Gemmi's music and dance first birthday party

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We like to plan our kids birthday parties according to the things that they like at the time of said birthday, like everyone, right?  Well, when our son was one, he liked balls, so we planned a 'ball themed first birthday.'  And now that it was time for our girl to turn one (eek!) we went with what Gemmi likes best to plan her party.  And Gemmi-girl likes music and she likes to dance.  Boy, does our girl like to dance.

So we set to have a music & dance first birthday party for our little darling.  I ordered a fancy girl tutu dress from Frillerup on etsy.  We pulled a few pinspirations for snack necklaces and dancing ribbons.  And we ordered her invitation from Shutterfly.

Then it was time to party and dance and shake it for Gemmi's first birthday!

We had dinner - Gemma's favorite:  Pizza and then it was time for the activity:  Snack necklaces & ribbon dancers!

We had great success with our snack necklaces.  We had lots of little bowls filled with circle snacks (or similiar) like gummi life savers, peach rings, flavored cheerios, and pretzels.  We used gift ribbon for the necklaces and we taped one end of the ribbon to the tablecloth to keep the snacks from accidentally falling off the other side while making them.

From teacher experience, I will tell you - the key to getting children to follow directions is placement:  you need to tell them to sit and exactly where to sit.  For events, we always use a big blanket or a plastic tablecloth to designate the kids' activity area.  Using a big tablecloth was handy too because we could just fold it up -crumbs and all - and shake it outside when we were done. Once kids know that they have to stay on the designated sitting area - things go a lot more smoothly.   Expectations on what their body should be doing is really important when attempting to get young children to do an activity.

Our ribbon dancers were made out of shower curtain rings (I got the cheap ones for 6 for $1 at the dollar store) and various colors of ribbon (clearance rack at Walmart).  We just looped the ribbon in half then pulled the loose ends through the loop.  The ribbons aren't tight to the ring so that you can change them around if you want.

After the snack necklaces and ribbon dancers were done, we got to the dancing part of the party!

We opened a few presents; since Gem is so young - she has barely any interest in opening gifts at all - let alone all of the gifts she so luckily receives from our friends and family (thank you everyone!).  We usually just open a few during the party.

And then it was time for cake (and the traditional first birthday cake smashing event).  Brand and I were standing next to Gem while everyone who loves her best watched and sang her happy birthday and I had to swallow a huge lump in my throat.
How is our girl one already?
Oh, babies - why do you grow so fast and break your mumma's heart so?

Gem was sporting a low grade fever at her birthday party, so although she didn't nose dive into the cake chowing down on sugar - she did smash the thing to smithereens pretty well.

And then its off to the bath for her to clean off the cake (hence the reason we strip our kids to their diaper for their first birthday cake smashing session), followed by jammies, and then she fell asleep in her pappy's arms shortly after.  It's her party, she can cry sleep if she wants to!

It was a great party and we were reminded (yet again) how lucky we are to have such amazing and caring people in our lives, but even more importantly, in our kids' lives.  Our kids greatest gift is that they have family and friends that love them, would protect them to the ends of the earth, and daily live their lives as examples of what a 'good person' looks like.  Thank you to all of you who helped Gemma celebrate her day.

And to you, our sweet one year old Gemmi Girl, 
happy birthday, darling.  You made our family infinitely better just by being born a year ago.  You have helped each of us grow and learn and be a better person because you are so perfectly and wonderfully you.  Thank you for being so silly and full of personality.  We are so lucky that you are ours.  Happy first birthday Gemmi angel girl.


Tips for planning a one year old birthday party from Team Studer:
In terms of party planning for a one year old - we have now done two of them and they both ran the same schedule.  Maybe its the teacher in me - wanting it planned out - but it has worked both times and seems to create the type of party that all guests don't hate (hah!)

For a one year old's party (and all low number birthday parties where there are more adults than kids, generally) I always think to myself, how much does a non-kid, non-grandparent actually want to be at a one year old's birthday party?  Probably about ten percent and that ten percent is probably generated from solely just loving the birthday child. So, in general,  I like to keep the party moving and give opportunities to help or escape if non-kids/non-grandparents choose.

1st birthday party schedule:
1. Food & drink /meal time
2. Child supervised activity & organized playtime(grownups not interested in participating or helping can be child-free in another room/area)
3. Gifts (abbreviated when possible)
4. Cake
5. Bath for birthday baby - cake/ice cream for guests
6. Cool down/goodbyes

The other two keys to the party is to have designated people that will help you - since you are the momma/parent of the birthday child - you cannot expect that you're going to be able to do everything and enjoy the fact that your baby is having their first birthday party!  So we always designate two specific roles out to someone else:

Photographer:  one or both of my sisters
- this person hangs on to your camera (and they had my phone/instagram too) and knows that there are certain moments that they HAD to capture (cake, brother&sister, our whole family, etc)  (thank you Kayla & Tasha!!)

Right hand-man/lady :  my mom
- this person acts like you would if you were not the birthday baby's parent.  They re-fill chips&pretzels, tell guests where to find the toothpicks, they cut & distribute the cake while you bath the baby,etc (thank you Mum!!)

The last piece to the party, is to send out meaningful thank you notes.  Written thank yous (at least in my opinion) are the final and a critical piece to birthday parties.  Make sure to include any non-gift related information - (like thanking your grown-up-with-no-kids best friends for staying late just to help clean up - ahem Jon&Nin).  The way I look at it is our family and friends took the time to buy a gift and spend two hours of their weekend celebrating our daughters birth - the least I can do is take a few minutes to thank them in a meaningful way.

We ordered Gemma's thank yous from Shutterfly (duh, we love them).   Since we ordered them, we got to include a little picture from the party - but any thank you will do, as long as you mean it :)

Do you have other tips for planning or hosting a one year old's birthday party?


  1. I love your blogs :)

  2. Happy Birthday Little Miss Gemma!! Tab, I love that you get to do all the work of party planning and parenting so I'll be good to go once I have kids. Thanks! hahaha :)