I was super excited to plan my baby's first birthday party. I started months prior and created a Pinterest board for my chosen "sprinkles" theme. (My love for sprinkles is deep and abiding.) The day before, I poured my heart into a homemade two-layer cake that I painstakingly covered entirely in multi-colored jimmies. But the day of, I was determined to not only make the party special for my little girl, but to actually enjoy the event, too. Therefore, I made sure I did several things for myself during my kid's first birthday party.
I've watched mom friends be exhausted after staying up all night creating a layered rainbow cake and cry when their daughter exclaimed that she had the "wrong" costume for her Frozen party (Anna not Elsa, heaven forbid). That kind of stuff makes it really hard for mom to enjoy the party. That's just somewhere I didn't want to go. Yeah, it's my daughter's special day, but she's 1 year old. First, I don't want her getting spoiled with over-the-top parties. I also want her to learn that birthdays are a time for family and close friends to get together and enjoy each other's company, in honor of that person. And to eat cake. Always cake.
Every mom is going to do birthday parties her way. For some, that means no party at all, which I totally respect. But if you're planning a first birthday shindig and you want to save some sanity, consider the following:
I Had Someone Else Document The Event
Something I'm really working on is being in the moment. It's really hard to do that if you're also trying to preserve the moment for posterity. My sister-in-law has a nice camera and a great eye, so I asked her if she would take photos of the birthday party for me. I wasn't disappointed. I have beautiful pictures to look back on plus my actual memories of the event.
I Asked For No Gifts
I included a "no presents, please" request on the invitation. It was a tough decision because I didn't want to appear rude or ungrateful, but my daughter is a very lucky little girl and wants for nothing. She really doesn't need presents. I don't want her to start expecting boatloads of gifts, so I figured we might as well start when she's young.
It didn't totally work (you try telling a grandma she can't buy a birthday present for her grandchild), but I think it helped people at least give in moderation. It was kind of selfish in a way, too, because I wanted my kiddo to really appreciate her gift from her dad and me. It was so nice to watch her take the time to enjoy her play tent rather than simply move on to the next thing.
There was no way I was going to pull this off by myself. Fortunately, I have an awesome cadre of army family and in-laws who are more than willing to pitch in. During the festivities, they helped with getting people beverages, serving food, and cleaning up. And I let them.
I charged my husband with grilling hot dogs. Wouldn't you know that he got called in to work that morning. He ended up getting back in time, but I'd already conned one of baby girl's honorary uncles into being grill master in his absence.
I Kept The Menu Simple
I didn't want to be doing any cooking during the actual party, so I threw some chili in the crockpot the morning of. My husband grilled hot dogs and prepared the fixings, and my family brought all the side dishes. I think all I had to do was put out the cookies and cake that I'd made ahead of time.
I Took It Easy On The Pinterest Projects
I love Pinterest, but I refuse to be a slave to it. I made a board, but I limited myself to choosing five pins. The one crafty project I did (besides that labor of love of a cake) was melting tea lights in the oven and putting sprinkles on them. I also made a banner of her monthly photos that I later gifted to her great-grandma. I did enough to make me happy, but not so much that I was too pooped to party.
I Refused To Plan Games
We hosted my daughter's cousins and one little friend. We have tons of toys at our house, so I figured the kids could entertain themselves. A 1-year-old kid isn't going to be able to join in on organized games, anyway. This mom didn't feel like she needed to referee a piñata-slaying, or even a bean bag toss, to be honest. Nope, I had stuff to do.
I Kept The Wine Flowing
Judge away, but I had a glass of chardonnay in my hand for most of the celebration. Honestly, hosting that many people can be stressful, and I personally like a little something to take the edge off. It's not like I was stumbling around tripping on streamers or anything.
I Skipped The Goody Bags
I guess I'm like the Scrooge of birthdays, but I think that if you're already getting cake and cookies, you don't also need a giant sack of candy to take home. Party favors are nice, but I didn't want to have to worry about making sure everyone got theirs on the way out for fear of being stuck with a dozen bags of sh*t that no one in this house needs to eat anyway.
I Only Invited People I Like
Yeah, my kid is 1, so her friends are the children of people whose company I enjoy. My in-laws are the business, and my army family is just that: family. Everyone takes care of their own kids, so I didn't have to worry about monster-wrangling. I actually spent most of the time visiting with people I love.
By the way, my daughter had a great time. Sometimes, as a mom, you have to take some steps to make sure your enjoyment and your children's aren't mutually exclusive. I did, and I don't regret it.