We didn't really do anything for the first two birthdays because they didn't understand that whole "party or holiday" concept yet. Then, preschool came and they got invited to birthday parties and all of the sudden they wanted their own. Well, since they didn't get any parties so far, I wanted their first party to be awesome. But, I didn't have any experience with parties- at all.
I was ready to go ALL out. I mean, they have been cheated out of four birthday parties already (2 for each). So, by my logic this should be as big as 6 birthday parties- and it was. They really wanted a Princess Royal Ball and I was ready to make it happen.
In hindsight, I could do this party WAY better, if I had the chance again. I learned a lot from my first party planning experience and I'll share with you the highs and the low points of this extravagant affair.
I started planning months in advance. But, I should have had more set up days in advance instead of making a to do list for the morning of the party. Duh!
LESSON: I didn't do enough ahead of time or ask for help a few days before.
Guests were arriving and I was still running around like a maniac, un-showered, sweating and still in work clothes. I didn't even make time to throw on the pretty dress I bought for the party. I was still setting things up, helping kids, getting food ready, and directing my few volunteers on what to do next. I didn't get to really enjoy the party at all. I was so busy, from not doing enough in advance or getting help from others, that I didn't greet or really speak to my guests, spend time with my family or actually enjoy any of the hard work I had put into this party. I look like a slob in all of the pictures, I don't even recognize some of the people in the pictures and I don't remember anything my kids did or said the whole day. It was like I wasn't even there. What a mess! I will never let that happen again. I missed the whole point of enjoying my children on their special day.
UPDATE: You'll see in the posts from the following years that I learned a big lesson and made a extra special point to be very involved in spending time with them on their special days.
The Grand Entrance
The children were greeted by a castle and a red carpet at the entrance of the party- fit for royalty. Disney soundtracks were playing loudly on outside speakers and there were balloons everywhere. Inside the castle there was a little table with a rose. Any guesses which movie that's from?
We had multiple cardboard castles around the yard to play in. Each with a slightly different theme.
TIP: Start collecting appliance boxes weeks, maybe even months, in advance. They are hard to come by. I gave my number to several appliance stores and begged them to call me if they ever had any. I was basically on call for boxes. If they had one, they'd save it for me for about 30 minutes before their truck took it away.
To keep the children entertained, we had various "activity stations" around the yard. Other than 3 cardboard castles to play in, we also had our backyard playset that has swings, a glider and a slide.
|Two mini bounce houses|
|A PlayDoh station and a coloring station|
Lauren McKinsey, a new, up and coming Printables Designer, donated lots of cute decorations for the cups, party favors and the "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique" activity station. There were necklaces, nail polish, tiaras and hair glitter all ready to beautify the little princesses.
We rented child-sized tables and chairs. Each table had two beautiful, fresh flower centerpieces.
Then, the Big Surprise! My husband cued the music to play a "announcement horn" kind of sound effect and Princesses came out of the house on to the porch. SURPRISE!! The kids were floored.
Here's the story on these princesses: I purchased each of these costumes on ebay and asked these sweet, highs school girls from church, if they would please attend as princesses. There was no payment, nothing illegal, they were happy to do it. It was such a blessing! The children were star-struck.
TIP: Designate a photographer.
I'm so glad I had a designated photographer otherwise I would have absolutely no memory of this day whatsoever. I did not take ANY photos of the day. All of the photos were taken by other people and I'm so grateful for them.
The princesses invited the guests inside for a Royal Ball. The indoor decorating took almost an entire day, since I had never done this kind of decorating before. Seriously, it wasn't much, but I learned a lot.
It's hard to tell in the pictrues, but there had be about 80 people in my living room at this point. It was crazy!!
They also presented the birthday twins with presents: a plush Belle doll and a Snow White figure set.
Meanwhile, I was getting the cakes set up outside.
LESSON: Don't make yourself in charge of EVERYTHING! I could have been dancing with my beautiful babies while someone else put the cupcakes on the tables!!!
My mom desperately wanted to make the cakes and I had enough to do, so I was fine with it. Unfortunately, the other kids ran outside for cake so fast that MY girls didn't get the princess cake that they wanted and no one sang Happy Birthday or blew out candles! It was so frustrating. None of the parents were like, "Wait, lets see what the host wants us to do... don't dive into your cake... maybe we should sing happy birthday? Do you have the birthday girls cake?" None of that. Thanks. Way to be great guest. Also, no one was even offering to help at any point.
So, it was up to me and the grandparents the whole time.
LESSON: Only put out a cupcake for YOUR child, with a candle on it. Then, sing Happy Birthday. THEN, the other kids can get their cupcakes.
The [big] princesses stayed outside and played with the children for the remainder of the party.
It was a magical day... for them. I'll be more prepared next year! I got this. ;)