Trying to create precious first birthday memories

Time for a special birthday celebration
Marie Louise McConville

Well, the countdown is now well and truly on.

Every day, I realise time is ticking away and I really need to get myself sorted.

There's so much to do.

From decorations and food, to presents and wrapping paper, I don't know where to start.

I really thought the pressure of expecting my first baby would be among the most stressful things I would ever face in life but it turns out planning her first birthday party is.

Forget Christmas people, December 12 is fast approaching and already, I'm running around like a demented mother. Is that normal?

It feels like the past year has gone by in the blink of an eye and now, here we are, just a couple of weeks away from her big first birthday and I really want to pull out all the stops to make sure she has a brilliant day - but I'm panicked.

The thing is, I never remember seeing my parents this stressed all those years ago when they were organising birthday parties for us - maybe they just hid it really well.

But, with so much on offer these days, I'm really feeling the pressure to book and buy everything, just in case.

At the end of the day, I know she will only be one and probably won't really realise the milestone but I don't want to let her down. Am I nuts?

The problem is, I'm not really feeling under too much pressure present wise because for the past few months I've been picking things up from here and there and putting them aside.

So, I think that end of things is sorted.

I have also ordered her cake (have you seen the price of children's cakes these days?) and have a few other wee things in.

But after that I have found myself running around after myself because I'm not sure what I should be doing next.

We have decided we just want to have a little gathering at home with some family and close friends.

Mistakenly, I had thought this would take the pressure off a little but that's not the case because having just moved into a new house last year, just weeks before I had Abbie, there's still a lot we need to do.

So, where does that leave us?

Firstly, there's the decorations.

How big do we go? Do we opt for lots of banners or just one or two balloons?

I had mentioned to Darren that I thought we should hire a bouncy castle and he told me not to be ridiculous as it would be December.

I told him that Abbie should not be missing out on a fun party every year just because it falls in December however he soon reminded me that she wouldn't be able to use it yet - which made sense.

Strangely, I am also feeling drawn towards a candy floss machine, a popcorn machine, a candy cart, an ice-cream machine, a clown and a balloon artist.

Then there's the cupcake tower, cake pops, chocolate fountains and BBQ banquets.

I just know it won't be long before I'm debating pony rides, a mobile petting zoo and a mass conga line through the street.

And don't even get me started about party clothes and accessories.

I really have become totally crazy about the whole thing.

I would be grateful if someone could tell me if it is normal for a new parent to feel like this. Really, I just want to make sure she has a wonderful day and doesn't miss out on anything.

Basically, I don't want to let her down.

A first birthday is so special and I want Abbie to feel the day is about her and for her but I also don't want to be one of those crazy parents who always go OTT.

So, with final preparations due to be carried out on December 11, I just have to hope Abbie enjoys her party and feels the love and has loads of fun.

After all, she is our world and we couldn't imagine life without her.

Wish us luck and here's to making more precious memories.


How would you like to celebrate the start of the festive season by winning a £30 voucher for a tasty south Belfast eatery?

Located in the heart of Stranmillis village, with a quirky styled interior and large heated outdoor seating area, Birdcage offers a pecking good time to lovers of all things chicken.

Why not treat yourself by taking a perch at the bar and grabbing an awesome signature Margarita while you take a peek at the menu?

You will be clucking over the wings covered in your favourite sauces or half and full chickens coated in garlic & soy, buttermilk or cracked black pepper, as well as a range of sides including grilled mac n cheese, sweet potato fries and home fries that are hard to beat.

If chicken isn't your thing then there's veggie options and beef on the menu too.

Why not try the racks of ribs smothered in your choice of over ten sauces, a kettyle beef burger cooked to your preference or a large birdmunch menu if you're squawking out for something lighter?

To celebrate the launch of the Staybar menu, Birdcage is offering three lucky readers the chance to dine on the Staybar menu with a friend.

I have three £30 vouchers to give away to three lucky readers.

If you fancy winning a pair, simply email your name, address and telephone number - along with the answer to the question below - to

Closing date for entries is Tuesday, December 1 at 12 Noon.

(Q) How many days are there in December?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply


What's Hot?

Thriller - Tom Hanks returns to the big screen this weekend in Bridge of Spies, which tells the story of an American lawyer who is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.

Festivities - It's the end of November and you know what that means, our Christmas trees and Christmas decorations can go up this weekend without fear of ridicule. Enjoy and have fun.

Drama - If you're after a festive fun night out, check out My Big Fat Belfast Christmas at Theatre at the Mill, starring Caroline Curran, who played Maggie Muff in ‘Fifty Shades of Red White and Blue'. This warm-hearted Belfast take on the Nativity Story runs from December 1 until January 2.

So Not!

Vile - It's emerged X-Factor host, Caroline Flack was targeted by online trolls after last weekend's show, who made vile comments about her weight. What disgraceful behaviour. Get a life people.

Quitting - Strictly star Ola Jordan has announced she is quitting the show after 10 years. The dancer said she it was time to "move onto other things".

Break - She has been a regular on the cobbles for more than 50 years but now 84-year-old actress, Eileen Derbyshire, who plays Emily Bishop is to take a six-month break from Coronation Street. She will be missed.



The winners of the Acton & Sons competition are Angela Boyle, from Lurgan; Mark Grills, from Ballyclare; Nicola Legge, from Newtownards; Sharon Sands, from Belfast; and Albert Smith, from Belfast


Easy Peasy Recipe

This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Blackberry Crumble Cake

You will need:

120g butter

120g sugar

2 large eggs

120g self-raising flour

200g blackberries

For the crumble topping

100g plain flour

50g diced butter

50g sugar

To Make:

Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Grease a loaf tin.

In a bowl, mix the butter and sugar until fluffy

Gradually add each of the eggs and beat well.

Add the self-raising flour.

Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and top with blackberries. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the plain flour and diced butter and work through fingers until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar.

Sprinkle the mixture over the blackberries and bake for 45 minutes.

Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Marie Louise McConville,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,





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