Next to the birth of a child, one of the most highly anticipated
events on a family's calendar is a child's first birthday.
Plans and preparations to mark the milestone have taken on an
entirely new meaning from when you celebrated your first birthday.
While cake and ice cream still play a part in a child's first
birthday, hosting extravaganzas that include professional
entertainment, rented banquet halls, professionally catered cuisine
and custom-printed invitations have become staples at many first
But the financial and emotional stress of hosting a baby's first
birthday party can take a toll on parents. From balancing guest
lists and planning the menu to choosing a theme and finding the
perfect outfit for your child to smear cake on, a child's first
birthday leaves many parents feeling as though they're planning a
Having a few tools to prevent stress, reduce chaos and allow you
to join in the celebration will help. Armed with tips tested and
tried by fellow parents, you will ensure your baby, family and
guests all enjoy a terrific day.
Whether it's photographing or videotaping your baby one year to
the minute after he or she was born to serving birthday cake for
breakfast, consider putting a memorable touch on the day. Allow
some time beforehand to reflect on what special and personal
touches you'd like to add to not only his first birthday, but to
traditions your child will grow to cherish.
After hosting a large, tiring gala for her daughter's first
birthday, Lisa Santoro realized a smaller, simpler event would have
been just as special for her daughter. "She cried the whole day and
wouldn't have known the difference between a huge party or a few
family members and friends." Before planning an elaborate party,
consider the demeanor and personality of the guest of honor. Many
parents find that cake and ice cream or a backyard barbecue shared
with family and close friends generates wonderfully warm memories
and reduces the chance that your baby will be overwhelmed by a huge
From uninvited guests to your child wildly crying while being
serenaded, expecting a glitch or surprise will eliminate a great
deal of pressure to plan the perfect day. Relinquishing some
control over small details such as setting the table or arranging
balloons will allow you more time to enjoy the day and to laugh at
small flaws only you notice.
In her book Hit of the Party, author Amy Vansgard suggests
asking potential partygoers to respond to your invitation and to
confirm their attendance two to three days before the party. This
step will help you finalize food and beverage preparations and plan
for any potential food allergies or special needs your guests may
Family members and friends often ask for suggestions for
birthday party gifts. "Parents should not feel awkward offering
gift suggestions," says personal shopper Aimee Graddick of Chicago
Heights. "I've assisted so many clients struggling to purchase
gifts for young children. Nearly everyone has expressed their
frustration in not knowing what to choose." Many department and
children's toy stores offer a registry service for birthday gifts
that can be accessed either in person, online or by telephone.
Knowing your baby's correct sizes, items he already owns or that
you've started a college fund will ensure your guests can proudly
bestow the perfect gift on your birthday baby.
Greeting guests, serving food and making sure the camera
batteries are fresh can be tough to juggle while you're attempting
to enjoy your baby's big day. If someone offers to cut the cake,
shoot the video or refill the coffee pot, accept. You'll make your
guests feel they're contributing to your child's special day.
Knowing in advance if a guest is allergic to cats or afraid of
clowns will help everyone enjoy the party. Professional party
planners suggest stating your plans for entertainment or food on
your invitations or when a guest responds to your invitation.
"I can hardly remember my children's first birthday parties.
They're a blur," says mom of four Donna Turner-Crabb. Wearing the
hats of hostess, mother, family member and friend hardly allows
time for parents of the birthday baby to sneak a morsel of food,
let alone enjoy their child, guests and the day's momentous
occasion. Stepping into the role of party celebrant, you'll be able
to snap a photo with your birthday star, sample the food you
painstakingly selected and appreciate the success of your
Before cleaning up, take a moment to salvage a few mementos.
Saving a deflated balloon, an extra invitation and some leftover
unused cutlery from the day creates the foundation for a birthday
time capsule. Adding a few tokens from each party, your child will
have a beautiful keepsake you've lovingly stored in a box, bin or
can, decorated with pictures of him eating cake or celebrating each
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