10 Moms Get Real About First Birthday Parties
The first birthday — it’s a big deal, especially for moms and dads who surely feel a sense of pride for making it through that first year of parenthood. Here, 10 moms dish on their best party-planning advice to make that first one special and, more importantly, stress-free.
Set a budget
“I found it’s really easy to let things get out of hand when planning a baby party and my husband and I had to keep pausing to put things in perspective. Next year I’ll definitely put a budget for myself in writing and keep it realistic. There are plenty of fun things that you can do on the cheap and still throw a perfectly nice party.”
- Jenna R.
Forget about the Joneses
“First and foremost, plan the party for your child and other small children, not as a social event to impress others. We live in a city where money is no object for a lot of families and recently we’ve been invited to parties that are outright over-the-top. I had to keep reminding myself when I was planning my daughter’s first birthday party that it’s not a competition and I didn’t have to break the bank to make it a fun time.” - Chelsea S.
“My son’s ‘friends’ are all 18 months or younger, so I really wanted to do something cute and quirky that was geared towards them but that was also affordable. I put together a Cheerio Bar. I bought five different flavors of Cheerios® and put them in large containers with candy scoops tucked in each one. Parents could fill up little goody bags with the cereal for the babies to snack on. It reminded me of the candy buffet that my husband and I had at our wedding reception and it was a huge hit!” - Melissa O.
Don't be afraid to outsource
“As much as I love to cook and like the idea of saving money by making party food myself, I knew that there would be too much to do to get ready for my daughter’s birthday. I ordered a couple of sandwich trays from the local deli and made a big tray of pasta salad that I could assemble the day before and refrigerate. It was the perfect happy medium and definitely saved me time.”
- Carrie S.
Take a picture, it'll last longer
“You’ll be so busy running after the birthday boy or girl and playing hostess that you won’t have a lot of time to think about taking photos. Put a relative or good friend in charge of your camera. And if you’re really Type A, like me, write up a list of shots you’d love your designated photographer to get (just don’t make the list too long!).”
- Cheryl C.
Practice makes perfect
“I love craft projects and wanted to make my own decorations for my son’s party. Definitely do some trial runs of any lofty ideas you might have so that you don’t find yourself awake at all hours the night before trying to get things right. That is never fun.”
- Laura T.
Timing is everything
“Keep the duration of the party to no more than three hours. Chances are at some point your child will need a nap or start to crash and you don’t want a cranky birthday baby on your hands. Two or three hours in the middle of the day is a good amount of time because kids that nap in the morning can arrive later and those that nap later in the afternoon can leave a bit earlier.” - Jessie A.
Give 'em some space
“We were able to reserve a space at our local park for my daughter’s first birthday party. We loaded up the car with lots of toys and spread out big blankets for the kids to enjoy but there were also picnic tables for the adults to sit at. It was so simple but worked out so well. The babies and toddlers loved having space to crawl and walk around. Friends have had their kids’ parties indoors at their homes and pushed furniture out of the way to make more open space for the kids to play and that works well, too.” - Sarah C.
Know your audience
“I recommend just thinking like a kid when trying to plan activities. Babies don’t have the attention span yet for party performers but something like a bubble machine could make for a lot of fun! Babies also love music so make an upbeat playlist for your iPod and try to get the little ones moving.” - Rachel D.
'Tis better to give than to receive
“Our friends and family have been so generous with our son, starting even before he was born with my baby shower. I didn’t want them to feel like they had to bring a gift for his party. We requested no gifts on the invitation but if they felt like they really wanted to do something, to donate to a children’s charity. We donated to the same charity in lieu of party favors.” - Katie S.