Your Baby & Toddler - - FRONT PAGE - BY ME­LANY BENDIX

Let’s be hon­est: your baby doesn’t know or care about hav­ing the per­fect party for her first birth­day. Truth be told, she re­ally won’t even know what all the fuss is about. Yet the pres­sure to have Pin­ter­est-wor­thy dé­cor and Instagram-able treats still pushes par­ents to spend more than they’ve bud­geted for and go way over the top.

If that sounds like you, just stop! Sure, it’s im­por­tant to cel­e­brate the al­limpor­tant first year and to thank fam­ily and friend friends for their sup­port, but there is re­ally n no need to be­come a MomZilla when plan­ning the Big Num­ber One. Just re­mem­ber to be prac­ti­cal, keep it si sim­ple and fo­cus on en­joy­ing the ex­per ex­pe­ri­ence, ad­vise our birth­day plan­ning m mas­ter­minds.


It’s best to get a head start on prepa­ra­tions, but you don’t have to spend months plan­ning: around one month in ad­vance of the big day should give you more than enough time. Start with the ba­sics, like when and where to have it, who to in­vite and how much to spend. It can be tempt­ing to in­vite all your friends, col­leagues and any­one else who has had a role in your baby’s life so far, but it’s best to limit the guest list to close fam­ily and friends, sug­gests Sher­ree Kruger, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Su­pakids SA, a chil­dren’s party plan­ning spe­cial­ist that op­er­ates through­out South Africa and Botswana.

If your home al­lows for it, then that’s the best place to host the party, says Sher­ree. If your home is too small you

th­ese are themed with the in­vite. It’s nice for you and the guests to have all the fancy frills, but bear in mind it’s not the most im­por­tant part of the cel­e­bra­tion: your baby is.

Sher­ree says the best way to keep the money side of things un­der con­trol is to work out a strict bud­get and stick to it. “You need to be re­al­is­tic: is the party for your child or for your guests? Don’t over­spend, be cau­tious not to over­cater, and don’t buy things you aren’t go­ing to use af­ter the party,” she says.

As for how much is enough, Sher­ree says that’s like ask­ing how long a piece of string is – it all de­pends en­tirely on how much you have to spend and how many peo­ple you in­vite. As a bench­mark, the av­er­age her party clients spend is be­tween R100 to R150 per guest. So if money’s tight, start with this and work out how many guests you can af­ford to

to­ken of ap­pre­ci­a­tion if you’d like to, but adult guests re­ally do not need gifts too.”

A cake, of course, is a must! Per­haps even a smash cake… You’ve seen the pic­tures: lit­tle Johnny with sug­ary good­ness plas­tered all over his face, hands and high chair as he eats and plays his way through his first “smash cake”. It’s cute, it’s a lit­tle hor­ri­fy­ing, and it’s all the rage for first birthdays. But it’s also rec­om­mended you make or buy a small, cheap cake if you want your baby to smash it, say Daniella Green and Jac­qui Biess, the mother and daugh­ter bak­ing team be­hind Cape Town’s beloved Charly’s Bak­ery and stars, along with Daniella’s two sis­ters, of re­al­ity TV show Charly’s An­gels. “Smash cakes are def­i­nitely a popular choice for moms plan­ning a first birth­day party but they can end up be­ing a very ex­pen­sive waste of cake and money,” says Daniella. “Even a tiny cake takes a lot of time and ef­fort to bake, ice and dec­o­rate, so it can be quite a luxury.”

They rec­om­mend par­ents don’t get car­ried away when it comes to splurg­ing on a first birth­day cake, es­pe­cially since most chil­dren won’t re­mem­ber the mo­ment apart from pho­tos. But that’s all a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence, and bud­get. “Some par­ents make a re­ally big deal about the first birth­day cake. They go all out on the party decor and are happy to spend lav­ishly on their cake,” Jac­qui notes. “Other par­ents just want to mark this spe­cial day with a cake, a can­dle and a birth­day mes­sage piped on the cake, and so or­der a low-priced cake. Ei­ther is just fine.” As the Host­ess With The Mostest, you’re go­ing to be spend­ing much of the party mak­ing sure guests are well-fed and happy and that ev­ery­thing is go­ing off with­out a hitch. But it’s im­por­tant to know when it’s time to step back, re­lax and en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence with your fam­ily, friends and, of course, with the lucky birth­day baby.

Make sure you’re able to do this by ask­ing a friend or fam­ily mem­ber in ad­vance to be on cam­era duty, and lighten your load by ask­ing your part­ner to share host­ing du­ties.

If your bud­get al­lows, you may even want to con­sider hir­ing a party plan­ner to plan the whole shindig and man­age the fun on the day so you’re free to en­joy ev­ery minute of it.

Ul­ti­mately, the best way to en­sure a happy and suc­cess­ful first birth­day cel­e­bra­tion is to keep it all in per­spec­tive, say both Sher­ree and the Charly’s An­gels. If the cake’s a flop, the weather dis­mal, the party guests mis­er­able and bored, but your oneyear-old and you are still hav­ing fun blow­ing bub­bles in the kitchen – well, then the party is a suc­cess! YB

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