I love a good party. If you’re anything like me, you do too. Not only attending them but planning them as well. Especially if the party is for a loved one, celebrating a milestone in their life. I can’t think of any more special of a milestone for a mom than her child’s first birthday. it’s no wonder we tend to go overboard and get overwhelmed with the planning for such a huge event!
That intense planning, however, leads to high cost, unnecessary extravagance, and is overwhelming. Who the heck wants that? I have enough things to do and worry about, thanks.
I have good news. You can throw an amazing first birthday party without going overboard. It is possible to keep it both simple and spectacular. And I don’t mean “oh that was a nice little party,” spectacular. I’m talking “wow, she really went all out!” You just need to know where it’s worth it to spend the effort and money, and where it’s not.
A simple party will still celebrate the huge milestone and be distinguished from a regular party but without all of those unwanted extras. And you’ll enjoy the planning process and celebration so much more as a relaxed, present mama than as a frazzled, frantic one!
Big Shot Birthdays-Just Say No!
Call me crazy, but there is something about planning, coordinating, and executing a plan and then seeing everyone enjoy it that just lights me up. Matching colors? Themes? Guest lists and invitation? Heck yes, sign me up, I’ll do it all! So if you’re caught up in all of this too, believe me, I get it. I totally get it.
Now that it’s time to throw the very first birthday party for my special little guy, I’m so excited! But when the party is for someone who does little more than eat, sleep, walk, and babble, is a full-blown party a little over the top? How much is too much? But it is a big event in his and our lives. There should be some fanfare, right?
Before the big day, I had already been thinking about themes and food and decorations for a while. But I had to reel myself in. I don’t want my son to grow up spoiled and wanting endless amounts of entertainment, foods, decoration, and elaborate games and themes for every party. I want him to be happy with a BBQ in the backyard, his friends and family, and a good time.
There’s a growing trend in over the top first birthday parties. I think it’s too much, but it’s still hard to fight the urge to join in. Ultimately, I knew it was more important to tone it down and decided to find a way to combine the elements of a great party with the simplicity of a child’s birthday more fitting for the guest of honor.
I also wanted to bring back that small party feel from when I was a kid. Remember when a birthday party was nothing more than a few balloons, Pin-the-Tail on the Donkey, and some pizza, cake, and ice cream?
If you’ve planned a first birthday party recently, or are in the midst of planning one now, you know the new “in” thing is to throw and all-out, no-holds-barred, full blown mini-frenzy. Complete with homemade party favors, hired entertainment, a rented hall, and enough DIY décor, games, and activities to choke an elephant. Gone are the days of the pizza, cake and ice cream at home. It’s no longer a child’s birthday party; it’s an EVENT.
But for what purpose? One-year-olds have the attention span of goldfish (which is about 9 seconds if you’re wondering). And they certainly don’t care how many hours you spent making those delicate, gorgeous, puffy tissue paper flowers. They’re just going to try to eat them anyway.
They want our love, our attention…and the sugary goodness that is cake.
And so, here are my tips for planning the ultimate simple and awesome first birthday party without breaking the bank, or your sanity.
7 Tips for an Awesome, SIMPLE, First Birthday Party
- Choose a theme. Make it simple. They’re one; your theme could be bugs and it can be the coolest thing ever for them and the guests if you do it right. We chose “Sesame Street Teaches Colors” and it was super fun! It was broad enough that I could get really creative, yet specific enough that everything easily tied together.
- Choose simple décor that matches the theme. Streamers and balloons are simple and inexpensive, and if you use them just right, they can have a big impact. Get some colors that match your theme-whatever theme you picked will naturally lend itself to some obvious colors if you think about it. Don’t over think and make it more complicated than it needs to be!
- Choose foods that match your theme. Get creative! Here is your time to put a little bit of that party-throwing-pizzazz in that you’re trying so hard to restrain. Not all of the food has to be on theme. Choose a few, do them really well, and everyone will be super impressed. If you need ideas, Pinterest is a fantastic source of inspiration and many of the ideas can be reworked to match your theme. For Zach’s party, I chose to have regular cookout food since we were having a picnic, but the fruits and veggies were tied into the theme.
- Add personal touches. 3-4 max. This is where you’ll focus most of your effort. These are the things that will make the birthday special and really focus on your child.
As a bonus, we were able to dual purpose the board and reuse it in his first birthday photo shoot.
- Create or buy invitations, but only if you need them. It’s super simple to create clip-art invites on Word and print to cardstock. If everyone you’re inviting is family and you see them regularly, don’t bother. At first, we weren’t going to have any, but we do have a few family members that we don’t see on a regular basis so we decided to do them so we could have one to save. As much as I wanted one to save, though, I wouldn’t have done it if we were only inviting people we see all the time. It’s just not a necessity.
- Get the cake. For simplicity, you can order it if you have little time. We did. It was the easier option. But if you have time and would rather save money, make it. A simple sheet cake in the coordinating colors is all you need. Buy a few toys to match the theme and stick them on top. Voila! Personalized, fancy cake in a fraction of the time and effort.
- Take LOTS of photos and be very present. After all, this only happens once. Enjoy it, Mama! What is most important is that when you look back at those photos years from now, you remember the faces he made eating his cake, his reaction to a popping balloon, his favorite present. You will not care if the frosting wasn’t exactly the right shade of green.
So, there you have it. An easy, less-stress way to throw an amazing party. No need to feel guilty for wanting to throw a simple party. You can still make it great. Give yourself permission to go simpler, and still have a party that will impress and delight.
As moms, it’s not our job to go over and above in all areas. It’s stressful and sets unrealistic expectations on life for our kids. In addition, it keeps us from being able to truly enjoy the moments with them as they’re happening. We should be enjoying our children and these moments that pass too quickly and be able to be fully engaged, not worrying about little things that in the end, don’t really matter.
I’d love to know what your tips are for throwing a simple but awesome first birthday party. Let me know in the comments below.
-To your Better Life-