Friday, October 23, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Yanthy’s First Birthday Party

After around 6 months of careful planning and preparation, we finally had my son's first birthday party last Sunday, October 18, 2009. It looks like a very simple party from a guest's point of view; but, wait 'til you hear the story behind the scenes of my son's jungle-themed party.



The Theme



I started thinking and planning about it right after my son turned 6 months old last April and after we celebrated his half birthday. My husband and I talked about possible party themes. We had 3 themes in mind – farm, safari or Madagascar and the Cars movie. Yanthy likes the sound of animals a lot and he keeps on imitating the sound of a lion; that’s why, Madagascar became our first choice. The farm was second because Yanthy makes a lot of sounds and movements when he was still a small baby that reminds us of farm animals. Our third choice was the Cars movie because of their bright colors and because the name of one of the characters in the movie is also Hudson, just like Yanthy’s dad.



Must-haves, Options and Challenges




So, off I went to gather leaflets, brochures and quotations from fast food chains (Jollibee, Mc Donalds, Karate Kid), restaurants (Max’s, Shakey’s, Kenny Roger’s Roasters, The Old Spaghetti House and Congo Grille), play schools/centers (Gymboree, Kidz Republic, Big Red Barn) and caterers. I had a hard time finding a fast food chain or restaurant that offered kiddie parties with a jungle or safari theme. Only Kenny Roger’s Roasters and Congo Grille had that theme. While Kidz Republic had jungle décor, their food and play package wasn’t enticing enough for me. Another major consideration was the budget. It should not exceed our budget last year for Yanthy’s baptism. My husband even challenged me to spend less this time if I can. Wow! I took the challenge seriously. But I had a list of must-haves for my son’s first birthday party and I was bent to have all of them in the package.


 
Lechon from Jiro's
First, I want to have a lechon to be part of the food offered. I want games for the kids. I want the loot bags and game prizes to be consistent with the party theme and I want them to be useful items for kids. I want nice décor for the venue and a sound system must be part of the package. I want ice cream for the kids on top of the usual spaghetti and chicken combination. I want party favors like name tags and party hats for the kids. I want a personalized tarpaulin birthday greeting for Yanthy with animal designs. I want a jungle or Madagascar-themed cake. I want a professional photographer to cover the event and I want a hardbound photo album to be part of the photo package. I want to show an avp of my son during the party. Of course, my husband wants all of my must-haves to be within the budget he gave me – which is not more than P30,000.


AVP for Yanthy

Fast food chains offer less expensive party packages but we simply didn’t like their themes for Yanthy’s first birthday. They also do not allow customers to bring in other food products that are not part of their menu like lechon. Kenny Roger’s will allow you to bring in a birthday cake but you cannot serve it to your guests. So I turned to caterers who were more flexible and could personalize things for their customers. I found a few who gave very reasonable prices and who were willing to go through the trouble of personalizing everything to my chosen theme – Madagascar. But to be able to stick to our budget, it meant that I talk and get the services of different suppliers instead of just talking to one. It also moved me to source, shop and work on the loot bags myself to save money. I didn’t mind. I like doing crafts and art work anyway. Plus, I’m doing it for my son. It was my pleasure! Everything was almost ready. I was ready to close the deal with some caterers and suppliers. I even booked our clubhouse already for the party venue. The only detail I needed to settle was where to buy the cake although I have already studied four options. That was around more than a month before the targeted party date. Our goal was to finalize everything before our family vacation in Surigao.



The Verdict



The balloon centerpiece and
the wall murals in the background.
Less than 2 weeks before our trip, when I thought that everything was almost set, I asked my husband to go through the details of the party with me before I close the deal with potential suppliers. My husband, being the analytical type, suggested that we make a table in Excel format to compare our options so he can decide easily which option to choose. I let him have his way if that is what he needed to help me finalize our plans. He saw that although we would be able to save a few thousand pesos if we have the party in our clubhouse, book a caterer and get suppliers for various party needs; it would also mean a lot of trouble for us or me specifically. So, he suggested that we book Yanthy’s first birthday party at Congo Grille restaurant in El Pueblo instead. We also agreed that the restaurant’s location was perfect for our guests who would be coming both from the north and south of Metro Manila. Congo Grille’s party package was perfect for my list of must-haves.



The loot bag contents plus
some additional items from me.
First and foremost, their set up is already jungle-inspired; so, perfect for our chosen theme. Balloon decors (including table centerpieces), invitations, sound system, birthday banner with jungle design, loot bags and giveaways are all part of the package once you book with them. You have 3 hours use of the venue excluding set up and set down. Plus, they allow you to bring in lechon. They have a variety of food choices for the adult menu and they have kiddie platters also. You can order ice cream for your guests if you like. They can give a free round cake, too. But when I found out that they can’t assure me of the design, I negotiated instead that they waive the corkage fee for the lechon; while I source and bring in my own birthday cake with the design that I want.

Souvenirs from the restaurant.

They already have a birthday banner. You just can’t bring it home because that’s what they use for all their kiddie parties. They only change the name of the celebrant. That was fine with me. Party hosting and mascot appearance was not part of the package. You’ll have to pay extra if you want a party host, mascot or clown. My husband and I decided to do away with these. I do a lot of hosting anyway and I’m used to facilitating games – although not with kids but with adults during my seminars. Again, it was my joy to host my son’s birthday party and to facilitate the games. My husband and I even had fun planning the games and the program. Congo Grille also has lcd projector and screen which we can use to show the Madagascar “Move it!” music video and my son’s avp. They said that we will be charged additional P500 if our total food bill do not reach P20,000. But if it does, it will be for free. That was fine.

The birthday banner from the restaurant.
They already have a birthday banner. You just can’t bring it home because that’s what they use for all their kiddie parties. They only change the name of the celebrant. That was fine with me. Party hosting and mascot appearance was not part of the package. You’ll have to pay extra if you want a party host, mascot or clown. My husband and I decided to do away with these. I do a lot of hosting anyway and I’m used to facilitating games – although not with kids but with adults during my seminars. Again, it was my joy to host my son’s birthday party and to facilitate the games. My husband and I even had fun planning the games and the program. Congo Grille also has lcd projector and screen which we can use to show the Madagascar “Move it!” music video and my son’s avp. They said that we will be charged additional P500 if our total food bill do not reach P20,000. But if it does, it will be for free. That was fine.

We closed the deal over the phone the night before we left for Surigao. As soon as we returned from the trip, I went to Congo Grille to pay the P5,000 down payment. Their mode of payment was one of the things we liked because we didn’t have to pay the 50% of the total cost of the reservation or booking; unlike other restaurants or caterers which require that.



The Final Party Details


The stage was set! Yanthy’s first birthday party will be held at Congo Grille, El Pueblo on October 18, 2009 at 2 – 5 PM. To help us stick to our budget, we limited our guests to 50 adults and 25 kids – mostly family members, relatives, ninongs and ninangs and a few close friends with toddlers or small kids.


Food for the kids
I chose the adult menu which consisted of nachos (appetizer), halaan soup, chicken Bacolod, beef caldereta, tuna sisig, rice, bottomless ice tea and leche flan. For the kids, I ordered spaghetti, chicken lollipop, juice and chocolate ice cream. The price of the food is a bit pricey compared to fast food chains or the other restaurants that we considered but it afforded me the luxury of not having to deal with many different suppliers. With the party package comes 3 hours free use of the venue (excluding set up and set down), balloon decors (predominantly blue, green and yellow), a big birthday banner with jungle design, 50 pieces jungle-themed invitations, 20 Congo Grille loot bags, 25 animal clip give aways, free use of karaoke, mic and sound system for the program. No corkage fee for the lechon and cake. P500 for use of lcd projector and screen. Plus Congo Grille staff to help set up the place and materials for the games and program.

The birthday cake from Goldilocks.




I ordered a 12 inch round cake from Goldilocks with a jungle design and chocolate flavor. I ordered lechon from Jiro’s. I booked Digiprint for the photo coverage. They have a good P5,000 package that includes a professional photographer for 4 hours, an 8x10 40 pages photo storybook, 1 piece 12x18 blow up print of a photo of your choice, 40 pieces 4R prints and free cd copy of all photos taken during the event. Plus, they deliver for free. My brother-in-law, Bobby, volunteered to do an AVP for Yanthy; while, my brother-in-law, Harry, will videotape the event.

The loot bag contents that I personalized and put together.

I sourced the materials for the loot bags from Divisoria together with my mom. Since I could not find jungle or Madagascar-themed items for the loot bags, I decided to buy items which can be useful for the kids. I bought pencils with different colors, crayons and erasers. Luckily, I found plastic loot bags, party hats and name tags with jungle design. I personalized the loot bags a bit by buying an original DVD of Madagascar Goes to Africa movie and printing stickers and coloring pages from it. From the free printable images in the DVD also, I designed eraser labels and cover for the coloring pages to make it into a coloring booklet. I also found jungle-themed coin banks from Divisoria from the same store where I bought the party favors. I bought them for the purpose of game prizes. I also found small stuffed toys of the Madagascar characters. Initially, I planned to give them away as game prizes but when I saw that Yanthy liked them, I changed my mind. Then, I bought Jungle Bites biscuits (animal-shaped biscuits by Rebisco) from Puregold as additional game prizes and content for loot bags. They have different flavors: strawberry (giraffe), sweet corn (lion), choco (monkey, cheese (rhinoceros), milk (elephant) and bird (peanut butter). By God’s guidance and the grace to be persistent and determined, I found the perfect birthday outfit for Yanthy at SM Department store – a safari explorer jumper with matching green shirt and brown rubber shoes.



Yanthy's guest book

Last but not least, I bought a big scrapbook from National Bookstore with green handmade paper cover and decorated it to become a guestbook cum scrapbook for Yanthy’s first birthday party.



TG :) 102209

21 comments:

  1. Too bad El Pueblo branch only offer free banner and 15 pcs balloon for my son's 1st birthday party two weeks from now. Videoke was supposed to be free but there will be another celebration to hold on that day and they were the first to do the reservation. So free videoke goes to them. No sound system were offered and party hats,invite, lootbags etc. even though I asked if it will goes along the package. Use of electricity (1k) for photobooth has been waved since we cant have the videoke but still I supposed it has to be given free. We are going to bring our own sound system and laptop so we can play some of my son's favorite musical rhymes during the event but there is another charge for that -P500, cheaper from the original rate of 1k which I made tawad pa. I just hope on the day it self wala ng maging hassle. The manager seems to be polite yet kuripot in terms of what's included with the birthday package. Green table cloth for motif isn't available but they're trying their best daw to borrow from another branch. Pero green theme was the one featured in their brochure. This is in EL Pueblo as well. Earlier I already talked to their Jupiter branch in Makati and party hats and invitation are included aside from the sound system, banner and balloon. Haiz why is there different birthday packages per branch?? I will get back to them day before the event just to remind them of the menu it seems that they are not paying attention to my customized package because in the OR what was writen on it is the same in the brochure. Anyways thanks to your blog this gave me an idea about congo grill aside from usual fastfood chains.

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    1. You're welcome. Hope you're child's party went well.

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  2. Oh cool! I didn't know congo grille had themed parties na rin. Pretty creative execution - good job! I don't have kids myself but I absolutely love themed parties. So I live vicariously through posts like this. :)

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    1. The jungle theme is their default theme for their kiddie parties since that's also their restaurant's theme.

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  3. This is such an amazing idea. Looks like you had an amazing time. I can imagine what sort of planning it would take to execute such a party

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  4. Teresa,

    I re-read. Oct. 18. So syempre I was planning to kid you for not even inviting... and like I said, binasa ko uli, 2009 pala nga talaga. Hihihi. So it looks to me that your birthday party went well naman talaga and yes, matrabaho lalo sa umpisa when you are looking for a venue and has to fit it within a budget. Still, being matyaga is what you are known for... at least that is my impression of you.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yup, this was the first kiddie party I planned and implemented! hahaha been doing this yearly at least once since that time. :) Like I said in my other posts, it all boils down to priorities. We can have a fun and memorable party and still not break the bank.

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  5. Super patok ng themed parties! More and more places are offering that now. As for my son's first birthday last year, we DIY'd most of it, para makatipid. Nakakapagod nga lang talaga. I love the cake! Super ganda! :)

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    1. We were blessed to find that cake available at Goldilocks. :) That time, I hardly knew other cake suppliers.

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  6. Planning a Birthday Party is just like Planning a wedding for me. It can be so stressful to think of all the details. Though much smaller, birthday parties can still blow-up your expenses if you don't watch it. If Congo Grille provides the theme you need already, I too would probably have it there. It might be too expensive if I wanted to customize everything else.

    http://thetopknotters.com

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    1. Yeah, it's like planning a small scale wedding. But the hosts should determine ahead of time when they will splurge on and what can be DIYed to save.

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  7. This reminded me of my kid's first birthday party and our theme was jungle too. So much planning goes in for a first birthday party, whew! Btw, I loved the idea of the cute return gifts.

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    1. One year olds like animals and one of the first things they learn or we teach them are animal sounds. That's why many parents choose this theme for toddlers.

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  8. Such a nice birthday party! I noticed this was written in 2009? So your kid is now 8? I feel like you should show these photos to him and blog about his reaction about his first birthday party! :)

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    1. Yes, my eldest is almost 8. He will be celebrating his 8th birthday soon and he wants the theme to be Star wars this time. :)

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  9. Belated natal day dear Gian!
    I remember organizing my god daughter first birthday too.
    It was kinda this demanding and meticulous preparation but the hard work paid seeing how happy the kids were.

    cheers! www.masterryo.com

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    1. Seeing the kids happy during a party we organize is already a reward in itself, right? :)

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  10. I love themed parties, and I can imagine how lovely this would've been for the kids. Indeed, the most important is seeing them happy and having fun. So glad everything went well :)

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  11. I haven't tried the guest book yet but that's a brilliant idea. like whenever he reaches old enough, you'll give it to him, he'll definitely appreciate it.

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  12. I also love to organize parties and attend parties. The cake is affordable ang nice pa ng design. kids surely had a blast during that day.

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  13. Hi! I'm planning a safari/jungle theme too for my son's upcoming birthday. I enjoyed looking at your pics! suits the venue!

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