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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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We’ve jokingly called Juliet a party animal ever since she was born because she has been a night owl going to bed anywhere between 10pm (nowadays) to as late as midnight during her first year of life.  So it was only fitting (and such a cute unisex party theme) to make “party animal” her 2nd birthday theme.  Get inspired as this post shows you how to incorporate the party animal theme into everything from the fashions to the decor to the entertainment to the food!

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Let’s start with the fashion.  Juliet wore a bear necklace and (sometimes) wore / carried her lion backpack (perfect since her birthday invite introduced her as “Leo the lion”.  I wore my party animal necklaces from Mustard Dandelion’s cute Etsy shop with my leopard Banana Republic heels.

Juliet-8853animal masks

3rd birthday party Juliet-8867

The birthday invite (from Paperless Post) encouraged guests to come dressed in their wildest fashions.

animal inviteJuliet’s fashionable friends did NOT disappoint!

animal party ideas

We were happy to see lots of animal print, fur, animal faces, and bunny ears!  My friends are always up for a fun fashion challenge and luckily, they’re as crazy committed to themed parties as I am.  I find that it just adds another level of excitement, enthusiasm and involvement into a party.  How cute are they all?!!

animal themed party

The decor which you can see consisted of a consisted yellow, orange and baby blue theme.  And animals were incorporated wherever possible.  Here’s the gift table that sat conveniently right next to the entrance’s coat check-in.

favor bags

Those 3 teddy bears are actually bears from my own childhood.  I just added the ribbon and party hats to align them more with the theme. I used them at Juliet’s 1st birthday party too and love that they represent daddy, mommy and Juliet.

Underneath the table, we stored all of Juliet’s presents.  And on top of the table, we featured the favor bags which included:  stickered go go squeezes, organic gummy bunnies, stickered Ziploc full of animal crackers and goldfish, a rubber duck, a book about animals and animal stickers.  Additionally, each child went home with one of the giant, yellow balloons featured at the kids table.

Juliet-8771 Juliet-8773

dessert bar

The framed sign and favor bag stickers were custom created with my direction by That Party Chick , the silk flowers were bought on sale at Michaels, the riser was a diaper box that I covered in fabric and ribbon and the white topper is a shower curtain that I only use for special events.  If you follow my blog, you’ve seen it re-purposed in 3 other events.  And the yellow tulle fabric is just taped directly onto the table’s perimeter.

animal themed party

Every kids’ birthday should feature some photos.  I incorporated photos of Juliet holding different stuffed animals and/or costumed as an animal herself and created a consistent look and feel by printing them all the same size, posting them to card stock and adding a label to each one to continue the animal theme across the mirrored wall.   birthday partyThe food station was split into the sweets and snacks tables.  The sweets table included:

  • a macaron tower from The Macaron Cafe
  • frosted animal cookies from Elinis
  • organic animal cookies
  • bunny chocolates
  • organic bunny gummy pouches
  • vanilla cupcakes
  • candy balls
  • animal shaped suckers with “happy birthday Juliet!” stickered on the back
  • yellow gummy bears
  • stickered applesauces (which OK should be on the snack side but there was more room here)

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IMG_2751dessert bar Juliet-8884 Juliet-8889

IMG_2706 jungle themed party ideas IMG_5887

The snack side of the table featured:

  • snake sub (with olive eyes and red Twizzler tongue)
  • safari salad
  • monkey food (bananas)
  • hungry hippo hummus and veggies
  • bear nutella sandwiches
  • coffees teas, waters and jungle juices
  • parrot pineapples

IMG_5892 animal themed food IMG_5889

menu

And the entertainment consisted of:

  • musical performers singing animal themed songs (Think “in the jungle”, “itsy bitsy spider”)
  • Pin the Tail on the Elephant
  • stuffed animals, animal books and puzzles and animals that you could ride on

3.21 IMG_5924 IMG_5950

And the animal decor included animal masks for the kids, plastic animal centerpieces (which you can read more about in my earlier post), and animal chair covers which were a big hit.

animal parade

animal parade masks

It was a lively party that kids and adults all enjoyed.  Juliet was so happy to celebrate with all her little friends.  It was the first year she really understood what it meant to have a birthday.  I’ll always remember her cute voice saying, “I’m TWO! Happy birthday!!”

kids birthday party ideas Juliet-9168 Juliet-9219IMG_5902

 

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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 balloon 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!

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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

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 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 table skirts
  • Make matching party hats for the little guests
  • Cut and place papers on platters for customized look
  • Make paper garlands for backdrop banner
  • Make tissue paper fringe for table borders, party hats 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 click here for part 2 of this fab fete post!  Part 2 includes:

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

Let me know what you think!

 

 

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Last year, I celebrated my birthday by playing with dolphins in the Bahamas with my husband.  This year, I had to work.  I found myself flying halfway across the world to run a major PR event and product launch.  And I spent my birthday on a 14 hour -turned 18hour flight (with delays) to Tokyo…not exactly how I imagined celebrating.

But this birthday was extra special for me, no matter where I ended up celebrating.  Because this birthday, I knew that I have a little one on the way.  Yes! I am expecting the birth of my first child!

It sort of explains the absence in my writing.  Not only have I been dealing with the lack of real closets in my new apartment the renovation planning and a new job, I have been dealing with an ever -growing belly – something I have trouble figuring out how to dress.  Perhaps this blog will grow into a pregnancy fashion blog for the meantime.  For now, I’m just trying to catch up on my sleep from the jet lag and pregnancy fatigue.  Hopefully, I’ll feel more fabulous when I wake up 🙂

Stay tuned for a Fab Freebie:  Goody Bag Giveaway!

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I was selected as a host by Mom Select for Disney Side Celebrations and received a kit with decorations, party favors and other supplies to inspire me to plan an at home celebration.  I was asked to plan and execute party details on my own .   No monetary compensation was provided and the views and opinions are my own.

 

 

keep calm and sparkle on

This is all I could think when faced with the challenge of planning a princess party on minimal budget within 2 weeks for 8-10 2 year olds at my apartment.  I don’t have a nanny so all I could do was devote 30minutes each day to researching, planning, purchasing and setting up as soon as my #disneyside 20lb box of decor, and party favors arrived care of Disney and Mom Select Media.  (See earlier post about being a chosen blogger to host an at home celebration).  Somehow my prince charming of a husband put up with me and all the pink and purple that took over our house 2 weeks leading up to the celebration.  I swear you’d have thought Sophia The First’s castle had exploded in our living room… For that somewhat pressured (and I say pressured because I’m a perfectionist) period, my head spun as I designed the kids dining area, brainstormed ways to create varied elevation at the snack station, and played with various activity ideas for the kids.

Because I like to stay strictly within a party theme, I opted to exclude using the Mickey decor and baking items received in my package.  I’ll save those for another festive moment in my 2 year old’s life.  And there were several items I chose to break apart and give away in the goody bags like the big box of Disney Princess chapsticks/glosses and box of Disney Princess stickers.  Here is what I ended up giving away as party favors.  Additionally, each guest is still waiting to receive the Princess in Training tee shirts gifted from my one of my event sponsors too since they did not arrive in time.

goody bag

And here was the final bag.  I topped off each white bag (bought at the dollar store where a 70 year old man hit on me) with one of the Sophia the First tiaras because I knew my guests were all arriving with their own sparkly head pieces.  goody bag

In addition to preparing goody bags for each guest, a very special, overstuffed bag was created as a prize package for the best dressed mommy and me duo to encourage guests to dress up and show off their princess style.  Here were the contents (some from Disney, some from me and my other sponsors).

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goody bag

Though honestly, my fashionista mommy friends always seem to be up for a kitschy theme (gotta love that) and are girly enough to enjoy dressing-up so it didn’t take much persuasion power on my end.  I was so thrilled that they took the dressing up as seriously as I did because it really added to the party and made for fun conversation starters.   What a way to kick-off NY Fashion Week, huh?

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As you can imagine, their outfits made it extremely easy for my doorman to recognize who my guests were-see invite here.  Who else would dress this way in NYC on a normal day??

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Just my fab friends…  Aren’t they SO cute??  Winner was selected by popular vote and it was a tough call because all the duos were dazzling in their own way.  But in the end this is who took home the prize!  Totally deserving.

princesses

A Sophia the First coloring sheet (from my Disney package) that featured the Royal Academy and said “welcome” greeted guests at the front door as did a coat check.  Upon entering, guests heard music from Pandora’s “everyday princess” soundtrack in the background as they passed the hall of mirrors into the kids royal dining area.

princess partyDrinks were served and the princesses in training played politely, sharing the princess toys as we waited for all the guests to arrive.  Sophia the First’s movie played silently on the TV.

princess party

princess party

princess IMG_5192 I didn’t have Disney princess toys to go along with the theme so had a friend share some of her Disney princess dolls and other collectible toys at the party.

jewelry

And I created an accessory station in my bedroom using some old costume jewelry and Juliet’s necklaces and tiaras.  That was a big hit!  I presented the jewels along a chaise that was the perfect height for them to gaze into a mirror and try on sparkly jewelry.

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It was like shopping without the pressure to buy!  What girl doesn’t enjoy THAT?DSC_2362 IMG_5172

I also brought out Juliet’s purses because you know, princesses all have a weakness for purses!

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My sweet daughter was so good about sharing all her fashions, accessories and toys.  Mommy was proud.

toddlers in tiaras

In addition, primping was encouraged.  My vanity featured a princess mani station. Who can resist a chubby toddler hand made even cuter with bows??

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And one of the bathroom mirrors had a princess message written on it, “mirror mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all?”

mirror

Once everyone had arrived, we tried (I emphasize TRIED) to take a group shot of all our princesses in training but that proved to be a bit of a challenge with squirmy 2 year olds…

princess party

toddlers in tiaras

So we had fun hamming it up for other shots..

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princess dress

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princess party kiss the frog  IMG_5184

After pictures (it’s always important to get the shots in before the kids start eating and ruining their outfits lol), the girls dined and sat on big girl thrones (kids chairs that I covered in white tees and tutus).    Surprisingly, the 2 year olds had no major mishaps.  They ate their tiara sandwiches, savory snacks and crown cupcakes in peace.  These princesses were on their BEST behavior!

disney princess partyHere you can see that I didn’t just lay the free Sophia the First plastic table cover down.  I first covered the table legs with a couple, never-used shower curtains that I keep for decorative event purposes like this (see the 1st birthday party that I threw), then I steamed, yes STEAMED the plastic tablecloth that Disney gave me because I’m anal like that, then I laid a ruffly, runner on top for my centerpiece desserts.  The layered additions gave the Sophia the First plastic cover a more elegant touch and elevated the look all together.

disneyside princess party

The mini-cupcakes were the perfect size for toddler hands (and appetites) and were simply bought at Whole Foods (along with the heart cookeis).  I was estatic to find the perfect pre-made shade of pink frosting and knew that all I had to do was add my fondant pre-made tiaras that I bought at Michaels for a customized, more couture look.  IMG_5276

My baby is an animal when it comes to devouring her cupcakes.  She was so good at obeying my orders to not touch the cupcakes until all her guests arrived that when it came time to eat, I let her have the requested 2 but then she just HAD to have the last one too….IMG_5316

You don’t have to spend a lot on a kids party.  Just use what you have and get crafty with dollar store finds.  The overhead garland above the dining table is actually just made up of 3 plastic tablecloths that I bought at the dollar store and then hand cut fringe on for instance.

princess in training  And the white lace hearts were leftover craft items I already had and I strung them on ribbons leftover from my wedding.

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The Princess in Training sign is just foam core board that I cut and wrote on and the two Sophia the First framed photos that sit beside it are pictures I found in a free poster album book that I picked up at Little Swappies for free.  I just made sure to find and cut pictures within the same pale pink and purple color theme.

Because I was simultaneously planning my daughter’s 2nd birthday (which was planned to be held 1 month after this party), I really really wanted to stick to a tight budget here. So I got creative.

dessert bar pink

I used pages out of that free Sophia the First poster book and created a backdrop by simply taping pages with coordinating colors on the wall.  I bought the posterboard that hangs in the middle on sale at Michaels for $5 then covered it in fabric and velcro taped the Princess tasks for certification list so it became the centerpiece of our Princess in Training snack station.princess in training

I chose to stick the stand alone decorative items that Disney gave me (the 2 small pieces below the foam core board) as wall decor instead of as table decor and placed their snack bowls right beside them on a riser that I created from scratch.

disneyside princess party

The center riser is just a diaper box covered in dollar store plastic tablecloth, tissue paper that I cut for my daughter’s first birthday, saved and re-used and extra pom pom trim -also leftover.  And the long narrow, riser in front is a bunch of Kleenex boxes glue-gunned together and wrapped.  You’d never know, right?  Both worked so well I think I’ll re-use them next month at my daughter’s 2nd birthday -just have to re-cover them in a different fabric for her color theme.DSC_2238

The “pretty in pink rice crackers” and “flower petals” are from my sponsor Happy Family, an organic food line, and the “princess pretzels”, well they are a toddler crowd pleaser.  IMG_5181

Savory snacks for the adults included truffled mac ‘n cheese bites, figs, nuts, veggie reduced fat chips, Stacy’s pita chips, purple/pink corn chips (yes I like my food to match the color theme!) and fruit, not shown here.

kids party

My friend couldn’t get over the cuteness of the miniature appetizer plates and forks.

appetizers

Mozerella cheese sticks for kids and kids at heart!IMG_5189IMG_1885I bought the purple glitter paper all on sale and used them to accent these cute cake risers (cut into a circle and saran wrapped here).  They were also used as a sparkly counter runner just to bring a little more color into the mix.  So the money I did spend was mainly on snacks and foods.  I got creative with decor and re-used things I had around the house and I think it turned out all right for being on a tight budget, don’t you?

snack station

The snacks which you can’t see up close also included:

  • healthy yogurt granola bars cut into halves and presented in cupcake liners
  • kids mini-sized yogurts perfectly coordinating in purple
  • cocounut macarons
  • prince charming cookies (with a prince emblazoned on each cookie)
  • sliced fruit

Here is the before picture of my Drink jars.

Starbucks jars

Frustratingly, this project cost me the most time.  Ever get inspired by Pinterest and then totally regret trying out that crazy idea?  Well, after I had downed a couple cases of this Starbucks mocha frappuccino stuff there really was no turning back.  Even if it did take me over a half an hour to scrub each of the bottle’s stickers off and even if I did lose layers of skin during the process, I was dead set on finishing my Pinterest project!

starbucks glasses

Thank you to Party Aww Sweet for supplying the purple and white straws!

While the little princesses were occupied and happily eating in their own royal dining area, I thought it would be fun for the grownups to get to know one another a little better with a little princess activity for ourselves.  So I dreamt up a little game of Princess truth or dare-only without the dares.  Here are some sample questions, (each mom pulled a question randomly and had to answer honestly).

This game and all the questions were made up by me so don’t laugh:

  • Princesses sometimes have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding their prince.  How many did you kiss (multiple choice with different number ranges were given)
  • Princesses own more than just one glass slipper.  How many shoes do you own?
  • Hi Beauty, Have you dated a beast  Why and tell us about it.
  • If you had a magical princess power what would it be and why?

disneyside partyKids are not the only ones who can play games at princess parties!

The party went overtime, a sure sign that the guests were having a good time and I was thrilled to see all the smiling faces and laughter.  In the end the clock struck past people’s dinner times and princesses had to rush off in their stroller carriages after receiving their official princess certificate which annointed them as an official princess. I printed these from a free online printable.  See my Pinterest board for more ideas and links to other free princess printables!

princess certificate

Here’s a couple shots of post-party Cinderella clean-up, dresses, tiaras and all.

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TIPS on making a kid’s party look more sophisticated:

  • Don’t rely on just the kiddie paper products.  Mix in elegant serverware, cake platters and risers.
  • Layer in real linens with the plastic tablecloths and napkins.
  • Feature unique hanging decor like garlands, tassel balls, coordinating ribbons, fringe..Balloons are popular with the kids but also expected.
  • Stick to your color theme and coordinate down to the very last detail.
  • Feature fresh florals – ooh fancy!

And that’s IT!  Read on to the next post where I show you how I transformed this decor into a Valentine’s backdrop and for a chance to win a supersized goody bag from this party!

 

Onto NY Fashion Week and then to furiously finish planning my daughter’s 2nd birthday!

 

 

Special thanks goes out to Disney and their associated sponsors, All, Wisk, Beyond Meat

And my event sponsors:

  • GoGo Squeez fruit squeezes for everyone
  • J and G handmade hair accessories for the prize package plus 20% off the shop for anyone entering promo code ‘princess’ and leaving a comment in this blog post.
  • Crunch Pak free Mickey ear snack packs for everyone
  • Catchick6 Creations princess potty training panties for the prize package and for the upcoming blog giveaway
  • Sweet Lil Bows  Sophia the First necklaces for everyone
  • Happy Family purple teething crackers and pink rice cakes
  • Party Aww Sweet party straws

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It was a wintery, snowy morning in NY when a fellow mommy friend and I trekked out to Brooklyn on a Little Swappies treasure hunt.  I rarely venture out to the outer Manhattan boroughs but the draw of kids fashion and the opportunity to trade-in some of Juliet’s gently worn items for a good cause compelled me to go.

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I’m so glad I did!  In addition to the sponsored goody bag filled with snacks and promotional discounts, I found 20 items (toys, books and fashion pieces) that were in great shape.  They must have increased the maximum take-home number because last time I went I only brought back 9 things.  Click here for that blog post which includes tips on what you should know before you go.

 

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I love a good deal and enjoy mixing high and low brands.  Well the same goes for baby fashion.  Juliet’s closet is a mix of high-end designer, consignment/thrift/hand me downs, and everyday brands.  The below outfit is a prime example.

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The designer, mini-melissa shoes which I bought during an online sample sale are mixed with the free tank top that I scored at Little Swappies and a Baby Masala bottom from their Little Swappies sponsor sample sale.   I mixed it in with accessories already in Juliet’s closet and boom, new summer outfit for just $5!

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Also found at the same sample sale was this cute Baby Masala dress for $5 which I accessorized with a mustard scarf that I’m selling through my FB page, Fab kids and their stylish moms, Old Navy boots and a pair of sunglasses gifted from Love My Alannah whom I met at Kids Fashion Week.  (I wish I could remember the brand’s name so I could tag them here!)  The leather jacket is from Target’s sale and the rabbit, gifted from Kid Robot.

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Thinking of the same leather jacket, I bought this Baby Masala dress for $5.  The brand is all organic by the way!  The boots are from Target, the book was gifted and the glasses are on sale at Fab kids and their stylish moms FB page. The flower crown is from H&M and altered to fit J.  If you see an elastic accessory outside of the kids section, remember that it can easily be altered to fit the little one!chanel baby

This Carter’s cardi was found at the Little Swappies event and styled with items already in Juliet’s closet, a black knit skirt, (fake) kids Chanel purse, shoes bought at a sample sale and head piece from Aldo.  So sophisticated, huh?spring dress

This sweet Laura Ashley dress caught my eye because I’m a sucker for Peter Pan collars and smocking detail.  I was psyched to find this at the Little Swappies event and styled it at home with Juliet’s Mini Melissa rhino boots (bought on sale), my cell phone cover and a flower crown from Forever 21.baby outfit

Anyone that follows my Instagram account, @fabgabblog knows that I love dressing Juliet in androgynous looks.  I mix boys clothes and accessories with girly pieces for a cute mix of masculine/feminine.  The above is a prime example.  Tee was free from Little Swappies and the Carters romper and hat are from TJMaxx.  She’s a Maxxinista like me after all!  The purse is from Target and the sneakers are boys shoes from a second hand store that I bought for $2. cute baby clothes

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this classic, crisp white blouse at Little Swappies.  It was in perfect condition and featured the Peter Pan collar that I love so much!  It is such a versatile piece and I knew I could layer it and wear it a million different ways…oops I mean Juliet could.  I am living through her.  The mask is also a free find from there and it is paired with Baby Gap boots and raincoat along with a vintage short/bowtie set bought off of Etsy – one of my favorite sites for unique baby fashion.  Who says baby girls can’t wear bowties??how to style a tutu

This outfit would be so cute for a birthday party, wouldn’t it?  The hat is actually something Juliet wore on her first birthday.  Click here to find out how her birthday outfit inspired the entire party’s decor.

Right now is the season when Juliet’s social calendar gets crazy packed with birthday parties and I can totally imagine her bouncing around in this cute ensemble.  With this giant party hat though she might steal the spotlight…  Here, the monkey onesie was the freebie from LS and it is paired with a Zara cardigan also worn here, Joe Fresh tutu, scarf and socks that can be bought through me and my FB page. Shoes were from a sample sale and from a brand called Stella – gotta love that since that is my first name!catimini

The high-end Catimini fur vest and Tahari plum ruffled dress here is styled with a free flower crown from LS and Baby Gap boots.  The Harajuku – mini head is an applique from Etsy and the party animals are items I DIY-ed for Juliet’s upcoming party animal themed 2nd birthday.  Wait til you see the rest!

In addition to these fab fashion finds, I also picked up some books and a Mickey toy.  I think it’s safe to say that I SCORED!  Overall, it was a fun event and I even made some good contacts for my future party sponsor needs.  Did I tell you that I’m running sponsored kids events in Manhattan?  Like Fab Kids and their Stylish Moms on FB and follow @fab_kids on IG for invites and all the fun!

Thanks for reading!

 

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I admit it.  I’ve become that crazy mom who is constantly planning lavish parties for her little one.  You would have thought I was planning a wedding with as much thought, time and energy I invested into my daughter’s first birthday.  See for yourself here.  I was dead set on making it the best birthday she’d never remember.  And on a budget.  And all by myself.

And now that her next birthday isn’t for another 7months, guess what… I’m already on it.  I have the theme, venue, Pinterest board, invites, decor and even the paper plates ready to go.   Don’t believe me? Much to my husband’s dismay, all the paper products are stacked and in my hallway closet.  The party’s theme is animal themed if you must know.  Guests will get to initially take pictures with Leo the lion (Juliet dressed in costume).  There will be animal mask photo props for the photo booth area, the singing troupe will be leading singalongs only with songs with animals in the lyrics, and themed foods will include hot dogs, animal crackers, and critter cupcakes – all designed with a strict vintage colored decor theme.  Juliet’s party animal friends are going to roar with delight.

And as if that weren’t crazy enough, I’ve been dreaming of other party themes that I could have Juliet host during the inbetween months now until her birthday. Because you know, you can never have enough parties.

Already I’ve got Juliet hosting a back to school party this September with my FB page “Fab Kids”(check it out now and give it some love).  Yes, she’s only 1.5 years old but yes she’s going to school this fall semester so why not celebrate?!  We’re requiring all the guests (babies and toddlers that is) to dress as nerdy as possible.  Think glasses, suspenders, bowties and pocket protectors.   It’s all about the fashion after all!  AND I already have Juliet’s outfit planned.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram already know that we’ve already hosted a (toddler) white party – P Diddy style where all guests showed up in white.

white party

White for a picnic playdate you say?  Deal with it.  Fashion is impractical.  It’s best kids learn that lesson early on.

Here is Juliet greeting her guests

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Look at our little ones breaking bread and communing with one another (while wearing Chanel)….

toddlers and babies wonder where P Diddy is

 “Wherever did you get those shoes!  I Die.”IMG_9619

You’ve gotta look fab while you’re having fun!

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The kids had a load of fun playing with the park’s toys and enjoying story time and singalongs.  And I think a few passerbys and gawkers couldn’t help but vicariously enjoy the fun too.

All we needed was for P.Diddy to show up.  Ah well, there’s always next year.

Stop by Facebook to vote on details for our next NYC mommy and me meetup.  Nerds Rule!

And follow us on Instagram @Fab_Kids for outfit inspiration for your minifashionista!

While you do that, I’ll be planning my next, next party.  I’m thinking Haute Halloween… fashionable halloween anyone??

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There’s no better place to find your new favorite ice cream than NYC.  And surprisingly (or not), the most trendy ones today happen to be Asian-owned!  I know, you may not equate Asians with ice cream at first, but we Asians love taking photos so when it comes to picturesque treats, it’s no wonder the cutest, and most Instagram-able ones are Asian-owned!  We’ve done the taste-testing, and have rounded up the top 5 that NYC has to offer.  New summer bucket list, anyone??

nyc ice cream, ice cream, ice cream shops ,

 

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Store: Justin Tea

nyc ice cream, nyc desserts, where to eat in nyc, best ice cream, cute ice cream

Location: 69 Mulberry (Chinatown)

Trains:  J, N, Q, Z to Canal

Open: 10am-12am, yes people, you can have your late night ice cream binge here at midnight!

Most Instagram-able must trys:  There are tons of creative desserts to try including liquid nitrogen ice cream (watch them make this from scratch and feel like a scientist eating your smokin’ cold scoop), mango tower drinks, pop rocks toppings etc. but we opted for the cutesy teddy bear waffle cone and my little one was NOT disappointed!

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Store: Soft Swerve NYC

 

ice cream, soft swerve, soft serve, where to eat nyc

 

Location: 85B Allen St (lower east side)

Trains:  B, D to Grand st.

Open: 12pm – 12am everyday except Sunday 12pm -11pm (gotta love these Asian-owned places for staying open late!)

Most Instagram-able must trys:  What’s special about this place are the exotic flavors such as black sesame, matcha, or the ube (purple yam) will beg you for a try! If your kid is like mine and loves the color purple, ube will be the best pick, (get it with the red cone for an extra vibrant pic) and watch as your kid’s tongue and mouth turns Barney-purple!  I took this shot right outside the store in front of a grafitti covered love wall.  They do a cute job with the mochi sprinkles by adding a ring around the base of the ice cream, making for a super cute cone – next time I’d get that too!

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Store: Milk & Cream Cereal Bar

 

ice cream, soft serve, nyc ice cream, sprinkles

 

Location:  159 Mott St (border of Little Italy and Chinatown)

Trains: J to Bowery, B,D to Grand, 4,6 to Spring St.

Open: 12pm – 10pm everyday except Fri & Sat (open til 11pm)

Most Instagram-able must trys: With 4.5 Yelp stars and almost 200 reviews, you know you can’t really go wrong here.  Specialties include birthday cake and matcha flavored cones plus an endless selection of all the nostalgic cereals from your childhood.  Pick your favorites and they’ll crush and mix it into your ice cream!   Also, the store is so cute, you’ll wanna stay and take shots of your tasty cone from all angles!

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Store: Taiyaki NYC

 

taiyaki nyc, taiyaki, soft serve ice cream, soft serve, green tea ice cream

 

Location: 119 Baxter St

Trains: J, N, Q, Z, 4,6,N,R to Canal

Open: M – Th 12pm – 10pm, Fri 12pm -11pm, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10pm  (so confusing by changing it up so much..)

Most Instagram-able must trys: Let’s start by mentioning the over 1050 reviews and 4.5 stars..that is a mighty feat!  It’s a tiny store with hardly any space to sit and enjoy so plan on taking your shot by the quote wall or out in the city for a cool street shot.  Beautiful presentation includes a unicorn option (not pictured here).  The fish cone with red bean inside is served warm making for a tasty contrast to your soft serve of choice!

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Store: Cafe Bene’ (don]’t let the French- sounding name fool ya, this is truly a Korean chain..one that we frequent both in K-town and beyond)

Location:  www.caffebeneusa.com

Trains: so many locations to choose from.. K-Town, Tribeca, Brooklyn, East Village, Union Sq, Times Sq. etc

Open: see website Most Instagram-able must trys: This all – in – one coffee/gelato/bubble tea/ waffle/sandwich/ice cream shop is a must-stop for anyone who loves a shaved ice (with ice cream).  Our favorite is the matcha one with green tea ice cream, matcha sauce, almonds and whipped cream but the cutest one for pictures is the choco devil.

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So there you go!  It’s National Ice Cream Day today.  Time to start checking off that list!  Leave a comment to let me know which one takes top priority for you to visit or if you see that I missed something, please let me know!

Here’s to summer!

 

For tips on how to get those coveted Instagram-able photos, click here! 

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I naively thought that I could dreamily plan out my daughter’s birthday parties for at least the first 5 years of her life. Anyone who knows me knows I love planning parties and knows that I find any random excuse to celebrate.  Kids’ White party to celebrate the end of summer, anyone??  So here I am with carefully thought-through party ideas for her 1st through 5th birthday parties..not kidding check out my Pinterest page…and then my precocious, soon-to-be 4 year old daughter throws a wrench in my plans and independently comes up with her own ideas.  Princess Party!girls birthday party, pink party, pink party decor, happy birthday bannerAnd boy was she specific!

  • “princess theme with pink”
  • “I want it to be a tea party”
  • “I want to sit in a queen’s chair!”
  • “I want a princess cake like Olivia’s (referencing a Barbie cake)”
  • “lots of CANDY!”
  • only 4 guests” (tells me exactly who to invite and that this year it has to be a small party)
  • “I want to set the table!”

OK OK!  I get it. You want to be a princess!  So back to the drawing board I went and through our collaborative research/discussion and approval phase, we came up with a non-Disney-specific, princess tea party with pink, white and metallic colors running throughout.  Here’s how I transformed our NY apartment into a picture-perfect party palace and here are tips on how you can design yours on a budget too:

Backdrop 

We have a large white, blank wall currently devoid of art, or frames which not only gives our living room, a clean minimalistic feel but also allows me to easily transform the space each holiday or for any celebration.  I turned this wall into a beautiful photo backdrop with my 1 splurge piece, this beautifully printed banner from Iconica Design.  The large scale immediately brightened up the room and carried the colors throughout the space.  What do you think?

pink and white party, happy birthday, photo backdrop wall pink white, princess party

Since I’m all about the photo opp, I imagined getting a group shot with the girls all jumping on my couch with balloons in the air, waving them around like they just didn’t care…  and I loved when my vision came to life!

Balloons

Balloon garlands and installations if professionally done are super pricey.  But you can go the DIY route if you have a lot of patience and can spare some time (and by “some” I mean double the time you think it takes).  To stay within budget, I blew all these balloons up myself (bought wholesale), taped them to my mirror with packing tape, prayed they would stay on but still had to repeat this process 10x cuz so many popped or wouldn’t stay up, then added mirrored Christmas garland, and finally inserted silk flowers in between for a unique, girly look.  It was well worth the effort in the end, I think, don’t you?

princess party, diy balloons, balloon garland danny tableballoon It perfectly echoed the banner across the way and was a major conversation piece that night!balloons

I also did a balloon makeover on an enormous balloon that I brought home one day from the Live Clean blogger brunch.  By adding my own coordinating pom pom string, tulle and paper garland, it became a one-of-a-kind photo prop!

pink and white party, princess party, princess party for toddler

Her feather crown can be purchased wholesale here.

Desserts

She mentioned she wanted sweets.  So I made and formed rice krispy stars, added frosting, gold glitter and a gold straw to create magic wands!

DSC_7592Pink rock candy sticks, jellybeans, and mini cupcakes also contributed to the sugar high.  And pink, gold and silver Hershey kisses hid in crown favor boxes while candy awaited our guests in the form of pretty pink purses.

princess party, dessert bar, pink candy bar

Happy Birthday sign is actually a cake topper that I bought wholesale here.

Crown favor boxes can be bought wholesale here

Pink purse favor boxes found wholesale here

The most royal of desserts however, was the princess cake!  Straight out of our dreams, was this glorious Barbie cake, dress, hat and present designed to match our party decor, from Baked by Tal.  AMAZING!

baked by tal, pink party, pink party for toddler, princess cake

Besides giving the sweets the royal treatment, I picked out the prettiest princess-y paper goods that I could find while perfectly matching her color theme.  By printing, cutting and assembling on my own, I was able to cut costs as well.  The banner, cupcake toppers, invite, thank you card and other event signs and notes can be found here.

how to plan a princess party, barbie princess cake, baked by tal

Tea party menu included: crown shaped PB&J princess sandwiches, 2 kinds of salad, pasta, chicken and rice, asparagus, fruit and of course, tea which I added pink edible rosebuds to.  Here’s a shot of the sandwiches that I cut using crown-shaped cookie cutters.

princess food, what to serve at kids party, kids party food, pb&j

Gold glitter wall

If you want a picture -perfect party, you MUST think about pretty backdrops!  These princesses were expert posers and I knew I had to have a special spot for them to pick a prop and pose.  Here, I re-used my fold-up backdrop holder and created a shimmery backdrop with a friend’s borrowed gold linen, some pom pom, xmas trim and some leftover plastic tablecloth previously used at a past party.  Everything was simply taped on with packing tape on the back and cost me nothing ‘cuz I just used what I had.  It’s amazing what you can find for your party at the local dollar store!  The shredded pink tablecloth turned garland here was a dollar each and I hand-cut it.  The gold circle confetti was also from the dollar store and I filled my wholesale balloons at the dollar store with helium!

how to plan a princess party, pink and gold princess party, princess party for kids

Tablescape

For a sophisticated kids’ tablescape I mixed in paper plates with real plates, bought coordinating teacups on sale on ebay, and found the perfect pink, white and gold paper goods at wholesale prices! 

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I really wanted a luxe linen but couldn’t afford the rental prices from my favorite linen supplier, Wildflower Linen so I made my own by buying wholesale, 1 yard of glittery mesh fabric from NY’s garment district and adding my own white ruffle trim.  I then sprinkled some diamond confetti pieces (found at Target) all over the table as shown here – majorly upgraded look from the usual child’s plastic table cover, right? how to set a kids party table, tablescape, design kids party, kids party stylistOf course, Juliet got to have her throne.  I found that Exceptional Party Rentals had some of the best throne selections with delivery to/from NYC.

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Activities

For this princess tea party, our (hired) princess (and Juliet’s babysitter) gave individualized mini-makeovers giving each guest a turn on the throne.  The girls also got to design their own glass slipper, a craft involving stickers and these wholesale favor shoes.

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And they enjoyed the shimmer and shine styling station and a “game of thrones” that I made up and had our resident princess lead.  (think musical chairs but with princess music, thrones, and princesses wearing tiaras)

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In the end, everyone had such a blast that they overstayed by 2 more hours!  Nobody wanted the party to end, including me.  See my Instagram and Twitter for more details and videos!

Juliet is already talking about her next birthday party plans… she says it will be a Frozen themed party with 5 friends when she turns 5!

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