Thursday, May 3, 2012

Orion Turns 1!

I started thinking about Orion’s 1st birthday party about 5 month before his actual birthday. Seeing what some people do to celebrate the 1st birthday is a bit overwhelming. I wanted to celebrate but I did not want to go overboard. When I was in college living in South Philadelphia, I was napping on the couch and was woken up by Backstreet Boys blasting. Someone was having a 1st birthday block party. I know some people have huge lavish parties with gift bags and bouncy castles but that is not our style. I wanted something low key and I am just not that crafty. Please know I am not dissing how anyone wants to celebrate a first birthday. Growing up our birthday party was fun and simple. We always had a piñata, family, friends, food, and my mom made a pound cake with chocolate frosting. I don’t remember there being themes but I did ask for a boy/girl dance party when I was turning 9. When did it become mandatory for children’s birthday parties to have a theme? Isn’t birthday a theme? I saw some great theme suggestions online but then started to get so overwhelmed I had to walk away.

In the end, decided on a Muppet theme because I love the Muppets and this might be my only chance to pick a theme. I am sure he will have opinions of his own come his 2nd birthday. I am very lucky that my husband had off from work for 2 weeks before Orion’s birthday because he was switching jobs. I doubt we would have been able to get everything done without my husband home cooking and cleaning. There were still things we forgot to do and forgot to put out for our guests. I am sorry they missed out on the Strawberry open face pie but it did not go to waste!

Since The Muppets new movie, I was hoping for a slew of new merchandise but had a hard time finding anything. It would have been easier to go with a Sesame Street them but I was sticking to my guns. I had picked up some Muppet fabric a few months ago to use for something else which came in handy as tablecloths. I went online and ordered some Muppet plates, which was a big splurge at about $0.60 a plate. Then I got plates, cups, forks, and napkins at a party store and at the dollar store. I did not want everything to be too matchy matchy so I bought some green and blue cups and different napkins. I didn’t even use 75% of what I bought so I am already for the next party.

What is a birthday without cake?  I had spent some time going around to local bakeries to see if anyone could make my cake dreams come true without much luck. Then I realized that I could make cupcakes and have control over what they looked like for a fraction of the cost of professional cupcakes. I ordered some cupcake toppers from Etsy to add a professional touch to my homemade treats. This was a wonderful investment because fondant ain’t cheap and making them would have been too time consuming. They were really well done and the customer service was great. I personally do not like the taste of fondant but I saw these as purely decorative but guests could eat them if they felt so inclined. I really want to preserve them in a frame to gaze upon for eternity!

I found a great website with wonderful Muppet party tips and printable downloads. I love printable downloads and I am thankful that I have such a great photo printer! I printed out a bunch of things to use as decoration and spent a lot of time with scissors in the claws I once called hands. I made the Kermit eyes using 4 pairs of cardboard 3-D glasses from the party store. These were so much fun and I got pictures of all my guests (except one) wearing these glasses. I love the idea of a photo booth and using props.

We are very food focused in my house so it was very important that we had great food to offer. Since most of our guests were driving hours to celebrate with us, I wanted to make sure I had something delicious to offer them that wasn’t available at their local supermarket. Patrick made wonderful meatballs (“Swedish Chef Meatballs”) and a fabulous pâte. He spent most of a day elbow deep in meat! But all our guests were impressed with the results and my Aunts were clamoring for more. We also had a nice cheese plate, fresh cut fruit (arranged into a rainbow), pigs in a blanket (“Pigs in Space Blankets” not fancy and from the freezer section), and a chick pea salad (“Gar-Gonzo” salad which was quick and easy to whip together). I also made Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade and Peach syrup which could be added to iced tea or cocktails.

I invited 40 of our closest friends and family and was relieved that only 12 could make it. A few blogs I had read suggested keeping the guest list short and intimate which is good advice. Even though there were only 12 guests, I did not get a chance to really talk to anyone. I was too busy hosting a party, taking care of my baby, snapping photos, and then I was putting food into my gob as I had not eaten since 5 am. Having a short guest list also allowed everyone time to interact with the birthday boy without overwhelming him. Another item I read was to keep the party short and stay within that time frame. Our party was scheduled to run from 2-5. As some of our guests were making the 3 hour drive from Philly, they were allowed to come whenever they wanted and most of them got here an hour early. I spent the hour before party time nursing Orion and letting him nap on me. I wanted to make sure he was happy and fully rested for the party. It was killing me to hear my Aunts voices and not be able to run out and greet them and my 90 year old grandfather. My efforts paid off as Orion was such a good boy during the party and had tons of fun without ever shedding a single tear.

We were surprised when everyone (except 2 of our guest who had made the 2 hour drive up and were allowed to stay as long as they wanted) left at exactly the same time. By 5, Orion was ready for a nap but not before crawling out of his room to said good bye to his Great Grandfather, too cute! I was able to put Orion down in his crib for a nap and actually catch up with these dear friends who we hadn’t seen in a while. It felt so good to just sit and chat after running around since 4:30am.

The whole party flew by way too fast! I really wanted more time to chat with my guests. It kinda reminded me of my wedding. You get to say “Hi” and “Bye” but not much else. Orion had a great time and even though he won’t remember it, we got great pictures which he can enjoy when he grows up. I am already working on his scrapbook. His 1st year scrapbook is about 6 inches thick! I came from a family of photographers and what separates me from them is that I actually put them into albums. When my parents passed away we found drawers and boxes overflowing with pictures. I think it is easier to upload, print, and put in books as you go along. I cannot stress the value of photos as most of my childhood memories are linked to photos.

The day before the party, we got portraits taken at JC Penny. We went to JC Penny because they always have a great deal. We got 7 portrait sheets for only 25$! Since my in-laws were already in town, we had them in a few of the pictures with Orion. The pictures came out great! I am really glad that we got some nice shots of him with his grandparent. I plan to get portraits done twice a year, his birthday and Christmas. Once he is in school, the school picture will replace his birthday portrait.

Orion had a very happy birthday and I am so glad we could share the day with our closest friends and family. It was a lot of work but totally worth it! It was not perfect or worthy of Pinterest but it was our very special day. I missed my parents like crazy but having my mother’s sisters and father there made it a very special day.  Happy Birthday Orion!!

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