Louisette turned one ages ago, but I delayed her birthday so that I could wrangle every single one of Louisette’s cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents into one place at one time – not an easy task when Bil and Bonnie live in Beijing!
So other than that Herculean task (it took literally months to coordinate), I had one goal: As little stress to myself as possible. And, ideally, the same for Louisette (it’s so sad when one-year olds cry through their entire party – Louisette is very social, so I knew I had a fair bit of wiggle room there, but I still made sure her actual birth day was genuinely all about her – we borrowed one of her cousins and met Dad at a playground, and Louisette was thrilled). Every parent knows the first birthday isn’t about the kid – it’s about the parents, friends, and family.
So, the family (with the bonus of my godparents, who visited specially from Sydney):
Yes, that huge crowd is fundamentally just the immediate family of CJ and myself, plus the immediate family our brothers and sisters have married or created themselves. And there’s plenty more in Louisette’s generation to come.
We had the party outside (at Weston Park, where parking, toilets, and a playground are all located close together) because our house was too small, and both our parental units have a LOT of people staying with them. Also, I didn’t want to have a big tidy up at a parental home.
The disadvantages were that I needed to personally stake out the one good bit of shelter (it was very hot and there was scattered rain with stormclouds threatening), which meant leaving CJ at home to simultaneously mind Louisette and prepare food. Poor CJ, and poor me (attempting to remember everything from afar, while pointedly putting up balloons so other people would leave Our Spot).
I cunningly had my brilliant sister make the cake (a huge stress averted, including the transportation of said cake):
Louisette was allowed a sizeable piece, AND she got to feed herself.
I found Louisette’s dress online (gorgeous! And fully washable) and simply waited until Bil and Bonnie asked us what we wanted as a gift (I have awesome friends who understand my ways so well 🙂 ). I also took two changes of clothes for her. She rode a miniature train, played on a playground and had fun with a kids around her own age (all of whom were carefully photographed so if they’re BFFs in future they can prove the friendship started super early):
And of course there were presents, yay! Check out Louisette’s intense concentration.
Financial cost: $0 (those who could brought a plate to share, and there was a huge pile of leftovers)
Stress cost: Could have been so much worse.
Summary: Full family achieved; awesome cake made and devoured; pile of toys received; fun had.
Next year I think we’ll stay at home, though 🙂