This is PART TWO of Baby D’s birthday post. Please read part one first if you have not done so already.
Hi everyone! Today I want to share PART 2 of Baby D’s First birthday series. If you read PART ONE, you already know that my design was inspired by our day trip to San Juan Capistrano mission. After some research, I decided to forgo hiring a party planner and design the party myself. It certainly is a lot more work without a planner and the planning and execution can be stressful at times. But if you’re a creative type who enjoys event planning like myself, you can plan a successful party with the help of vendors.
For more party planning tips, be sure to read PART 1.
As you can see from the photos below, The Hacienda has an Old Spanish mission feel with authentic details like dark wood, tons of natural greenery (they look so lush and pretty that it almost looks fake) and old sculptures like cherubim angels and twinkling lights.
I had a moderate budget for this event which meant I had to prioritize my needs vs. wants and decide where to spend and where to save. Baby D is most likely my last child so I wanted to make sure it was a special event for the entire family without overspending. As a third time mom I know how special dol is but I also know that it’s possible to celebrate it without spending a fortune.
Most of my budget went towards food, flowers, photography and desserts and I saved a lot of money on the details by making them myself. It took some time to brainstorm all the ideas but I liked the fact that I didn’t spend too much money on things that will only be used for the day.
Thanks to the historic venue and beautiful floral decor the party looks fancy but it was actually a simple and intimate event. I kept things minimal and affordable. We didn’t hire a MC and did all the hosting ourselves.
I hope this post inspires ideas for your next family event and that you become more familiar with the cultural significance behind this important Korean celebration.
1. Venue: The Hacienda
Located in Santa Ana, CA, this is a popular venue for weddings and other private events. All linen are included and the Mexican style buffet includes a variety of meats and delicious sides. I also like that the venue comes with in-house coordinators and that the buffet includes free flowing champagne, mimosa and sparkling apple cider for kids.
The coordinators were very helpful with the entire process from planning to execution. They put together a detailed table layout that I emailed the vendors. They also helped with setting up on the day of the party which made preparation much smoother. Overall I was very pleased with their food selections, pricing and service.
Unfortunately they don’t offer a kids’ menu so you have to pay full price for all kids over 3.
Blue Spanish tile + lace motif
My talented sister-in-law designed the printables for the party. I downloaded the files and printed them out at a local Staples on cardstock paper.
Printing everything cost about $100 which was cost-effective but I had to cut each paper one by one because Staples charged $3 per cut and didn’t have a heavy duty machine. This took hours of my time so I would recommend you to use a different store like Fedex Kinko’s for your own printing needs.
3. Sign-In Table
I didn’t want to spend too much money on the sign-in table so I made most decorative items myself.
I made this baby milestone collage board using an empty frame and 5×5 prints from Parabo Press. The entire project cost me less than $30. You can see the detailed tutorial here.
DIY Doljabi Containers from Michaels
(About $1 each container. I used 6 containers and 2 rolls of lace ribbon)
I didn’t want to spend too much money and time on the doljabi containers so I DIY’d this simple glass container I bought from Michael’s.
To make this you simply wrap the container with any lace ribbon of your choice and secure the tag onto the lace using a glue gun. They’re super easy and affordable to make!
I also displayed a sign with each item and the meaning for non-Korean guests.
Style: Rustic, vintage, floral, gender-neutral, Spanish, mission, old world
As you can see from the decor, I’m a huge fan of rustic and natural decor with authentic elements. When I say authentic, I mean decorative elements that are real, aged and lived-in. Just look at the texture of aged wood and pillars- no rented furniture can produce the same effect!
The headtable is the focal point of a Korean birthday party and it contains many symbolic elements. 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 faux 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.
The venue emanates a masculine vibe with all the dark wood and greenery so I wanted to bring in some feminine elements like white lace and Spanish tile. We kept the cakes simple so the rest of the desserts can pop.
Notice how the lace table cloth, succulent cupcakes, subtle pinks in the florals and fruit tarts all come together to create the ultimate Spanish Mission table. I also love that it’s gender neutral.
5. Entertainment: Silhouette Artist, Nancie Marie
Korean first birthdays typically include some form of entertainment for the guests. This includes caricature artists, balloon artists, magic shows, bubble shows, etc. I decided to hire a silhouette artist to stay consistent with the Spanish theme.
The artist Nancie Marie did an amazing job with all the silhouettes. I was worried not everyone will get a chance to get one but she was able to finish all the kids and many of the parents in the allotted 2.5 hours. It was a huge hit at the party and everyone loved getting their silhouettes made.
You get two copies of each silhouette which means the guest can keep one for him/herself and leave one with a birthday message for the baby boy. It was the perfect addition to the Spanish mission theme and I highly recommend this vendor.
6. Doljabi (돌잡이)
Doljabi is a symbolic game played at every Korean first birthday. During this game, parents lay out various objects that symbolize different occupations in an attempt to predict what the baby will be in the future.
This game is played for fun of course but it came true for me. (I chose a book and ended up becoming the biggest book worm. 😉 )
We laid out six items: pen for scholar, money for entrepreneur, stethoscope for doctor, ball for athlete, microphone for musician and a computer mouse for tech-related career.
As I gathered the different items, my maternal instinct told me Baby D was going to pick the ball. And sure enough, he went straight for the ball without hesitation. Isn’t it amazing how we mothers just know?
Some of my favorite photos from the party are the ones where all three of my kids are wearing hanboks. The hanboks were purchased from Korea by my mom and I made sure the colors coordinated without being exactly matching.
7. Party Favors
Assorted toys from Oriental Trading
I kept the party favors simple and gender neutral with these assorted toys from Oriental Trading, which you can find here. We had about 30 little guests which meant personalizing each bag would take too long.
Oriental Trading offers assorted toys at unbeatable prices. I ordered boxes of assorted slime, squishy toys and bubbles that all the kids can enjoy regardless of their age and gender.
8. Traditional details
It was important for me to add traditional Korean elements to the first birthday party and celebrate our heritage. Below you can find photos of my children’s hanboks (traditional Korean costume) and dduk (rice cakes) that we gave away as favors.
9. Smash Cake
Baby D was a little perplexed by the sticky texture of the cake and experimented it carefully by putting his mouth on the cake. In the end he loved his first taste of sugar and the guests had a blast watching him.
Overall, we had a wonderful time celebrating Baby D’s first birthday. We laughed a lot, took a ton of photos and re-connected with our family and friends. Everyone got to meet Baby D in person and bless him with well-wishes and prayers. Grandparents and older sisters were proud and I felt incredibly blessed to be celebrating another dol of my third and probably last child. The three hours flew by and I was sad that it ended so soon!
What do you think about the party details? Which is your favoritel? Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below!
I’ll return with PART 3 with more specifics about planning a successful first birthday (dol) party with a detailed checklist. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.
Thank you for reading and being a part of our family’s special day!
Venue The Hacienda
Florals by Milieu Florals
Desserts by Sweetleemade
Cake toppers by Letters To You
Name sign Red Letter Day
Photography by Youkeun Photography
Outfits + Style
Hair and make up by Kelly Zhang Studio
Girls’ lace dresses D Liles Collection
Declan’s birthday outfit Feltman Brothers
Mom’s lace dress by Just Me Dress