Having a 1 year old has its challenges, but planning a 1st birthday party shouldn't be. The first of many birthdays to come, it should be a special day for everyone. Celebrating your baby's first year of life, and here's to you surviving it all. Here are my top 10 tips to make it go as easy as possible.
1. Scale Down. That huge over the top 1st birthday party you've seen on Pinterest? Yeah don't do it. All the detailed little decorations, and over the top themes are just a waste of your time, money and energy. Because let's be honest, your baby won't remember it. Not only scale down on your decor, but on the guest list as well. I had a hard time deciphering who to invite. More of the guests will be your friends and their children versus your son's or daughter's friends. But the more people, the more chaos. And a lot of children can get overstimulated and easily agitated with too much going on. So stick to inviting family, and super close friends. You will be glad you did.
2. Stick to the Main 3. Instead of going crazy on the whole party; choose 3 aspects you want to be really special. What is it that you want to focus your attention on? Do you want to have a stellar cake, awesome food, or fun party favors? Don't stress your self out with all the other petty details. If you have 3 aspects that you put your heart, time and energy into; I promise you your guests will remember that, knowing they walked away from a successful party.
3. Nap Time is KEY. I can't stress this aspect enough. Schedule the party a little after your child's nap time. I literally changed Taylor's party almost 3 times. The first time I made the invites I had the party for 6pm. How silly of me? I really wasn't considering the children. So I reprinted all the invites, and scheduled it to 1pm. Well that was dumb too because Taylor usually takes a nap between 1 and 3pm. So when I rescheduled the party for the 3rd time (we were sick this time), I moved the party to 4pm. It is kind of an odd time, but from all the other mothers I had talked to; they said it was perfect! Turns out majority of the kids took a later afternoon nap like Taylor, and everyone was happy in the end.
4. Cater to both adults and children. The 1st birthday is unique in a sense that you will probably have more adults than children. So with that being the case, have an area set up for the kids. In my living room, I had all Taylor's toys set up, and put a tablecloth on our coffee table, so they could sit and eat. For the adults, I had set up tables in an adjacent room facing the living room. I also hired an entertainer for the day. His name is Mr. Nigel and he was great! I totally recommend him if you are in the Charlotte area, and looking for something fun for everyone to do. All the kids enjoyed singing and dancing; and even some of the adults got in on the fun too!
5. Do it at home. I know I know. "But my POOR house!" I honestly thought the same thing, but I'm so glad we did! For Taylor, this is the most comfortable place, and for me it was the most stress free! It was easy because I didn't have to take a bunch of stuff off location, and I didn't have to lug anything home. It was perfect.
6. Make your family your TEAM. I had my mom come over the night before and we put everything together! We literally worked around the clock putting together tables and goodie bags, and making sure everything was ready before party time. A couple hours before the party started I had my other family members arrive early and help me do the last minute things. I explained to them I really needed their help today, and that if they noticed something was wrong to just go ahead and fix it and not run to me for every little detail. I wanted to enjoy the day versus worrying about the small stuff. I also asked that everyone pitch in and clean up as we go, so we didn't have a huge mess to deal with afterwards. They listened to me, and were AHHHmazing! I literally had nothing to clean up after, and I couldn't have thanked them enough.
7. Consider the food. Everyone likes to eat. And people expect to eat when they come to a birthday party. Now you don't have to go overboard. Especially if the time is later in the day. But definitely put some thought into it. I made kid food boxes (I will detail in a later post), which were a huge hit! I also had a separate buffet style finger food selection for the adults and older children. For drinks, I got juice boxes for the kids, and wine/beer for the adults. Also bottled water is great for everyone.
8. Gifts. I have mixed feelings with gifts. I know how guests love to bring gifts, and I hate coming empty handed when I attend a party myself. But... the more gifts equal the more clutter to your home. Moms know this. So consider requesting gift cards to kid's clothing stores or activity places like The Little Gym or Discovery Place Kids on the invites. Also if you do receive gifts, consider opening them in private after the party. We did this and were glad we did.
9. Assign a photographer. If you don't have someone taking pictures, it will all fly by, and you won't have any recollection of what happened. And I don't mean taking photos on your cell phone. You are going to want to print some of these priceless photo ops, so if that means hiring a photographer, asking a family member, or teaching your dog how to press the button (just kidding), it is super important. With the whole party in motion, you are not going to have time to use the bathroom let alone take pictures, so trust me! And besides you want to be in some of them too!
10. Enjoy it! Remember you are celebrating your baby's first year of life and YOU surviving it all! If you are running around worrying about whether something isn't just perfect, your not going to be having fun. So remember to relax, sit back, and watch the beauty of chaos unravel; after all you've earned it :)