I remember flipping through my childhood photo album and noticing that I had far less birthday pictures than my older sister. My mother jokingly said, “things happen when the second child comes along” and that’s when I vowed to equally celebrate birthdays for my kids. Fast forward several years later, it was time to start planning our youngest son’s first birthday party. I marked the calendar, gathered theme ideas, and began making the guest list. My husband and I are pros when it comes to parties and we’d planned several awesome birthday parties for our older son, so why would the second first birthday party be any different?
Here’s the problem. We realized after our oldest son’s first birthday party that we overplanned, overspent and overdid it for a kid that cried because of the overstimulation from our 60+ guests, who attended the carnival-themed party. For everyone else, it was a total hit from the overpriced invitations to the live beta fish party favors and we topped it off with fermented beverages for the adults. After weighing the pros and cons of doing this again, we came up with five reasons to avoid the overwhelming process of planning the second first birthday party.
1. The guest list: Our parties are family oriented, which meant on average each invitation was for a family of four. The stress of narrowing it down was draining way too many of our brain cells.
2. The venue: We didn’t have enough space to entertain at our house and most party packages only included 10 children. We could have paid a portion of our mortgage with the additional cost per child, so that didn’t make good financial sense.
3. The kid: Our youngest is the definition of a second child. We weren’t sure what color his mood ring would be and didn’t want to risk him being completely uninterested in our attempt to mirror his brother’s successful first birthday bash.
4. The budget: Three years later makes a difference in terms of inflation. For example, the same invitations we purchased for our oldest had increased by $7 per invitation. Did I mention the guest list was 60+ back then? Need I say more?
5. The focus: Let’s be honest, parties are planned for guests. We spent so much time and energy entertaining that we didn’t get to experience the moment with our oldest son. We wanted to give our youngest our undivided attention and have a party that was all about him.
Saying all of this, we did have a small party for our youngest that turned out great and here’s how we did it:
1. We narrowed down the guest list to age-appropriate children. Tip: Consider sending additional family and friends a birthday announcement so they are aware of the celebration and have the option of sending a gift.
2. We chose a venue that suited our budget. Tip: Search for places that allow you to bring you own food and drinks. This allows you to be in control of the menu for any guests that may have food allergies or those who are picky eaters.
3. We made sure the activities were geared towards our son. Tip: Yeah. . . I got nothing! Thank goodness he was having a great day!
4. We were able to take plenty of pictures and focus on our baby boy reaching several milestones! Tip: Assign someone to take pictures and video record the party. When you look back at the photos and video, you’ll actually be in them!
To be honest, the guilt of not having a large shindig haunts me at times but I realized we were living in a perception that every child should have an over-the-top first-birthday party. In reality, we defined what was best for our budget and truthfully, a 1 year old won’t remember what all the hoopla was about!
In the end, maybe we felt as if we couldn’t top the carnival extravaganza or perhaps we learned a valuable lesson. . . don’t overdue it!