com
- Ms. B’s Cakery 39 Gough St., Central; 2815 8303; www.msbscakery.hk
- Sweet Secrets 35 Graham St., Central; 2545 8886; www.sweetsecrets.com.hk
- SIFT Various locations; www.siftdesserts.com
- Rose Petal Cakery; www.facebook.com/rosepetalcakery
It’s common for the parents to organise two cakes - a big one for the guests and a smaller one for the birthday boy/girl - so they can demolish it to their heart’s content.
Entertainers, games & activities
At age 1, most children are terrified of clowns and entertainers in costume. Plus, it’s not like they’re going to remember this party, so it may not be the best idea to hire one. But if you’ve got a group of young kids coming to the party, an entertainer will keep them entertained and supervised, and the adults will have a chance to hang out and mingle in peace. Make sure you’ve organised enough games to keep them entertained and occupied - stuffed toys, dolls, paper, crayons, a DVD.
If you want to book an entertainer, check out our GeoBaby directory here.
You're going to need a volunteer to take photos and videos at the party since you’ll want to be in them! Charge your camera up, make sure there’s loads of space on the memory stick and delegate this important task to somebody!
Decorations, invitations, goodie bags & birthday presents
Finally, the fun part. Visit any of the stores listed below, and get some nice decorations, banners and streamers. You may want to colour-coordinate everything or pick a theme and shop around that. But steer clear of balloons, horns, and anything else with loud bangs and pops.
- Kiddle Party Supplies Unit A 190-112, 1/F, Manning Ind. Building, 116-118 How Ming St., Kwun Tong; 2177 2089; www.kiddle.com.hk
- Party Paradise 20B, Po Wah Comm. Centre, 226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai; 2525 1382; www.partyparadise.com.hk
- Eezy Peezy Parties Unit 8, 23/F Harbour Ind. Centre, 10 Lee Hing St., Ap Lei Chau; 2580 2530; www.eezypeezyparties.com
- Party For Less 16/F, Unit A, Lup Hop Building, 8 Luk Hop St., San Po Kong; 2351 6285; www.partyforless.com.hk
- Living Plaza by AEON ($12 Store) Various locations; www.jusco.com.hk
- Wellcome & Park’n’Shop stock very simple paper plates, cups and other party needs (not the prettiest, but if you’re not fussed, they’ll do)
Don’t forget to buy: plastic plates, forks, spoons, tablecloths, banners, napkins, goodie bags & items and a cake knife. It doesn’t hurt to get more than you need just in case.
If you want to get fancy and send out some snazzy invitation cards, you can get them custom-designed and printed at many places around town. Sheung Wan and Central are packed full with printing shops that offer this service. However, if you don’t mind writing them yourself, you can always buy invitation card sets at bookshops or stationery stores.
Put some nice background music on - it's up to you what type you choose but be tasteful (no psytrance or gangsta rap!)...
Now, goody bags for the young guests. Ask yourself these questions: what is their age-group? Will you include a number of small items, or just one each? What items will you include? So first, assess the kid’s ages before assembling cute goody bags. Here are a few ideas for goody bag contents:
- Bath toys
- Stuffed toys
- Crayons & colouring books
- Lip balm
- Soap bars
- Bouncy balls / inflatable beach balls
- Cloth bibs
As a parting note, if you are in the mood to carry out a good deed, you can ask your guests to go through a Hong Kong social enterprise Two Presents when looking for birthday presents. They follow a beautiful concept where the money you give is “pooled and split into two parts”: one part goes toward charity and the other goes to you (or the receiver of your present) to spend on whatever you want!