Monday, July 19, 2010

You Only Turn 1 Once (Thank Goodness...Kate's Birthday Party)

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. We survived ours, hahaha. The birthday party went wonderfully, and we wanted to share some photos of the final product with all of you. Now, for those of you who are new to the blog, I need to explain that I'm Korean-American and my husband's family is Chinese. The Korean culture places a lot of importance on a child's first birthday, hence all the fuss you see in the pictures below. Don't worry - we don't do this every year. For instance, that cake? Yeah...the next time she sees a cake like that at a party thrown in her honor, it'll be at her wedding. ^_-

The use of the birds and round pink trees were themed off of an invitation I found on, designed by Lori of Guess What? Design. (I did order these invites - they're wonderful, and I highly recommend all the products on for quality and beauty. I always get tons of compliments on anything I order from this site.) I loved the birds and the colors so much that we incorporated them throughout the party, as you can see.

This is the Dol-sahng, or Dol table, which displays the traditional "towers" of food, etc, that symbolize long life and prosperity for the birthday child. We used jars and made our own go-im out of mentos and dried beans in a more contemporary and westernized translation of the traditional towers of food and fruit. We decided to not use dduk, or rice cakes in the display, as usually these are distributed to and/or consumed by guests, but most of our guests weren't Korean, so may not have enjoyed the dduk. Instead, we did a nice, fancy cake.

Hi everyone! Kathryn here, somewhat exhausted but happy with how things turned out! It was definitely worth it to see the smiling faces of friends and family as they walked into the party! Just wanted to add my two cents to say how thrilled I was with how the Dol-sahng turned out, especially compared to the conceptual sketch I drew for Carol here.

I LOVED Kate's cake! Kathryn had to sort of talk me into it (I was reluctant initally, because of its extravagance) but I'm SO pleased that she did! My close friends know what a disappointment my wedding cake was to me (tasty but ugly) so this made up for it. In fact, my DH looked at this cake, and turned to me and said, "So, no more complaining about the wedding cake, right?" It also tasted as good as it looks - chocolate velvet with strawberry butter cream! Yummy!

Kathryn scoured the internet for ideas and came across this "photo tree" as an alternative to a picture frame display of Kate's growth over the past year. I think it turned out wonderfully, don't you? So pretty!

Kathryn again. Haha, thanks Carol! This was really fun and easy to create. And personally, I think it's easy to create a pretty photo tree when there's a pretty baby with lots of pretty photos to choose from. ^_^

Rowan really wanted to help with the decorations for the party, so I let him "make decorations" which we then framed. This little "love letter" from Rowan to Kate (he nicknamed her "Ducky" while she was still in my belly and it's stuck ^_^) was the perfect way to finish his "decorations."

Kathryn again! I had tears in my eyes when Rowan wrote his "love letter." I just love how, when given the opportunity to write anything he wanted for his sister, he chose to write, "I love you." Imagine, if you will, his sweet little voice asking me, "Kai-ma?" ("Kai-ma" is Chinese for "godmother.") "How do you spell 'love?'" So sweet!!!

These birdie cookies and rice-krispy treat trees were used as decorative accents and favors! They were all made by a super-talented co-worker and friend of Kathryn's. They were incredible - if you look carefully, you can see the sanding sugar she used for the birds' breasts, and the tiny light glints in the eyes! Amazing!!!

(Kathryn again. For fun, compare this final product to the conceptual sketch here.)

These little take-out boxes were filled with mentos and "cake balls" which Kathryn made as take-home favors too. So cute, especially when displayed on this little cupcake stand (which you may recognize from Rowan's birthday party).

Kathryn created this gorgeous bunting for Kate's high chair, using paper and ribbon. Does her creativity ever end? Answer: no.

Kate wearing her han-bok, a traditional Korean dress, with me and my DH. She only wore that dress for about 20 minutes, because it was way too warm to wear it any longer. Happy birthday, honey-girl!

The whole family (DH, Rowan, Kate, and me).

The Doljabi board, explaining the doljabi game. Different objects are laid out for Kate to choose from, and tradition says that depending on what she picks, that object will reveal something about her future talents or career path. She ended up picking up the piggy bank (indicating a career in finance or wealth), but there was some controversy over this as she touched the gavel (indicating a legal mind or career as a judge) first. Hey, if she ends up being a wealthy supreme court justice, I have no objections. ^_-

(Kathryn here. I just have to mention - Carol made this doljabi board herself. Isn't it fantastic???)

Little jars were set out to let guests "guess" which object Kate might pick during the Doljabi game. They wrote their names on pieces of paper and dropped them into the jar labeled with their guess. After she picked an object, a name was drawn from the jar, and that guest won a small prize. (My dad ended up winning!)

Kate during the doljabi game. We were trying to coax her over to the items. I think she was a little overwhelmed, notwithstanding the fact that she'd just woken up from a nap.

Me and Kathryn at the end of the party. I'm exhausted and look it. I can't believe how good Kathryn still looks though! =)

Kathryn again. Carol's silly. She looks wonderful! I love her Anthro dress that she's wearing!

Kathryn's OOTD:
Target Merona Chambray Dress in Pond Green (still available in stores, petite version here)
Oh, Hello Friend Belt
Nordstrom BP necklace

Carol's OOTD:
Sweater: BP 3/4 Sleeve Cardigan, Nordstrom
Dress: C. Keer dress, Anthropologie (older - 2007? 2008? Not sure of the name...)
Necklace: BP Bow Necklace, Nordstrom (in stores)


  1. Oh wow!! What an amazing cake, decorations... party in general! Everything is so adorable! I want a party like this! lol ;D

    Happy belated bday to little Kate! :)

  2. Everything looks so awesome! What a great party, Happy 1st to Kate :)

    Congrats you two, all the hard work paid off!

  3. Um, that cake is absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!! Kate is one lucky little girl! Those takeout boxes are super cute too. You did a wonderful job!!

  4. Ok, I had tears in my eyes while reading this post. I don't know what's more touching: the sweet love letter from big brother (my son and daughter are very close even though they are 7 years apart), the love clearly evident in all of the planning or the precious picture of you both. Seriously, I was very moved to see the final product.

  5. AWWW...what a great party that must have been. I would have wanted to be invited. Haha! Your family looks soooo cute. I can't wait to celebrate my baby's one year birthday. Well, the baby that I don't have yet. I loved all the decorations you had, it's sooo cute.

  6. Wow! This party looks amazing and so pretty...I think my first birthday party was at a mcdonalds.....

  7. It's like straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine or something. Everything is so perfect. I love the cake and the love letter from Rowan. How precious. (giveaway)

  8. I'm speechless... Wow!!!

    How did you make the cake?

  9. Wow - the party looks amazing! And I totally love the idea of the Doljabi board. When my imaginary children turn one, I'm totally stealing that idea!

  10. This is BEAUTIFUL! I love all of the DIY ideas... seriously, so cute!

  11. What a fantastic party! The cake is amazing and I love the photo tree and all the little details. The bird theme is adorable and I like the way you carried it through all of the decorations, especially those cookies! Thanks for telling us about all of the cultural traditions with the towers and the doljabi game. It sounds fun! I love hearing about the special ways that people celebrate! :-)

  12. So cute, sweet and thoughtful! Thanks so much for posting pictures, I love the theme that you picked and the cake is too precious! It is so interesting to learn about another culture's traditions.

  13. I looove it! everything is so cute.

  14. Have you guys considered starting a party planning business? No joke - everything looks spectacular and so well put together, you've left no detail forgotten!

  15. Wow! Everything looks like it turned out perfectly! I love all the ideas from the photo tree to the high chair banner! And that Doljabi board is so cute! Happy 1st birthday, Kate! And you two, Carol & Kathryn, look gorgeous! BTW, I laughed at Carol's wedding cake story! I also hated mine! Cake lady totally made it different than what was agreed upon! Still gets me!!! Anyhoo, you girls did an amazing job!

  16. Wow! I'm blown away! You two are such great and productive friends... esp love the cake so amazing. Happy birthday to your little girl Kate.

  17. I really enjoyed seeing the pictures from your daughter's 1st Birthday Party. Yes, the love and care was evident and wait till she gets to see the video in the future.

    Thanks for sharing........

  18. Wow! Everything looks amazing. You two did a wonderful job!

  19. How beautiful! She will love looking at the photos of her big day when she is all grown up. :-)

  20. Happy birthday, Kate! She's beautiful and so is your entire family! We Vietnamese make a VERY big deal about first birthdays. My nephew had a big one month and a one year birthday. Giant parties, everyone comes out. Your celebration is just beautiful. Maybe moonlight as a party planner? Fantastic job!

  21. Oh my heart! Every little detail was perfect for Kate's big day. The birthday girl is a total doll and you and Kathryn look amazing at the party! I love seeing the pictures, such a beautiful day to celebrate your sweetheart!

  22. what a beautiful family! the party looked absolutely perfect!!!! i love everything, and rowan's letter is just so sweet

  23. the theme and cake are absolutely amazing! i love the design and how perfectly pretty everything is. you're lucky to have such a sweet girl and she's lucky to have you as a mommy :D

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  25. Hey,
    Loved this post soooooo much and it's so great that you two are such good friends.
    You have such a great family and belated Happy Birthday to Cutie Kate.
    I am going to mention this post on my blog also.

  26. Hi there, i love love all the things you did for Kate's 1st birthday, everything is so well put together. Could you pls. tell me where can i get the banner made? and how did u do it? I am getting ideas for my son's birthday coming in 2 months. I am an avid reader/lurker of your blog, i am here, everyday :-) thank you so much!


  27. Thank you everyone, for all the kind words and the birthday wishes for Kate. =D I just have to re-emphasize that I could never ever in a million years have done this without Kathryn. She was seriously amazing in planning and coordinating this party.

    @Cindi - I can't wait for you baby that you're going to have to turn 1! =D It'll be so fun!

    @Vicky - we actually ordered the cake from the bakery, so we can't take credit for that. =) However, Kathryn did coordinate with the baker and asked her specifically to incorporate the birds, trees, and grass from the invitation. I think it turned out so well!

    @Kathleen - oh, totally, you should! =D The Doljabi game is so fun!

    @Gemma - hahaha, I'm so glad I'm not alone in my wedding-cake disappointment (not that I'm glad that you were disappointed, of course...). I never really got over that ugly cake. It didn't turn out at all like I thought it would. So sad. At least it tasted good. This cake was cute AND tasty, so made up for the wedding cake debacle. =D

    @Tien - oh, I'd love to see the Vietnamese version! I bet it's gorgeous. I've been telling Kathryn for the last couple years that she should be working as a party planner. She's so inspiring.

    @Anonymous (2nd one) - Thanks! We actually had the banner made at a print shop on UCI's campus. However, you can do it at most other print shops as well, including FedEx/Kinko's and local shops. I think Kathryn located an online shop that had very good prices (our banner was 5'x5' and FedEx/Kinko's wanted about $125 for it...), which we might have used, had our turnaround time not been so short. If you want the information, email Kathryn (see sidebar for email addresses) - she may still have the website for that online shop.

  28. Thanks so much to everyone for your sweet comments! I am so very touched by your kind words! =) I really appreciate your encouragement and it's so fun to gush over all these pretty little details with all of you! Thank you so much! It really means a lot to me!

    My favorite moments of the day have to be...1) when Carol started jumping up and down and clapping her hands at the final product, 2) when Carol's mother saw the Dolsahng for the first time and whipped out her camera to take photos (with a big smile on her face), and 3) Baby Kate in her han-bok. Such a fun day that we'll always remember! =D

  29. Hi Kathryn,
    This is too cute!!!
    Where did you get the poster made?


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  31. Kate's Birthday Party was eye catching especially that tree collage. What an idea and it is super affordable too as I can make it on my own. Will definitely be creating this one for my kid’s upcoming birthday that will be hosted on next weekend. If you have any garden inspired Los Angeles venues then please share!