Henry celebrated his first birthday two weeks ago and last Sunday we held his first birthday party for family and close friends. With his nickname being Turtle (because of the little turtle faces he pulls!) it made sense to throw an Under The Sea first birthday party.
I know a lot of people don’t see the point of throwing a party for a one year old because they won’t remember it, but I think it’s important as a family to celebrate this amazing little boy being part of our lives for a whole year! We’ve always done parties for Alfie, like his teddy bears picnic and Moana/Maui party, so Henry will get the same treatment! And I love planning parties, so I fully embrace the challenge of thinking up a theme and creating a party to remember!
The biggest challenge we had was a January birthday. With Alfie, it’s easy to do a BBQ in the garden as we have enough space. However, throwing a party at home in January means cramming about 30 adults and children in our lounge/diner. Not impossible, but a squeeze! I looked at soft plays and local halls but they were just working out so expensive and we really didn’t have the money. So this is what I did to create a budget party at home in a small space.
The decorating is always my favourite part of party planning, but it’s also the bit that I can spend an absolute fortune on! I really like to stay on theme as much as possible, and being at home gave me a bit more room to create an under the sea spectacular (in my mind, anyway!). I mostly used eBay for my decorations as well as bits and bobs I had left over from previous parties. I wanted to make a feature of the food table with a good backdrop, so we moved the table in front of the patio doors and put up a tinsel curtain. I absolutely loved this and thought it created a brilliant effect. We then hung strings of fish so it looked like they were swimming!
On the table we had the cake as the main centre piece, with a blue tablecloth covering the table (it was actually a bedsheet!). This was used at Alfie’s Maui party and looked great. I had planned to use faux green palm tree leaves and tropical flowers as decoration around the food but the setting up was a bit rushed (standard) so I totally forgot!
I was very excited to find these first birthday tortoise plates and cups, as well as the banners. Slightly off theme being a tortoise not a turtle, but close enough! The banners were put up on the stairs and the front door.
I also put up a fishing net filled with balloons and inflatable fish/sea creatures. On the fireplace I put up Henry’s milestone photos. I loved taking these and was so proud to see 12 monthly photos up on the wall! I thought it was a lovely little touch.
Finally, I had a tinsel curtain in front of the porch door. It looked brilliant, but was a little annoying when I had to keep opening the door as people arrived! We also had big Happy Birthday balloons hung up on the wall.
Overall I was really pleased with the decorations and how the living room looked at the start of the party (even though I was still putting up decs as our guests arrived!)
Everyone knows that I love a themed party, and that means dressing up! I’ve always bought Alfie a personalised t-shirt from the lovely Claire at Sew A Little Happiness, so I was very excited to buy Henry’s first birthday t-shirt! I gave her the brief of turtle and she yet again created a wonderful t-shirt! I teamed it with a pair of deep sea ribs from Maxomorra which looked amazing!
Of course Henry wasn’t going to get away with not wearing a cute fancy dress outfit, so I was extremely pleased to find this turtle costume on eBay! The one I had my eye on for months was £16 and it just seemed a lot of money to spend on something he’d be wearing for an hour…so I was super pleased to find this for £3!!!
Alfie originally asked to go as “crab shiney” aka Tamatoa from Moana. I was going to make his costume but I just didn’t get time, so instead he went as a pirate using an outfit we already had!
I bought a simple mermaid-esq t-shirt from eBay for £4! Daddy was a bore and didn’t dress up!
We did a simple cold buffet for the food as I wanted to prepare it all the night before and not be cooking for the majority of the party! So it was cheese and ham sandwiches, cold pizza slices, cocktail sausages and sausage rolls, chicken dippers, pork pies, cucmbers, tomato and peppers with dips, a fruit bowl, chocolate fingers and jelly and ice cream. For drinks we had orange squash and water.
I’ve made cakes for Alfie’s second and third birthday, and regret not making his first birthday cake, so it will be a tradition of mine to make the boys birthday cakes! I had several ideas from Pinterest, and also had a pre-run with Henry’s cake smash cake! I decided to use blue ready roll icing and then decorate it with coral, and other sea shapes made out of icing. I then made a turtle, crab and octopus for the top and a a sign that said “Henry Is One”. It was a more elaborate version of the cake smash cake, but I was very pleased with how it came out. I put brown sugar round the cake board to look like sand, and put it on a cake stand on the food table as part of the display!
It was just a simple vanilla sponge inside as that the easiest thing I can make!
Unfortunately there was a slight incident where I may have dropped the cake as we went to sing happy birthday. You can check out the spectacular fail on my Instagram.
Party Games and Entertainment
Being a one year olds party, there really isn’t many games you can play that they can enjoy! We had an age range of one to four, so I aimed the games more at the older age range as there was more of them!
When the guests arrived, we had a playlist on with our favourite party tunes – check out the list in this blog post. I bought a disco light from Amazon which was brilliant, the kids loved it! We then had a few toys out to keep the children entertained before our first game.
I then did a couple of simple party games – first “catch a fish”. I used one of the strands of fish, put a paper clip on each one and then put them on the Wobbel 360 “pond”, gave the kids a fishing rod with a magnet (from a game we already had) and they just had to go fishing! I spun the 360 round to make it slightly harder for them to catch a fish and then they all got some treasure from the treasure chest!
Our next game was pass the parcel. This is always an easy one, but the kids can lose interest if it’s too long or once they’ve had their turn at unwrapping, so make it quick!
We then did lunch, and our final game before the end of the party was pin the leg on the octopus! I made this myself and hung it on the wall. Again a few of the kids were too young for this, but the older ones enjoyed it!
In all honesty, the dancing and toys probably would have entertained them enough without the games but I worried about them getting bored, so it’s always good to have a few things up your sleeve!
I’ll admit, I hate doing party bags. I hate bags full of plastic crap that get thrown away, and I want the child to actually enjoy what they receive for more than a few minutes! The host in me can’t not give a party bag as my husband usually suggests, so I spend a LOT of time seeking out the perfect token gift as a thank you for attending the party.
This year I used Baker Ross for all our party bags and made up a little goodie bag with the following:
- A colour-in cup – I loved these as a kid!
- A crayon stack
- Bouncy balls
I kept it all “on theme” and wrapped it in cellophane and tied a handmade thank you tag that Alfie helped me make. Everyone also got a sliced of (only slightly squished) cake!
We had a fantastic time at Henry’s party and I’m so glad we did it. I’ll admit we were quite worried about the space and how to keep everyone entertained (Craig more so than me!) I’m so glad we went ahead and had this celebration, Henry might not remember it but I certainly will. After a difficult start to his life, it was lovely to celebrate a whole year of Henry and the wonderful effect he’s had on our family.