Should You Have a Big Party for Your Child’s First Birthday?


Posted By Gaby

This weekend, Jamiroquai turned one year old. It’s a big deal to know that you’ve managed to keep a fragile human alive for a whole 365 days. When you’re a parent, you never stop worrying that you’re going to hurt your child, or worse, that you’ll outlive your child. Since the first year is such a mindfuck, when they reach that milestone, there’s a lot of celebrating.

When Chinchilla turned a year old, it was a major deal. She was our first baby, the first grand baby on both sides, and the first baby in our group of friends. The kid was spoiled. Yet, even though she was a big deal, I was still against a first birthday party. When we initially began planning for a first birthday party, we scrapped it at the last minute for a variety of reasons, and opted for a dinner with her grandparents instead. There was no pomp and circumstance, no cake even. Just dinner at Chevy’s, where they sang her a birthday song and gave her a “Mexican” hat. She loved it.

So when the time came for us to consider Jamiroquai’s birthday, it was a no-brainer for me. We won’t have a birthday party and instead, we’ll do something similar to what we did with Chinchilla, plus a sugar-free cake this time. I don’t know if Eric’s been on board with me this whole time just to avoid an argument or if he agrees with me. But I’ll say this: having a big birthday party for a one-year-old seems a little much.

One year-olds usually aren’t able to walk on their own, so they end up being carried the whole day by the parents or family members that were invited. No big deal, right? But what about when they’re ready for a nap? Or they’re overwhelmed by so many people?

On two separate occasions, I’ve been to first birthday parties where the child cried throughout the entire party because they were overwhelmed or sleepy. On one occasion, the mom had to leave the party early so she could sleep with baby. What? It makes sense that your child is your priority, but then why go balls out to have a party when you’re the host who has to excuse herself for two hours? I’m lucky that if Jamiroquai got fussy, he could go with my mom or Eric’s mom and go to sleep, but sometimes he just wants me. In reality, when I have a party, I’m usually running around like a crazy (crazier?) lady making sure everyone’s eaten, that the kids have enough activities, and that no one’s feeling left out of something. I don’t have time to be watching a whiny baby!

Also, to me, the first birthday is more for the parents, since the child doesn’t remember what happened. Sure, they smile, clap and chomp down on the cake, but they can’t hit the piñata, can’t eat whatever’s in the goody bags, and don’t fully enjoy the gift-opening experience. I personally would prefer to keep it small and then go all out when Jamiroquai’s older, like I have with Chinchilla. It was so fun watching her get her nails and hair done this year, and watching her parade around in her super hero cape last year. Even though I’m sure my parties aren’t the best, or that people will complain about something, I enjoy them because my child enjoys them. Why put up a big front for something your child could care less about?

Sure, we want to invite everyone we love, but Eric and I have already set up a treaty of sorts: we either invite everyone or no one. So for first birthdays, I’m sad to say, we invite no one (or no one out of our immediate family circle). Does it suck? Yes, but it also sucks when someone posts a picture of a party you had on Facebook and someone you didn’t invite comments or likes it. I have enough guilt in my life.

I know there are major family politics in place, but a) we’ll have a party next year, b) parties are expensive for both the host and the attendees, and c) Batman. And Batman is against big birthday parties for one year-olds.


Posted By Eric 

First birthdays, they seem so special. However, the reality is that the one being celebrated will not remember the event. Even when I see pictures of my own first birthday, I am bored after the second picture. So how big should a first birthday event be? Probably not that big of deal, I guess. For our two kids, we kept both first birthday parties very minimal. We only invited our three siblings, our parents, and for our second child, his godfather. We did this because we know we have years and years of parties coming our way and this was a way to relax before the storm. Yet each time we do these minimal parties, it leaves a bad feeling in my gut.

Politics comes into play here, and by that I mean family politics. See, I could invite my close friends but then our parents would attack us for not inviting other family members. Our parents’ remarks don’t bother me as much as they bother Gaby, but I hate to put her in that position. And inviting family would not be an issue if our family wasn’t so huge. Of the 50 nearby family members, we would only like 20 to actually show up. However, I am not a fan of selective inviting. I have been on both ends of selective inviting, and when you are left out it doesn’t feel good.

For these reasons, I am in favor of inviting all the family members and close friends. We can go to a local pizza place and reserve a large area. Cost-wise, the pizza to person (p2p) ratio is not that bad comparable to other party options. Pizza places normally have an arcade and other games for the bigger kids to play. Sure pizza places are loud, and sometimes you have a hard time hearing the person next to you. But you can at least go eat pizza for an hour or two and after invite the ones that have not left to your home for coffee. I have found that the guests that stay until the end are often the ones you wanted to show up anyways.

This is just my simple argument. I get the idea of a small party and I have compromised on this issue. I know my close friends and family members understand the situation, but I hate the feeling. I am just glad we don’t have to worry about this issue again, unless we have a third child. Oh boy.

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7 Responses to “Should You Have a Big Party for Your Child’s First Birthday?”

  1. wtg22

    I have to agree with Gaby on this one. An all-out affair for the first birthday is really more for the grownups than for the kids. If you love to throw parties and your friends and family enjoy hanging around babies, then by all means, go crazy. But, if you’re like me and parties, while fun, stress you out if they grow beyond a certain number of people, then why make a big deal of it? Of course still commemorate the day. It’s adorable to see your baby eat his first cake and tear into presents (only to be more amused by the paper than the gift). But 50 peeps gathered around overwhelming your child (and you)? No thanks, I’ll pass :).

  2. Ravi

    you both have good points, bur 1st Birthday Party is meant to tell the world, and invite all, if you left out anyone it would be unfair. you will have guilt. 2nd bday on wards no one cares. Indian wedding are huge so as the birthday too. I go with Eric.

    PS: Gaby I like your point “BATMAN”

  3. Deila

    Having a birthday party for your 1 year old is not about the baby in any shape or form. Yes you will have memories in the form of stories or photos you can show them when they are older about how you put a silly hat on them and put them infront of a huge cake with one candle on it. And they will get a kick out of it when they are a preschooler and older.

    But 1 year birthday parties are for the parents. In particularly the mom! And especially if this is your first baby. It is a celebration of surviving the first year of parenthood. It is a celebration of not killing your husband or your baby or yourself in the process of dealing with diapers, nursing, crying, feeding, colds, ear infections, sleepless nights, etc. And frankly that is a huge ass deal!!!! It is a 1 year celebration of giving birth.

    For both my kids we threw large 1 year birthdays. We have a large family, but with all the family it was about 25 people at each party. And with both parties, I had a blast. I drank a little, ate a ton, took fun pics with the family. And prepped myself the next coming year of all the same shit that comes with raising kids. And when they turned 2, I had even bigger parties. Cause getting through the first year of toddlerhood is even more hectic than the first year. And by golly, I want to celebrate that!

  4. Lulu

    Well, I love hosting parties, and what better excuse than my baby’s first birthday? My children have great memories of all their kiddie parties. The parties lose steam when they hit 10, though.

  5. Monica

    I’m still not sure on which I would pick. My child is not born yet and it’s something I have thought about. I see Gaby’s point that the baby will get fussy but on the other hand luckily you have family that will help you with the hosting and the baby. And regardless if its your party or not your baby is still going to get fussy. As far as Eric’s point there is always a family member that is bound to get butt hurt for something.


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