Saturday, February 14, 2009

How to Throw a Birthday Party

We decided that for Jackson's first birthday we would throw a "typical" Brazilian birthday party. I'd never planned a Brazilian birthday party so it was definitely a learning experience. I figured I should pass on my new found knowledge.

Before we get started, I need you to know two things:
1. This party was considered a "small party". Seriously.

2. We had help in paying for it. Some of our family members gave money to use for the party instead of toys. I felt like I needed to make that clear since some of you help pay our bills!

Oh, and I say this is a typical Brazilian birthday party, but it may be that this is just a typical party in Salvador. I don't know what they do in the rest of the country but here in Bahia, it's how we roll!

How to Throw a Birthday Party
1. Decide what size party you will be having. As I said above, our party was considered small. It helps that we don't have any family in the area. We did our best to limit our guest list or it would have easily been over a hundred people and we just couldn't afford that! As it was, we pretty much invited the whole church. It's important to know that when you give someone an invitation, you are inviting their whole immediate family (and occasionally other people). That's why it's so easy for the numbers to balloon out of control.

2. Find a party planner. In our neighborhood, there are tons of shops that handle parties. The level of involvement the planner will have is up to you. Some planners will do everything--decorations, food, furniture rental, moon bounce, etc.--and some will only do the decorations but will recommend people to handle the other stuff. We went with the latter. Each shop has party decorations to rent and party favors and themed paper goods for sale. When you go in, ask to look at their theme books. They'll have albums and albums of pictures of past parties.

3. Pick a theme. I had already picked my theme (farm) before my visit to the shop but some of the most popular ones are Hello Kitty, Winnie the Poo, Backyardigans and any sort of superhero. Once you pick a theme, you don't that that many more decisions to make regarding the decorating. The planner will have done this theme a million times and most people just go with the standard setup. Then there's me--I insisted on going with a color combination for the balloons that she had *never-in-twenty-years-of-decorating* used for a farm theme. Oh well, it seemed to work out. Your planner with go through all the possible elements and you can add or subtract at will. We were able to cut a few corners here by picking up the decorations ourselves and doing our own centerpieces.

4. Choose the food. I use the term "choose" loosely because there isn't much choice. You'll be serving sweet and savory snacks, all "finger-food". We opted to use a local bakery instead of a catering place and bought our drinks from Sam's Club. I have a party planning book that gave me an estimate of how much food we needed per person but we quickly ran out of the savory snacks. No one seemed to mind too much.

5. Enjoy! The day of the party, your responsibilities include looking beautiful and making sure the kid is in a good mood for the party. Unless, of course, you've decided to make your own centerpieces, use the bakery for your food instead of a company that would have delivered it, buy huge mylar balloons that need to be taken to the mall to fill, have the cake made by someone who lives across town and doesn't have a car, and live thousands of miles away from your family. Then your day might be a little trickier. Hopefully your teammates will show up early and help finish putting together centerpieces, glue the take-home craft, walk the dog and get the baby dressed!

So that's a party! And ours was a simple party. We could have opted to have a trampoline or a moon bounce, or even to have had it at a special "party buffet" where everything, from food to entertainment is taken care of.

Later I'll post some pictures from our actual party!

Hrm. This post was originally going to have photos but I guess I'll have to save them all for the next post.

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