Imagine, if you will, a popular pizza chain complete with costumed characters and games. A mother comes in, a one-year-old in a designer party dress slung on her hip, entourage behind, each clutching a ridiculous number of gift-wrapped boxes and bags. A frazzled father follows, balancing a super-sized sheet cake and a bouquet of balloons wishing the birthday child a very happy birthday.
You can probably predict what happens next…
The party progresses, the noise level grows, the amount of boxes and bags thrust at her increases, while child clings tighter and tighter to her mother. By the time the costumed rodent shows up to sing to the birthday girl, she’s had it. Instead of appreciating the heartfelt, individualized birthday song, she dissolves into a first-rate temper tantrum.
What’s the moral of the story?
An inadvertent fear of six-foot tall fuzzy animals is not what any one-year-old wants for his or her first birthday. In fact, one-year-olds couldn’t care less about a first birthday. To be brutally honest, the first birthday party isn’t so much for the child as it is for the parents, grandparents, and photo ops.
Does that mean that one-year-olds don’t deserve birthday parties? Of course not. But the party should be about the child with his or her interests and temperament in mind.
- If your child doesn’t like crowds, avoid crowded places. Have the party at home or in a nearby park.
- If your child doesn’t normally eat crudités, don’t expect things to change at the one-year mark. Let the guest of honor eat what she likes; offer more grown up fare to the adults if you want.
- Don’t go overboard on the decorations. An overabundance of colorful decorations can be overwhelming, leading to sensory overload.
- A guest list of 20 fellow one-year-olds is asking for disaster. One or two other kids is fine if the child is used to having playmates.
Above all, remember that regardless of age, birthdays are about the guest of honor. Keep the child’s wants and needs in mind when planning for the big day. And keep it in perspective. Save your party planning energy for the future parties your child will actually remember and appreciate.