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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Baby's 1st Birthday Brunch

I had a great time planning and hosting the baby's 1st birthday brunch.  I had wanted it to be a calm sophisticated affair, decorated beautifully with great company and that is exactly what it was.

The look of the rooms you are using, to me, are just as important as the event itself.  All my events are planned carefully, I attempt to stimulate all my guests senses, from the look, sound, scent, taste and feel, when creating an event no matter how small if you are going to do it, you should do it right!

The first thing people think about when throwing any event is 'how much will it cost?'  Whether you have thousands or less than one hundred, you can achieve what ever you want with a little imagination.  Do not limit yourself by your budget but set one with a small contingency so as to maintain control.  My budget for thirteen people was £150.  I was fortunate to own a lot of props and access to borrow others.  Your budget will determine whether you will need to borrow, hire or buy additional items.  My budget included food which was all fresh and cooked by myself and my husband who is fortunately the son of an ex-chef and is extremely talented in the kitchen.

The look, sound and scent
I drew on inspiration from Martha Stewarts Living, Lisa Vanderpump's Divine Addiction and various pins from Pinterest to create a visually beautiful soiree.  I wanted to radiate luxury and a little bling, how often do you throw a 1st Birthday Brunch for your last baby!

For those of you of whom have been following me for a while, you would know I love white in my home and, that most of the rooms in my home are white.  It is the easiest backdrop to decorate and easiest to adapt so each event and season can look totally different, and being a Gemini, change is as good as a rest for me.  

I began with a theme inspired by Martha Stewart, zoo animals.  This then opened up my colour palette of, whites, creams, beige, caramel and greys.  I searched the house for soft animals and was surprised how many we have, time for a clear out soon me thinks!  I washed them all on a 60 wash and tumbled dried.  Most said they were wipe clean only, but I love to break rules!!
Table set for main meal

I love flowers to be part of a table centre piece so knew I wanted to incorporate this into the design somewhere and, bearing in mind that this was a children's birthday event, balloons are a must.

To cut on costs I used items from around my house; a vase with faux hydrangeas taken from bedroom, my faux Christmas roses, the stuffed toys from the boys beds and I purchased small animals at only £1 each and gave them away at the end of the day in gift bags, similar can be purchased in .  I borrowed my mums china and silver plated cutlery and have vowed to add more to the Vera Wang Lace collection I started when I got married.  It is so important to have 'occasion' dinnerware to set your event apart from others.  If you can borrow like I did, do so or perhaps hire a set.  I am a collector of chairs so I grabbed them from around the house and the garden, they are quite mis-matched but that is sooooo in right now.  That's my excuse and I'm going to stick to it!!
My husband is always telling me off about the things I hoard, so times like this it's great to bring everything out and put to use so that I can say, 'see, I told you I needed them!'  

I sprayed all soft toys and faux flowers with a linen spritz.  On this occasion I used Jasmine and Frangipani by The Body shop, but Jo Malone and The White Company, two of my favourite stores for scents, also do beautiful fragrances that can be used.  I always like to spritz hand towels and the inside of the toilet roll when I have guests visiting, it adds to the ambiance.  

I don't know what I'd do without my IPhone and IPad, plan a play list and just press play!  My husband DJ's for fun so we have speakers wired around our house, but an IPod dock would do just as well.  You only need the music to play low in the background for atmosphere, my play list is a mix of Classical, Jazz, R&B and Pop tunes, the key is to play it loud enough to hear but low enough not to notice, practise talking whilst playing your music to determine whether your levels are too high, if you put it on a loop and, if your using your phone, place it to divert, you won't have to worry about it until the day is over.

Empty frames lying around make great props and give the room a cohesive look

My bear in a pretty vintage baby top I picked up in Notting Hill on a shopping trip  one day a few years back.

Dessert setting

I adhered to the three course rule, starting with croissants and brioche rolls with tea and coffee providing breakfast tea stewed in one pot and boiled water in another providing different herbal tea bags in lil ramekins I'd collected over time, you know the ones that come with the GU desserts, they come in handy for all sorts.
We then served a typical fry-up but grilled!  Got to stay healthy!  Turkey bacon, sausages, burgers, hash browns, chunky chips, beans, freshly baked bread, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes were all on offer and eggs cooked to specification.  The meat options can easily be substituted with veggie alternatives.  I love the Linda McCartney range, or of course you could hire a caterer.  Cooking fresh means you are taken away from your guests for some time, luckily enough we have a semi open planned kitchen/dining room so we were able to still converse and, although the room looked formal, we were all pretty relaxed.  Fresh juice was placed on the table so guests could help themselves.

For dessert we served American pancakes with fruit and vanilla ice-cream.  Try to find out what fruits are in season and use those, it is always better to source locally produced too, I love Abel and Cole who sell fruit n veg boxes delivered to your home weekly.  The produce is always organic, often locally sourced and always in season.  As there were so many melons at my supermarket melon it was; and the baby LOVES strawberries!
I had baked a small 'smash' cake for the baby to destroy and devour but he was so full I didn't bother to bring it out and my sugared animals left much to be desired!  My chocolate cake however, was very much anticipated.  Recipe coming up in a post soon.

All in all everyone left pretty stuffed!  Any food left over was devoured by the teenager and his mob a little later on in the day!!  No waste here!!

Parting gifts
I'm not a fan of the everyday plastic party bag filled with sweets and a crappy toy with cake squashed into a paper napkin.  In the past I have been known to give a packet of seeds, dried fruit and a book in a small plant pot wrapped in tissue paper tied with a bow; educational and healthy.  This time as the numbers were few, I purchased beautifully decorated paper present bags and filled with the stuffed toy on every ones plate, a packet of dried fruits, a pot of yogurt and for the baby's god sister a book, Dear Zoo, and a fruit pouch from Ellas Kitchen.  If the budget had allowed I would have given Swarovski animals and a small silver frame also.

Whether your event is for children or adults as a dinner or even just a game night, parting gift bags or baskets of some sort is a must!  From the simple to the sublime.