December birthdays aren’t easy, especially a couple days after Christmas. Being in the southern hemisphere, we actually had to cancel Ollie’s first birthday party due to the heat.

We had his birthday party almost three weeks before his actual birthday this year and it was more than I could have ever imagined.

Our backyard is tiny but mighty so our poor guests were packed like sardines in our limited space (bless you all for being so gracious). A great mix of extended family, our friends and Ollie’s friends from his playgroup attended so we were able to catch up with our nearest and dearest.

I spent every spare second of the week prepping the house, front and back gardens including laying out new turf the weekend before and re-mulching the garden beds. Handy before Christmas but seriously hard work. I put up most of the decorations the day before during Ollie’s nap time.

I wanted to use classic, bright primary colours and had no set theme. I feel like there’s a lot of years ahead for dinosaur or pirate parties. The cake was similarly unthemed, a simple white iced “healthier” banana cake and some sprinkles. It was demolished before I could snap a pic (there was a lot of eager little hands) but I set it inside our Grimms celebration ring, including a “2” decoration and some candles. I did a similar thing the year before for his first birthday with a smash cake using an Eating Bird Food recipe.

Ollie’s first birthday
Ollie’s second birthday cake was a bigger version of this smash cake by Eating Bird Food

As decor pieces, I put Grimms and other wooden toys on the trestle. The result was nice, bright and cheerful. Maybe not as curated as a themed birthday party but it was eco friendly and low waste. No balloons but I strung up primary coloured streamers throughout the back garden.

We used The Herdsman for catering – a box of paninis (dangerously yum), a platter of sandwiches and a fruit plate. Our original plan was Costco but we missed the window for preordering.

I made up a quick veggie and dip platter the night before. For desserts we had birthday cake, some lollies and fairy bread that Ollie and I made together the evening before. Plus some cinnamon donuts to pad it out.

Towards the tail end of the party we filled up the paddling pool, before that the kids played with Ollie’s mud kitchen and in his sandpit. Ollie was a little overwhelmed by all the guests and spent a lot of the party velcroed to my hip. In hindsight I probably should’ve prepared him a little more by explaining what a party was and that we would have a lot of visitors to the house.

The party turned out great and wasn’t a huge drain financially. It’s really easy for birthday party budgets to blow out. All up I’d say we spent around $500-600 on food, decorations and ingredients for the cake with around 40 attendees. Given that we’d cancelled Ollie’s first birthday I think it more than made up for it but for next year we will probably stick to a quieter event with a small group of his friends at a play centre.

We’re planning on doing Christmas 2023 and Ollie’s third birthday a little different and requesting no gifts but experiences instead – like zoo passes, a national parks pass, tickets to Scitech and AQWA. It’s so touching to know how loved Ollie is but we want to remove the emphasis on material gifts – three occasions in one month where he got presents was probably a bit much. Our present to Ollie this year was a red steel wagon that I found on Marketplace.

As for Ollie’s actual birthday, it was a chilled out day spent as a family. We went to Ollie’s favourite park, had pancakes for breakfast and opened a couple small gifts after the present deluge of Christmas. We also did a Montessori “birthday walk” and a cute little dinner. I feel like we blinked and suddenly our kid is two!

Ollie at the park on his birthday

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