mom fun

I Threw An Over-The-Top Birthday Party For My Baby And I Don’t Regret It At All

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mom-baby-birthday-partyIt all started innocently enough. In fact, I didn’t even want to have a 1st birthday party. I had sat through all of my niece’s and younger sibling’s parties and while they were entertaining for the child, the parents mostly looked either frazzled or bored. In one party, my niece cried because she was afraid of the piñata. In another party, my sister’s mother in law ended up in a fight because of the way my sister treated her granddaughter, my sister’s stepdaughter. Family parties have always been stressful for me. My parents are divorced, so it seems as though someone is always feeling left out, pissed off or just doesn’t show up at all.

When I was pregnant with my son I was pretty determined not to have a 1st birthday party. I had just survived two lovely showers while being 8 months pregnant in the middle of the summer. I was an emotional mess while pregnant and so I was in no mood to revisit the inevitable stress of party planning  and dealing with family craziness. In the weeks after he was born I was so tired and stressed it felt like my entire existence had been hit by a train. The thought of ever being able to wear clean clothes seemed out of reach, much less throwing a party. I thought we would be lucky to make it to Roundtable Pizza and have some cake for his first birthday.

Another concern for me was the cost. After all, what kind of people would spend an insane amount of time and effort for a party the child would probably sleep through, not remember or appreciate? But something happened when that little human made his entrance into my life. I knew my defenses were weakening when after a few months that pizza and cake with “just us” idea started morphing into something bigger.

Then my partner  – who is just as sentimental as I am about these things – told me something that made me question my reasoning. He said that this time in the baby’s life was precious and that this first year is like no other, and that I might regret not having that day with him and our family. Of course, his idea of party probably didn’t involve a thousand DIY projects that I had seen on Pinterest. (What did people do before Pinterest?) But his words convinced me we should go ahead and have the party, and so the decorating floodgates were unleashed.

We settled on a theme –  Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go (check out my Pinterest board for it!) – and started gathering ideas. My partner is a graphic designer so that I knew that we could “play around” with invite themes and we (he) could do a lot of the work. Soon after that I found myself wandering stores looking for the perfect wasi tape to hand decorate every envelope for the invite.

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  1. Valerie

    October 14, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Hey, you do you. I think we all have certain things as parents that we are willing to go all out on and this is yours! Sounds like it was a beautiful party- glad you had fun putting it all together.

  2. rachel

    October 14, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I also did a big ol’ pinterest-style party for my daughter’s first and I loved putting it all together and doing all of the crafts. It’s not for everyone, but I have no regrets.

  3. Emily A.

    October 14, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I hear you. I love party stuff – making banners, invitations, cakes, etc. This year it was a pirate party – swords, bandanas, tattoos, planks to walk, neighborhood-wide treasure hunt. So much fun.

    BUT I also know my limits, so keep it to around 6-8 kids invited. As long as you know yours, you’re in great shape. It should always be fun. But if you don’t – what comes next?

  4. JJ

    October 14, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I don’t think you did anything wrong with your party and you shouldn’t be judged. It sounded very sweet and fun actually more of a celebration for everyone there then just a typical one year old’s birthday party.

    I think people’s issues with the over the top baby birthday parties or parties in general comes more when people use it less as a reason for celebration, happiness and enjoying people’s company and instead use it as gift grab. Or a gimme gimme party just to purposely out do other people’s parties or keep up with the Jones’s. Your party and others like it I have seen comes from a place of love where your family got to together to work as a group and create decorations, make memories in the process and throw a fun party. Its when I see the super rich people practically hiring all of Disneyland to come to their house, asking for super expensive baby gifts or toys, and spending money that could rival the cost of a wedding that I kind of go huh?What? Did they just throw the equivalent of the cost of a wedding over a baby birthday party.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

      This exactly. When it becomes about competition and gift grabbing, it really bothers me. But if you love party planning, that’s great! Have a blast and take some great pictures 🙂

    • Aldonza

      October 14, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      This exactly. I’ve gotten first birthday invites from people I barely know with longs lists of toys and sizes of clothing that the child is wearing. But I also feel the same way about baby showers. I think when it’s about love and celebrating, that’s awesome. When you’re just trying to get more stuff it’s crappy.

  5. Jamie

    October 14, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Go you! I LOVE planning parties (and before Pinterest, I had bookmarks on the computer and files of torn out magazine pages) , but my older daughter was born on Thanksgiving, so both of her birthdays so far have just been cake along with the pumpkin pie. My twins were born Labor Day weekend this year, my stepdaughter has a birthday at the end of August and our fifth wedding anniversary falls in between those two days, so I’m already planning a kick-ass BBQ for next summer to celebrate all of that!

  6. Yo

    October 14, 2014 at 10:51 am

    We’ve decided to only throw birthday parties every other year, so my daughter’s first party was huge. We had a vegan cupcake tower topped with a custom rainbow smash cake, a bounce house, catering, photographer, the whole shebang. It was way too expensive, way too time consuming, and we invited way too many people (around 40), but my only regret was not hiring a better photographer. Huge baby parites FTW.

  7. alice

    October 14, 2014 at 10:53 am

    im not even pregnant yet and already have designs for a 1st birthday party. 🙂

    some of us just feel unspeakably excited holding a hot glue gun and a glass of wine…

  8. Katherine Handcock

    October 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I have no problems with the big shebang first birthday party as long as the person planning it enjoys the process! I am not a big party planner, so my kids’ birthdays have always been pretty low-key, and that’s good for us. One of my mom friends LOVES doing the pre-party crafts, planning special treats, etc., and that’s great for her.

    The only exception I feel I must make is if you’re spending money you don’t have on a party. I’ve actually known a few parents who ran up credit cards to their limit for a baby’s birthday, and that bothers me, because I know it will put so much stress on the family for months afterwards. But that said, if you want to scrimp and save for baby’s first year so you’ve got a big fund for a shebang, that’s great too!

  9. Ursi

    October 14, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I don’t get it but I don’t begrudge other people’s right to do it. I just hope you’re using a bit of hyperbole when you talk about harassing your sister to help and assigning projects to your mom. I mean, ideally they would graciously offer to help and not have to be roped into and and you would be okay if they declined because that’s a lot of work for just a birthday party.

  10. jsterling93

    October 14, 2014 at 11:31 am

    I love hosting parties. So when my son turned 1 I knew I was going to throw a big one. Now so much for him but because I love hosting parties. We chose a Super Mario Brothers theme. I made a Facebook event, hand made custom decorations including a back drop that surrounded the entire back of the house to create a landscape straight from the games. I made individual personalized goodie boxes for each child I invited. The boxes were created with specific items for each child based on interest and age and yet still within the theme. I have a custom cake and make a ton of themed food. I even made new labels for the soda bottles to rename them according to the theme.

    I loved every second of it. And I knew my guests were having fun with one couple even showed up in full costume as a surprise. We have great pictures and it made me happy to see so many people came out to celebrate with us that first amazing year of being parents. Will I have the same level of party this year? Nope. But I am glad we did for the first year.

  11. aCongaLine

    October 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I think the first birthday is the best of the baby milestones. Dude, you made it through a whole year of keeping a tiny human alive. Party on!

  12. LK

    October 14, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    I think it’s all about what you can afford and handle (and what your kid and partner can handle). I love doing all the party stuff, but hosting ALL of both of our families was stressful. So my kid gets a small party with a few friends. We took some serious shit for this the year we started it, because it’s not how other family did things, but it was a great party. I could do a few over the top themed elements, because I wasn’t trying to host 30 people. The kids had a great time and no one got lost in the mix, because there weren’t too many.

  13. Kate Spencer

    October 14, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Holy shit, throwing birthday parties for real give me panic attacks. Any kind of party really. I had to pop a pill to calm down before my rehearsal dinner. Am I the only one?

    • LeggEggTorpedoTits

      October 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Nope! I get all sweaty and agitated and full of anxiety. Birthday parties for the kids especially because my husband’s ENTIRE family feels slighted if we don’t invite the fully grown, middle aged people to the bouncy house party for a 7 year old what the living fizzuck. You are not alone.

  14. Jenna

    October 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    In Hawaii, it’s tradition to throw a “birthday luau” for the baby’s first birthday. People spend thousands of dollars and invite hundreds of people. Think of a large wedding. No biggie.

  15. MerlePerle

    October 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I don’t get it at all, but that’s because I’m cheap as hell and usually try to spend as little as possible. Birthdays for my kids usually include the family and our maid of honor/best man plus their spouses and kids. So we’re already at around 30 people. But it’s just cake and coffee. No petting zoo, no crazy decoration. Since last year, the big one also gets to invite some friends for an additional party, this year we went to an indoor play area.
    But I don’t judge, I really don’t care how much money anybody spends on stuff as long as they can afford it (amd even then I don’t actually care, it’s their debt, not mine)

  16. TheQuirkyDiva

    October 14, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I totally get this and I celebrate you for it!! I would have done the same thing if I could have. I think people don’t realize that a baby’s first birthday is as much a celebration of the parent(s) as the child. That first year is an enormous transition, fraught with stress, micro-decisions, guilt, and so many more things. If parent(s) want to shout to the world, “Hey! Look! I didn’t screw it up! I want cake!” they should do that. 🙂

  17. Marisa Quinn-Haisu

    October 14, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    I’m planning on a small family get together either in a park or a child friendly restaurant. The only other kids who will be coming will be her cousins.

  18. KatDuck

    October 15, 2014 at 7:24 am

    I love planning parties, especially themed ones, and friends have just learned to roll with it. Halloween is my favorite – no one questions you if you invite them to an Into the Grid video game themed party or Dead Pirate’s Society or any other cheesy thing my brain has tried. My thought – so long as everyone, especially the guest(s) of honor has fun, cake is involved, and it’s about the fun rather than showing off or living up to some arbitrary, socially-induced bar … go you! Have fun! Invite me!

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