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Hei hei xoxo Aurora's my secret middle name, friends call me TungTung, sometimes Cher - but here I am, Cherlyn for ya. Unceasing Foodfullness is my food blog, but Hei Days // Cherlyn Aurora is a treasure trove filled w personal recounts on everything under the sky - or even above. What's "hei"? It's Hebrew for grace. I know I'm living in His grace, that's more than sufficient for me. Currently studying Bachelor of Journalism at QUT! In the land of +61 <3 Find me on instagram: @cherlynaurora // Twitter: @CherlynAurora // YouTube: Cherlyn Aurora // All my love. Cherlyn Aurora

Friday, 8 August 2014

Planning 101: How to Prevent a Birthday Party Disaster

I don't know about you, but I've been a victim of planning 2 kinda disastrous parties HAHA. All because I tend to be overambitious at times, especially since both parties were super significant - The Sweet Sixteen. The first was my own party in 2009, and then, my sister's party a few months ago in March. How do you avoid making the same planning booboos as me? Read my advice down below. *Especially if you're about to plan your coming-of-age 21st bday*

1) Don't over-invite! 

I understand that we all have different groups of friends and relatives that you think you have to invite for your Sweet Sixteen, but let me tell you, at your most important parties, all you want are those friends/relatives whom you are really close with, as it's an occasion which you definitely wish to celebrate this joyous day with. Keep in mind, the numbers will also determine the amount you'll be spending on food. Now now, even if budgeting is a factor you don't need to worry about, then chew on this bit of honest info from me.

One mistake I made in my party was that I invited 60+ guests in total. You see, when you're in a girls' school (this was held when I was Sec 4), you will tend to invite your entire class to the party, as it would be rude and unkind of you to leave someone out - for the record, I got along fine with everyone, but maybe I should have invited the closest pals only, coz they added up as the largest group amongst my relatives and church mates. When you invite a group of friends that's twice as large as the other groups of guests attending, you will tend to socialise more with the bigger group, for some apparent reason. Go with a comfortable number of people instead.

In my opinion, I find it rude for a host (referring to myself) to leave the guest alone during most of the party, and should make an effort to spend time with everyone, since I already made the decision to invite the person. I would want to make the person feel right at home, despite the crowd, coz that's how I'd like to feel too! I regret not having spent time talking to every individual, and that's not something I want to repeat for my upcoming 21st. :)

A majorly late (5 years long) shoutout to my ex-RADICAL caregroup mates, if you're reading this, I do apologise for that time, I know you guys wanted to spend more time with me, and I should've :) Thanks for even staying till after 11pm, after I showered, after the rest of the guests all went home - you guys still stayed back just to personally hand me my gift and pray for me, and I found that so utterly precious. During the BBQ, the guys in the group even stepped up to help me start the fire! Thank you lovelies, you know who you are. xoxo

2) Don't attempt a BBQ. SERIOUS.

Firstly, you really wouldn't wanna reek of bbq. In that nice dress and makeup, I realised it was a recipe for perspiration to the maximum. So, given my intelligent mindset (ahem), why did I choose BBQ for food then? BECAUSE. BECAUSE. My theme was a pool party. You see, I really love water and all things flowingly aqueous, there's such a peace in seeing all that blue. And I still do! Just that, I really should've just used the function room, and had the theme. My friends were all jumping into the pool, which was directly beside the pit - so did I, but honestly, the bbq pit served no purpose but to waste time and leaving me panicking due to the lack of food on the table.

And really, if you don't know how to start a fire - ditch it.

3) Make sure you don't underestimate food & drinks.

Worst case scenario is when you suddenly realise you need a whole lot more drinks and food. That happened at my party. Halfway through, my mum told me to go to the nearby NTUC with her to get more drinks. Expectedly, for any birthday girl, you'd be furious and a bit - okay wait - superrrrr pissed at the fact that it's so anti-climatic to leave your party to get stuff. I was like. WHAT. Ugh. Yeah, so please estimate it well. If not, ensure that you have a nearby supermarket, and someone who is willing to go get them on your behalf. Birthday girls are meant to have a blast, without having to lift a finger, and to be at the center of the dance floor. Metaphorically.

4) Both parents have to be around! Unless you have your entourage of pals. 

You see, unlike my current status of having 10 pals to help plan my party and help with deco and such, at that point of time, that group wasn't established yet. I only had ONE friend to help me, which was Ruz. Pre F10 era. HAHA. I bet the lot of you are wondering who the heck is F10. I WILL TELL YOU GUYS IN THE NEXT POST. I PROMISE. Coming back to my point... well, my dad was overseas for work attachment during that period, so it left only my mum and my grandaunt to help me. *My grandaunt was around because during that time, I held it at her condo*

All I can say is that, if you are to plan your own party, do make sure your dad is around, as he will be of great help - in terms of helping you start the fire, sort out the food, be the cook for the night, getting items if needed etc. To give my mum credit, she really did try her best, but yeah. Friends are extremely important, as you'll need a handful of them to be at your beck and call on the day itself. Okay kidding at the beck and call part - later they read this and knife me ah hahaha - but they are honestly the bestEST help you can get, coz they know you well, and what to expect.

Oh yes, if you were wondering where my sister was in all of this chaos, I actually frankly can't remember. Most likely she was just sitting around and eating food. Yeah. Way to go sis, woohoooooooo. But okay, she was only 11 - like what could she even do HAHA. *I can totally foresee my sister coming to me after reading this portion*

5) Hire a caterer. If not, get your F10 to help bring a dish each. DO NOT D.I.Y. Forewarned.

Please, please, 제발 jebal - korean for please. This is one major factor that can make or break your party. There are plenty of caterers in SG, so do take your pick & choose wisely. Yes, I understand that caterers' pricing can blow a hole in your pocket as well, so here's my other wallet-friendly suggestion. Either completely order food delivery services from a variety of outlets, or rope in your closest pals to help you cook a dish of your choice to bring on that day itself.

You should handle drinks (buy them beforehand obviously), and you can go economical by getting a drink dispenser (I now own one, thanks to my dad who bought one), whereby you can buy several bottles of drinks, bags of ice, and just let your guests top up their drinks from there. Entirely fuss-free, and it's real easy to top up. Always having chilled drinks is the way to go! :)

Also, if you'd like to prep some food as well, ensure that it can be made the day/night before, because on the day of your party, it should be ALL ABOUT YOU. You shouldn't have to run around the kitchen making sure your food is gonna be ready on time. Coz, you gotta get into that glitzy dress of yours, and take your time to style your hair plus putting on special occasion makeup. This is how I plan to do my beach themed party in October. My most treasured pals - get ready, I've already decided on the deco I want heehee.

6) Don't buy commercial deco. Get your friends to help! 
Especially the arty-farty one.

Ready made decorations can be very expensive, and it's not wise to spend too much on it, as it only lasts for the day/night. However, when doing up your own creations, make sure you do it WAY BEFOREHAND. Do not, I repeat, never ever start your deco 1 night before the party. You will rush like mad, get no sleep, and look rather zombified at your sister's party the next day. Yup, this was what happened for my sis' party in March - I asked my ever so kind girlfriends to help me do the deco, and half of us were cooking & baking everything from scratch - I realised the stupidity of it all at that very moment at the end, when we were still up at 6am trying to finish up on the food. Unwise decisions, but it's a lesson learnt.

What my friends and I opted to do for all my friends' 21st bday parties (yes, me and my closest knit of 10 pals all turn 21 this year) is to think of a theme, and then think of the most appropriate unique deco for each party. Actually, most of the thinking and planning is given to me, coz I love to plan these things. Sherry nearly went insane after planning the logistics of Ruz' recent party HAHAHA. Actually coz it was a surprise lahs. I'm good w the logistics and the deco parts for planning-wise heh. Although yeah, me & my bestie Nicole Lai were going a lil' mad while cutting up all the 3D hot air balloons and clouds for Ruz' backdrop XDDD

Nicole's 21st in End-Jan
Priscilla's 21st in End-March
Yen Mei's 21st in Mid-April
Wanyu's 21st in Early July
Ruzana's 21st in End July
Tips for deco planning (okay this one I confirm won't botch up, so trust me on this):

  • Think of the party theme. What does the birthday girl/dude want? What does she/he like? Think of everything. Crack your brain if you have to. This is one party you've gotta nail. Okay lah, ask Jesus for help hahahaha. I suggest not choosing those overused themes of just having colours, think of a concept that the birthday friend of yours would love. It's time to think outta the box. For the record, for Wanyu's party, we did a TFIOS theme. ;)
  • What is your budget? Will you need balloons? Colours? Don't bother with the mini helium tanks from Spotlight. Tried and tested, blasted my $59.90 for nothing. The nozzle was so darn hard to even open, and it only fills up thirty 9 inch balloons. Blah. Remember that DIY deco will always be much cheaper than those conventional ones they sell in stores. Don't fall victim to fancy schmancy items, there's always a way around it!
  • What kind of backdrop do you like? Cloth/crepe paper rolls/wrapping paper/vanguard sheets/the list goes on... Do you want a photobooth styled area? Think of the props that are required.
  • Most importantly, the signage, e.g. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY ________". What is the material/kind of paper/deco paper you'd like to have? I suggest buying deco papers from Artfriend/Made With Love/Paper Market, choose the patterns you like, then trace out the letters/numbers on them, and do a die-cut style. Now, think if you wanna string them up like a banner, or paste them on the wall. It all depends on the backing you have chosen. :)
  • If you'd like to have some balloons, don't go overboard. You can get specific colours at kind prices in party stores. Clarke Quay & Spotlight sells them individually, whereas those wholesalers tend to only sell them in bundle packs. For those signature helium balloons, yeah go crazy, but remember to take into consideration who's bringing it on the day itself, and the feasibility of it all. Take note to buy a weight to hang onto your precious balloon! If you want a lot of helium balloons all strung up, floating against the ceiling - do make a quick check of how high your ceiling is - coz at the end of your party, you do need to get them down. 
Nicole's helium Hello Kitty surprise!

7) Always hold the party in the late afternoon.

Mine was held in the late afternoon, and that was good. But for my sister, we couldn't get the afternoon slot for the function room, and were left with the morning slot (9am-3pm) - and honestly, who goes to a party in the morning? Especially on a saturday, most people would wanna sleep in. We settled for 12nn, but because of the mistake of being overambitious in terms of the DIY food, me & my friends were struggling to finish everything by 12nn - tempers were flaring coz we were a bunch of tired zonked out planners - I remember raising my voice with Pris coz we couldn't get the roux sauce to combine successfully, somehow the flour was clumping haha. Half of my pals were busy with the deco downstairs.

Alas, we finally did, and popped it into the oven with all the sliced potatoes, cauliflowers, carrots and shredded mozza. However, at that point of time it was already 12nn, and we hadn't even got the chocolate fondue marshmallows ready, yknow, having to wait for them to solidify together with the rainbow sprinkles, since we had planned for them to be strung up on individual satay sticks and placed beautifully on a styrofoam structure. OKAY. To anyone planning to do that marshmallow bonanza wowza to astound your guests - please. It was an epic failure, some didn't even hold up, it was so messy - and then you know what? WE FORGOT TO BRING IT DOWN TO THE PARTY. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Nobody was in their right mind to realise it, we were just happy to have finished slogging our butts off, so when we were done with the party & we held the after-party in my house, I facepalmed myself when I saw the marshies just sitting there on the kitchen counter. *cries*

Btw, when me & my pals finally went down to the function room, it was already 1+PM, and my mum was getting frustrated coz there wasn't any food on the table for the guests, and they were obviously hungry, seeing that they came for lunch. The whole party went past in a flurry. We had to rush to eat, take a ton of photos, and cut the customised birthday cake (of coz, take a whole lotta photos of the expensive fondant creation) - we really had no time to thoroughly enjoy the party, like my sis couldn't have enough hanging out time with her friends, and for that - I felt soooooo bad. I was really extremely angry at my incompetence, coz the sole purpose of why I planned it for her was coz from my past experience, one cannot plan your own party, so I decided to do it instead with the help of my friends - but coz of the lack of right timing, prep and overambitious-ness, it resulted in a flop AGAIN. You have no idea how mad I was at my planning oversight. Sigh.

But above all that, I know my sis appreciated the effort we put into it, and at the very end of the day, what matters most is that you celebrated it with a bunch of people that you care about, and despite whether it was a bumpy ride or not, it'll be memorable nonetheless. <3

Also guys, always book your function room slot early. At my place, 12 midnight is what they refer to as Fastest Fingers First LOL.

8) Allocate someone to do your hair & makeup.

If you've got plenty of cash to spare, that's wonderful! If you're looking for someone to do house call, you can look for Emily at 96777725, she does hair & makeup really nicely, as I've hired her for my school prom back in 2010, and my mum had her for her Dinner & Dance company bash previously. She's an extremely lovely girl, only a few years older than me, but very talented. :) FYI, I'm not sponsored or whatever lol, it's just that I will give a shoutout to those who deserve it. Customer service always pays off when done right. Her charges are $100 for hair & makeup, including falsies.

For those who find it quite dear, don't fret! This is where your friends come in. I'm sure one of them knows their way around hairstyles - those braids, curls and whatnot. As for makeup, one of them will be able to do it too, when you've been friends for so long, you'd definitely know who can rise to the occasion. If you've got a makeup stash, that is absolutely fab, and if you're not going for an entirely different look from what you've been sporting, then there's no need to buy any more products or eyeshadow palettes.

What if you don't? Then this is what you do. Take a look around Sephora, have a sample of what you'd like to have - don't worry about those Sephora staff hovering around you, take it as a chance to ask them what is suitable for your skin, but don't let them push you into buying anything. After taking a suitable selection of makeup you'd like to try on your face, ask for a demo from the polite and helpful beauty advisors, and they will proceed to doll you up. If they tell you they're only going to do one side of your face, due to the fact that they charge $50 for a full face makeup - DO NOT RELENT. I can be absolutely firm with my words and stance when I desire to, and I'd have you know that a very clever salesgirl will go with it, and do up your entire face - coz they understand that you'd wanna know how it changes up your look. :) *smirks*

If you're ever in Sephora ION/Ngee Ann City, and you see this tarte beauty advisor called Amanda, ASK HER FOR HELP. She is my favourite beauty advisor at Sephora, she will never push you to buy anything, and she will always recommend what's best for you, despite the fact that she's the tarte brand beauty advisor hahaha. She's extremely friendly, so if she happens to be in town, and you're there - good for you!

After deliberating over what to buy, and taking into consideration the budget which you have set aside, make your purchase, and don't forget about brushes! Very impt for application. Let your makeup artist pal take a look at what you have (best idea is to have her come with you to help), then she can come up with a few different looks, and ask you to choose. There, a more economical method!

OH YES. If you're a dude, I think all you need is some moisturiser, concealer, loose powder and a powder brush to make your face radiate flawlessness. ;D Guyliner is cool too, but uhm. Go easy on it if you do.

9) The birthday cake. 

For special parties, ordering a customised cake is a complete MUST DO. C'mon, how many times in your life is an occasion so special to the point we need an entirely customised cake? But, it is very important that you choose a bakery that is reputable, understands your requests, and does not charge insane prices. Also, it is crucial to place your order at least 1 or 2 months ahead, depending on how busy/popular the bakery is, to avoid disappointment. :)

My sister went with a garden party themed cake, with fondant flowers & butterflies, along with a 20 chocolate/mango cupcakes which spelt out in fondant letters, "HAPPY BDAY ALEXIS TUNG <3". She ordered it from Fresh Bakes.
For mine, I had a ginormous 16 numbered chocolate-mint buttercream & sponge cake, which was absolutely 5kg lovely. Even my friends liked it! Got that at Bake Inc.

*I will do up a Fresh Bakes customised cake review right after this on Unceasing Foodfullness*

Photo credit: Gilly :D Couldn't find my picture in my gallery lol

Some tips I will have to give you:

  • Fondant/Fresh Cream/Buttercream covered?
  • How many inches wide? Any tiers? Take note they charge a lot for tiers.
  • Theme & Colours
  • Flavours of the cake
  • Do you want cakes/cupcakes/both? Or would you prefer a cupcake-styled cake?
  • Is the price right? Do shop around and ask for quotes from various stores.
  • Make sure you go through with them thoroughly on EVERY detail.
  • Ensure you check on delivery whether they got everything right. 
  • Ask them for a receipt with all the details in it, sent to your email, before you pay them via bank transfer.
  • Conversing with them via email is better than phone calls, but always give them picture attachments to refer to the kind of design you fancy.

10) HAVE FUN! Take a ton of photos & birthday song video.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to chillax and have a great time hanging out with all your guests. And to make sure you remember all the fun moments in the years to come, prepare a fully-charged camera, and if you are blessed to have a polaroid, remember to stock up a least a few boxes of film to make sure you can take as many as you wish! Also, if your pal has a DSLR, you know what to do. If you happen to have a friend who can photograph well, kindly ask him/her to take on that role, coz it's really cool to see candid shots from everyone's point of view, and not only your own.

Most of all, taking videos during your birthday song, or short videos of wishes from all the guests, it'll be worth the memory and data it takes up. Coz this is one birthday you plan to remember.

Let's pop that champagne!
Cherlyn Aurora xoxo

P.S. If you want to ask me for some more tips for your birthday party, just email me at cherry_tomato052@hotmail.com
P.P.S. Craving for your regular teh or kopi instead of champagne? Pop over to www.unceasingfoodfullness.blogspot.sg for delightful recommendations!
None of the gifs are mine, just using them to portray the situations. :)

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