Anna & Pearl baby in the city Event

Pearly Whirly’s 1st Birthday!

Pearly Whirly’s 1st Birthday!

Pearl’s first Birthday – Photo credit Abigail Oliver, Event setup Cotton Canvas

So totally & utterly cliche BUT where has the year gone! 

It doesn’t seem like 2 minutes ago we were faffing around to be allowed out of the hospital & let loose with our very own mini human, with the Beau being sent back from the desk by the nurses for not quite mastering the car seat technique on the first attempt! I was chuckling away whilst trying to hobble round getting myself ready to go too! 

 Fast forward 12 months & the idea was just a few drinks with family & friends to toast Pearls milestone & raise a glass to us surviving the year relatively well! The occasion however turned into a bonanza of a 55 adult & 25 children guest list in the stunning venue of my pre Bambino work place, the Bristol Harbour Hotel!!!

I was part of the opening team for the hotel & it holds a lot of memories for me,  having seen every inch of the transition from rubble to readiness over an 18 month period, half of which I was pregnant for with Pearly, so felt lovely for the venue to then play host to her special day. 

As a favour for me & as a one off we were allowed to provide the buffet for the party with a signed disclaimer & I will go no further than to say don’t ever bother making a buffet for this many guests yourself if you can help it, especially on the morning of the party due to me accidentally enjoying a glass or 2 of wine with friends the night before in protest to the Beau attending the footie at the City ground! Our bad lol! The implications of this was me becoming a Bossy Buffet taskmaster to the Beau with him shouting “what do you want made next??” in between me doing shuttle runs with our then very practical family car being a mini, back & forth from our house to the venue, whilst checking on buffet standards & picking holes in how the next lot of sandwiches need to be cut & what fruit needs to be sorted to make rainbow fruit kebabs …

Well done to him for working away without snapping at me & thank goodness for the as ever lovely hotel staff who helped me unload the Mary Poppins style car of endless party paraphernalia, which meant I could then start the fun part of pulling it all together!

Now all of the above said I loooooooove planning any event! I have always got a buzz out of organising occasions & this time felt like the most special being our Daughters 1st Birthday. I enjoy putting together styling ideas in my head & Pinterest, gathering items, which for this celebration consisted of many many pastel Pom poms, matching party bags, neon rainbow party plates & cups, metallic giant ONE balloons, rainbow cake & more balloons, rose gold table clothes, 2 ball pits with nearly 300 balls!!! Leopard print ‘Pearls One’ baby grow, Party Girls tutu dress with sparkly tights, photo wall & more…….

The weeks in the lead up to her birthday were busy with us moving home, festive fun & general life as we all know it with kids, so I would head to my phone after Pearl’s last evening feed, or during her night feeds to hunt round online for bargains fitting the party theme. Now all these plans sound rather extravagant, but budget was a big focus, as unfortunately there has not been a pot of gold at the end of any of these rainbows I have been buying, so I priced checked everything I found to ensure I got the best deals before ordering. Thank goodness in the lead up to the party we also moved to a 2 bed, as her new room filled rather quickly like a pastel explosion! 

It was important to me where possible to use independent businesses & I’m delighted we managed this for many elements including cake signage, Rowan & Fox 

Baby grow guest message, Mumma makes & creates

Party balloons, Poppers the Party shop local to where we live, which was lucky as it was an interesting journey after stuffing 3 metre high letters & 2 giant rainbow helium balloons into the car!

We were also delighted to have the lovely Jenny from Cotton and Canvas parties put together a stunning bespoke area & it totally made the party alongside us combining with 2 ball-pits. Not only did it look gorgeous but Pearl & the other mini humans adored the personalised colouring pads Jenny made, endless supply of crayons, rainbow party hats, basket full of toys, which Jenny also provided, all centered around an array of themed balloons, gorgeous textured rugs, cushions & perfect height tables to be used in play & buffet eating, or if you’re Pearl to climb on… 

Having this area meant all ages of children & adults could enjoy it & I felt it brought a relaxed feel using the available floor space. Jenny took care of all the setup from start to finish, all rather impressively around 3 children of her own! It also provided a gorgeous backdrop for photos, as we decided we didn’t want a first birthday shoot as such, but really wanted to capture a few special moments without me running round like a nutter snapping selfies with my phone! We therefore had the pleasure of Abigail Oliver Photography attending & we are beyond happy with the photos she took. Abigail arrived 30 minutes before the guests, just as Daddy was changing the party girl into her tulle dress. It was great to get a few pics of Pearly enjoying her very own setup before all of her friends & family arrived & the fabulous madness started. Abigail was brilliant & wasn’t intrusive in any way & so friendly, with some guests commenting to me after seeing the photos, they didn’t even realise we had a photographer! This was music to our ears especially the Beau who was a bit reluctant about me arranging a photographer for the party, as it was important to us for the guests to enjoy the day & not feel awkward by having a camera lens in their face. We now have amazing moments captured to always cherish & a lovely family photo which I’ll be popping up on the wall! 

With this being Pearl’s 1st Birthday we did or I did go a bit overboard, but kept plans within a reasonable budget.  As well as celebrating a year of surviving as parents, its been a year of losing a very special loved one, so it was really important for us to have all our fav’s around us. We wanted everyone to have fun, relax, catch up before Christmas with kids having the freedom to play freely, in the aim for attending parents & guests to not to be stressed, but most importantly Pearl to have a happy & laughter filled day. 

We are so glad to have celebrated the way we did, using the stunning Sansovino room & Gold bar at the Bristol Harbour Hotel provided so much space for children to run round & adults have the space to enjoy too! Parties can, but don’t have to cost an absolute fortune if you’re savvy with your spending & focus only shelling out larger amounts on what’s important to you. It’s amazing the difference in cost for the same item such as party plates etc…

If like us you don’t have the space to host large numbers of guests at home, hunt for availability with venues – they can on occasion provide off peak pricing, as we held the party on a Sunday a few days before her actual birthday, or contact local church halls & Community venues, as they tend to be pretty reasonable! If you’re crazy enough like us to do your own catering, ALDI & Costco are great & economical options to put on a feast, just give yourself more time than the morning of to prepare it & plan the menu so that many ingredients are multiple use & interchangeable. For example items like meat or cheeses that can be used as sandwich fillers & potential canapé toppers, or save money by using cucumber as crudités or a blini rather than buying wheat based packets for the salmon to go on top of & this way better to cover potential allergy requirements too!

Famous last words that her 2nd Birthday won’t be such a large affair, but we will see…..

A few Tips learned along the way! 

  • Having a professional photographer doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive & you can work on an hourly rate to ensure it fits your budget. I’m beyond happy we have some amazing photos now in print quality Thanks to the fab Abigail!
  • If you would like a homemade cake that tends to cater for more guests, order well in advance, as I left it too late so ended up simply buying a small supermarket one. After searching many rainbow cake terms I found a fab one from Tesco’s, but it was only really suitable as a token offering & to play host for the first ever Birthday song & obligatory candle! 
  • I used google or eBay a lot to price check, but you can also download Apps which you can use to scan items in shops before buying to view online options. Example Apps being Idealo or PriceSpy
  • Pinterest is great for buffet inspiration to build a menu that can mean using many of the same ingredients, but in multiple ways to keep the cost down. Ikea style under bed storage boxes are also ideal for transferring the food, so no squashed sandwiches to worry about & u can use the boxes after at home for toys no doubt! 
  • PhotoBox was great to create a large 50 print photo frame to display & I used a retro Polaroid style. Order from these types of suppliers when they have offers on, as I saved over £10 with a 50% off deal. 
  • If anyone offers to help you in the setup say YES, as it makes a big difference so you can enjoy the build up calmly & feel relaxed greeting guests on arrival!

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