It is incredible how fast time has flown by! But what an amazingly blessed year it has been! So many hugs, kisses and cuddles – and so much growing up, not just for my baby boy, but for the husband and myself as well. And the time had come to celebrate! WE ARE ONE! My boy was turning one year old, and we were celebrating a year of being parents!! WOOOHOOO!
The First Birthday party is obviously more for the parents than for the baby – a well deserved celebration if I may add! So here we were! Of course the planning starts early. By January, my mind was working on possible venues, and I was contacting places to know rates and thinking of games and activities.
FIRST THINGS FIRST – DATE & TIME
Obviously, it had to be a weekend. And we got lucky because my boy’s first birthday fell on a Friday. With the weekend here being Friday and Saturday, it was just perfect! Next decision was finalizing the time. We knew right from the get go that we preferred a dinner party, rather than lunch or tea. But at the same time, we knew it should not tire my boy out. It shouldn’t be too early, because we don’t want people to hurry up after lunch, nor should it run too late – because of the babies and kids’ bedtimes. So finally we decided to go with a 6.30PM start. Till about 10pm.
I knew I wanted a theme! But Disney, or Under the Sea, or Frozen (?) or even Batman would not really be feasible. More so, because my boy wouldn’t understand it. He was too young. He has limited TV time, so it is not like he had a fave character. Plus I didn’t feel comfortable inconveniencing the guests. Annd I didn’t have the time or patience or budget to create or source themed fancy decoration items.
So I kept it simple – BABY BLUE FOR A BABY BOY! Everyone would wear blue, so the pictures would be awesome! It must be easy enough to get blue decoration, so that won’t be a hassle either. YAY! Am I a genius or what (Don’t answer that!).
With that theme in mind, my brilliant sister designed our invitation cards! PS – she is super talented and will be happy to do such cards for you too. Give me a shout if you want me to connect with her.
And we went shopping for the perfect outfit – not for me, but for my boy (Mamas and Papas for the win).
One fine morning, I sat down and developed a tentative guest list. This is important because we need a count for the catering.One of the key things to keep in mind is that most places can adjust the per plate value depending on total number of guests and give better discounts as well.Family first, so grandparents and uncles and aunts. Then relatives and other friends and family. We reached out to as many people as we could to let them know the date – to check their availability for the day. In the end, we had a list of about 40-50 give or take.
Once the guest list is sort of final, it is important to have an estimate budget (keeping in mind that you will end up overshooting it at least by 20%). The budget should cover catering, decorations, entertainment, birthday cake, return gifts and gifts for any prizes to be given away.
What is a birthday party without cake eh? I wondered about making it fancy and have a themed cake. But since our theme was so simple, we focused on the taste! And went to my trusted source – Tamara Simmons of Tam’s Crazy Kutchen. Pretty much all the cakes I have ordered since I have moved to Qatar has been from her, and it has all been amaaazing. I highly recommend!
We knew we didn’t want it to be at home, because it was too many people to fit into my living room. And because we had held functions at home already. Like the Baby Shower, and my boy’s 40th Day function. So we knew we definitely wanted a hotel.
Since it was the first big celebration, we knew we wanted a nice (read slightly fancy but not flashy) venue. Some place that was elegant, and had good food. And a nice hall, and parking too.. But I was not sure of where to start because I had no idea how much something like this was expected to cost. But I jumped in with both feet, and I emailed a lot of hotels – posh five star ones, some smaller restaurants, and everything in between.
I must have sent about twenty emails. Surprisingly I got responses almost immediately. A lot of them sent menu options, and hall photos. Some of the hotels even gave me a call within the hour to check on my needs. I was fairly impressed.
From the photos and quotes that we received, I knew that I would like the function to be held at AL MIRQAB HOTEL AT SOUQ WAQIF – the pictures looked good, the menu was still a little over my budget. But talking to them reassured me. They said I could modify the menu, and they’ll give me the best price.
That weekend, we visited the hall to get a feel for it ourselves, and dealing with the F&B Manager Mr Nobin was a real pleasure. So we confirmed the venue, and worked on the menu till it suited our tastes and budgets (Come on! Who eats nine types of Desi salads anyway?).
They even agrees to help with decorations, and in setting up the venue with no additional charge.
DECORATIONS – We bought balloons from Al Bahar (in two shades of blue), ribbons and some miscellaneous items from Rawnaq, and a whole bunch of items from the Dollar Store in City Center. Some bits and pieces were also ordered on amazon India, which my boy’s uncle brought with him when he came. And the hotel also provided some decorations, and arranged the place as well.
It had to be something that would be enjoyed by young, and old. And it had to be fun. And simple. I looked through tons Pinteretst boards, and mommy blogs, and scanned way too many Amazon pages for ideas. And this is what I meant with – A jar of delicious chocolate chip cookies from Sweet Dreams (gago2009 on Instagram), a bubble blower (Come on, who does not like bubbles?) and a party blowout.
I loved dealing with Moza of Sweet Dreams – she gave me a great deal on the cookies, and I would highly recommend her. But please speak to her about all charges because my friend ordered and was presented with a surprise delivery charges which threw her off her budget.
For the Bubble Blowers, I checked Rawnaq and Lulu and a few other stores before zeroing in on Al Bahar. Good price and good design too.
The party blowouts I ordered online – just cuz it was easier and it would be delivered home to my boy’s uncle and they could bring it all when they came.
The giveaway bags were from the Dollar Store as well. (I did order it online but it ended up being too big and ooops!)
- Nursery Rhymes – As a new mom, it sometimes feels like my entire day is filled with rhymes. So the game was that the hosts (my sister and my cousin) would a few lines from a popular nursery rhyme, and the guests had to guess the rest. The first person to guess right won – obviously not for the kids
- Baby Bingo – This was played at my baby shower too, and it was a hit. So we did another round of baby bingo – where I changed up the items. I used a bingo maker application from the net (link: http://bingocardmaker.sourceforge.net/) to make the actual cards.
- Baby Book – Although we didn’t end up playing this, it was a pretty cool idea. The way it works is – you take all of the baby’s favourite books with you. And these are pretty simple books right. So the host is meant to show the book and turn it page by page a few times, and whoever can recollect it from memory wins. (My boy’s Red Ladybird book has like 7 items in there – Apple, Fire Engine, Toadstool, Lobster, Rose etc – you get the drift).
- Baby Animals – In this game, the participants need to guess the name of the baby animas (eg – Dog – puppy and so on.)
We were also lucky to have one of our friends sing at the party to entertain the guests.
And the Children’s Play area – set up by the hotel – with little chairs and tables and some toys also proved to be a hit.
Photo Booth – Every party needs a photo booth! 😛 I ordered all the props from Aamzon.in (because I am a lazy person). And we got the photo booth frame made in Doha itself. Sara Mahmoud did a wonderful job for me! I gave her the invitation, and she worked with that. The one thing I missed mentioning to her was that the theme is blue. So she used a green background, and we had to find ways to fix it. But that mistake was mine not hers.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
This is absolutely important! First birthday is a BIG BIG milestone and you need to capture it. WE had a photo shoot and cake smash for Ayan one week before the actual birthday with the wonderful Alicja Kalinska. Although my boy didn’t appreciate the cake smash much, the pictures – especially the family shots of the day are absolutely stunnnnning! I have uploaded a few onto my FB page if you want to check it out! PS – her prices are very reasonable, and she is a wonderful woman and photographer and you must check her out.
For the day itself, I knew it had to be my buddy Habeed Hameed of Essencia. Although he is based in Bahrain, his rates including travel will work out way less than hiring someone less peofessional and creative here. Plus he had done my wedding video, and my maternity shoot. And now was the obvious choice. I think this helped because Ayan had met him before and knew him. He has kids of his own so he knew how to handle them, and he knew all the key people in my family – So I knew he would get all the necessary shots. And having worked with us since forever, he could easily understand my ideas and vision. Also, he is a brilliant and extremely skilled photographer/videographer.
Pheww! Lots did go into this party eh?And it did go well so YAY!!
Here is a sneak peak: