parenting

Growing Strong at 1: The Birthday Party is Coming

This is the Part Where You Think You’re Going to Be Different From Everyone Else But You End up Throwing a Party Anyway

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“No fancy and expensive first birthday party that she won’t even remember,” I declared to my husband before the Bear was born, “let’s use the money instead for a trip to Japan, which she won’t remember either but will be a unique experience for a first birthday.”

We had it all planned out. We would not fall prey to the first birthday trap of going all out for a party the celebrator would not even remember. No pre-birthday studio pics. No stressful nights party planning and looking for a clown.

 

Now, in theory, it all sounded good. We would go against the norm, we would be rebels in our own way. We, a husband and wife team of introverts who prefer small groups of friends to big parties. But …

We realized soon enough that the Bear loves people. She draws her energy from interacting with big groupsShe loves parties. If you can imagine a pair of semi-introverts with the life of the party in tow, socializing the heck out of fastfood restaurants and parties, you’ll have an idea of how amazed we are at how easily she navigates social situations. When she eats, she has to be surrounded by a LOT of people, preferably clapping and cheering her on. We hear strangers react in amazement when she smiles and/or waves at them. Nowadays, she hardly stays at home – she hangs out with her cousins next door and only goes home to take a shower and nap.

She can’t stay cooped up at home for long – she will in no uncertain terms make her displeasure known and will throw a fit if you don’t take her someplace new. In fact, on our solo Sundays together, we have to bring her to densely populated places like fastfood restaurants and malls because she MUST see a lot of people, otherwise we will end up with a very grumpy and bored Bear.

So while her father and I are not really into big social gatherings, we ended up throwing a party for the one person who loves it the most.

This is the Part Where We Picked Game of Thrones Instead of a Princess or Rainbow and Butterflies Kind of Party

Her Dad and I are fans of the series. Her dad is a bigger fan, though, having read the GRRM novels, while I only read bits and pieces of the first book. Anyway, Game of Thrones (GOT) came to mind due to its mindblowing sixth season and the ubiquity of GOT-themed memes and merchandise.

How very adult, you might say. Well, it’s the tiniest concession. Kiddie themes are cute and all, but to be honest, nobody really pays attention except maybe the adults. As far as we are concerned, however, once we pick a theme, we go with it all the way. So no butterflies or rainbows for us, parents slash party organizers, but we will make GOT as kid friendly as we can.

Besides, the Bear’s very first cloth diaper was a collection of sigils (house symbols?) of the major Houses of Westeros. So to some extent, GOT has also been coopted by clever kiddie-themed merchandise (probably for the parent-fans).

The  fun part was thinking of different ways you can say “_______ is coming.” Birthday is coming. Poop is coming – check out her shirt in the photos below.

We recreated a photo shoot from December last year when we joined the Fluffy Pwets model search. The concept was – you guessed it, Poop is Coming by the Bear and her Direwolf cats.

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Poop is Coming, December 2015 or at 3 months
Here’s the ‘recreated’ shot:

 

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Birthday is Coming, August 2016, or at 11 months
Note that this time around, we know how to put on the same cloth diaper properly, and that we’ve been using it for almost a year now and it’s still awesome.

 

A major challenge to any parent when it comes to holding a kiddie party is the venue – how do you turn a ballroom into a kiddie party? How do you keep the kids entertained?

When you book a regular venue like, you have to transform it into a kiddie themed place and reserve a small part for the ‘mini-stage’ where the kids can eat and watch a show.

We were going down the same road until we discovered Kidstown in Metrotown Mall.

Kidstown to us, was a game changer in first birthday party awesomeness. A former movie theater inside Metrotown Mall, the place was transformed into a giant kiddie paradise with slides, balls, buildings, and kiddie toys.

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The upper seats of the former cinema were converted to a smallish dining area – a small price to pay if you want to entertain a bunch of restless kids.

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Overview of the venue
While DIY is a nice option, it was not feasible in our case due to our work schedules. Our amazing stylist, Mr. Popper, is a GOT fan himself which made sharing ideas even a lot easier.

We tried to be faithful to the GOT concept as much as possible within the context of a first birthday. We actually even came up with a list of Westerosi themed dishes, pun intended, for our guests, but our caterer forgot to bring the labels.

Lunch and kiddie snacks were courtesy of Mary Ann’s Kitchen. Incidentally, Ann is a veritable one stop shop for party needs – from food to our photo booth (Snapbox) and hashtag prints (Instabox)!

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Welcome to our version of Westeros!

Who sits on the faux iron throne?

Welcome to Castle Black (… and pink). No Jon Snow waiting though. Sorry, ladies!

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 The Houses of Westeros bow not to Khaleesi, but Khal Lexi 
Our banners.


Beware of hatching baby Dragon Eggs, our table centerpiece. ğŸ˜Ž

One of my dear friends, Liza of Lizzie’s House of Cakes – who is an awesome baker, made a special chocolate marble fondant cake for us and the most delish cupcakes, all inspired by GOT.

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For giveaways, we became even a bit more specific and ordered potted plants from Go Green Giveaways – a nod to House Tyrell.


The pots arrived a day before the party, with specific instructions to water the plants only once a week but expose to morning sunlight everyday.

(For the kids though, we bought lots of candy last minute and reserved the plants for the adults.)

For our main kiddie entertainment event,  we invited Funny Bone Puppets, a birthday party entertainment puppet show and asked them to customize a Game of Thrones-themed show for us. Now how is that even possible, you might ask. Recreate the Red Wedding? Or Geoffrey’s wedding toast? Horrors of horrors! Icee, the supermom and one of half of Funny Bones, luckily found a Sesame Street homage to the series and incorporated other funny elements to the storyline.

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We also hired two more clowns (from Kidstown) to entertain the kids.

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The Bear – and the kids loved the huge, veritable playground.

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Even though she was recovering from a week long bout with flu at the time and even lost weight, she put on her best game face for her party.

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This is the Bear in her Fluffy Pwets GOT sigils dress, contemplating the challenges of ruling the world from her faux Iron Throne.

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Also, as you may have noticed, she is not too much of a girly girl, but she rocks whatever she puts on anyway.

This is the Part Where We Pat Ourselves on the Back for Surviving the Bear’s First Birthday party

It was a challenging affair trying to get everything right, but seeing the Bear enjoying herself and being with family and dear friends made it all worth it.

Yes, we survived! The Bear is indefatigable when it comes to parties and similar affairs so she was totally in her element. But her introvert parents were forced to stretch their wings and exit their comfort zones a little but to make all this happen.

Thank you, dearest family (especially her grandmas) and friends, for helping us make this birthday party happen.  Thank you for the gifts and warm hugs and much love for the happy Bear.

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… Finally, this is where we list our highly recommended suppliers in case you need some birthday party planning experts

Venue – Kidstown

Event styling (decorations, etc.) – Mr. Popper. His work speaks for itself!

Catering – main course, dessert and food booths – Mary Ann’s Kitchen. Plus you can also coordinate with her for your other event needs!

Birthday outfit (dress and matching diaper) – Fluffy Pwets. Read more about them in my previous posts about cloth diapers.

Birthday cake and cupcakes by Lizzie’s House of Cakes for custom made designs and yummy confections!

Photos – Snapbox (photobooth) and Instabox (hashtag prints). Photo booth event photos are here. Hashtag photos of the event are also here.

Event photos – by award-winning photographer Cesar Diaz.

Studio photos – by Pose and Play. Thanks for letting our cats hang out and have their photos taken!

Giveaways – succulents by Go Green Giveaways.

 

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