Planning the First Birthday Party

I don’t know what makes the first birthday party the huge deal it’s become. Maybe Pinterest or Etsy are to blame. Maybe it’s just a ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ sort of thing, I don’t know.

I’m certain I don’t remember my first birthday (I’ve seen pictures of baby me up to my eyeballs in blue cookie monster frosting so I know it was celebrated), so why do so many of us make such a big deal out it?

To me, the first birthday (and associated party, if you throw one) is more of a celebration for the parents. Like, holy cow, we survived! We have a living, thriving one-year-old! WE DID IT!

The first year of both my children’s lives is somewhat of a blur. They didn’t sleep, one of them didn’t eat, my husband and I were learning cloth diapering and I was pumping at work; but for all of the hurdles thrown at us, we all survived as our newly created family unit. For me, that is something worth celebrating.

Just like baby showers, with first birthdays some people throw huge events, some prefer to have small family gatherings, and some folks fit somewhere in between. With my firstborn in particular, I found the peer pressure of throwing a big, pinteresting baby birthday to be too exciting to pass up. A friend from my online baby club was throwing a sock monkey-themed party and offered up the printables that her graphic designer-friend had drawn up for her, so sock monkeys it was.

If you’re throwing a party, finding a theme can be an easy way to organize any decorations, favors, or cakes you may be planning. Some people order packs of supplies from birthday stores online, others shop etsy or scour pinterest for DIY ideas. Older siblings may be interested in helping plan the party, too.

Finally, like with any gathering (big or small) it can be too easy to fall out of the moment. I’m usually hiding behind a camera, trying to capture everything for posterity (mostly so my kids will know, like me, that mom didn’t forget their birthday even when they were too young to remember it). I have lots of digital memories, but not as many real time memories as I would like to have. This is something I’ve been personally working on (and let me tell you, it’s a hard habit to break!). Enlisting a friend or family member to help with photography or other day-of chores can help keep you free to enjoy spending time with the birthday boy or girl.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

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