Tips and tricks

Is having a first birthday party necessary?

The other day I had a brain fart moment, struggling to remember what we did to celebrate Kyle’s first birthday. Keeping in mind, the kid is a million  years old already and his first birthday probably happened when I was 12 (I was a teen mom, remember) and reckless and not Martha Stewart enough to find serviettes that matched cleverly picked out balloons. Yep, feelings of “bad mom” befell me faster than the speed of light and I had to calm myself down, because, let’s be honest, the kid probably doesn’t even remember his first birthday. (I asked, so I’m sure) But wait, hey, this means that none of my kids remember their first birthdays. Right? And if they don’t remember, then why the heck am I trying to find serviettes that matches cleverly picked out balloons for Jo’s first birthday?! I mean, does any of that even matter? Is having a first birthday party necessary?

If you’re able to spend those extra ronds on an elaborate first birthday party – that’s amazing! Celebrate your baby, girlfriend! You’ve managed to parent the kid for a whole year without losing your sanity. It’s a milestone worthy of celebration.

BUT since I have a big family and many a birthday to consider, I’ve decided to not do a big first birthday party for Jo this year. Honestly, the boy is much more concerned with how he can get his own toes into his mouth. Needless to say, my matching serviettes and cleverly picked out balloons will not impress him one bit.

Instead, I’ve opted for a cake smash shoot with Cutepix (Michelle did Kari’s cake smash shoot as well). I love this concept because it documents all the elements of a birthday celebration – the cake, the decor etc – and puts it altogether in one beautiful taken photo shoot, giving us those important first birthday memories (and baby pics to share at his 21st).

But, of course, a cake smash doesn’t include people and fun! So my spreadsheet brain and I decided to have a birthday PLAY DATE! What is a birthday play date and how on earth does it differ to a birthday party or a normal play date, I hear you ask. Good questions, Margaret, good questions. Well…

Is having a first birthday party necessary1. A birthday play date’s emphasis is on the word PLAY. I wanted to incorporate a lot of fun and toys and interaction with other kids HIS age. So yes, that meant that the invite list comprised of “one and unders”… no older kids. And yes, that also meant ALOT of playing because it’s his day and I want him to have fun (and possibly conk out afterwards, hello Greys Anatomy my old friend, how I’ve missed you)
2. The birthday play date would have NO: matching anything, birthday cake, elaborate decorations. Those things don’t matter… well, atleast not to my Jojo. And as for the pics… the cake smash took care of that, remember?
3. The birthday play date’s emphasis was on: Interaction. The mommy’s were encouraged to hang out and chat (I even told them to come wearing flip flops and yoga pants if they wanted) and the kiddies were encouraged to have fun. Instead of focusing on “what must happen next” ala birthday party vibes.
4. The birthday play date allowed me to celebrate my baby boy but it was minus the formalities, minus the stress and minus the copious amounts of spending money I dont have on stuff I don’t need… stuff that is probably not important to my 12 month old. Stuff like matching serviettes and cleverly picked out balloons.

The result? Probably the best birthday celebration we’ve had! I’ll share pics and more on what went down tomorrow. But I’d love to hear your opinion: Do you prefer a big birthday bash for your one year old? Or something more low key? How much money would you spend on a first birthday party?

Header image taken by Cutepix. Will share more about the cake smash pics on Friday!


  • An Ordinary Gal

    I too have quite a few kids, but I am all about birthday parties. With so much sadness, death…kids suffering, I tell myself…I’ll celebrate their birthday parties with whatever I can afford to do. To celebrate them. Their lives. It’s definitely all about them and what is age appropriate…what my child will enjoy. That’s a given no matter what their age, I’ll choose a venue or hire soft play, whatever….that my kid can enjoy. And cake….party or no party, there’s got to be a fabulous cake. That we are not smashing…we will be eating the cake. LOL.

    Glad you spent the day the way you wanted to…I’m sure your boy had lots of fun 🙂

    • Luchae

      I hear you… I think that Kari now looks forward to her birthday every year, so I can’t not wana have a big party for her. She’s so extra, she tried to claim Jonah’s birthday as her own LOL! Definitely doing something bigger for Jo next year or the year after, when he’s more aware. And yes, lots of cake. To eat. LOL

  • Melissa Kerridge

    Im having a party for Joshy… but I must say… i did the lay-bye thingie coz things are expensive… i dont have matching serviettes though… lol… going for a colorful theme.. so anything goes… Joshy is our 1st child so too us this is more a celebration (waited a while for him to arrive) .. Nothing fancy though… mostly DIY and family pitching in with the eats… (“,) … And most of all… Joshy having fun with close friends and family…

  • hopefulltreasures

    I only have my Noah, and him being my first child, I was determined to have a big birthday bash, but within our tight budget. He may not remember it, but I made his cake (as inedible as it was), the party packs were packs of pop corn with a clever little note saying thanks for popping by (thanks Pinterest) and our venue was the botanical gardens in Durban – free, with big wide open spaces and fresh air! I am all for a birthday party, but I like to do as much as possible on my own, and keep it within a very strict budget! I do love your birthday lay date though! It sounds like a fun alternative! Megan xxx

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