Around Dominic’s 6 month birthday, I decided I was going to go for it – I was going to give him a big first birthday party. He deserved to be celebrated. I was on the fence for a bit, but I’m so glad I went for it.
I decided to go with the theme “Adventure is Out There!” based on the Disney/Pixar movie UP. Reasons? 1) We love to travel and go on adventures; this is something we definitely want to share with Dominic as he grows older, and 2) I decided it would be best to steer clear of anything related to winter/Christmas so that it was clear that it was separate from the holidays. What better way than with bright colors?
I planned the bulk of it at least 2 months out and did a little crafting each week after Dominic went to bed. Late night is when my creative juices start flowing, so it worked out perfectly. It was also therapeutic for me to be able to be creative again. Beyond meal planning, organizing the house, and figuring out how I want to approach new milestones with my child, there wasn’t really much room for fun projects.
A tip for moms with December babies – if you plan to have your baby’s birthday party at a clubhouse or some place similar, plan way, way ahead. I started calling in SEPTEMBER, and everywhere I was planning to have his party was already booked for Christmas parties. We ended up booking a clubhouse on a Sunday instead of a Saturday because of this.
Well, here’s the party! Most of these photos were taken by my sister and my cousin; I’d probably have nothing if I didn’t enlist someone to take photos for me. A lot of scrambling happens when you’re hosting!
At the entrance was a little check-in table. Instead of a standard guestbook, I used the Dr. Seuss book “Oh The Places You’ll Go!”
and asked guests to sign and leave a message for Dominic in there. He would get the book when he’s a little older.
Also on the table were “Ellie badges” that guests could take to wear. After all, they were in the club now! My sister is an artist and had the contraption to make these buttons. It was her brilliant suggestion, and they were definitely a hit. If you’re wondering, the mini luggage
is from Amazon
This was a crafts and games table. On the left, I bought wooden coin boxes and wood markers from Oriental Trading
, and kids were encouraged to decorate their own box to start saving up for their next adventure just like the characters did in the movie.
In the middle, the small mailbox was a gift I gave my husband during our first Valentine’s day together, and next to it is a glass jug that I used to mimic the jug from the movie where they collected their change for the dream vacation to Paradise Falls. Inside, I put a bunch of play money as well as real money. The sheet in front of it was for guests to guess how much real money was inside the jar. The closest guess got to take home the jug! The jug – which awesomely looks just like the one from the movie – was originally filled with fresh apple juice from Sprouts (which was delicious, by the way).
On the right, I had 5 jars
each labeled with a different career. Guests were to take a piece of paper, write their name, and drop it into the jar they think will be Dominic’s career of choice. I’ll explain more later 🙂
were kept simple. One side was a vintage poster from the movie, and the other side was a fun outtake from his photoshoot for the invitation. Each table had colorful circle punches scattered on it (punched out of the excess from the balloon cutouts on the wall).
Food was a delicious feast from both his Vietnamese and Filipino side. Had to make sure there was some adventure on everyone’s plates too!
Thankfully, I had friends to help me cut these balloons out (you know who you are!). When I first thought of this theme, I was thinking the obvious thing – buy a ton of balloons. That would’ve been so expensive, and the thought of balloons randomly popping gave me anxiety. I ended up cutting out balloon shapes for his invitation photos because I didn’t have time to go out and get balloons, and I was also getting concerned about taking photos outdoors because it was getting chilly out. Well, the chill that I felt was ruining my plans ended up being a blessing in disguise, because those cutouts from the photoshoot inspired this backdrop. It worked out so much better, and I LOVED the final product. This was in the corner of the room with one side being a “photobooth” area and the other side the dessert table.
The dessert table included homemade cheesecake, rainbow sour punch straws, chocolate chip cookies, dum dum lollipops, and red velvet cupcakes. Clearly, the highlight here is the cake. Rumy from Cakes by Rumy
(who also made our gender reveal
cake) made it! I just told her the theme, and let her do her thing. When she showed up with the cake, I was definitely in love! Not only did it look amazing, it tasted delicious too – white cake with custard and berries. The mini luggages that the cake is sitting on is part of a set of 3 that you can buy here on Amazon
. They also come in different colors 🙂
For the photobooth, I purchased the props on Etsy
. It’s unlike me to buy things like this, but making great props or buying more stuff just started to seem time consuming, so to save myself a little stress, I purchased them. They were of such great quality! I also made sure to schedule a time for people to take a picture with Dominic here since I knew he wouldn’t be able to stay awake for the whole party. The banner on the wall was hand-drawn by myself.
On the cake, I made the banner to match with the photobooth and bought a simple candle for it. It looked so perfectly complete.
A big highlight of the party was the balloon twister from Elite Entertainment
! What would be more fitting, right? The kids loved him and so did a lot of the grown-ups. He was so creative and talented. He basically made anything and everything. If he could Google an image of your request, he could figure out how to make it in balloon form.
Here’s the birthday boy! His outfit for the party cost me $2 🙂 The Polo shirt and pants he had prior, so I just needed to make the scarf thing and sash. Because these were items I didn’t plan to keep for long, I ended up using fabric from large t-shirts I was able to get at a thrift store and just fashioned it with a glue gun. The badges on the sash were printed and glued on. Not too shabby, huh?
The board was made by myself with black foam board and chalk markers. I gathered a lot of inspiration from different Pinterest boards, and I loved the end product. It actually turned out better than I expected!
The bar area was decorated to be like an ice cream shop to mimic Fenton’s from the movie. I had scheduled some time for ice cream and root beer floats to be served here, but I ended up scrapping that idea the day of because people were showing up later than expected. Most guests were still just beginning to eat lunch when ice cream was supposed to be served, but it was a fun idea if time allowed.
We had guests volunteer to play musical chairs which was something I think most guests haven’t seen in a while. The winner got the choice between a Target gift card or movie tickets! Congrats to my cousin Taylor for snagging the movie tickets 🙂
After that, I set aside about 30 minutes to take photos at the photobooth area. I ended up printing these and included them in the Thank You cards that were mailed out later. I think it was a nice alternative to the usual photobooth printouts.
Going back to the career jars on the crafts and games table, it’s actually a traditional Vietnamese game. I didn’t use all of the objects and/or careers that are typically used, but it was the same concept. Each jar had an object that represented that career – plane for pilot, pen for professor, screw for architect, dollar for president, and thermometer for physician. We let him crawl to the objects, and whatever he picked up first would be his career of choice. He picked the dollar! Will he be the first Asian American president? We’ll have to wait and see! Funny enough, only one person put their name in the president jar. Congrats to Nancy on getting the gift card – and also thanks for having big dreams for our boy!
It came time to sing “happy birthday” and blow out the candle. He started smiling as everyone sang to him which was so sweet. I was so curious about how he would react to it because I know some kids can get a little intimidated. He wouldn’t let go of that water bottle he was playing with though. Hey – he was basically missing a naptime, so whatever kept him happy was fine with us!
Last but not least, it was time for the cake smash (also provided by Cakes by Rumy
). I kept the high chair
simple – just a little banner and a bouquet of balloons. As far as the cake goes, Dominic was not impressed. A part of me thinks it’s because it’s too sweet. He was weary at first, so I took his hand and let him touch the cake. I did this about 3 times until he licked a finger and gave a look of disgust. Ha! Thinking back, I think it’s because I never really gave him anything sweet other than fruit. He eats fruit like there’s no tomorrow, but I think the sugar just weirded him out. The faces he made were priceless. After a few more attempts to get him to dig in, I gave up. It just wasn’t meant to be.
This was as good as it got.
There you have it! I hope all of our guests had fun and that it was something to remember. Dominic probably won’t remember much of it, but he clearly had a blast! All of the stimulation from the colors and the balloons didn’t hurt either 🙂
My baby boy, you deserve it all!