Our first 1st birthday party

first birthday, birthday party, birthday party for boys, 1st birthday, cupcakes, one, kites, clouds, boats, bunting

It has been a big week for the Louws! We celebrated two milestones in Joshua’s life – his very first birthday (gasp!) and his baptism. Oh boy, did we celebrate – not once, not twice, but three parties in one week! I was in my element. At last I could throw the party that I have been dreaming of even before Joshua was born! I know, it sounds ridiculous, but I looove throwing parties. Especially themed ones. And for extra special occasions. And for kids. And now for my own kiddie!

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Getting in the spirit

It really has not been feeling like the festive season here in sunny South Africa. It is hot and getting hotter, life is too busy, and most people (including us!) are planning away-from-home-Christmas-vacations on the beach. I miss the short days where the cold steals your breath, the quiet after fresh snow, candles and fireplace that light up Christmas decorations, and holiday traditions indoors to keep the heart warm with the cold outside. Most of all, I miss the smell of what became my favourite holiday in Nebraska: pine and cinnamon, ginger, apple cider, peppermint and cranberry…

So, sitting in shorts and a T-shirt, looking out my living-room window to all the beach-goers and the warm sun glistening off the ocean, I decided to try to get in the Christmas spirit. I lit a candle and made an Advent Calendar.


(Obviously some of the candles didn’t want to collaborate for the photo.)

Since I did not have pretty paper, I made my own – grey snowflakes and beautiful black words on white paper. But you can use just what ever paper you like, since you’ll mostly be the one looking at your calendar.


Step 1:

Cut enough circles for each day of advent. One circle will make two trees. I cut out different sized circles, because I wanted to add variety.

5 x big ones (6½”), and 8 x small ones (4½”)

After cutting each of these in half, you will use it to fold the Christmas trees.

Step 2:


Set the semi-circle on its side so that it looks like a D. Hold the flat side of the semi-circle with one finger about ¾ of the way up and fold the biggest part of the circle over the smaller part (basically over your finger) to form something that looks like a triangle. Start with the biggest triangle first, and make it smaller as you run out of paper. Make sure to cross the side of the bottom layer every time, so you have a pine tree shape.

Fold all the semi-circles like this.

Step 3:


Fold the stars. I found this site on Pinterest, but had to translate the Norwegian to English with a little help from Google. The tutorial with the photos are very helpful. The only tricky part was understanding how to change it from a 2D shape to a 3D birdy looking thing. When you have the two flat triangles, hold the bigger one’s two bottom corners (that are connected to the second triangle) with your forefinger and thumb. The smaller triangle will then pop up by itself looking a little more rounded in the middle. Just flatten that middle part as a seam, and viola! Also, my stars aren’t as tight as hers. Guess practice makes perfect?

Step 4:

String and embellish! A needle makes a perfect little hole in the paper, and then just pull the string through. I used beads and sequence to add some sparkle.

Step 5:


Lay-out your trees and stars on a table before fixing the string. It is easier to organize this way, but know that some of it might look different when it actually hangs (like mine!). Add variation and interest by arranging it at different heights. When you are happy with your lay-out, you can add your numbers to each paper tree.

I love the idea of reading a specific piece of Scripture everyday for this occasion, and found a list I liked here. You can add each verse to the back of the corresponding day, or make a separate list as a stand-alone feature with the calendar.

Step 6:  

I used a dowel stick to fix my hanging ornaments from – I think it will be easier to transport for our holidays. You can also hang this from your Christmas tree, or garland above the mantel. My favourite idea (for next year) is to hang it from a hanging branch.

Step 7:

Put on some Christmas music, make hot chocolate and enjoy Advent – and your new calendar – as you prepare for the celebration of our Saviour’s birth.