Megha's first birthday, 15Dec2012:
Planning for Megha's birthday started 4 months prior to the date of the birthday i.e Aug 2012.
Any party/function/celebrations success depends on planning. We wanted Megha's first birthday to be memorable (for us). Of course she wouldn't remember a thing about this day but that doesn't stop us from putting together a fabulous party for her! Today is 23, Aug 2012. Her birthday is less than 4 months away and I want to make sure all the planning and organizing is done before we leave for India on Oct 31 for Megha's tonsure and ear piercing ceremony.
Guest list and the venue: situation as of 23Aug2012
Anand and I decided that we want to invite all close friends, neighbours and kids and their parents from Megha's day care. That was giving us a number close to 40. My research showed that most of the people living in our town opt for Town Halls and sports centres as they are far more economical than renting a restaurant all for ourselves.
I checked the online website for our town and most of the reviews were in favour of one famous historic Hall. It accommodates 60 people but it's only 900 sq ft. Emmmm? Really? Can those many people fit in there? Have to see.
Below picture was taken in Aug:
Situation as of 23Sept2012:
Exactly a month has gone by since we started planning for Megha's birthday. A few things are in place and the picture and my vision for the party is beginning to take shape.
After a lot of speculation, we have decided to host the party at a Lions Club. This hall we chose is the right price and it fits 75 people. Since we would be having about half that number for the party, we should have plenty of room.
The deposit has been paid and so is the insurance. We have the hall for 5 hours on 15Dec. Phew! One major thing out of the way! Hall, check.
I wanted an invitation which is unique. So, I searched and searched and finally found a place which makes just what I wanted! LOVED it! Since it was custom made, I chose the colors, font, text and even the layout! We distributed these invitations personally to all the guests.
Aaaahhhh, I had been looking forward for this since the day Megha was born! After looking around (a lot) I found one lady who bakes cakes with exactly the same techniques I wanted in Megha's cake. I booked an appointment with the lady and called a friend (Vishya) to accompany me for this huge task.
I wanted to make sure that the lady uses fondant and gum paste for decorating the cake as I really wanted the cake to have the elements of Megha's favorite toys. Making shapes of toys with fondant and gum paste is not easy (yes, I tried it once and gave up) and I had sent the lady, the pictures of Megha's toys. The first one was Sophie the Giraffe and the second one was Bug-a-Loop. Both of them are Megha's all time favorite toys and hence, I want the cake's theme to be in the colors of the toys and the cake topper to be Sophie the Giraffe. Only when the lady said she can handle this that I booked the appointment.
Now the details of the cake! I borrowed a book on cakes from the library just to get an idea about my options. After some research, I decided to have a 2 tire cake and 2 layers each. When I told this to the lady, she suggested that I use two completely different flavors for the 2 tires, this way, if someone doesn't like one flavor, they have an option to have another. What a great idea!
I chose vanilla for the first tire with lemon-curd filling (in the layer). I chose chocolate for the top tire with chocolate ganache for filling. I chose these standard flavors to make sure most of the crowd likes it. But no butter cream frosting as its waaaaay too common.
Absolutely no nuts to be used in this cake for the fear of allergies for anyone, especially Megha.
The color of the fondant will complement the Sophie's orange patches. A few lady bugs would be spread around, theme taken from bug-a-loop. I wanted 10 inch cake for the bottom layer and an 8 inch cake for the top layer. I am so exited about the cake! I can't wait to see it! I have already paid for it. Cake, check.
Here is how it looks:)
Candy Station: There cannot be a birthday party without chocolates and candy, can it? I am inviting a few kids (10 to be specific) and I want them to have as much candy as their parents would allow them to, lol! So, I decided to have a candy station. Just before leaving for the day, kids can help themselves to the candy. So far I have bought jelly beans, gummy bears, mini-sneakers/mini-others, Ring pops, bite size sneakers/smarties and fruit gums. I chose these as they are good to be eaten until next year. Meticulously i packed each item in plastic bags and tied them with strings. Oh, it was very time consuming. I bought the plastic bags in cone shape from a dollar store. I had to custom cut to fit different types of candy.
On our way back from India, we had a stop over in Brussels. How can we not get Belgian chocolates from there for Megha's birthday? So we did! We bought Godiva chocolates to be included in the candy station.
Decorations: It's nice to have some decoration of any special event. I didn't want to spend a lot on decorations as I was afraid that I am cutting close to my budget; and I really want to stick to my budget. We went to party place and bought lots of streamers, shiny Good! Decorations, check.
Party Favours/ Return gifts/ Loot bags:
We, of course, wanted just the perfect gifts to give away. But what? that is the big question. we explored a few options and decided that we will make fairly standard for little boys and little girls, perhaps with color differences. We bought small gift bags and stuffed ping-pong bat/ball, bubble mix, treasure hunt map, whistles, color pencils(10 each), coloring paper, small kaleidoscope and some other small things for which I do not know a name. I loved putting together these small treasures :)
Here is a picture of the things I gave in loot bags.
Food food and food!
We decided that we would be getting Chinese for lunch for everyone. Budget was $400 and we were well within the budget of ordering the food. I must say, since it was going to be Indian crowd (mostly), we had to make a special request to make it spicy. Yummy Yummy! We got Asian Hakka food from Asian Wok and Roll in Mississauga. Our good friends picked it up on their way to the party hall. Anand meticulously labelled every item; nice of him eh?
The day of the Birthday:
Finally, finally the day is here. After meticulous planning and a LOT of stress, the day is here! I kissed her Happy birthday as soon as she woke up and her dad did the same. In fact he kissed her happy birthday at mid night itself. She is too young to recognize her special day but I made sure that she is as comfortable as she can on her birthday.
Call's poured in from all over the world; cousins, aunts and uncles wishing her a life filled with joy and good health.
After breakfast, I bathed her and she napped for full two hours! usually she doesn't sleep that long. She was being sooo cooperative and I couldn't be any less proud of her. By the time she woke up, we are ready to leave to the party place.
We gave her our special birthday card and gift before we left home and she loved her gift!
Here is one of the gifts we bought for her; a princess ...whats that, a car? She loved it!
Hubby and I loaded our respective cars with everything needed and drove separately. I took a detour to get the cake and soft drinks for the party while Anand went to pick up Neeta.
Few of our friends showed up early to help set up cake table, decorations, candy station, food, chairs etc. I cannot forget, Anju was hanging in the decorations on the wall and Megha (as much as she can reach) was promptly removing them :)
Once the guests started arriving, I quickly changed into a (sexy huh?) red dress while Megha is dressed in an adorable pink frock. She was looking like cotton candy, so yummy yummy that I can almost eat her cheeks off :) lol
A small table was set up for soft drinks and snacks/soft drinks so that guests can help themselves while we get ready for cake cutting.
Soon we started the cake cutting. I almost had tears in my eyes. Our baby, our small tiny baby whom it seems like was born only yesterday is turning one! How did she grow up this fast?!
And the Megha had her first taste of her birthday cake. She made a face in the beginning but loved the flavor :) I didn't give her much though. She was bathed in camera flashes and ooohhh's and aahhhh's and blowing kisses.
After the cake cutting, the clown entertained the kids with all sorts of funny tricks and treats. Kids loved it. Some younger ones were scared to look at the clown but the clown was very gentle and friendly. She coaxed every kid to play with her. We also had face painting and I cannot thank the clown enough. She brought all-organic face paints which can be washed off with plain water and absolutely no harmful chemicals.
She also made different shapes in balloons and the kids went crazy over who would get which balloon :) I am happy we hired this clown. She really kept the kids entertained. Megha also had her our Balloon and she kept tugging it all along. God, I just cannot get over how beautiful she is!
When the food was served, everyone appreciated how flavorful everything is. Initially i thought they were all being very polite but then when I tasted it myself, it really was awesome. I then knew that I got food from the right place.
But its not easy to make sure you have everything the lunch needs. I had to a make a list at least a month before and get the plates (for lunch, desserts and cake), napkins, spoons, forks, knives, water, table covers, cake knife, cake server etc. We made multiples trips to the stores in the days leading to the party. It was stressful but so much fun though.
When I served the Godiva truffles along with Tiramisu and fruits as dessert, most of the adults had at least 2 truffles each! lol...But I don't blame them. Who can resist Belgian chocolates?
All along, Megha was such a sweet heart. She hasn't cried once. I gave her lunch and milk and she happily played, even though it was getting past her afternoon nap time. How can anyone be blessed so much? I don't know what I did to deserve such a sweet baby.
Cake received rave reviews too. It was neither too sweet, nor too rich. Just the right amount of everything blended. I simply cannot believe how beautiful the cake looked and how artistically the cake-lady had captured megha's two favorite toys. I know where I am going to get the second birthday cake! Every one had 2 pieces of cake! One the chocolate layer and the other lemon curd flavor. Still, there was lots of it left over.
Just before everyone started leaving, I handed over loot bags/ return gifts and balloons which we hung as decorations. And when kids saw the candy station emerge, their eyes were filled with wild temptation! My hard work of neatly packing every kind of candy in separate bags paid off. That moment was worth the hours I put into carefully packing the candy.
As the day began to close, Megha started fussing a little. Almost everyone left with the exception of our best friends. I took Megha home while hubby and friends cleaned up the place, returned the hall keys and returned home. By then I had put Megha down for a late afternoon nap.
When hubby and our close friends returned home, we celebrated a little more with 2 bottles of some really good champagne. After all, an year of parenthood is also an achievement, don't you agree :)
They stayed with us for a while and left. Then Hubby, Megha and I had a chance to spend some alone time together and the day came to an end. We hugged the birthday girl again and simply cannot believe how much she has grown.
All her gifts and thank-you-for-coming-call's have to wait until the next day. Neither of us had any energy left to deal with gifts or formalities.
All our planning and handwork paid off. I couldn't have been happier.
Special thanks to Anita Aunty, Tushar, Vishya, Neeta, Sasha, Anju, Yogesh and the little hero Yash for all the help you have given us to make this day special. It wouldnt have been the same without you.
Thanks Paaji uncle and family, Bharat and family, Faisal and family, Chader and family for coming and blessing our baby.