Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY!  Today we have a treat for you!

Do you remember Catherine from Smart Party Planning?  My totally awesome blogging buddy who gave me my first guest post opportunity?  Well, today she is making her debut HERE! I’m excited for her to be here and hope we all can give her a warm Appletini welcome.  Let’s read on, learn a few party planning tips and leave her some love!

xx Heather

Without further ado, HERRRRRRRE’S Catherine….

How many times have you heard the saying “a baby doesn’t come with a manual”. This is SO true!! Amongst all the excitement of preparing for a baby, there is also the anxiousness about what kind of parent you will be and …….will you be any good at it! Added to that every day anxiety, there then seems to be this HUGE pressure to suddenly be ultra creative, a cooking wiz and a party planning guru. All mums are supposed to be on interest, have a huge array or arts and crafts ideas for their kids and their birthday parties….well….these definitely have to be of Martha Stewart standard!! Does that sound familiar to you? The reality is we are not all super mums that suddenly inherit all these magical gifts when we give birth, and you know what….that is perfectly ok! The last thing you need as a parent is stressing about whether you can match up to the ultra creative mummy down the road that has been planning their child’s first birthday before they were even conceived. Let’s look at three parties  that generally happen in the first year of becoming a new mum: a baby shower, a Christening and the first birthday. These parties CAN be special occasions without creating a lot of stress and fuss.

BABY SHOWER:
So you are just about to pop and your girlfriends want to have a baby shower. If you are lucky, one of your girlfriends will offer to hold this for you….but that isn’t always the case, so you want to have something fun, visually appealing, but easy to organize.  One of the great things about baby showers is that they generally have games. You can use these games to form part of the decorations, making life a lot easier for yourself! Having games on display, such as wishes for the baby, and guess the baby due date will not only look great, but also give an activity for your guests to enjoy. An easy decoration/activity is to have a teddy bear available for signing. Teddy bears are perfect for baby shower, christenings and first birthday’s and are incredibly easy to organize. Remember to also have party favors on display. It is a shame to have these hiding away, so why not make a feature of them. A great way to brighten up food tables is to have party printables. You don’t need to worry about designing these, as you can obtain many sets on the internet….Etsy is a great place to have a browse. All you need to do is print and cut….so incredibly easy! For example, the printables from this baby shower are all available for free download here. As for other decorations, tissue paper pom poms are so popular at the moment. They make a dramatic statement, are easy to do, and did I mention….cheap? Team the pom poms with some crepe streamers and you are done. Your guests will think that you have become ultra creative……but it’s our secret!!

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The food doesn’t have to be perfect and baked by professionals (which will also cost you a lot of money). If you have some friends that like to bake, why  not ask them to do some for you. The food table doesn’t have to be massive either….you are not providing a dinner, rather just some snacks for the girls to graze on over the course of the party. Even lollies displayed in a gorgeous apothecary jar will be stunning. This is simple and best of all…it takes the time of opening a packet!

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CHRISTENING:
The first 6  months or so is a great time to hold a christening or baptism and is quite often the first party that you will hold for your child. This party is also generally held after a church service giving even less time to prepare for the event. This timing pressure can however be overcome. Where possible prepare as much as you can the day before such as laying out the furniture and organising the decorations. Awesome decorations when you don’t have much time to arrange them on the day are helium balloons. You can pick them up the day before (but be sure to ask for gel to be inserted to keep them inflated for longer). Arrange the balloons on some stands and they add instant wow factor. On the day of the party, all you need to do is place the balloon stand in its position – easy!

Another simple yet effective decoration idea is to use sand in large glasses with a candle. Candles are beautiful for a Christening, and add a touch of class to any table display. Catering can be an issue because you don’t want to set all the food out and then head out the house for a few hours. A great idea I used for my daughter’s blessing day was to purchase pre-made rolls from Subway. We literally picked them up after the church service and made a wonderfully filling lunch for everyone. Team this with some more …..dare I say it…packet lollies….add a cake for the wow factor and your party is ready to rock and roll!

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1ST BIRTHDAY PARTY
At the end of the year you can pat yourself on the back that you have made it to your child’s first birthday! There is often the pressure for this birthday to be the biggest and best that the child will have, which is strange really considering they won’t even remember it! It is definitely a party more for the parents than the child. One of the main things people love to see at a first birthday is the cake! This can either be professionally made or home-made, so do whatever suits your budget and your baking skills. There is no right or wrong here and the cake you choose WILL be special, because it is your child’s first one!

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Choose a theme that suits your little one and plan the party around this. It could simply be a something they like to watch on the television, or their favourite animal at the time. If you feel stuck for ideas, pick a dominant colour and use this in all your decorations. Once again the easiest way to add dimension to your party decoration is by using printables and balloons. Neither of which will set you back financially and both can be used for the novice in the creative department! You will generally find that if you keep this simple, the party will be a huge success and certainly one to be remembered.

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So can you see how fantastic parties can be created even if you are not overly skilled with a creative gene or have lots of money to spend? Granted, it might not make the cover of a glossy party magazine, but it WILL be special and your friends and family will love it. Once you take off the pressure to make these parties perfect, you will be surprised at just how perfect it actually will be! These occasions are not about having the best decorations or spending a fortune on a fabulous cake. They are about celebrating with your little one and making them feel special. Keep it simple and watch what unfolds….enjoy the ride!

[message type=”custom”] NewProfilePicAUTHOR BIO: Catherine Holt is the founder of  Smart Party Planning.  She is a stay at home mum with a passion for celebrating life’s little moments, with creative yet budget friendly ideas. Catherine often has a camera in hand capturing everyday events and is a self obsessed chocoholic! She loves connecting with other mums on the blog and sharing party planning tips and tricks. Get all the answers to every aspect of party planning with her eBook today! If you want to hold a party with that ‘wow’ factor and have it tailored to the person you’re holding it for then this eBook is for you. Let Catherine take the stress and headache out of organizing your next party or event.
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