Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eva's First Birthday Party

In Korea, the first birthday is like a wedding reception. We wanted to incorporate some Korean traditions, but not take out a second mortgage in the process so we just decided to do it at our house. We planned to keep it as a small, simple afternoon party. But neither of us really does small or simple very well. As we went back and forth on what we wanted to do, the time slipped away and we had to cram to get it together in less than a week.

The Invitations:

I cut off part of the invite for this post to remove personal details, but you get the idea. The missing part had a newborn picture of Eva. I did them on Pingg which is like Evite, but you can have paper versions mailed out as well (for a fee). I printed one for Eva's baby book. I wish they had more designs for using your own photos, but this one was fine. Pingg is free, but you can pay for access to more designs, to remove ads and to have paper versions printed. I used an online service because it cuts down on waste and it is just easier than trying to collect everyone's mailing address which is not as easy as the house number, street number and zipcode.

The Cake:

I decided to do cupcakes and borrowed Hello Cupcake: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make by Alan Richardson and Karen Tack from my friend. I do not have cake decorating experience or skill, but I do have vision. After looking through the book, my vision included 3-D chocolate butterflies. The first attempt was a disaster. I blame faulty equipment. The book says to use ziplock bags. My ziplock bags broke. To be fair, the book said to use freezer bags, but I only had regular ones. Just incase you are wondering, it does make a difference. Armed with stronger plastic bags, I made a second attempt which turned out much better than the first. I used Wilton's candy melts in cocoa and some Easter candy made of similar ingredients that I thought work work. The candy melts, melt quickly and set up quickly so they are easier to work with than real chocolate. The other candy didn't get quite liquid enough to make the design like in the book. But, the second attempt was much better. I think if I would have had the time and energy to do it three times, they would have been really good. Still, I was happy with the end result:

Sheet cake made with the unfortunate first batch. I got crumbs in the frosting and there was no fixing so I just went with it all over. Yes, I know it is sad.

The Decorations:

Photos from her first birthday shoot, tissue paper puffs from marthastewart.com, hand made party hat using a feather boa and fabric from some old pants that I got in LA years ago that always fall down, the infant carseat cover that I got for $3 at TJ Maxx on her high chair with another pink feather boa, the hanbok that the ladies from Curt's office chose for her, and a plastic table cloth from the PX (I wanted fabric but didn't have anything that worked and didn't have time to shop). The tissue pompoms were pretty easy to make. I didn't have sharp enough scissors to get a clean cut, but they still turned out well and had a lot of visual interest to the space.

Flowers from two different guests that coordinated perfectly:

Banner recycled from a good friend's daughter's first birthday:

You've got to love recycling! Anyone out there with a little girl turning one? I would be happy to pass it on!
The Food:
Curt did several kinds of chicken wings, had a cheese tray, fruit tray, veggie tray, shrimp platter. I made the ranch for the veggie tray and wings, a Mexican layer dip, and punch with an ice mold. The punch was made with cranberry juice, orange juice and pineapple juice. The ice mold had pineapple juice, pineapple chunks and mint leaves. I put champagne on the side to spike it up as desired. We also bought some pizza from the Navy Club. They cut it into appetizer sized pieces which really reduces the amount of waste and is an excellent idea for any party. As usual, Curt was afraid we wouldn't have enough food and as usual we had more than enough. We also had plenty of other beverages. We can have another party with the leftovers!

The Outfits:

Pink tafetta dress that I got on clearance from Hanna Andersson, Robeez that I picked up at the clothing swap the day before, party hat made by me, and "vintage" lace tights (my vintage that is, they were my tights when I was her age).

The After Party Outfit (I couldn't find her sleeved bib so she got cake on her dress and had to change):

The Traditions and Traditional Gifts:
Curt's coworkers got her a 24K gold ring, which is a traditional gift.
It is very cool.
My friends, Mommy and Appa Cha, got her a gold necklace with her birth year sign, the Ox on it and her name engraved on the back in English and Korean.

Toljabee Ceremony
Items representing different professions or fortunes are set out and the item the child picks first is said to predict their future. We put out:
red thread=long life
bowl of rice=will be rich, will never be hungry
hard hat=engineering
money=will be rich
paint brushes=artist

She sat for a long time without doing anything so we prompted her to pick something. Then, Mommy Cha said that Koreans aren't using rice anymore because it could mean laziness (After the party I found another source that said stupidity). As soon as she grabbed the rice:

The eating of the cake is the American tradition that everyone loves about the first birthday.

I had a strawberry stick holding up the #1. She delicately took it out of the cupcake and slowly, slooowly, ate it.

Then, she picked up the #1 and slowly, slooowly ate that:

Seriously, it was about 20 minutes. I kept leaving and coming back. She eventually did get into her cupcake and make a bit of a mess but, it was pretty mild.

We got her out, changed her and she went for her gifts, choosing the smallest one first and trying to open it with her mouth:

It was a wonderful day and we were so pleased with how everything went, except that I need to plan better next time and get invitations out a respectable distance ahead of the party!

Party photos by Chalica Pack. I'll post more shots (like the first picture) from Eva's official first birthday shoot with Chalica in another post.


Darcel said...

OMG! She is too cute! I love the cake, cupcakes, decorations. You went all out. Those butterflies are so cool. I wish I could make things like that for my girls on their bdays.

Mama Seoul said...

Thanks! Trust me, if I can do it, ANYBODY can. I just clumsily follow the directions. The cupcake decorating book has some really cool ideas, many of which are easily than the one I picked (of course).

Sarah said...

Wow, you make G's birthday party look so sad. I ordered out everything....food, cake, decorations....
Chalica did a good job on the photos. Shooting indoors must be hard.

Mama Seoul said...

I don't know how to order in Korea and I was too late to order from the States so I had to!

sharon said...

Happy Birthday Eva! Wish we were there, she's too cute!

Our Little Bonbon said...

Great photos! That hanbok looks wonderful on her.

MommyCha said...

The photos are lovely! Chalica did a great job!
You did so well Karen, you impressed the heck out of me! I don't know how you do it with 2 kids, I know ordering is my new saviour! ^.~
I will stand by the old meaning for rice,because I doubt Eva will be anything but amazing with a mother like you!

Mama Seoul said...

I think it is the theatre person in me that loves to do this. Sarah C, I may have two kids, but you are working two jobs with teaching and Moby and Sarah T, you have multiple book projects plus a job search and still manage to knit and crochet and now Korean knots. We all have the things we like to do!

Connie said...

Eva is so adorable!! And what a lovely party. I am simply amazed :) Honor's birthday is coming up soon and I have no idea what I am going to do... she's not helping either, as she won't make up her mind about what she wants :) ! You really did a beautiful job on everything... and I go with the 'traditional' meaning of the rice as well. My folks did something similar with me, and it was with Dad's Chicago area relations... I wonder what culture it came from? Catholic? French? Irish? My choices were a shot glass (partier), silver dollar (rich), and rosary beads (religious). I grabbed the shot glass and the silver dollar at the same time... perhaps I should by lotto tickets more often?