Homemade parties are parties without the stylist, coordinator, or big suppliers to organize everything for you. These parties seem to be the most detailed and tiring but I must agree it’s fun and definitely memorable for the family.
We had the chance to celebrate and do a small homemade party of our own for the 2nd birthday of our eldest daughter Chesca. She had one memorable first birthday at McDonald’s last year and the kids and adults alike had a lot of fun too. We wanted her first birthday to be what a kiddie party is- with mascots, balloons, games, spaghetti, fried chicken, ice cream, music, and the presence of our loving family and friends.
For her second birthday, we were set to go on an out of town zoo adventure as a family but we had to cancel due to some home matters. Anyway, few days before our little girl’s birthday, we decided to have a simple party in the clubhouse of our new home. It was overwhelming since there were dozens of things to think about at first with so little time but it turned our well. It was one memorable dinner party for our Chesca who is more aware now and was all over the place looking and watching all her guests. It was one lovely kiddie dinner party. I know it’s not often you hear about kiddie parties at night, but it was a great idea too since our daughter and son sleep late anyway. They partied the night away with everyone too.
Here’s a little guide if you’ll be hosting a party with DIY stuff:
- Decide on the final date and time of the event and check everyone’s or majority of your guests’ availability. Be mindful on the timing too. Make sure it doesn’t coincide with a national event that will cause heavy traffic or rerouting or dates when most people have plans like Holy Week, Halloween, etc.
- Number of guests. Determine whether it will be a big or small gathering and the rest of the things to be done will follow. Remember, don’t fall into the trap of inviting everyone your child has ever met. Sometimes, initimate celebrations will keep you sane and give the occassion more meaning. Since we planned the parties a few days before the actual event date, we were able to invite immediate family
- Choose & reserve a venue with parking. Of course this will depend on the number of guests for your event. Pick a venue that’s convenient for you and for everybody invited (You can’t favor everyone who will attend but at least look for a location that’s accessible to everyone). Parking spaces are important for your guests too. Ever since we hosted events, we always think about parking because we know how difficult it is for guests if the venue doesn’t have parking spaces available. Our venue was perfect since there are a lot of parking slots available for guests. We didn’t have a hard time reserving since people handling the reservations are so professional and quick to reserve.
- Decide on the theme. This is important to determine the food you’ll serve, the decors, invitation, and suppliers. And add the family’s outfit on the day of the party (if you’re the type who dress for the occasion and follow the theme).
- Tables and Chairs. Do you have enough? The caterer will provide this for those who chose their event to be catered. In our case, we had to rent tables and chairs and also buffet tables since the venue didn’t come with chairs and table.
- Menu. Order in or book a caterer (if you have so much guests) to save time. When you order in, you just have to fix how to present and serve the food. If you have enough time and resources, plan the meals and cook them hours before the event. Make sure to consider who your guests are. Have enough food for kids and for adults. Usually my personal menu list for homemade parties are rice (plain), 3 viands (1 seafood, 1 with vegetables, 1 meat), at least 2 desserts, beverages (water, at least 2 choices of soda, 1 juice, coffee, tea, liquor for adults- we served wine, whiskey, beer, rum for the adults). Don’t forget the other details like table napkin, ice cubes for drinks, and always give 20-30% buffer for the food quantities you will prepare.
- Get the invites ready. With the technology today, invitations are usually sent through email or messaging groups in the form of an image. Some still prefer the printout ones while some want to lessen their task list and send Facebook invitations (they even get to get instant rsvp sometimes and guests will automatically be reminded). Through time, everything got more techy but of course, I’d also like to teach the kids the value of hard work without relying on technology. With the party of our daughter, since we were rushing, there were no FB invites sent. It was a small celebration with 5family and friends. If you will send out printed invites, best to send them 3-4 weeks before the actual event.
- Program. Determine what the program is. As we always like it, we want our guests to be comfortable and we did not have games at our daughter’s 2nd birthday party. We want the dinner party to be a time to bond, chit chat, catch up, and enjoy. If you decide to have games, make sure to prepare all the materials needed, get a host (I’m not sure if you can still personally host the party’s program). Don’t forget to get prizes for the winners and maybe consolation prizes too? After all party games are just for additional fun.
- Involve the celebrant in the party planning unless if it’s a surprise or he/ she is too young to be involved. If you involve the celebrant, at least you get to know what he/ she really prefers.
- Opening of gifts. Some prefer to open gifts at the end of the party while the guests are watching while some (like us) prefer to open the gifts at home and we can thank the givers after. But for us, gifts are bonuses of the occasion. It’s best to celebrate the occasion together and the true meaning of the event. We don’t check who gave gifts and who didn’t. But make sure you have a gift table or area during the event so keep everything in one area and avoid misplacing them.
- Venue decor. It doesn’t have to look like a fiesta or a wonderland. You may get a stylist if you want the venue professionally decorated but it’s also fun to fix everything yourself. I really enjoyed the simple planning and decors at our daughter’s party. We ordered balloons and the supplier arranged them in the venue. It was a very simple arrangement. I personally bought the rest. There are so many shops now where you can buy part decors.
- Cake. Occasions and special events are not celebrations without a cake. There are so many cakes available out there from affordable to expensive ones. There are also a lot of homemade cakes by professional bakers too. You may also check S&R’s cute and simple celebration cakes! They’re affordable too. Again, like all our milestone events in our life as a couple and as a family, we ordered Costa Brava. We love Ms. Judah Liu’s work and dedication in her craft. Our cakes are always custom made by her. We also served a classic cake – Betty’s delicious sansrival cake. It’s he best sansrival cake I tasted so far.
- Party Paraphernalia. Bring out those plates, glasses, and other utensils. For this kiddie party, we used quality disposable plates, utensils, and cups. Of course, our breakable wine and whiskey glasses were used for the wines and whiskey. Decide whether you’ll have a party hat, party favors, etc. Shall you decide to use your own plates, utensils, and glasses, bring them all out in advance for washing and drying. Always remember that the plates you will bring out are exposed to the risk of getting damaged. It’s part of parties and accidents may happen always. Rent audio and lights from a good suoplier if needed.
- Ask for assistance. As much as we think we can do everything ourselves, we still need help in order and to cover everything before, during, and after the celebration. I asked helped form my parents and siblings. I can’t thank them enough for all the things they did! Also, the housekeeping at our clubhouse and the security personnel played a big part in the event. We didn’t have waiters and everything was to be done by us but they were there to help during the set up, during the diner party, and clean up.
- Document Memories. Take pictures of the memories you are making not for the mere sake of posting but for keeping these memories alive forever. We didn’t hire a photographer this time. I wasn’t able to take pictures but our family and friends did too and we were able gather them. I promised to print the pictures in photobooks as always. I just have to find time.
Yup, loads of tasks right? But in the end the physical tiredness is nothing when the memories sink in. It was one full DIY / homemade party for us and it was nothing but awesome and fulfilling. You’ll get to master homemade party planning in time. Experience will help you learn more.
Here’s a list of our oh-so-reliable suppliers for this homemade party. You may want to get them too for your next homemade party.
- Happy Birthday Balloons from SM Megamall Department Store
- Minnie Mouse Cake by Costa Brava
- Sansrival Cake from Betty’s
- Quality disposable plates, cups, spoons and forks, and table napkins from S&R
- Balloons from Barbie’s Balloons
- Tables and Chairs rental from Nino’s
- Buntings, paper tissue pom poms from Celebrations
- Centerpiece flower arrangements were gifts from our family
- Lechon from Elar’s
- Barbecue and Pancit from Amber
- Spaghetti and buttered shrimp were gifts from our family
Happiness is homemade