Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Juggling work, motherhood, and party planning is no joke. I always have to take time off from social scenes for a month-long hibernation and stint as Martha Stewart. The DIY (do-it-yourself) guru is truly heaven sent to budget-conscious moms who exhaust whatever talents and creativity they can discover and juice out, just to make their simple celebration look more festive. I, for one, go the extra mile by doing almost everything on my own: Invites, audio-visual presentation, decors, giveaway tags, party dress, etc. As a single mom, I can only count on my talents to make up for the small budget I usually set aside for my daughter's soiree. If I only know how to cook gourmet dishes and bake more than the usual chocolate cake, I'd probably try and make wonders in the kitchen in dire need of a sumptuous menu.

Last year's celebration looked so posh and "expensive" on photos and magazine print, but little did people know how much of my personal time and energy were sacrificed to pull off such concept.

Tatiana was hooked to the Barbie animated film Fashion Fairytale, and it perfectly matched my idea of a black and pink motif with a French twist. Friends willingly stepped in to help me with the decorations. Going beyond my capability is already border line to being a control freak, and so I endorsed the designs I had in mind to a trusty cake artist and cookie baker.

My daughter turned 5 last February, and I was on my usual party planning rituals for about 3 weeks. I had to cut the budget by half since I was saving for her early registration fees at school and summer ballet workshop. I moved the venue to our place instead, and worked on a shorter invite list for an intimate afternoon gathering. Our common love for French theme became our inspiration for the Patisserie-themed party (which, in the invite, we spelled as Par-tea). I did my research online during lunch breaks, while I slept with fresh paper cuts every evening.

My boyfriend was a first timer to this Martha Stewart living, but he generously offered a hand in producing the paper crafts. Patience was tested as I alternately took the role of teacher and crafter in between deep breaths. We were running out of time as he flew in from Manila just a week before the party. I considered myself a perfectionist at work and an occasional event planner, hence I always have that adrenaline rush and natural instinct to work at magic’s speed given the limited time. 

With no party planning experience to put to his credit, I did majority of the paper crafts before his arrival, so he won't feel as pressured and for us to have more bonding time in our hands. Don't get me wrong. My heart melted with his sweet generosity and sincere efforts to help me with the preparations. As much as I wanted to do everything on my own, if I didn’t share my to-do list with him, he would have felt useless and I would have drown in guilt for being selfish.

A day before the party, my boyfriend and I were already about 50 steps away from starting World War 3, with series of failed attempts in meeting party planning expectations. Even with the silent treatment, you could actually see AYOKO NA! flashed in red paint on our talk bubbles.

Me: I gave you the pattern for the favor box, right? It's just easy. All you have to do is trace and cut through the pattern. Then fold and glue the sides and ends.
BF: Sorry. They don’t come out nice eh, ‘cause you didn't follow ruler-perfect lines and measurements.

Ow-kay... I guess he scored a point there for being more OC than I was. But fact remains we were running out of time. Yaya graciously stood as middleman, helping with whatever she could, with a bit of side comments like, "Wow, galing ah, parang task ito ni Big Brother." 
Come event proper, we put on our best smiles and party clothes to hide telltale signs of sleepless nights. I let out a sigh of relief as I looked at our setup. It was far from the previous parties Tatiana had, but what we had put together was something insanely wonderful. I wondered how we survived such production without ending up in a hospital bed. Everything in the DIY checklist was beautifully executed and completed: Patisserie favor boxes, buntings, chef's hats, cupcake piñata, invites, birthday dress. My mind was still in a blur as we only finished decorating the place within 30 minutes before the party.  
Boyfriend transformed into a party host and twisted balloons to different shapes like piglet, horse, motorcycle, and many more (thanks to YouTube). And just like my DIY projects, the kids got to decorate their own cupcakes, ice cream cups, and caramel apples. We even taught them how to make 3d cake slices (favor boxes made out of cardboard paper). Talk about being hands on and budget wise! The playful tots giggled endlessly even with improvised games like the Cupcake Tier, our cupcake version of Pin the Tail on the Pony. I guess all the stress were sealed and glued so tight on the cupcake piñata, that made it difficult to manage and uncooperative at game time. We laughed ceaselessly as it took 10 sound-induced pulls to get the piñata to open, revealing hundreds of chocolate covered treats.

Tired, sleepless, and stressed out. All the work was worth the exhaustion after seeing how happy my baby was on her birthday.  Thanks to family, cousins, friends, and godparents who made her day extra special. Budget friendly planning and handmade decors... Nothing looked too simple for the company who loves my daughter so much. All of you are heaven sent. Special thanks to my boyfriend for his great love and admiration for my daughter. As promised, next year's party won't be as stressful: 5 months of advance planning and no grave threat of another Word War. I hope.

Bisous, bisous.

Story published for my weekly Metro Mom column in Edge Davao newspaper, A4 of INdulge section, Vol. 5 Issue 17, 27 March 2012.


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