I am so in love with this traditional Korean first birthday party – or Dol – that Sophia of Petite Productions created for her adorable daughter, Sera! Not only did the party turn out beautifully, but you can truly sense how much Sophia loved creating it – through both her party details description below, and through “joyful” images like the one in the upper left-hand corner of the collage above… so sweet! :)
There’s tons of wonderful inspiration for all sorts of occasions to be found in this girlie event… I could see the gorgeous cherry blossom “tree” centerpieces gracing the likes of a wedding or bridal shower as well. And I love how the sweets display was given a Korean twist through some seriously fabulous rainbow Korean rice cakes, nostalgic Korean candies, and more!
PARTY DETAILS, as told by Sophia…
As Petite Productions is a kid-specific event planning company, we have the privilege of sharing in many milestone moments for our client’s, including a baby’s first birthday. What makes this event a little extra special above any other is that our “client” and birthday guest of honor is my little girl Sera! Wanting to also celebrate our heritage, our theme focused on showcasing various cultural Korean elements. In regards to the scale and importance of the event, Korean first birthdays can be compared to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Jewish culture or Quinceanera in Mexican culture. Granted a one year old might prefer a nap over having to pose in a party dress, but turning one in Korean customs is symbolic as there was a time when not many babies made it to this birthday. Throughout the years having a grand first birthday party continues to be an honored tradition for Korean families.
The overall concept to the theme was to highlight our Korean background, but using a more contemporary approach… and beyond all that, satisfy our main purpose in celebrating our daughter’s number one birthday and have a great time with our friends and family!
Other than avoiding primary colors, our color palette was quite eclectic. Much of our design inspirations came from the traditional Korean dresses or hanbok that Sera and I wore. Reflecting a broad range of colors, patterns and textures, we incorporated all these elements into our décor, including the florals, linens, and cake.
Nisie of Enchanted Florist created tall rustic arrangements of pink cherry blossoms for an Asian touch, with hanging globes of flower blooms and pink silk wrapped boxes filled with shades of blush and deep pinks, eggplant and celadon green. Our linens were blush matte satin linens with delicate vintage lace overlays. As Korean traditional fabrics have a taffeta-like quality to them, we added custom taffeta garden rose accents to our main table and chair treatments.
Korean first birthdays highlight a main table called the dol sahng, literally meaning first birthday table. Ours fused traditional elements like gift packages wrapped in traditional fabrics and decorative towers along with a more contemporary floral name display created by Nisie. Flanked by impressive floral arrangements on stands, the backdrop was a custom board with a Korean symbol designed in crystal rhinestones.
We interpreted the ever so popular sweets display with a Korean twist incorporating traditional Korean rice cakes displayed in not so traditional candy jars and cake platters along with a variety of nostalgic Korean candies, cookies and snacks.
Our cake inspiration was primarily from Sera’s hanbok. The stripes on the top tier are typical to the design usually found on the bolero-like jacket worn on top, known as saekdong juhgori in Korean, which I wanted to incorporate to symbolize something more traditional. And of course we had to add a little sash ribbon at the base like the jacket sash. The bottom two tiers emphasized the dress colors and artwork of her hanbok. Since we couldn’t have our cake wear little shoes, our cake topper was the traditional shoes that accompany the hanbok attire. I sketched out the overall concept of the cake and presented it to Grace at Sweet Gems who brought what I had envisioned to life and beyond!
FOOD & DRINKS
As we wanted to keep the atmosphere of the party casual and energetic, I loved the idea of a taco guy, but that would spoil the plan for an all encompassing cultural experience for our guests! So we collaborated with my super talented chef friend who created a fusion menu of Korean style bbq tacos grilled to order, with kimchee quesadillas and mini Korean kalbi sliders. Yum!!! We also had a display of Korean style sushi or kimbap ranging from the more traditional meat and veggies to spicy tuna as cold appetizers. Beverages were a variety of Korean brand soft drinks and beers to complement the flavors of our menu.
We also had a self serve ice chest filled with old-school Korean popsicles and ice cream as after meal refreshments.
Fresh Korean rice crackers, similar in concept to popcorn only using rice, was also being popped on site, which kids couldn’t get enough of and guests got to take bags home as healthy favors!
Korean Classical Music and Dance Company entertained our guests, performing a variety of Korean traditional dances, which was a first time experience for many.
A more traditional activity guests participate in is called the doljabi, where a number of items are set before the baby and the one they grab indicates their potential future profession or path. Our Sera picked the golf club, predicting her future as a professional golfer!