The first anniversary of your child's birth is an occasion to celebrate! You've survived the newborn challenges, you're getting more sleep, and your child is growing by leaps and bounds. When joined by family and friends, a first birthday party becomes a joyful get-together that can spark traditions that will last for years to come.
Recently, Tori and Jonathan Legge of New Canaan, CT, hosted a birthday celebration for their daughter, Stirling. "It was an emotional day," says Tori, "culminating an amazing, exhausting, and thrilling year with our precious daughter."
To announce the party, Tori glued an oversize candle in the shape of a number one to a sheet of pink card stock, a sweet and easy way to state the occasion's theme. (Mail it in a padded envelope, and preserve one as a keepsake in a shadow-box frame.) When planning your guest list, try to make sure your 1-year-old won't be overwhelmed. Time the party to begin right after your baby's usual naptime, and don't overdo the number of guests.
In addition to an attractive color scheme (here, a pink and green palette marks spring's arrival), personal touches make the party special. You can enlarge and frame favorite photos from your child's first year and place them around the party area. Or choose one to blow up to poster size for guests to sign.
Other activities guests will enjoy: Have everyone pose for a Polaroid with the birthday baby, then slip the picture into a frame as a take-home memory of the day. Set out an attractive blank book or guest book, trace your baby's tiny hand on one page, and ask everyone to add heartfelt messages. Each year, make another hand tracing and insert photographs and mementos to create an ever-growing keepsake for your child. You can also record guests sharing birthday wishes and add to the DVD every year.
Another fun ritual is to measure your baby on a growth chart (we used one with an adorable fairy motif) and compare height changes from year to year. Or for something a little different, plant a tree on your baby's first birthday and take a picture of her beside it. Each year, take the same photo, showing her growth alongside the tree's.
The baby theme can be carried out in the menu: Try a selection of steamed baby veggies and dip, along with baby shrimp on cucumber rounds. Chicken skewers and a heaping bowl of pasta in whimsical shapes (such as wheels, spirals, and butterflies) tossed with asparagus, peas, and shaved Parmesan round out the menu. For dessert, serve bite-size brownies, petit fours, and of course, a magnificent birthday cake -- in this case, a pretty and delicious creation shaped like a number one to match the invitation.
Serves: 12Prep Time: 10 minutesCooking Time: 10-12 minutes
Step 1: In four large pots, bring water to a boil. Cook pasta shapes individually according to package directions. (You may combine pastas that take the same amount of time to cook.) Three to 4 minutes before pasta is done, add asparagus and peas.
Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Add parsley.
Step 3: Drain pasta and toss with oil mixture and salt. Top with shaved Parmesan.
Each serving: 183 calories, 7 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 3 g fiber, 3 mg cholesterol, 76 mg calcium, 2 mg iron, 280 mg sodium.
This cake is covered with rolled fondant icing. Fondant gives the smooth, professional look you see in wedding cakes and other bakery-made cakes. It's not difficult to work with and is available in most stores that sell baking supplies. If you prefer not to use it, you'll need two additional cans of frosting.
Serves: 24Prep Time: 1 hourCooking Time: 0 minutes
Step 1: Create a template by scanning a candle shaped like a number 1 and enlarging it to 12" tall or by drawing a 12"-tall number on a sheet of paper. Cut out the 1; set aside.
Step 2: Place a cake on your work surface. Slice in half horizontally so it's half as thick. Spread one can of frosting on one thin layer of cake and top with other layer; set aside.
Step 3: Place second cake on your work surface. Put template on top of cake. Carefully cut cake, tracing around template. Slice cake in half horizontally. Spread another can of frosting on one layer and top with remaining layer.
Step 4: Remove fondant from packaging. Take a piece of fondant large enough to cover the 9" by 13" cake. Knead in a drop or two of lavender food coloring until color is even.
Step 5: Dust your work surface with cornstarch. Use a rolling pin to roll fondant into a 14" by 18" rectangle. Turn occasionally to prevent sticking. Add cornstarch if it starts to stick.
Step 6: Top 9" by 13" cake with fondant. (You can lift fondant and place it easily on cake if you roll it around the rolling pin.) Tuck it in around bottom of the cake and cut off any excess.
Step 7: Take another piece of fondant and knead in a drop or two of pink food coloring. Roll it into an 8" by 15" rectangle. Trim fondant so it will contour to the shape of the number 1, leaving two inches extra for overhang. Place fondant over number 1 cake and tuck under.
Step 8: Take a small piece of fondant and add a drop or two of pink food coloring. Knead well to achieve the same color throughout. Roll into a thin rope about 30" long. Flatten and place around the top edge of the number 1.
Step 9: Next, take small pieces of fondant and use food coloring to make them various shades of pink and lavender. Roll out pieces as thin as possible. Using both tops and bottoms of round decorating tips, cut circles out of fondant and place them on number 1 as shown.
Step 10: Carefully center number 1 cake on top of rectangular cake. Using a tube of frosting, make little dots where the number meets the underlying layer to cover imperfections.
Copyright @ 2004. Reprinted with permission from the April 2004 issue of Child Magazine.