After I outdid myself as a first-time baker, in terms of both, the taste AND the look of my child’s first birthday cake, I decided I would make it an annual tradition. After the fabulous first birthday cake, I realised that it wasn’t so hard to bake a cake and decided that no matter what, every year, I would bake a cake at home on Laddoo’s birthday. It seemed like a beautiful tradition to have, and I felt very, very, very proud of myself as a mother for not having missed a single year until now. Woohooo!
And I’m especially proud of myself for taking on the gargantuan task again, considering my first-hand experience and understanding of the term “beginner’s luck” after I baked that second cake this time last year.
Nevertheless, luck changes, no? Also, watching high-speed baking and cake-decorating videos on Instagram is good enough practice for me to take on Cake #3 and make a kick-ass Peppa Cake (that my daughter has specifically asked for.) I also take solace in the fact that my oven, upon its death can pass over to the other side knowing well that it fulfilled its destiny and was not just a show piece in my kitchen that made people think that I made fancy desserts in there when, in fact, I did that only once a year.
Anyway, at this juncture, I feel it is my duty and RESPONSIBILTY as a blogger and influencer to pass on the wisdom garnered through years of experience in making planning and executing Pinterest-perfect birthdays and give you a step-by step guide so you can achieve the aforementioned levels of perfection and earn worldwide bragging rights on Instagram. So take notes, or better yet, just take screenshots, because you don’t want to miss this.
7 Steps to Planning, Procrastinating, and Winging my child’s Pinterest-Perfect Birthday, 2 years in a row.
Step 1 | 100 Days before the Birthday
It might seem like a LOT, but this is exactly the time we need to plan and prepare. I set an annual reminder in my calendar to count down to Laddoo’s birthday. I remember to do it ON SOCIAL MEDIA so everyone knows, otherwise are you really a good mom if you don’t know it’s your kid’s birthday in 100 days?
Also, I’ll let you in on a secret. As is for everything else about parenting, when it comes to what you do online, you only have to look like you’re doing a 100-day countdown, not actually go through with it. 100 days is a LONG TIME! There’s so much more one can do with their life. But others don’t have to know that. The world NEEDS to think that in the 100 days counting up to our childrens’ birthdays, it is ALL WE CAN THINK ABOUT.
We have to be regular for the first week or so, and then post sporadically as and when we find the time, and no one will ever know because no one is going to check if we post every day. So you say it’s day 60 of 100. Who really has the time to go check if you did 60 posts? Well, I personally know some people who actually DO have that kind of time and energy, and WILL spend it to snoop around, but as a general rule, rest assured that NO ONE CARES. And if someone asks, tell them that you’re maintaining an offline journal for the day(s) you missed because you could not find the time to post online every day.
Best. Mom. Ever.
Step 2 | 3 Months before the Birthday
10 days into the countdown is a good time to start scouring Pinterest for ideas. Remember, a Pinterest-perfect Birthday Party starts on… well, Pinterest only, no? By this time the countdown posts usually get boring AND repetitive – we woke up, we played, we ate, we didn’t eat, we pooped-a-lot, we didn’t poop at all, we slept, we went to the park, we did not sleep, same old, same old. If you decide to do this, believe me, nobody, yourself included, will be interested in reading (or in your case, writing) about every dull detail of your life, no matter what a wordsmith you are or how humourous you make your day sound, FOR 100 DAYS STRAIGHT.
So it’s better to quit while you’re still ahead. 10 days of brilliant insight into your child’s activities, sleep patterns and bowel movements (or lack thereof) are more than enough. Any more and you’ll lose your audience, literally. The unfollows are real. I swear I’ve had more people unfollow me in the past year than the increase in the number of followers.
Anyway, once I’m on Pinterest, I create theme-wise boards (Beach theme, Galaxy theme, Forest theme), and even category wise boards (cakes, invites, cake toppers, bunting, DIY, Table settings, photo poses, photo booth props, etc.) if you’re neurotic like me – which you won’t see on my profile because ALL OF THESE BOARDS ARE SECRET. I don’t want others planning a party I curated, duh!
But it’s good to have options. And this way, I’m actually saving time by planning for future birthdays too, irrespective of whether I actually go through with it or not. The theme/idea(s) I don’t use this year, will come in handy the following year, and maybe even the year after that. So I’m reaaaallly planning TWO years in advance. If you do that, imagine how many points you score by being on top of your game. Oh, how one can gloat!
Step 3 | 2 Months before the Birthday
At this point, once the theme is narrowed down, and I’m ready to start executing, I make lists. LOADS OF LISTS.
- Things to buy
- Things to make
- Things to do
- Things to delegate
- Things that can go wrong
- Menu ideas
- Guest list
- List of prospective locations
- Names and numbers of photographers, caterers, decorators, DJs;
…and feel free to add whatever else you think you may need. Go all Monica on this shit and make a binder if that’s more your style. I made a digital one.
Remember, the time and effort is worth it because it’s
the day we became mothers our childrens’ birthdays. And it’s good to have a solid plan. So what if it’s better than a country’s five-year-plan (or if the child doesn’t care about it)? At least perfection is GUARANTEED. And SOCIAL MEDIA gloating too.
Remember, there are still at least 61 more days (unless February’s involved). So there’s LOADS of time to DO EVERYTHING. People write entire novels in 30 days (not me, but I know people who have accomplished that feat) and there are twice as many days left. TWICE.
That’s two novels.
Think about that for a bit.
Step 4 | 1 Month before the Birthday
Only 31 (or 30 (or 29 (or 28))) days to go! Time flies, no? Well, for many of you, you haven’t done squat yet and panic is starting to set in. I totally get that. I have been there most of my life. Exams, interviews, writing, party planning – I have procrastinated like no one’s business. My baby-led-weaning posts have been pending since March 2017, and the 2nd part of my weaning story has been pending since December 2018. In fact, even this post was supposed to go up LAST YEAR, just a week after her birthday.
So believe me when I say I GET what you’re going through, and it is also why ALL my strategies provide for contingencies. After all, we are only human. And this gets worse for moms because babies and their unpredictable behaviours/routines make it doubly hard to stick to a plan.
But don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Here’s what I did, and you need to do too. Go through your list and get rid of ALL the unnecessary embellishments to the birthday party. Do away with anything that seems impractical and just not worth the trouble. For example:
- Handmade invites – yes. Handmade return gifts – no.
- Decor – yes. Handmade decor – absolutely NOT.
- Pretty clothes for you and the baby – yes. But there’s no way you’re making the dress unless a you can push a fairy godmother out of your ass. So please, outsource the stitching. Better yet, buy a ready dress.
You get the drift? Basically, take everything down a notch. Because that’s what I did.
P.S. If you’re halfway through your to-do list or worse, you’ve already finished, I have two things to say to you:
- What the hell were you smoking? I’m genuinely asking. Please tell me/us so that we can be better prepared for future Pinterest-ily awesome birthday parties.
- What the hell are you even doing reading this? Move on. Don’t you have better things to do/other people to judge?
Step 5 | 1 Week before the Birthday
If you’re on track, read the last two points in Step 4 above and get moving. Yes, we all know you’re simply the best and better than all the rest. Move along. I better not catch you in comment section telling everyone how you did it all or telling people how they could do better. You DO NOT want to cross me on this, I swear.
For the rest of you “normal” people – you’re my TRIBE! If you’ve made it till here and can’t wait to read what to do next, I love you and I never want to let you go, okay? And I’m sure you’ll feel the same way because I’ma get you outta this jam! Pinky swear.
Now this may be hard to hear but at this stage, I am BRUTAL with my list. You may think that I’m asking you to gulp down a potful of strong coffee and power through your list. But don’t you know me? I strive to keep it real and I know when to face facts and come to terms with the fact that I have reached a point where I simply cannot do it.
And you need to face it too. You may not be able to do it ALL, but we can salvage this. At this stage, you need to strip down to the BARE ESSENTIALS ONLY. Prioritise. If you haven’t yet booked a place or sent out invites, not even an informal whatsapp message asking your guests to save the date, you may have to face hard facts and do away with a big shindig and scale it down a bit. And even though it wasn’t the intention, you’ll save quite a bit of money too. See, I told you needn’t bother. Also, forget the whole handmade stuff. ‘E’ is the way to go. E-vite saves paper too, you know.
Unless, if like me, you started working on a ‘prototype’ invite but by the time you finished that one it was three days before the party. Don’t worry. All isn’t lost. Just click a fancy picture with a good background, good lighting, and some props, and WHATSAPP the shit to everyone. It’s the perfect blend of using paper AND SAVING PAPER. It’s genius!
Next, run to the nearest store (or one that you saw on instagram but is at the other end of the city, so, do what I did and send your sister instead) and buy bunting, streamers, and other decor to go with your theme. I think it’s fair to assume that if I didn’t finish the prototype of the invite, I pretty much didn’t start working on any other handmade stuff, so I just bought whatever I needed and so should you. It’s just waaaay easier. If this is your first time, do yourself a favour and save everything after the birthday because you know you’re going to be back here in exactly one year. Sooner, if you have more than 1 kid. And if your child is older than 1, repurpose anything you can from what you’ve saved from the year(s) before.
And while you’re out getting things, don’t forget the clothes! Unless you’re cool with reusing those as well (and HUUUUGE respect for you, if you are.)
Step 6 | The Day before the Birthday
At this point, I’ve spent so much time dreaming about the perfect birthday than actually doing much about it. I’ve resigned to the fact that the birthday may hardly be INTerest-worthy, let alone PINterest-worthy, and THAT’S OKAY. At this point, all I can manage is probably the cake and if you’ve managed to not make a stupid promise yourself to make a ‘tradition’ out of this thing and you decide to outsource that, more power to you.
I usually spend the day before the birthday looking up recipes on the internet, digging through my kitchen, scavenging for flour, baking powder, and parchment paper (that I somehow NEVER seem to have). Last-minute late-night runs to the grocery store (by the husband, of course) and mild to strong panic is what usually happens in our house on the eve of Laddoo’s birthday, and as I write this, we are still 4 days away from the eve of her third birthday, so we’ve only experienced that twice before. Update: It is now the eve of the birthday and I have completed ZERO tasks from my to-do list except making more lists, and the husband is currently out on a grocery run to get supplies. So yes, the panic is very, very real.
Come to think about it, PANIC is pretty much what I felt before every exam, thanks to my leave-everything-till-the-last-minute attitude. But one such occasion is still, 14 years later, etched in my memory. Vividly.
But that was then. I had a lucky streak going on. Motherhood is a totally different ball game. And as I write this, I suddenly realise why I’ve been having such a hard time with Laddoo. The Universe gave me more than my share of good luck and now it’s time for me to suffer a bit and that’s okay, I guess.
The important thing on the eve of the birthday is to remind myself to GET OVER THE PANIC and do SOMETHING, because really, how much was I really going to do anyway?
The first year, all I made was one lousy invite that we took pictures of and whatsapped to everyone we wanted to invite. The cake was the only other task and I had started baking an hour before midnight. Sure I was up all night baking – it was a 5-layer cake and I had only ONE tin in the size, plus I was also baking a cake for the cake smash. But, I was on track.
The second year, I think I was so busy celebrating a successful year, actually, good sleep after 4 months of waking up at 3 AM to randomly play, that I forgot I had to bake something. That or I was so confident that Red Velvet cake was going to be a piece of, well, cake, that I figured I could do it the morning of, anyway.
Step 7 | On the BIG DAY
This is it. All that I had been counting down to for the last 100 days was going to culminate into this. Luckily, a day has only 24 hours and that’s how long I had to screw things up. Actually, subtract the last 2 hours.
There is a very limited window before people start arriving. On that day, the priority HAS to be the CAKE because everything else has been (and should be) cancelled/delegated.
Oh, and the child’s happiness. That is a priority too.
Once the cake is done.
I nailed ALL of this in year one. My cakes were layered and crumb-coated and chilling in the fridge; the 5-layered one that we were going to cut and the little 2-layered one for the cake (un)smash.
In the morning, I made buttercream, divided it into 5 parts and made 5 different coloured ones. And the final icing on the cake, was the icing on the cake. No one does it better, than a mom who is doing it for the first time. Read more about that here.
Reason: Beginner’s luck.
You see, the second year, I started mixing the batter only in the morning, and by morning I mean past 10 AM. And by 10 AM, I mean close to noon.
And I also made lunch for us, and my parents and grandparents. Then I made buttercream frosting which was so awesome that, just like my emotions, was…
And THAT’S how you make a Pinterest-worthy cake.
By making a cake and Pinning it to a board called “Awesome Cakes”
My child didn’t care for the cake and wouldn’t even if Yolanda Gampp would have made it. Thankfully, only my feelings stood to be hurt. But when I, and everyone else too, had tasted the Red Velvet cake with overflowing emotions, it was…
I still call that a win.
As for year three…
Well, how can I predict that? I will START baking once I publish this, so how about I let you know tomorrow (or next week (or month (or most probably, year))) how this went?
Got to go! I have to start baking. Stay tuned to my Instagram stories to see how this turns out.
P.S. I should make a fab pinterest worthy image and pin this post, no? Phew! Thank God I realised this soon. I’ll get right on to it once the birthday is over. Or whenever.