a first birthday party report (or, the pros and cons of slow cooker hot chocolate)


December 18, 2012 by Ellen V

Jane’s first birthday party was a magical success, complete with lots of friends and their children filling our tiny house, a great mix of Christmas and birthday decorations, sweets and soups, slow cooker hot chocolate, and (what Milwaukee party would be complete without it?) local beer for the over 21 crowd.
The actual birthday is still a few days away, but we wanted to party on a day that we could devote to celebrating a year of baby ups and downs, milestones, and oncoming toddlerhood. We were hoping Mama and Papa V could join us, but alas, they had to cancel their trip last minute. We tried to celebrate a little extra for them, though! I’ll hit the highlights:

  • Jane loved, loved, loved the balloons I blew up for her. I finally popped them two days later because I just couldn’t take the squeak anymore!
  • The eight children in the house ranged in age from 5 months to 4.5 years, and they made everything so lively and fun. I never want to have a gathering without children again! (Well, that might be stretching it a bit.)
  • We committed what I know is a etiquette faux pas by asking folks to please leave the gifts at home. Our darling child wants for nothing, and she certainly doesn’t know what she’s getting (or not getting, as the case may be). Most people respected our request, and we were able to open the gifts from the few that brought them after the party. We did like the gifts, by the way, but we are also thankful we didn’t have 10 more!
  • We served two different soups that Eric whipped up alongside two different homemade breads. Both were amazing. One was from this cookbook. Awesome investment. You should buy it.
  • I made cupcakes (from a box!), homemade microwave caramels, and snowflake sugar cookies for our Winter Onederland. Judging from the lack of leftovers, I think most had their fill.
  • I whipped up a slow cooker hot chocolate, a Pinterest find. This was DELICIOUS, though I put way more milk in than called for and it was still a little too sweet–my only complaint. It was a good alternative to beer or apple juice, our other choices, and added to the cozy atmosphere, I’d like to think. Also, my biggest fear about making it was that it would gum up my slow cooker for the rest of my life. Surprisingly, it cleaned up very easily after a little soak. I’d definitely make it again for a special winter treat!
  • We kept the decor minimal. While I did call it my Winter Onederland party because it was just too cute to pass up, we really didn’t do the theme thing. Eric and I made paper snowflakes with leftover scrapbook paper from a long ago craft project and hung them in our front windows. We don’t have lights outside, and we’ve decided they make a good enough (and ecofriendly) alternative to leave up for a little while. I dug up some pink and blue decorations from baby showers of the past to add to our Advent/Christmas stuff. Jane’s birthday will always be tied up with the holidays. I figure we may as well embrace it!
  • We had zero agenda other than a cake smash, so it really was a lovely opportunity to see friends and just celebrate my little girl. No games, no crafts, no favors, no stress.

In the end, I think we were all three happy with the afternoon. Jane loved playing with the kids, smashing a bit of cake and chasing balloons. Eric loved having an excuse to pick up some growlers of great local beer, catching up with friends, and giving some attention to some cleaning that hadn’t been done in far too long. And I loved having a full house of happy people, celebrating a year of parenthood, and giving my child a wonderful afternoon instead of a gift. I hope there are many wonderful celebrations like this in our family’s future.


3 thoughts on “a first birthday party report (or, the pros and cons of slow cooker hot chocolate)

  1. LK says:

    I almost feel like I was there!

  2. jennifer says:

    I am dumb. I don’t remember reading no gifts. SO glad she actually likes the drum!

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