Valentina’s 1st Birthday Party!

Well, we did it! We I successfully planned and executed a First Birthday Party! I had so much fun making decorations and trying to figure out what kinda of party I wanted VJ to have. A few months ago, I wrote about the dilemma I had about having a birthday party. I also linked to a blog that had inspired me to change my mind about the party.

I started planning about a month before her actual birthday and made a list of everything I wanted to do with possible themes. I thought about a Princess theme and Circus theme. Since I’m a fan of Winnie the Pooh, I decided that it was probably the easiest to go with also because Winnie the Pooh decorations are everywhere here.

I started with invitations. Trying to be somewhat creative I downloaded some Disney fonts and came up with this:

Carlo and I looked over 3 different templates and chose this one as our favorite. We also just really loved this picture of VJ. (I’m not very fancy.. I made this on Picasa) Next, It was time for Tissue paper balls! I chose the Martha Stewart easy breezy instrutions. These are not only super simple and cute but can be a bit time consuming. I decided to make them ahead of time. 3 weeks before the party to be exact. (I’m so glad I did!)
I basically folded them accordion style and held them in place with a paperclip. The week of the party, I wrapped floral wire around the center, then attached white thread, separated and fluffed… and presto! Pretty tissue paper balls! Italian tissue paper is much thicker than U.S. tissue paper. It also has more dye in it so by the end of the night, my hands were all sorts of colors!
There was an instant party on my desk. I only did 4 different colors but because tissue paper or carta velina is different here, I had to cut and cut some more.. I ended with 4 big ones and 8 small ones.  Valentina’s birthday fell on Easter weekend and I wanted to have an easter egg hunt. However, since we went to Naples after her birthday, we had to push the party back another week… but I decided to do them anyway.  I thought the confetti eggs would be fun. I couldn’t find any food coloring (it’s only sold in specialty shops- until 2 weeks ago- now you can find them at Carrefour) so, dying egss was out of the question.  So, I thought I’d just paper mache the eggs. For that, I used crepe paper which is also different from U.S. crepe paper. I bought some confetti and just sprinkled tons of it inside the eggs. I have to say that this was much easier than dyeing eggs and I’ll be doing it again next year.
The week of the party, I made a schedule of everything that needed to be done and on what day. I WAS NOT going to stress about this party and I didn’t want to do things at the last minute. I hate it when there is still lots of things to do on the day of the party. That’s not how I roll. On Wednesday night, Carlo and I hung the tissue paper balls and I must say.. they looked great! We decided to keep them up after the party!

On Thursday night, I made Sugar Cookie dough. My mom was flying in on Friday and bringing a ‘V’ and ‘1’ cookie cutters. So that afternoon, I finished the cookies and my mom glazed them. We put a pink ‘V’ with a green ‘1’ in (or vice versa) and put them into little bags. They were part of the goody bags we made.

A few weeks before the party, I had already decided that I was going to make a banner. I doodled some ideas in my Moleskine, wrote what phrases I wanted to do, etc…  Since I kinda wanted a Pooh theme, I used the Disney fonts from the invitations for the banner. I used black construction paper and cut out squares.. er.. rectangles I guess and covered them in Pooh wrapping paper. I had Carlo print out a few letters to test out the size of the font and it was perfect. So, when I asked him to print the rest, I was a bit shocked to see that they weren’t big enough now. Something happened. The font was the same size but yet they weren’t printing out the same way. The party was in a few days and I needed to finish the banner ASAP to stay on schedule. So, instead of trying to figure things out, I started tracing and drawing. I ended drawing the letters myself and coloring them with a black permanent marker. It took me 2 days and I started getting headaches. I had to leave the balcony open and stand outside for fresh air. It was worth it though… I loved how it came out. More importantly, I loved that my daughter didn’t have a generic ‘Happy Birthday’ banner.. She’s fancy… cause that’s how we roll!

I didn’t want to go overboard on the gift bags, so I put just the cookies and some chocolates inside. We invited some kids to the party so for those families, I also added a small Winnie the Pooh book and a small bottle of bubbles!

No party is complete without a Piñata. My mom had sent one about a month before but Carlo and I decided not to actually use it for breaking open. So we hung it on the doorway into the kitchen. After all, VJ is ONE… she doesn’t know what to do with a piñata or how to hit one anyway.

With the party room decorated, I finalized all of the small details and finished preparing the food. After everything was done, I had 30 minutes to spare and relaxed before the party “officially” started!
I wanted to decorate her highchair Princess throne but I didn’t want her to get distracted since she needed to eat instead of play with everything so, I went simple. A few balloons and a party streamer across the tray.
I was caught up in the moment of my daughter’s 1st birthday that I forgot to take a picture of the food but, you get the general idea with this one. I wanted VJ and her baby friends to be able to eat everything we had. I WAS NOT going to go overboard on food either. After all we weren’t hosting very many people so I kept it very simple. Our menu was:
7 Layer Bean Dip 
(6 layers actually because I don’t like olives)
I made 2 pans, one with green onions and one without. This was a big hit with our guests since American/Tex-Mex is rare in Italy.
Sandwiches with Prosciutto, Mozzarella & Tomato
Simple and delicious. No mayo or mustard. I drizzled Olive oil on the tomatoes and added some salt. I also made some without prosciutto.
Cheese Puffs
Valentina LOVES them. She wont stop at just one.. or two. She always wants more.
Tortilla Chips
You can’t have a bean dip without Tortilla chips!
Strawberries & Banana fruit salad
My MIL’s super yummy strawberries and bananas… with sugar and lemon juice. It’s the perfect after meal treat!

As scheduled, Valentina took a 2 hour nap before her party. It was perfect. She slept so well while the rest of us got ourselves ready and prepared the food. We had asked my MIL to come over about an hour early to entertain the baby while we finished setting up. When she arrived Valentina was still asleep so, she and my mom were able to sit and chat. Valentina woke up about 20 minutes minutes before her party was to start. I got her dressed in a shirt that my mom had sent. It was white with little ‘1’s’ and balloons on it. It came with a matching bib that said, ‘My 1st birthday’ and a crown with a cupcake and candle on it. I thought it would be cute to make a matching tutu for her to wear since she had a crown. That way she could be the princess! I put her hair in pig tails and she was all set.

We were so happy to have my mom here for the party. My parents came 5 days after Valentina was born and then when she turned 5 months. So, I really wanted them to be here for her party. Sadly, my dad wasn’t able to take off work so, my mom flew solo. We talk to my mom almost everyday on Skype and Valentina has gotten used to hearing her voice. So every time my mom would say something, Valentina would turn to look at her. I guess to make sure she was actually here in person and not on the computer.

VJ had a blast at her party. She got lots of attention and even a big hug from Agustin. Of course, she gave him a kiss.. as she always does. She loves to play with Agustin and now that they’re getting older, they’ll be able to do more than just stare at each other.

After our meal, it was time to sing ‘Tanti Auguri’ and enjoy some yummy desserts. In Italy, you won’t find the traditional American style birthday cake. Most often you’ll see a tray of pastries and cookies, a fruit tart like Agustin had at his birthday or maybe a one-layer cake like this one. Gotta say, with yummy desserts like these, I could almost do without a birthday cake….

almost…. but I still want something. I made cupcakes so that it would be easier to distribute and also freeze for a rainy day. I made a basic chocolate cake recipe from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook but for some reason, I didn’t let the butter melt enough because instead of my batter coming out nice and creamy, it came out like a mousse and quite frankly tasted like a Wendy’s Frosty.  It was DELISH! I made some Vanilla frosting that I found on The Way the Cookie Crumbles. This frosting was amazingly easy and sooo good. We made pink and purple frosting but left Valentina’s white. Then we added pink or purple sprinkles and the birthday cupcake had both.

With pastries and cupcakes, we also had a tray of cookies. These are so good. They range from chocolate, to fruit, or nut flavors. It’s the perfect choice when you want another piece of cake/cupcake but don’t want to over-indulge.

This was our only family pictures taken at her party. It was a good thing I remembered too because we were having way too much fun. I was behind the camera most of the time and Carlo was busy with food duties.

Valentina LOVED her cupcake. Carlo was hesitant to let her eat it by herself but I kept telling him that’s the fun of it. It’s her first birthday, she should be able to make a HUGE mess eating a cupcake by herself.

She actually didn’t make too much of a mess. Not only did she eat everything but practically licked herself clean too!

As I mentioned, we really wanted the day to be low key and only invite a few people. Unfortunately, we chose to have Valentina’s party the same day that Giro d’Italia was pass through Torino as well as members from the Alpine Military division who came in for Unification celebrations.  Some of our guests were stuck in traffic and were late. Regardless, we had a wonderful time.  We had Zia Laura (Carlo’s sister) come early to play with the birthday girl.
Zia Paola also joined us for the special day. Paola and Carlo have been friends for quite a few years now. She was also one of the first to know about the pregnancy. I still remember that we met her for Pizza when I was 9 weeks pregnant.
Zia Marina has been such a huge help to us. She so very kindly took me and Valentina to the airport to pick up my mom. (so that she wouldn’t have to use a taxi) Marina was one of Carlo’s Elementary school teachers. His mom kept in touch with her and as Carlo got older remained in contact.

Nonna, (Carlo’s mom) was of course in attendance. She always makes Valentina laugh with some kind of funny noise.

We were very happy to have Gian Luca, Mirian, and Agustin join us too. We look forward to all of the fun time they’ll have together!
I think she had a fun day… after all
she took a 2nd nap after the party was over!
(and that nap was 2 hours long too!!)

4 thoughts on “Valentina’s 1st Birthday Party!

  1. Congratulations, Sonia! It looks like it was a wonderful party. I fully understand the amount of planning and stress that can go into a first birthday party–who knew it would be that much work!?! Happy Birthday to your sweet baby girl!


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