10 Tips for a Fun and Frugal 1st Birthday Party in Cebu

Nothing can make new parents feel both nostalgic and accomplished at the same time more than celebrating their baby’s first birthday.

That’s 365 days of changing diapers, wiping snot, feeding and rocking your baby to sleep (all while you struggle to survive with the lack of it). Congratulations! Really, congratulations!

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While some parents make it look so easy and natural, surviving the first year of parenthood is actually a huge accomplishment. And so, what better way to commemorate this important milestone than with a party!

Planning your kid’s first birthday isn’t that easy, though. I should know. Like most new mamas, I was also pretty damn stressed about planning my kid’s first birthday party in Cebu.

There was (mostly internal) pressure to pull off a fantastic and memorable event, to invite everyone we know. Plus, it didn’t help that most of the birthday celebrations I see on Facebook were oh-so extravagant and Pinterest-perfect.

But with a bit of research and with the help of my ever-supportive family and friends, we managed to throw a simple yet memorable celebration to mark the occasion.

And because it’s that time of the year again for planning parties (can’t believe my kid’s turning two in a few days), I thought it would be great to offer some advice for parents who are planning their tyke’s first birthday party in Cebu. I’m no party planning expert but I’m pretty sure you could use these tips to throw a simple, meaningful, and most importantly frugal celebration for your tiny tot. So here goes:

Set a budget

First and foremost, establish a budget. Consider how much you can afford and how much you are willing to spend. When I was reading forums and blogs to get ideas for my baby’s birthday, I was dumbfounded when I learned that some parents spend as much as 50k for their kid’s first birthday! Whoa!

But of course, just because some families can dedicate that kind of expense and effort to their kids’ parties doesn’t mean you should try and keep up with the Kardashians–I mean Joneses. For my kid’s party, our budget was around 20k. And yes, we (sort of) stuck to it. 

Pick a theme

Themed birthday parties in Cebu are all the rage these days. From Disney princesses to Marvel superheroes, party themes make celebrations extra fun and exciting especially for kids. Building your party around one theme also makes decorating easier. And because my kid’s first word was “car” (more of “caaah”), the obvious choice was to throw a Disney Cars-themed party.

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Evo’s Carrr-iffic birthday!

Choose a venue

As much as I would like to celebrate my kid’s birthday the traditional Filipino way so we can save on costs (i.e. host the party at home and serve home-cooked meals), we just didn’t have enough space at home as well as the people to cook food and serve our guests. So we scoured venue options. Luckily, there’s no shortage of venues in Cebu that offer affordable birthday packages.

I originally wanted to come up with my own list but there’s so many of them. So here’s a helpful blog post from another mommy blogger to guide you. As for me, we chose to have it at Metro Park Hotel Cebu. It’s a modest hotel that offers affordable birthday party packages in Cebu. Their packages already include buffet meals good for 50 pax, party theme, party favors, clown host, and exclusive 4-hour use of the venue (function room or poolside). If you want an affordable and hassle-free party, I’d say Metro Park is the best place for you!

We picked the function room instead of the poolside area because there were only a few kids (and I’m not sure if my friends wanted to put on their bikinis haha).

Plan your menu

The best part of choosing a birthday package in Cebu is that you don’t need to stress out a lot about planning your menu. Metro Park, for example, offers buffet meals that already include rice + 4 Main Courses + 1 Pasta/Noodle + 1 Dessert + 1 Round Soft Drinks. Here’s their menu if you’re interested. Although the dishes weren’t as spectacular as my lola’s cooking, they were relatively okay.

Make a guest list

Deciding who to invite was one of the biggest dilemmas we had when we planned for our kid’s party. As much as we wanted to invite all our friends, and even neighbors and acquaintances, our budget prohibited us from having a larger guest count. So we chose to gather our families, our little lion’s godparents, and some of our close friends instead to be with us on the occasion.

If you’re torn on who to invite to your kid’s party, too, just remember to make a list of your closest family and friends who have been with you throughout the roller coaster ride of your baby’s first year. Don’t be pressured to invite the entire barangay just because your partner/parents/siblings said so.

Encourage guests to RSVP

I’ve never truly appreciated the value of RSVP (or sending a reply to an invitation) until I organized my kid’s party. We sent invitations to 60 guests weeks before the party. But only 30-40 people showed up. Those who skipped the party informed me a day or two that they can’t come; others didn’t bother sending a response at all. No calls or text. Nothing. It left us with a lot of extra food, empty seats, and me, being the momma, frustrated.

My babe Ryan isn't happy you haven't RSVPed yet
My babe Ryan isn’t happy you haven’t RSVPed yet

Here’s the thing: hosts need to know the number of guests attending so they can estimate the food and drinks to be prepared, or invite replacements if necessary. This is especially important if you’ve booked and paid for a birthday venue in advance (which is kind of what happened to us). So mommas, after sending invites make sure you follow up with guests. It will save you a lot of headache (and heartache). Trust me.

Decorate to your heart’s (or pocket’s) content

Since Metro Park only provided the basic decorations (i.e., balloons and centerpieces), I had to recruit my good friend, the ever creative and multi-talented Pensive Peanut to help me with the decorations. (Yep, aside from blogging, writing, singing, and frugal fashion, she also has a knack for decorating. She’s that talented! Not a sponsored post. Ehem. haha).

I’ve noticed some parents tend to go overboard with the decorations (with huge balloons, banners, and stuff) but you don’t have to do so if you don’t have the budget for it. In my case, I think we only had 1-2k budget for the decorations. But look, Pensive Peanut still managed to pull them off. Here’s what she made for our little lion:

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Prepare some games and activities

What are children’s parties without some games and activities? Make sure to plan party games as well as prepare the prizes to keep your young and even adult guests busy. Trip to Jerusalem, Bring Me, Statue or Paper Dance, and pabitin are some of the most common children’s party games.

For my kid’s party, Metro Park covered all the games and prizes. (They even provided us with a clown as host.) The thing is, only four kids participated so the adults were forced, nay, encouraged to play the games. But it was still fun!

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Delegate

Bossing people around Delegating tasks is one of the best ways to make party planning easier and less stressful. In my case, I asked my older sister to take care of the cake (and by take care, I mean pay for it! haha), my younger sister for the picture-taking, my mom to find us one of the best-tasting lechon in Cebu, and my former office mates to prettify the venue (shoutout to Joan, Ylonah and Miss Donna!)

Disney cars cake
Disney Cars cake and cupcakes from Cakes and Memories

Skip the extras

Face painting, magic shows, mascots, dessert buffet, and photo booths–these are great add-ons to keep the kids and guests entertained BUT these aren’t necessary. And you don’t need to feel like you’re making your kid’s party less fun just because you don’t have (or can’t afford) them. The key to throwing a frugal party is sticking to the basics.

Just relax

I love Pinterest. It’s the repository of all things fun, fabulous and creative. But it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially for moms planning their kid’s parties. In this Pinterest-perfect era, the expectations to throw the most elaborate party, complete with the most amazing dessert tables, extravagant decorations, and DIY-ed party favors have become a little too high. (I mean, come on, when did children’s parties become a competition?) If you ever feel this way, take a deep breath and relax.

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Remember, this party is about celebrating the first precious year of your little angel (soon to become your tiny tyrant)–not about having the most eye-popping, pin-worthy, bank-breaking party. So make sure to have a party that feels right for you and your kid. 

So that’s it! I hope you find these tips useful. 🙂

Now excuse me as I plan my little lion’s 2nd birthday…

 

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