Monday, March 19, 2012

Manu's 1st Birthday Carnival

Planning a party is stressful enough. But planning your child's birthday party, and a firstborn's first birthday at that, now well, that's just a whole different level of madness, and just like your very own wedding, you want every detail to be perfect. 

I started planning more than a month back but I hear some parents even plan six months in advance. Having been in marketing for about a decade now, I would like to think doing events comes naturally to me. However, those who know me well enough, dear hubby most especially, know how obsessive I can get when it comes to these things. In anything I put my heart and mind into, I always give it my all and never like doing things half-baked. Add to that merry mix a full-time job/s and being a full-time breastfeeding momma, and it's an even crazier party! 

Suffice to say, stress and frazzled nerves aside, I had the best time planning my son's first birthday. Must give credit to the hubby who chose the theme which was vintage carnival and we took it from there. It was madness alright, but of the best kind. Wish I could do it all over again. (click on read more)

I would not have been able to do this without the help, input and resources that some friends have so generously shared, you know who you are. Special shout out to "BBF" Carol for staying the night, keeping my emotions in check and making sure the toothpicks to keep my eyelids open were in place while we assembled loot bags the night before. And of course to those who came to the carnival with and without their tots in tow, thank you for being a part of our little man's special day.

Sharing the details of that memorable day with you and the product of a lot of sleepless nights of research and conceptualization.

Ingress the night before. The hardworking team of our supplier, Karina, did an amazing job of bringing our vision of the carnival tent to life (it took seven hours to set up!). Pink Flora Flowers and Events was very generous to have lent the drapes while teacher Menchu, Carol's co-teacher made the paper pom-poms. 

We had the party at our backyard and since we wanted the carnival theme to be vintage instead of a colorful modern-day circus, we opted for a color scheme of red, white and blue. 

Apart from the decked out carnival tent, we were also able to source out a "Big Top" and since we couldn't decide which one to go with plus the inclement weather of late, we went with both.

We had tickets printed for the game booths, concessions and photobooth to add to that whole carnival feel and so the kids could really enjoy the whole process.

I was totally obsessed with coming up with the perfect candy bar and dessert station and wanted the candies to be color-coordinated and whimsical, it was too bad the supplier couldn't source out peppermint candies here in Cebu. Overall, I was happy with how it all turned out- eye candy in the literal sense.

I was thrilled to have been able to get my hands on blue- and red-striped paper straws which I had them use for the red velvet cake pops for that touch of whimsy.

Elements of the vintage carnival artwork were used as accents throughout the whole party from the candy bar set up...

...down to these little stickies on the candy containers.

It all looked too good to eat, a visual feast, but of course, everything was wiped out two seconds after.

The birthday cake and cupcake towers

Popcorn cupcakes were a must in a vanilla buttercream flavor. The 'popped kernels' were made of mini marshmallows. These were made by Monalisa Bakes.

Had some stamps made with Manu's name and the invitation design for added detail here and there.

The 'ice cream / snow cones' were really red velvet cupcakes. Notice the wooden spoons we had stamped with Manu's name. Got both of these ideas online.

I found the idea for the cake topper on the web but the rest of the cake was inspired by the vintage carnival artwork. LMG Pastry made a scrumptious two-tier vanilla and buttercream and rainbow red velvet cake for the special day.

Here are photos of the cake's details.

We were lucky to have found this mini carousel on sale by chance which we used for the cupcake tower and as added decor.

Centerpieces featuring the theme.

Resourceful is always key to keep the budget in check. A good friend of my husband's, Lalaine, was kind enough to lend us these lovely, wooden tables and chairs which she had especially made for her daughter's birthday not too long ago. Thank you Laine! Another friend, EpEp also was so gracious as to lend these polka dot runners from her dear Estelle's party. Thank you Ep! We wish you could have joined us. Photos of Manu served as centerpieces as well.

Placemats were made printing the themed design on cardstock. Simone, one of the most creative people I know, was gracious enough to have shared this and other tips with me. 

What's a carnival without game booths right? We went back to basics with traditional games such as the ring toss, hit the cans, balloon dart and fishing game. Again so kids can enjoy the whole process, those who won in the games were given prize stubs which they used at the prize booth.

For food, we had a popcorn cart, a hotdog station, fish and chips and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. 

Here are the paper straws again being used for the refreshing citrus and herb lemonade. A separate buffet was set up by Café Laguna inside the house for the adults.

We had the supplier repaint the game booths in red and white to match the theme and they did a great job following the design of the invitation.

Hit the cans. Good thing I had stickers printed last minute. It came in handy when putting the finishing touches, such as on these cans.

For those who won the fishing game, instead of winning actual fish, we had fish soap made as a prize. It didn't come out quite the way we wanted it too since finding the right toy, ideally a goldfish, proved to be a challenge. I wasn't able to properly label this as well so for those who were at the party and wondered what this was, yes, this is soap, made of glycerin so it's all-natural. Feel free to use it. Or continue leaving it as an ornament on the shelf. Whichever the little tot would prefer.

As added decor, we created a photo banner of the celebrant from age zero months to twelve. Found these nifty numerical clothes pins in a bookstore and we used them to label which month Manu was in the photo.

For entertainment, we hired a juggling stiltwalker and an illusionist who were both hits with the children. Music was also important to create the mood so we downloaded some circus tunes online with the addition of the Michael Giacchino-composed track "Married Life" from the movie "Up" which we had on loop until we inevitably had to switch to the latest R&B tracks so the stilt walker could bust some moves and shake his booty.

We decided to get a photobooth so everyone could have a souvenir photo to take home. For props, Carol and co-teacher Mench made mustaches and clown noses on sticks. 

For the loot bags, I found cloth in red and white stripes and had it sewn the size of a shoe bag so the moms kids can still use them after.

A mini photo shoot with the birthday boy the day after. Ninang KT made his bowtie and hat. He loved picking off those "corn kernels" one by one.

The birthday boy may still be too young to understand everything that went on that day, that's why they say first birthdays are for the parents, but we were so proud that he was able to last the whole party without falling asleep or being fussy. He was such a trooper and didn't cry once. 

And a few years from now, he will have this to look back to. 

It was a fun, fun day at the carnival. 

Happy happy 1st Birthday Manu! Mommy and Daddy love you so very much.

Everything was a blur but it was a fun fun day at the carnival indeed.

On another note, my best friend Vanessa (who also loves planning her son's parties and who has such a keen eye for detail) and I are toying with the idea of starting a children's party planning business. It's another hat we will have to wear, but it will be fun. The challenge is to find the time. It's all up in the air for now, but let's see where this idea takes us. Anyone with a party coming up?

And for a little shameless plug, for those with corporate or social events in Cebu, check out Bigseed Media & Marketing Solutions Inc. for your events, public relations, publicity, branding, lifestyle PR and advertising needs :-D 

For the mommies out there, what was your child's first birthday theme and how long did it take you to plan the party? Would love to hear from you.


  1. belated happy birthday, manu! what a bonggang-bongga party. Ü

    ja, welcome to blogosphere! Ü so happy to see you you here.

    had a simple sesame street birthday party for lance. it took me a week to plan. LOL i've been meaning to blog about it but never found the time yet. hehehe

    anyway, i look forward to more posts. ;-)

  2. Hi mommy Regina! Thank you for dropping by and moreso for warmly welcoming me to here! :-) Thought of chronicling everything here since time flies too fast and I don't want to forget the simple joys, milestones, thrills ( and challenges! ) of parenthood.

    Looking forward to seeing your post on Lance's birthday. Belated Happy Birthday to your little man as well. :-)

    Manu sends his newly-learned flying kisses to you for the greeting. Hope to see you soon. It's been too long :-)

  3. Ja, love your blog! Congrats on your new baby, or should i say babies? :) Will definitely be enjoying reading your chronicles here. :) More power to you always!!!

  4. hi jaja. i love all the details u have come up with. i wish i could do the same for my baby boy's first birthday in May. i wanna have it personalized but i don't think i have the touch;) great job!

  5. I love the theme and the results. Good Job! I always wanted to have a party like this for my future children soon. :D

  6. Hello, I'm planning a circus party and I'd like to know how you design the platemats. Thank you.

  7. Hello,

    Love your blog and ideas. I'm planning my son's 1st birthday party and I love your idea of the custom tickets and stamps would you please share the website inf.

    Thank you

  8. Hi, my friend's son will be celebrating his 1st birthday too. I really love everything about your son's party. I'd like to ask for your help because we're planning to have the same theme as this. Can I ask for your help?

  9. That is best first birthday party I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing these fun photos. My daughter is going to turn one and planning such a special party for her. I would like to host this party at outdoor party venues instead of hosting it in home.