Baby's first birthday do's and don'ts?

Filed under: Babies, Activities: Babies, Holidays, In The News

So Mr. Pickles is fast approaching his one year mile marker. At the end of January I will have two months to put together something, if anything, to celebrate the day he joined us and made my life the happy place it is today. As he nears toddlerdom, I consider all I've read about having parties for children.

Most of it is bad publicity. The parents go too far--overboard is a word I read frequently--and they spend too much. The parties end up being more about the parents and how much money they have than about the kids, that kind of thing. So much of what I read is so negative that it makes me wonder why I want to have a party at all.

When I was a kid my mom threw parties for me. We weren't ridiculously rich and my mother was responsible with our money, so my parties featured items like homemade cakes (tasty!) of muppet characters and skating at the local roller rink. They were fun and surrounded by friends and pizza and that was pretty much it.

In the modern world that would probably be seen as totally lame. Still, I don't want to do just let the day go by. Sure, we could celebrate Mr. Pickles' #1 with just me and daddy (and the dogs and kitty) in what will hopefully be our new apartment. We could go out to a nice dinner somewhere or take him to a museum or the park if it's warm enough. We could buy him clothes and toys when we should really be putting more money into his college fund.

But I want to share. I want to share my son with the world--well, with our friends, anyway, who've been so loving and fun and supportive throughout my pregnancy and Mr. Pickles' life. I want to share the joy that Mr. P. has brought our family, and extend that family to include all our pals.

Maybe I even want to throw a little booze into the mix and make my famous chili or my hot curried fruit, which has folks asking me to have an event just so I'll make some. I guess when it comes right down to it the party for Mr. Pickles is also one for me and my husband. We're proud parents and don't mind sharing our love for our son with everyone we know. And even some people we don't know!

So I guess the do's and don'ts of having a party for your kid have changed, but do they always apply? And what are they, anyway? Don't spend too much money? Don't make an ass of yourself by hiring an entire circus to take over you backyard or something? Don't make the party about you and your status?

That's a lot of Don'ts, and I can't think of any Do's. I am reminded, however, of the scene from Parenthood (one of my all-time favorite movies) where Steve Martin has to improvise for his son's birthday when the planned entertainment doesn't show up. He gets into some kooky make shift costume and struts his stuff for all the kids. They all make fun of him and he makes fun of himself and everyone laughs and has a good time and only Steve Martin could get away with it. Because he's Steve Martin, right?

Well, maybe not so much. I think the point is that he cared enough about his son to do whatever it was going to take to make things work. And, you know, his form of entertainment didn't cost a lot of dough, either.

So I have my work cut out for me. My son will be a year old and more likely entertained by the boxes his presents from us arrive in or the cake we may let him investigate for the first time. The grandparents will not be here en masse to help us celebrate because they all live out of state. Mr. Pickles will be too young to have any friends, although he does have a few pals around his age that are the children of our friends, and they'll all be along for whatever we undertake.

I'm sure whatever I do will be enough or too much or just right. We'll all have a good time and spend more time cleaning up than anything else. We'll take tons of pictures and look back at them, as we do those when he was first born, and wonder at the miracle of it all. And then maybe we'll all get a good birthday nap.

Pic of adorable penguin birthday cake by litlnemo.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.