First Birthday Party: A Cautionary Tale

My eldest daughter’s first birthday party had all the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding officiated by Jesus himself. Our guest list included more than 100 people. We had a bounce house. We had a professional smash cake.

First Birthday Party

We had a piñata.

First Birthday Party

We had special order tablecloths that perfectly matched the sugar circles so thoughtfully placed atop the 200 cupcakes that took me three days to bake.

First Birthday Party

And that’s not counting the four hours it took me to separate said sugar circles into piles by color, because GOD FORBID we had yellow circles on yellow frosting. Really, what are we—SAVAGES? We made the decision to have her first birthday party at home because we wanted it to be more laid back; more low key. You know—hanging out with friends, having some beers in lawn chairs, engaging in long, uninterrupted conversations about hilarious and meaningful things. One hour before our guests arrived I was on my hands and knees scrubbing syrup out of the carpet and my husband was balancing on one foot atop a ladder trying to attach party lights to the gutter. We were shivering, because although it was May, it was unseasonably cold. The high was only expected to reach 43 degrees. Oh, and the guest of honor was asleep upstairs with a fever.

By the time the party was over I needed a space heater for my frostbite and lots of therapy.

I was exhausted. For five hours, while I was supposed to be celebrating the survival of her first year, I was running around fetching cups, napkins, forks, and chips. Not to mention dealing with all the random requests such as, “Do you have a ponytail holder?” and “Do you have an extra coat?” and “Do you have some more ice?” My memories of the day include wishing I were dead. I fear we may be scarred for life. That party was three years ago. It was the first and last birthday party we have thrown for our children—we have three now.

The farthest we’ve allowed ourselves to go since then is a $1.69 box cake and a nice pat on the back. At first, we actually bothered enough to decorate the cake with the child’s name.

First Birthday PartyFirst Birthday Party


But by the third child we were just too tired and gave up after the first letter.

First Birthday Party

We’ve since attended dozens of children’s birthday parties, none of which are what I would call “enjoyable for anyone over the age of 5.” Let’s face it, Funfetti cake bars are a nice little treat but there’s probably a million things you’d rather be doing on a Saturday afternoon. So I’ve made the executive decision to handle family birthday parties like I handle most major parenting decisions—don’t worry about it until I’m sure my kids have a memory and can hold my choice against me when I’m laying in a nursing home. And when they do start asking about having a party we will be holding it far, far away from our home. . . like at a winery.

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