As you all know from my Instagram birthday spam, we recently celebrated my son’s first birthday (still can’t believe how quickly one year passed!). I’d say this was our first time holding a somewhat big and fancy party. We’ve normally done very small birthday parties before with immediate family only. But this summer was a perfect time for something more special. We had quite a few family and friends in town from overseas, so it was a great opportunity to get together and celebrate. It turned out amazing and I’m so glad we did it!
Here are some pictures and details of all the local businesses involved to help you plan a similar party.
We chose to have the party at a local community centre room in Mississauga from this website. You just have to be a resident of Mississauga city to be able to book the available rooms. I’m sure there are similar centres in Toronto and other suburbs as well. The other options we considered banquet halls (much more pricey but could be worth it if you’re having a HUGE party with a lot of guests) or apartment/condominium building party rooms (mostly can only be booked by residents).
Personally I find community centre rooms to be the best option. They’re reasonably priced and equipped with all the basics you need, including an attached washroom and kitchen. The kitchen makes it so easy to warm up food if you’re bringing your own. The community center staff also set-up the tables and chairs for you (they ask you how you’d like the room set up beforehand). At the end of the party, you don’t have to do any serious cleaning. As long as you tidy up and pick up all your stuff, they take care of cleaning the floors, putting away the tables and chairs etc. This is a huge advantage because my guess is that every host is running very low on energy at the end of a party.
You just have to make sure you book your room in advance – I’d say you should call and book at least 3 or 4 weeks in advance to reserve your spot, put in the deposit and choose the timing that suits you best. To find a community centre near you, check the Mississauga website here. It is best to talk to an agent but you can also submit a form online.
Lastly, I’d say that it’s important for you to visit the room before booking it. Make sure you can set it up the way you want. Personally I was looking for a bright room with a big wall where I could do the set-up. This one was perfect with all it’s big windows.
 Invitation Cards
I prepared the invitation cards on the website called Canva. They have all kinds of cute templates that you can fill in with your information, download and share. I chose to share the invitation digitally (via email and WhatsAppp), but you can print them too and mail out copies to your friends and family to make it more formal and special.
When I made the invitation card, I hadn’t decided on the birthday party theme. I could’ve totally done a Hot Air balloon design on Canva as well. So if you know your theme, you can find something for it on Canva if you’re more into everything flowing nicely together.
I specifically put “no boxed gifts please” on the invitation card which basically meant that we don’t want any toys or clothing etc. This was because we already have a lot of toys and the baby still only plays with tupperware anyway haha! As for clothes, it’s so easy to get the wrong size for growing kids. Even with gift receipts, I personally find that it’s better to avoid all the size exchanges at various stores.
Thankfully, all of our guests actually respected this request. Most of them gave us gift cards which was amazing!
 Decor & Balloons
Scrumpty’s is run by a super talented husband and wife team. I absolutely loved their work on Instagram and got a few referrals for them as well when I asked my Instagram audience for suggestions. I’m so glad I hired them for this job because this decor was the talk of the party. I mean look at that backdrop, the lettering, the colour scheme… It was just perfect! I basically told them to get creative with this job and do their thing. I’d say they went above and beyond anything I could’ve expected. This hot air balloon theme was a hit!
Their team came in to the venue an hour before the party started and assembled everything in a very professional manner. They also came in at the end of the party to take it all down.
Balloon gardlands are totally in and super trendy right now. I absolutely loved what Baloonistariz did in this theme! The powder blue, the grey and those marble balloons thrown into the mix were so aesthetically pleasing! Not to mention that perfect hot air balloon on the side.
 Cake & Desserts
The cake and desserts were also done by Scrumpty’s. You know how fondant cakes always look great but don’t always taste great? Well, I can assure you that this cake was UH-MAZING! I had a few guests come up to me and say that usually they don’t like fondant cakes and see them go to waste but this one was delicious. People took seconds and we had no leftovers! The little desserts were also super cute, creative and really tasty!
It was so good having Scrumpty’s do both the decor and desserts. This way, the theme really flowed and I didn’t have to explain the colour scheme to two different parties or worry about the colour shades being off. Highly recommend Scrumpty’s as a one-stop shop for your party!
We had a magician come and do an amazing magic show. We were considering other options as well such as face painting or having some kind of Disney character come in to play and take pictures with the kids. However, in the end we thought that a magic show would be entertaining for everyone – kids and adults alike.
We hired Christopher Starr as the magician after reading lots of good reviews about him online. He came for an hour in total – did a 50 minute show and then for 10 mins allowed the kids to pet a rabbit (that he produced out of thin air, by the way). He was super engaging and got all the kids involved in different acts which they loved. The birthday boy was invited to do some tricks as well, which was so cute to watch.
 Loot Bags
I was expecting around 25 kids at the party and I knew I wanted to give them some fun items in their loot bags. I considered giving out Cineplex movie tickets and ice-cream gift-cards as no-waste, useful gifts. But in the end I thought that kids do like getting little knick-knacks that they can remember the birthday party with, even if it’s just for a little while. We’ll save the movie tix and gift cards idea for another time but it’s definitely an easy alternative.
I divided all the kids into 4 main groups based on their ages and prepared loot bags accordingly. I couldn’t think of any other one-size-fits-all way of going about this. Here were my “fancy” category names and the (stereotypical girl vs boy) items I gave them:
i. Babies: This category was easy! I gave one toy to each baby that they would enjoy playing with.
ii. Little Girls: Tiaras, Stickers, Colourful Pencil & Eraser, Crayons, Mini nail filer, Bubbles, Bangles, Tattoos, Chocolates, Balloons
iii. Little Boys: Hot wheels cars, Stickers, Beach ball, Water gun, Bubbles, Balloons, Sweat Bands
iv. Older Girls (ages 8 and up): Bath & Body works hand sanitizer, Notebook, Pen, Hand lotion, Bath bomb
Almost all items mentioned above came from a combination of these stores: Party City, Dollarama, Walmart, and Bath & Body Works.
I think the “little girls” category got the best gifts and it might have something to do with my own little girl, haha! Thankfully I had no “Older boys” in the group because I honestly think I would’ve found it hard to find something for them. If you have any ideas, leave them in the comments below for me and other readers 🙂
Well, in the end the kids loved exploring all the stuff in their loot bags and were very happy with everything.
I hired the Mississauga-based Once Upon a Lens Photography to cover the event for 3 hours. This was a tough call at first because everyone has cell phones these days and it’s easy to think that you’ll have the whole event covered anyway. But now I’m so glad I got this service!
The thing is – you can’t rely on family members to take photos of every detail unless you specifically tell them to. Personally, I always feel bad telling a family member to be the designated photographer because then they can’t fully enjoy the event themselves. It’s also tricky because they know most of the guests and start socialising while forgetting their job haha! Lastly, I find that they also don’t have that “authority” to tell people to move out of their way for certain shots if you know what I mean.
This is where having a professional photographer truly pays off. They are there for the one job of taking photos, capturing all the details, and doing it professionally. They can pause things and make sure that all the “important” shots are taken without worrying about being in them. I’d say you should definitely consider getting a photographer, especially if your party has lots happening with details you want to remember.
I’ve worked with Anjum from Once Upon a Lens Photography before as well and loved her work. That is why I hired her again and you can see the beautiful photos she took all over this blogpost. Memories to cherish forever!
We catered food from Al-Mustafa catering – our family’s favourite. I highly recommend it! You have to place your order at least 2-3 weeks in advance as they are quite busy. Their food quality and taste is consistent and their kheer is next level amazing! They can actually deliver the food as well with a bit of an extra charge. I would say it’s totally worth it because you don’t wanna have to worry about food pick-up on the day of the party. You’d have to make sure you have a big enough car and at least two people to help bring all the food safely into the venue. Definitely go for their delivery.
 Birthday Boy’s Outfit
I bought the birthday boy’s outfit from a store called Paparazzi Kids. They have a location inside Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga (and other locations too – check their website). I picked up a 3-piece suit for Yusuf which I thought was perfect for the occasion. I wasn’t crazy about the quality of material but it did the job for that one day and I guess that’s all that matters.
So that’s all I have for you guys. Hopefully this will answer a whole lot of messages and requests I had from you guys! If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and I will respond there. Until next time, ciao ciao!