My new mommy lifestyle has caused me to re-evaluate my wardrobe.  What was once perfect for my fashion career no longer seems relevant for my push-the-stroller-around-town days.  Take for instance my suits.  I have no occasions on my calendar for which I need to wear any of these anymore.  I decided I needed to add more casual pieces to tone down my mostly work-related pieces and I knew I could make  individual pieces from my closet still work and look more casual.  First on my list of shopping to dos was to find myself some stylish tees.  Cotton is great because it is so low-maintenance.  If baby drools or spits on it, I can simply throw it in the wash and forgo dry cleaning bills.

I then ran into Uniqlo’s new collaborative effort with MOMA where artists famous works were printed onto easy-to-wear tees.  I loved the 5th ave window displays and felt compelled to go in.  Wouldn’t you??

uniqlo

sprz uniqlo

 

The collection consists of 200 items inspired by artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.  The Keith Haring tee with “New York” printed on it caught my eye and was one of the ones I came home with that day.  Below I styled it with a simple mini skirt from Daffy’s (a now defunct discount retailer in NYC) and booties from TJMaxx.

 

ootd 6.7

I have a bunch of pencil skirts that I needed to make more casual (this one has a damask pattern and texture which you can’t really see here) so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to pair it with a tee.  Below I styled it with a crystal necklace from Off 5th and a hat from TJ Maxx.   The shoes were bought at Saks while an employee there and therefore bought with my employee discount.ootd new york tee ootd new york tee1

And lastly, I created a super casual look with some Joe Fresh leggings that I found on clearance for $1.50 and an old newsboy cap from my closet.  The high-heeled sneakers were purchased from this great discount shoe site my husband of all people found called 6pm.com.  ootd new york tee2

All outfits on this post were $100 or less (not including the Chanel purse of course) and go to show you that you don’t have to spend a lot to have a lot of variety in your outfits and achieve totally different looks.

I’ll try to post another time about the other tee I bought while at Uniqlo next!

Thanks for reading!  And follow @fabgabblog on Instagram and Facebook if you aren’t already.

I’m not normally a fan of yellow but somehow this sunny yellow JCrew skirt spoke to me.  And it’s refreshingly versatile.  Pair it with a neutral like I did in the first picture below and immediately it helps tone down the outfit.  (Lipstick scarf, lace top by Ellen Tracy, flats from JCpenney).

yellow skirt

Or wear it with black and white and a pop of color.  (Zara shoes, Chanel purse, Bettes B, TJMaxx hat)

fashion blogger

jcrew

For work, I might wear it with my metallic and black Zara blazer as shown below. Spiked necklace is from TJMaxx and the gold studded tank is from Century 21.  P urse is Chanel and heels are Dolce Vita from Saks.

tjmaxx

Jcrew skirt

For more style diary inspiration, click here.

Which one is your favorite outfit and would you wear such a bright, sunny yellow?

 

I hope you moms out there had a very happy mother’s day.  Mine was pretty perfect with a beautiful brunch outdoors by Rockefeller Center, a stroll through Saks and midtown to enjoy the amazing weather and church with my honey and little one.  Here we are imitating the elephant we found on the pillow and then walking through Rockefeller Center afterwards.  She can imitate a handful of animals already at just 14months old (as well as identify 16 body parts and so much more)!  I’m a proud mommy.

IMG_8435 IMG_8384

As you can see, Juliet and I shamelessly match one another.   I’ve been a little obsessed lately with matchy matchy mini-mes thanks to my fashionable mommy friends on Instagram.  They inspire me!  See below for a quick sample! (@babyellestyle, @chantelleyglitz, @fitriaris @Karlitchaa and @Mcmilllantwinsnmom in that order)

mommy and me fashion chantelleyglitz fitriaris karlitchaa mcmillantwinsnmom

To see more fabulous mini-me outfit pairings, see my Instagram account @fab_kids.  Or to see my own mini-me matching outfits, see @fabgabblog on IG.  

Also, if you haven’t already joined, follow my new FB page @fabgabblog and also @fabkidsandtheirstylishmoms 

You’ll find more mommy and me outfit inspiration, sales and leads on where to find such fashions there.

 

 

sunglasses

I have known my dear friend, Janell for about 6.5 years and she is one of those people that just brings a smile to your face.  I’ve celebrated meeting her ever since I met her while traveling in Dubai.  She is a bright ray of sunshine.  You know, one of those people that is always so positive with an amazing, contagious energy.  I loved her the minute I met her!

So when she expressed possibly needing a venue for her baby shower, I volunteered our apartment and my event planning services.  And though I didn’t know exactly how I’d convert my post-renovation apartment with construction materials still there into a party space I thought it would be good to have a deadline in mind for us to work towards cleaning it all out.

Turns out orange and fuschia were the colors Janell was imagining for her nursery so we agreed on making that the color theme of her baby shower.  The colors are so fitting given her personality is just as vivacious and fun.  Next, we threw in her favorite pattern, chevron, (also likely to be used in the new nursery) and boom, that kick started all my brainstorming which you can see on my pinterest board here.

With the budget in mind, I found these great FREE, downloadable party printables with the orange-fuschia-chevron theme.

chevron partyAnd I continued the theme at the all-important food station (which typically becomes the center of any party) by purchasing a similar orange and white chevron blanket at Century 21 for less than $15.  Thumbtacking it to our wall, created an eye-catching backdrop.

orange chevron party

The banner was created by printing large blank papers from that downloadable link, cutting flags out freehand and handwriting the message with a sharpie in as consistent of a font as possible.  (I’d advise printing out onto card stock to prevent wrinkles).  Lastly, I covered my kitchen cabinet pull handles with some fuschia fabric I bought on sale a while ago for another purpose.

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I created the diaper cake centerpiece out of newborn and sz 1 diapers, some ribbon, fuschia napkins, some florals and a baby headband.   I’m always looking for an excuse to use my glue gun so I was happy to have an excuse to pull it out again!

diaper cake

The orange tray that you see here was found at a dollar-type store for just over $3 and the orange runner on my countertop was made with paper bought on clearance at Michaels.orange chevron cupcake

 

The cupcakes were homemade by the other 2 co-hosts, sprinkled with fuschia sprinkles and finally topped with a chevron onesie that I bought from Etsy designer, Scrapbits

cupcake topper

In addition to these cute cupcake desserts, the brunch menu consisted of:

  • mini quiches (3 varieties)
  • Croissants (3 varieties)
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • cranberry brie bites
  • fruit skewers
  • trail mix
  • mimosas, OJ and coffee
  • sparkling water  (orange or rasberry flavored to match the color theme)

quiche  IMG_8309 fruit kabob orange party

trail mix

Cupcake liners in your party’s theme colors are a great way to present and distribute items that require a handful. And baby items in coordinating colors sat next to some of the food displays for an additional dose of cuteness.

Every baby shower needs some sort of an activity for the guests.  But since the mom-to-be in this case didn’t want traditional shower games, I offered to create a fun photo booth setup instead.  The guests at her wedding all seemed to be into the photo booth in the past so I knew it would be a hit plus what better way to commemorate the event than with pictures?  It didn’t hurt that her guests were so photogenic…

new york fashionista PicMonkey Collageeorange baby shower

diy photo booth

photo booth

To make this DIY photo booth, all I did was set up a remote control SLR to a tripod and hung orange curtains with some leftover crystal beads from an old curtain I once had.

diy photo boothphoto booth propsProps included:

  • bibs
  • rattles
  • bottles
  • paper pacifiers from Etsy designer ScrapStarz
  • felt bowties, mustaches, lips and hats

Presents were opened and stories were shared underneath a banner that read, We (heart) Vienna – the baby’s name.

baby showerAnd simple white onesies hung in the living room windows.

baby shower

Guests left with orange M&M favors in these cute bottles from Etsy seller Lovingly Mine, 

We added the signs with the free, downloadable prints that I found.  They just required some printing, cutting and ribboning.

baby shower favor My thank you goes out to Janell for letting me co-host her very special baby shower.  I hope that it was memorable and everything you dreamed it to be.  You are going to make a wonderful mom and I’m so excited to be able to share in this new chapter of your life!

  • See my Instagram account @fabgabblog for the party video highlights!
  • Click here for other fab fetes that I’ve organized.

 

 

 

pink dress

Most pregnancy fashion posts center around what to wear while pregnant.  Well here is your guide to what to wear POST-pregnancy.  Because we all know ladies, that the belly bump does not magically disappear as quick as we’d all like!  Surprisingly, all my friends and I have gone down to our pre-pregnancy weight with little to no workout plan but I for one still do not recognize my body.  I may be the same weight as I was before but my belly still looks like it did when I was 2 months pregnant – and my baby is now 13months old so I am out of excuses!

I am however skilled at hiding my post-baby bump until I find the time and motivation to hit the gym.  Since I get asked about this a lot, here are some tips on how to hide the no-baby bump.  Secret – it’s all in the fashion!  Here is a list on what to shop for in and out of your closet:

  • Loose / blousy tops and tunics
  • flowy sweaters and cardigans
  • Layer a Furry vest over one of the above
  • big bows/scarves/statement necklaces to create a focal point around your face and slender neck/shoulders/arms
  • boxier shift dresses
  • A-line skirts
  • peplum tops

Here are some great pictorial examples!

maternity fashion neutral 2 neutral 3lbdpregnancy fashion PicMonkey Collag3e PicMonkey Collageolivia palermo fashion

Show off your still-skinny parts too!  Simply revealing your slimmer body parts such as your arms, legs and/or decolletage will give the illusion that the rest of you is just as slender.  For more inspiration and/or to see where each image came from, visit and follow my Pinterest board here!

I love fashion week in NY and I love fab kids and kids fashion so when Petite Parade decided to combine it all, I just had to be there!  Unlike the NY fashion weeks that hit Lincoln Center, this was refreshingly more carefree, less snobby and filled with innocent kid-filled-fun.  I was so glad to have brought my baby Juliet there.  She was very excited to experience this fashion rite of passage with me with her first runway show.

kids fashion week

Here she is wearing my fur shawl over her own black and white dress with her Mickey Mouse tights and wiglet.  Yes that’s a baby wig she’s got on there.  They’re all the rage in Asia but I have yet to see a baby wear one in NYC.  Perhaps she’ll start a trend with her fake pigtails.

NY kids fashion weekGotta love those chubby cheeks.  And yes, that’s a mini Chanel purse she’s got there.  She takes after me after all.  When we sat down, we saw so many like-minded crazed fashionistas and their matchy matchy moms that we sort of felt a comforting sense of belonging like we had just entered a fashion club to which we didn’t even know we were members.

mini fashionistas

This pretty little lady pictured above was also wearing her mom’s fur stole. Check out the front row scene across from me (below).  Pretty mommas and their mini-mes.  This was not your normal crowd.  Even in NYC where fashionistas abound, it is a rare sighting to find moms and their babies dressed to the nines as they all were.  The mommy and me crowd was so stunningly on trend and high fashion that it made even me risk getting whiplash with the constant head-spinning I had to do.  To be surrounded with other so-obviously-fashion-obsessed pairs normalized my penchant for all things beautiful.  And suddenly I didn’t want to ever leave.

fashion babies

My eyes were peeled for cutie sightings and I couldn’t help but admire these professional posers who took to the catwalk post-fashion show like it was their own stage.  Are they adorable or what?

kids fashion week

And perhaps the highlight of Petite Parade’s people watching was the group of celebrity imposters sitting front row.  They looked like they came straight from the Oscars red carpet!  Can you identify the dopplegangers?

Oscar red carpet

That’s Jessica Chastain, Kelly Osbourne, Lupita, Pharrell, and Taylor Swift!  What a great celebrity sighting!  For more on Petite Parade click here  which reveals how much my favorite kid’s runway dress costed.

NY fashion week kids

petite parade

For those of you wondering what was in the goody bag this year, here it is!  It’s missing a couple nail polishes thanks to my baby playing with it during the photo but the rest is all there.

goody bag

Kids Fashion Week, what do you think?

 

 

100 days old

Koreans mark the 100th day, 1st birthday and the 60th as momentous occasions similar to how we Americans might celebrate a sweet 16 or bar mitzvah.  Above are some shots from when Juliet was just 100 days old.  Both of us are in our hanboks (Korean traditional dresses).  And it seems like just yesterday when we took these shots and she could barely sit on her own.  Yet here we are months afterwards, celebrating her first year.  Click here and here for the details on her birthday party’s decor and all the DIY details.  This Fab Fete post will focus more on the traditional Korean ceremony, the doljabi.

Both hanboks that you see featured on little Juliet were rented from Little Seouls Party for $45 (half the price of buying one and then never wearing it again).   They are the only English online store that rents Hanboks -believe me I searched around!  And thankfully, they were great to work with, answering all my questions and guaranteeing my shipment by the requested date.

korean first birthday

“It’s my birthday and I can cry if I want.”  Teething sucks.

Luis Enrique Rivera Cuyar Luis Enrique Rivera Cuyar Every Korean first birthday features dol towers like these.  Traditional ones are made with black and cream colored beans but that didn’t match my decor so I took the liberty of making mine with pink and green candy (along with paper towel rolls, and a glue gun).  Gettin’ crafty here!  Before you know it, I’ll be scrapbooking and weaving baskets!  Also, I chose not to follow the usual tradition of placing these at the head table, or in my case, the dessert table and instead sat them next to the children’s art easel area so that section would tie into the rest of the party decor.

korean first birthday

That’s the easel and drawing station in the background there with the grandparents and Juliet in the foreground.  For more on the fun fact signs that you see besides the art station, see my earlier post.

first birthday party

Onto the main Korean cultural ceremony, the doljabi.  This is where the child is presented several items, all of which represent something for his/her future. Whatever the child picks up first is supposed to predict the future.  Traditional  items include rice which symbolizes an abundant life, yarn or string which symbolizes a long life, a book or pencil which symbolizes academic success, cash which represents wealth, and some sort of doctor and lawyer professional items.  I chose to modernize my doljabi by adding in career symbols that matched our careers (something in fashion and something in finance).  And for a fun touch, I played ‘gangnam style’ music in the background and had Psy as one of the items to choose from.  All other party background music had ‘baby’ in the lyrics.  ‘Rice Rice Baby’, a mock of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ was a perfect fit for this occasion.

korean dohl

doljabi

Guests fill in the raffle card with their name and place it by the item they think she’ll choose.  Juliet crawled over and with eyes glued to Psy, then freaked out when she heard everyone cheering for her and started melting down under pressure.  But on the 2nd try, she chose the crystal calculator symbolizing a career in finance (like daddy)!

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korean first birthday

IMG_9974 korean dol

The cash was her 2nd choice.

Here are my roundup tips on how to make a first birthday affordable.  I did this all on a strict budget and you can too!

  1. Cut staffing.  Look around you and find talented friends and family to help you wherever you can.  For us, instead of hiring an event planner, I did my own doljabi research, found all the necesary items and prepared all the party decor myself.  Others may want to make their own food, have relatives bake, or have a talented friend take the photos/video.
  2. Skip the florals.  They’re a luxury at a first birthday party and totally unnecessary.
  3. Shop sales ahead of time.  You know the birth date  so plan ahead.  I covered that pool table in the middle of the room with a pink remnant cloth that I bought at an after-Christmas sale.  Anything from platters to birthday dresses can be found deeply discounted around holiday shopping periods.
  4. Re-purpose stuff around the house.  I took my husband’s extra tv stand box, covered it in patterned paper and used it as a riser for my dessert table.  A bed sheet and curtain set became my dessert bar backdrop.
  5. Shop the dollar store.  You can find everything from kid’s favors, to simple snacks and munchies, to art activity sets there.  I bought all my tissue paper (which I turned into fringe), plastic tablecloths,yarn and money for the doljabi and other small items there.
  6. Check out wholesalers online.  My balloons and candy were bought through an online wholesaler for example.

Finally, since every event has its mishaps, here’s my list of what went wrong:

  1. Someone accidentally tipped over an entire platter of kim bop, (the Korean sushi that I had at the snack bar). Luckily I was clueless to this fact until post-party when I disassembled the snack table only to find a mountain of uneaten kimbop on the floor, underneath the tablecloth.  What a waste! I’m just glad I didn’t see it happen .  Ignorance is bliss.
  2. The cake colors were off and it came out not like I wanted (topsy turvy is what I asked for) but I think this only bothered me.
  3. People had issues finding parking and therefore showed up late.  So even though I had purposely planned it for the only day of the week where NYC had free street parking, and reminded guests with an email asking them to allot extra time to find parking, some guests had a hard time and I felt bad about this.
  4. With all that was going on setting up 4 different areas, I forgot to lay out the champagne and water bottles til half the party was over!
  5. The 100 balloons which I had planned to be blown up and scattered all over the floor so kids could kick their way through a baloon lounge never got blown up.  This is thanks to me hiring my hubby as my event assistant.  Event planning newbies always under-estimate the time it takes to finish event planning tasks.
  6. Cake is not as irresistible as I had thought.  I ordered 1 slice for each person and could have fed my entire apartment complex because of it.  We had way too much cake.  For my (strange) guests, I learned I need only order for only 1/3 to 1/5 the amount of people who RSVP.  I was left hawking cake to the doormen, guests and anyone who looked hungry.

Here’s a shot of Juliet post-party enjoying her 2nd cake smash.  We added parts of her presents (the princesses) to the cake and used them as cake toppers.

cake smash

Happy Birthday Juliet!

Read on to see all the details of the rest of her party!

pop champagne Food and beverage is such an important part of a successful party.  It helps your guests feel welcomed, cared for and comforted in a new setting.  It can be the most expensive part of a party budget though.  Most people balk at the per head cost venues charge for weddings for instance.  And though some celebrate the Korean first birthday as if it were part 2 to their wedding, (same guests, similar budget), I chose to celebrate on a budget and cut corners wherever I could.  It’s a baby’s birthday after all!

This meant lots of DIY (see earlier post), and this meant no sit-down meal.  Sorry peeps! I did price out a sit-down brunch in NYC at several mid-tier venues at the beginning of all this party planning but quickly learned we couldn’t afford it as they all ran around $60/head (yikes!)  We just finished a home renovation so the last thing we needed was to try and feed 70 guests a $60 per head meal -especially if that only covered simple items like pancakes and fruit!  So I timed the party mid-day, sort of in-between meals (2-4) and worded the invite in such a way that it hinted not to expect a full meal.   You would understand this to be the case if you received this invite, wouldn’t you?birthday invite My husband worried that despite this subtle warning, his side of the family would fast all day in anticipation of a party where they could feast for free.  I balked at the thought of this but resolved to have enough snacks to satiate hungry party go-ers anyways.  So in addition to the dessert bar where the birthday cake would be the star, I knew I had to have a separate table for snack-able, savory bites.

One rule presided over all the menu planning – no sauces, no dips, and small bites ONLY.  This was the rule at Saks Fifth Avenue where I worked as their Marketing /PR Director and planned 125 events a year for them.  And this was going to be the rule at my party too. It’s hard to be chic and elegant when you have sauce running down the side of your face.  Also, it’s not like we had seats for everyone, you were expected to walk around and mingle for the most part so the items had to be things you could eat on-the-go if you will.  The items also had to be tasty cold.  I wasn’t going to hire cater waiters to serve hot hors d’oeuvres for this 2hr party.  We aren’t that fancy.  And yes hubby, there’s a microwave in the party lounge but I’m not asking guests to microwave their cold dumplings.  We’re having kim bop instead darnit!first birthday party food To incorporate both cultures (he’s Chinese-American, I’m Korean-American) I mixed in American, Korean and Chinese snack/dessert items hoping guests might enjoy being adventurous and trying something new and also as a way to honor both heritages.  However, it seemed impossible to find any cold, Chinese hors d’oeuvres or snacks that my husband and I could agree on so at the snack and beverage bar, we offered:

  • bottled waters, stickered in the party’s theme and colors
  • Pop champagne (not pictured here but shown in the blog’s first photo)
  • pink lemonade (never had time to slice up the lime and add in like I wanted)
  • Korean kimbop
  • Korean shrimp chips
  • wasabi snow peas
  • Cosi finger sandwiches
  • alphabet cereal for the kids
  • fruit

bottled water

kim bop

shrimp chips

sandwiches

It’s important to make sure both kids and vegetarians have some healthy options.  And always, always, re-plate any items that come from an outside vendor.  Don’t leave the sandwiches in the Cosi tray with their branded napkins for instance.  Re-plate-ing and tying in your decor is an easy way to upgrade any store-bought item like shrimp chips.   Another tip- you’ll see that  the table runner, menu signs, toothpick flags and napkin holders are all made of the party’s patterned paper and help make all these random items look like they work together.  Yes, even food has to match.  It also helps that the party platters are the same neutral white.    In case you were wondering, all party platters that you see in this post can be bought at Crate and Barrel as well as Bed Bath and Beyond.    Not to be hyper-critical but I look at these photos and wish I had more time to finalize the presentation of this table.  But alas, I also had a dessert table and cake smash area to deal with before all the guests arrived.  FYI, we also had a coffee and hot chocolate station at the party which is not pictured here.

Here is Juliet racing around the room saying hi to all her guests while the adults mingled.

baby car

convertible cars

Onto the cake smash area which is the 2nd thing guests saw as they walked through the door.

cake smash

A lot of people nowadays are having cake smash photo shoots where the birthday baby is photographed eating (mostly smashing) a miniature birthday cake.  It makes for lots of messy but adorable photos and is usually done before a birthday party at a photographer’s studio.  I decided to incorporate it into the party as an event within an event.

teddy bears

I actually drew out this vignette and what I wanted it to look like as I was planning the party so it was exciting to finally see the vision come to life.  I knew I wanted her to sit in her high chair rather than sit on the floor as most cake smash’s are usually done because this way guests could see her better.  I knew I wanted to decorate her high chair and have giant balloons in the picture.  And I figured I would balance the photo opp out by having something sit at the bottom.  The teddy bears (which were actually mine as a child) seemed to be the perfect thing to place at her feet.  3 bears representing our little family and wearing the party hats I made added to the cuteness factor.  The oversized balloons which I bought on Amazon.com were tied with coordinating ribbon and garland made out of tissue paper that I cut.  The tutu skirt tutorial can be found here and is super simple to do (just need elastic and a roll of your favorite tulle).  The birthday banner (and all paper products that you see here was designed around the invite and dress by That Party Chick).

cake smash

Of course when you have kids as guests at your party, you can never count on your decor staying in position through the party.  Especially with balloons, you’re bound to have a burglar or two.  I’m not sure what happened to the balloons I had so artfully placed besides the high chair at symmetrical heights to one another but by the time we sang her happy birthday and the crowd was cheering her on while taking photos, the balloons were nowhere in this picture-perfect sight!  I was too enthralled by little Juliet’s brave reaction to all her paparazzi that I didn’t even care.

cake smash

Of course, little Juliet was simply happy to dig right in – balloon decor next to her or not.  Apparently the number 1 looked especially tasty since that was the first thing to go into her mouth.What was funny to me was how my Korean mom (who never saw nor apparently understood the point of a cake smash) whisked her away once she thought Juliet was making too much of a mess.  She didn’t want Juliet to ruin her outfit and decided on her own to rescue the fashion in exchange for extending this wildly funny photo shoot.  I guess I should have better briefed her on this new cultural tradition.

The dessert bar was my favorite thing to design and decorate because it brought me back to the days when at Saks I did this for our teen prom parties, or matched a new spring fashion collection to the colors of my dessert bar.  Of course back then, I had an assistant and an intern to do the busy work of wrapping chocolates and beverages but still, it was just as fun.

dessert bar pink blue

There was an ornate framed portrait of someone really random in this party lounge space, right where I envisioned the dessert bar to be placed so I had to cover it up by placing this handmade backdrop in front of it.  The frame is rented from Adorama for $12 and was super simple for my handy husband to assemble even though it came without instructions.  And the ruffly white, shabby chic looking fabric is actually a set of shower curtains from Target that I had never had the chance to use.  Little did I know though since I never took it out of its original packaging that it would be so sheer!  I had to do a last minute fix and add a white bed sheet behind it otherwise the whole thing would have been useless.

The dessert bar featured:

  • mini-chocolates
  • gummy bears
  • peanut butter filled mochi
  • black sesame mochi
  • green tea pocky sticks
  • cake
  • cookies

dessert bar

Does it bother you as much as it did me that the cake colors were off?  Also I had asked for the cake to be topsy turvy style but this is what I got.  There always seems to be something at every event that goes wrong, something completely out of your control comes out unlike your order and it throws a wrench in your plans.  As a professional planner, I’ve come to expect the unexpected.  But still, I find imperfect details like this disappointing.  You can tell me I’m crazy for being stuck on such small details and I know it seems silly but I can’t help but be bothered.  Also, is it me or is the cake asymmetrical and not perfectly straight?  argh

dessert bar

birthday cake

cookies

Here’s a before picture of the mini chocolates.  Little Juliet would have laugh attacks at the pile of chocolate before us when I had to organize the chocolates by type as step 1 of this wrapping process.  Her silly laughter helped pass the initial anxiety I had when I started wondering how I was going to finish all these DIY tasks with a baby around.

chocolate

hersheys

mr goodbar

hersheys mini chocolate

hershey's dark chocolate

mochi

These black sesame and peanut butter mochi are SO addicting!  And they’re super cute too.  The bite size portions and squishy texture remind you of squeezing and eating a baby’s cheeks (something I love doing to Juliet).  Can you blame me?  Just look at those cheeks!

first birthday

korean first birthday

She looks like a unicorn with her hat falling into her forehead here, doesn’t she? This photo cracks me up.  It also makes me giggle a little because I think instead of reading “Juliet’s 1st birthday” on the banner behind us, it should really say “we survived!”  Because isn’t that what all first time parents are really celebrating during their child’s first birthday?  Besides keeping her alive, we also survived 6 months of sleep deprivation, changed 2192 diapers and learned more than we ever wanted to about car seats, strollers and developmental toys.  It was a whirlwind year and we made it through happy and sound.

one year old

Here’s to the best birthday that she will never remember!

Keep on the lookout for my next continued birthday post about what went wrong, and the doljabi ceremony – more details and tips about party planning!  And if you haven’t already, see my earlier post about all the DIY items for this first birthday celebration.

For more tips on how to create a fabulous dessert bar click through to my earlier post here.

 

 

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The first year birthday for a first child in the family marks a significant milestone not just for the child transitioning from infant to toddler stage but quite notably for the parents.  It’s a time for reflection on how fast the baby grew, how quickly the year passed, and how your whole life has changed.  Parenthood changes you.  It changes your lifestyle, your priorities, and who you know yourself to be.  And it challenges you to become more selfless than you have ever been before.  It has been a whirlwind year for us with the new baby, new home and the constant moves for baby and me trying to avoid the renovation hazards.  And we’ve come a long way, baby!

nyc baby

I knew I wanted to celebrate the first year birthday in a big way.  We opted out of having a baby shower so this was a a celebration long overdue.  Also, it is in Korean tradition that the first year is celebrated in a big fashion, akin to how we Americans might celebrate a sweet 16 or bar mitzvah.  Plus, I’m a party planner at heart and by trade so planning this party was a creative outlet that I much looked forward to and enjoyed during the process.

It all started with the dress.  Being obsessed with fashion, I wanted to find the cutest birthday dress for Juliet and actually started looking for it around month 5 or 6.  After scouring the web and browsing literally hundreds of options online, I came across this adorable set from Mudpie. I loved the fun mix of polka dots and stripes and fell in love with the matching hat.  Adorable, isn’t it??

one year old birthday dress

And since I felt a birthday girl’s dress shouldn’t clash her party decor, the dress determined the party color theme and decor.  If step 1 was finding the dress.  Step 2 was finding an invite and party paper set to match.  Between you and me, this search for birthday invites and countless, shameful hours of Pinterest “research” ignited the long-lost thrill of party planning that I feared was over now that I had left my event marketing/PR job post maternity leave.  I giggled recalling how my event planning girlfriend and I once lamented the end of our weddings as we both experienced withdrawal because I felt I was now getting to re-live that sort of planning fun all over again.  And indeed, we have not seen some of these invited guests since 2011 when I got married.  So the first birthday was all that more exciting knowing I’d reunite with some family and friends after yet another life-changing milestone.

Onto the party paper.  That Party Chick on Etsy sold the below invite and I knew it had so much potential to match the birthday dress and become the starting point for the entire event’s look and feel.  birthday party invite

The colors were right, and it gave the graphic stripes and polka dot details on her dress an added complimentary floral pattern.  Michelle Wise from That Party Chick was awesome at creating the requested matching custom: thank you cards, chocolate wrappers, signage, water bottle and favor stickers etc.  I’d highly recommend her as she was quick to respond, and up for all challenges.  Here is a sampling of items I had customized and designed with her help.

Mudpie birthday dress

IMG_5343[1]

 water bottle

As a new mom without full-time help, you can imagine I was strapped for time and had to make sacrifices in order to finish all the DIY projects that I had on my party planning list.  And there was a lot to be done if I wanted this party to look as professionally detailed as I wanted (but on a budget).  Here is a sampling of my DIY todos and keep in mind I had to also set aside time to research best prices for supplies, buy them, print/cut them before creating any of the below:

  • Wrap 100 water bottles
  • Wrap 100 mini chocolates
  • Cut and create toothpick flags for sandwiches
  • Make (2) tulle skirts
  • Make matching party hats
  • Cut and place papers on platters for customized look
  • Make paper garlands for backdrop banner
  • Make tissue paper fringe for table borders and balloons
  • Create matching risers and presents

party hats

party planning

So out went any hopes of shedding the remaining pounds before this party.  Work out?  WHEN?!  I was going to be lucky if I could sneak in a shower during my sparse free time.  Also on hold was the preschool research that I had started.  6weeks before the party date, I had a one-woman crafting sweatshop to run!  Thank you to the couple people who volunteered time to help me in my crafting craze!  I couldn’t have finished the party hats or toothpicks without you!  And thanks to my husband who let  me take over the countertop pictured below to store and assemble!  And thanks for letting me do my thing, even though you did wonder out loud how all this “junk” was going to turn into decor.  Oh ye of little faith!

party diy

Possibly the most time consuming project of all though was the party’s guestbook.  Since the day she was born, I had already recorded her rapid growth using the same Ugly Doll in each photo every week and only changing Juliet’s elaborately styled outfits.  It wasn’t until after I had reviewed others’ Korean first birthday parties that I noted how people displayed (monthly) growth photos at a welcome table.  They were usually in the form of framed photos or hung as a garland.  As an event planner who has pretty much seen it all, I like to find creative ways of doing traditional things.  So I added a twist to the usual and used my weekly growth photos which I already planned to turn into a book for Juliet and got double use out of it by turning it into a party guestbook.  That way, guests could view the weekly fashion photo shoots I styled , enjoy the silly captions I made and record their presence for her with a personal party message.  Shutterfly actually has a great template for guestbooks where you can add in pages that allow people to write their messages, predictions and sign-in.

guestbook

party guestbook

It became a fun, interactive element to the party and gave guests something to talk about and do (there were 52 weeks of photos to browse after all!)

weekly growth

Other interactive elements that I incorporated into the party included:

  • coloring stations for the kids (easels and markers for the older ones, birthday templates and crayons for the younger ones)
  • enter to win -raffle associated with the Korean doljabi ceremony (more on that in my follow-up post)
  • roaming photographer took family photos and candids (photos will be emailed to all guests post party)

I believe in the importance of thinking of your guests’ experience.  Here are some general party tips when planning your own party:

  • Ensure the atmosphere is welcoming and comfortable (enough seats for elderly, space to move between aisles/chairs, extra coat racks and hangers, specific directional information and reminders pre-party)
  • Consider the kids (have child-friendly drinks and snacks available, age-appropriate toys and activities)
  • Delight and surprise.  Don’t give away all the details of what to expect and incorporate fun, creative elements whenever possible.  For instance, I posted humorous developmental update signs throughout the party for guests to discover along the way (see below).  And I played gangnam style when hosting the Korean traditional doljabi ceremony (also added Psy as one of the items Juliet could pick up and choose).

welcome

baby convertible

easel

one year old

1st birthday party

first birthday party

one year old birthday

For more party pics, follow me on Instagram @FabGabBlog and watch here for part 2 of this fab fete post!  Part 2 will include:

  • Dessert bar
  • Snack / beverage bar
  • Korean Doljabi ceremony
  • What went wrong (but nobody noticed)

Stay tuned and let me know what you think!

 

 

I’m not too fab for a nice hand me down.  My husband once freaked thinking I might be bringing home lice when I brought home amazing goodies at a kids consignment store.  But really, once you wash them there should be nothing to worry about.  I’ve happily welcomed hand me downs from friends too and have added to Juliet’s wardrobe on the cheap in this way.

So when I heard about this NYC event where it’s basically a giant mommy trading event, I had to check it out.  Little Swappies granted me a press pass (thank you!) and today I excitedly trekked over there in hopes of a good scavenger hunt.  The anticipation of a good deal and the adventure of heading out on my own for once, without baby and without husband was like adrenaline in this shopaholic’s body.

 

little swappies

 Photo credit:  Sofia Lynn Photography

Here’s how it works.  You bring in a minimum of 5 pieces of like-new, clean baby items 0-6years old or maternity clothes, kids toys or books.  ( I went way over the minimum and brought in an entire shopping bag full of stuff and the other moms that I noticed did too).   Pay a non-refundable $20 in advance or $25 at the door, check out the sponsor booths and enter raffles while they organize the drop-offs by size, then browse the selection and take whatever you need (they give you a tote bag to collect items and bring them home with you).  Reception and organization is 10-11:15 and the doors to “shop” open until 12 noon.

Before attending, I worried that it would be like one of those infamous Filene’s Basement bridal sample sale rushes where you get stampeded in the process.  It is NY after all.  Much to my surprise though, the crowd was civilized … and this was basically a free for all.  I’ve been to NY sample sales where the women clawed and jumped over their own kids to pay hundreds of dollars on the last designer item. I even have a sample sale battle wound as a result of the vulture-like craze near freebies can engender.

Perhaps it was the speech right before opening the doors that reminded us how the partner charity was benefiting from the event.  Perhaps it was too early in the morning to get that feisty.  Or perhaps it was because it was a holy Sunday.  Nobody tripped anyone else, no one ran, and no one stole anything out of my hands.  People were shockingly courteous from what I saw.  Here’s a snapshot of one table area.

 

little swappies event in nyc

little swappies

Here is the raffle table (everyone gets one raffle ticket and can enter to win a raffle of their choice).  I entered to win a free baby photo shoot but there was really no chance in winning that since I didn’t stay til the end.  I started feeling guilty for being out and leaving the babysitting duties to my hubby so I took off early.  little swappies

They also offered free babysitting and stroller parking as well as a coat hanging area (leave all of the above at your own risk).

little swappies nyc

And then for those who really love freebies, there are sponsor tables that you can browse to pick up more items (as if the goody bag weren’t enough).

Here is what I came home with.

little swappies new yorkbaby clothes

I was most excited about the items that were apparently never  used and brand new.  The blue summer smocked outfit, the red heart long sleeved shirt, the elephant toy and smaller blocks all had tags and or were in their original packaging.  Score!!

So here are some of my Little Swappies tips:

  • Know before you go.  Review your child’s closet to see what she has and what she needs.  Make a mental list. I for instance, knew I needed outfits in the 18month -2 year range but would also take any cute shoes in the 12month+ range.   Having also done  my research on age-appropriate toys, I knew what the next developmental toys in Juliet’s collection should be.  Search for blocks and see if there are any interesting board books to add to her collection.  She loves to turn pages and I need them to be sturdy enough for her little hands not to rip.
  • Leave the kid(s) at home unless you are OK with leaving them with the free babysitting service.  It’s too much hassle to lug around the extra weight for the two hours you are there or navigate narrow aisles with a stroller.  And you don’t want anything to slow you down.  The tables 6 months and up empty out pretty quickly so you have to look and act fast.
  • Skip the Starbucks stop on the way there, save yourself the money and just show up because they have free Starbucks waiting for you there!  There are most likely also going to be some edible samples from the different companies that are trying to promote themselves too.
  • Leave the hubby behind.  It isn’t fun to be surrounded by so much estrogen.  Plus there aren’t many chairs in the waiting lounge area so he’ll either have to stand around wishing  he was instead home in front of the TV or follow you around like a sad puppy.  Give yourself some me time and relish in the girly hunt!
  • Enjoy the sponsor tables but make sure to head to the entrance doors around 20-30minutes before they open otherwise, you’ll be in a panic at the end of the line wondering if your sizes will have run out by the time you make it through the doors.
  • Most moms live in them already but just in case, wear comfy shoes.  Standing on your 4′ heels is no fun when in line.   And hello, this is a mommy swapping event.  There is no need to dress to impress.  Who are you kidding?  We all know you live in leggings and flats everyday anyways!

 

 

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