Babies ‘n Bacon: Tala’s first birthday brunch

If it feels like birthday central around here, that’s because it is. After Mom’s and Marlon’s birthdays, finally, here’s my full report on Tala’s birthday brunch!

As I’ve said, kiddie birthdays here are very low-key. People usually host them at home, with birthday cake and a finger-food buffet that would leave most Filipinos hungry light nibbles—no themes, no magicians, no big deal. Anticipating busy travel and work schedules, Marlon and I decided early on to have the party at a cafe. I got Marlon to approve my birthday brunch idea by adding “bacon” to the name of our party: Babies ‘n Bacon.

On Tala’s birthday, we felt every bit of our DIY European lifestyle as we juggled our morning routine—feeding, playing, changing—with party prep. Marlon was in charge of balloons, blowing them up himself with a tank of helium that he’d lugged home on his bike the night before. (Yes, ganyan talaga dito. Sariling sikap.)

Tala's first birthday outfit

Naturally, I was in charge of dressing the birthday girl. Her comfy bleach-spattered sweatshirt is a custom print job from local Amsterdam label, . I considered printing “It’s fun to be one,” but it seemed overdone. The sweatshirt went perfectly with funky geometric leggings from my all-time fave googoo&gaga.

Tala's first birthday sequin hairpiece

Naptime gave me a few minutes to stitch together a quick birthday hairpiece: stars, sequins and the number one, of course.

Tala's first birthday walking with balloons

After Tala’s nap, we walked to our party venue with thirty balloons wildly gyrating in the stiff Amsterdam wind. Not an easy task!

It wasn’t easy to find a party venue, either. I didn’t want anything babyish, as most of our guests would be adults with only a few babies and toddlers. Most of the cafes we looked at didn’t host parties, had very typical (and for me, boring) Dutch lunch options, or wouldn’t allow us to bring in our own birthday cake.

We found a solution within five minutes’ walking distance from home: the bright, friendly, design-y Flinders Cafe.

Tala's first birthday at Flinders Cafe Amsterdam

Image via Flinders Cafe.

Flinders Cafe looks great and has a semi-private space a few steps down from the main dining area, which felt just right for a more intimate gathering.

Tala's first birthday at Cafe Flinders private area

Image via Flinders Cafe.

The best part about Flinders Cafe: their friendliness and flexibility! After discussing my brunch wishes with the manager, Stijn, they made a simple menu of bacon, scrambled eggs, Dutch cheese and farmer’s bread, yogurt with muesli, mini muffins and the most delicious brownies. They even mixed Bloody Marys for the first time ever, and asked me to taste them before serving them to our guests. In a culture where bend-over-backwards customer service isn’t a strong point, it was such a pleasant surprise.

With the food left to the professionals, we simply had decorate. First to go up was my labor of love: a hand-lettered balloon garland.

Tala's first birthday hand lettered balloon garland

I had so much fun doing this!

Tala's first birthday hand lettered balloon garland 2

I’ll write a little more about it tomorrow.

Tala's first birthday hand lettered balloon garland 3

We also put up an Instagram wall of Polaroid prints from Tala’s first year of life, printed and delivered by PrintKlub. Easiest decorating idea ever.

Tala's first birthday Polabox wall

What I loved most about Tala’s birthday brunch was celebrating with all the people who have become part of our lives over the past three years. From Marlon’s ex-colleague who drove us home from the hospital, to the photographer-turned-friend who took Tala’s newborn photos, to the mommies I take long strolls with and the babies we cradle on our laps in cafes, our friends are now part of Tala’s life too.

Tala's first birthday kiddie guests

Our guests could have sung “Happy birthday” in seven languages, but we decided to stick to English, Filipino and Dutch. (The Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese and Bulgarian versions will be on the limited edition EP.)

Tala's first birthday guests

A bit of odd Dutch trivia: the Dutch birthday song has nothing to do with the internationally known tune. It goes:

Lang zal ze leven (3x)
In de Gloria! (3x) 
Hieperdipiep… hoera! 

and means “Long shall she live in Glory!” Ohhhkaaay. I confess, I mostly nodded and smiled as it was sung. I really need to learn it now.

Tala's first birthday blowing candle

With some help from Mama and Papa, Tala blew out the candle on her pancake birthday cake. Because it’s not a real brunch without a stack of pancakes…

Tala's first birthday pancake red velvet cake

even if it is a red velvet cake cleverly disguised (by The English Cake Lady) as a stack of pancakes. Yum!

Tala's first birthday sugar rush

No offense, single people, but the best guests at baby birthday parties are other parents. They just know what to do and how to step in when the host parents are going nuts trying to be in 10 different places at once. Melody took detail shots, her partner Chris helped put up the balloons, Giova took a video of us blowing out the candles, her hubby Juan cut the cake, and Marlon’s colleague Marion ensured that Tala had her first taste of birthday cake (see the resulting sugar rush above). Parents rock.

Tala's first birthday mommy mission accomplished

Loading up the stroller with Tala’s birthday loot. Thank you generous friends!

I can’t believe this only gets more complicated when Tala starts walking and going to school, with goodie bags, games and activities. But that’s for later. For now, I’m going to lean back and consider my mama mission accomplished!

Lovely comments:

  1. Soooo love your creativity, Ate Deepa! Happy Birthday, Tala! Shine even brighter now that you’re one :)

  2. The cake is definitely my favorite. I love how low-key the celebration was. I bow to you and your hubby’s party planning skills. :)

  3. Happy Birthday,Tala!
    Awesome party! I’ve attended first birthday parties in Manila that probably cost as much as a wedding. Intimate and low-key are the way to go, imho. :)

    • Thanks Jenny! Yeah, I know what you mean. Anything more elaborate than what we did would have been over the top for here, I think. Tala just wanted to cling to Marlon anyway. I’ll save the big parties for when she can enjoy it na :)

  4. All your comments about Dutch hospitality made me chuckle… so true! It looked like such a nice celebration! Relaxed, fun and not too perfect, which makes it perfect to me! Looking forward to seeing your hand lettered balloons recap tomorrow. They look very pretty. Happy birthday Tala! And congrats to papa & mama too ;)

    • Thank you Judith! Really love the relaxed Dutch attitude. People in shops tell me “Rustig, rustig” all the time haha. I said nothing about Dutch hospitality, only about the Filipino appetite! Haha!

  5. Oh Tala. You’re so lucky to have such cool and awesome parents. By the way, Eva and Chloe are very disappointed Tala isn’t coming to Italy next month. They even offered to skip school and babysit her while we go to Milan.

    • Don’t get their hopes up yet but… there’s a chance Marlon might have to travel to Milan for work the Monday after Blago. That means he has to bring Tala *and* we might stay in Milan until Thursday. I will let you know when I know for sure!