1st birthday: welcome to the jungle
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE! SAMAH SHAW GOES WILD FOR HER SON SPENCER'S FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY.
Growing up in a family of seven I always had loads of people to celebrate birthdays with. On the morning of every birthday, Mum would gather the family and we’d all burst into the birthday boy or girl’s room singing ‘Happy Birthday’, carrying presents. I’m very excited to start this tradition with Spencer, but maybe in a couple of years’ time – when we actually wake up before he does for a change!
A CREATIVE CAREER MOVE
Before Spencer came along, I was an accountant-turned-pastry chef (I had a desire to decorate!). I’m also lucky that my husband Nigel’s hard work at his architectural firm means I can take care of Spencer myself for a few years and I’m loving every minute of it!
Spencer is the cheekiest boy you’ll ever meet! He’s bubbly, energetic and full of life and you just can’t help but smile when you’re with him. He’s very sociable and loves to chat (sometimes a bit too much!). Our little boy can also be quite affectionate, giving lots of kisses and cuddles, and very recently he’s begun saying “thank you” to everything which melts my heart!
For Spencer’s big ONE birthday, I wanted to pull out all the big guns. I chose a jungle ‘Wild ONE’ theme because I liked the play on his personality and the word ‘one’. Parties are my jam! Being quite competitive, I always try to push myself to be as creative as possible. As soon as I pick a theme, my mind starts whirring away with ideas. I like to showcase every aspect of the theme I’ve chosen, including larger-than-life scenery, and that’s where my husband steps in. He claims that he doesn’t have a creative bone in his body, but without him, many of my ideas would fall flat. He constructs my designs and brings them to life.
We bought some concertina hedges and hung them off our ceiling with invisible fishing braid holding them up. Nigel even added a couple of monkeys hanging off the vines! A friend of ours had recently cut down a tree at his farm and Nigel expertly sanded down the tree ring slices. We used these to display the food on the grazing table. What many people don’t realise is that you don’t actually need to spend a lot of money to make a big impact. I tend to craft many things myself, with some guidance from Pinterest and general internet searches.
IN THE JUNGLE
I wanted to give guests the overall sense of being in a jungle. We had turf grass rolled out like a red carpet and scattered with toy snakes, leaves covering the ceiling, vines hanging down and a giant green and gold balloon garland, topped off with some helium animal print balloons. The grazing table included a watermelon elephant, mandarin tigers, and golden spray-painted jungle animals each wearing a homemade miniature party hat.
Spencer and I both love to dress up for fun, so I invited our guests to wear jungle-themed costumes (or at least animal print) and everyone obliged! It was exciting to see everyone’s efforts – some people even made their own costumes. My mother is a seamstress and she tailored the costumes that Nigel, Spencer and I wore.
Spencer loved his first birthday party and was joined by many of his close friends and family. We were especially lucky to have his half-brother, Jordan, and sister, Chelsea, fly up from Wellington to help us celebrate. And I (of course) enjoyed planning and decorating it all!
PARTY PLANNING TIPS
A few simple tips to help make the process enjoyable and take the stress out of birthday parties:
1. Plan, plan, plan! Well in advance. This gives you time to think, create and, most importantly, shop around for cheaper items.
2. Pick a colour scheme and stick to it – turns out a lot nicer in photos too!
3. Speaking of photos, make sure you take plenty on the day, or arrange for someone else to do it. I used my iPhone X on the highest resolution settings for the photos.
4. If doing the décor yourself, make sure to write a plan and do certain things a few days out. For example, you can make up your own balloon garland at least two days in advance, and just store it in a dark, cool area so they maintain their shape and don’t pop.
5. Do as much of the decorating and food prep as you can before the big day. This will definitely help lessen the workload, which in turn reduces your stress levels! If you can, try to delegate some of the responsibilities, like picking up the cake, so that you can be free to do the important set-up styling and most importantly, that you have time for the birthday boy/girl on their big day!
Follow Spencer on his personal Instagram page for more party ideas, dress up adventures and his next birthday set up: @littlespencer_.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Jess Keen at ashwoodlane.co.nz for the cake and the cake topper.
Printandparty.com.au for the birthday board and matching invitations.
Suham Hermiz (my mother) for designing and tailoring our jungle costumes.
Vivienne Shaw (Nigel’s mother) for creating a leopard headpiece.
Chelsea Shaw for crafting the watermelon elephant.
And Niran from Aurora Nails for the en pointe leopard print nails, follow her @auroranails10.
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 50 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW