Friday, November 19, 2010

Party Like It's Your *1st* Birthday

Since my son was born last January, I've attended about a half dozen various birthday celebrations for young children. I have really enjoyed them all, and been honored to get to attend. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do for my son's first birthday. I'm excited because, being his first, he won't really remember it or even care at this point, so it's really a "We've survived a year with this baby!" party for my husband and me. On the other hand, there are a lot of societal and cultural expectations. This has lead to the quiet voices in my head, you know, the ones who get over time for worrying about the ratio of wild blackberry prickers to kudzu in my back yard, to thinking.*

Disclaimer: No, I'm not totally freaking out about this... no, I'm not really worried what "people" will think... no, it's not that big a deal... yes, it was a fun thing to consider enough to make into a blog post.

Top 11 1st Birthday Worries

11. Mediocrity. What if it just isn't good enough? Who gets to judge? Is there a secret panel that investigates the quality of parties. If so, how do I get that gig?

10. So Silly (and not in the good way).What if people think I'm silly for having a first birthday party? The party industry certainly thinks it's a good idea, but what if people think I'm just trying to show off? What if it sets some bizarre precedent? Again, do I REALLY care what "people" think? Especially if these are the sort of people willing to be suckered into a kid's first birthday party?

9. Location, location, location! It's going to be cold in late January, and our little house and two barking dogs plus probably visiting relatives indicates some other option should be considered. Too little for Pukee Queso's, but too many kids to do a sit down restaurant... hmmm.

8. The Who's Who of Attendees. I hate to make someone feel obligated to attend or send a gift. I also hate for someone to feel they were intentionally excluded. I want everyone to come, but how much cake can we really afford to make?

7. Tell the World? Homemade paper invitations mailed out seems lovely. and pricey. and time consuming. Mass e-mail/facebook seems to impersonal and possibly greedy. Etiquette just ain't as simple as it used to be.

6. 'Tis Awkward to Receive. What's the best way to tell folks what to bring? Gifts aren't really neccesary, but I know folks like to give SOMETHING. Do we register? Make a "Wishlist?" Just tell folks his size (which is changing pretty much daily)? Is it a faux pax to tell people they can chip in towards a "big" gift like swim lessons?

5. Let Them Eat Cake! What if Jax breaks out in hives? What if we serve peanuts secretly hidden in the cupcakes? Who knows what might cause someone to fall ill? It will be a party to remember, for sure!

4. Apocalypse Then. I met a Mom when I was volunteering in New York in 2002 who had a support group for children who, like her son, had birthdays on 9/11. Many of them were dealing with a plethora of guilt and anger issues. What if something horrible happens that day and burns it into everyone's psyche as THAT day. Shoot I even if it's the day before, or the day of the party, that's pretty much bad news.

3. Thanks for Nothing. I seriously am pretty sure I still have people who have not yet received a "Thank You" card from my wedding or baby shower. I am tempted to avoid the whole thing just to make sure the situation doesn't get any worse. Oh, and if you're reading this "Thanks!"

2. Let Me Entertain You. How much entertainment should you plan? Background music seems like a good plan, and something for children to do, but I know folks who are so afraid of "games" that they avoid showers like the plague. (If you think the last statement smells fishy, I also know people who don't like to go to parties celebrating weddings and births...)

1. Thematics. I love a theme party. OK, I LOVE a theme party. Supper Club in high school? WIN! I mean, seriously, how could you not go the Hawaiian Luau as a marine biologist? How do I really decide? I think I've got it, but it's so hard to commit!

So, yo know you're dying to give your input. Tell me what you did. Tell me what you've seen done. I want to hear both sides: the sweet "just us" parties and the insane thousands of dollars puts-my-wedding-to-shame all out bashes.

* This split infinitive brought to you with lots of giggling on behalf of my sister, Aunt B.


  1. Everybody knows the first birthday is for the parents, and with good reason! Your child survived his first year of life. That's a big deal! Celebrate that. :)

  2. Savannah's first birthday was in August, and I went through in my head a lot of the same things. I finally decided that I didn't care what others thought - I wanted a party to celebrate with my closest friends and family this wonderful girl that God gave us. I never had birthday parties growing up (my birthday is a Christmas casualty, I'm afraid), so I had SO MUCH FUN planning a party for Savannah.

    To that end, I tried to make it a little less cartoony than Party City wants me to do. I went with the simple colors - pale pink and white, instead of the licensed characters - and I tried not to go overboard with decorations.

    We ended up with 25 people who came, and it was a good number. I was going to do the mailed invitations, but ended up just doing an evite - I wanted to save the money for the party.

    As for thank-you notes, I decided that I would only write thank you notes for the people I couldn't thank in person. It's not ideal, but much more likely to happen.

    Here are pictures from the first bday party:

  3. It doesn't matter who you invite, as long as you invite me. ;)

    I seriously have considered doing a potluck birthday for the kids before. I never have, but I think it would make an awesome first birthday party - after all, it takes a community to get through the first year!