Friday, November 23, 2012

Behind the Scenes of Mateo's Farm-themed First Birthday Party

My baby turned one year old last Monday, November 19, but we had his farm-themed birthday party last Sunday (November 18) so that most of our guests would be able to come.  I've been planning his party in the past months. In fact, I've been brainstorming on possible themes since he was six months old. Then, when he was around seven months old, my husband and I finally decided on the theme - farm or barnyard.  At first my husband wanted Happy Feet to be his party theme because Mateo liked to dance every time he hears music being played.  I liked it, too.  But I noticed that Mateo enjoys reading books about the farm and listening to the sound that farm animals make as well.  I also felt that planning a farm-themed party is easier; thus, I convinced my husband to choose the farm theme instead. ;-)

Shakey's Pizza, El Pueblo Branch
I started scouting for potential venues as soon as we finalized the party theme.  You may click here to read my previous post/article on what farm-themed party venues we considered.  I checked and considered more venues aside from those I mentioned in my previous article. The restaurants that have farm-themed kiddie parties are very few; so, I also checked other restaurants with a native or homey feel and look. Among them were Cabalen, Barrio Fiesta, Mang Inasal and Shakey's. I checked out Shakey's because I learned before (when I was still planning for my eldest son's first birthday party) that they had a country-themed kiddie party.  I found out a few months ago however that they no longer have that theme.  Good thing that they still allow a farm-themed kiddie party. I checked the rates for the food packages and computed the other party-related costs (i.e. cake, photo and video coverage, decors, party favors, etc.).  I was working on a tight budget because my husband challenged me to work within the same budget we had when our eldest had his first birthday party. And that was four years ago! It was already challenging then.  (Click here if you want to read how I planned my eldest son's Jungle-themed first birthday party.) Therefore, it was extra challenging now.  Well, I took the challenge since I understand that we have a bigger priority now (like spending wisely so we can move asap to our new house).  I reminded myself as well that the important thing is that we get to celebrate our second child's first birthday in a fun and memorable way.  Thus, my battlecry as I planned and prepared for Mateo's first birthday party was to keep it simple without sacrificing quality or what I considered essentials or must-haves like good food, nice cake, simple but nice farm-themed decor, farm-related give aways and program/games, photo and video coverage, etc. I think that our chosen theme - farm/barnyard - fits the criteria of simplicity very well.  We also planned for an intimate party, limiting our guests to immediate family members, close relatives, ninongs and ninangs (godparents) and their families, and a few close friends with small kids like us.  We targetted 50 to 60 guests.  We also chose the 2 to 4 pm time slot so that it will just be merienda/snack instead of dinner.  Shakey's Monster Meal Deal and their minimum requirement (P10,000 consumable for use of venue if you will not get any of their in-house party theme) for a kiddie party helped me stay within our budget.  I just ordered additional chocolate ice creams from them for the dessert.  The next step was to choose the best/right Shakey's branch for our party.
Eating time!
I read a number of reviews from various forums and decided to check out the Shakey's branch at El Pueblo at Julia Vargas avenue in Ortigas.  I liked their location because of its accessibility, especially since our guests are coming from the East, North and South.  Another thing that I liked about this branch is that they have a tv monitor that can be hooked to a laptop and used to show an audio visual presentation (avp) about Mateo during the party. That saved us a few thousand pesos for we need not pay for a (lcd) projector.  On top of that, they only required P2,000 reservation fee to reserve our chosen date.

Decors and Party Favors
I wanted to go the DIY route initially for all the decors.  I was planning to make the backdrop and centerpieces myself.  I even considered buying generic balloons and inflate them at the venue using my friend's pump.  But I got busy with a number of projects (writing/book and human resource projects) in the past months so my husband suggested that we just have a tarpaulin with a farm design printed.  I also realized that there is much to be prepared and done even on the day of the party since we did not get a party planner to help us.  It was a big blessing that Shakey's referred one of their balloon supppliers to me and I found out that they also print tarpaulins. I just gave them a farm photo/image that I liked, a photo of Mateo pretending to be a farmer harvesting vegetables, and showed them how I want the the photos put together.  I ordered 50 balloons from them (that is their minimum order). We chose four colors - red, blue, white and yellow. Shakey's assured me that they will assign some of their staff to help out in putting up the decors and setting up the place.

Our birthday boy with the cake and loot bags table and backdrop behind him.
So, I hunted for a ready-made birthday banner. Good thing I found a farm-themed birthday banner at a Japan Surplus store in a mall near our place.  It was also in the same store that I bought the farm-themed paper plates, cups, party hats, plastic loot bags, and invitations. I also bought a "birthday boy" ribbon there for Mateo to wear on the day of his party. I was very happy that I found what I was looking for and that they fit my budget. :)

The farm-themed paper plates, cups and party hats we used
lined up near the crafts table and registration table.
I used farm-themed plastic toys as part of the decor. Some of them anyway were also prizes and props for the games. I also used real mangoes as prize for one of the games.
Later on, I realized Shakey's was indeed perfect for our farm-themed party because I was able to borrow baskets from them where I placed the game prizes.

Then, we brought my eldest son's cow seat (a gift to him during his first birthday) as well. It was used by Mateo as his seat and doubled as decor. 

Mateo on his big brother's cow seat.
Since red is one of our party colors, I thought of using red apples for our table centerpieces. Then, to further reinforce the farm theme, I made farm animal cut outs with barbeque sticks and stuck them to the red apples. 

One of our centerpieces, cow cut-out stuck to a bbq stick and red apple.
These centerpieces were connected to the registration process of our guests. At the registration table, each family/guest is to pick a small piece of paper with a farm animal's sound printed on it. That will help them find their table.

For example, a family got a piece of paper with the word quack printed on it. That means, they will be seated at the table with a duck centerpiece. They will also receive a duck coloring page that their family will color and use to write their greetings for our birthday boy.  I've decided to print various farm coloring pages for the different farm animals we used as centerpieces.  We actually had 12 tables and we used 6 kinds of animals (duck, cow, pig, rooster, horse, sheep).  

Here is the link to one of the websites where I got some of the coloring pages we used.

The guests from the horse table with their matching horse coloring page/greeting page.

My mom and I made 2 sets of animal cut outs for the centerpieces.  I got this inspiration from some of the blogs I read as I searched the internet for ideas for a farm-themed birthday party. Click here, here and here to see some of them.
I wanted to design and make my own party invitations but I was pressed for time and I realized that I will most likely send email invites to our guests so I decided to simply personalize our farm-themed store-bought invite a bit. Then, I emailed it to our guests. Here's how it looked.
Originally, I was thinking of using smaller versions of farm animal cut outs for the kids' name tags but I realized that cutting these shapes took much of our time so I asked my husband to print rectangular name tags instead on sticker paper with some gingham design. Then, we can just write the names of the kids using pentel pen when they arrive at the registration table.
Next, I mindstormed on potential give-aways and loot bag fillers. Since, our family loved books including Mateo, I decided to give a farm book to each kid in the party. Some of the farm books we gave away were the farm-related stories from the Phonics-in-Reading Series.  You may click here to read my review of this fantastic books. 

The others were board books of farm-related nursery rhymes and about tractors. 

I also looked for food products that suited our farm theme and our budget for loot bags. :)  Here's what I ended up buying for the give-aways: Moo chocolate drink, Milky Knots pretsels, fruit flavored jellies, Milkita lollipops, Fruitees mango-flavored cookies and marshmallows.   


Cake, cup cakes and mini cupcakes
The cake is usually the centerpiece  or main decor in a kiddie party so I invested time looking at pictures of various cakes in the internet of nice farm-themed cakes.  I found lots of beautiful cakes! Then, I took note of what I wanted to see in Mateo's birthday cake based on my concept for his party. Then, I communicated these to my friend, Lala, (who happens to be my eldest son's godmother or ninang) who is making the cake for Mateo's party. First, there has to be a red barn, some fences, a number one candle, some farm animals and some vegetables.  I specified what animals I wanted to see on the cake as well as the cup cakes.  I told her that the same farm animals used as table centerpieces should be in the cupcakes.   I asked her to make 12 cup cakes with farm animal faces and 20 mini cup cakes that look like a vegetable garden.  Take a look at her wonderful creations! (You may click her name to contact her if you're interested to get her for your cake and cup cake needs.)

Mateo's farm-inspired first birthday cake.

Mateo's farm animal cup cakes.
Mateo's vegetable garden mini cup cakes.

She's a big blessing to us because not only did she give me a discount on the cakes, cup cakes and mini cupcakes, she also helped me set up the cake and loot bags table on the day of the party while I was busy setting up the other tables like the craft table and registration table.
Program and Prizes
We planned for a simple program since we were only given two hours for the use of the party venue.  We did not get a host or entertainer anymore. Just like in my eldest son's first birthday party and previous birthday parties, I acted as host and game facilitator. :) My husband and eldest son, Yanthy, provided the entertainment. :)
After the registration where the guests finds out their table assignment, get their coloring pages which will eventually become part of Mateo's scrapbook and guest book, and kids get their nametags, the kids and parents can make some crafts while waiting for the other guests and the games to start.

That's me giving out a name tag at the registration table.
Yanthy making a cow balloon.
I prepared the materials in a table and printed an instruction sheet. With some help from my eldest son and our reliable maid, we taught the kids and their parents how to make cow and pig balloons. This was one of our previous homeschool activities and I thought that it's appropriate for Mateo's farm-themed party.  You may click here to see how to make this craft. One thing we did differently during Mateo's party was to use googley eyes instead of simply drawing eyes on the balloons using pentel pens.

You may also print farm-themed mazes for kids to answer while waiting for more guests to arrive. Here are two mazes I found that you might want to use -- cow maze and duck maze.

I planned for four games but we only had three games during the actual party due to time constraints.

The first game was to help Farmer Mateo gather his farm animals back to his red barn. I made two red barns from red cartolina for this game and put some strips of bond paper for the white doors and outline.  I printed pictures of the same farm animals we had for our table centerpieces in smaller versions. With the help of one of Shakey's staff, we stuck them on the walls, balloons, tables and chairs in the party venue using masking tape. 

During the game, the kids were instructed to find these animals and stick them to the red barn given to their group.  The kids were grouped according to gender during the party - boys versus girls. :) They were told that the group who can gather the most number of farm animals in their red barn wins the game. The kids had fun looking for the farm animals! Even their parents helped search for Mateo's farm animals to help their kids. ;-)  The girls won the game. They were given plastic animals as prizes and egg-shaped chocolates. The boys got Egg Bites milk cookies as consolation prize.


The second game was Mateo Went to the Farm. We had the same groupings to save on time. I told the kids that Farmer Mateo needs their help in harvesting his fruits and vegetables and that they need to get as many as they can but they need to put on some things. I asked the kids to line up again while my husband put some chairs where they can go around.  Before the party started, I already set up the plastic toys (fruits and vegetables) in the cover of our native basket/hamper, the red and blue bandanas and the two plastic baskets for the two teams. Actually, some of the kids started playing with the plastic toy fruits and vegetables even before we had the program. :) 

The kids went to the farm with their farmer hats, bandana and baskets.

Farmer Yanthy
helping Mateo harvest.
I explained to the kids that they need to first wear a native hat, tie a bandana around their neck and hold their plastic basket before going around the chairs, pick up or harvest some fruits and veggies in front before going back to their line and passing their props to the next kid in their group.  I asked one parent per group to help the kids out.  The kids and parents had a blast once more! :) This time, the boys won.  They got real ripe mangoes for their prize while the girls got mango-flavored cookies as consolation prize.

The girls counting the fruits and vegetables they
harvested from Mateo's farm.

Prizes for game Mateo Went to the Farm.
The third game was basically Moo-sical chairs or I called it Mateo's animal sounds barn dance. It's like the game Trip to Jerusalem with a lot of twists since it's a farm/baryard party. The first twist is that  the game will be played by  kid and parent pairs.  The second twist is that the kids will sit on their parent's lap when the music stops. The third twist is that there are enough chairs for the participants.  The chairs used in the game had strips of paper with animal sounds on them. To determine which pair will be eliminated from the game, I or my eldest son picked a piece of paper with animal sounds from an envelop.  The pair sitting on the chair with the same animal sound as in the piece of paper we picked will be eliminated.  This goes on until there's only one kid and parent pair left.  The last twist is that we used barn dance music and the kids and parents who joined the game will have to dance the heel and toe polka or barn dance while going around the chairs. Since not everyone are familiar with the barn dance steps, I demonstrated or taught them how. My eldest son helped me by being my partner.

Barndance: heel and toe polka with my eldest son as my partner.

My husband operated the laptop and the sound system.  Here's the link to the barn dance music we used.  The dance is very easy and even our birthday boy learned it days before his party.  The winning pair was Daddy Joel and Zia.  Zia got a small piggy bank and Daddy Joel got a nursery rhyme book.  Consolation prizes were given to the rest of the players.

The winning pair for the moo-sical chairs game.
The next part of the program was a farm song led by my husband, George, and my eldest son, Yanthy.  They modified the song Old MacDonald a bit and changed it to O Mateo had a farm... My husband prepared a Power Point presentation for the modified lyrics which I showed while he and our son sang and played their guitars in front.  Yanthy sang his heart out to the delight of our guests. :)
Then, they led in singing the birthday song for Mateo before the traditional blowing of candle on cake. This was followed by merienda/eating time.  The kids were served by the Shakey's staff while the adults and older kids lined up at the buffet table at the back.

My husband and our eldest son leading the song O Mateo had a Farm.
Yanthy during his special song
number for Mateo.
While our guests were enjoying their food, the avp made by my brother-in-law Bobby (the man behind Irax Videography) for Mateo was shown.  It was a very nice audio visual presentation!  He also made the avp for our eldest son's first birthday party four years ago.  You may contact him here if you are interested to get his services.
The kids had some unstructured play while the the adults were eating before my eldest son remembered that he prepared a special song number for his baby brother. :)  He actually modified the song This Little Piggy months ago into This Little Baby and he loved singing it to his baby brother at home. He also volunteered to sing it at Mateo's birthday party, which he did but sang only half of it during the party because he saw that ice cream was already being served.
We planned for another game called Farm Genio (suggested by my good friend Raquel and one of Mateo's godparents) supposedly for couples; but there was no more time and one of Shakeys staff already reminded me that our two hours is almost finished. Anyway, it's similar to the Pinoy Genio game popularized by a local noontime tv show except that the words to be guessed are all about things that one sees in the farm. I'm sure our guests would love that game too if we still had time to play it.
As soon as I finished most of my food, I started calling on some of our guests per table to join us in front for some picture-taking with the birthday boy. After our picture per family was taken, I gave the kids their loot bags and give aways and thank their family for coming to Mateo's party.
Photo and Video Coverage
One of my essentials for Mateo's first birthday party was to get the services of a professional photographer and videographer to capture this memorable and once in a lifetime event. Thankfully, I found the perfect provider through one of the articles posted at Smart Parenting Online.  I got the P5,000 photo and video package of JV All Events then my husband and I bought a group deal voucher for the photo album. 
Costumes and Birthday Outfit
Farmer Mateo, the birthday boy.
To match our farm theme, we encouraged our guests to dress in plaids and denims.  We dressed in denims and plaid polos as well.  We found the perfect outfit for our birthday boy at SM department store one evening.  We bought him two plaid polo shirts - one from Grizzly and another from Crib Couture.  We found the perfect denim pants for him from Snoopy and the matching blue baby shoes from Elle, all from SM Department store. It was one blessed day for our very busy family because we found all the things we were looking for in one store.  That saved us a lot of time.

Clap, clap, clap!
I bought my plaid polo shirt from the department store of a nearby mall (Walter Mart) two days before the party.  My husband found and bought his plaid polo shirt from SM Department store as well.
I asked our maid to buy the red and blue bandanas and farm/straw hats from Baclaran.
The days, weeks and months leading to Mateo's first birthday party were very busy days for our family, especially me. It was stressful and tiring but all these were eventaully replaced with joy and thanksgiving as soon as I saw the fruits of our labor and the happy faces of our guests and of Mateo of course. 

I praise and thank God for the abundance of grace He has poured on me and my family members which enabled us to organize Mateo's party. I thank God for the angels He sent our way like my mom, my brother-in-law Bobby, my friends Lala and Raquel (who gave me many helpful suggestions for the party) and all our party suppliers (Dona of Dona's Balloons, Jun of JV All Events, and Shakey's).  My husband and I were so happy that we were able to have a fun and memorable first birthday celebration for Mateo and stick to our budget. :) Truly, with God on our side and with a lot of creativity and resourcefulness, nothing is impossible!
Happy 1st Birthday, Mateo! 


  1. I am wondering for some stunning party venues in los angeles for my son’s birthday. Please advise the best and reasonable event venues.

  2. Where did you get the lootbags po? and party supplies? :)

    1. We got the loot bags and other party supplies from a Japanese store at Walter Mart in Sucat.

  3. There are some of the general points that help you plan and organize a super hit birthday party.

  4. This is why BLOG is more important than TV because once written and published, and for as long as the blog is maintained, the post is here for all the world to see. Imagine, this post was written 4 years ago.

    So much has changed by then, and what Shakeys is offering today must not be the same as before. BUT the principle you shared remains - specifically, on planning, selecting and finally decorating. I like how you used apple as centerpiece too and it fits the theme you wanted perfectly. Pwede naman kasing maging matipid and yet creative na it is actually nice.

    1. Yup, it takes a lot of creativity and planning to save and stil have a nice and memorable party. :) Luckily for those who want to have their parties at Shakey's, the Monster Deal is still one of their group meals. :)

  5. Awesome theme! It always reminds me of Woody from Toy Story. Great that you're able to save some cash to make this possible. Happy birthday Mateo!

  6. Happy Birthday Mateo!! I think he really enjoyed his birthday party. Kuddos to you Ms. Teresa.

    1. It wasn't only him who enjoyed the party. Even the kids and the parents enjoyed the activities and games! :) It gave the parents a chance to play and dance with their kids! Even my eldest had fun joining the games and performing by playing his guitar. :)

  7. Wow mommy, this is super brilliant! Grabe I am amazed at how you put everything together! Plus I see many inexpensive stuff here too, like milky knots and frootees! Only means na di dapat mahal para maging creative! Really awesome! Hats off! :)

  8. This blog post is enough to cherish such great birthday celebration. Mateo would be happy to read it soon. Haha. I love the farm themed and the convenience of venue. Each food and props around are perfect to attract kids and enjoy the celebration

  9. Hihi. So cute. Love the name of your little man. Matteo. When the boys were little pa, I would read to them the Oh Mateo book series. Nway, I love the barn theme. So lovely. And thumbs up kay Shakeys for helping you with the food preparation and program.

  10. Happy birthday Mateo! The birthday boy is absolutely adorable. Also, how cute are the cupcakes?
    It looks like you had a wonderful time! :)

  11. What a timely post. I had just attended a first birthday party too a while ago. I can see your hard work and creativity in organizing this party. Everything is on point from the dress code, the giveaways the games and even to the performances. Anyway, happy birthday to Mateo :) - Me-An Clemente of

  12. Mateo is so adorable! Happy Birthday to him! I wish hime a happy, healthy life full of life and prosperity!

  13. I love the farm themed birthday cake, your children are so adorable, what a beautiful birthday and gift to give your children!

  14. I love the apple accent on the tables with cutout farm animals :) super detailed and inisip mabuti. Hands down ako!

  15. This is very nice post,thanks for sharing your information with us,it was helpfull to me.

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