Emma’s First Birthday Party: Korean Dol

In Korean culture, first birthday is a big celebration called dol (돌). There are several traditions to follow at the dol party. Both my husband and I are Korean American, and we definitely want our children to embrace their Korean heritage. So for Emma’s first birthday party,  we decided to keep as much of Korean traditions as we could. We wore traditional Korean garments called hanbok (한복); set up dol table to display traditional first birthday items and food such as rice cakes, colorful fruits, dates, and dol towers; and had an activity called doljabi, a fortune telling ritual at first birthday parties. I also wanted to incorporate modern day birthday decor, so Emma’s dol table was combined with sweets, birthday cakes and decorations. To add a personal touch, I arranged her party decor and even made some decorations from scratch. We incorporated one of her favorite books, “Oh the Places You’ll Go”, and it ended up working out pretty well – a low key themed party.

We were so fortunate to have almost all of our immediate family members join us for the weekend and even had a few of my close girlfriends fly in from Chicago! The preparation of Emma’s first birthday was stressful, but it was all so worth it seeing all of our loved ones! Emma must have felt the love and care as well because she was so well behaved the entire day – even through multiple outfit changes! 😉

As for the doljabi activity, Emma took 20 minutes to choose an item. She definitely did not act on impulse and ended up choosing pencils then money after deep contemplation. 😉

We also did the ever so popular “cake smash”. She was a bit confused at first on what to do with the cake, but as soon as she tasted it, it was game over. 😀

I really can’t say enough about how grateful I am to have spent a wonderful day with our family and friends. Thank you all so very much for celebrating Emma’s special day with us, and thanks to others who could not make it but sent gifts and lots of love! I know, I say this all the time, but Emma truly is so blessed!

-m

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