The Year of The Child – Party Time!

We are getting really close to the kids’ first birthday. Two more weeks to go!

And thus begins the new most common parental question that we receive: “So what are you going to do for their party?”

I never really thought to make a big deal for a first birthday. Our kids have absolutely no comprehension what a birthday is. Other than getting extra hugs from their doting parents, we didn’t see the need to make a big deal. As such, we thought the most fun thing to do would be to invite some friends to the park and hang out there. So we are booked for June 15!

Meanwhile, I googled “Baby’s 1st Birthday Tips” and came up with a “How To” on Let’s see how we did:

Who to invite

At the closely-attached-to-Mom stage (MITCHELL NOTE: hello hetero-centric phrase), the best way you can make this a special day for your one-year-old is by offering her loads of undiluted attention. Her social network will be small and intimate and that’s how she likes it. She won’t thank you for a house full of strangers, so stick to close friends and relatives.


Well…. we started small. But our families are big. And we get together with our neighbours every week for playgroup. And we’ve had a few people who have been unbelievable in their support of us and our kids who really wanted to be there. When all is said and done, we should have about 40 people at different points of the afternoon. I guess we didn’t do so well on the “small and intimate”!

Getting the timing right

By one, your baby may be in a daytime nap routine. The worst time for the excitement of a party is when your baby is tired, so afternoon, after nap time, works well. If you are inviting other baby guests, check out their nap times with their parents. Once one starts wailing, they all will! Keep the party brief – an hour or so is long enough at this age.


We are going with a 4PM start. I we nailed this one instinctively!

Games and activities

Loud bangs from party favours and bursting balloons may frighten your baby, and discarded noise makers and balloons are a serious choking hazard at this age, so leave them till next year. Why not have some musical fun, such as dancing with your baby, or a nursery rhyme tape on in the background. She’ll appreciate a few simple games, such as Row the Boat with plenty of tickles, too.


Games? We weren’t planning on any. Does going on swings in the park count?

What food to serve

Aim for a wonderful cake – a home made one is special, but supermarkets have a great variety available, or try a bakery. You may need to order this in advance. Don’t let your baby near the candle as she will want to grab, not blow, it.


I know parents love to take a first birthday shot with their kids covered in cake. But really… we don’t give our kids sugary things yet. We are still working on getting them to eat certain vegetables and I suspect that one mouthful of cake will blow our whole operation. I promise we will start giving them sweets at some point. But not just for the sake of a photo. Maybe I can pull a fake cake out of props…

The party bags

Party bags are really superfluous at this age, and the usual goodies like sweets and balloons are downright dangerous. If you really want to give a going away present to your little guests, opt for a small, safe soft toy each or a board book to chew on.


Party bags? Really?

Choosing presents

By now, your baby will appreciate something which makes a noise or lights up, or both, so activity centres are a good choice. It’s never too early to read, and textured board books are great fun for your tactile baby. A toy baby stroller or something she can push while walking will be popular, and new bath toys are always welcome. You may want to consider a big, lasting present, such as a baby swing for outdoors or a rocking horse.


Ok. It’s look like we’re the worst parents ever. We have asked people to make a donation to a charity of their choice instead of bringing a gift. We aren’t trying to deprive our children. We really have an obscene amount of clothing, books and toys. More than they can ever play with in one childhood. It just doesn’t seem right to add to that pile (and good luck finding extra storage space in a downtown house!).

Well. There you have it. We have pretty well instinctively ignored every recommendation from the experts. Somehow I am still confident that we will have a lovely afternoon. Alternatively, our kids may be in therapy for decades trying to unpack the scars from the first birthday done wrong. Wish us luck.

Posted in The Year of the Child