Indhu Rebecca Varghese is a teacher at the Army school, Bengaluru and wife of late Major Mukund Varadarajan
A child's first birthday is one of the most special moments in every parent's life and it has to be a memorable one. Here are some ideas that are easy to pull off and guarantee an excited baby.
The sleepless nights and soiled nappies have totally taken over your lives and before you know it, one year is coming to an end. That's your cue to get ready for the first birthday. Children rarely remember their first birthday but it is a big deal for the parents. They would like to make it a birthday that will leave everyone with happy memories.
Organising the first birthday party can be challenging for parents, since there are so many things to take care of, while also managing the baby. Make sure you plan things in advance and if you are doing a lot of DIY work, enlist the help of friends or family members. It is a good idea to keep the guest list confined to close family and friends, as your child might get intimidated by people who are not familiar to her.
Choosing a particular theme for the party helps as you will have a starting point to build on. Your baby is too small to have an opinion about which theme she likes, so you can take a cue from your child's favourite book or nursery rhyme, to pick the theme. Or you can have a theme based on an activity that you as a family enjoy, such as adventure or a sport.
An attractive theme can make quite an impact. It is up to the parent to colour coordinate the dcor according to the theme and collect all theme-based party paraphernalia including invites, masks, hats, plates, glasses, return gifts and so on. Here are some exciting theme ideas that will turn you into an accomplished party-planner!
You can easily organise this party outdoors, with hay and a barn-like ambience, with some cut outs of cows, sheep and hens. You can even bring in a few harmless animals like ducks, rabbits and pigeons provided you have enclosed spaces at your outdoor venue to house them and simulate a petting zoo. Organise games such as 'Guess the number of eggs in a basket' or 'carrots in a bunch' or a farm animal-mask creating activity. A cake with farmhouse motifs such as tractor, sheep, horses, grass, white fences or cupcakes with cow, sheep and pig faces will fit right in with this theme.
DIY activity: Make a cow mask
1.Take white chart paper and cut out an long oval shape for the cow's face. Then cut horns and ears shapes.
2.From light pink chart paper, cut a smaller horizontal oval for the nose.
3.With a black marker pen, draw large spots over the face. Draw large eyes and cut holes at the centre.
4.On the pink piece, draw two holes for the nose and a mouth.
5.With glue, stick all the pieces together and attach an elastic string so it's easy to wear.
Return Gift: Tractor/Harvester toy
For a one-year-old and his little friends, an alphabet party is a fun way to associate learning with cakes and all things enjoyable! The cake can be in the shape of the first alphabet of your child's name and the rest of the food and other accessories can be presented in the shape of alphabets. If there are toddlers at the party, organise alphabet-themed games such as one where each child gets an alphabet and has to stand next to pictures that start with that particular letter.
DIY Activity: Make an Alphabet cut out
1.Use thick chart paper or Glitter Foam sheets for this craft
2.Using stencils or online templates, cut out big alphabets.
3.There should be different alphabets, one for every child.
Return gift: Alphabet-themed lunch box/pencil box
This is a popular cartoon among kids and the Spanish words it teaches them makes it a favourite for us too. Introduce some Spanish words into your dcor like 'ola'. Organise a treasure hunt if there are older children at the celebration. For the younger ones, finger painting or printing their palms with paint on Dora-themed T-shirts will keep them entertained. You can also add these to the return gift bags. Liven up the party by playing Dora songs.
DIY Activity: Make a songs playlist
1.Make a list of songs that kids will enjoy interspersed with Dora songs.
2.Download or write them on a CD.
3.Play at the party and watch the children dance.
Return gift: Dora-themed T-shirt.
This is a sure-fire winner when you have little children because Peppa Pig is a much-loved character. Since the adorable pig is cute and pink, your dcor is going to be pretty pink and easy to do. You can organise games such as Tail the Pig or Piata Strike or have a story-reading session to calm the excited little ones. You can easily get your hands on Peppa Pig based table covers, buntings, balloons, tableware and return gifts.
DIY Activity: Make 'Tail the Pig' game
1.Take a thick felt cloth and using a template or picture, trace the outline for Peppa Pig. Now cut it neatly.
2.Mount this on a cardboard and hang this on a door with the help of thick string.
3.Take a bundle of woollen knitting thread and tie together on one side. Leave the other end open. Secure a board pin on the tied end. This serves as the tail and should be pinned to the backside of the pig. Make a few of these so kids can play multiple times.
Return gift: Peppa Pig book
One of the easiest themes to work on, be it Spiderman or Ironman or any other hero, this theme is always a hit with the kids. You will get loads of party supplies that fit the theme including masks and banners. Since most of the kids are small, organise a 'Spiderman Catch a Bad Guy Relay,' where the parents can help the kids to run and complete the relay. A home-made mini tunnel for everyone to run through would be ideal.
DIY Activity: Mini tunnel for crawling
1.Take a few large cardboard boxes
2.Cut them on both ends in such a way that when placed on the floor, they create a space to crawl. Do this with 3-4 boxes.
3.Attach them together with adhesive tape and paint them to look like a mini tunnel. Have fun crawling.
Return gift: Spiderman goodies
This is a party theme for babies who love Bob the Builder cartoons and picture books. Get a couple of yellow plastic construction hats and black aprons and let your little one and his friends decorate them. Having building blocks for children to play with is a good idea. Create a background with cuttings of various construction tools. The food can include cakes or cupcakes in the shape of construction tools, with tableware in similar motifs.
DIY Activity: Construction themed bunting
1.Get a sturdy thread on which to hang the buntings
2.Using yellow paper cut out adequate number of triangular shapes of the same size. On some of the triangles, make stripes using black marker to represent the construction motif.
3.Make tiny slits on two sides of the wider end so the thread can go in. You could also use washi tape to stick them together
4.Place them one after the other at regular intervals.
5.Hang these in the room to make a pretty decoration.
Return gift: Building blocks set
It goes without saying that the dcor needs to be simply royal and you will get all kinds of bunters, table cloths, tableware and banners that fit the theme. The cake can be made in the shape of your kid's favourite Disney princess and the colours can match the dcor. You could have a mascot dressed up as your child's favourite princess and organise craft making sessions for the older children at the party. The smaller ones can come dressed up as royal citizens.
DIY Activity: Make a crown
1.Take thick glitter paper in pink or white colour
2.Using a template from the Internet, cut out the shape of a crown
3.Stick colourful craft gems/pearls to the border of the crown and decorate with sequins
4.Now slowly attach both ends to create a crown.
Return gift: Prince and Princess mugs
Start early - Begin your preparations early. Start at least two weeks in advance. Establish your theme and go about collecting everything needed starting from invites to return gifts.
Book in advance -- If you are planning to have clowns, tattoo artists, puppeteers, mascots or caricature artists to keep children of all ages entertained, then book them in advance.
Lock the space -- Book your venue after ensuring that it is safe for kids and organise your invites as soon as possible. You can even have it at home but make sure you earmark adequate space without hurdles for the kids.
Get help -- Rope in your friends to help you with your dcor and organise the games. You can't be everywhere at once, even more so when you have a room full of excited kids including your own.
Order your cake -- If making your own cake and snacks prepare for it early. If you are outsourcing the food items, order at least a few weeks in advance to avoid last minute glitches.
You are all set to start on your party now. Let's hope your little one loves it as much as you loved planning for it!