I never thought I could pull off a DIY first birthday party for my daughter Jill. We had a surfer-themed pool party and it was a blast!

I’m a big fan of DIY-ing. Our prenup pictorial was a big DIY project and even our wedding included DIY elements. I had no problem making stuff back then; I had the whole time to myself. But now it’s different. It’s challenging now that I have a one-year-old daughter to take care of and a household to manage. Not to mention that I have no yaya (nanny).

diy first birthday party

Earlier on, my husband and I had been debating whether to get an all-in birthday package or to just organize the party ourselves. I found that all-in birthday party packages start at P100,000 and could go up to as high as P200,000. Most of these packages require a minimum of 30 kids and 70 adults. However, we could only afford a small party and only invited about 10 kids and 50 adults. Also, there’s no point getting a coordinator since we expected that most of the guests will be spending their time on the pool and no one would pay too much attention to the party.

No yaya, no problem 

So we went with option two: plan the party ourselves. This meant I had to manage my time as efficiently as possible, using the simplest, most accessible materials available. Since I had no yaya, I had to make the most out of the free time I had, which was only during Jill’s sleeping time. As they say, nobody hustles harder than a stay-at-home momma!

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get any help. There was my husband, my bestfriends, our helper (who does all the chores), my grandparents (who were living close to us), our parents (who took care of Jill when we needed to run errands), and my dear uncle in New York (who bought most of the decors from Party City).

Plus, I got hold of easy-to-use tools that made party planning a breeze! So how did I accomplish this DIY first birthday party?

  1. Plan ahead

As in plan way, way ahead. You can’t afford to dilly-dally. In my case, I started looking for a private resort and comparing prices as early as last week of January, considering most popular resorts are fully booked during the summer. You need to get in touch with at least three suppliers and compare their rates. Most take long to provide a quote, so you have to allow at least a month or two for suppliers hunting alone.

You also need to start scheduling your work time. Set a specific time of the day to do party planning. You could do this during your baby’s naptime early in the day and at least an hour after baby’s bedtime. Expect your pace to be slow as you may only have about 2 to 3 hours of work time everyday.

  1. Take advantage of easy-to-use tools on the web

 I usually use Photoshop for designing. But if you are pressed for time and can’t find your way around Photoshop, then use Canva.com instead. They have great-looking invitation templates that you can customize according to your party’s theme. Plus, they have fabulous fonts. And the best thing about it all is… it’s FREE!

diy kiddie swimming party

They already have this pool party invitation design and I only needed to add the surfboard, hibiscus and other stuff. The designs are also downloadable in .JPG or PDF format, just print it and you’re ready to go.

Or, in my case, I did away with the printing and sending of invitations and just set up a Facebook event page. Canva also offers templates for FB event cover photo and social media posts (so you can make your party announcements attractive).

And—you guessed it right!—I also used Canva for my party favor cards, baby milestones and name tags. You just have to find a template with the right dimensions, customize the look and you’re done.

diy baby milestones

  1. Be organized; create a master file

 It’s OK to be O.C., especially with party planning. I listed all my suppliers in an excel sheet, together with their contact details, rates, date of down payment and date of final payment. This way, you could keep track of your budget and determine which suppliers will be paid on the day.

On-the-day payments should be prepared at least a day before the party. You’ll be extremely busy during the party and you wouldn’t want to be rummaging in your purse for the payments. I put all the cash in an envelope, properly labelled with supplier’s name and amount. Make sure to hand them the exact amount. I also prepared acknowledgement receipts for suppliers who don’t provide official receipts.

  1. Work on your “pegs”

I didn’t have enough budget to hire a stylist, so I had to do the styling myself, which is not a joke, believe me. Lucky for me, my uncle, who works in New York, sent over some gorgeous party decors from Party City. But I also got a few more from Tabora Street in Divisoria, 168, National Bookstore and from the neighborhood party supplies shop. Homemadeparties.ph lists down some online party supplies store that you can also check out.

diy kiddie swimming party

And since I’m not a professional stylist, I had to look for pegs in Pinterest and put together all the materials I have to create the final look. Here are photos of the snack bar and the photo wall.

jill surfer photo wall

  1. Be resourceful

The goal is to achieve a surf shack/Hawaiian luau feel using the cheapest materials in the market. The foam boards in NBS are so expensive, so I made the surfboards out of illustration board instead and covered them with pink, yellow and orange cartolina. I created the “Surf Shack” sign in Canva and glued it on an illustration board.

diy first birthday partydiy first birthday partyI designed the surfboard directional signs using Photoshop and attached it with masking tape on the bamboo pole.

diy surf theme party giveaways

For the giveaways, I bought small beach pails from 168 at P40 each and filled them with assorted goodies, small beach balls and Finding Dory bubbles (from Party City).

  1. Lastly, enjoy every bit of it

After all, DIY projects are supposed to be fun, right? I play a bouncy, happy tune on Spotify every time I work. I take photos of my finished product and have my daughter pose with them. I show off my projects to anyone who visits the house. On the day of the party, tell everyone it’s your labor of love. Be proud of your DIY project and savor every bit of compliment that comes your way.


What are the most creative, most memorable DIY projects you’ve done in the past? Share us in the comments section below.

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