We celebrated Vihaan’s first birthday the weekend before his birthday and on his actual birthday, we did a Cake smash at home (all details shared in this post) with just family. I wanted an Indian-style birthday party for a couple of reasons: First, It was the first big celebration we’ve done for him. Due to Covid, every occasion we celebrated like Annaprasana or First Tonsure ceremony were super low-key with just us and a couple of friends. Two- First birthday party is actually not just about the baby, it’s more about the two people and the family and friends that surround those people. It was important for us to celebrate ourselves for making it this far without screwing up 😀 and everyone around us who kept us sane -that helped the baby grow happy and healthy.
The birthday party was fun with close friends and family. My In-laws flew all the way from India and my SIL and her family also joined us for the celebrations. It was the perfect occasion for us to dress up in Indian clothes and enjoy the delicious Indian food!
Vihaan’s Traditional Indian First Birthday Party Celebrations
The Birthday Preparations
I am a big procrastinator when it comes to organizing events that involve booking vendors. The process of delegating work and trusting in someone for the desired outcome isn’t something that I am comfortable with so I delay it until the last minute. We booked the event decorator and the cater 2 weeks before the party. Our outfits came in a week before the event. The entire month of February went into planning, selecting the theme, decor, clothing, menu, and inviting the guests. It was an overwhelming and stressful month.
Traditional Indian Birthday Party Checklist
- Party Venue
- Party theme or colors for the decor and outfits
- Party decor and mood board
- Whether to hire an event decorator or do it ourselves?
- Matching family outfits.
- Food menu and catering
- Food serving details- cutlery, serving trays, dining tables, and chairs
- Party favors
- How to showcase the monthly milestone pictures of V?
- Preparing Vihaan for the party.
This is a high-level checklist for the party. I will share all the details below and highlights what went well and the lessons learned.
Birthday Party Venue
If you follow my IG stories regularly then you already know that we have a big backyard. Everyone unanimously voted for a backyard birthday party. Since the weather was still chilly, we put on a tent and a heater.
As per our event decorator Marie, the 20X20 tent should accommodate 30 people, 3 dining tables that seat 9 people each, 4 tables for food and dessert, 3 panels with a ballon arc, and a”one” table for the cake (refer to the mood board under decor). In reality, the tent was too crowded, there was no space to put the One table so she put a simple cake stand and pushed the cake towards the backdrop. We had to remove the chairs and move the cake stand forward to cut the cake. It was nerve-wracking to move the cake as the decorator who also made the cake warned us about the cake being delicate. We were very disappointed.
Lesson learned- make sure you ask about the dimensions of each table and do the math yourself. We asked for the dimensions and she didn’t give us a solid figure for us to estimate. We trusted her blindly as she was the expert. Ask every single detail even though you feel like it’s an obvious thing. Ex- when we asked for a “One cake table” we expected the table to be sturdy enough to put the cake. She bought a cardboard “one” and imagine our surprised faces there.
Birthday Party Theme
Can you guess the birthday party theme? yes, it’s a Prince theme. I actually didn’t want to go with any theme. Our outfits were blue, it was selected before we chose the theme and we wanted the decor to go with our outfits. The theme just matched the colors we chose and made the other decisions easier like picking the cake, table decor, and party treats. Picking a theme helps to make the party more unique and easier for decision-making.
Traditional Indian Birthday Party Decor and Moodboard
The decor was nowhere close to what we envisioned and paid for. Jaune event decor did a terrible job in bringing our vision to life. It was a simple ballon decor and I am and will always be disappointed at them for ruining it for us. I wish we decorated it on our own, I wanted this event to be less stressful and spend more time with the family hence decided to hire professionals and get things done rather than doing it ourselves.
The ever decorator overbooked herself and totally gave up on our event. She promised the decor and the table setup will be done by 11.00 am, the party was at 11.30 pm but they arrived late after calling them thrice. They completed the decor at 1.40 pm. Our guests have arrived and we had to push the cake cutting to post-lunch because of the delay. I almost had tears in my eyes when I saw the decor and the person who promised to deliver so much but failed to meet the basics. The basic thing you expect when you hire someone is that they show up on time.
It was not easy for any of us to overlook the decor but what’s done was done, there was no way we could go back in time and not hire them. The only thing that was in our control is to have a good time and focus on everything that turned out well, that’s what we did. We relished and enjoyed the day thoroughly.
The bottom picture is what the decor should look like in the colors -royal blue, light blue, white, and gold with white flowers and crowns on the ballons instead of the butterflies.
Lessons learned- Ask the decorator if they are doing any other events on the day of your event. If yes, ask them openly if they have enough help to handle multiple events in a day. Ask the decorator for the pictures of the event they have done. Most of the pictures she sent us were from Google. As them to send an email with all the details discussed to make sure she understood your vision. This will also help you to refer back if things go south. Every detail, what colors balloon you chose, which color goes where, what goes on the cake table, etc. We did not do that and when we asked about certain things not being in the way we discussed, she blatantly denied them. She even stopped responding to our calls. Also, never pay the decorator the full amount before the event!
Matching Family Outfits
It’s no secret that I love matching with my family. It is something I enjoy doing and will continue to do until Vihaan doesn’t let me anymore. I can’t tell you how much time I have spent deciding and designing the looks that would allow the entire family to match. So the fact that I was able to get all the looks done not just ours but my sister-in-law’s family’s matching outfits as well from one boutique is incredible.
Vividha boutique did our matching outfits and I can’t recommend them enough. This is the first time I customized Indian outfits for the whole family online. We connected on phone and discussed all details on WhatsApp. They helped us narrow down the colors, designs, and details. I am very impressed by the quality of the fabric, stitching, and Teju and Anusha were very easy to talk to and work with. There were zero alternations needed, everything fit perfectly! Note- these outfits were not sponsored by the brand. I paid for all the outfits except for my saree.
I picked blue and white by keeping my husband’s limited color choice in mind. My Saree, blouse stitching, Rajesh’s, and Vihaan’s outfits everything was done by Vividha boutique.
The only thing I was disappointed about was Rajesh’s jacket color was little off it didn’t completely match with Vihaan’s outfit.
Vihaan’s dress was my favorite. He truly looked like a little prince in it. It fit him perfectly and the fabric was soft. It was a complete custom Kurta and pant set. The fabric was dyed to match with my saree color, the handmade zardosi design, the perfectly fitted pant every detail was well executed by the Vividha team.
I wore a Ventakagiri silk saree in blue. The embellished and spotted patterns with the interweaving in silver zari made the saree look exceptional and regal. It was a lightweight saree and easy to drape. Finding jewelry for this saree was not easy. I found this pearl set a week before on Ansya Label IG page and got it express shipped. The pearl belt from Amazon.
How can I forget my furry baby? Got the cutest custom blue tuxedo collar for Bagheera from Etsy. He looked very awesome in it.
We tied Bagheera to a tree right beside the tent. Every kid who came to the party was smitten by him and enjoyed petting and playing with him.
My SIL went for mint and peach/pink color combination. The color combo was very refreshing and the tones were perfect for the garden party. My Sister in law wore a pink Kanveeram saree that my MIL bought from India (she also got me a similar pink saree, isn’t she the sweetest?), and my brothers-in-law and Arjun’s outfits were customized by the Vividha boutique.
My mother-in-law and father-in-law also matched. I wasn’t expecting it so it was a sweet surprise. They looked lovely together.
Food menu and catering
Food was another thing that turned out really really good. Everyone loved the Indian buffet including our American neighbors and colleagues. We cooked a few items at home and catered most of them from Chopathi. They make authentic south Indian food and never disappoint in the taste and quality.
- Cut Mirchi
- Baby corn Manchuria
- Veg noodles
- Natu Kodi pepudu
- Pepper Chicken
- Veg Biryani (my BIL made it, his biryani is way better than any restaurant biryani I’ve ever had)
- Chicken Biryani (also made by my BIL)
- Sambar (my SIL made it)
- Gutti Vankai
- Paneer Tikka Masala
- Gongura Mutton
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- White Rice (made at home)
- Raita (made by yours truly ;p)
- Badam Milk (made at home)
- Bobbatlu (Puran Poli)
- Cake pops
- Chocolate cookies
- Birthday Cake
The dining tables, chairs, table cloths, and table decor were all done by the event decorator. It was part of the package we paid for. For plates and cutleries, I ordered these compostable paper plates, cutlery, and cup set.
The cake was the only thing the event decorator did a good job at. The vanilla Tres leches flavor was simply delicious.
We gave age-appropriate gifts to the kids. There weren’t many kids who attended the party so it was easy for us to pick multiple gifts. For babies under 6 months, I got these rattle sets and also added a couple of these stroller toys in the goodie bag. For big boys, got these nerf guns
Vihaan’s Monthly milestone pictures
I loved taking Vihaan’s monthly milestone photos each and every month! Check out the blog posts I did for 1 month, 6 months, and 7 months. We displayed those milestone pictures on the dining tables, it was so much fun for us and our guests to see how much he had grown from month to month.
The Birthday Boy
I know first birthdays are for parents and not for the baby but if the baby is not happy and crying, the parents sure won’t have a good time as well. Vihaan did relatively well, he was attached to his dad throughout the party. He didn’t walk around or smile as much as he usually does at home but he didn’t cry which is all we wanted from him. Few tips I want to share that worked for us
- Respect their nap and feeding schedule-Happy stress-free parties requires a well-rested and well-fed baby. The party was at 12.30 pm which is after his morning nap. I made sure he napped at the right time and fed him before the cake cutting. Don’t delegate the baby tasks to someone the baby is not used to on a daily basis, I took care of everything from his bath to his feeding myself so that way I am not inducing any additional stress onto him before the party.
- Don’t force the baby onto the people– When we are around people, Vihaan feels more comfortable being with his dad than I. That’s what we did, Rajesh held him throughout the party and when he was comfortable he went to other people. With everyone coming to him and wishing me, the stranger’s anxiety would have been worst if someone else held him.
- Take pictures ahead of time– The photographer couldn’t get a single solo picture of Vihaan during the party. He would start running to Rajesh as soon as he put him down. I took the solo pictures that you see here myself after the party when everyone left. I recommend getting ready early and taking solo pictures of the baby and family portraits before the guest arrives that way you have a happy and smiling baby. Once guests arrive, you’ll be busy hosting, and your baby may be overwhelmed by all the activity and commotion.
My Favorite Moments from our Traditional Indian Birthday Party..
Welcome to toddlerhood where babies don’t like to dress up and get pictures taken 😀
With my SIL and MIL. The picture is my pure love. I really got lucky with a kind and considerate mother-in-law.
Three generations <3
Calling it a candid picture as the photographer asked us to pose while we were busy setting the food tables.
I wish we took a video of the cake cutting. Vihaan was smiling and enjoying the attention when everyone was singing Happy birthday!
With my FIL and SIL.
Cousins like siblings!
Last but not least our dearest friends who are like family. Few left before the pic was taken but glad we took one to complete our photobook.