Starting this week, we welcome the “Year Of The Rabbit” and a two week long Chinese New Year celebration. My friend, Melisa from Project Nursery came up with unique party concept to celebrate her son’s first birthday. Darling Chase is 1/4 Chinese, so when it came time to choose a theme, Melisa’s husband cleverly suggested that they enjoy all that Chinese New Year has to offer: delicious Chinese Dim Sum, tasty Chinese sweets and a themed cocktail party for their close family and friends.
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, party planning didn’t kick into high gear until two weeks before the party! Melisa asked WH Hostess to design and execute her vision for a modern, bamboo themed first birthday party that would involve red rabbits! I created a custom bamboo pattern that was used throughout the party….read on for more details!
Melisa is a dream client – with her design background, she often has a clear vision of what she is looking for and knows how to articulate it. She also knows when to say “take it from here, Kelly!” which is always fun for me! In order to be smart about her party purchases, she sourced a lot of their decorations in LA’s Chinatown. She picked up everything from inexpensive paper lanterns to little toy drums, fans and kid-friendly chopsticks for the favor bags – and had a great time negotiating along the way!
Since this first birthday party was a Saturday night cocktail party, catered Dim Sum was a delicious way to keep her adult guests intrigued. The kids were kept happy munching on potstickers and eggrolls. It was a low maintenance meal that Melisa could simply steam and serve, and clean up was a breeze since guest enjoyed eating their finger foods with chopsticks out of Chinese take out boxes.
With dessert tables still on-trend, planning one with an ethnic theme was a great way to update the concept. They served authentic Chinese goodies and candies such as Moon Cakes, Sesame Balls, Wintermelon Cakes, Lychee Candy, Haw Flakes, Candied Water Chestnuts and more. She also included the popular Magnolia cupcakes and their famous banana pudding. The birthday cake was red velvet and adorned with red and yellow fondant shaped fortune cookies. Vanilla sugar cookies with lemon frosting by Angela from Queen of Tarts Cakes tied in the entire presentation thanks to her edible wafers designed to match my invitations. We stepped in with some simple decorations that helped brand the table, including cupcake toppers, candy jar tags, and sweet little rabbit stickers to dress up plastic cups.
One of my favorite parts of this party was the backdrop for the dessert table. Melisa wanted the backdrop to create a large impact, yet wanted to keep the look sophisticated. We decided that two large canvases featuring our custom bamboo print (exploded for a modern look) would fit the bill. Melisa honed in on her nursery design skills and decided she could save a couple hundred bucks by stretching her own canvases. I sent her my bamboo print in a file, and she had turned into canvas at Uprinting.com. A quick visit to the art supply store, she stretched the canvases on canvas bars and now has permanent wall art and hip graphic prints she can enjoy year round! (they just so happen to coordinate perfectly with her stunning yellow chandelier!)
Because the party from held from 5pm-7pm, the children arrived in their PJ’s or “Mandarin Suits”. The big kids watched “Mulan” and “Kung-fu Panda” while making Chinese paper lantern crafts. Adults sipped on fun beverages thanks to a fully stocked bar. And what one year old party is complete without a signature drink or two? Burning Mandarin Martinis and Lychee infused champagne cocktails were served.
In the Chinese New Year tradition, guest went home with additional favors such as Mandarin oranges for luck, take out containers filled with candies and a lucky red envelope from the decorative centerpiece to ward off evil spirits!
Birthday Boy Chase looked just darling in his Mandarin Suit and looked like he had the time of his life!