From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @ThereWillBePoo.
To have a party or not to have a party. I know it’s more for me than Baby, and that she doesn’t know a present from an empty box, but I feel like this is a special milestone that should be celebrated with our friends. The last year has been amazing and exhausting, and I want cake and pictures to prove it. Ok, the cake doesn’t “prove” it in any way, but I want it.
I had no idea where to start as far as planning this whole fiasco — I mean extravaganza. After a bit of internet research and talking to friends, here are some guidelines I’ll be following:
- Choose mylar balloons. Latex rubber balloons can pose a very serious choking risk.
- Make sure the food is baby friendly. I was thinking of serving little “bites” on toothpicks, but I realized they might get dropped on the floor. All the food I’m serving is baby friendly: grilled chicken fingers, cupcakes, cheese, and veggies and dip. These foods don’t require utensils, so there is no danger of forks getting into the wrong hands.
- Have a babysitter there to help out. This may not be an option for everyone, but I decided that the extra pair of hands is worth the expense for a few hours. Our sitter isn’t there to babysit everyone’s kids, but she will be around to keep an extra eye on things, and help me set up beforehand.
- Have a baby zone. We are having the party in a common room in my apartment building; and I can use our expandable baby gate to wall off a small area. Everyone will be responsible for keeping an eye on their own kids, but having a contained zone will allow parents to put their babies down to play without worrying that they will get stepped on.
- Supply baby “diversions.” I’m going to have some beach balls to kick around, as well as a few of Baby’s toys: a drum, music cube, blocks, stacking cups, rattles. All things that can be easily sanitized before and after the party. And I’ll have our sitter do “story time”, reading from Baby’s favorite books.
- Diaper changing station. There isn’t a changing station in the bathrooms, so I’m going to borrow a friend’s pack n’ play. It has a small changing table attachment. I’ll put it in the hall near the bathrooms and provide some wipes and a diaper pail.
- Keep favor bags baby friendly. Or just skip them. Candy and small toys don’t really work for babies, though older kids may enjoy them. I’m going to have some colorful plastic sippy cups for all the babies.
- Try to schedule around naps. Baby can be a little inconsistent about naps these days; I’m afraid she’s trying to drop down from two naps a day to one. But hopefully a mid afternoon party for an hour and a half or so won’t disrupt things too much.
Cupcake and Frosting Recipe
I’m also a little concerned about Baby overloading on sugar, so I’ve been doing some experimental baking. The plan is to make the cupcakes the day before the party and decorate them the morning of. I took a recipe from AllRecipes.com and made a few changes.
- 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter (I melted it instead of softened)
- 3/4 cup granulated Truvia (instead of 1 1/2 cups of white sugar)
- 3 eggs (instead of two, initially a mistake, but it worked, so I’m sticking with it)
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk (I used organic 2%)
- 4 teaspoons orange zest (my addition, spices things up and masks aftertaste from the Truvia)
The frosting also comes from AllRecipes.com, again with modifications.
- 2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
- ½ cup butter, softened (I used Smart Balance Light)
- 2 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
I went with real sugar this time. This recipe makes A LOT of frosting, so I’ll probably halve the recipe and use it sparingly on the cupcakes. A ½ cup of sifted powdered sugar has 195 calories, as opposed to 234 unsifted, and 387 in ½ cup of granulated sugar. Since I’m substituting Truvia in the cupcakes, I didn’t think it was necessary to go overboard and make the cupcakes and frosting completely sugar free. I’m just trying to cut down on sugar-induced-baby-mania, so I figure a little won’t hurt.
I’m taking an idea from Martha Stewart and decorating the cupcakes to spell out: HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY.
My primary goal is to just relax and have fun. I have been known to stress out before parties and run around like a maniac cleaning and staging before the guests arrive. I’m just trying to keep things simple this time and remember that Baby won’t care if the beverage napkins are perfectly fanned out or we run out of cheese.