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The First Birthday Party

Updated on September 12, 2013

Let them have cake!

The homemade smash cake.
The homemade smash cake.

Congrats!

I don't understand why you have birthday parties for baby's that are one. They don't remember anything. They know there's a bunch of people staring at them that they get to perform for. They know there is food that mommy actually let's them go to town on. They know they get to shred paper, which just so happens to be my son's favorite activity. Also, eating is his favorite activity, so I guess he wins either way. But yet, we shell out a ton of money to throw a party for them. Why on Earth would we do that? Is it because we'd feel guilty by other parents by not throwing a party? That's one of my theories. You don't want to be that guy who didn't throw a party for your child on it's birthday.

It's really just for us. A party gives us an excuse to hang out with friends that we normally can't because we're too busy being exhausted or chasing around our children. A party gives us an excuse to eat foods that our diets tell us not to. A party gives us an excuse to show off that we can throw an awesome child's party. A party gives us an excuse to get gifts from other people so we don't have to buy them for our children ourselves. It looks good for pictures in the photo album and it's supposed to be great for memories. Admittedly though, I haven't a sentimental bone in my body, the excuse to get adorable pictures is all on my husband because he loves his photo albums.

This party isn't for our 1-year-old. This party is for us, the parents. This party is to celebrate the parents for surviving a year without sleep or any real alone time. This party is to say "congrats parents, you didn't kill your child or each other!" We throw this first birthday party to celebrate that we survived a year that at some points we didn't think we would survive at all. Congratulations Mom and Dad, you did it!

Why else would we spend as much money as we do on this? Luckily my local grocery store has a deal where you sign up for a baby version of their member's card where you get points on baby items, and with this card you get $10 off a sheet cake and a free smash cake. (The smash cake being the cake which you hand a baby and let him squish it all over the place.) I'm lucky, the baby was born in the late summer/early fall where it's still warm enough for an outdoor party. My eldest son has small gatherings at best, since he was born around Thanksgiving and it's often a little too chilly to do anything really.

So spend the money, you deserve this party parents. Spend wisely, remember that it's a baby and they don't know the difference. You earned it mom and dad!

The Cake is a Lie

Homemade chocolate cake and homemade frosting, piped all by myself. Go me!
Homemade chocolate cake and homemade frosting, piped all by myself. Go me!

And You Can Survive this Too..

I'm not good with children. Strike that. I'm not good with other people's children. I feel awkward holding them, talking to them, going near them. I'm not so great with them. I really just don't know what to do with them. I know when my children want something, instinct kicks in. I don't necessarily have this same knack with other children. With that said, throwing a children's party is way beyond my comfort zone. I don't even do well at "grown-up" parties I'm just attending. This isn't my field of expertise. But I'm a mom, and mom's are the epitome of fortitude! I will survive this too.

So I have a game plan, and it's successful so far, I think though I'm not sticking to much convention. This is my tips section, birthday style.

  • It's all about the cake. My child had 2 birthday parties. Last weekend, it was a joint party with his cousin, who was born 2 weeks before him. I made the cake for that one, since buying 2 cakes was out of my budget. (Fun fact: arguably my cake was a better hit taste wise than the bakery one that was bought.) The picture above was my own handy-work, and it costs essentially nothing since everything was already around the house. For his actual birthday party, I opted for a store made one since I really didn't have the energy to cook everything for the party and the cake. As I stated before, my local grocery store has discounts for this,, so keep a look out for similar ones. If that's out of budget, that was my first time decorating a cake and it doesn't look that bad. Homemade is usually a lot cheaper, and there's an extra joy in watching people enjoy it. (The recipe I used was a chocolate mayonnaise cake. Sounds gross, but apparently was quite good.)
  • Decor. This is something you should shop around for. You might surprise yourself. We went to party city, and was able to find adequate enough decorations for around $20. Though the birthday cake will be Winnie-the-Pooh, our decorations ended up being Curious George, since my husband loves monkeys and the obvious cute connection to our own little curious George monkey. You don't need to be too matchy, it's a first birthday party. You might get bonus points for nice eclectic decor. Instead of saying it's a "Curious George" or "Winnie-the-Pooh" theme, I could always just say it's a "Children's Literature" theme. I'll find some Dr. Seuss plates and call it a day. You can decorate without going crazy.
  • KISS. Being an English major at school, we learned one very important lesson: KISS. KISS, meaning "Keep it Simple Stupid", to mean that it's a child's party and there's no need to go crazy. Simple is best. An outdoor BBQ where children can run around the yard or play on a swing set is all that's really needed. Don't go crazy, and save your sanity to where you'll really need it. To survive the day hosting a party then the 24/7 job of raising an active toddler and a tween starting the teenager attitudes.
  • Relax, and have fun. Relax. This is the excuse to let your child get filthy. Let him track frosting everywhere and shove cake in his clothes.Plus, like I said earlier, this is your party and you should enjoy it.

You can do it guys! Eat some cake, and pretend that juice you're drinking is a nice glass of sangria.


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