Bunnies and blooms: a pretty first birthday party
A first birthday party christens this blended family’s first home together.
Little Quinn Haeata-O’Neill’s first birthday party was doubly special: as well as celebrating her first year, it marked her blended family’s first celebration in their new home.
Melanie, a clinical psychologist, and Adam, a motorcycle technician, have seven children between them, including Quinn and her little brother Remy, who are the couple’s newest additions.
They wanted to celebrate Quinn’s birthday in the Hamilton home they’d built together, a two-storey four-bedroom house with a ‘Hamptons-meets-contemporary’ vibe.
Melanie, who was pregnant with Remy at the time, says they wanted a relaxed feel where she and Adam could easily mingle with the guests, and as it wasn’t an overly large event they knew their house could accommodate everyone.
Quinn is a naturally funny, sociable, empathic and sweet little girl who loves playing outside or reading books, says Melanie. She chose flowers and bunny rabbits as the theme of her little girl’s first party because “Quinn has always reminded me of a lovely little bunny rabbit”.
Melanie found her ideal birthday invitation incorporating the bunny/floral theme on Etsy, and built the party colour scheme around it. “Overall, I tried to keep the decorations to a minimum to help ensure that her name (in the hoop) and her birthday cake were the main focal points.”
Melanie and Adam kept the guests to close family and friends, so the party wasn’t overwhelming. Both sets of grandparents came along, as did Quinn’s four older brothers (Adam’s children) and her older sister (Melanie’s daughter). Many of the couple’s friends have older children, so the guests ended up being mostly adults and teenagers.
Guests enjoyed a delicious spread which included platters of savoury nibbles, dark chocolate cake, orange zest sugar cookies and Melanie’s semi-naked strawberry and vanilla birthday cake, baked in advance and decorated the night before the party.
Melanie says one of the best things parents can give kids for their party is a mum who is “relatively” stress-free on the day. To make that happen, she planned everything in advance and outsourced what she could.
“For me, it was really important that I made Quinn’s birthday cake and the name hoop, and I also wanted to decorate the marble fondant cookies. I’d never done those before but it was so much fun to research ‘how to’ videos online and to practice beforehand.”
She outsourced the undecorated cookies from a company in Wellington, and ordered the food platter from a Morrinsville caterer, who also delivered to their house.
“Outsourcing freed me up to focus on the things which I really wanted to do.”
Melanie also hired a photographer so she could enjoy the day instead of being busy behind the camera.
She also credits the “essential” support and help from her mum and dad, Estelle and Paul, as helping to make things run seamlessly.
For Quinn’s birthday, Adam and Melanie started a new family tradition of giving a special keepsake, which they’ll put away for her until she’s a bit older.
“We bought her a rose gold and diamond pendant and chain, which she wore for a bit on her big day, and one day she can wear the same necklace as an adult, knowing that her mum and dad chose that especially to celebrate her first year of life with us,” says Melanie.
And they started another tradition too, of alternating the task of birthday-cake baking and decorating for each child on each of their birthdays – meaning it’s Adam’s turn next time.
“Dads should be given the opportunity to be proud of their creation too!” Melanie says.
Custom wreath, $200, lovebradbury.co.nz; Customisable Cookie Stamp, $30, boltofcloth.com; Meri Meri pastel bunny treat bags, $30, pixiepartysupplies.co.nz; Sprinks Shapes pastel bunnies 70g, $6.95, sweetpeaparties.co.nz; Living & Co two-tone oak box frame 15cm x 20cm, $8, thewarehouse.co.nz; Morgan & Finch floral bunny silhouette plates, $16 each, edbathntable.co.nz; 3-tier embossed glass cake stand, $10, kmart.co.nz; Morgan & Finch small standing moss rabbit, $9, bedbathntable.co.nz.
Shout-out to the party people:
Caterer: Food By Design, find them at facebook.com/foodbydesignnz;
Cookie creator: ibicci.co.nz.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 49 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW