I have to admit that for my son’s first birthday last year, I got a little carried away making things (not quite as carried away as for my older son, but that post hasn’t been written yet – watch this space!). Birthdays have always been a big thing in my family and my mum threw some great parties for me when I was growing up. She made me the most amazing cakes, costumes and party props, which I will never forget. I want to do the same for my kids and so starting as I mean to go on, I decided to have a teddy bears picnic theme for my son’s first birthday.
I had quite a lot of felt lying around, which I had inherited from my mum and I decided to use it for the invitations. To design the teddy bear, I looked up pictures of teddy bears on the internet. I drew and drew (on scrap paper) until I came up with an outline I was happy with (there are probably easier ways than this though). Once I had my outline, I followed the following steps:
I folded the outline in half and then cut it out (folding the outline in half made sure the teddy was symmetrical).
I used the paper as a template and pinned it to the felt and cut around it. I repeated this for each teddy invite I needed.
I cut out the arm shapes and the number 1 shape, the nose/ mouth and the eyes.
I used the cut out shapes in step 3 as templates for the rest of the teddies and pinned and cut as before.
I then stuck all the pieces on with glue/ double sided sticky tape when I ran out of one of them (can’t remember which, but I do remember it was a painstaking slow process).
I made paper cut outs of the teddy bears from an old scrap book that I was no longer using and stuck the paper to the back of the teddies, with a printed message, which read as follows:
If you come down to
(address) on (date),
you’re in for a big surprise
as (birthday child’s name)
is turning 1 and you
and your teddy bear
are invited for a picnic
Start time (time)
End time (time)
by (date) to (name)
on (tel) or
As he was only going to be one, I didn’t think any party games would be needed, just the other kids bringing their teddies was enough.
I did decide to make some going home presents and started making these lovely knitted teddies from some wool I had left over from another project (the inspiration for which came from a craft book). Their necks were pulled together with a bit of wool but could be loosened and the heads could be opened so that they could be stuffed with something and given as going home bags. Luckily I stopped at three, as by that time (having sent out most of the invitations), I realised none of the children I had invited were going to be able to make it to my son’s party (I had semi-anticipated that as a lot friends had babies very close to the birth date of my son).
We ended up just having a family party in the end, but I didn’t mind. I think it helped that I just enjoyed the process of making the invitations and didn’t get too hung up on how it all turned out on the day. I did have grand plans to make a teddy bear cake, but that didn’t happen in the end. As it happens my son is really into teddies, so I might try and do a teddy bear’s picnic party again for his second birthday and hope for second time lucky! I still have some of the teddy bear invitations and plan to frame them and hang them on my son’s wall.
Making invitations and going home presents from things I already had, saved me money and gave me an excuse to be creative. I also felt they were kinder to the environment than shop bought ones, which are likely to have been produced in factories and potentially transported long distances. Shop bought ones often end up in the rubbish bin fairly quickly, whereas hopefully these homemade versions will be kept for some time!
Just for the record though, I am not entirely anti-shop bought items as I’m sure there are likely to be eco friendly options out there and it is definitely worth bearing this in mind, if you are short on time and getting into a stress trying to take on too much (which I am often guilty of)!
Have you got any stories to share about homemade first birthday’s? I’d love to hear them!