Those newborn weeks are already a blur, that tiny helpless bundle of deliciousness that lay contentedly on your chest for hours is now likely a walking, talking, hurricane who will not take ‘no’ for an answer. You’ll be amazed looking back at old photos at just how small they were and constantly surprised at just how much they have become their own person. For new parents — that first birthday is a milestone worth marking — not just to celebrate your darling little one doing so well, but to celebrate that you are too (and that you didn’t break them).
Cake Smash Shoot
Most parents now make sure they capture the early stages of baby’s life with a maternity or newborn photo session, so a great way to book-end that first year is to organise a cake smash shoot. There are few things cuter than the look of utter delight on kids’ faces when they realise they are free to a) eat all of a beautifully decorated cake, b) make as much mess as they like. Hell, there are probably quite few adults that would love to do it.
Melanie Adamson has been doing this kind of photography as part of her repertoire for more than a decade. In fact, she was doing cake smash shoots before they were ‘on trend’, so who better to trust to capture those mischievous smiles and the giddy excitement. She has a great way with kids, and can praise a smile from even the most shy, plus she knows just how to create a series — from pristine cake and clean baby to delicious carnage — so you have a great range of images. The bonus – she also does maternity, baby, and family shoots, so you can rely on her to chart your parenting adventure.
The Sweet Tooth Fairies can whip up a stunning smash-suitable cake, and are very accommodating if you want to opt for a low sugar, low salt, healthier option.
1st Birthday Chalkboard
You’ll be surprised how much you can forget – sleep deprivation can make things hazy in those first 12 months. Think of this as your babies’ ‘greatest hits’ in one delightful picture – everything from the songs they love, and the books you read together, to when that first tooth poked through, or when they first delivered a goofy, wonky, attempt at a smile. It’s of course a print of chalkboard – anyone with experience of young children knows a real one would stand no chance of surviving. Hazel Gan of Craftie Cookie makes darling designs and works with you to fully reflect your baby’s personality. She’ll make sure you’re happy with the design drafts and then frames them up for you. You can also request a high resolution jpeg – so you can print and send to friends and family. She says: “All the chalkboards are unique, no two are alike. They can’t be because every piece is influenced by the information given from the client and are therefore very personalised.”
Looking at them now it seems impossible those early onesies ever fit your child, right? The speed at which your munchkin outgrows their clothes is quite remarkable, and while you can donate some to charity, or to friends and family, there are others that you will find hard to part with. In Hong Kong, storing clothes – whether for a potential sibling, or for posterity – is a treacherous business, the heat and humidity mean mould and mildew appear even in neatly packed bags and boxes. So for those precious items, make a beeline for Kate Bolton of Sadiefranks, who can transform them into wonderful keepsakes including quilts, cushions and even teddy bears.
“It was always rewarding donating my daughters clothes to charity but there were some favourite pieces I wanted to keep so I tried to think of ways around this issue,” she says.
“I love sewing in my spare time so I decided to use my favourite 20-25 pieces and make a quilt out of the clothes which I could decorate bedrooms with but also so I would have something beautiful I could keep forever and that my daughters would have when they are older.”
Wrightson & Platt offer a great service that essentially creates art from your baby’s hands or feet. The firm can cast little shoes in bronze, or can silver, gold or copper-plate the original shoe, making a beautiful piece for a nursery or living room. The firm can also make a cast of little hands and feet to mark a special date – this can then be used to make a range of pieces – from miniaturised jewellery in silver or gold to wall hangings and sculpture. Their beautiful pieces will last a lifetime. Like the sound of creating something so stylish from baby stuff? Your’re in good company – designer Stella McCartney is a fan of the firm’s work. She says of her purchases: “The casts are beautiful – they are one of my most precious belongings. Capturing a moment in your baby’s life can help you hold onto the memory of them tiny and cute.”
Those little hands and feet grow so much faster than you expect, so a fun, easy way to create a snapshot of this point in your lives, is to get the (child-friendly) paints out. If you have an outside space this is the time to utilise it, as let’s face it, the combination of kids, paint, and small living spaces is going to lead to some unintended wall art. If not then make sure the bath is ready for a quick dunk, and spread an old shower curtain on the floor.
Then splurge the paints on a dish and get printing. You may even be able to get the whole families prints on one sheet – which might well be worth framing.
Crayola sell child-friendly paint, or you can make your own by mixing food colouring, flour, salt and water.
Whether it’s a small gathering with close family, or a bigger bash with baby friends, a party is always a nice way to celebrate. The important thing is not to pile on too much pressure, the baby won’t remember it, and you will have many years to navigate themes, colours, guestlists. Hong Kong apartments are generally not conducive to large gatherings — so opt for a children’s venue if you’re planning a bigger event. Funzone in Kennedy Town (as well as their other locations) has the Submarine Room for younger baby parties. This means the bubs can all play together in a safe space away from the mayhem of the larger venue, but if you have bigger kids you can always pack them off to play. They offer packages that can include decor, balloons, food and drink, as well as entertainers and face painting, so you don’t have to think about it. Regardless of where you are celebrating, get in touch with Anouska at The Rose Petal Cakery or Jenny at Jollie Bellie Cakery – these ladies will craft you a masterpiece to match your invite or party theme.
Take a little bit of time out for yourself and your partner. No one warns you quite how hurricane baby will impact you or your relationship, and while you will have and share moments of the purest joy, there are times when the strain of looking after the little person takes its toll on your time, patience, and life in general. So take a moment, or an evening, to do something to spoil yourself and don’t feel guilty about it. Justine at The Skin Gym works wonders on tired faces and can recommend treatments tailored to your needs. Or why not opt for a couples treatment somewhere special? The Four Seasons’ Spa have Double Serenity package, which begins with a bubble bath and Champagne, followed up with a body scrub and massage for you both, which will leave you well feeling calm, well rested, and like your pre-baby selves.
Can’t bear the thought of a party? Don’t really want to deal with interfering relatives or the hassle of entertaining a tribe of children? Get the hell out of town and celebrate just the three of you. Think of all the money you’ve save this year by not going on boozy nights out, or expensive dinners, or the fact you’ve stopped buying clothes as they just get covered in vomit, poop, drool, or puree. You could pool the money you have saved and head somewhere special. If this sounds appealing, then Cambodia’s Song Saa Island might be just what you are looking for, particularly if you are craving a little adventure and your baby is easy going. This piece of paradise off the coast of Sihanoukville offers luxury with a conscience as it is linked to a foundation to help families from the local area. The second you step on to the island jetty, the tensions of city life begin to slip away. There’s beautiful pools and beaches. The staff love children, and there are baby-sitting options, but the best thing about this place is the space and quiet. You might have the beach to yourself one day, you might take a stroll and not see another person. You can play with your little ones in the villa infinity pools or outdoor bathrooms and you can order in if you just want to cuddle up as a family. It’s a place you can truly relax, which arguably after a year of sleepless nights and stress, might be the one thing you really want to do.