Like most parents, I was looking forward to my son’s 1st birthday. My wife and I had gone back and forth about theme, size of party, food, and everything else. About 90 days out we became overwhelmed with the process. We had gone from a mini mogul/Monopoly theme to just a simple cookout in the backyard. We wanted this to be a special memory for the three of us to share.

But the pressure to not only be memorable but also cool consumed the planning process. Finally my wife caved in and handed the power over to me. I thought, “Great, this should make things much easier with only one person calling the shots.”

But what we didn’t realize was the monster we created in letting a first-time dad plan a 1-year-old’s birthday party. Before we knew it, I had rented the second floor of the children’s museum. I was reviewing and ordering custom decorations, including personal invites for each child with matching T-shirts. And of course, the birthday boy’s outfit had to be fly. Now you’re probably reading this thinking, “That doesn’t sound bad.” But trust me, it was bad.

See, I completely forgot about what and whom I was planning for. I began to pick things that I liked and that would impress MY friends instead of making sure I made an environment that my child could enjoy himself. Luckily, my wife talked me down from what would have been a nice dent in our bank account.

Now that I was thinking with a clear head, I asked myself what makes my son happy and then planned accordingly. Once I focused on my child’s happiness, I was able to recover and plan an age- and cost-appropriate party.

You would have thought I would have learned my lesson, but no. On the day of the party I once again forgot the purpose of the event as I tried to be the perfect host. This was my second and biggest mistake as I forgot to be with my wife and son. I missed out on all the games and food. Most importantly, I was on the wrong side of the camera as he blew out his first candle.

If this is your first birthday party or you’re a tad bit overzealous like me, here are my simple tips. These tips will make your party planning easier and more enjoyable as the planner.

1. Plan with your child and keep a budget in mind.
2. Party! Do not worry about hosting anything. Just have fun and make sure your guest of honor is having a blast.