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Celebrating baby's first birthday: Who's the party for anyway?

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Courtesy of Lindsey Downie

(Read caption) First birthday parties are big business in the world of Pinterest, but chances are, the honoree just wants to smash up a cake. Here, a 1-year-old digs into a ladybug cake at her backyard party in Billerica, Mass.

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We are just about a week out from my son’s first birthday. I’ve polled friends to find out their opinions on how a first birthday should look. 

When celebrating a first birthday, would you choose to have: A) A huge blowout bash (rent a moonwalk, bring in the clowns, hire a caterer), B) A simple soiree (send out invites to a dozen or so friends, provide food and drinks), or C) A candle, a cake, and a picture.

The majority have chosen B. Some make the point that this is a birthday he will never remember other than the pictures. Others say that this is a celebration more for the sake of the parents (to which I can’t help but respond with “Yay! We made it to one and he hasn’t been eaten by wolves. Hooray!”).

There will be no crafts, no invitations and no themes for this first birthday. I have chosen option C. I don’t want to seem like a birthday grump, I am quite the opposite. If anything, I set expectations for birthday celebrations too high, which is why I want to pace myself when it comes to my own kid’s birthday. With reality shows like “Outrageous Kid Parties” on TLC, I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes, or blood pressure, too high right out of the gate.

I look at it this way. My son has never had a cake baked for him. He’s never had a candle lit in his honor and stuck in a cake. And he’s never had his picture taken of him as he smears cake all over himself after it has been set on fire. We are already introducing quite a few mind-blowing antics into this whole birthday thing as is.

Let me address the biggest areas of intimidation for me when it comes to children’s birthday parties.


There is a file box in our office filling up with mementos from my son’s first year. This is for a baby book, which has already been purchased, and which remains unfilled. We hope to complete it before he leaves for college. Plus, I already crocheted his Halloween costume, so I’ve cashed all my chips for the year in that department.


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