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Make or Buy :: Baby's First Birthday Party (pssst...giveaway)

You may remember my little tirade about "mompetition" and how we (as moms) are always trying to be more impressive than the last. And I went on and on about my little girl's upcoming birthday party. Well, the party was a success and I am so happy at how things came out. The whole shindig went off without a hitch and with very little stress. Most importantly, at the end of the day, I had a very happy little one year-old. But we were tired at the end of the day, too, and I can distinctly remember Sean saying that all of our munchkin's future birthday parties were going to be at McDonald's.

Now three days past the big day, I'm thinking through what we did (and what we let someone else do), and I can honestly say I think we maintained a pretty darn good balance. Sure, we totally overestimated the amount of food we needed. But the church benefited when we donated the leftovers to the annual picnic the very next day (how's that for planning). And we totally underestimated the time needed to set up. But we also gained some extra Weight Watchers activity points, so we didn't have to feel too guilty about the cake.

Here's a quick rundown of the things we thought were worth it to do ourselves, and those things we outsourced.

The Cakes:

I actually considered doing these myself. And I would have been a loon to attempt it, given all the family in town, busy-ness at work and just general time needed to pull that off. Instead, we purchased the main cake and the smash cake from our favorite local bakery (who, incidentally, did our wedding cake and my hubs' first birthday cake, some 31 years ago), and ordered some extra cupcakes from Sam's Club to match (30 cupcakes for $12!).

There was no coaching needed when it came time for the munchkin to dive into her smash cake. In fact, we had a hard time keeping her away from the cakes in the first place.

And when she was done with the cake and we had her all cleaned up, that child did laps around the church yard for another 90 minutes, non-stop.

imanimama's VERDICT:

I'm thrilled at how the cakes came out. They were delicious and beautiful and I didn't have to do anything except pick them up. Guests ooohed and ahhhed over them and they ended up in lots of pictures, so I'd give this decision two great big thumbs up.

The Favors:

I really wanted to have something at the party that I did on my own...a creative project that would benefit all the guests. The favors became that project for me. I took super inexpensive flower pots (25ยข each!), and stuffed them with a small baggie full of seed starting soil. Then I took some pretty scrapbooking paper, cut to size and made little envelopes, filling them with marigold seeds. Finally, I wrote a little poem and printed it out on a color printer, and attached it to the seed packet, along with a colored popsicle stick.

Everyone received a favor (kids and adults). My pastor called me sickeningly cute after reading the poem, but I bet he secretly loved them as much as I did.

imanimama's VERDICT:

I made WAY too many of these and had a lot left over (and probably sounded pretty pitiful begging people to take them home), but it gave me a nice project to keep the old creative juices flowing, and was a completely custom gift for our guests, so I think overall it was worth it.

The Decorations & Party Food:

I chose to buy most of the decorations at our local dollar store, and even though the selection was inconsistent, it was nice to get most of it knocked out in one cheap place. When it came time to think "Happy Birthday" signs, I insisted on doing that myself. It was a really easy project. I found some digital scrapbooking paper files at Shabby Princess for the background, and just made my letters in Adobe Illustrator. An hour with some scissors, a Xyron machine and a hole punch and I had a custom banner wishing our baby girl the happiest of birthdays. :)

The food got simpler and simpler every time we sat down to make a list. We ended up buying hot dogs from Sam's Club and family members pitched in making everything else. I whipped up 400 pounds of pasta salad and some cookies, and Sean's mom and aunt made more cookies than you can shake a stick at. Sean's mom also made her signature fruit salad, which is always a crowd pleaser.

imanimama's VERDICT:

The banner was minimal effort and came out super cute, even if we did hang it a little funky. It was nice to have a personalized bunting with her name, and it hung over her gift/favor table, making it that much more personal. I loved it and swore that our munchkin would have to use it for every single birthday for the rest of her dependent life.

Kidding. Or not.

It was awesome to divide and conquer the foods, but we still spent a small fortune and had an unreasonable amount of food left over. No real way to solve that problem, but I can say it was awfully nice not having to work about making too much.

And finally...The Birthday Tutu

I know, it's not exactly a rite of passage for a little girl to have a birthday tutu...but shouldn't it be? I mean just look at this caboose:

I'm not going to mince words on this. It was a pain to make because I wanted it to be ridiculously full, not wispy and fairy-like. I wanted a completely over-the-top, poofy, outrageous 80s pop-punk tutu. I used a tie-on method instead of a sewn one and I think that was my biggest mistake because the knots kept coming undone. But you know what else? I needed 12 yards of tulle.

TWELVE YARDS.

For a tiny baby girl's outrageously poofy tutu.

{ blink, blink }

After the fact, I looked through Etsy and found a bunch of adorable tutus that were exactly what I was hoping for for cheaper than I made this one and just as cute. Next time, I'm buying on Etsy.

But this time, I'm still pleased with how it came out. And the little one seemed to like it too.

While I was in Joann's buying tulle and elastic, I met a really cool woman named Ilze at the cutting counter, who was giving me pointers on making tutus (which I admittedly ignored and now regret). We started chatting it up and it turns out she's a local photographer and loves making photo props for babies.

Like tutus. And knit cocoons. And the sweetest little baby hats.

seriously, how cute is this?

oh! a pixie baby!

oh be still my raging biological clock.

Well, we hit it off and exchanged cards and by the end of the evening, we had decided it would be awesome for me to introduce her to all of you by doing a giveaway. And you all know how much I love doing giveaways. :)

So here's the deal:

Enter for a chance to win an adorable handmade baby hat, valued up to $17 on Ilze's Etsy site. Keep it for your own bambino or give it as a gift to another newborn sweetie in your life.:

Go to Ilze's shop and browse all of her ridiculously sweet baby hats.

Come back here and leave a comment with the hat you'd choose if you win the giveaway. Also let me know who will be the lucky recipient of the hat you win.

Entries must be received by 8 p.m. on Friday, August 6, and one winner will be chosen randomly.

Contest open to those with US addresses only (APO included).

This giveaway is now closed.

Go on, get in on the goodies! And while you're at it, leave me a comment telling me about your own kiddo's first birthday party. It's not worth another entry, but sure will be fun to reminisce. :)

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