Friday, November 07, 2008

Yakee's Harry Potter-Inspired First Birthday Party

Yikes... I know. Almost a month to the day my son actually celebrated his first birthday. Mommy has just really been busy and then Halloween came up to conflict with Mommy's uploading of pics and writing up blog post.

Anyway, allow me to proceed.

Overall, I would say my son's party was a success. We went over our projected budget but we didn't exceed it in horrifying proportions naman din. Plus, I guess it helped that I made sure I padded the projections and budget already to cover other unforeseen expenses.

I saw my nieces and nephews have fun, and the party was inasmuch for them as it was a celebration of our son's birthday and a celebration of hubs and me as parents (we mde it through a year, yey!).

With regards the theme, I originally envisioned a Baby Looney Tunes or Thomas and Friends one. I didn't want anything super generic. But since the birthday celebration will happen near Halloween, hubs and I decided not to go against fate anymore and give in to our Pottermania.

So we researched ways and means for a Harry Potter party. But I also realized that for a first birthday, I wasn't really ready to bend over backwards and go the whole nine yards. Nothing karir for one so young, I said.

So I restrained myself big time... and here are the results:

We didn't intend for it to be a costume party but when friends heard that it's going to be a Harry Potter one held two weeks before Halloween, they started asking if their kid can come in costume. So we decided to pander to their inner stage parents, plus, it's really practical as most of them are buying Halloween costumes for their kiddoes anyway. Might as well use those more at once, right? :)

Rating: Highly Recommended, if you're from the South

There isn't any cheap venue in Manila so we looked for one in the South. We briefly considered a pool party after seeing Constantine Place but didn't want to be saddled by injured kids so we looked for a hall. Good thing Dazo Hall is very near my in-laws' home in BFRV.

Reserving the place was easy enough, and it was great that they didn't have any exclusive caterers or whatever. The clerk attending to the bookings can seem snobbish or moody sometimes, but maybe it's just PMS talking. She answers questions to the best of her abilities anyway and immediately processed the car passes and our refund.

The Hall is freshly-painted and once the air-conditioning is ON, it's really cool and comfy inside. Absolutely a good bargain, this one.

Rating: Highly Recommended, especially if you're from the South

Lady, the super soft-spoken gal managing Honey's now, is my husband's former colleague. They'd always cater the corporate events for hubs and company and i've tried their fare at their Christmas Party last year and knew that they really serve great-tasting food.

Plus, i'm a sucker for Chap Chae (Korean noodle dish) so it was a must that we get them for Yakee's party (and yes, it's my party too! hehe).

Everybody loved the food! My in-laws even happily argued over the leftovers. They even loved the spaghetti which we ordered for the kids. We got their cheapest meal package (P270/head) because that was all we could afford but that includes Stew Beef Ribs (a crowd favorite as well), Spicy Chicken, Tanigue Fish Fillet, Chap Chae, Buttered Veggies, Rice, Buko Pandan and Iced Tea. The kids had chicken lollipop with their spaghetti.

They were there early... they helped clean the venue after... the waiters were accommodating... the setup was nice. I don't think they're like other more popular caterers who can really do particular themes and setups but I didn't need that anyway. And hubs and I were more OC about people enjoying the food, as we were in our wedding.

I really would recommend them to everyone and I know I wouldn't lose face. And hubs and I are not easily pleased by caterers at all so this really means a lot.

Photographer: GING LORENZO
Rating: Highly recomemmnded, if you can wait for the pictures

The only downside to hiring Ging that I can think of is really awaiting the pics, which she sends to her clients at least two weeks after the event. But the wait was more than worth it because she really managed to capture the activity and emotion of the party... something I, as the hostess, didn't really get to enjoy because I was attending to so many things, least of all Yakee.

A regret I have, which is my folly and not hers, is not remembering to ask for more portraits... like of Yakee with his grandparents, or Yakee with his cousins. It was the perfect photo opp for such as both sides of his family were there and we missed it. Then again, good luck keeping my son still for contrived photo opps :)

And I really, really super like the effort Ging puts into packaging her output. The DVD containing my son's pics was personalized, its casing more so. And the DVD and printed copies were also lovingly wrapped in fuchsia and white tissue paper (sorry, was too eager to open the package to take a picture of the packaging). I super love her!

Plus, I forgot to e-mail her a list of shots I wanted but she managed to take pictures of all the important details just the same. Oh and we booked Ging first before all the other suppliers. I am also OC with having proper pictures so we set a date very early on and booked her na.

Entertainment: BUBBLE SHOW by Party Tools
Rating: The Bubble Show is Highly-Recommended, also a South supplier
Contact details: 821-6358 / 0922-8621125 /

I was actually intent on getting the services of Polkadots because i've attended several parties which Jhoanne handled and knew I could trust her with my son's party. Jhoanne was also kind enough to answer my initial questions when I was panicking, and straightforward about the out-of-town charges her suppliers might ask for given that they're mostly a QC-based business and our event is in the South, and gracious enough to wish me well when I told her that we're looking for a South supplier instead to avoid the added charges.

Since we didn't know any South supplier, hubs scoured the area near his office during break and found Party Tools (based in Better Living). Their Bubble Show package already included hosting so we decided to book them already. We figured, where kids are concerned, bubbles are fun, period. This was a risk we took because we didn't know if they'd deliver (and which parents would really want bored guests?). But anyway, the show delivered and the kiddie guests had a blast.

I originally wanted a cyclist/juggler because I didn't want the generic magic act and clowns because the kid guests probably have seen them all. I wanted the kid guests to remember Yakee's party after all. The hosting part was okay, the kids were responding anyway. And the host did come in a sort of Harry Potter costume. The magic act was kinda lame, I was told, but not THAT lame din to have the kids boycotting the host. The bubble show was a blast! I just know it was a hit with the kids. And it's great that they made sure not to leave the place messy after the bubble show.

Overall, Party Tools helped make my son's party a suceess and am happy about it.

Sound System: PARTY TOOLS
Rating: Recommended

Nothing to say really... we were happy with their output. There wasn't any problem at all with the music or mic.

Rating: Recommended

We couldn't NOT have ice cream, but seeing as we were investing on a dessert bar, we decided that any ice cream would do. At P2k for 6 gallons (3 flavors), it was a steal. However, there was a slight annoyance that happened.

I had caramel and chocolate syrup for the ice cream, in case guests wanted to further sweeten theirs (plus, it was just dirty ice cream so it might need some spicing up). My SIL gave the sorbetero the syrups but I didn't see anyone using them. And he did not return the bottles to us. Nor did the sorbetero tell me if the ice cream were all eaten up, didn't offer for us to bring the leftovers home (since it was paid for). Family members who were eating ice cream were sure we didn't consume the 6 gallons since everyone was bingeing on cookies and cupcakes.

I debated on whether to bring this to the attention of the Party Tools' management but hubs told me to just let it go. The sorbetero could have mistaken that SIL was just giving him the syrup, after all. And it's not like anybody had space for ice cream after the event anyway.

Cake: ALEX FRANCO (for original birthday cake) and RED RIBBON (for party cake)
Rating: Highly Recommended

We did not have enough money to spend on themed cakes (that would be all edible) and I really wanted an Alex Franco cake for my son's real birthday (okay fine, the cake was really for me!). So we just chose a cake at Red Ribbon, arranged for particular colors to be used instead to decorate it, and paid extra for caramel sauce in between the chocolate chiffon cake.

Considering that we had two Alex Franco cakes, we could have actually spent on a themed cake instead. Still, we did have a dessert bar. :)

Cake was nice, considering it was a commercial one. The extra caramel sauce didn't make it taste too sweet either. The colored icing stained our teeths and the kiddies' poops though. Hehe.

Balloons and Decor: PARTY BOOSTERS
Rating: Highly-Recommended

In a way, twas already a given from the start that Jacque will do my son's decor ever since she started her balloon/party business. After all, she's my friend and she's invited to the party anyway so she might as well contribute to it.

BUT... I wouldn't have gotten her services if I wasn't positive she'd deliver well. I am not known for kindness and charity work. Hehe. And to Jacque's credit, she never asked me to get suppliers from her, even when she already has contacts for entertainment and hosting, etc. She even offered to just help me plan the party and get the suppliers I really wanted.

Well, I wanted her. And I love the setup she did considering we were pressed for time (because there was an event before ours in the same venue). She arrived in Las Pinas an hour before I was expecting her and immediately set to work. And eventhough we were friends, she was very professional (hello, OA nga, she didn't even expect that we'd feed them at my MIL's where they were making the initial balloon decor). She did help me get what I want for the budget I do have, which she does for all her clients anyway.

I love her all the more. And one of the balloon pillars that we took home to my MIL's is still standing strong and good. Everybody loved the balloons and she did manage to create the right party mood for my son's celebration (partida, she's not a Potterhead... then again, around 98% of our guests aren't as well). Oh and she got more stressed about the decor, she was the one texting me pa. Lolz.

take home balloons

Costume: SM and a Neighborhood Tailor
Materials for Gryffindor Quidditch Robe: Ylaya shop in Divisoria and embroidery shop in Quiapo
Level of satisfaction: Very Good

I knew I wanted a Gryffindor Quidditch Robe to be Yakee's outfit because it's colorful (maroon and gold). So I bought abrics in Divisoria (P75/yard) and had the neighborhood tailor make it. I can't fault them for the tailoring, it was really well made. But the pointy thing they did to the hood is such an eyesore really... but although I could have nagged them to redo the outfit, I decided to just let it go. I know better than trust tem with costumes again, of course. The robe cost P500.

Then hubs scouted SM for a round pair of glasses to complete the look and found instead a Hogwarts uniform-looking robe, which he bought naman for P300. That's why Yakee was made to pose in the uniform robe for his party stationery and tarp but donned the Quidditch robe at the party.

The robe outfit is also why I insisted on an air-conditioned venue.

I also went to Quiapo to have a Gryffindor patch made. It cost P50 per patch. It didn't look as nice as I expected but it was okay for this one-time use. If you have any design in mind, just draw or print it and go to any of the shops along Quiapo (past Ma Mon Luk and near Isetann Recto, those making labels for school uniforms). SIL was a dear, however, and found Gryffindor ties and painstakingly painted plastic glasses black for Yakee.

With unruly hair, my darling was the picture of Harry Potter!!!

with Andy's broom

Miscellaneous Stuff and Labor of Love

Prizes: Miscellaneous Stuff from New Divisoria Mall

Turned out, I bought way too many prizes. And I had to settle for cheap pencils with designs for the pencil toppers I found. But all in all, Divi was a haven for these cheap buys.

Giveaways: Loot Bags

Bought the plastic bags in Divi (P15 for a set of 10) and just put on Thank You stickers at the back (the Thank You stickers were patterned from Sirius Black's wanted poster from the Harry Potter films). We made two sets of loot bags, one which contained a Halloween book as main giveaway while the rst contained snake tubes we bought in a duty-free shop in Pampanga months ago. The bags with books were for babies, since they couldn't really enjoy the snake tubes just yet.

One booboo though... I forgot to remove the prize tags from the snake tubes. And I forgot to include some sort of instruction for them so I had some guests who admitted to having put them in the freezer, wondering what it's for. Hehe.

Giveaways: Candies

Mostly candies brought by my Mom from the US, like gourmet jellybeans, Welch's Reduced Sugar Fruit Snacks, miscellaneous candies (caramel, tootsie roll, etc.). I also bought chocolates at Chocolate Lover, egg and round-shaped ones covered in red and yellow foil, plus these ones that look like bugs or something.

I just repackaged what I could in smaller plastic envelopes and packed all candies in brown bags. Most of the candies were supposed to be awarded to those who made the extra outfit to come in costume but since we ended up making lots of those bags, they became a generic giveaway instead (besides, I doubt the parents were exactly pleased that we were giving away too much sweets). Even hubs' colleagues got to take home sweets.

Giveaways: Bubbles

I should have bought the individually-wrapped ones because the ones that came in a pack of 24 don't really bubble much. Bought in Divi, of course.

Giveaways: Craft Visors

These were sent by our Inang Kasal from the US. The caps were these felt/craft ones and our beloved Ninang also sent us stick-on stickers (elements and alphas) to decorate the caps with. My ever creative SIL volunteered to decorate it and she managed to extend the craft stickers by industriously cutting them up into smaller triangles and diamonds. Anyway, the craft caps were absolutely fantastic and very personalized.

My SILs were supposed to greet guests at the door and give the caps there but they were late (as we all were) so I just listed the names of the kiddie guests and SIL and BIL named each cap accordingly.

Dessert Bar: Labor of Love by Arevalo SILs

The idea of a dessert bar came from Jacque, when her SIL prepared one for Simone's 1st birthday. It's actually perfect for a Harry Potter-inspired party because of all the Hogsmeade sweets and feasts at the Great hall in the book.

And then we discovered this wonderful chocolate chip recipe and baking became a regular thing we do at MILs (hubs' sister takes charge while I and SIL-to-be help). And when my Mom sent me cake mixes, we made cupcakes. So it was just natural that we'd want to bake the goodies ourselves for Yakee's birthday. SIL baked the black and white cookies at midnight, when her own daughter was already asleep, and she woke up very early to pipe the cupcakes with icing.

the dessert bar

For the cupcakes, we used yellow cake mixes (love you, Betty Crocker) instead of making them from scratch (which would have been cheaper though) and flavored a package with cocoa powder (for chocolate cupcakes) and the other with Ghirardelli white mocha powder. For variety. We used coness dipped in colored chocolates to evoke witch hats.

For the cookies, we used sprinkles, colored sugar, mocha chips, chocolate chips and coated chocolates to decorate. This recipe of choco chip cookies (the light brown ones) is a gem, and am sorry but i'm still holding the recipe for the black and white cookies (the dark brown ones) hostage.

To decorate the dessert bar, we used chocolates from Chocolate Lover wrapped in gold foil... and SIL also put on some little bugs and spiders for added Halloween touch.

freshly baked cookies

freshly baked cupcakes

bugs at the dessert bar

Tarp: DIY by Mommy
Printed by: Mitsubishi Photo Printing

All I did, as with the invites, was Google for Harry Potter posters and edit using Photoshop.

It cost us P375 to have the tarp printed (3x5 feet) at Mitsubishi and it takes them two days for this service (because they actually have their shop in Divisoria print it for them). For an additional P150, they can do the layout for you.

Stickers: DIY by Mommy

Again, Google pictures (this time, I used avaialable cartoon pics and put balloons on them). Thanks to our wonderful colored printer and CDR King for cheap ink too.

Other Harry Potter Stuff:
Daily Prophet Newsletters - DIY
Napkins and Paper Plates - c/o SIL (bought from a bazaar)

The Grand gallery of Pictures


Special Credits:
Tita Ninang Gang and Rez, not just for taking care of Yakee while Mommy does all the DIY stuff, and for offering feedback and criticisms, but for being the secondary caregivers of my son ever since he was born.

My Arevalo SILs, for baking and babysitting, for decorating and all the delegated work, for all the love and the excitement, and for all the bonding time. Yakee is also thankful, am sure, for her pretty Ates from them.

Pappie Jojo, who worked hard to come up with the money for the party, who oversaw the preparations while Mommy and Yakee napped before the party, who shall always be the best husband and father there can ever be.

(grabe, the suppliers ratings got finished a month after Yakee's actual birthday...)


Joy said...

hi mec! where in SM did you get the gryffindor robe? i want one for my sandy too. pero wala ako makita or di lang ako naghahanap mabuti. at may size ng one year old ha! wow talaga nakakatuwa. gusto ko din ng ganitong theme sa 7th birthday ni sandy haha.

Vida Soraya said...

Hi, thank you so much for posting this! Super helpful! :-) I only have around 2 weeks left before my baby's 1st birthday so the suppliers listed gave me great ideas! Also, your baby is super cute, more accentuated by the gorgeous photography! Thanks again and God bless you! :-)

Vida Soraya Verzosa