In this series of three episodes on the blog, we interview 3 moms from around the world to give us their best advice and the challenges they face when planning a child's birthday party.
For the second episode, let’s travel to Toronto (Canada) with Angela, mother of Evangeline et Esmée, graduate in Marketing and Product Manager.
Angela: Married to my supportive and tolerant husband for 9 years, we have two daughters who are 21 months apart. I love photography, design, gardening, baking, respecting traditions and organizing parties. It is important for me to make every day special and those around me feel appreciated. I’m a believer of peace and love always.
My 1st advice: Choose the right theme and be creative
If your kids are old enough, let them choose the theme and let their creativity flow.. If they are younger, observe what makes them the happiest. Since she was a baby, Esmée has been fascinated by wooden matryoshka dolls from her father's hometown - Lviv, Ukraine. With their bright colors, this is what inspired me for his birthday party.
For decoration, be creative! You’d be surprised to know who in your family has a hidden talent. Otherwise, order cliparts from an online vendor like Etsy to print and create your decor.
I buy items that can be used from party to party, such as foot cake plates, tiers, silver trays, etc.
If you decide to buy decorations, try to take things that could be reused in the child's bedroom later. For example, I am currently planning a rainbow-themed birthday for my oldest daughter. So I ordered a 3D rainbow wooden puzzle that will be used for the decoration of her birthday and that I will keep for activities.
Flowers and balloons
Flowers and balloons are a must in my books. They are affordable on most budgets and add so much cheer.
For balloons, you can simply hang them or make an arch, it's very trendy on Instagram.
For flowers, you can call your local florist and provide a color palette and budget according to your theme, or create an arrangement yourself. If you order, do it a few days before as it will give time for any unopened blooms to pop up for the day of the party.
My 2nd advice: Let me them eat cake !
I like to associate my food menu with the party theme. For Esmée's matryoshka themed birthday we served predominantly Ukrainian cuisine, including traditional salads and other finger foods.
You can always order in, but I prefer to do it myself, or have the grandparents help cook food as I feel this really adds an element of warmth and personal touch. I think the guests really appreciate the time and effort that goes into homemade meals. Another advantage of this would be overall cost savings.
In the past, we made our own cakes that included edible flowers that worked well with a bohemian type party. You can also order them from your local bakery, but cakes can certainly add up so just keep a budget in mind and be upfront with them.
Tip: If you have ordered an elaborate cake that may have sugar flowers on it- save the sugar flowers for future use. You’d be amazed at how many different looks of cakes you can make at home and you’ll have a fancy decoration to make it look professional! Another item we’ve gotten a lot of use out of is our laser cut wooden cake topper. These are available on Etsy from various shops and can be used for any special occasion.
My 3rd tip: Manage guests and activities
I always liked to keep the guest list small and intimate (even before quarantine) - usually limited to grandparents, aunts and uncles and godparents. This way everyone has the chance to spend time with the person celebrating a birthday. I don't find large groups as pleasant.
Have a little photo shoot of the birthday girl or boy before the day of the birthday party. This way you have more time to make sure you have a quality photo of them in their birthday ensemble to add to a memory book or special photobook in future.
Do not hesitate to document the day. I have a memory book for each of my girls that details their first 12 months plus birthdays from 1-5. Write down guests that came to celebrate with them and favourite memories of the day. Certainly, always something nice to reminisce about. Try to find time to do this a few days following the party so that the memories are top of mind and the task isn’t forgotten.
For background music, instrumental is preferable because it is less distracting. I like to find something that matches the theme of the party.
In terms of children's activities, I think sometimes we can all be a little too ambitious trying to integrate 3 days of activities into a 4 hour party. Children love to play and will be happy with a simple hide and seek. I also print coloring sheets and washable colored pencils for any child who wants to have some free time.
My biggest challenge:
Biggest challenge was TIME. As a full-time working Mom that now has two children at home while being expected to meet critical deadlines for a large time-sensitive driven business, crafting and preparing happened in the late hours and early hours of the morning. Perhaps silly to some to lose sleep over, but I certainly got this need to celebrate from my Mom. She too was a full-time working Mom and was devoted to making all of our birthdays and festive occasions special. As a thirty-something adult, I can you tell you every detail of those magical cakes and sweet decorations she made.
Another challenge was how many people to expect as lockdown was just starting to be enforced in our local area. Most of the expected guests declined a week before the intended date…more cake for ME…US! Which meant reducing quantity of food as well which worked out as it seemed like the grocery store was sold out of many items that were previously readily available.
Very silly, but what probably brought me the most stress was finding a place that would be open for helium balloons. Esmée is two, but the only things she asked for was dolls and floaty balloons that she could fly. On any other occasion I would have to simply explain to her that these weren’t available at this time, but for a birthday I didn’t want to disappoint her.
I was so lucky to find a wonderful woman who worked in my local party shop. She came in on Saturday morning (when the shop was closed due to the pandemic) to fill balloons with helium and deliver them to me curbside. This was truly the icing on the cake for me.
Why did I choose a Kidiwi dress for Esmée's birthday?
(Esmée is wearing our Faustine dress availbale here)
It was an easy choice. Esmée’s favourite colour is yellow and I appreciate a classic look with traditional detailing. Also, I consider myself to be mindful of the environment so I always like to purchase something that can get multiple wears. With its timeless smocking, versatility and quality fabric it’s a garment that will become an heirloom piece that can be passed down.
We thank Angela for taking to time to awnser our questions, follow her on Instagram to discover her sweet account here
Picture rights on this page belong to Angela.