Lesson 66: Your baby’s first birthday party doesn’t have to be a circus

In honor of my baby boy’s 2nd birthday (which is today! Holy crap! Where does the time go?!), a little walk down memory lane from this time last year…

Let’s face it: First birthday parties are for the parents, not the kid. The kid has no idea what’s going on, will have absolutely zero memory of the occasion, and would probably prefer to not have everybody stare at him and clap while he shoves his face in a cake.


That said–did I have a blast planning my son’s first birthday party? Hell yeah, I did.

But everything I did, I did because I wanted to. I didn’t spend a ton of money and I didn’t compare anything I did with what other moms did. I had an idea, I Googled it, I told my husband what I wanted, and he designed the decorations for me. All the food was homemade, nothing fancy. The “Mommy Wars” can suck it, because I’m not playing that game.

The only thing that was perhaps a little overdone was the guest list–we invited a lot of people! But as I put together the guest list, there were just so many people who I cared about and wanted to share this milestone with. One big thing I learned during my first year of parenting is, when a person loves your kid, your own love for that person grows exponentially. I suddenly looked at friends who had been in my life for years, and when they looked at my child with love, they truly became family. A birthday party is a celebration of family, so I wanted them there with us. We won’t be going all out and having everybody we love at every party–but there’s just something about that first birthday that demands special attention.

Because we had so many people coming, we wanted to make it clear that we weren’t gift-grabbing. We wanted people to celebrate with us; we weren’t trying to create a Toys ‘R Us in our living room. We chose to ask people to make donations to our local Children’s Hospital in J’s honor, rather than bringing gifts. Some people complained about not being able to bring J a gift, others brought them anyway–and that was totally fine. We simply didn’t want it to be an expectation. And we are so blessed with so many things, why not share some of that good fortune?

I wasn’t so consumed with planning the party that I forgot to make J’s actual birthday special. His birthday fell during the week, and his party wasn’t until the following Saturday. Bo and I got him a huge cupcake and let him have his way with it.

Then we took him to a fun Mexican restaurant for dinner (he needed a bath first!). We thought he would love it when they came to sing to him, but instead it scared the shit out of him. But overall, it was fun and I think he enjoyed himself.


Traditions are really important to me, and I don’t want birthdays to get lost in the party. I love the time we got to spend with just the 3 of us, just as much as I loved the big celebration.



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