Our best friends had travelled from Durham and Yorkshire to celebrate with us and together, we laid out the food - one table for the adults and another with child-friendly food - put pictures up on the walls and arranged the soft play area ready for Ethan and his friends.
Some of Ethan's friends from the yummy mummy group I used to go to came along, my Dad had also come up especially to spend the day with our special little guy and Stephen's family joined us to make it a day to remember.
I had been planning his party for some time, collecting bits and pieces and planning what to put in the goody bags, and I wanted it to be a really special day for Ethan. I can't deny, despite my planning, some things didn't go to plan (I forgot to buy enough napkins and the soft play hire company couldn't find the venue) and I did find it all quite stressful but once everything was ready, I relaxed and enjoyed the party. I also can't deny that I found it quite emotional, almost blubbing in the car on the way to the hall, but us mamas are allowed to shed a happy tear or two now and again.
By the end of the day, we were absolutely shattered but it was all worth is as Ethan really had a fantastic day. He didn't sleep one wink until we put him in the car to go home, where he promptly fell into a near coma like state, and he got to spend lots of time with all his friends and family who think the world of him.
He also seemed to love the presents we gave him (post coming soon) and the lovely gifts he was given and as a special memento, we handed around the photobook I made of his first year for people to write a message in to commemorate the milestone of turning one.
Having survived my first children's party, I wanted to share my top tips for throwing a tip top birthday bash:
- Pick a theme, even if it's just a colour - this will help you co-ordinate everything you buy so it all looks great on the day and will help make shopping easier
- Write a shopping list and tick things off as you go - this will help you keep on track and if you start buying things a few weeks in advance and it'll also help to spread the cost
- Have two tables of food at the party - one for the children and one for the adults
- Cater the party yourself rather than buying in but make things easy on yourself:
- Sandwich fillers and fresh rolls from the supermarket make for super speedy sandwiches
- Salad tubs, like coleslaw and pasta, sliced ham, ready to eat chicken skewers and drumsticks - all great options for parties - and don't forget the party sausages, sausage rolls and pork pies too!
- Book one delivery with your local supermarket a couple of days before the party with just the non-perishable food
- Book a second delivery for the morning of the party of all the fresh food - this is a good idea if you have a small fridge like me and it makes it easier as you can lay the food out / load your car up straight away ready to go to the venue
- Prepare the night before so you can enjoy your morning with the birthday girl / boy - if you can dress your house / venue in advance and even prepare some of the food, you'll have much less to do / worry about when it's the big day itself
- Enlist the help of friends and family - more hands on deck can make all the difference, so if you have someone who's a fab baker in the family, ask them to make some cupcakes and treats and if anyone is free ahead of the party, get them round to help blow up balloons
- Have a rough itinerary for the day - this isn't about limiting the fun, more about limiting the stress, so just list the things you need to do, when the party starts, when you'll bring out the cake etc. so you feel more calm and in control
- Enjoy! It's your special day too so make sure that you get lots of hugs in with your little one as well as sharing them with your friends and family, and try to share photo taking duties so you don't miss out on the fun
Simple party food ideas for toddlers:
- Sandwiches cut out into shapes - really easy to do, just make up your jam or soft cheese sandwiches then use a cookie cutter to cut them into shapes (we did teddy bears to tie into Ethan's party theme)
- Carrot sticks, sliced pepper and cucumber too are all great finger foods
- Grapes are a non-messy option for toddlers
- Cubes of cheese - we bought mini packets of Cathedral City Chedds so people could help themselves
- Breadsticks and crisps - we had Pom Bar crisps, I do love a theme!
- Cocktail sausages and sausage / cheese and onion rolls
- Pots of jelly, for a sweet treat
- Cupcakes make for an easier option than offering slices of the birthday cake, if you have a smaller cake or don't want to cut it up