Spanish Mission First Birthday Party Part 1: The Planning

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Hi everyone! I’m excited to finally share the details of Baby D’s first birthday party with you. There are so many details, tips and stories I’d like to share, so this is going to be a two part post.

For Part 1, I’ll share my design inspirations and how I chose my venue and the vendors. I’ll also include some tips and tricks I’ve discovered while planning the party without a party planner.

It is my hope that by the end of the two-part post, you’ll have a better idea of the cultural meaning behind this important milestone and how you can better plan your own child’s birthday or any family event.

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The meaning of a Korean first birthday

Korean first birthdays (also known as dohl or dol) are a huge family event similar to Sweet Sixteen or Quinceañera. In the old days many babies didn’t survive past their first birthday due to poor health, disease and lack of resources. Therefore, this is a way modern day Koreans celebrate a baby’s most important milestone by presenting their one year old to their beloved family and friends in a meaningful and celebratory gathering.

Parents often hire event planners, photographers, bakers, calligraphers and florists to create a dream event for their child. Fortunately, it’s also customary for the guests to bring cash gifts to the event, which helps to pay for some of the cost. ?

The Korean first birthday is a cultural celebration that not only celebrates the baby’s birth but also the parents’ efforts during the toughest year of a child’s life. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and close friends gather to bless the child with well-wishes, gifts and gold while the parents serve them with great food and entertainment.

Overall, this is a cultural celebration that not only celebrates the baby’s birth but also the parents’ efforts during the toughest year of a child’s life- the first year. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and close friends gather to bless the child with well-wishes, gifts and gold while the parents serve them with great food and entertainment. It’s an important and meaningful celebration in the Korean culture and I love to share design inspirations on this blog in an ongoing First Birthday series.

Design Inspirations

Style: Spanish, mission, vintage, bohemian, rustic, gender neutral 

When I visited San Juan Capistrano with my family for my daughter’s 4th grade mission project, I was blown away by its architectural details and historic beauty. I’ve been to several missions as a child but re-visiting them as an adult took on a whole new meaning. I was so inspired I knew I wanted to plan Baby D’s birthday party around the beauty and details of old Spanish missions.

Step 1: Browse through Pinterest and create your own board

At least 6 months prior to the event

Begin gathering party inspirations as soon as possible. Make it meaningful for you and your family.

You can find tons of party design inspirations on my Pinterest page. Be sure you’re pinning with purpose-  avoid over-pinning that can confuse you even more. Think about one or two themes you like and stick with a certain color scheme. Doing so will save time and avoid mental clutter.

Step 2: Figure out whether you want to hire a planner or do it yourself

Hire a planner if

  • you’re not very creative and need help coming up with ideas
  • you’re not very organized and need help with execution and organization of details
  • you want to avoid feeling stressed out and just want to enjoy the event
  • your venue does not come with coordinators and you need help on the day of
  • your budget allows it

Do it yourself if

  • you’re creative and enjoy party planning
  • you can handle all the hiring and organization yourself
  • your venue comes with coordinators
  • you’re good with DIY projects
  • you want to save money

Step 3: Create a moodboard

Whether you’re planning your own party or hiring a planner, it’s imperative to create a moodboard so you can begin to visualize the details of the party.

You can skip this step and simply create your own Pinterest board, but I find that having my own moodboard helps when communicating my vision to the vendors.

Use a Pinterest or moodboard to communicate your vision with the vendors.

You can see more first birthday inspirations here.

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I wanted to incorporate dark wood, lots of greenery with Spanish tile accents and lace

If you’re like me and you know what you like but have trouble visualizing the details together, it really helps to create a moodboard. You can create one by using Photoshop or using services like Picmonkey or Canva. You can also use those simple collage apps on your phone.

To get the most out of your moodboard be sure to

  • Create a color palette
  • Narrow down what you like and don’t like
  • Choose no more than 1-2 design for cake and flowers
  • Think about all the details like flowers, invitation, small accessories, linen, dress, etc

Step 4: Invitations

About 2-3 months prior to the event

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I used a two-part invitation for his birthday. First, I used an online invitation from Paperless Post to see how many people can attend. I did this about two months prior to the event. Once I received the preliminary RSVP’s, I then sent out these fiesta themed paper invitations from Minted. This way you’re keeping the cost low for actual print invitations that are more expensive than online ones.

Use a two-part invitation system to save money on paper invitations. Or you can skip paper invitations altogether and just use online instead. I love using Paperless Post for its elegant themes.

Venue: The Hacienda

Book as soon as possible (at least 6 months prior)

When I came across The Hacienda in Orange County, it was love at first sight! The Hacienda is a popular venue for weddings and other special events located in Santa Ana. The entire restaurant is beautiful and filled with details and corners that make you feel like you’re in a lush romantic and historic garden.

There are several different areas in this restaurant where you can host the event, so if you’re a So. Cal resident looking for a nice venue, this is a must see. The venue comes with its own coordinators, full set of restaurant quality linen, a hosted bar (extra cost) and great Mexican food with a wide selection of meats, pastas and sides.

Did I mention they also offer free flowing champagne, mimosa and apple cider for all the guests in the included cost? Yes please!

One regret is that The Hacienda doesn’t provide a kids menu and you have to pay full price for all the guests over age 3.

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Note the architectural details of the door, the lush greenery, twinkling lights and wooden pillars. It was the perfect place to create my vision.

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Head table

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There are many traditional aspects to a Korean birthday (dol or dohl) and one of the focal point of this event is the head table.

Traditionally the head table contains items that signify various aspects of a child’s life. For example, a ball of yarn signifies long life, white rice cake signifies purity, assorted fruits signify abundance + fertility, and gold signifies wealth.

Traditionally the head table contains items that signify various aspects of a child’s life. For example, a ball of yarn signifies long life, white rice cake signifies purity, assorted fruits signify abundance + fertility, and gold signifies wealth.

Nowadays parents modernize the tradition by placing various desserts on the table. I replaced the traditional white rice cake with a three-tier white lace cake and assorted fruits with fruit pastries. I also used elements of gold in the name sign and cake toppers to represent wealth.

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As you can see, I kept the colors simple so it doesn’t compete with the wood, greenery and blue accents.

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I love the way the flowers and desserts turned out. Hannah from Milieu florals did an amazing job creating the arch design + flower vases and Cindy from Sweetleemade created beautiful and delicious desserts that complement the theme such as macarons with handpainted spanish tiles, lace cookies and succulent cupcakes.

This is my personal recommendation, but I love mixing masculine and feminine elements. For example, the venue was more masculine with dark wood and all the greens, so I added feminine texture and colors such as lace with lots of white with just a touch of light pink and gray.

There are many more details I’d like to share but for the sake of the length of this post, I’ll include more in Part 2. Meanwhile, here are some things to keep in mind when planning your next party and hiring vendors.

Tips on party planning and hiring vendors

  1. Start gathering inspirations as soon as possible.
  2. Find and secure location and date first.
  3. Set a budget. Think about where to spend, where to save. (I spent most on flowers, photography and desserts, then DIY’d the rest of the details to cut cost.)
  4. Try to make the theme/colors work with, not against the venue.
  5. Use Pinterest and collage apps to help you visualize the details.
  6. Stick to a color palette that speaks to you. I recommend no more than 4-5 colors.
  7. Make it meaningful. Don’t just copy what you like on Pinterest, instead choose theme and colors that are meaningful to YOU.
  8. Use a moodboard to communicate with the vendors.
  9. Allow vendors to use their talents and experience to offer suggestions.
  10. Remember that party planning is a collaborative effort. Avoid micromanaging every detail because this limits creativity for all parties involved.
  11. Utilize Instagram to find vendors. It’s much easier than using Google search.

Ok, that’s it for this post. I’ll be back with more details and inspirations in part 2. Stay tuned!

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Do you have any tips for party planning? Which idea did you find most helpful? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT PART TWO OF HIS BIRTHDAY!

Please pin the image below if you enjoyed this post. Thank you for your love and support!

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Photography by Youkeun Photography

Florals by Milieu Florals

Desserts by Sweetleemade

Cake toppers by Letters To You

Venue The Hacienda 

 

Angela
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3 thoughts on “Spanish Mission First Birthday Party Part 1: The Planning

  1. Nicole

    When I saw this on FB I was blown away Angela and now to see all the details, you did an amazing job! I love the little cacti cupcakes and the gold signs. Thanks for the tips on party planning too!

    xo, Nicole

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