I was going to write a post about this shortly after Poppet’s first birthday, but I decided to wait a while. She’s already turning two in July but hey, it’s never too late to strike up a ‘conversation’ with you guys on the topic of birthdays and parties. Is anyone even still interested in discussing kids birthday parties? It seems this topic has become somewhat controversial.
How Much Effort or Fuss
I’m not going to share too many of my thoughts on the big deal or the not so big a deal about kid’s parties. There are hundreds of articles from all angles that one can relate to about the fuss or no fuss that we make when our kids have birthdays.
However, I will share some of Poppet’s first birthday party with you. I believe that, just like with any other parenting decision, we should focus on what works for us and pay less attention to what is going on in other families.
I don’t have much experience with planning kid’s birthday parties. My sister’s birthday is early in January while the schools are closed so everybody was always away. I sometimes helped my mom with her tiny parties when she was a toddler. When she was older I kind of just winged it when I took it upon myself to do a little something.
When she was a teenager it was a whole lot easier. I was also never phased by the perceived pressure from other moms because I never integrated as a real “parent”. I felt sorry for her back then, but she didn’t seem to enjoy her parties any less just because there were very few friends in town at the time of celebrating.
I’m even less phased now by modern “Pinterest pressure” or trends. I just do what I want to do. I should be caring a whole lot more about my husband’s opinion but him and I can joke about our differences when it comes to parties. With regards to my own birthday, I often choose not to celebrate with a party at all for a few years. Then I’ll suddenly have a big pyjama party at a random age like 33. My husband prefers something more ordinary for himself every year, and the conventional bigger parties on his 10 year milestones. For my 21st Birthday I chose to go out for dinner with 5 other people. A table for 6. My dad couldn’t quite get his head around that but I’ll stop here before I chatter onto a different topic.
First Birthday Parties vs Weddings
For me, first birthday parties are for adults, not kids. I don’t believe that the one-year old kids comprehend much, and for the older kids it’s just a bit of a different kind of gathering to their other parties.
Poppet’s first birthday was bigger than our wedding. We only had 28 guests at our wedding. I will probably never live this down, but trust me, we have no regrets when it comes to our celebration of tying the knot. It was not a traditional wedding with an ordained person marrying us. It was a Blessing Ceremony in my brother-in-law’s garden. A very beautiful one, but small. We got married in court before that.
It was called a “wedding” for purpose of understanding and our baby was Welcomed and Blessed on the same day. That was our version of a “Christening”. I don’t know if that puts anything into perspective when one thinks about how people prioritize the events they want to celebrate and spend money on.
Wedding doesn’t spell Marriage. The symbolism of the people we chose to spend our wedding day with and the people we chose to spend our child’s first birthday with is something that is significant and special to us.
For Poppet’s first birthday, we invited double the number of guests. We had more flowers than at our wedding. We happened to use the same events company, caterers and venue as our wedding.
While it was much cheaper than our wedding, it was huge in comparison.
Most of the friends at the party were of course around Poppet’s age. I did however do two different party packs. A pack for the babies, and a pack for toddlers and kids.
After a short bit of research, I found that the Party Packs would be my biggest challenge. Most moms disapprove of something in a party pack. They generally remove things. Mothers check party packs, especially those with allergic kids. Allergies had me so worried because Peanut Butter was/is one of Poppet’s favourites and I was hell-bent on including a peanut butter cup.
Some moms pack their own things. Some still breastfeed. One would actually think that party packs are useless altogether. But, for two/three-year olds and upwards, of course I wanted to have a party pack, so the babies should naturally get one too, in my book.
Party Pack “No Nos”
From the information that I remember gathering at the time, these are some of the things that moms generally hate most in party packs:
- Sugary & junk drinks
I remember thinking to myself, why does this have to be so hard?
So, I Did It My Way
I decided that the party packs will contain the Birthday Girl Favourites. That’s it. The easy way out. It’s impossible to satisfy everyone anyway. I didn’t feel that anyone at my own party was going to judge my party pack. But, if anyone was to judge me for being the stuck-up health police, which I’m not, that was fine by me.
I decided that kids don’t come to parties for the party pack. Kids don’t judge their party packs. They are quite happy with whatever they get. They are there to play.
Our Party Packs contained:
- Peanut Butter Cup
- Kiri Cheese Cube
- Fruit Stick
Toddlers and Kids:
- Peanut Butter Cup
- Kiri Cheese Cube
- Fruit Stick
- Seed Bar
- Marie Biscuits
- Sugar Free Chocolate
Why not sugar? Sugar vs Sugar Substitutes
We know that both are bad for us. If we still want to sweeten things up a bit, it’s a case of picking our poison. In my personal opinion any sugar substitute ending in “ol” is not great, but I’d pick it over sugar any day.
I try to stick with natural sugars for my child. She rarely has sweets at home. With sweets, I try to choose substitutes, only because I know the effects of sugar and sugar substitutes on me.
When my diet is packed with sugar, I am
- I feel increasingly anxious.
- I am more tired.
- My energy levels fluctuate severely, and they are unpredictable.
- I feel grumpy at times when there is no clear reason to be grumpy.
- There’s no need to mention the obvious weight gain, but there are probably more things I am forgetting.
Most importantly, sugar negatively affects my mood, concentration and overall functioning. I don’t personally want to put my child through too much of that. I drink lots of coffee with Xylitol. We know this can be very harmful to pets but we don’t have pets. When we run out of Xylitol and I use sugar instead, I feel it on day one.
I don’t feed my child Xylitol, but occasionally I feed her sugar-free sweets that one would never know don’t contain sugar.
When there has been a birthday party at school, packed with sugar, I can see it in my child’s behaviour. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it because it doesn’t happen every day, but I feel sorry for her. It’s like she has been punished for having a good time and enjoying treats.
Sugar and Sugar Substitutes at the Party
At the party, there was more than enough refined sugar in the cake and cupcakes. For me, it’s about balance.
My child doesn’t drink juice at home unless it’s freshly squeezed juice that I have bought or squeezed within minutes at home. I know what she is drinking. I chose to have a freshly squeezed carrot, orange and pineapple juice for the kids and there was no other option. The carrot in the juice fit in perfectly with the Peter Rabbit theme and the juice is naturally sweet. They also had bottled water. I didn’t see any child complain about it. They may have complained to their parents and asked for something else but then I wasn’t aware of it. I don’t even think the kids knew that there were carrots in their juice. It’s one of my mom hacks to disguise carrots when my child refuses to eat them.
The sugar-free chocolates that were in the party packs are substituted with Isomalt and Maltitol and no child would be able to tell the difference.
The objective for me was to see if it would actually make a difference to eliminate sugar from the drinks and substitute sugar in the party packs, if there was still sugar in the cake?
It certainly did, and we didn’t see results of the classic sugar overload that comes with kid’s parties.
Again, I’m not saying that sugar packed parties are wrong. It was just the perfect opportunity for me to do this experiment.
My Top Kids Birthday Party Tips
Omit the kid’s table.
The events team told me not to waste my money on a pretty kid’s table because the children never sit there. They only gather there for three minutes to sing when candles are being blown out. I was hesitant to take this advice because the kid’s table always looks like the best part of the décor to me.
This bit of insight was on point at our party. We didn’t have one and we didn’t need one. I’ve also noticed at other parties that even when the kids spend a little bit more time at a kid’s table, it doesn’t show too much value, for me. The kid’s “seating area” is not a priority for me. They eat on the go or plonk themselves down on the grass. Our version of the kid’s table was simply a table where their food was collected.
If it’s your thing to make a big deal out of birthdays, you can use quality images of your theme to print for décor and all the other little things. Use a professional printer if your budget allows. This is a cost-effective way of making the theme “pop” and even personalizing party packs if you want. Print little vinyl stickers to seal things or label consumables. Vinyl stickers are reusable.
I used some of the decor as the party favour. A Peter Rabbit party would hardly be the same without a touch of Mr McGregor’s garden. We had so many vegetables as part of the decor. It was an ideal opportunity to offer a useful take-away bag of vegetables. All those vegetables would have gone to waste in my little family. The party was in the middle of winter. I received messages and pictures from friends and family afterwards about the amazing soups and dishes that they made.
I wanted my baby to have a cake to smash. To make a saving, I opted for the old fashioned cake smash. I omitted the professional shoot of a staged smash and let my child smash a cake at her party instead. Poppet had her own homemade cake to herself. We also had cupcakes and a professional cake.
Outfits and Keepsakes
I used the outfit to serve as the keepsake as well. I seriously considered printing a chart or a having a board with Poppet’s milestones and favourites, I just love these on display at parties. But instead, I had her outfit embroidered to keep. This is easier for me to store and made sense when I compared cost. Poppet’s milestones are recorded in her baby book. The baby book was floating around at the party for those who were interested in having a look at milestones.
My Sugar Free Supplier
I did some research and sampled a whole lot of sugar-free sweets & chocolates before the party. I also had a few kids of all ages who helped me with the selection process.
In the end, I chose Lunch Bugz.
Lunch Bugz specialize in pre-packed lunch boxes for kids and adults, delivered to your door. You receive a month’s supply of lunch boxes, a convenient alternative to packing lunch every day. You just grab a bag and off you go. I don’t make use of this service because we work from home and my child has meals included at school.
One can also customize your lunch box and then they have the sugar-free sweets and chocolates and some other goodies.
The chocolates are what I’m into. Mostly for myself. The sugar substitutes are Isomalt and Maltitol. Chocs do not contain any Xylitol and are safe to keep in your home around pets. I get stuck into the chocolate quite seriously when my time comes to stuff the world’s sugary treats down my pie hole. I’ve recently tried their new Sorella Indulgences choc boxes and my pantry is now stocked. You can visit them online at http://www.lunchbugz.co.za/
Poppet’s Second Birthday Is Coming Up
Her second birthday is less than five months away, I can hardly believe it. I’m not yet sure about what we’re going to do at home, but, Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit might be involved again, LOL. I’m hanging onto this theme for dear life because I know that Poppet is probably going to ask for a commercialized Disney theme sooner than I would have preferred.
My baby shower was Peter Rabbit, the nursery is Peter Rabbit, the 1st Birthday was Peter Rabbit, the toys are Peter Rabbit, the cutlery, and the bookshelf. Yes, we have all the Beatrix Potter tales. When we were in America I even went to check in the New York Library if we are missing any books. There is one very unknown one that we don’t have. We have many different editions of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This year I decided to put some more effort into my collection. Poppet may not like it when she grows up, but I do it for me anyway. Peter Rabbit never gets old!
Poppet will have her second birthday party at school, so my husband will probably bake something for a little party. I’ll probably do party packs similar to last year.
We might do another one at home, who knows? But it certainly won’t be anything like the first birthday. I’m guessing close family and a few of her friends. I don’t actually want to think about it just yet. I can hardly entertain the thought of the last two years flying by at the speed of light.
That said, we like to celebrate life, so we will probably do something. I’m just not sure what yet.
If you have any ideas about kid’s birthday parties that you would like to share, or if you can give me any advice from your own experience, please let me know?
With Love & Gratitude,
Peter Rabbit Theme & Concept: Poppet Mom, Laetitia
You can find more of my posts here.
Events Company: Impressionant Events
Custom made outfits and embroidery: Bugs Unlimited
Stickers & Printing sponsored by Printspace
Sugar Free Sweets & Chocolates for the party were Sponsored by Lunch Bugz
Photography Sponsored by Leigh Benson Photography
*This is not a sponsored blog post. Although some products were sponsored for Poppet’s first birthday party, all views and opinions are my own.