Well, we did it! We survived the first year! Woohoo! Since it was a pretty crazy year, I kept the party on theme and we celebrated the twins’ first birthday with a Pandamonium Panda Party complete with panda donuts, panda balloons, noisemakers, panda smash cakes, and an adopt-a-panda! I am not gonna lie, I dialed down this party A LOT! The first birthday is really just for the parents to celebrate keeping the kid(s) alive for a year and while I LOVE planning a party, I was TIRED. This first year kicked my ass and then having to clean up after the holidays and jump into party mode was not easy, so I simplified a lot. I simply could not manage planning, diying, cleaning, decorating, etc. for a party on top of taking care of the babies, so I gave up on the Pinterest-worthy party and just made it a simple party with donuts, cake, and a shit ton of panda bears.
A guest at the party asked me about the theme. Why pandas? First, I love a good pun! This last year was fucking nuts. It was truly pandemonium at times. How could I NOT throw a Pandamonium Party?
Second, did you know that pandas often give birth to twins? From what I’ve read, the Giant Panda often gives birth to twin babies while in captivity, but in the wild, a panda usually only produces one baby. Why is this? Because zoos were having trouble breeding pandas (I guess they just weren’t in the mood), they began using artificial insemination to get the female pandas pregnant. Have you read my Infertility Blog Posts? (Infertility Update Part 1 and Infertility Update Part 2) I’m very open with the fact that Hank and Wren are the product of science! Due to male factor infertility, we were having trouble getting pregnant, so we did a lot of testing, started with IUIs, researched and met with IVF doctors, and we luckily got pregnant on our second IUI which resulted in twins! So a Panda Party for the twins’ first birthday was the perfect theme!
To plan the party, I started with the invitations. I had Isabella of La Lu Isa Illustrations design the invitations and she nailed it! I simply told her two pandas, party hats, balloons, noisemakers, use the colors from the twins’ nursery, no bamboo, and gave her all the information and she came back with this super cute design! (She takes custom orders, so reach out to her if you’re looking for something designed for your party or event!)I know most people recommend keeping kids parties pretty short, but we like to host “Pop In” or “Stop By” style parties where we keep the party going for about 6 hours and tells invited guests to just stop by sometime during those hours. For the twins’ baby shower, we let guests know the hours of when the taco cart was going to be there so they could schedule stopping by for lunch if they wanted, but otherwise we just want our friends and family to not feel like they have to be there at a certain time. We all have multiple obligations on weekends, traffic in LA sucks, and a lot of us now have kids who are still taking naps and are on different schedules/routines, so we like to maximize the party window to allow for the greatest number of invited guests to be able to party with us. We started the party right after the babies first nap, they took their afternoon nap in the middle of the party, and they ate their dinner on time at 6pm and there were just a few lingering guests leftover.
Also, if you read the invitation, you’ll see that I requested no gifts. There are probably dozens of nicer ways of saying it, but our friends and family know me pretty well and my blog is called the Salty Canary for a reason and it isn’t just because I love the taste of salt. But my way was effective. The twins have PLENTY of toys, they are spoiled (not rotten), it was just Christmas and they are still overwhelmed from their Christmas gifts, and we did not want guests to feel like they had to get TWO gifts (oh wow, I could not imagine having TWO of a lot of different toys), so I simply requested no gifts. We will likely continue this for all future birthdays or have a toy donation for a local charity that help babies and kids like Baby 2 Baby.
Ok, back to the party details! Next, I ordered some panda donuts and pink sprinkle donuts from California Donuts.
And I set up this Adopt-A-Panda favor station for all the kiddos to adopt a panda as a favor when they left. I’m not a huge fan of goodie bags or favor bags filled with junky toys, but I wanted to give out a favor to all of the kids who came and partied like pandas with us, and while this might have been a bit pricier, it was easier in the long run because I didn’t have to put anything together except for the banner.
All of the pandas (big and small) are from IKEA. I got the two big ones for Hank and Wren and we had a few poor baby pandas who didn’t get adopted, so we kept a couple of small ones, too, and now Hank and Wren have a little panda family in their playroom and they LOVE hugging and playing with them. They have no plastic parts (eyes or nose) so I feel comfortable leaving them in their safe play space.
And because Wren has an allergy/intolerance to eggs (I’m still hoping she grows out of it), I made two little panda smash cakes for them. I used this recipe for the cake, but instead of making cupcakes, I baked the cake in a shallow pan and cut out 5″ circles and built two mini cakes with store-bought frosting. Then I added some handmade fondant decorations to make them into little pandas.
These two hadn’t had anything with sugar in it, so they didn’t really know what to do. Plus there were about 20 people staring at them, so they had a little stage fright. Hank ended up not liking the frosting and at some point he actually tried dumping the entire little cake off his tray (I caught it before it hit the ground.) Wren on the other hand LOVED the frosting and made a pretty good dent in her cake.
Alright, I better start planning their party for next year! Any fun themes you’d recommend? Trip around the sun? Fly me TWO the moon? If it was on a Tuesday, I would do Taco TWOsday. Hell, I might just do that anyway on a Saturday. Who’s gonna argue about it with a mouth full of yummy tacos?