Everybody deserves a birthday party! Yep! And making those first birthday parties is the sweetest thing for the parents. We have already talked about a perfect toddler party. How to avoid parents’ common mistakes to make it really perfect?
First, the common recipe for the 1st or 2nd birthday party:
- Guests: the more, the merrier. Grandparents can’t wait to get together to for the first birthday party of the cutest little birthday grandkid!
- Timing: common, the baby is little, for once you can do it at the time when it works for your friends and family.
- Activities: doesn’t matter, they can’t understand it yet anyway.
- Food: a cake, of course, is a must, and lots more to pamper the elderly relatives.
- Gifts: oh, let’s open them as soon as you can…
Ok, ok, in my world, this surely is a recipe. A recipe for a DISASTER. If I were a kid, I wouldn’t even want to be invited. Yep, I feel that strongly (actually feeling really strongly about things is my usual cup of tea).
1 year olds, 2 year olds are so inquisitive, enjoy so many things, they absolutely deserve a wonderful birthday party for themselves. It runs so much along the same lines for these two ages, that this year me and my friend even combined our one year old and two year old birthday boys into a single party.
So, here is a recipe for the party that I’d be happy to have for my 1st or 2nd birthday:
- Guests: 1-3 at most. Only babies and their mommies (or daddies), please.
The party always revolves at the age of the OLDEST kid. So unless the siblings can actually help, we entertain them in another room during the party (or schedule a playdate for them at that time). If you really wish to share this special celebration with the rest of your family, it is a good idea to set it up at a different time. Big family events are so overwhelming to the little ones. Having so much more adults than participants is just plain scary. We usually have either two separate parties (one day we have little friends come in, the next – grandparents), or two consequent ones: first the kids enjoy their special time, then the grandparents come in. No, they don’t absolutely NEED to watch it. They can enjoy some personal time afterwards, without overcrowding the little one.
Since we were combining our birthday parties, we had a double set of relatives to deal with. My part of the family is used to it, so they just arrived right after the party, but we knew that our fellow birthday boy’s grandparents would be there right from start. We had a plan: the party was in a family room, grandparents could watch from the distance, kitchen, doorways, sofas along the wall, without running into the middle of the party. Most of them stayed outside in a backyard with the older siblings.
How many friends did we invite (besides the two birthday boys)? Two more. One of them got sick and didn’t come. The other one did come, but felt so intimidated by the new place that he was mostly hugging with mommy. Our two birthday boys enjoyed a private party. At this age – having just one or two friends – means easier to share, more turns and more fun. And they LOVED every second of it.
- Timing: birthday child’ best! Timing is very-very important. You are not making a party to impress someone else, it is for your baby and your baby only, so it should be her most comfortable time. For the little ones we usually schedule the parties in the morning, or right after the first nap. That’s when the kids feel the most rested, energetic, up for an adventure. It makes it easier managing other guests too: grandparents usually like arriving in the second part of the day, so the first part remains less crowded.
- Duration: 1 hour, 45 minutes, less is more.
- Activities: musical, and simple. They don’t need a character yet. They don’t need a huge carnival. Something they enjoy in their mommy and me classes would make your baby ecstatic. In the next post I’ll list our favorites.
- Food: Honestly, I don’t think babies need their very special menu at this age. Pizza, cake, all of those – are for the older ones. Our staples have been macaroni (you can offer the cheese separately), cereal, cut grapes, cut strawberries. The cake and other delicacies are secondary are more for adults at this stage. Since we do it in the morning so often, bagels, cream cheese, lax, spreads, something for the sweet tooth and coffee or tea is the usual on our table. Most of the one and two year olds that I know eat such specific things, that trying to come up with something for every single of them is just too much. So if the other parents feel like offering their little ones anything else, it is up to them.
- Gifts: Just say thank you, and open it later. It is a torture for the other kids to watch those bright and beautiful things emerge and disappear. It is even harder for the birthday kid to share the new toys. At that age, my own little ones always loved tearing the paper off, and were more interested in the paper, then in what it was covering. Opening it later always made the gifts altogether more special, removed the pressure. It also gave me a chance to jot down what we’ve got to thank for it later.
It sounds exciting to organize a large family get together, with entertainment, animals, clowns, delicacies. Yet a party like that wouldn’t’ be for the birthday kid, it would be for everybody else. So if you really wish to make it special for your kid, keep it small, keep it simple, and save the big plans for the older age!
If you are thinking about a character for your child’s birthday party, don’t skip our previous article about common mistakes with the characters.