A first birthday to remember

As you might remember, we were the cover of last year’s September issue of Chicago Parent. I shared my pregnancy journey, personal diary and birth story with you. Now one year later we are celebrating the transition into toddlerhood and sharing tips on party planning city style!

First birthdays are big deal and to be honest, they are not for the kids, they are for us, the parents. To my kids this will always be their birthday but for me this date marks the BEST day of my life. Time to celebrate!

Welcome to our “Dude And Dudette Ranch!”

Location: Our home in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood

I love hosting parties, but have never hosted one for 100+ people, two ponies and an open bar in our home. We used our front yard for the bar, smash cake area, presents and photo booth. We had pony rides in our front alleyway and all the food inside our home.

Food: Smash cakes are the craze when it comes to first birthday. Sugar Hills Bakery stayed on theme with a cow and pig cake. These adorable cakes were the highlight of the party and such a “sweet” memory of my kids’ first birthday. Our party was from 1-4:30 p.m. so we opted for snack food rather than a meal. We had the “chicken coop” (nuggets), a “vegetable patch” (vegetable tray), the “pig pen” (Chicago Style Hot Dogs), “tractor wheels” (Oreos) and the “potato field” (chips).

Entertainment: Since we have twins, we needed two ponies. We booked Forest View Farms and they hauled the ponies into the city and conducted the rides. My mom was in town and played the ukulele; we had her do a set for the kids and strum the infamous happy birthday song. We created a “duck pond” for the small kids to play in and made this out of a kiddie pool, filled with balls and rubber ducks.

Looking back on this weekend I can’t help but smile! No matter if you are throwing a big or small bash for your babe, remember to celebrate. WE MADE IT! The first year is in the books and it is onward and upward for more amazing memories throughout the years.

Parents, remember to be kind to yourself. Parenthood is a juggling act. Sometimes we might drop a ball and that’s OK. Simply pick it back up an keep going! For more on parenting tips watch The Whitney Reynolds Show on 6:30 p.m., Oct. 9 on Lakeshore PBS.

Must-haves for first birthdays

A photographer (We had Simply Suzy)

Party Favors (Cowboy hats and bandanas)

Smash cakes (We used Sugar Hills Bakery)

Theme (Dude and Dudette Ranch)

Open Bar (Specialty drinks included cowboy cocktail, roping rose and buck beer)

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